Tag Archives: Westport Domestic Violence Task Force

Roundup: MLK Day, Club 203 Party, Ruth Bedford Fund …

Westport’s 17th annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration next month will be one of its most memorable.

Author/creative artist/filmmaker/playwright/multi-dimensional performance artist Junauda Petrus will be the special guest here.

Petrus’ work spotlights “Black wildness, laughter, futurism, ancestral healing, sweetness, spectacle and shimmer.” Her debut novel, “The Stars and the Blackness Between Them,” received the 2020 Coretta Scott King Book Award. She is writing a screenplay adaptation of the book.

Petrus’ visit to Westport will focus on “reimagining community diversity, engagement, and civility.”

On Friday, January 13 she will present at area schools. On Saturday, January 14 Petrus will visit the Westport Library for an experiential workshop with local artists (click here for more information), followed by a panel discussion with them (click here to register).

The 3-day celebration culminates on Sunday, January 15 with her 3 p.m. keynote address at the Westport Country Playhouse. Copies of her book will be available for purchase, with Petrus signing copies after her talk. The program is free with registration (click here), and includes a dance performance by the Regional Center for the Arts.

The Martin Luther King Jr. celebration began in 2006, coordinated by the Westport/Weston Interfaith Council and Westport/Weston Interfaith Clergy. Since 2016 it has been hosted by those 2 organizations, the Westport Library, Westport Country Playhouse, and TEAM Westport.

To learn more about Junauda Petrus, click here.

Junauda Petrus

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Tuesday night was magical at Wakeman Town Farm. 120 members of Club 203 gathered for their first-ever holiday party.

The organization offers great social opportunities for adults with disabilities. They’re uplifted by strong community support.

For this week’s festivities, the tent was sponsored by the Riverside Realty Group. Motivators came from TAP Strength. The art project in Tim’s Kitchen was hosted by MoCA.

The hot cocoa bar and snacks were Gold’s, Rye Ridge Deli, The Porch @ Christie’s, Fresh Market and Silverman Farms. The event space came courtesy of Wakeman Town Farm.

A few of the Club 203 party-goers at Wakeman Town Farm. (Photo/John Videler for Videler Photography)

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The Westport Police have released arrest reports for the December 8-14 period.

Seven people were detained in custody. The charges for each:

  • Forgery, 2nd and 3rd degree; fraudulent use of ATM
  • Larceny, 1st degree
  • Rick of injury to a child; criminal mischief; disorderly conduct
  • Criminal violation of a restraining order; harassment
  • Operating a motor vehicle under the influence of drugs or alcohol; stop sign violation
  • Failure to appear.

The following citations were issued:

  • Traveling unreasonably fast: 7
  • Stop sign violation: 6
  • Failure to drive in the proper lane: 3
  • Cell phone, first offense: 2
  • Operating a motor vehicle under suspension: 2
  • Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 2
  • Failure to grant right of way at an intersection: 1
  • Distracted driving: 1
  • Failure to obey control signal: 1
  • Failure to yield to a pedestrian: 1
  • Disorderly conduct: 1.

The crosswalk on Riverside Avenue, at South Sylvan. Like many others, it’s clearly marked that drivers must yield to pedestrians.

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For the second year in a row, all 22 Kings Highway Elementary School classes participated in the Connecticut Education Foundation’s Holiday Bear program.

Each class received information about a child in our area who might not receive gifts for the holidays. Families shopped for items on the youngsters’ holiday wish lists. They ranged from toys and crafts to necessities like coats, hats, gloves and pajamas.

Students worked with their teachers and parent volunteers to wrap each gift.  ,

In addition, KHS teachers banded together to sponsor an additional child on their own.

Earlier today, CEF picked up all 23 Holiday Bear duffle bags, bursting with wrapped gifts from teachers, students and staff.

Congratulations to the Kings Highway Elementary School community. That’s the holiday spirit!

Kings Highway students, with a few of the 23 Holiday Bear duffel bags stuffed with gifts. (Photo courtesy of KHS PTA)

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The Westport Domestic Violence Task Force had its own successful holiday drive.

For the past week, they collected gift cards, to benefit the Domestic Violence Crisis Center safehouse and community clients.

Residents donated $3,250 in cards to department specialty, and grocery stores. Survivors purchase what they most need or want for their families this season.

This can be a dark time for victims of domestic violence. The WDVTF thanks all who help make it a bit brighter.

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In 2015, the Westport Weston Family YMCA received a large and unexpected gift from the estate of Ruth Bedford.

The granddaughter of Edward T. Bedford — who founded the Y — she had died the previous year, at 99. The board of trustees established the Ruth Bedford Social Responsibility Fund. Its endowment supports grants to organizations that provide direct or supplemental educational opportunities in Fairfield County.

This week, the Y honored the 31 recipients for 2022.

