Tag Archives: Sunrise Rotary Club

Roundup: Halloween Window Painting, Uncorked Wine, $10,000 Grants …

It’s b-a-a-a-a-c-k!

The annual Halloween window painting contest returns Saturday, October 28.

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce is looking for painters for the popular event. It’s open to elementary and middle school children, with 6 winners in 3 different categories earning gift certificates to Saugatuck Sweets.

Last year, 105 kids painted 65 windows throughout town, individually or in teams. Click here to sign up, and for more information.

But that’s not all.

That night (October 28, 8 p.m., Westport Library), the Chamber presents a Halloween Concert and Costume Ball.

Costumes are encouraged. Prizes will awarded for best outfits, in several categories. Specialty cocktails, beer and wine complement music by Bella’s Bartok, a funk/pop/folk band.

Tickets are $35. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

Halloween window painting collage.


Like a fine wine, Westport Sunrise Rotary’s “Uncorked” fundraiser gets better with age.

This year’s event (october 12, 6 to 9 p.m., The Inn at Longshore) will once again feature extraordinary vintages from the Fine Wine Company of Westport. Cory D’Addario will carefully choose 100 wines for tasting.

She is committed to sustainable, organic or bio-dynamic practices, and looks for integrity from the vineyard and supplier to the store. Passed hors d’oeuvres, creative charcuterie and carving stations will be paired with the wines.

Funds raised benefit the many charities supported by Sunrise Rotary. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Festive crowds, great food and excellent wines, at the Westport Sunrise Rotary’s Uncorked event.


Less than one month remains to get $10,000.

Applications for the Westport Woman’s Club Ruegg Grants close October 20.

The grants, established in 1995 by former member Lea Ruegg, are awarded to non-profit projects that enhance social services, health, safety, the arts or education.

Recent Ruegg Grant beneficiaries include the Westport Astronomical Society, Project Return, Earthplace and Wakeman Town Farm. Proposals should be high-profile initiatives that make a meaningful difference in Westport. Click here for the application form. 


Rain and wind are likely tomorrow.

Stay dry and warm — and learn about dozens of opportunities — at the volunteer fair in the Westport Library’s Trefz Forum.

Co-hosted by the town and League of Women Voters (Saturday, September 23, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), it’s a chance to check out over 2 dozen community organizations. Each will have a staff member to provide information and answer questions.

Participating groups include: A Better Chance of Westport; AWARE; Center for Senior Activities; Club 203; Earthplace; FCJazz; Food Rescue; Friends of Sherwood Island; Guiding Eyes for the Blind; Levitt Pavilion; Staples Tuition Grants; Sunrise Rotary Club; TEAM Westport; Town of Westport; Verso Studios; Veterans of Foreign Wars; Wakeman Town Farm; Westport Book Shop; Westport Community Theatre; Westport Country Playhouse; Westport Emergency Medical Services; Westport League of Women Voters; Westport Library; Westport Permanent Art Collections; Westport Sunrise Rotary; Westport Woman’s Club; Westport Young Woman’s League; Westport-Weston CERT; Westport Weston Family YMCA.

Every year AWARE partners with a different organization, getting to know their work and helping wherever they can. Last year’s partner was Her Time, which serves women affected by incarceration. AWARE is one of many groups at tomorrow’s volunteer fair.


Austin Hatch has an incredible story.

After surviving a plane crash that killed his mother and siblings years earlier, he was critically injured in — and the sole survivor of — a second crash that claimed the lives of his father and stepmother.

His road to recovery — capped by playing basketball for his mother’s alma mater, the University of Michigan — is both astonishing and inspiring.

He’ll tell it next Friday (September 29, 7:30 p.m.) at the Westport Country Playhouse.

Saugatuck Financial is sponsoring the event. They’ve made a few seats available, to friends of “06880.” Click here for tickets, and more information.


When was the last time you went to a real trunk show?

On October 1, you can. On October 1, over 35 Artists Collective of Westport members will (Westport Library lower parking lot, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.), will literally open the trunks of their cars to offer works for viewing and sales.

Okay, some may have vans, but still …

Prices range from $25 to $1,500; most are under $100. They’re bargains — and you can meet the artists too.

Participating artists include Elisa Keogh, Deborah Bohren, Beatrice delPerugia, Nina Bentley, Marc Zaref, Louise Cadoux, Dionne Pia,  Holly Hawthorn, Rosalind Shaffer, Maryann Neilson, Julie Leff, Lisa Silberman, Dolores Santiliquido, Fruma Markowitz, George Radwan, Ronnie Gold, Jean Krasno, Jocelyn Baran, Cecilia Moy, Susan Fehlinger, Dorothy Robertshaw, Cindy Wagner, Robin Babbin, Michael Brennecke, Susan Murray, Debbie Smith, Rebecca Fuchs, Elizabeth DeVoll, Janine Brown, Leonor Dao Turut, Hernan Garcia, Carla Goldberg, Barbara Ringer, Jane Fleischne and Maj Kalfus.

Jazz/pop singer Melissa Newman is an added attraction.


Many Westporters volunteer at Mercy Learning Center.

They help provide literacy and life skills training to women in need. They’ll be at the non-profit’s annual fundraiser October 1 (Shorehaven Golf Club, Norwalk, 5 to 8 p.m.), and encourage many others to join them.

The evening of cocktails, tastings and a live auction is a chance to learn more about this wonderful organization. New president and CEO Lindsay Wyman will be introduced too. Click here for tickets, and more information.


Westport resident Mitchell Green pleaded guilty this week to wire fraud charges in Newark.

He stole more than $2 million by selling Champagne and cognac at artificially inflated wholesale prices. He also got kickbacks on the transaction, which led to litigation by a company owned by 50 Cent.

“Though he was supposed to negotiate the best deal possible for his employer, Green set up secret side deals to inflate what his employer paid so that he could reap millions of dollars in kickbacks,” said Philip Sellinger, US attorney for the District of New Jersey. “Companies must be able to rely on the integrity of their agents to conduct business.”

Green faces up to 20 years in prison, plus a large fine. He will be sentenced in January. (Hat tip: Allan Siegert)

50 Cent


Want to buy a lighthouse?

A Westport resident did.

He bid $360,000, and won the Penfield Lighthouse off Fairfield.

The property contains a 51-foot tall octagonal light house built in 1874, and a 2-story, 1,568- square foot keepers’ quarters. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. 

The bidder is remaining anonymous for now. Still ahead is final approval by the General Services Administration, then negotiations with the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection on the long-term lease.

The bidders will then form a steering committee of local stakeholders, to figure out how best to embrace this offshore treasure. They hope to open it to the broader community for education, events and more.

“06880” will follow this lighthouse story to the end. It’s a beacon of hope for all.

Penfield Lighthouse


Tuesday’s Westport Rotary Club guest speaker was Rotary International’s Celeste Herbert. She noted that the group’s contributions to the Rotary Foundation help it impact communities around the world, in areas like education and literacy; economic development; maternal and child health; peace building and conflict prevention; water, sanitation and hygiene; the environment, and disease prevention and treatment.

Herbert praised Westport Rotary for their “audacity” in addressing important issues, and believing they can make a difference.

Celeste Herbert at the Westport Rotary Club.


It’s mid-September — past the Levitt Pavilion’s traditional closing date — but the outdoor entertainment venue continues to rock.

Last night’s attraction was Borboletta. The Santana tribute band drew a summer-like large crowd.

Borboletta at the Levitt Pavilion. (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)


Goose H290 has been hanging around Westport for several years.

Time for his/her/its closeup on “Westport … Naturally”:

(Photo/Matt Murray)


And finally … happy birthday to Andrea Bocelli. The Italian tenor was born on this day 65 years ago.

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Roundup: Untimely Death, Frazier Forman Peters, Pesto …

The on-scene investigation of the “untimely death” of a 56-year-old woman — found yesterday at 11 a.m. — was completed at 12:45 this morning by the Westport Police Detective Bureau, assisted by the Connecticut State Police Major Crime unit. The investigation remains active.

The woman was identified as Jennifer Lindstrom, of 3 Oak Ridge Park. Westport Police responded to the residence after a housekeeper found her unresponsive at the bottom of a staircase leading to the basement.


