Tag Archives: Senior Center

Roundup: Ida, Newcomers, Yappy Hour …

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Last night was crazy.

Yesterday afternoon, Dick Lowenstein stuck an empty pail outside his home.

This morning, it showed nearly 7 inches of rain.

(Photo/Dick Lowenstein)

But just a couple of hours after Hurricane Ida roared away, our beaches were calm.

If it weren’t for flooded basements, tree limbs on lawns and some ponds in places they shouldn’t be, it could seem like last night never happened.

Old Mill Beach, just after sunrise. (Photo/Matt Murray)

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Lost in last night’s weather news: The Parks & Recreation Commission approved a conceptual plan for a small area of active recreation (pickleball and bocce) on the Baron’s South property last night.

The vote was 3 for, 1 abstention.

In the plan below, one bocce court is just west (below) the Senior Center. The pickleball courts abut Imperial Avenue, on the lower left side of the plan. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

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“Newcomers” groups are great — in theory. In reality, they often bring together only other newcomers.

Neighbors & Newcomers of Westport is different. The club is a mix of recent arrivals and more seasoned residents. It’s a perfect way for newcomers –and there are a ton — to immerse themselves in Westport, while meeting others in the same situation, and those who know the ropes.

N&N activities include a book club, beach walking, tennis, Girls Nights Out, meet-and-greet and other gatherings.

The new season begins with coffee at Compo Beach (September 14, 10 to 11 a.m.).

Click here for more information.

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Congratulations to Jacob Troelstra. The 2015 Staples High School graduate — and 2020 graduate from the US Military Academy at West Point — completed Army Ranger School training.

Called the toughest combat leadership course in the world, t tests physical and mental endurance of soldiers under sleep and caloric deprivation for 62 days.

Jacob now heads to Fort Campbell, Kentucky as a platoon leader.

Jacob Troelstra

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The first 2 nights of  “Stars on Stage from Westport Country Playhouse” are already wrapped.

The final two tapings — for a national television audience, after noted producer Andrew Wilk works his editorial magic — are tonight. There are 2 shows: 7 and 9 p.m. Brandon Victor Dixon (NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar, Hamilton) is the star.

A few tickets are still available. Click here for details.

Shoshana Bean shined during Tuesday’s taping at the Westport Country Playhouse. She was joined by Luke Edgemon and Melanie Nyem. (Photo/Carol Rosegg)

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Today at MoCA Westport, it’s double trouble: monthly Yappy Hour, plus the regular Happy Hour (5-7 p.m.).

It’s a great way to meet other people — and dogs — in the museum’s great outdoor space. You can also purchase cocktails from Bar MoCA (this week’s custom cocktail is Honey Lavender Bee’s Knees), and enjoy free admission to the new “Between the Ground and the Sky” exhibit.

All dogs must be leashed!

Happy scene from the August Yappy Hour.

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This Labor Day weekend should be remarkable — at least, Remarkable Theater-wise.

The schedule for the Imperial Avenue parking lot drive-in includes:

  • Friday, September 3: “Stand by Me” (7:45 p.m.)
  • Saturday, September 4: “The Graduate” (7:30 p.m.)
  • Sunday, September 5: “The Sandlot” (7:30 p.m.)

Click here for tickets and more information.

The “Stand by Me” kids.

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The Westport Weston Health District has a new director of clinical services.

Vanessa Hurta has worked in healthcare for over 17 years, including primary care and preventive cardiovascular medicine, clinical research and teaching. Her most recent position was nurse practitioner for Yale New Haven Health. She has lectured and written about hypertension and obesity.

In other WWHD news, travel and vaccination clinic operations are expected to resume by mid-September. Call 203-227-9571, ext. 224, for appointments.

Vanessa Hurta

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The Levitt Pavilion is not quite finished.

They’ve added one more (great) show: Pete Muller and the Kindred Souls. The date for the intriguing instrumental/vocal quartet is September 26th (7 p.m.).