Representatives from each group described how their grants would be spent. For example:

  • The Carver Foundation of Norwalk serves 2,500 K-12 students. Funds will towards supporting its middle school program.
  • Homes with Hope will help housing insecure people get back on their feet.
  • Mercy Learning Center of Bridgeport will use the grant for its Early Childhood Education program.
  • New Beginnings Family Academy serves Bridgeport’s most vulnerable children. The donation will help “level the playing field.”
  • Wakemen Memorial Association (Boys & Girls Club) sponsors after-school and summer camp programs. They’re also building a second location in Bridgeport,

CEOs Marcie Berson (Greater Connecticut Youth Orchestra) and Novelette Peterkin (Carver Foundation) share a table at the Westport Y’s Ruth Bedford Social Responsibility Fund ceremony.

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Staples High School’s December Students of the Month are seniors Zoe Webster and Mia Vindiola; junior Andrew Cerrito; sophomores Ethen Perry and Kensley Laguerre, and freshmen Benjamin Barger and Annabelle Katz.

The award recognizes students who “help make Staples High School a welcoming place for their peers and teachers alike. They are the ‘glue’ of the Staples community: the type of kind, cheerful, hard-working, trustworthy students that keep the high school together, making it the special place that it is.”

Students of the Month are nominated by their teachers, who are asked to think of “all-around good citizens” of the school.

Staples High School’s December Students of the Month. From left: Benjamin Barger, Zoe Webster, Annabelle Katz, Kensley Laguerre, Andrew Cerrito, Ethen Perry. Absent: Mia Vindiola.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo …

(Photo/Stephen Raffel)

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… leads naturally to our “And … finally” song:

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Roundup: Cross Highway Crash, Used Sports Equipment, Terry Brannigan …

Another accident at the crash-prone Cross Highway/Bayberry Lane intersection sent one person to the hospital just before noon on Monday.

The collision — which closed Bayberry for a while — began when a driver headed toward Fairfield on Cross Highway ran the stop sign. The vehicle slammed into a car headed south on Bayberry. That automobile then hit the front of a car stopped at the northbound Bayberry stop sign.

The motorist who went through the stop sign was treated by EMS and transported to Norwalk Hospital for minor injuries.

The 3-car accident at the intersection of Cross Highway and Bayberry Lane. (Photo/Westport Fire Department)

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Back in 2020, the Hackett family wanted to do something meaningful to give back to those in need.

All avid athletes, they chose a project that connects with them, and their Westport community. (It also helps clear out clutter.)

Working with Leveling the Playing Field — a non-profit organization helps underprivileged youngsters who need sports equipment — they’ll collect new and gently used sports and playground equipment.

They’ll be at the Granola Bar this Saturday and Sunday (December 10 and 11), from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Hackett family, with just a few of their many donations.

You must have stuff lying around: cleats, field hockey sticks, lacrosse equipment, bats, ice hockey skates, footballs, softball gloves, soccer shin guards, etc. Click here for a full list of items — you’ll be amazed at what you forgot you have.

So clean out your garages, sheds and basements. It’s time to level the playing field for everyone!

For more information about this amazing organization, click below:

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One of the most important holiday collections is going on right now.

The Westport Domestic Violence Task Force is collecting gift cards for residents of 2 Domestic Violence Crisis Center safe houses.

Gift cards allow survivors the dignity to purchase what they most need or want for their families. Suggested retailers include Stop & Shop, ShopRite, Amazon, Target and Walmart.

Gift cards can be left with the dispatch center in the lobby of the Westport Police Department (50 Jesup Road), between now and December 13.

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Staples High School Class of 2020 graduate Terry Brannigan has many talents.

He’s double majoring in physics and music at Wesleyan University. He’s minoring in IDEAS (Integrated Design, Engineering and Applied Science). He’s a varsity wrestler.

And now — as wrestling season is just ramping up — he’s released a new song.

“Sunshine Serenade” is a blend of musical styles, from metal to R&B. Terry has been working on it — evolving and growing — the song for years.

“It finally bloomed into this rollercoaster that it is now,” he says.

Click here to stream “Sunshine Serenade,” on your favorite platform.

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Amy Schneider snapped today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo behind the Levitt Pavilion.

“What is it?” she wonders.

All I know is: It died long ago.

If you’re more of a naturalist than Amy or I, please click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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And finally … Kirstie Alley — Rebecca on “Cheers,” among many other acting credits — died Monday. She was 71, and had suffered from cancer.

She had quite a full career (click here for her obituary). And when she died, everyone knew her name.

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Roundup: Alex Jones, Henry Kissinger, Kennedy’s Barber …

In the wake of yesterday’s jury determination that Infowars fabulist/Sandy Hook denier Alex Jones must pay nearly $1 billion to families of victims of that school massacre, “06880” reader Kristan Hamlin lauds the work of Westport attorney Josh Koskoff and his law firm, Koskoff Koskoff & Bieder.