Among the hidden-in-plain-sight treasures of Westport: Frazier Forman Peters houses.

Between 1924 and 1936, the architect designed and built over 40 distinctive stone homes in Westport (and more in surrounding towns).

On November 5 Histoury — a non-profit dedicated to significant buildings — offers a bus tour of 20 Frazier Forman Peters houses. Experts will offer commentary on their designs and histories. Several interior tours will be included.

Tickets are $75 for adults, $49 for students. Click here to purchase. For more information on Frazier Forman Peters, click here.

A Frazier Forman Peters house on Riverview Road with fieldstone facades, slate roof and copper gutters.


There’s always something new at the Westport Farmers’ Market.

Yesterday, it was this hand-lettered sign from Fort Hill Farm, offering a simple recipe for basil pesto.

“Beautiful flowers and foods, live music, kid’s crafts — it was a great vibe,” says Jo Shields Sherman, who sent the sign shot to “06880.”

(Photo/Jo Shields Sherman)

The Farmers’ Market is halfway through its season. It runs every Thursday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.


Report from the transfer station:

The recycling section was roped off yesterday, for electrical work to install a dedicated cardboard compactor.

The new cardboard compactor will allow cardboard to leave in its own dedicated stream, like the glass dumpster currently does.

In the meantime, temporary bins were set up this morning to accept recyclables.

(Photo and hat tip/Ken Stamm)


Here’s our first Halloween-related story of the year. (No, it is not Dunkin’s pumpkin lineup — although it is already available.)

This is about CLASP‘s “Rockin’ Halloween Bash.” Set for October 20 (Fairfield Theatre Company), it features lite bits from Little Pub, and live music from Band Central — the popular group made up of clients at the organization providing group homes and other services for people with autism and intellectual disabilities.

Click here for tickets, and other information.


Also on October 20 (and 21 and 22): StoryFest.

The 6th annual Westport Library event — the largest literary event in Connecticut — has just secured Stephen Graham Jones as moderator for the keynote conversation with Neil Gaiman.

Tickets are available starting at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, August 22. Click here to order. The event is free, but seats are limited.

In addition, Eric LaRocca will cap a full day of Saturday events with a staged reading of his new play, “Gentle Hacksaw.”

Tickets for LaRocca are $20, and are available now. They include a reception with StoryFest authors, small bites and a cash bar.

From left: Stephen Graham Jones, Neil Gaiman, Eric LaRocca.


A bit earlier than October — Sunday, August 27 — MoCA sponsors “Kaleidoscope,” a 1-day exhibition featuring works from  MoCA Gives Back Healing Arts, as well as Camp MoCA Westport participants. Food trucks will be on site.

Click here for more information.


Oliver Bub is rowing his boat — all the way to Serbia.

Or at least, in the Balkan country.

The Staples High School 2014 Biology Student of the Year is part of the men’s eight team that will represent the US at the World Rowing Championships next month in Belgrade. He was an alternate on last year’s squad.

The 6-6, 205-pound Dartmouth College graduate was Saugatuck Rowing Club’s 2015 Most Valuable Oarsman. He lives now in Oakland, and rows for the California Rowing Club.  (Hat tip: Lisa Marriott)

Oliver Bub


“Monarchs in Motion” — a free September 7 (6 p.m.) event at Earthplace — does not refer to King Charles’ recent ascension to the throne.

It’s about “understanding how insect movement and dispersal ecology informs conservation planning.” Speaker Dr. Kelsey Fisher is an “insect movement ecologist.”

There is space for 100 people. Click here to register, and for more information.

Dr. Kelsey Fisher 


Earlier this month, the Westport Sunrise Rotary Club honored 34 members with Paul Harris Society awards.

They’re presented to Rotarians who give $1,000 to the Rotary Foundation. New fellows include Holly McCarthy, Mike Hibbard, Gail Lavielle, Jeff Cohen, Helen Garten, Anil Nair, Liz Wong, Tim Wetmore, Jacquie Masumian, Karen Klein, Jen Tooker, Bruce Paul, Ron Holtz, Yvonne Senturia and Barbara Levy.

Those honored for donating $2,000 were Tom Ayres, Jane Ross, Linda Bruce, Eileen Flug, George Masumian, Mark Mathias and Carole Rubenstein.

Donors at the $3,000 level were Bill Harmer, Ann Lloyd, Steve Violette, Joe Renzulli and Arnold K. Wolgast.

Sheilan Keenan contributed $4,000; Hal Levy and Rick Jaffe gave $5,000; Bob Galan, $6,000; Brian Strong and Arlo Ellison, $8,000, and — topping the Paul Harris Society list — Eric Zielinski and Martin Burger, at $9,000.


Tessie DeMattia — a chef who worked for over 40 years with her brother Frank DeMace, the founder of Mario’s Place — died Tuesday.

Tessie is survived by her daughter, Linda Voulgarakis (John) of West Haven; son James of Dummerston, Vermont; grandchildren Dawn Blinn, Libby Mazzella, David Aronson, Nikki Voulgarakis and Harry Voulgarakis, and 4 great-grandchildren.

In addition to her husband Liberty Michael DeMattia, she was predeceased by her daughter Sandra Blinn; siblings Dominick, Frank, Michael and Joseph DeMace and Marie Wallacem and granddaughter Jacqueline Perez.

A funeral service will be tomorrow (Friday, August 18, 11 a.m., Shaughnessey Banks Funeral Home, Fairfield). Friends may greet her family one hour prior to the service. Interment will follow in Oak Lawn Cemetery.

Tessie DeMattia


Sunil Hirani calls today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo — shot at Compo Beach — “Leapfrog.”

Look closely to see why.

(Photo/Sunil Hirani)


And finally … on this day in 1977, Elvis Presley’s funeral was held at Graceland.

The “King of Rock ‘n’ Roll” had several phases in his career. Among them:

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Roundup: Fireworks Trash, Long Lots, Prospect Gardens …

Thousands of people had a blast at last night’s fireworks.

There was wonderful community spirit. Friends met; strangers mingled; joy filled the air.

The one downside: Not everyone picked up after themselves.

Totney Benson notes: “Substantial debris was left behind. Most impressive was the carefully piled and bagged trash and pizza boxes a mere 15 steps from the trash bins!”

(Photo/Rick Carpenter)

So Public Works and Parks & Recreation Department employees were out in force, all night long and right through dawn, making sure Compo Beach and Soundview Drive look perfect for the weekend.

(Photo/Rick Carpenter)

Thanks to all who helped — those who cleaned up after themselves, and those who cleaned up after those who did not.

And if you left a mess: Just think about the message you sent to Westport.

Especially to your kids.

(Photo/Karen Como)


The Long Lots School Building Committee posted this on Facebook:

“The LLS Building is working through the feasibility phase of the project. The committee, along with an architectural design firm and construction management company, is still evaluating and discussing all three options for the future of LLS.

“Options include: 1) Renovate the existing school as new, 2) Renovate the existing school as new plus build additions, or, 3) Build a new school building. With all three options, the existing school needs to remain open and in use during construction.

“No recommendations or decisions regarding how to proceed have been made. The committee expects to make a recommendation to the Selectwoman’s office in August.

“The committee is taking great care to evaluate all aspects of the site to find the ideal location for a new building or additions, while respecting the residential neighborhood, maintaining town fields, ensuring adequate parking, and preserving or relocating town assets such as the community gardens – it is a challenging balance!

“While the school is the priority, the committee fully appreciates the beauty and value of the community gardens, as well as the importance of town fields and maintaining a symbiotic relationship with neighbors. At this point, the committee is considering all options before making its recommendation. We know the town governing bodies and Westport residents would want and expect nothing less.

“The LLSBC will hold its next scheduled meeting on Friday, June 30 at 10 a.m. All Building Committee meetings are noticed on the Town website. The public is welcome to attend and there is time for public comment/questions at the meetings.”

The Long Lots Elementary School campus. (Drone photo/Brandon Malin)


Westport celebrated the 4th of July with fireworks last night, on June 29th.

But there are still 5 days to go until the holiday. And many Westporters will be thinking of more pyrotechnics.