Click here for tickets, and more information.

Pete Muller and The KIndred Souls.

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Marla Cowden, Democratic Registrar of Voters, will leave office September 13.  She has served as Democratic Registrar for 11 years.

The new Democratic Registrar is Deborah Greenberg.

Marla Cowden

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The September/October issue of Westport Magazine includes a cover story on Kitt Shapiro.

The lively owner of WEST is the magazine’s face for its fall fashion feature. There are also interviews with Instagram stars Emily Rosnick, Zac Mathias and (the biggest) little Piglet.

Particularly timely: a chat with Rob Marciano about covering the weather.

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The view from the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s fitness center is gorgeous — and ever changing. Floor-to-ceiling windows look out over woods, water — and wildlife.

Treadmill, erg machine and elliptical users are used to seeing interesting things. But yesterday’s view was particularly intriguing. And worthy of inclusion for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/William Strittmatter)

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And finally … the great, versatile (R&B, rock, funk, soul, gospel) keyboardist Billy Preston was born today, in 1946. He played with Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, the Everly Brothers, Rolling Stones, and Beatles — among others — and also achieved fame with solo recordings.

He died in 2006, age 59, from kidney and other ailments.

 

Roundup: Senior Center, Benches, Best Of …

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Most Westport seniors are too young to remember Franklin Roosevelt’s campaign song.

But all can now sing “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Yesterday, the Senior Center reopened. It was shut for 15 months, during the pandemic.

Director Sue Pfister, Friends of the Senior Center president Jack Klinge, and selectmen Jim Marpe and Jen Tooker spoke.

Then — justlikethat — one of Westport’s most popular institutions was back in action.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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On Wednesday (July 7, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium), the Board of Finance considers a request by Public Works for “standard street furniture in the Downtown Area.”

The $154,000 appropriation includes 18 benches; 32 trash and recycling receptacles; 16 bike racks; 7 fixed tables (6 chairs per table), and 2 café tables (4 chairs per table).

The outdoor furniture would be located along the river and in Parker Harding Plaza, and on Main Street, Elm Street, Church Lane, the Post Road (east to Bay Street), and in the Taylor parking lot.

The 5-year capital forecast includes the item, at a funding level of $275,000.

The type of benches requested (right), and their proposed placement downtown.

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Bruce Waldera is well-known to many Westporters, for his years of service at De Mattia Fuel, near the Sherwood Island Connector. He started around age 14, and continued until they closed a decade or so ago.

Bruce is a kind, caring, down-to-earth, compassionate, funny, fun, selfless and hardworking man. He loves Westport.

Now he’s battling brain cancer. A GoFundMe page has been set up so that he, his wife Amy — a longtime special education paraprofessional in Westport — and 3 daughters can spend quality time together — and manage some of their many medical bills. Click here to help.

Bruce Waldera

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For the second time in a month, a large yacht is anchored off Compo Beach.

Matt Murray wonders if it’s waiting for the July 4th fireworks. If so, it will be there a while. This year’s display — which would have happened tonight — was canceled by COVID.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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The July/August issue of Westport Magazine includes its annual “Best Of the Gold Coast” lists. There are more than 175 categories, from Cocktails and Seafood to Jewelry and Workouts. Westport winners include Manna Toast, Match Burger Lobster, Soleil Toile and WEST.

It’s been a tough year for small local businesses. This issue celebrates them.

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Artistic swimming — formerly “synchronized swimming” has been an Olympic sport since 1984.

Alessandra Gavriloiu won’t be going to this month’s Tokyo Olympics. But Paris in 2024?

The Staples High School rising freshman was part of the New Canaan YMCA Aquianas team that finished 3rd in the nation Tuesday. She and Alaina Argiriou of Darien took 10th in the duet competition too. Both were in the 13-15 age group.

The Junior Olympic competition took place at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Congratulations, Alessandra. On to Paris, oui?

Alessandra Gavriloiu (left) and Alaina Argiriou.