She writes: “Congratulations to the lead counsel in the case, Christopher Mattei, a fine human being and an excellent lawyer — the best of our profession — and to the entire Koskoff law firm.

“As Robbie Parker (a parent of a slaughtered 6-year-old) so eloquently said, you gave back to these re-victimized victims their voices. I am so proud of all of them, and to the Connecticut jury and the Connecticut judge in this case.”

Josh Koskoff

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

To make a real difference, Westport’s Department of Human Services and Domestic Violence Task Force are collecting used cell phones and iPads, to benefit the Domestic Violence Crisis Center of Norwalk and Stamford. Clients can use them to ensure their safety, and avoid tracking by their abuser.

The DVCC provides free, confidential services to victims of domestic violence and their children in Westport and surrounding towns.

Donation bins are located at Westport Town Hall and the Senior Center, and available weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Questions? Call 203-341-1050 or email humansrv@westportct.gov. For  information about the Domestic Violence Crisis Center, click here.

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The list of Westport barbers has been shaved by one.

Kennedy’s All-American Barber emailed members yesterday: “Effective immediately, all memberships have been frozen. Due to company wide and market changes we are ceasing operations as it was and starting something new and special.

“We helped rejuvenate a dying industry of men’s grooming 13 years ago. Hundreds of shops opened as a direct result of our brining [sic] high end men’s grooming shops back to its former glory. We lead an industry wide movement to bring back high end men’s grooming.

“We are entering a new economic and business climate and healing from the two years of drastic sales decline due to covid. Men that go to the office instantly became a thing of the past. That was our typical client. So we are adapting once more. We are going mobile. Brining [sic] the barbershop to you. In a high end mobile showpiece packed with all the equipment and luxury you are used to, and many of the same staff you have grown to love.” (Hat tip: MaryLou Roels)

Kennedy’s in Playhouse Square.

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Staples High School Class of 2015 graduate Rachel Doran was just 21 years old when she died. But her memory lives on strongly. And her relatives and friends use it to help other families facing critical illnesses, by providing lodging, food and transportation aid.

Rach’s Hope — the non-profit founded in her name — holds its 2nd annual Family Fun Walk this Sunday at Compo Beach (3 p.m.).

Need extra incentive? Rachel’s grandfather Michael Isenberg has pledged to walk 1,000 miles yearly for Rach’s Hope. All you need to do is walk 1 mile!

Participants will receive special prizes, hear live music, and enjoy gourmet pizza and drinks from Pizza Pie Wagon and Greens Farms Spirit Shop.

To purchase tickets, donate or learn more about Rach’s Hope, click here. You can follow Rach’s Hope on Facebook and Instagram: @rachs.hope.

Rachel Doran

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Margot Liotta debuts tomorrow!

The Staples High School Class of 2019 graduate — now a student at Berklee College of Music — has been working on her EP for over a year. She started it in Westport, during the pandemic.

The producer is Staples classmate Zach Rogers. Her manager — fellow SHS ’19 alum Kevin Ludy — helped make the album cover. It includes a familiar Compo Beach cannon scene:

Click here for the pre-save link. Click here for Margot’s TikTok; click here for her Instagram.

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Most Westport Rotary Club speakers talk about current issues.

Tuesday’s guest – Westport resident Robert Augustyn —  went back in time. The owner of Robert Augustyn Rare Maps & Prints discussed historical maps, including one from 1478 that represents a recovery of knowledge from the Roman Empire.

He also highlighted a 1507 map by Johannes Ruysch that was the one of the first to portray America; an 1878 bird’s-eye view of Westport, and a local business directory poster from 1854 that features the Metropolitan Oyster House restaurant and a “mechanical” dentist who made house calls. 

Robert Augustyn describes a Westport map at Tuesday’s Rotary Club meeting. (Photo and hat tip/Dave Matlow)

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This Sunday’s “Andrew Wilk Presents…” features a special performance by American String Quartet violinist Peter Winograd, and celebrated pianist Rohan De Silva. Wilk himself — the noted executive producer of “Live at Lincoln Center” — will lead a Q-and-A with the artists.

The event is October 16 (2 p.m., Westport Library).

From left: Rohan De Silva, Andrew Wilk, Peter Winograd.

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If you’re a psychic you know this already, but: “celebrity psychic medium” Karyn Reece will be in Westport for a “VIP event” November 12 (7:30 p.m., Amy Simon Fine Arts).

The event features (as you also already know) light bites, wine, and “audience-style readings and messages with Karyn.”

Karyn Reece

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Henry Kissinger is still alive.