Westport Fire Marshal Terry Dunn says, “The public has been overwhelmed with advertisement, signs, and sales pitches of so-called fireworks. The only legal ‘fireworks’ items in Connecticut are sparklers.

Sparklers are non-explosive, non-aerial devices that contain less than 100 grams of pyrotechnic material. They can be legally used only by persons aged 16 or older.”

Novelty items like party poppers, snakes, smoke devices and anything that emits a flame are not legal for private use in Connecticut. In addition to being illegal, exploding devices can cause painful, debilitating injuries.

Sky lanterns (small hot air balloons made of paper, with an opening at the bottom where a small fire burns) are also illegal in Connecticut. They can cause fires and injury. The flaming lantern can travel long distances and drop onto roof tops, fields, trees and power lines.

Our area has experienced dry conditions, making it very easy for fireworks, sparklers and fountains to cause brush fires. Extreme caution must be exercised even with campfires, as the fire danger has been elevated.

Possessing or causing to explode fireworks can result in a fine or incarceration.

Sparklers are legal — but only for people 16 and older. (Photo/Dan Woog)


Westport Police made 1 custodial arrest between June 21 and 28.

A woman was arrested for larceny, conspiracy to commit larceny, identity theft and conspiracy to commit identity theft.

A companion had been arrested on similar charges earlier. They stemmed from the complaint of a First County Bank customer, after a fraudulent check of hers was cashed for $2,940. Her car had been broken into, and her purse stolen.

Police also issued these citations:

  • Failure to comply with state traffic commission regulations: 4 citations
  • Failure to obey traffic control signals: 3
  • Larceny: 1
  • Distracted driving: 1
  • Driving with a foreign license for more than 30 days: 1
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 1
  • Violation of readable plates: 1
  • Failure to obey stop sign: 1
  • Failure to drive right: 1


Over 30 Y’s Men of Westport & Weston members, and their guests, were treated to a tour of Prospect Gardens on Wednesday.

Owners Melissa and John Ceriale welcomed the visitors, who were led by curator/landscape designer/master planner Cindy Shumate.

The Prospect Road property includes nearly 9 acres of flowers, shrubs, lawns, walking paths, meadows, orchards, trees and more.

Y’s Men and guests, at Prospect Gardens. (Photo/Dave Matlow)


If you missed Alison Stewart’s WNYC “All of It” interview about the Westport Library’s first-in-the-nation record label vinyl release — no problem.

You can hear it — including an interview with sound engineer Travis Bell, artist Dani Capalbo, and some of the music recorded at the Library’s Verso Studio — by clicking here.

Travis Bell, at work.


The year is winding down for the Westport Sunrise Rotary Club. On Wednesday, new president Liz Wong was inducted.

They’re still smiling over last weekend’s Great Duck Race. More than 3,000 plastic ducks “competed,” raising more than $70,000 that the club will donate to charities.

Here’s the entire event, in just 42 seconds:


Stacy Prince offers an intriguing close-up, in today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature.

(Photo/Stacy Prince)


And finally … Bobby Osborne, a singer and mandolin player whose bluegrass band flouted convention by using drums, electric bass, pedal steel guitar, twin banjos and string sections — and were the first to amplify their instruments — died Tuesday near Nashville. He was 91.

The Osborne Brothers are best known for their 1967 record, “Rocky Top.” Click here for full obituary.

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Roundup: Metro-North, Super-Duper Weenies, All-Terrain Wheelchair …

The Connecticut Legislature could cut up to $40 million from the $267 million the state pays to fund Metro-North’s New Haven line.

That would slice the number of daily trains from 309 to 260. Both peak and off-peak service would be affected.

Click here for the full New York Daily News story. (Hat tip: Peter Gold)


Club 203 had a super-duper time last night.


The Super Duper Weenie Truck) fed over 100 attendees, at Longshore’s Evan Harding Point picnic area.

The group — part of Westport’s social organizations for adults with disabilities — enjoying dancing, dining, dessert, yard games, art with MOCA, and relaxing, all with great views of Long Island Sound.

Organizers give a shoutout too to their “super-duper volunteers.”

Club 203’s next event is June 15 (6:30 to 8 p.m.), at the Westport Library. Click here for details.

Club 203 fun at Longshore. (Photo/Jacqueline Lobdell)


Wakeman Town Farm is a fantastic resource for people of all ages and interests.

Now, it’s accessible to those with mobility issues.

The Westport Garden Club recently donated funds for a Fold & Go all-terrain electric wheelchair. It’s been delivered, just in time for the spring/summer season.

People with limited mobility, or their friends or relatives, should email  education@wakemantownfarm.org before a visit. The Farm’s dducation coordinator will have the wheelchair waiting.

From left: Kelle Ruden, Joan Andrews and Ginger Donaher, with the all-terrain wheelchair at Wakeman Town Farm.


Visitors to yesterday’s Westport Farmers’ Market enjoyed great weather; the usual wide variety of food, herbs and more — and a “Ducks in Buckets” game.

The Westport Sunrise Rotary Club was there, promoting their annual Great Duck Race.

$10,000.00 in prize money will be given away; the grand prize winner gets $5,000 of it. All proceeds go to charities.

The annual fundraiser is Saturday, June 24 at Jesup Green. Attendance is free. Tickets to compete are available online; at the Farmers’ Market next Thursday (July 1); from any club member, and the day of the race.  

Pitching in for the Great Duck Race, at the Farmers’ Market.


Climate change and racial justice are key issues.

And they’re related. Environmental impacts cross borders. They affect every group of citizens.

On June 1 (7 p.m., Westport Library), Roosevelt Institute director of climate policy Rhiana Gunn-Wright will explore the connections between environmental justice and racial justice. Her talk is called “Just Transitions to Regional Sustainability.”

The event is part of a Saugatuck Congregational Church initiative to “embrace our coastal community” and is a partnership with the Library, TEAM Westport, and Sustainable Westport. Click here for more information.

Rhiana Gunn-Wright


“06880” usually bird dogs new businesses.

But we missed the arrival recently of Birddogs.

The mens’ shorts/pants/polo shirts shop is open in Brooks Corner. It’s their 3rd brick-and-mortar store. The others are in New York City and Short Hills, New Jersey.

Click here for their minimalist website. Or check them out for yourself.

(Photo and hat tip/Stacey Henske)


Coming soon at the Westport Country Playhouse:

A reading of the comedy “Quick Service” as part of the New Works series (June 5, 7 p.m.; meet the playwright and director afterward). All tickets are $25. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

A “Script in Hand” play reading of Agatha Christie’s “The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd” (June 12, 7 p.m.). All tickets are $25. Click here to purchase, and for more information.


A longtime tradition continued this morning.

A group of dads gathered at 5:30 a.m. to install a water slide for Kings Highway Elementary School’s field day.

At 100 feet long and 50 feet wide, that’s no easy task.

Even harder, no doubt, will be wrestling it — big and wet — back into its original packaging.

Great weather for a water slide!


Sorelle Gallery on Church Lane showcases Daniel Pollera and Michele Poirier-Mozzone, from June 2 through 24.

He focuses on land and seascapes, while she paints soft, fragmented figures from underwater vantage points. Both explore themes of water and light, and the relationship between them.

Click here for more information.

Artwork by Daniel Pollera


Speaking of art: Around the corner from Sorelle, in Sconset Square, Vanessa Lewis’ recently relocated her Penfield Collective “retail concept” (I’m assuming that means “store”) from Fairfield.

Now there’s a new addition, right outside.

Donna Forma’s sculpture has been installed at the door. Made of laminated walnut, it has been treated to become weather resistant.

The new artwork is all in the family. Lewis is Forma’s daughter.

Donna Forma’s sculpture.


Summer is near. Which means more and more beachgoers will see sights like this — today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo:

(Photo/Johanna Keyser Rossi)

Horseshoe crabs are fascinating creatures. Scary, ugly, primordial, they send a strong message: “Stay away. This is our beach. We were here first.”

We walk warily past them.

Unless you’re a kid. In which case you pick them up, with a combination of courage and awe.