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The Westport Library has some intriguing events ahead. They include:

“Camp Explore: Homemade Microphone Magic” (Tuesday, July 6, 10 to 11;30 a.m): Students in grades 5 to 8 use repurposed materials from around the house, to build a working microphone for use anytime and anywhere. Click here to register.

“Burning Down the House: The New Republican Party” (Wednesday, July 7, 7 p.m., livestream): Princeton historian and CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer shares the history of the “new” Republican party with Bruce McGuirk, leader of Pages Through the Ages (the Library’s history discussion group). Click here to register.

“Verso Studios Production Pizza Party” (Monday, July 12, 6 to 8 p.m.). Find out about opportunities to learn, laugh and let rip your creative talents. Click here to register.

Part of the Westport Library’s Verso Studios.

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Westport Country Playhouse Radio Theater — a series, with WSHU-FM — presents a new humor and suspense play. “Special Delivery” (Saturday, July 10,  1:06 p.m.; rebroadcast Sunday, July 11, 4:06 p.m.). is also available on the Playhouse website (westportplayhouse.org) from July 12 through August 1.

“Special Delivery” is about Leesa Colescott, a courier of fine arts. She must deliver not only a strange piece of art, but also an angry 12-year-old boy named Asher, to the home of an uncle he’s never met – during a raging thunderstorm.

Their destination — an isolated farmhouse — is full of surprises, including other-worldly voices coming from the paintings on the walls. Running time is 35 minutes.

For more information, click here.

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“Westport … Naturally” roams to Saugatuck Shores today, for this serene shot:

(Photo/Patti Brill)

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And finally … today is the 183rd day of the year. Only 182 remain. We’re more than halfway to 2022.

What’s New In The Romance Department?

Susan Wexler’s mother, Anna Turner, lived to 103. In her later years she eagerly asked extended family members: “What’s new in the romance department?”

Hearing the latest news, the spark of love was rekindled. Her face glowed. Her spirits lifted.

Susan realizes that everyone can benefit from the power of “the romance department” to raise spirits. That’s especially important in these difficult times.

She created “What’s New in the Romance Department?,” a multimedia celebration of true stories of love and romance. It’s a platform for sharing real stories from all stages of life, in multiple genres including animated videos (illustrated and produced by Poppy Livingstone, a talented Staples High School senior).

Stories are written by people willing and generous enough to share them.

Susan will also post “intriguing romantic tales in the news” on the site.

The blog launches with a Senior Center virtual event on February 10 (7 p.m.). Members of the Center’s Writers Workshop will share real-life stories of love and romantic relationships.

Everyone — of every age, with every romantic story past and present — is welcome to join. The evening (just before Valentine’s Day!) “promises to enrich and renew your spirits,” Susan says.

Just as it did for her 103-year-old mom.

(“What’s New in the Romance Department?” is free, but pre-registration is required. Email susan@whatsnewinromance.com, or call 203-341-5099.)

Susan Wexler

 

Roundup: Christmas Tunes, Food, Tree And More


The Senior Center is filled with fascinating people.

High on the list: pianist Irwin Lebish. A veterinarian since 1954, he is still — in his 90s —  a general practitioner at Schulhof Animal Hospital.

That’s not all. He also plays piano with the hands of 20-year-old.

The other day, Dr. Lebish recorded a Holiday Piano Recital — jazz, standards and more — for the Senior Center. He was joined by a young whippersnapper: his son Scott, on bass.

Jim Honeycutt and Nick Pisarro videotaped it all. Click below to enjoy!


Everyone knows about stress eating. But what about stress cooking?

If the thought of making another — or any — holiday meal fills you with dread, click here.

The WestportMoms’ Food Delivery & Catering Guide is filled with businesses that have pivoted during the pandemic to provide — in addition to their usual delicious fare — catering, weekly meal plans, delivery and curbside pickup.

No cooking? No problem! Click here.