At 99 years old, he’s just published a new book: Leadership: Six Studies in World Strategy

On Friday, October 21 (1 p.m.), Staples High School 1972 graduate/lawyer/writer Talmage Boston interviews the former Secretary of State for his “Cross Examining History” podcast. Click here for he Zoom link.

Henry Kissinger

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Purple is the color of epilepsy awareness.

On October 30, the Epilepsy Foundation of Connecticut hosts their annual Purple Pumpkin 5K at Sherwood Island State Park (8:45 p.m.).

While parents and teenagers run, youngsters can paint a pumpkin purple. All attendees are invited to wear something purple too.

Light refreshments are available after the race. The $35 registration fee includes a t-shirt. To register, click here.

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The Fresh Market ospreys get most of Westport’s love. The Sherwood Mill Pond and Burying Hill ones get the rest.

But what about the Nash’s Pond osprey? Tricia Freeman offers this raptor, for today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature:

(Photo/Tricia Freeman)

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And finally … Anita Kerr died Monday in Switzerland. She was 94.

The session singer and arranger had a long career in both country and pop music. Click here for a full obituary.

Among her accomplishments: singing backup on Roy Orbison’s memorable song:

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Roundup: Jackie O’s Piano, Backpacks, Boxing …

Frank Mastrone returned to the Levitt Pavilion last night, for another standout evening of Broadway, Frank Sinatra (and Tom Jones, Adele and Michael Bublé) tunes.

Frank Mastrone and Westport’s own Terry Eldh. (Photo/Dan Woog)

But there was another star on stage too: Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ baby grand piano.

It was there, white and beautiful and sounding great, courtesy of Yury Feygin Amadeus Piano, the Levitt’s piano partner.

Jackie Kennedy’s piano, before the audience arrives.

“All my pianos are special,” he says. “But this is my personal one. It has been with me since my dad bought it for my first piano lesson.”

The piano debuted Thursday, for the Pete Muller & the Kindred Souls show. Mastrone and his friends — including Westport’s own Terry Eldh — put it to great use last night, before an appreciative (and very full) audience.

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Children who live in the Domestic Violence Crisis Center safe houses need many things. Among them: school supplies.

Starting tomorrow (Tuesday, July 19), and running through next Tuesday, you can donate:

  • New backpacks
  • Notebooks
  • Pens, pencils, highlighters an dcrayons
  • New lunch boxes
  • Graphing calculators.

They can be left in a collection bin in the Westport Police Department headquarters lobby (50 Jesup Road).

For more information on the Westport Domestic Violence Task Force, click here.

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Three-time light heavyweight world champion Chad Dawson was in Westport yesterday. He was part of a fundraiser at Rich Dean’s Boxinf & Fitness.

Dean is raising money Westport Police Department’s Mike Ruttenber who will be running the NYC marathon for St. Jude’s. (Hat tip: Kevin Carroll)  ‘

Chad Dawson (right) instructs.

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Carol Longmuir Meier died peacefully on Tuesday, with her son Douglas and his wife Valerie by her side. The former Westport resident was 80 years old.

Growing up in Westport, she became active with Girl Scouts. That led her to the Mariner Scouts, where she developed a love for sailing.

Her family was also active with the United Methodist Church of Westport, where she attended youth group meetings. It was there that she met Frederick Meier Jr.

They were grade school sweethearts, and were married for 33 years. Fred died in 1994, age 52. Carol loved him until the day she died.

After graduating from Staples High School, Carol entered Yale’s Grace New Haven School of Nursing.  Growing up she became active with the girl scouts that led her to the Mariner Scouts where she developed a deep love for sailing.  Her family was also active with the United Methodist Church of Westport where she attended the Methodist Youth Group Meetings.

Fred’s career with the American Diabetes Association included several moves. Carol to hold nursing licenses in several states.

She started out in general nursing, which led to pediatrics. She became  infectious disease coordinator for Holy Redeemer Hospital outside of Philadelphia.

She moved on to the Jewish Home for the Elderly in Fairfield, as head nurse and then director of nursing. In Virginia she joined a visiting nursing service. Her final nursing shifts in New Jersey began with her as a visiting nurse. At the age of 60 she went back to school to earn a degree as a certified diabetic educator.

In New Jersey she was active with the Whitehouse United Methodist Church, participating in bible study and book club.

She enjoyed hiking, bird watching, reading and trips to Nana’s beach.

She loved spending time with her grandchildren and great grandchildren. They include Kelly Arciola, her husband Sam III and their sons Sam IV and Dominic;  Megan Meier and William Bodie, BBF and grand dog Yager; John Meier, his wife Lauren and their children Adrianna, Harper and Jack; Nana’s twins Lillian and Brieanna;  Sean O’Shea, Robert O’Shea and his son Michael. Carol is also survived by her brother Robert Longmuir and his children. The family thanks Sandy Hack, who was Carol’s caregiver and dear friend.

he family will receive friends tomorrow (Tuesday, July 19, 4 to 8 p.m., Harding Funeral Home). A funeral is set for Wednesday (July 20, 11 a.m., United Methodist Church of Westport). Interment will follow in Willowbrook Cemetery.