And finally … Rolf Harris, the Australian singer whose “Tie Me Kangaroo  Down, Sport” was a huge novelty hit, but whose long career on British television ended when he was convicted of sexually abusing teenage girls — died earlier this month in England. He was 93.

Click here for a full obituary.

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Roundup: Board Of Ed, Downtown, Scam Alert …

This week’s Board of Education community conversation was wide-ranging, robust and fruitful. If you missed

It was so successful, the board will schedule another conversation. They’ll begin with the topics they ended with: books in the high school library, and equity action planning.

The next event will be scheduled in the evening. When the date is finalized, “06880” will let you know.


“Reconnecting the Riverfront” — the town’s plan addressing downtown parking and pedestrian access — moving into its second public engagement phase.

Initial design concepts and a second public survey are available here. The public is invited to complete the survey, and add comments.

Screenshot from the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee’s website. A public survey is on the site too.


Sure, Buffalo got whacked with a super snowstorm yesterday.

But at Compo Beach, the temperature was a balmy 42

So these 8 intrepid folks went for a midday swim.

Happy November 18!

(Photo/Matt Murray)


Meanwhile, around the corner, a wedding took place on the Old Mill Beach sand.

Because of the cold, it was quick — almost over before it began, reports Andrew Colabella.

No word on who the bride and groom are. Or where they headed next.

Hopefully, some place a bit warmer.

(Photo/Andrew Colabella)


More proof it was cold yesterday: A crew was at work early, warming up Hillspoint Road to fill in the cracks.

It’s one of those little things most people never see. Or even think about.

Jonathan Rosenoer spotted it, and took a photo. Thanks to all the workers on this project.

Little things mean a lot.

(Photo/Jonathan Rosenoer)


Meanwhile, last night, a couple of hundred people enjoyed dozens of wines (and excellent hors d’oeuvres), at Westport Sunrise Rotary’s annual (but first since COVID) “Uncorked” fundraiser.

The tastings were courtesy of The Fine Wine Company. The dining came courtesy of the host Inn at Longshore.

And the money raised? It all goes to the many worthy program — here and abroad — supported by our excellent Sunrise Rotary Club.

Last night’s “Westport Uncorked,” at the Inn at Longshore. (Photo/Dan Woog)


Scam alert!

A reader writes: “The other day I dropped an envelope into a mailbox between the diner and dance studio. I felt something sticky, and realized the envelope was not falling into the box.”

“I called the check’s recipient a few days later. They had not gotten the check. I went to the box to see if I could retrieve it. I couldn’t, so I went to the post office. They gave me a number to call.

“I called, and found out I was scammed. The sticky page catches my envelope. Thieves erase and change all the information they need: signature, amount, routing and account numbers.

“I had to go to the bank, get new account numbers, order new checks, remember all my direct deposits and notify them.

“Why isn’t something posted about this scam? The post office and bank know about it. Why hasn’t he public been alerted?


Since graduating from Staples High School in 2013, and Middlebury College 4 years later, August Laska has done many things.

He worked for Snapchat and Disney. He co-produced an Off-Broadway show. He was a marketer.

Now — after being furloughed in the pandemic — he’s got a new gig. He owns The Old Yew Plant Shop on Horatio Street in the West Village.

It offers plants for all tastes and plant-growing abilities, plus landscaping and installation services, expert advice, and anything else city dwellers need (for their plants, anyway).

August always loved plants. But not until his temporary COVID-induced move back to Westport did he have a chance to indulge in his passion.

Work on his yard led to requests by relatives and friends. When someone asked him to do his work indoors — bingo.

This week, Off the Grid — a Village blog — profiled August and The Old Yew Plant Shop. Click here for a story that’s even livelier than Audrey II.

But August is not sitting around twiddling his (green) thumbs. He’ll open a second Manhattan location soon.

August Laska at The Old Yew Plant Shop. (Photo courtesy of Off the Grid)


Westport’s oldest church has its newest organ.

And its most up-to-date technology.

Tomorrow’s Green’s Farms Congregational organ rededication — with a concert by renowned improvisationist Justin Bischof, in honor of organist Rick Tripodi, who oversaw the reinstallation but died just before completion — is set for 4 p.m. tomorrow (Sunday, November 20).

Can’t make it? Click here for the livestream.


Longtime Westporter Dick Rauh is 97 years old.

But you’re never too old to have a Westport Library exhibit.

His botanical paintings will be featured in the Sheffer Gallery, from December 5 through February 28. An artist talk and reception, with Rauh and Miggs Burroughs, is set for January 20.

“I am extremely fortunate to be granted the ability to continue to function as well as I do as the years pass,” says Rauh, who took up botanical painting in retirement, after a long career in motion pictures special effects.

“Spread along these walls are the results of what I have observed looking closely at flowers over the years. Whether in my quest for the accurate I have managed to bring a personal statement is for you to judge. It is enough for me that you will look at flowers in a way you never have before.”

Rauh won the gold medal and Best in Show awards at the 2006 Royal Horticultural Society Show in London, and his work is in several permanent collections. He has taught in the botanical illustration certificate program at the New York Botanical Gardens since 1994 and was named its Teacher of the Year in 2010. He also teaches widely in  senior centers.

Two other exhibits will be featured at the Library too: “Speak to Me” (woven art by Westporter Tina Puckett), and 8 works from the Westport Public Art Collections.

Click here for more information.

Dick Rauh, and his art.


Westport’s Thiel Architecture + Design is known for its office, restaurant, retail and residential projects.

Now they’re known by the Connecticut chapter of the American Institute of Architect too.

Thiel’s design of a Brooklyn office will receive an Excellence in Interior Architecture award. It and 5 other designs are in contention for Connecticut Project of the Year.

The design is for a company that downsized after the pandemic. The new Williamsburg space “functions less as a ‘workhouse’ and more as a ‘clubhouse,’a gathering place where employees come together to re-energize, zoom with remote clients and collaborators, and do intermittent touchdown work.”

Thiel is currently designing the future Weston Town Green, and last year worked with the Westport Farmers’ Market on a concept for a permanent home at the Imperial Avenue lot. 

Thiel Architecture’s award-winning Brooklyn office. (Photo/Sam Sachs Morgan)


With winter near (despite the Compo swimmers, above), Westporters are stocking up on wood.

James Parisi is one of the few who chops his own.

And probably the only one who takes such a dramatic photo of his work.

Now it will warm him 3 times: Once when he chopped it. Then when he burns it. And now, when he sees it featured as today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo.

(Photo/James Parisi)


And finally … Happy International Men’s Day!

Yes, it’s a thing.





Remembering Tom Hofstetter

Longtime Westporter Tom Hofstetter — whose civic involvement in Westport included Sunrise Rotary, sports, the arts, his church and more —  died peacefully last week in Aiken, South Carolina. He was 90.

The Baltimore native majored in history at Washington College, then attended the University of Maryland Law School. After training at the Army Intelligence School, he served as an undercover CIC agent in Japan and Korea, at the end of the Korean War.

Back in the US, he obtained credentials from a small Maryland newspaper, and traveled to Cuba to report on the revolution there. He endured a restaurant bombing, and had weapons pointed in his face.

Returning to Baltimore, Tom worked in sales with Dun & Bradstreet, then transitioned into the brokerage business with Merrill Lynch. He became Walston & Company’s Northeastern sales manager, while completing courses at the University of Pennsylvania’s Investment Banking Institute.

Tom proposed to his wife Sally the first day he met her, at a Sunday morning church service.

He worked closely with Maryland’s governor and Baltimore’s mayor on many civic initiatives. He held leadership positions on the Baltimore Jail Board, Airport Planning Commission, Jaycees and Tourism Commission, and Fort McHenry. In 1964 he ran as the Republican candidate for Maryland’s 7th US Congressional District.

After moving to Westport in 1969, Tom served as vice president at Walston’s New York headquarters, and was active at the New York Stock Exchange. He led their first national marketing conference, and was pivotal in the exchange’s expansion into insurance and annuity sales.


After Wall Street, he opened Westport’s first brokerage branch. He built an extensive brokerage presence in Fairfield County, as Salomon Smith Barney’s vice president of investments.

He also traveled throughout Europe, in Hungary and Slovenia prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain. He sailed extensively too, on his sailboat moored at Compo Beach.

