Tag Archives: sister city

Sister City Aid: Police Cars, Trash Trucks Arrive In Lyman

Four desperately needed vehicles — 2 police cars and 2 trash trucks — were delivered today to Lyman, Ukraine.

The used vehicles are part of the fundraising effort by Westport, to help our new sister city. They were sourced and paid for in Europe by Brian and Marshall Mayer — the Westporters who founded Ukraine Aid International — and Liz Olegov of Alex21, UAI’s on-the-ground partner.

New (though used) police cars (foreground) and trash trucks were delivered to Lyman, Ukraine earlier today.

The Russians destroyed or took every police car and trash truck during their 5-month occupation of the town, in the Dombas region.

Police are the first responders during missile attacks — which still continue — and all other emergencies.

Enormous amounts of debris litter Lyman, after apartment buildings, homes, schools, hospitals, police and fire headquarters and other sites were attacked. Before the arrival of the vehicles, there was no way to remove it.

The trucks bear the Westport flag, the UAI and Alex21 logos, and a “Westport ♥ Lyman” banner. At a brief meeting, Mayor Mayor Alexander Victoravich Zuravlov, Lyman’s police chief and the regional police chief thanked Westport for their continuing relief efforts.

Brian Mayer, Mayor Alexander Victoravich Zuravlov and Liz Olegov, the trash truck and the Westport signs.

That’s not all.

Brian and Liz also delivered 1,000 loaves of freshly baked bread. For the cold and hungry residents of our sister city, it was another warm gesture of friendship and support.

Tax-deductible donations can be made to Lyman through Ukraine Aid International — the non-profit co-founded by Westporter Brian Mayer. Please click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other tax-deductible donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo). You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here). 

Brian Mayer and Liz Olegov (left) join Mayor Alexander Victoravich Zuravlov (2nd from right) and other officials for a quick meal, earlier today. (Photos courtesy of Brian Mayer)

Roundup: Saugatuck Hamlet, Lyman Video …

The next stop for the rezoning of Saugatuck: the full RTM.

On Thursday, 2 subcommittees of the Representative Town Meeting — Planning & Zoning, and Transit — discussed a text amendment and map amendment, approved earlier by Westport’s Planning & Zoning Commission.

That decision — which would create a new district in Saugatuck, suitable for development of a retail/restaurant/hotel/residential/marina complex — was opposed by more than 30 voters.

Their petition to the RTM led to the subcommittee hearings. The votes to uphold the P&Z’s approval of the new district were 6-0 in the RTM P&Z Committee (with 1 abstention), and 5-1 in the Transit Committee.

The full RTM votes this Tuesday (January 17, 6:30 p.m.; remote). Two-thirds of the members — 24, regardless of how many are present — must vote in favor of the petition to overturn the zoning change.

The meeting will be livestreamed on www.westportct.gov, and shown on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020.

The shaded area includes the new text and map amendment boundaries.

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Several readers had difficulty accessing the link in yesterday’s Roundup to a YouTube video showing the delivery of supplies to our sister city Lyman, Ukraine, and the exchange of town flags.

Click the red arrow in the middle of the logo below to view.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” bald eagle was spotted at the Cross Highway/Sturges intersection.

Which makes it a good candidate for “Fairfield … Naturally” too.

(Photo/David Furth)

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And finally … today in 1973, Elvis Presley’s “Aloha from Hawaii” concert was broadcast live via satellite. It set a record: the most watched broadcast by an individaul entertainer in TV history.

(The King is long gone, but “06880” lives. Please click here to support your local blog. Thank you!)

Video From Lyman: First Westport Aid Arrives

Less than a week after Westport surpassed its $250,000 fundraising goal for our new sister city of Lyman, Ukraine, the first aid has arrived.

Alex21 — the on-the-ground partners of Ukraine Aid International, founded by Westporters Brian and Marshall Mayer — delivered much-needed supplies to the police department.