MoCA Westport invites all high school students to submit works of art for a student exhibit. “Hindsight is 2020” will run open January 23, and run through March 6.

This is the first student in-person show at MoCA’s Newtown Turnpike space. The museum presented an online student exhibition in July.

“Hindsight is 2020” will feature submissions created this challenging, unique year.

All high school students may submit 1 work, of any kind. The deadline is January 8. Cash prizes of $500, $300 and $100 will be awarded by judges. Click here for details, or email liz@mocawestport.org.


Downtown’s newest Christmas tree stands outside Savvy + Grace, near the steps to the old Tavern on Main.

Check it out — and don’t worry. It will be trimmed soon!


And finally … happy 55th birthday to Björk! Now — can anyone name another Icelandic singer-songwriter?!

Roundup: Mental Illness, Senior Center, Namaste,


Margie Friedman’s mother Steffi was a well-known Westport sculptor. Her works grace Temple Israel, Earthplace and the library’s children’s section.

Margie — a 1972 Staples High School graduate — is quite accomplished too. Her recently completed documentary, “Orchestrating Change,” tells the inspiring story of the only orchestra in the world created by and for people living with mental illness, and those who support them. The mission of Me2/Orchestra — “me, too” — is to erase stigma, one exhilarating concert at a time.

With compelling characters, striking animation, beautiful music, even humor, “Orchestrating Change” shows what living with a mental illness is really like. The film challenges audiences to reconsider preconceived notions, and empowers those living with a diagnosis.

The film is currently airing on public television nationwide, and is available on PBS Passport for subscribers. To learn moreand read reviews, click here. For the trailer, click here.


The Senior Center’s next quarter begins Thursday (October 1).

Over 40 programs are offered by Zoom: yoga, essentrics, Pilates, tai chi, cardio workout, strength training and dance, and others including history, ukulele, support groups, concerts and more.

Click here for a list of fall classes. To register, click here, then follow the prompts — or call 203-341-5099 weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. For scholarships and othrd questions, call 203-341-5099, or email seniorcenter@westportct.gov.


This past weekend was a productive one, for Westport’s National Charity League chapter. Members collected 1,640 pounds of food, for the Person-to-Person program.


Yoga instructor Paula Schooler has some very cool “Namastay @ Om” t-shirts for sale.

They’re available in men’s and women’s sizes, small through extra large, in black and gray for $20. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Connecticut Nurses Foundation COVID-19 Heroes Fund.

For more information email stringofpearls36@aol.com, or call 203-226-6465.


And finally … a little something to get you ready for tonight’s presidential debate.

Roundup: Cribari Bridge, Senior Center, Wildfires, WTF, More


Stay away from the William F. Cribari Bridge today. The Saugatuck River span is closed through 3 p.m., for inspection. Use alternate routes!

William F. Cribari Bridge — stay away today! (Photo/Sam Levenson)


Registration for Senior Center October-December classes is underway for Westport residents. Non-residents can register beginning Monday (September 21).

The Senior Center also announces upcoming events:

  • Parkinson’s Support (Sept. 23, Zoom, 10:15 a.m.)
  • New to Medicare (Sept. 24, 5:30 p.m.)
  • Summer Concert Series: Harpist Wendy Kerner (Sept. 25, Zoom, 1:30 p.m.)
  • Caregiver Support (Sept. 30, Oct. 7 and 21, 10 a.m.)
  • Bingo (Oct. 1, with delivered lunch (Pct. 1, Zoom, 1:15 p.m.)
  • Just for Women (Oct. 1, 3:30 p.m.)
  • Walk to End Alzheimer’s (Oct. 11).

For more information, click here, call 203-341-5099, email seniorcenter@westportct.gov/seniorcenter.


Smoke from the wildfires out west have reached Westport. This was the scene yesterday evening, at Compo Beach:

(Photo/Stephen Raffel)


COVID has canceled many traditional activities. But not Oktoberfest!