In Westport Tom founded the Sunrise Rotary Club, and served as president of Little League. He was also chief of the Tanka Tiki Indians – YMCA Indian Guides; board member of the Westport-Weston Foundation; board member of the Westport Historical Society; deacon of Greens Farms Congregational Church; 2-term master of Masonic Lodge #65; president of the Norwalk Symphonic Orchestra, and chairman of the board of Ashlar of Newtown, a skilled nursing facility.

In retirement Tom spent time at his Vermont cabin of 30 years, exploring the back country. He and Sally also traveled through the Caribbean, Russia, the Cape of Good Hope and the Arctic. He became a scholar of Arctic history and a collector of Inuit art, traveling extensively by light aircraft and Russian icebreaker to the far reaches of the area.

Relocating to Aiken in 1998, Tom promoted the arts. He served as president of the Augusta Opera, co-founder and past chairman of the Aiken Symphony, founder of the Aiken Opera Society, and trustee of Friends of Hopelands and Rye Patch, Inc.

He also created Aiken Performing Arts, which introduced the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra to the area in 2005. He brought in world-class artists, while creating outreach opportunities through master classes and more.

Tom is survived by Sally, his wife of 62 year; son Thomas C. Hofstetter III, daughter Kimberly Dracon, 5 grandsons and sister Joyce May.

Funeral services are set for Saturday, June 25 in Aiken. Tom will be laid to rest on Thursday, June 30 in Westport, at a private family burial.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Aiken Symphony Orchestra, 262 East Gate Drive #440, Aiken, SC 29803.

Tooker, Goldstein: State Of Town Is “Very Strong”

The state of Westport is “very strong.”

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker delivered that assessment yesterday afternoon to a large crowd at the Westport Library, and more residents watching online.

Board of Education chair Lee Goldstein offered a similar verdict, for the Westport Public Schools.

The 5th annual “State of the Town” meeting was sponsored by Westport’s 2 Rotary clubs. RTM moderator Jeff Wieser led the session.

In her opening remarks, 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker gave a shout-out to Olympic silver medalist snowboarder (and Westport resident) Julia Marino.

Tooker used town poet laureate Diane Lowman’s words — “resilient, optimistic, Westport strong” — in her opening remarks.

COVID has demanded a “vigilant, respectful” response — and municipal employees have delivered it “professionally and compassionately,” she said. Now, we begin to focus on “a return to the activities of living.”

Tooker spoke about various departments, including:

  • Human Services (expanded outreach, and reopening the Senior Center)
  • Police Department (“proactive service, and an ongoing commitment to transparency”)
  • Fire Department (administering over 5,000 COVID vaccines)
  • Human Resources (29 new hires last year)
  • Town Clerk (more online tax payments and dog licenses)
  • Parks & Recreation (record usage of golf, tennis, Cockenoe Island and clamming permits)

Tooker cited Sustainable Westport and a “restaurant renaissance” as other highlights of the year.

In addition, she thanked Police, Fire and EMS for their swift response 3 weeks ago, when her father suffered a heart attack.

Before 1st Selectwoman Tooker’s remarks on Westport, she sported a very local “nautical landmarks mask” from Savvy + Grace.

Her priorities for the future include upgrades to downtown (including Parker Harding Plaza, Jesup Green, and the Imperial Avenue and Baldwin parking lots); a new Longshore capital improvement plan; flood mitigation; sidewalk projects, and a new Traffic Safety Commission that will hold public meetings in all 9 RTM districts. The “Cross Highway corridor” near North Avenue will be a top priority.

In her schools presentation, Goldstein noted numerous awards and achievements. However, she warned, the district is not resting on its laurels.

Four key areas of attention include facilities (with a comprehensive look at Long Lots Elementary), and master plans for the 7 other buildings; strategic planning; social and emotional learning, and diversity, equity and inclusion.

Board of Education chair Lee Goldstein.

Audience members then asked questions on hot town issues.

Regarding TEAM Westport, Tooker repeated her words at the body’s meeting last week: “I am fully committed to preserving the original mission, to achieve and celebrate a more welcoming and inclusive Westport community.”

Goldstein said that Westport schools have “a rich and long partnership” with the organization. “Their advisory capacity is very important to us. The Board of Education shares their commitment to multiculturalism, and lessening racism, homophobia and xenophobia.”

She said that the police, clergy, Library and Westport Country Playhouse — “and of course the schools” — attend TEAM meetings, as they do with other advisory groups like the Westport Arts Advisory Board.

Speaking personally, she added, “I categorically and unequivocally support the mission of TEAM Westport.”

Tooker used those comments to add thoughts on recent debates on issues like these.

“The community wants constructive discussions of important topics,” the 1st Selectwoman said. She expressed hope for “constructive discourse, in the way we know how to have it as Westporters.”

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker and Board of Education chair Lee Goldstein answer audience questions.

On mask policies, Goldstein said she hoped the state would issue guidelines if the current mandate is not extended past February 15. If not, she said, the board will hear recommendations from the Westport Weston Health District, and medical advisors. “We will approach the off-ramp when it’s safe and appropriate,” she said.

Tooker noted that Westport’s current mask mandate applies only to town-owned buildings. The COVID Emergency Management Team meets every week, she said. Meanwhile, high rates of both vaccinations and previous infections here make future decisions will be made on different metrics than before.

Tooker refuted the belief that crime is up in Westport — though car thefts definitely are. She and police officials are holding neighborhood meetings. She urged the public to offer other ideas for mitigating strategies.

Tooker replied to a question about dredging the Saugatuck River by describing it as a complex project involving federal, state and local permitting and funds. She praised Congressman Jim Himes, former town director of operations Sara Harris and Public Works director Pete Ratkiewich for their work with officials at all levels.

So what keeps Tooker up at night?

Cybersecurity, for one. She feels “great” about town mitigation efforts, but knows that municipalities are “under siege.”

Affordable housing, for another. The first selectwoman fears “losing local control of how we diversify our housing stock.”

A third worry: “the lack of civil discourse everywhere. We struggle, as a country and a community. We can do better.”

Goldstein answered the question with praise of Westport

“I feel so blessed to be in this town,” the Board of Ed chair said. “Our problems are many. But I’m so grateful to live here, with these schools.”

But, she continued, “I worry about our families, kids and teachers. Imagine dealing with your own kids. Now think about 20 in one classroom. It’s exhausting.”

Still, she said, “I see some school board meetings in other places that are crazy.

“Ours are not. I’m good with that.”

Westport’s 2 Rotary Clubs sponsored the “State of the Town” event.


Here is the full text of 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker’s speech:

To the Rotary Clubs, thank you to both for hosting the annual State of Town Address. As a Sunrise Rotarian, who doesn’t make many meetings lately, I so appreciate all that you do for the community. Thank you to the Library for allowing us to use your space and technology to reach as many Westporters as possible.  It is an honor and a pleasure to be here with you to share the progress Westport has made over the past year, and to update you on some of the exciting opportunities that we are now pursuing.

I’ve officially celebrated 8 weeks in office. And it has been quite a ride. But first, let’s talk about the past year.

Haiku from poet laureate Diane Lowman:

The state of the town

Resilient optimistic

We are Westport strong

There is little doubt that the past year has been one of challenges and uncertainty. However, I can proudly say that our yown employees, our elected and appointed members of Westport’s Board and Commissions, our businesses, and our amazing residents have faced these difficult times with professionalism, perseverance, and resiliency. The State of our yown is indeed very strong.

Surges and drops in Covid-19 cases during the past 12 months have required all of us to be flexible and vigilant in our efforts to protect against the virus while reclaiming a new normal in our work, schools, and daily lives where possible. I wish to extend my heartfelt and deepest appreciation for my predecessor, First Selectman Jim Marpe, for his tremendous leadership during this time.

Our administration has and will continue to follow the data and the science and the recommendations from state and local health experts to enact policies that mitigate risk while also – and this is critically important – allowing us all to return to the activities and way of living we expect and deserve. While the way we live, work, and play will continue to evolve, we must and will move forward together. Our town will support our residents’ post-pandemic lifestyle choices as we continue to deliver the highest quality services, facilities, and amenities for our entire community.