Printers, laptops, Starlink communications, tablets — and shoes, sweaters and socks — will help first responders immensely. That was identified as one of the town’s highest priorities by the mayor, after police headquarters were hit by Russian missiles.

On the way: materials to shore up apartment buildings until they can be fully repaired this spring. Residents are spending the winter in structures without head or electricity — sometimes without roofs or windows.

Much more aid is on the way, including crucial supplies for children and bombed-out schools.

Westport’s support has been a tremendous morale-booster, Lyman officials say.

For a first look, check out the video below. It was shot in Lyman this week by the Mayers and Liz Olegov of Alex21. It was edited by Katya and Clyde Wauchope, 2 members of the working group in Westport that helped raise the $252,000.

NOTE: The “Sister Cities” logo was designed by Miggs Burroughs. Then graphic artist and Staples High graduate has Ukrainian heritage.

Tax-deductible donations can be made to Lyman through Ukraine Aid International — the non-profit co-founded by Westporter Brian Mayer. Please click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other tax-deductible donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo). You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here). 

Westport Flag Flies In Lyman

A day after 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker formalized Westport’s sister city relationship with Lyman, our town flag was delivered to the war-torn Ukrainian town.

Soon, the Lyman flag will be sent here.

Brian and Marshall Mayer — the Westport natives who founded Ukraine Aid International, and helped forge the sister city partnership — met today in Lyman with Mayor Alexander Victoravich Zuravlov and the chief of police.

‘The Westporters, and Liz Olegov of the on-the-ground organization Alex21 — provided a report of the goods and materials on the way to Lyman. They also presented the flag, which Tooker had given them in Westport.

The flag was designed for Westport’s 150th anniversary, in 1985, by native Westporter and renowned artist Miggs Burroughs. He is of Ukrainian descent.

The mayor handed them the Lyman flag, and thanked Westport for its help. In 3 weeks, the town raised $252,000 for Lyman.

Holding the Westport flag (from left): Lyman’s police chief and mayor. With the Lyman flag: Marshall Mayer, Brian Mayer, Liz Olegov.

“I am excited to build ties with America and the West — especially Westport,” he said.

“Spending time with you Americans, I realize the only way we differ is our language.”

Mayor Zuravlov then gave the Mayers and Liz a tour of the town. Among the sites: a school, recently destroyed in a missile strike.

The most recent casualty in Lyman: a school, destroyed by a Russian missile.

Westport Does It: $252,800 For Lyman!

It took just 18 days for Westport to reach an audacious goal — and help change thousands of lives.

On Friday, $6,525 poured into a fund established to help Lyman, Ukraine. That pushed the total raised since December 19 to $252,800. On that date less than 3 weeks ago, “06880” announced a target of $250,000 to help our new sister city.

Lyman — a town in the Donbas region — suffered mightily during 5 months of Russian occupation. Homes, apartments and schools were destroyed. Police and fire stations were stripped of vehicles and equipment. Even a new playground was demolished.

Without housing, heat or electricity, Lyman residents looked to a joyless Christmas, and a grim winter.

This was once a family’s home in Lyman.

Donations paid immediate dividends. Brian and Marshall Mayer — Westporters who left secure jobs to found Ukraine Aid International — arranged for the surprise delivery of 400 homemade meals on Christmas day. They brought 491 gifts too — one for every child still left in the war-torn town.

Brian and Marshall are in Ukraine right now. They’re sourcing building materials and vehicles, to be delivered soon. Details will be announced later, due to security concerns.

When “06880” readers hear what their dollars have bought — and what UAI and their partners on the ground, the Alex21 group — have done to get it to Lyman, they’ll be awed.

Distributing holiday meals in Lyman.

And this is just the start.

The Westport-Lyman sister city partnership will continue, just as its inspiration — Westport and Marigny, France — has, for over 75 years.

In the years after World War II, our town helped the French village recover. They are joining us in our work with Lyman. Next week, the Marigny mayor announces their own aid effort.

Staff and students at Staples High School, and Bedford and Coleytown Middle Schools, have expressed interest in helping Lyman’s youngsters — much as Westport did with Marigny, decades ago.