Memorial donations can be made to the American Diabetes Association. Click here to leave online condolences.

Carol Meier

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” feature features a couple of bunnies.

This photo was taken a couple of weeks ago. Based on what everyone knows about bunnies, I wonder how many there are now.

(Photo/Carol Cederbaum)

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And finally … in honor of yesterday’s appearance of a world champion here:

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Roundup: Parks & Rec Registration, Downtown Improvements, Zenabi …

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Registration for many Westport Parks & Recreation’s spring and summer programs begins online at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, March 2. Registration for Camp Compo, RECing and pickleball begins later: 9 a.m. on Monday, March 28.

Spots go quickly. Click here to see all the choices.

The website is not exactly user friendly. Now is a good time to log onto your online account to verify information. Problems? Email recreation@westportct.gov or call 203-341-5152.

For address changes, email recreation@westportct.gov. Additional proof of Westport residency may be required.

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Want to improve downtown?

Put your money where your mouth is!

The town of Westport seeks proposals for Downtown Improvement Projects at Parker Harding Plaza, Jesup Green and the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Bids will be received until 11 a.m. Thursday, March 3 at the Town Hall Finance Office (Room 313, 110 Myrtle Avenue). Copies of the bid documents can be downloaded from the Town’s website. 

Responses will be opened the next business day via Zoom. For meeting access, email rkotchko@westportct.gov.

Send your bid in to improve Parker Harding Plaza.

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In 2018, I ran a story on Zenabi. Profiling a company located in the old Town Hall (Don Memo) building on Main Street, it began:

I’m not quite sure what Zenabi does. A spokesperson says it’s a “new pioneering tech and artificial intelligence company that helps Fortune 500 companies find signals in their data that drive growth and value.”

Their website says that Fortune 500 companies trust them to “help understand and grow individual relationships.” They also “enable companies to scale their ability to personalize interactions and offers.”

The hook was an upcoming “Brains & Bands” night hosted by Zenabi. I wrote that its press release

describes this as “some of the most brilliant minds in technology, business and music come together for an epic evening of inspiration and innovation…this self-proclaimed team of ‘Pirates’ and ‘Black Ops’ of the artificial intelligence world” — I guess that’s something else Zenabi is or does — “have the set the stage for titans of industry to share their paths to success with the local community.”

My skepticism was well placed. Zenabi — which later moved to Riverside Avenue and/or Church Lane — imploded.

But not before receiving $1.5 million in PPP funds.

Billy Penn — part of the WHYY news team at the Philadelphia PBS station — has taken a deep dive into the many deceits of the company’s founder, Billy Ibanez. They include false claims about associations with the Philadelphia Eagles and CIA, and many more.

Click here for Billy Penn’s long, and very fascinating, story.

A screenshot from the Zenabi website.

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The United Methodist Church of Westport is collecting clothing, toiletries and non-perishable food drive for their neighbors in Bridgeport.

The drive is set for Saturday, March 5 ( 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the church, 49 Weston Road). Volunteers will gather donations from car trunks.

Gently used or new items include children’s clothing in all sizes; women’s clothing, sizes 4 to 16, purses, accessories and shoes; men’s clothing medium and large, pants size 32 to 36 waist shoes sizes 7 to 10, and outerwear all sizes.

Also needed: toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, soap, shampoo and body lotions; peanut butter and jelly (plastic jars only), canned ham, tuna and chicken, boxed macaroni and cheese, cold and hot cereals, hearty soups, canned vegetables and fruit.

Questons? Email kimberlyweigle@att.net.

Food, clothing and toiletries will be collected at the United Methodist Church. (Photo/Dan Woog)

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Dick Steele was honored this month at the Stratford VFW. The World War II Marine Corps veteran — and father and father-in-law of former Staples High School teachers Kathy and Jeff Lea, respectively — just turned 100.

Steele was 20 years old when he enlisted just after Pearl Harbor. He earned his golden wings, was promoted to 2nd lieutenant, and deployed to the South Pacific. His bombing squadron attacked Japanese positions on the island of Yap.

After the war he returned to civilian life only. He was recalled to active duty as a captain in 1952, to train a new generation of dive bomber pilots during the Korean conflict.

His fighter attack squadron flew 310 combat sorties, totaling more than 550 hours. His was the last Marine aircraft engaged in combat during the war. He retired with the rank of major.

In 2008 Steele became involved with the Connecticut Air & Space Center’s restoration of a Corsair fighter plane, the same aircraft he flew in the Pacific Theater.