I would like to take a few minutes to provide you with an accounting of our town’s undertakings and accomplishments over the past year. I would also like to recognize at this point the talented, dedicated town employees who have been on the front lines serving our residents throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, and have done so with professionalism and compassion that makes me very proud to lead this amazing workforce. Our town employees are the very definition of essential workers and each and every one of them has contributed to our town’s success.

In Town Hall, our Human Resources Department had a busy year recruiting candidates to fill 29 important open positions in a very difficult job market for employers. As you know, we are competing with other towns and businesses who are experiencing worker shortages. It is a testament to our reputation as a top-notch employer that we can attract these impressive hires which are a diverse and accomplished group. We welcome them to our community and to our town Hall family.

Several of these terrific new hires have joined us in the Tax Collectors office, following the retirement of some long-time employees, and the department is now under the direction of our new Tax Collector, Christine Allison. This year, the department saw a marked increase in online tax payments compared to the year before and we will encourage that trend to continue.  And we look forward to some good news about the grand list from our Tax Assessor’s office this week.

We hired a new town clerk this past year, Jeff Dunkerton, whose office for the first time offered online dog licenses for residents. This new program was a group effort between our IT Department, our operations director and our Town Clerk’s Office, and is just one of many examples of how we can better deliver services for Westporters through cooperation, collaboration and technology. In addition to our new town clerk, we also have 2 new registrars of voters and 2 new deputies and together this brand-new team managed a successful municipal election along with registering 100s of new residents to vote.

Speaking of new residents, we all know Westport’s real estate market was impacted significantly. With 100s of new residents and of course current residents wanting to improve their homes, our land use departments were incredibly busy – seeing a surge in permits. The same was seen on the commercial side with dozens of new businesses opening in Westport. Our Building Department implemented new software to allow permits and inspections to be viewed on line. Other land use departments — P&Z, Conservation, Health and Engineering along with our IT Department — continue pursue a comprehensive, on-line permitting system. They are dangerously close. We are always looking for ways to innovate and serve our residents and businesses more efficiently and effectively.

So, what has attracted all these new residents? There are many answers to that question. But in addition to our excellent schools, our parks and beaches continue to be a primary reason why people move to Westport. Our Parks and Recreation Department has been at the forefront of delivering opportunities, first-class amenities, and recreational activities for all Westporters. Recently, we hired a new parks superintendent – this critical role will oversee Westport’s more than 25 parks and beaches, I bet you all didn’t know we had that many, with a focus on user accessibility and of course enjoyment. Please visit Riverside Park if you haven’t already – it’s received a beautiful upgrade – and we are hoping the public will make use of it.

Our Parks and Recreation Department also adopted a Financial Sustainability Policy, which will ensure effective use of taxpayer resources, and the ability to maintain and upgrade our amenities and facilities for the future. We witnessed record usage of our golf course, our tennis and paddle facilities, Cockenoe Island and even clamming permits we up significantly. It is clear that our residents are embracing the outdoor lifestyle and seeking relaxation and enjoyment in our parks and beaches more than ever before.

But during this very challenging year, not only have our residents flocked to our outdoor spaces for refuge, but we have also seen that they have needed support in other ways. Our amazing Department of Human Services stepped up to meet the needs of residents with compassion and dedication.  They continued their emergency management response to support Westporters adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, including outreach and support to address residents’ long-term and immediate basic needs with mass drive-thru and home delivery food and meal distribution programs for food-insecure seniors and other residents. DHS staff members also provided community outreach and support for seniors, youth, and other vulnerable populations via home visits, phone, social media, and weekly email updates; all while addressing the ongoing social and emotional well-being needs of all residents and managing a specific $700,000 Department of Housing Cares Act Grant on behalf of Homes with Hope to make COVID-related improvements to the Gillespie Shelter facilities.

Through the Westport Center for Senior Activities, our seniors were kept engaged and connected to their peers and instructors via virtual programming which helped so many cope with the isolation of the ongoing pandemic. The Senior Center was successfully reopened in July for in-house programming in a safe manner. Staff also assisted seniors with obtaining vaccination booster shots and in obtaining test kits as the Omicron variant spread.

As mentioned before, we’ve had a surge of new businesses opening – many being restaurants. Along with the Chamber of Commerce and the Westport Downtown Association, the Planning and Zoning Department has worked tirelessly with business owners during a very challenging year. They facilitated existing restaurants to stay open and new restaurants to be established contributing to a restaurant renaissance in Westport.

The P&Z Department also took important measures to diversify housing in Westport and keep in compliance with legal requirements established by the State of Connecticut, and raising the total number of affordable units to 400. And they also adopted a text amendment to prohibit retail recreational cannabis establishments in Westport.

I mentioned before that our town employees are truly essential – without them, Westport simply doesn’t work. Our Department of Public Works is in many ways the backbone of our town. They are out there every day strategically planning for our future, fixing roads, plowing snow, upgrading our infrastructure, repairing sidewalks – you name it, they do it. This past year, for the first time, the town’s Department of Public Works took over responsibility for paving our school parking lots. So in addition to paving 6 Town parking lots, they paved 4 school lots as well.

And about 10 miles of roads. Additionally, they have undertaken dozens of infrastructure projects all around town including almost 1.5 miles of sidewalks, numerous complicated bridge projects and sewer upgrades. It is critical that we continue to invest in our infrastructure for the safety of our residents and the future of our Town.

While upgrading our infrastructure and planning for the future, we consistently look for opportunities to be a more sustainable community. We received quite an  honor this year as we were awarded Silver Certification from Sustainable CT – one of very few municipalities and this is the highest honor.  Thank you to the efforts of former operations director Sara Harris, virtually every single town department head, numerous local non-profits, former First Selectman Jim Marpe and especially the leadership of Sustainable Westport. Everything from converting our street lights to LED to increasing the number of electric vehicles in our town fleet – and specifically including our police vehicles – has enabled us to achieve this status. We will continue to work towards a sustainable future together.

Speaking of the future, in coordination with the Town of Fairfield’s IT, Police, and Fire Departments, we upgraded our police and fire department network to communicate with the newly created, state of the art joint dispatch center that will open for business soon. This new venture will allow us to continue to deliver effective emergency services while providing long-term cost savings. Identifying opportunities for coordination with surrounding towns on projects like this will continue be a priority going forward.  

In addition to all the other first responder activities our firefighters do, they received COVID-19 vaccination training in early 2021, which enabled them to provide vaccinations at clinics for Westport Public Schools and the Aspetuck Health District. Firefighters administered over 5,000 vaccinations at these clinics. We are incredibly proud of their lifesaving work.

More of Westport’s finest, our police department continued to protect and serve our community with integrity, kindness and effectiveness in the midst of this global pandemic. Strict proactive protective measures allowed the Westport PD to maintain high levels of service despite COVID-19 infections raging.

Importantly, our Police Department continues to meet and exceed the requirements set forth by Connecticut’s Police Accountability Bill. We are extremely proud of our department’s record of conduct and their ongoing commitment to transparency, including the installation of a Civilian Review Panel and the approval of an upgraded body and dash camera project.

The effects of the pandemic have been keenly felt by our EMS staff. They continue to walk into medical emergencies with courage and purpose, never knowing what they will face. I witnessed their unbelievable professionalism first hand when I called 911 three weeks ago, yesterday. My dad was suffering what we thought was a mini-stroke, but ended up being life-ending heart attack. The entire team, EMS, PD and Fire, were kind, considerate, swift and decisive. I couldn’t be more impressed and grateful.

As you can see, our town has a long list of impressive accomplishments and goals reached during the past year. A year filled with daily uncertainty, the town staff exhibited true resilience and continued to deliver the high standards of service the community demands and deserves while taking on initiatives that are critical to the future of the town – all while managing a global pandemic. Speaking of the future, let’s talk about those priorities. I’d like to take this opportunity now to thank newly-elected Selectwomen Andrea Moore and Candice Savin for their leadership as we move forward. The opportunities before us are very exciting.