The shape of that help will be determined soon. But harnessing the enthusiasm of Westport students is another important element of our sister city relationship.

New town-wide initiatives are in the works too.

The drive to $250,000 was a community-wide effort. 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker is solidly behind the effort, and has worked behind the scenes to involve other town officials and departments.

On a Zoom call with Lyman’s mayor Alexander Victoravich Zuravlov, she held up a sign that said, “We Stand With Ukraine.” Her counterpart in Ukraine was moved to tears.

Westport, Ukraine and aid organization participants in an early Zoom call.

Westport — plus former Westporters, and friends and relatives beyond our town — contributed that $252,800 almost entirely as individuals. There were no foundation grants, and only a couple from civic groups.

Of course, organizations will have their chance to help in the coming months.

“06880” is proud to have helped kick-start our drive to raise over $250,000 for Lyman. A working group including Mark Yurkiw, Steve Taranko, Polly Newman, Katya Wauchope, Kathleen Wauchope, Clyde Wauchope and Tom Kretsch joined with Brian and Marshall Mayer, the Alex 21 group’s Liz Olegov and Richard von Groeling, Tooker and other town officials to fast-track the fundraising, then get the goods where they needed to go.

Like all of Westport, that group — and “06880” — is in this for the long, long haul.

Our town will continue to assist our friends in Ukraine, always and in all ways.

We’ve only just begun.

Donations to Lyman are still welcome. Just click here for the credit card “Donate” button. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” You can also scroll down on that page for other donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo.) Or you can donate directly, via Stripe (click here). 

Roundup: Comments, Ukraine, Cops …

A note about Comments:

Yesterday, a commenter calling himself “Ed Doucette” posted a swipe at the woman who had nominated dog owners as “06880”‘s  Unsung Heroes of the Week.

I asked him how many Unsung Heroes he had nominated. Remember the old ’60s saying? “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”

Turns out, he used an alias.

That makes him even more of a jerk. Coming on the heels of my discovery of a couple of other aliases — some plausible-sounding like “Will Leach,” others clearly fake — I feel like a jerk, too.

I trust “06880” readers. I do not require verification to post comments. I only ask that people use full, real names.

I spend a ton of time on all aspects of “06880.” Monitoring comments for civility and accuracy is one of them. Monitoring them for honesty should not be part of the deal.

I’ve asked before: Please be nice. Please don’t abuse the Comments section. If you have something to say, have the guts to say it publicly, under your real name.

That shouldn’t be too much to ask. Obviously though it is, because I just did.

“06880” welcomes your comments. Please have the courtesy — and guts — to use your real name.

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The New York Times’ “Morning” newsletter just published their most memorable photos of the year.

The very first one was taken by 1991 Staples High School graduate — and Pulitzer Prize/MacArthur “genius grant” award winner — Lynsey Addario.

(Photo/Lynsey Addario for the New York Times)

The caption says:

“Millions of people fled Ukraine in the early weeks of Russia’s invasion, seeking refuge in other countries. Desperate families shoved their way onto a train leaving the capital, Kyiv, in early March.”

Click here for more of the Times’ top images. (Hat tip: Susan Leone)

Meanwhile, the Times’ other photo feature — the more extended “Year in Pictures” — includes more than half a dozen images from Addario and Tyler Hicks, her colleague who is also a Pulitzer winner and Staples grad (Class of 1988).

The first in the chronological list is from January 19. It’s a shot by Hicks of a Ukrainian soldier at a frontline position. “The world watched nervously as Western countries warned that Russia was preparing to attack Ukraine at any moment,” the caption says.

(Photo/Tyler Hicks for the New York Times)

There was also this harrowing photo of a dead Russian soldier near Kharkiv, as Ukrainian troops defender their land in the first days of the invasion.

