Tag Archives: school bus

Roundup: Where’s My Bus?, 4000 Miles, Red Flags …

At the dawn of another school year, superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice sent an update to residents.

Among the items: a new app for parents, called “WheresTheBus.” It’s a tool for parents to know when their child’s bus will arrive, with up-to-the-minute ETAs. It’s available on any Apple or Android device, and will go live sometime in September, after routes are firmly established.

As for COVID, Scarice says the risk “continues to change for the better,with protection from vaccines and growing immunity from prior infections. We will continue to follow guidance from the State Department of Public Health and the CDC on minimizing the effects of respiratory disease in school. Our focus this year will be on promoting vaccinations, monitoring symptoms and utilizing at-home self-testing.

“We continue to encourage all students, families and staff to stay up to date on vaccinations. COVID at-home self=test kits will be available to all families and staff, and their use is encouraged.”

When will my kid’s bus come? Check out WheresTheBus!

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Mia Dillon first appeared at the Westport Country Playhouse in 1979. That’s more than a decade before Clay Singer was born. She’s had several Broadway credits, including “Our Town” with Paul Newman, and a Tony nomination for “Crimes of the Heart.”

But Singer — a 2013 Staples High School graduate, and former Staples player — has his own sterling resumé. Before finishing a recent national tour of “The Band’s Visit,” he appeared on his hometown Playhouse stage in “Romeo and Juliet” and “Man of La Mancha.”

Singer and Dillon share the stage in “4000 Miles,” the current Westport Playhouse production. It’s perfect casting.

Singer plays 21-year-old Leo, who finishes a cross-country bike trip by staying at the Greenwich Village apartment of his feisty 91-year-old grandmother Vera. Together they explore issues like age, family, love, sex and politics. They don’t always agree — but that’s what gives the show its punch, and its surprises.

It’s another Westport Country Playhouse hit, in a summer of them. The fact that the star is a local boy is an extra special treat.

Clay Singer and Mia Dillon in “4000 Miles.” (Photo/Carol Rosegg)

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An “06880” reader writes: “I recently raised the red flag on my mailbox to alert my carrier that envelopes inside needed to be mailed.

“Within a matter of hours (before she showed up), a “red flag thief” stole the envelopes. They contained checks, and while the amounts were fairly small, the thief used them to steal nearly $10,000 from my checking account. Fortunately, my bank covered the loss.

“Apparently this is a widespread problem nationwide, and not a new one. The thieves often use chemicals to change information on the checks. They can also use the checks as a starting point for identity fraud (such as creation of fake ID).

“One wonders if a local criminal gang drives cars (or rides bikes) through the streets of Westport looking for raised red flags.

“In the future, needless to say, I won’t use my mailbox to mail checks. Sadly, that kind of old world charm and trust needs to be relegated to history :(”

The reader added this PS, a few hours later:

“I just told my mail carrier what happened. She was glad I told her, because on Tuesday she discovered no mail in 12 boxes on her route, despite the red flags raised. She also mentioned a case involving a Westport resident whose stolen check from the mailbox was used for a $30,000 fraud.

“Finally, she said that blue boxes aren’t always safe either. Thieves can slide a sticky mousetrap-type sheet inside (on a piece of wire), to pull out mail that way.  Good grief.”

No longer a good idea.

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Internationally known (and local resident) photographer Stephen Wilkes is gearing up for his “Visualizing Time” exhibition at the Westport Library — and opening reception September 8, followed by a conversation with Stacy Bass.

But the National Geographic contributor took time out this week to appear on “Good Morning America.” Wilkes talked about how his photographs document climate change. Click below for the intriguing clip:

In other Library news: Verso Studios is steaming up with the Westport Farmers’ Market. They’ll bring original Connecticut talent to the Thursday music performances at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

With Verso Studios curating, singer/songwriter/troubadour Frank Critelli and Friends will be playing next Thursday (September 1). The Sawtelles follow on October 13.

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It’s no joke: Tickets are going fast for “Stand Up for Homes With Hope.”

The popular fundraiser — a night of comedy at Fairfield University’s Quick Center — returns live after 2 un-funny COVID years. (The virtual events were, of course, quite fun.)

This year’s lead comic is Pat McGann. A rising star who began stand-up comedy at the age of 31 (after realizing he was not very good at selling packaging), his appeal stems from his quick wit and relatable takes on family life and marriage.

The event is Saturday, October 15. Tickets are $200 and $150 (including a reception with cocktails, light supper and music) and $75 (wine before the curtain). Click here for tickets. For sponsorship information, click here.

Pat McGann

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Longtime Westporter Pete Noonan — one of the founders of the town’s girls soccer program — died peacefully Tuesday, at his Las Vegas home. He was 90 years old.