Happy 100th, Major Dick Steele! (Hat tips: Adam Vengrow, Don Pavia)

Major Dick Steele

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February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month. Westport’s Domestic Violence Task Force is doing its part, sponsoring a pizza and movie night — followed by a discussion on healthy relationships — tomorrow (Wednesday, February 16, 6 p.m., Toquet Hall).

The event features the movie “Sierra Burgess is a Loser.” For more information, click here. To fill out the required COVID waiver, click here.

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There is plenty of nature all around Westport’s many ponds — including Nash’s. Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo was taken there, by Linda Stern.

(Photo/Linda Stern)

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And finally … today is the birthdate, in 1809, of International Harvester co-founder Cyrus McCormick.

Roundup: Selectmen, Mark Twain, Winslow Park …

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Missed yesterday’s debate between the candidates for first and second selectmen?

No problem!

The event — sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library — is now online. Click below to view.

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Domestic violence is real, and part of Westport life.

Next Monday (October 18, 7 p.m.), the Westport Domestic Violence Task Force, Westport Human Services Department and Westport Library will present an important webinar.

“When Stop Doesn’t Work: What is the Impact on our Children?” features Ann Rodwell-Lawton, associate director of the Domestic Violence Crisis Center. She and Liz Modugno — an alcohol and addiction counselor at Westport’s Aspire Counseling — will discuss the generational impact of trauma and family violence on children. Click here to register.

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Westport native Bruce Michelson is now an English professor — and noted Mark Twain scholar — at the University of Illinois. He credits Burr Farms Elementary School 6th grade teacher June Jack with getting him interested in the famed author.

John Kelley — who sent along this interview with Michelson from the Mark Twain Circle of America newsletter — recalls a field trip to Twain’s Hartford home with that class. Michelson mentions the visit in the piece.

It took place more than 60 years ago. Who knows what youngster today will follow a career in the 2080s that started — perhaps today — in one of our elementary schools?

Bruce Michelson

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Frank Sisson writes:

At Winslow Park. another dog owner told me he had seen a dead dog on the road just outside a North Compo entrance — one of several openings in the stone wall along the road. Why are those openings not gated to prevent such a tragedy? Dogs will be dogs, and one unauthorized squirrel chase in the wrong direction could spell disaster.

If the town can’t swing it, maybe a group of regular Winslow Park dog owners could get together with a plan to chip in and make this happen.

There are gates — though open on this part of the Winslow Park stone wall. (Nell Waters Bernegger)

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Longtime Westporter June Fernie died recently. She was 94 years old.

A child of the Depression and World War II, she was the eldest daughter in a family of 7 children. She left her home in Guelph, Ontario, Canada at 17 for Toronto, where she worked as secretary at an advertising agency. Her life changed when John Fernie, a recently discharged RAF pilot and artist from Scotland, walked through the door looking for a job.

After a quick courtship they married and emigrated to the US in 1947, making their first home in a cold-water flat in Brooklyn.

A talented illustrator, John found work quickly at a prestigious Madison Avenue ad agency. Working together, the newlyweds earned success.

In 1950 they moved into their first real home in Westport. Their children Bruce, heather and Mitchell were born and raised there.

June and John enjoyed all that New York, Westport and London had to offer in the swinging ‘60s, socializing with creatives from the art and literary worlds as well as entertainers from movies and music.

June organized family skiing in Vermont every winter, and annual summer holidays in England and Europe. Supportive of John’s love of fast automobiles, she was an enthusiastic pit crew during frequent weekends at the racetrack.

In 1970 June and John moved their family to Vermont, before finally settling
in Kennebunkport, Maine in 1980.

June was a talented administrator who, in addition to managing her husband’s art business, worked for many years as an administrative assistant in Maine. Her years as a volunteer at the Kennebunkport Historical Society brought her a great deal of pleasure.

June is survived by her children Bruce (Katherine Walsh) of West Tisbury, Massachusetts and Heather Fernie McInnis (Craig) McInnis of Kennebunkport; daughter-in-law Barbara Borchardt of Cumberland, Maine; foster daughter Jill Deveraux of Oro Valley, Arizona; grandchildren
Alexander, Dana, Bowen, Avery, Mitchell and Trevor, and great-grandchildren Mae Fernie, Helena and Ollie.

June Fernie

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The Westport Library Book Sale earlier this month exceeded already high expectations. That’s due in part to over 200 volunteer who assisted with setup, the event itself and cleanup. Other volunteers work year long processing books, and helping at the Westport Book Shop.

Organizes give a special shoutout to organizations that supported the effort, including the Westport Young Woman’s League, Neighbors and Newcomers of Westport, Abilis, Westport Public Library staff, Staples Service League of Boys, Westport National Charity League, Builders Beyond Borders, and Staples High School National Honor Society.

All proceeds of the sale support the Westport Library, and the employment of adults with disabilities.