Wakeman Town Farm celebrates outdoors on Thursday, October 8 (5:30 p.m.).  Chef Alison Milwe Grace cooks up a great German meal (with a veggie option for non-meat eaters). Bring a sweater or jacket and your favorite German beer or adult beverage. Click here for details and tickets.


Teaching has always been stressful. During COVID, it’s exponentially tougher.

To help educators de-stress, Positive Directions has launched a Teacher Support Group. Trained counselors lead discussions Wednesdays from 7 to 8 p.m. via (of course) Zoom. The cost is $40 per session. Email amiceli@positivedirections.org, or call 203-227-7644 for reservations.


With kids back at school — meaning more than half the time, they’re learning at home — parents may need a private office.

Serendipity Labs — the on-demand workspace at 55 Post Road West — offers a complimentary private day office for all new inquiries. It’s available weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Serendipity memberships include high-speed WiFi, complimentary coffee, spacious common areas, guest reception and concierge services. For details click here, call 203-979-4084 or email mburns@serendipitylabs.com.

Serendipity Labs, 55 Post Road West


Classic movies continue this Saturday (September 19, 8 p.m.) at the Remarkable Theater. Earthplace co-sponsors “Raiders of the Lost Artk.” Click here for tickets and more information.


Speaking of movies: Ethan Hawke will direct a new movie about the lives and careers of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. The project has the blessing of Woodward — now 90 — and the actors’ family.

The film is expected to focus on their 50-year marriage, including their decision to raise their children in Westport rather than Los Angeles. (Hat tip: Johanna Rossi)

Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman.


And finally … today would have been B.B. King’s 95th birthday. He died 5 years ago, but the thrill of his blues guitar will never be gone.

 

Roundup: Art About Town, Senior Center; Young Shoots Farmers, More


Even a pandemic can’t keep local artists down.

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association’s 2nd “Art About Town” project includes works from Artists Collective of Westport members. They’re exhibited in the windows and on the walls of many downtown retails — for viewing and purchase.

Art About Town runs in conjunction with the WDMA’s “Art+ Downtown Thursday Nights.” Galleries stay open from 5 to 8 p.m. So do many of the stores showcasing the “About Town” art.

Bonus feature: Many of the artists are there with their work on Thursdays, chatting with customers. Tomorrow they’ll be at Amy Simon, Pop’TArt, Sorelle, Artistex, Catherine H, Don Memo, Fred Sip & Shop, Franny’s Farmacy, Nic & Zoe, Savannah Bee, Savvy + Grace and West, on Post Road East, Main Street and Church Lane.

In addition Manna Toast offers 1/2 off on bottles of wine (5 to 7 p.m.), and Rye Ridge Deli will stay open till 8. Masks and social distancing are mandatory for Art About Town!


Upcoming Senior Center events:

Bingo: Thursday, August 20 (1:15 to 2 p.m.). Virtual Bingo — with prizes! — is offered the 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month. If you don’t have internet, you can call in from home. If you can’t print cards, the Senior Center will help. Pre-registration is required (203-341-5099). There’s also an $8 lunch for Westport residents — delivered (with 4 Bingo cards) to your home.

Pet Chat: Friday, August 21 (10:30 to 11:30 a.m.). Share pet stories; hear guest speakers. Click here for Zoom ID; password is 4C1Q0H.

Summer Concert Series: Friday, August 28, 1:30 to 2:15 p.m.: Pianist Irwin Lebish discusses and plays selections from “The Great American Songbook.” Click here for the Zoom link. Friday, September 4, 1:30 to 2 p.m.: Violinist and Westport native Healther “L’il Mama” Hardy — daughter of Friends board member Judy Hardy — entertains on Facebook Live and Zoom (click here for that link).

Fall Prevention program: (Tuesday, September 1, 10 to 11 a.m.). Carli Lee Spinola — injury prevention coordinator at Norwalk Hospital — teaches how to prevent slips and falls. Click here for the Zoom link.