The Massachusetts native was a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard Business School.

His professional life as an engineer and management consultant led him, among many diverse engagements, to the Apollo space project, and Taiwan to consult on modernizing the island’s national rail system. He also worked on the merger of the American and National Football Leagues, to create today’s NFL.

He was a proponent of the Theory of Constraints, and was instrumental in its adoption by many corporations. In later years he took the entrepreneurial plunge with a pistachio farm in Argentina, leveraging the expertise he acquired from his many agricultural consulting assignments.

He loved classical music, opera and Shakespeare, and collected Shona sculpture and modern Chinese ink painting. His trained tenor voice was heard in opera and choral performances, turned heads in church, and turned lights on in houses as he organized annual family and neighborhood Christmas caroling.

He was an avid and competitive sailor, and loved soccer. He became passionately involved in soccer as his children grew with the game. He coached and refereed in the Westport Soccer Association — and served as its inaugural president, giving countless hours to not only his children but thousands of others. He was especially instrumental in the early development of competitive soccer for girls and women.

He was a lifelong Boston sports fan, but particularly loved the Red Sox (and enjoyed bantering with his 2 Yankee-loving sons).

He was committed to education and exceptionally proud of the academic, athletic, and professional accomplishments of his 5 children. He was well read and versed in a variety of subjects, including economics, politics the arts and sports.

He was predeceased by his brother James E. Noonan and beloved daughter Clare Noonan Bolich. He is survived by his wife Eva Meder, brother Rev. Mark L. Noonan, former spouse Margaret Ryan Noonan, children Mary Alma, Michael, Mark and Diane Eichler, and granddaughters Olivia, Tess, Caleigh and Meghan.

Pete Noonan

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Jeanne Harris — a former Representative Town Meeting member, and the wife of former RTM member Holton Harris, and also the mother of former RTM member Walter Harris — died in 2021. A celebration of her life will be held tomorrow (Saturday August 27, 2 to 5 p.m.) at the Westport Woman’s Club.

Jeanne Harris

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This is both a “Westport … Naturally” photo, and a response to a recent “06880” request to send images showing drought conditions in Westport.

Photographer Tricia Freeman captions it “one hopeful hydrangea emerges from a drought-stricken shrub.”

(Photo/Tricia Freeman)

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And finally … Jerry Allison, the drummer with Buddy Holly & the Crickets, died this week near Nashville. He was 82. Click here for a full obituary — and the very interesting back story to “That’ll Be the Day.”

(“06880” is a reader-supported blog. Please click here to contribute.)

[OPINION] Stop When You See The Flashing Lights!

Alert — and concerned — “06880” reader Liz Blasko writes:

On Tuesday morning I was standing on the corner waiting for the school bus with my granddaughter, 4 other children and 3 other adults.

We watched the bus approach down the hill on the right as it does every morning, flashing its red lights before it stopped.

Suddenly a car came around the corner from the other direction. making no attempt to stop. The children moved toward the bus, but the car still kept coming.

I ran to it and screamed, ‘You have to stop!” Seeing me, the driver finally stopped. Her window was right next to the bus driver’s window.

The driver did not apologize. Instead she blamed the bus driver, saying, “She didn’t have the stop sign out!” The driver further excused herself, saying, “I was just trying to get out of the way.” She was trying to get past the stopped school bus, with its flashing red lights, before the driver put the stop sign out.

I was aghast that anyone could think that way. Was she thinking about her own children, or the toddler in her back seat when she tried to speed between the stopped school bus with flashing red lights and the group of elementary school children beginning to cross the road to their bus?

I don’t think so. She was thinking about her own agenda.

As a reminder to all drivers, Connecticut law:

Requires a driver meeting or overtaking any school bus from either direction to stop 10 feet before reaching the school bus when the flashing red lights are actuated. Drivers may proceed when the bus resumes moving or the lights are turned off. (Violators are subject to a $450 fine.)

I spoke with the bus driver this morning. She was shaken by the incident. At least 2 equally frightening incidents have occurred since the one I experienced, the driver told me. A high schooler was crossing to reach the bus and was almost hit. In another instance, the police caught a driver passing a stopped school bus and hopefully imposed the $450 fine…all 3 in one day!

My granddaughter, her friends at the bus stop, your children and the children of the driver of the car who passed the bus are too precious. STOP when you see the flashing lights!

No matter who is crossing — children or deer — STOP when you see the school bus’ flashing lights. (Photo/Paul Delano)

School Traffic Drives Residents Crazy

This was the scene Tuesday on Post Road West, at 3:30 p.m. Cars lined up from Burr Street to the light by Kings Highway North. It looked like Cape Cod on a summer Friday. Or Woodstock in 1969.