Downtown – We are ready to engage in upgrading our downtown.  This will be a multi-year, staged effort starting with changes to the Parker Harding lot along the river and then moving to Jesup Green and the Taylor Lot and Taylor Place section and lastly to the Imperial Lot behind the Library. Additionally, the Baldwin Lot, which sees a tremendous amount of use for downtown shoppers, will undergo a much-needed repaving in the near future. Our goal is to create better connection and access to Downtown for shopping, dining, and enjoying our arts and cultural institutions. It will also allow us to activate our beautiful riverfront for the use of residents and visitors alike.

The Longshore Capital Improvement Plan will kick off at the February meeting of the newly constituted Parks and Recreation Commission. With our new partners at the Inn at Longshore, the time is right to move forward with a comprehensive long-term plan for this treasured Westport facility. We are excited for this process to commence and to seek the input of all stakeholders because we know that these changes will benefit our community for decades to come and help keep Westport one of the most attractive towns to live and visit in the region.

Traffic and pedestrian safety is a key priority for residents and of course for this  administration. We will approach these challenges in a holistic way by first looking at issues in our neighborhoods. Prior to creating a new Traffic Advisory and Neighborhood Safety Commission, we will be hosting public meetings for each of the Town’s nine districts. These public meetings will enable us to receive real-time information about challenges and opportunities in each town neighborhood and will ensure that the concerns of all residents are heard as our town experts from Police, Fire, Public Works and P&Z will be in attendance.  These meetings will be held through the spring and early summer. Please look for details. Running concurrently, we have prioritized a number of sidewalk projects in the first 2 years completing some connectivity around our schools and Downtown as we know walking has become important to our residents through the pandemic and beyond.  Pedestrian Safety leads me to another issue, specifically the Cross Highway corridor from Bayberry to North Avenue. This heavily trafficked area, which provides access to a number of our public schools, is a top priority. We want to do everything possible to ensure the safety of our commuters and our students.

Flood mitigation and resilience is another area that continues to need our attention. Increasing frequency and severity of storms is a painful reminder. The leadership of the Flood and Erosion Control Board and our Engineering Department have proposed that this board take on an expanded role with respect to reviewing and prioritizing stream improvement projects and general strategy regarding flood prevention. I think this is an excellent idea and more details will follow regarding operationalizing this role. Again, running concurrently, we will continue to prioritize certain bridge and culvert repairs. However, I want to thank our Flood and Erosion Control Board and Engineering Department for their thoughtful and smart operational proposition.

Lastly, I would like to take a moment to discuss another key initiative of our administration that has been critical to our Covid-19 pandemic response, and will continue to support our residents in the near and long-term. That is the Westport Together Alliance, which focuses on the social and emotional health and well-being of our entire community. It is a partnership between the town, our schools, the PTAs, and our non-profit organizations, and has delivered essential programs and resources over the past two years. We know that the mental health and wellness struggles among residents continue – and in many ways the pandemic has shown a bright light on this issue. We are committed to bolstering the Westport Together Alliance to ensure every Westporter knows they have access to the support and resources they need.

Haiku from poet laureate Diane Lowman

Facing challenges

Seizing opportunities

Supporting our town


Thank you again to the Rotaries for hosting this event, to the Library for the beautiful venue and technology, and to all of you for attending and giving me the opportunity to discuss the progress and promise of this Town we all love. We will continue to wake up every day and work hard to ensure Westport remains the best place to live, work and play in the region and you know this is where you belong.


Roundup: Scarice Memo, Outpost Pizza, Sun Reflexology …


As Westport — and the nation — grapple with COVID’s Delta variant, superintendent of schools Thomas Scarice sent this notice to families:

“Greetings and Happy Summer! I hope that each of you are taking the time to rest, recharge, and most importantly, make some great memories with family and friends. As a parent, the time with my wife and 3 children feels like water through my hands…you cannot hold it, but you can feel it in the moment and you can remember that feeling forever.

“We have entered the beginning of August. This is typically the time of year that we provide some brief updates to our faculty and staff, and to our families. However, as the summer unfolded over the past few weeks, it became apparent that this will again not be a typical summer transition back to school. With that I’d like to share that we will provide updates throughout the month as soon decisions are made, and as guidance is provided to schools from the Department of Public Health and the State Department of Education.

“At the moment, the Governor has extended executive orders through September 30. This includes the masking mandate for all schools through September 30.  However, I want to caution the entire school community that there will likely be many changes in guidance provided to schools over the next few weeks. This is frustrating for parents and students. I can assure you that this is equally frustrating for faculty and staff.

“At this time, we expect to follow the mandates that are required of public schools, but to emphasize as much normalcy as permitted within areas of discretion.  Our year ended with some positive moves towards normalcy (i.e. changes to our elementary recess), and we will continue to move in that direction, where permitted, while maintaining a balance between safety and the social/emotional wellness of our students.  .

There will be much more to come. I want to assure our families that we will build off of our success at the end of the 20-21 school year to make the upcoming year a positive experience for our students. Be well, and continue to make more positive memories over the next few weeks!”

Superintendent of School Thomas Scarice was vaccinated last spring. EMT (and Coleytown Middle School theater teacher) Ben Frimmer did the honors. (Photo/John Bayers)


Six weeks after a driver (somehow) demolished the side and front of Outpost Pizza, it’s back in business.

Work on the façade of the restaurant across from Hudson Malone, near Coffee An’ and Grapevine spirit shop still continues.

But don’t worry. The best pizza — guaranteed!!! — is once again in the oven.

(Photo/Dan Woog)


One business opens, another closes: Sun Reflexology has been hit with a Stop-Work Order.

The state Department of Labor charges the massage therapy business in the small shopping plaza near Layla’s Falafel and Dunkin’ Donuts with “misrepresenting employees as independent contractors,” and “materially understating or concealing payroll.”

A phone call to the spa — and to its 2nd location, between Shearwater Coffee and the Sherwood Diner — went unanswered.


The Lone Bellow has quite a Westport following.

The Brooklyn band brought their indie-folk act to the Levitt Pavilion last night, for a benefit show. A good-sized crowd enjoyed the music, sang along, and danced (in their pods).

(All photos/JC Martin)

This week’s Levitt lineup:

  • Tonight (Saturday, August 7): Isaiah Sharkey
  • Sunday, August 8: Mimi & the Podd Brothers
  • Tuesday, August 10: Tony Trischka, Banjo Master
  • Wednesday, August 11: Elena Moon Park & Friends
  • Thursday, August 12: The Sweet Remains
  • Friday, August 13: Baskin & Batteau, and Jesse Terry
  • Saturday, August 14: The Simple Radicals
  • Sunday, August 15: Dan Levinson’s Palomar Jazz Band

Click here for times and (free) tickets.


Andy Friedland has always watched out for others. The Staples High School graduate worked with AmeriCorps, and for the ADL. Now he’s at the University of Connecticut, earning a master’s to teach English.

It’s for us to watch him. He’ll be on ABC’s “The $100,000 Pyramid” this Wednesday (August 11, 9 pm EDT) — with New York Giants legends Michael Strahan and Tiki Barber.

The show was filmed nearly a year ago. Since that time Andy has scrupulously adhered to his Non-Disclosure Agreement. Even his closest relatives don’t know the outcome.

But whatever happens: Westport knows Andy is a winner.

Andy Friedland (Photo by Harold Shapiro for Connecticut Magazine)


Jon Lindbergh — son of Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh, whose life the New York Times says “was shaped by the height of fame and the depths of tragedy that his family experienced” — died recently in West Virginia. He was 88.

The Times obituary mentions that his family lived in Westport. That surprised many people.

Though their time in Darien is more well known, the Lindberghs lived on Long Lots Road — on the right side, just before the Fairfield line — from 1944 to 1946. They kept a low profile, having endured both the kidnapping and murder of Jon’s 20-month brother Charles Jr. (5 months before Jon’s birth in 1932), and Charles’ unpopular political views as an isolationist and possible Nazi sympathizer during World War II.

Click here for the full New York Times obituary. (Hat tip: Peter Gold)

Jon Lindbergh (Photo courtesy of NY Times)


One last look at Sunny the Duck. He (she?) advertised Westport Sunrise Rotary’s Great Duck Race/Raffle, which was held yesterday.