Labor Day Drive-Thru BBQ and Online Concert: Seniors and guests can order a BBQ lunch to go; pickup is at the Senior Center on Friday, September 4, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Socially distance in the parking lot, and enjoy the meal! $8; ordering deadline is September 1. Call 203-341-5099.

Questions? Call 203-341-5099, or email seniorcenter@westportct.gov.


“Young Shoots” — the Westport Farmers’ Market’s deliciously named youth photo contest — has extended its deadline.

Youngsters ages 8 to 18 have until August 24 to submit photos. This year, because of COVID, they must be taken at home. The goal is to show images of the produce, flowers and prepared foods they and their families buy — and how it looks in their kitchens and dining rooms.

First place winners in each category receive $100; runners-up get $50. All photos will be on display at Sugar & Olives in Norwalk.

Click here to apply; click here for more details. The deadline is August 10.


Last Friday, Ariana Napier delivered 424 pounds of food to Bridgeport Rescue Mission. This brings her Westport’s total donations to 1,819 pounds of food and personal care items donated. In other words: Donors are just 181 pounds away from reaching 1 ton!

BRM continues to provide twice as many meals and three times as many grocery bags as before the pandemic. The most needed items include:

  • Canned beans (all types)
  • Canned vegetables
  • Canned meats (beef stew, chili, etc.)
  • Peanut butter and jelly (plastic)
  • Snacks (granola bars, power bars, etc.)
  • Ramen noodles

Donations can be dropped off at bins in Ariana’s driveway (14 Jennings Court, off Bayberry Lane near Long Lots).


Rebecca Mace reports that the Panera Bread location on Post Road East near the Southport line — shut for several weeks — is once again open.

Yesterday she spotted baked goods on the shelves, someone going in, and a guy eating a salad next to the window.

The Panera Bread near the Southport line.


1968 Staples High School graduate Paul Backalenick has just published his second book. He says, “A good mystery can be a good distraction in these trying times.”

Carrie’s Secret takes place in a psychiatric hospital in the 1980s, as a suburban couple struggles to understand and help their threatened daughter.

The Kindle version of Carrie’s Secrets is just $2.99 on Amazon — and it’s free for Kindle Unlimited member. The paperback is $13.99. Click here for more on Paul Backalenick.


And finally … last night’s Remarkable Theater movie was “The Sting.” In 1973, the film — starring Westport’s own Paul Newman — gave new life to Scott Joplin’s rags.

COVID-19 Roundup: School District Help; Who’s Open, Necklaces, Goggles And More

Earlier today, interim superintendent of schools Dr. David Abbey emailed a district-wide update to all parents.

He noted many examples of how — behind the scenes — the Westport Public Schools are helping the town deal with COVID-19. For example:

The district has transferred “a significant amount” of personal protective equipment to town agencies. School nurses and health assistants have helped organizing and distributing that equipment — hundreds of N95 masks, cloth masks, gloves and gowns — as well as thermometers and office supplies.

In addition to PPE, the townwide science department has supplied goggles for firefighters.

The school district has distributed sanitizing wipes, cleaners and hand sanitizers to fortify the town’s supplies. In addition, they have provided access to equipment for sanitizing emergency vehicles and office spaces.

Collaborating with the Westport Weston Health District and Department of Human Services, school nurses are also reaching out to older Westporters through weekly phone check-ins. Besides checking on their clients physical and mental health, the nurses help them obtain vital supplies like medication and food.

School security officers have monitored athletic fields, to help limit the number and size of gatherings.

Chartwells — the school district’s food service vendor — is providing grab-and-go meals for Westport police officers. The district is also working closely with Human Services to identify and support school families in need of food beyond the grab-and-go lunches and breakfasts that are currently provided.


A number of Westport retailers are doing all they can to stay afloat. They offer curbside pick-up and delivery on items in stock; some even have new spring  inventory.

But among their many problems: How can people know they’re open?