Staples Service League of Boys (SLOBs) at the Westport Library book sale.

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Three attorneys at Westport’s FLB Law — Stephen Fogerty, Eric Bernheim and Joshua Auxier — have been named to the 2021 Connecticut Super Lawyers list. Brian Tims has been named to the publication’s Rising Stars roster.

Super Lawyers lists are generated by peer ratings.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo pays homage to our beloved fall ritual: Dogs are allowed back on Compo Beach.

This guy acts like he owns the place, all year long.

(Photo/Collette Winn)

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And finally … happy 63rd birthday to Marie Osmond!

 

 

Roundup: Mental Health, Staples Graduation, Dream Spa,

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Since going public earlier this year about her lifelong battle with existential anguish and depression, Melissa Bernstein has shined an important light on mental health.

Her book Lifelines, and digital support community of the same name, has raised awareness even further.

Now, throughout May — which is Mental Health Awareness Month — LifeLines is hosting free activities and workshops. There’s a different one each day.

The goal is to help people “dive inward and discover their true selves,” LifeLines says. They range from “Breaking Up With Your Inner Circle” to “Tracing Your Triggers.” Click here for the full schedule.

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Plans have been announced for Staples High School’s graduation. It will be … outdoors.

“Pomp and Circumstance” will ring out at the football stadium, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, June 17 (rain date: June 18). All seniors will be together, and will be allotted 2 guests each. The ceremony will be livestreamed, for family and friends who cannot attend.

This is the first time the football stadium has been used for graduation in 27 years. The previous 26 events were held in the fieldhouse. Last year’s graduation was a “drive-by,” with each graduate having a special moment in front of the school.

Staples High School graduates gather outside the fieldhouse in 2018, before the ceremony. This year they’ll march instead to the right, onto the football field.

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This past year has been a tough one for everyone. Moms — as they so often do — have borne much of the brunt of the pandemic.

So Dream Spa & Salon wants this Mother’s Day to be extra special.

They’re giving away 3 prizes to “superhero” moms: a “wakeup call” ($375 value), “dream essentials” ($180), and “dream feet pedi” ($65).

To win a “dreamy” gift for your mom (or spouse), follow @dreamspasalon on Instagram. All the details are there.

Winners will be announced (of course) on Mother’s Day. Which — as you certainly better know — is Sunday, May 9.

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The Westport Domestic Violence Task Force just completed a very successful collection for baby items, for 2 area safe houses and local clients.

Westporters donated 4 strollers, 7 car seats, 3 booster seats, multiple car seat bases, 5 cases of formula, over a dozen cases of diapers, countless packages of wipes, baby washes, new baby clothing, 18 bottles, and over $500 in cash.

The Task Force thanks the entire community, and the men and women of the Westport Police Department, who helped collect and transport the donations.

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How strong were yesterday’s winds?

This was the scene this morning at Compo Beach. Let’s hope no one was inside at the time.

(Photo/Les Dinkin)

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Jazz returns to MoCA Westport in a big way.

Talent from the Jazz at Lincoln Center Emerging Artist Spotlight kicks off Friday, May 14 (7 p.m.), with pianist/composer Isaiah J. Thompson. The young artist leads his jazz quartet in what MoCA promises will be a “powerful, mind-blowing performance.”

On May 28, The Alexa Tarantino Quartet debuts music from their new album “Firefly.” Their performance last summer sold out.

A third Lincoln Center artist will perform later this summer, followed by the Samara Joy Ensemble on August 20.

Tickets are available in a variety of formats, including individual concert tickets, a 4-concert Jazz Package, or a Season Pass with all 13 Music at MoCA concerts. Click here to purchase, and for more information.

Isaiah Thompson

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As Westport opens up, the May issue of Westport Magazine examines “the good life.”

Stories include personal reflections on Christopher Plummer; Dave Briggs on Lou Gehrig Day; Center Stage producer Andrew Wilk; super-organizer Meredith Triscott; home design shops; creating the perfect patio, and the advantages of private aviation.

Westport Magazine is available at Barnes & Noble, Balducci’s, Whole Foods and CVS.

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And finally … it’s the 1st of May, so …

Roundup: Domestic Violence, Anti-Semitism …

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Victims of domestic violence have so much to deal with. Getting basic supplies for their young children should not be one of them.

Now through Sunday (April 25), Westport’s Domestic Violence Task Force is collecting supplies. Needed items include car seats in new or like-new condition (tags attached, to check expiration date), strollers, diapers, wipes, lotions and baby wash, and new bottles.

To arrange contactless pickup, email co-chair Jillian Cabana: wdvtf06880@gmail.com.

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Saturday is the big day: CLASP Homes’ “Un-Scavenger Hunt.” (“Un?” It runs all day, at your convenience. It’s not a race.