(Photo/Dick Lowenstein)

Dick Lowenstein thought it was remarkable enough to send to “06880.”

But anyone who passes by Kings Highway Elementary at the end of school — or any other one in Westport — knows it’s a daily occurrence.

Bus ridership is down. Personal transportation is way, way up.

“Is it because of parents’ fear of COVID?” Dick asks. “Or are there not enough bus drivers?”

It’s a great question.

So, “06880” readers: Have at it.

Do you drive your kids to school? If so, why? If not, why not?

What are the upsides — and downsides — to all these one-kid-per-car trips? Are there alternatives?

How long will it last? Any solutions? What can schools — and parents, and everyone else — do to ease the crunch?

Click “Comments” below. And please: Be objective and constructive!

Bedford Middle School traffic. (Photo/Adam Vengrow)

Pic Of The Day #1502

End of a school day, at Kings Highway Elementary (Photo/Nicola Sharian)

Friday Flashback #214

Yellow school buses seem to have been around forever. Wherever we grew up, nearly every Westporter rode in one.

Yellow buses are still ubiquitous — though these days, they’re mostly empty. More parents than ever drive their kids to school — the ones who are not still home distance learning, that is.

For many years, 2 families ran Westport’s school buses: the Cuseos and Masiellos.

Here’s a photo — courtesy of John Cuseo — of an early local bus:

What do you remember about your school bus (or driver)? Click “Comments” below, to share.

As Schools Starts, Cops Urge Caution

As COVID continues — and the new school year begins — the Westport Police Department urges all drivers and pedestrians to exercise extra care.

As an added “incentive,” officers will be extra-vigilant for violators. 

The department urges families to discuss these rules together:

As COVID-19 has significantly altered our schools’ scheduling with staggered student arrival and dismissal times, motorists will for the first time share the roads throughout the day with school buses making frequent stops, as well as children who are walking or biking to school.

This year more than ever, we strongly urge commuters to allow extra time to prepare for traffic delays. Please remain vigilant and alert around school zones, bus stops and school buses. Obey the school bus laws of Connecticut, which include slowing down and preparing to stop for yellow flashing school bus lights and stopping for red flashing school bus lights.

Drivers

In neighborhoods with school zones or when backing into a roadway, watch out for young people who may be thinking about getting to school, but may not be thinking of getting there safely.

Slow down. Watch for children walking in the street, especially if there are no sidewalks.

Be alert. Children arriving late for the bus may dart into the street without looking for traffic.

Learn the “flashing signal light system” used by school bus drivers to alert motorists of pending actions:

  • Yellow flashing lights indicate that the bus is preparing to stop to load or unload children. Motorists should slow down and prepare to stop their vehicles.
  • Red flashing lights and extended stop arms indicate that the bus has stopped, and that children are getting on or off. Motorists on both sides of the roadway must stop their cars and wait until the red lights stop flashing, the extended stop sign is withdrawn, and the bus begins moving before they can start driving again.

Children

Get to the bus stop at least 5 minutes before the bus is scheduled to arrive.

When the bus approaches, stand at least 3 giant steps away from the curb, and line up away from the street.

Wait until the bus stops, the door opens, and the driver says that it’s okay before stepping onto the bus.

If you have to cross the street in front of the bus, walk on the sidewalk or along the side of the road to a point at least 5 giant steps ahead of the bus before you cross. Be sure that the bus driver can see you, and you can see the bus driver.

Use the handrails to avoid falls. When exiting the bus, be careful that clothing with drawstrings and book bags with straps do not get caught in the handrails or doors.

Never walk behind the bus.

Walk at least 3  giant steps away from the side of the bus.

If you drop something near the bus, tell the bus driver. Never try to pick it up because the driver may not be able to see you.

Follow instructions given by school crossing guards. Do not cross until they have stopped traffic completely and have advised it is safe to cross.

This Morning’s Hit-And-Run

A Bedford Middle School parent forwarded this email, sent today by principal Adam Rosen:

This morning, BMS bus #21 (morning run) was involved in a minor fender bender; the bus was rear-ended by a hit and run driver. This occurred at the intersection of Cross Highway and Weston Road.

Westport Police, Superintendent of Schools Dr. Palmer and Director of Transportation Mrs. Evangelista arrived on the scene to assess the situation. While no injuries were reported at the scene of the fender bender, out of an abundance of caution, upon arrival to BMS at 8:20 AM, all students were individually assessed by our health team and counseling team for physical and/or emotional injuries.

At this time, I can share with you that there were no injuries to our students. We are using all of our tender loving care at Bedford to take excellent care of your children.

The parent was pleased to receive the prompt email. But, he wonders — and so do I — what kind of driver has a hit-and-run with a SCHOOL BUS?!

School bus 1