(Photo/Tyler Hicks for The New York Times)

“The Year in Pictures” includes this explanatory quote from Hicks:

There was no way to know if you would run into Russian soldiers. I decided to get out of the car and walk to make sure we weren’t going to drive up to any surprises. There was snow on the ground and I wasn’t sure what I was going to find, but I eventually came upon several Russian soldiers who had been killed. I took the photos as quickly as I could because the area where I was working was exposed, and then I got back to cover.

There’s also this iconic shot by Addario, immediately after Russian mortar fire killed a family trying to flee Irpin, near Kyiv. The photo drew worldwide attention to the horrors of Russia’s invasion:

(Photo/Lynsey Addario for the New York Times)

Addario explains:

I was photographing along a civilian evacuation route and was in the actual attack. The shell landed between us. The woman and her two children and the church volunteer were killed. I was just lucky the blast went the other direction and not toward me.

Click here and scroll down, for many more photos by Hicks and Addario (and others). (Hat tip: Evan Stein)

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Speaking of Ukraine: It’s now a few days after Christmas. But the good feelings from Westport’s holiday gift to our sister city of Lyman, Ukraine still linger.

Click below for a brief video — just posted to YouTube’s “Sister Cities Westport Lyman Marigny” channel:

The total amount raised now by our town (and friends and relatives of Westporters) is $209,300. We are closing in on our goal of $250,000.

Tax-deductible donations can be made to Lyman through Ukraine Aid International. Please click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other tax-deductible donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo). You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here).

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Crime took a holiday last week.

Westport Police report no custodial arrests between December 21 and 28. With the cold weather, traffic was light too. These were the only citations issued:

  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 2
  • Following too closely: 2
  • Speeding: 1
  • Evading responsibility: 1
  • Traveling too fast for conditions: 1
  • Failure to drive in proper lane: 1
  • Operating a motor vehicle under suspension: 1
  • Failure to carry certificate of registration/insurance: 1
  • Failure to obey control signal: 1
  • Violation of any traffic commission regulation: 1.

Required by law

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The end of the year is the perfect time for Westport Town Farm to announce programs for the new year.

“Parent and Me” returns, from January through March. Classes include outdoor time for feeding animals, followed by age-appropriate crafts, games or stories inside the Farmhouse.

Families transitioning out of “Parent and Me” enjoy “Toddler Sprouts” (ages 3-5,  Tuesdays at 1:30 p.m.).

A new program — “Tiny Farmers Playdate” — begins in January (Wednesdays, 9 a.m.). Taking place in the Farmhouse, it’s geared toward ages of 0 -18 months.

A new “Rugged Bear Wilderness Club” runs after school. Youngsters ages 11-14 will develop outdoors skills like fire-making, orienteering, using basic hand tools, simple first aid, pitching a tent and being challenged in nature. The club begins February 9.

Spots are also available in the “Fantastic Farmhands” elementary school program.

WTF also runs an MLK Jr. Vacation Day Camp on January 16.

Click here for more information, or email education.wakemantownfarm.org.

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The Appalachian Mountain Club’s Westport Fairfield County Group will “Skate Through New Zealand.”

That’s the topic of their January 10 meeting (Saugatuck Congregational Church; appetizers, wine, dinner at 6:15 p.m.; presentation 7:30 p.m.; members $10, non-members $15).

Speaker Geoffrey Saunders has been skateboarding since he was 10. He lived in New Zealand for a year as an exchange student, and has returned 4 times. He skateboarded 400 miles through North Island, raising funds for Wildlife in Crisis, and will discuss his many adventures.

Reservations not required, but please RSVP: easasso7@icloud.com.

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Several “06880” readers sent photos of last night’s crazy cloud, for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

This Compo Beach view was the most colorful:

(Photo/JD Dworkow)

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And finally … in honor of Geoffrey Saunders’ talk next month to the Appalachian Mountain Club (story above):

(If you’re a skater — or a commenter — or anyone else who reads “06880,” please consider a year-end contribution. Just click here — and thank you!)

Lyman: The World Takes Notice

Westport’s sister city relationship with Lyman, Ukraine began with a question.