Betsy Pollak helps, big time. Her “Our Town Crier” online newsletter is usually chock full of shopping news. Retailers pay to be mentioned.

In true community spirit, Betsy’s latest edition is totally free. Called “Curbside Enthusiasm” (great name!), it offers info, details, hours, links and photos for a ton of merchants: ASF, JL Rocks, Silver Ribbon, Arogya Tea and more. (Click here to view.)

Jennifer Tooker, Melissa Kane and Matthew Mandell helped compile the information.

A 2nd edition is in the works, for Mother’s Day. It’s perfect for restaurants as well as retailers. To be included, email info@ourtowncrier.com.


The Senior Center has started a YouTube channel for residents to stay active. It includes 39 Zoom courses focusing on mental and emotional health, fitness, creativity and wellness. To register for a class, call 203-341-5099. Click here to sign up for email updates. For more information, email seniorcenter@westportct.gov.

In addition, the Southwest Connecticut Agency on Aging has developed a helpful guide with plenty of information for seniors and their families. Click here to view.


Staples High School junior Eliza Oren makes gorgeous necklaces. She’s selling them for $10 each. Proceeds go to the Gillespie Center, to help pay for food and other items needed during the current crisis.

She’s already sold nearly $1,000. When she reaches that goal, her parents will match it.

You can Venmo her: @elizaoren. Or you can leave cash in your mailbox; she’ll pick it up. For details, email elizaoren@yahoo.com.


Need a reminder to wear a mask? Kevin Carroll spotted this, at Weston Gardens:


The other day, Julia Marino put out a plea for ski goggles. They help protect healthcare professionals working with COVID-19 patients.

As usual, “06880” readers came through. Yesterday her mom, Elaine, brought 34 pairs to a nursing home in Milford.

Julia is a member of the US snowboard team. And a gold medal winner in Westporters’ hearts.

PS: The bin will be out again through tomorrow evening. To donate new or used goggles (adult or children’s size): sanitize them with wipes or spray, place them in a sealed plastic ban, then leave them on the front steps at 129 Sturges Highway (near Cross Highway). Questions? Email esmarino@msn.com.


Werner Liepolt reports that he recently tried to download a new book, but his Westport Library card had expired.

No problem! The library staff renewed it remotely, and within minutes he was reading. The email is Circulation@westportlibrary.org.

(Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)


And finally — though Rachel Platten did not record “Fight Song” about COVID-19 — it sure is apt these days:

Free Tax Help Offered

No one likes paying taxes. And almost as bad is figuring them out.

Plowing through all those IRS forms and regulations can be particularly tough for folks without accountants or access to other help.

Fortunately — in conjunction with AARP and the IRS — Westport’s Department of Human Services provides a free, full-service tax assistance program. Special attention is paid to senior citizens, and low to moderate income households. (It is available to all filers, regardless of income or age.)

Tax preparation and electronic filing of federal and state taxes is offered from January 27 (early) through April 15 (really, really late) at 2 locations.

The Senior Center program runs Wednesdays (9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) and Thursdays (1 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.). Call 203-341-5099 for appointments.

The Town Hall program runs Mondays, from 1:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. Call 203-341-1050 for appointments.

Nationwide, more than 35,000 IRS-certified volunteers help out, at nearly 5,000 sites. Last year, 748 returns were filed in Westport.

Tax forms can be daunting for anyone.

If married, both spouses should be present at the appointment. Taxpayers must bring:

  • Copy of last year’s federal and state tax returns
  • Government-issued photo ID
  • Social Security or ITIN numbers for all taxpayers and dependents
  • Bank account/routing numbers (blank check preferred) if expecting a refun
  • SSA1099 if you were paid Social Security benefits
  • W-2s from employers
  • W-2G from gambling winnings
  • 1099G from unemployment compensation payments
  • 1099s: bank interest, stock dividends, retirement distributions, broker statements
  • Receipts for deductible expenses, including real estate and vehicle taxes paid
  • Verification of the original purchase price of sold assets (home, stocks, etc.)
  • Receipts/canceled checks if itemizing deductions (charitable contributions, etc.)
  • Form 1095-A if health insurance was from the Access Health Connecticut Marketplace.