He (she?) will now be deflated. Here’s hoping he (she?) will rise again next year, and that 2,000 plastic ducks will once again bob in the Saugatuck River.

Sunny the Duck, yesterday on Jesup Green. (Photo/Mark Mathias)


This week’s #FridayFlowers grace the entrance to Compo Beach. The gorgeous arrangement is courtesy of Westport Garden Club members Ginger Donaher and Tracy Pollard.

#FridayFlowers, at Compo Beach.


This has nothing to do with Westport (although many “06880” readers can relate). But this is my blog, so I’m sticking it in.

What’s up with email lists that — once you click “unsubscribe” — send you another email to confirm.

PS: This is 2021. It should not take “up to 10 days” for a request to be honored.


Elaine Clayton had never heard of a hummingbird moth. Neither had I.

But the other day, she spotted one near Bayberry Lane. It is a giant moth — but it behaves like a hummingbird. Who knew?

It’s  today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo:

(Photo/Elaiine Clayton)


And finally … if you missed the Lone Bellow last night, no problem. Here they are again:


Roundup: Drs. Al And Jean Beasley, Sunrise Rotary, Remarkable Mondays …


Norwalk Hospital will dedicate 2 newly renovated pediatric emergency rooms in memory of Dr. Al Beasley and Dr. Jean Beasley.

The husband-and-wife pediatricians were beloved in Westport. Dr. Al died last year; Dr. Jean passed away from cancer in 1973.

The most recent issue of Catalyst — the magazine published by Nuvance Health, Norwalk Hospital’s owner —  devotes 2 pages to the Beasleys. The story notes that Al was the grandson of a Harvard-educated attorney who founded the Boston chapter of the NAACP; his father graduated from Harvard, his mother from Radcliffe. Al served 2 years as an Army reservist, the 4 years in the Air Force during the Korean War. He and Jean married while they were attending NYU Medical School.

Dr. Al Beasley was also a major benefactor of Staples Tuition Grants, in honor of Dr. Jean. (Hat tip: Burton Stuttman)

Dr. Jean Beasley and Dr. Al Beasley


Sunrise Rotary Club sponsored a food drive collection yesterday, at Saugatuck Congregational Church. Norwalk’s great Person-to-Person organization was the beneficiary.

Sunrise Rotarians collect food. (Photo/Nick Mathias)


Mondays are remarkable at the drive-in.

Upcoming screenings at Westport’s Remarkable Theater at the Imperial Avenue parking lot include:

  • The Breakfast Club (June 28, 8:45 p.m.)
  • Dirty Dancing (July 5, 9 p.m.)
  • Pitch Perfect (July 12, 9 p.m.)
  • Grease (July 19, 9 p.m.).

Click here for tickets, and more information.

“The Breakfast Club”: still hilarious after all these years.


John (Jackie) Laux of Jersey City died June 9 in Midvale, Utah after a brief battle with pancreatic cancer. He passed at home to the tune of the Grateful Dead, surrounded by his wife Marybeth, son Robert, and daughters Kristen and Molly.

Jackie and Marybeth had recently relocated to Utah to live out his lifelong dream of becoming a ski bum and being closer to his grandchildren, Devyn and Callan Laux, and Maggie and Noelle Giusti.

Jackie was an accomplished hockey player, playing goalie for Iona College. He made many lifelong friends on the ice, a tradition that continued through his final years while refereeing youth hockey in Connecticut.

Jackie also loved golf, and was a proud member of Shorehaven Club in Norwalk. Surrounded by friends, he enjoyed the fresh air, light beers and moderate exercise, then met his children by the pool to catch a swimming, diving or tennis match.

He was always excited and proud to watch (or coach) his children’s soccer, baseball and softball games, and tennis matches. As his children grew, their joint love of sports grew into family gatherings at New York Giants and Rangers games.

Jackie’s generous personality garnered him hundreds of friends around the country. He was quick to lend a helping hand or buy a drink for a friend in need of company (or just plain fun). He connected with others instantly and deeply, and leaves behind a lasting impression on all who knew him.

Due to COVID, a private memorial service will be held at 3 p.m. on July 12 at Westport’s Unitarian Church, and broadcast via Zoom (click here for the link). Following the service, family and friends are invited to Penfield Pavilion in Fairfield (5 p.m.).

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in Jackie’s name to Huntsman Cancer Institute or First Tee of Metropolitan New York.

Jackie Laux


Staples’ spring hockey team won the Southern Connecticut Hockey League Division 3 Spring hockey championship, thumping North Branford 7-0 in the finals. Incoming captains Andrew Gebicki, Jason Wolgast and Cole Feinleib led the team.

Staples: spring league champs.


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo features a bee. It’s gorgeous — but the bee is also hard at work.

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)


And finally … Happy Industrial Workers of the World Day!


Roundup: Black Bear, Private Ryan, Chad Knight …


A black bear has been making its way south, from northern Fairfield County. On Saturday, it roamed around the Cranbury area of Norwalk.

Yesterday, the medium-sized mammal lumbered into Westport. Stella Wong spotted it in her Old Hill back yard, around 9 a.m.

“It looked healthy and beautiful,” she reports. Then it headed downhill, toward Wilton Road.

(Photo/Stella Wong)

Later yesterday, the bear was spotted at the Westport Weston Family YMCA, near Mahackeno.

No word on whether it had a membership pass.


Last night’s Remarkable Theater showing of “Saving Private Ryan” was rained out.

It’s rescheduled for tomorrow (Tuesday, June 1, 8 p.m.). So you can extend your Memorial Day weekend one day.

Click here for ticket information, and future shows.


Staples High School students raise funds for many worthy projects. They thank their donors, work hard — but in their busy day-to-day worlds, never share the results of their efforts.

Jackson Cregan remembers.

The 9th grader loves Sherwood Island. After raising funds for Friends of Sherwood Island, he sent along this update:

“100%  of your donations were used to purchase seagrass and jute erosion control cloth, trees and shrubs.

“In early April, I helped restore dunes. We planted 2,400 seagrass stems with 18 volunteers. In late April, we planted 125 trees and shrubs with 20 volunteers.

Jackson volunteers there nearly every week. He is learning from Michele Sorensen and other master gardeners. He helps with dune restoration, removing invasive species, tree planting, creating pollinator pathways, and maintenance.

Great work, Jackson! And thanks for letting all of us know what’s going on at our great state park.

Jackson Cregan, with Michele Sorenson.


Congratulations to Chad Knight!

Yesterday the former Staples High School and Little League World Series star’s current team — Duke University — won the ACC championship, 1-0 over NC State. It was the Blue Devils’ 4th ACC baseball title — but first in 60 years.  

Knight — a 2-time state champion at Staples — batted .272, with 2 home runs, this year.

Chad Knight


Memorial Day weekend’s rains meant a washout for many local businesses.

News12 sent a crew to Joey’s by the Shore. As expected, sales were slow. The popular deli/market had stocked up on supplies, expecting big crowds. But neighbors were stopping in. And the cameraman got some great shots, of Joey’s and Old Mill Beach.

Click here for the report.

Screenshot from yesterday’s News12 report.


The Sunrise Rotary Club has missed 2 years’ worth of Great Duck Race fundraising efforts. Which means we haven’t seen Sunny the Duck bobbing in the Saugatuck River for 2 years either.

But the club is marching in today’s Memorial Day parade. And they’re marching with “Little Ralphie,” Sunny’s smaller counterpart.

Club members inflated Ralphie yesterday. They had a blast.

From left: Sunrise Rotary president George Masumian; members Jake Labate, Mark Mathias and Mike Hibbard. Little Ralphie is behind them. (Drone photo/Mark Mathias)


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo includes this mommy and her 10 babies. Can you find them all?

(Photo/Molly Alger)


And finally … B.J. Thomas died yesterday at his home near Dallas, of complications from lung cancer. He was 78.

Though best known for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” — the song from “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” which connected him forever with Westport’s Paul Newman and Weston’s Robert Redford — he had many other successes. Fifteen singles reached the Top 10, and he earned 5 Grammys.

I never liked “Raindrops.” But I sure did appreciate much of the rest of B.J. Thomas’ music. What a voice! (Click here for a full obituary.)