After “06880” posted a story about our other sister city, Marigny, France, and their desire to work with us to rebuild a town ravaged by Russian occupation — just as Westport had done in Normandy after World War II — a small group of residents began meeting on Zoom.

We wanted to help a town where we could make a concrete, immediate difference — one that had been overlooked by other aid organizations.

We were fortunate that a fellow Westporter has direct knowledge of Ukraine. Last spring, Brain Mayer left his New York tech job to collect and deliver supplies to that war-torn nation. He and is brother Marshall co-founded Ukraine Aid International.

Our group — Tom Kretsch, Polly Newman, Steve Taranko, Mark Yurkiw, and Clyde, Katya and Kathleen Wauchope — asked Brian for ideas.

He suggested Lyman (pronounced Lee-MON). An important railway juncture in the Donbas region, Lyman was occupied by Russian troops from May 24 through October 1. When the forces fled, they left behind unfathomable destruction.

Map courtesy of Washington Post

But no one was helping.

A week before Christmas — after a haunting Zoom call with our group, Brian and Marshall, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Brian’s on-the-ground partners Liz Olegov and Richard von Groeling, Lyman Mayor Alexander Victoravich Zuravlov, and a high-ranking security officer — we announced our goal: $250,000 in contributions.

The money will buy essential supplies like plywood and other housing material, generators, medication, Starlinks and tractors.

A truck to remove 8 months’ of debris and trash is on the way. On Christmas Day, Brian delivered 400 fresh meals to elderly and infirm Lyman residents, and 491 gifts — one for every child still there.

Now, the world is finally starting to notice Lyman.

Monday’s New York Times included a photo by Pulitzer Prize-winner Tyler Hicks — coincidentally, a Westport native and 1988 Staples High School graduate — showing Ukrainian soldiers leaving Lyman for the front lines.

(Photo by Tyler Hicks for the New York Times)

And yesterday, Lyman was featured prominently in the Washington Post.

The piece — headlined “‘Nothing Left to Destroy’: Russia is Fighting For Land Already in Ruins” — was filed from Lyman.

The piece described the desperation and despair of villagers, from their lives in squalid basement shelters to their sorrow for lost vegetable gardens.

Lubov Gazhla, 62, wears a headlamp as she sits on the bed in the tiny room she is living in underground in Lyman. (Photo/Heidi Levine for the Washington Post)

A particularly poignant paragraph described this scene:

One shell directly struck the kindly 70-year-old amateur beekeeper across the street, nicknamed Mikhalych, as he went to feed the stray dogs in the neighborhood. His body lay in the street, giving off a stench that his neighbors could do nothing about for five days because of the bombardment.

Another section read:

Zoya Konstantinovna, 67, cried into a cloth as she described how missile fire tore into her former home, before showing reporters the sealed sack of water that she uses daily as her shower even now, more than three months after Ukrainian forces retook the city.

Zoya Konstantinovna, 67, sits by a wood-burning stove with a neighbor in the basement of their Lyman apartment building. (Photo/Heidi Levine for the Washington Post)

Roughly two dozen of the hundreds of people who once lived in her apartment complex now spend most of their days in the below-ground bunker, with the shelling still too present a danger to sleep elsewhere.

This week, the mainstream media discovered Lyman.

Reporters may move on soon, as often happens, to another story in another devastated area of the country, or world.

But Westport will continue to remember — and help — Lyman.

After all: It’s our sister city.

(Click here for the full Washington Post story. Hat tips: John Hartwell and Bill Kutik)

Tamara Klimashenko, 61, and her husband Anatoly Klimashenko, 62, visit their damaged home in Lyman. (Photo/Heidi Levine for the Washington Post)

Westport has raised just over $200,000 of our $250,000 goal. Tax-deductible donations can be made to Lyman through Ukraine Aid International. Please click here. Click the “I want to support” box; then select “Support for the City of Lyman.” Scroll down on that page for other tax-deductible donation options (mail, wire transfer and Venmo). You can also donate directly, via Stripe (click here).