There are tons of clues, covering Westport trivia, history, art, pop culture and more. You answer by posting photos, videos, texts and GPS check-ins on the app. Bonus points are given for creativity, ingenuity and humor (costumes, props, songs, pets … you get the idea).

Prizes include sunset cruises; a private tour and wine-and-cheese reception at Dragone Classic Motorcars with George Dragone; Broadway tickets and more.

There are separate prizes for students in grade 12 and below (including cash). And a special prize for the organization that registers the most teams.

The Un-Scavenger Hunt raises funds for CLASP. For nearly 40 years they’ve  provided care, support and inspiration to adults with autism and developmental disabilities.

Click here for tickets. Click here for the Goosechase app, which will be used. You can practice on it too, until the event goes live.

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We may pretend it’s not happening. But people — even in Westport — make Holocaust “jokes,” and talk insensitively about Jewish traditions and lives. I’d guess teenager in Westport has heard something.

In response, ADL Connecticut is organizing a virtual “Fairfield County Teen Leadership Summit on Anti-Semitism.” It’s Tuesday, April 27 (7 to 8:15 p.m., Zoom).

A teen panel will share personal stories. Attendees will learn skills to stand up to anti-Semitism, be resilient and become empowered as school leaders. Click here to register. For more information, email swalden@adl.org.

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A couple of nature shots. First, a swan stepping into the Saugatuck River …

(Photo/Paul Delano)

… and a hungry gull at Sherwood Island State Park.

(Photo/Gene Borio)

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And finally …  today in 1775, the Revolutionary War began. The patriots beat back the British at the Battles of Lexington and Concord. The rest is history.

Roundup: Safe Homes, Mercury Gas, Gulls, More


Now through Sunday (August 30), the Westport Domestic Violence Task Force is collecting supplies for the 2 Domestic Violence Crisis Center safe houses that serve area residents.

Besides providing confidential shelters for victims of intimate partner violence and their children, the DVCC offers assistance with basic needs like food, clothing and personal items, along with counseling, legal services, transportation assistance, children’s advocacy, weekly play-based children’s programming focused on self-esteem, healthy communication, referrals to community resources and economic advocacy, including budget development and assistance with job searches and resumes.

Children living in the safe houses need several items for the new school year:

  • New backpacks
  • Notebooks
  • Pens and pencils
  • Graphing calculators
  • New or lightly used Chromebooks
  • Diapers (sizes 4-7).

To arrange ontactless pickup, email Task Force co-chair Jillian Cabana wdvtf06880@gmail.com.

If you or someone you know needs assistance, call 888-774-2900 or click here.


It’s been a few months. But the renovation project for the Mercury gas station at the Post Road/Bulkley Avenue North corner is done.

It still looks like a gas station. But it’s a lot nicer than the previous version. And the prices still seem lower than most others in town.

Mercury gas station (Photo/Seth Schachter)


Early Tuesday morning, Bart Stuck was walking on Soundview Avenue, toward Compo Beach. He saw dozens of gulls — maybe 100 — circling nearby.

When he got to the garbage can near the Soundview lot, he saw the problem. A gull had landed, then caught its webbed feet on the wooden slats. It hung beak down on the side.

Bart grabbed the 2 feet, pulled the gull up, and placed it on the sand. It shook itself off, then flew away. All the other gulls left too. 

Bart was amazed that several passersby had walked by, and done nothing. He was glad to help.

Let’s hope the next time he has a picnic, the gulls return the favor — and leave him and his food alone.

Not Bart’s gull.


And finally … as Hurricane Laura slams into the US, we’re thinking of everyone in it path.

Westporters Fight Domestic Violence

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Westport’s Domestic Violence Task Force wants to make everyone aware of the issue — and what can be done about it.

The group has collected gift certificates from more than a dozen local salons. (One owner donated because her mother was a victim of abuse.) Haircuts and colors help women in shelters start new lives. Some are preparing for job interviews. Others need to change their appearance to avoid abusers.

The salons will be thanked on Saturday, October 14, at the Westport Unitarian Church Voices Cafe. All proceeds from Pierce Pettis’ performance will be donated to the salon drive. (Click here for tickets.)

Meanwhile, this Sunday (October 1), pinwheels will be displayed on Jesup Green. There’s one for every domestic violence call the Police Department received this year.

The chilling reminder that domestic abuse happens in Westport — as it does everywhere — remains on display all month.

Next Tuesday (October 3), volunteers from our police and fire departments will join Domestic Violence Task Force members at the Westport and Greens Farms train stations. They’ll hand out informational palm cards to commuters.

And on Wednesday, October 25 (Unitarian Church, 7 p.m.), Lisa Aronson Fontes — a noted author, therapist, researcher and professor — will discuss coercive control in relationships.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month ends on October 31. Of course, the issue will not go away that day.

But in Westport, concerned citizens are doing all they can to help.