For more information, call the Department of Human Services: 203-341-1050.

NOTE: The “tax assistance program” refers to helping figure out your taxes — not actually paying them. Damn!

[OPINION] Good News — And Not So Good — At Baron’s South

Alert “06880” reader, historian and preservation advocate Morley Boyd writes:

In April, I raised environmental and safety concerns about the appearance of a large pile of fill at Baron’s South. The mysterious mound, estimated at roughly 5,500 yards, was discovered in what had once been a meadow dotted with mature trees.

Upon closer inspection I noticed that material in the mound included asphalt, jagged shards of metal, tires, pieces of what appeared to be asbestos cement pipe, plastic containers and the shattered remains of a toilet.

Earlier this spring, Morley Boyd photographed debris in the fill behind the Senior Center.

While erosion prevention netting had been placed across one side of the mound, gullies had formed anyway, and the entire top was exposed. Runoff was visibly headed to drains connected to nearby Deadman’s Brook, a tributary of the Saugatuck River.

Runoff from the fill heads toward Deadman’s Brook.

After learning that the fill had been excavated from a nearby construction site associated with the now completed Senior Center expansion project, I wondered what else might be in the fill. Had it been tested? And why was it there in the first place?

First, I reached out to those whose homes abut the park to see what they knew. After learning the homeowners had been told by the Senior Center project manager that the giant mound was permanent, I made private inquiries about the fill with town officials.

The site of the fill (just south of the Senior Center) is shown by a red arrow (bottom) in this Google aerial image.

When that inquiry went unanswered, the story appeared on “06880.” Shortly thereafter, in reaction to public outcry, the town retained the services of Steve Edwards, recently retired director of public works. He was charged with having the fill professionally tested for the presence of toxic substances.

My concerns proved valid. The recently released toxicology report indicates that the material contains DDT, traces of petroleum byproducts, and a level of arsenic that exceeds state standards for human exposure.

Because of the toxicology report and public pressure, the town has now agreed to remove all of contaminated fill (ideally within the next few months, according to the current director of public works), and restore the meadow to its previous condition.

Morley Boyd says that 6 feet of fill was dumped into the meadow near the Senior Center. (Photo/Morley Boyd)

At Tuesday’s Board of Selectmen meeting, town officials said the tree warden has prepared a replanting plan for the site, including new trees.

In the meantime, residents hope that the toxic pile, which remains fully exposed in the midst of a public park, will be cordoned off to safeguard the health and safety of visitors.

On the whole, this is good news. The town deserves credit for taking responsibility. Still, a number of unanswered questions remain — notably, why did this happen?

The approved site plan for the construction project did not permit the area in question to be disturbed, and the project’s contract included a specific line item for hauling away any excess fill.

Further, many question the wisdom of the town’s proposed plan for reusing the contaminated fill: a parking lot project at the Greens Farms railroad station.

Although the toxicology report — consistent with state guidelines — recommends that the contaminated fill be buried beneath several feet of clean fill if it is to be moved and reused, there is an apparent regulatory conflict.

While state standards for the use of fill are more relaxed, Westport’s are quite stringent. They specifically do not allow the use of fill containing “petroleum based products or materials.”

Since the Baron’s South fill has been shown to contain — in addition to other toxins — chunks of asphalt, it remains unclear how the town can use the fill at the Greens Farms train station and also comply with its own regulations.

If there is any doubt as to whether or not this contaminated fill can be safely remediated for reuse in a public space, wouldn’t the wisest solution be to just dispose of it at a proper facility?

Whatever ultimately happens to the toxic fill, the good news is that a quiet corner of Westport’s “Central Park” will soon return to its natural state. And that’s in large part due to the vigilance and concern of the “06880” community.