Tag Archives: Westport Fire Department

Unsung Heroes #187

Uh oh. “06880” missed National Public Safety Telecommunications Week.

The town of Westport did not, though. As posted on their Instagram, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe and 2nd Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker visited the police and fire departments last week — and brought gifts.

(Photo courtesy of Town of Westport)

As the town noted: “Dispatchers are the first line of the Police, EMS and Fire departments. They are voices behind every call for help that we never see but only hear. They work tirelessly to protect department members and residents of Westport. This week we celebrate our heroes with the headsets!”

“06880” adds our thanks to these men and women who work 24/7/365. It’s a stressful job, which they do with incredible poise, professionalism and compassion.

So to last week’s pizzas, we add this week’s Unsung Heroes honors. Thank you all!

Roundup: Remarkable Theater, Clear Cutting, Coffee An’ …

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Art imitated life last night, at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

A 40-foot movie screen was erected for the Remarkable Theater’s 2nd season — and a cameraman was there to film it.

The (metaphorical) curtain rises tonight at 7:30 p.m., with “National Lampoon’s Vacation.” “Sneak previews” follow through Tuesday. Click here for details and tickets.

(Photo/Doug Tirola)

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A reader writes:

“We residents on Pequot Trail are very upset by this week’s clear cutting of a lovely wooded area that provided privacy for multiple properties around the entrance to our street. Every time I turn onto the street now, my heart sinks.

“We’re sad enough that the charming house is being torn down — we get that this is inevitable — but did all of the mature trees and coveted privacy for multiple homes need to be callously destroyed?

“I called the town and was told that initiatives to restrict tree cutting have failed multiple times. I wonder what needs to happen to get our town, which prides itself on being so ‘green,’ to put a stop to this kind of environmental desecration?

“To preempt  any comments about ‘city people’ moving in, this property was bought by a Westport family. That makes it so much more disappointing.

Clear cutting, around the house that will be demolished.

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When COVID canceled last year’s annual plant sale, the Westport Garden Club planted a sign: “See You in 2021.”

True to their promise, this year’s in-person (sale is set for Friday, May 14 (9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.). The new location is Jesup Green.

Gardeners can purchase plants the day of the sale, or online starting May 1. Click here for information.

Online orders will be available for curbside pick-up. And club members will be on hand during the sale to offer expert advice.

In more Garden Club news: “Friday Flowers,” the campaign initiated in the dark days of last spring to lift spirits and beautify the town, returns this summer. The first installation (May 7) is at Saugatuck Congregational Church. Floral arrangements made by club members will be displayed each Friday through Labor Day.

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The annual Compo Beach grooming project is underway. As the weather turns nice — and more folks are vaccinated — it comes not a moment too soon.

The work is impressive to watch on the ground.

And even more impressive by drone.

(Photo/Daniel Johnson)

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For a long while, Coffee An’ was open for takeout only.

They’ve now got indoor seating too. It’s limited, socially distanced, safe — and within amazing aroma distance of their wide selection of donuts (an’ more).

There are plenty of great breakfast and lunch places in town. Coffee An’ is at the topo of any list.

(Photo/Katherine Bruan)

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Amy Mandelbaum is vice president of the OUT Foundation, which encourages the LGBTQ community to participate in fitness, health and wellness activities.

She also owns CrossFit Westport. There’s no better place to encourage the inclusion she champions.

So on Saturday, April 17 (9:30 a.m. to noon), her gym — just over the Norwalk line, at 19 Willard Road — sponsors an “OUT Athletics” event. The warmup and workout is fun, doable — and everyone is welcome.

There’s food, coffee, and gift bags from sponsors like Garnier and Goodr sunglasses. Each heat lasts 45 minutes to an hour; then comes (socially distant) socializing.

For more or information or to sign up, click here.

Amy Mandelbaum

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With little rainfall and low humidity recently, Westport’s brush fire danger is high.

The Fire Department responded to 2 brush fires yesterday — simultaneously.

The one on Sherwood Island Connector was quickly extinguished. The other — between Parsell Lane and I-95 — brought 30 firefighters and officers from Westport and Fairfield, with 7 engines and 1 ladder. It burned 3 1/2  acres, but there was no property damage or injuries.

Westport Firefighters were dispatched to two simultaneous brush fires, one on the Sherwood Island Connector at Nyala Farms Road and the other on Parsell Lane.

Be careful out there!

(Photo courtesy of Westport Fire Department)

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This is amazing! Who would have guessed that “the friendliest curbside experience in America” is located right here in Westport? At our Fresh Market!

A cynic might demand proof.

I just want to know: Is this “the friendliest curbside experience” for supermarkets throughout America only? Or does it include everything: restaurants, bookstores, hardware stores, liquor stores, whatever?

Either way, this is very, very impressive.

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If you missed Monday night’s TEAM Westport Teen Diversity Essay Contest livestream — or read the essays on “06880” the next day, and want to watch the winners’ powerful deliveries — click below.

Spoiler alert: They’re great.

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“06880” has faithfully reported on ospreys: their return, their nests, even their empty platforms.

But they’re not the only wildlife to admire. Sherwood Mill Pond teems with more than ospreys. Matt Murray snapped this shot of a heron yesterday.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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And finally … today is the birthday of songwriter Yip Harburg. He was born on the Lower East Side in 1896. he survived the blacklist of the 1950s, and died in 1981.

Roundup: COVID Vaccine, Beach Stickers, The Remains, Invasive Plants …

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In case you missed it: Connecticut has moved up the date for all eligible residents 16 and over to get COVID vaccines. It’s now April 1 — no fooling!

An increased supply of vaccines will enable 200,000 doses to be distributed next week. That includes the single-dose Johnson & Johnson shot.

You can call 877-918-2224, 7 days a week from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. to schedule an appointment. Click here to schedule online.

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Beach stickers will be available this Monday (March 29). Click on the Parks & Recreation Department website, then “Memberships.”

At least a couple of beachgoers were ready yesterday for summer to begin:

(Photo/Karen Como)

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Westport hits the jackpot with this month’s Connecticut Magazine.

Local writer Michael Catarevas contributed an in-depth, insightful, and very intriguing look back at the Remains.

They’re the band — fronted by 1963 Staples High School graduate Barry Tashian, with ’64 alum Bill Briggs on keyboard — that packed clubs around New England, played “Ed Sullivan” and “Hullabaloo,” had a major recording deal — and in 1966, toured with the Beatles.

They were all set to be rock’s next big thing — until they weren’t.

I’ve written often about the Remains. Jon Landau nailed it, back in the day: “They were how you tell a stranger about rock ‘n’ roll.” Now Catarevas’ story — which includes details about their still cult-like status and recent tours — puts it all together, for a statewide audience.

Bonus cuts: There are sidebars about Briggs’ tour with the Kingsmen (“Louie Louie”),

Click here for the main story. Click here for one sidebar on ’71 Staples grad Fred Cantor’s off-Broadway play and film documentary on the Remains — and another on Prudence Farrow, the inspiration for the Beatles’ “Dear Prudence.”

The Remains

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A reader writes:

“In light of the town support of our Asian community, I want to share what I saw in New Luxx Nail & Spa (near the old Calico) earlier this week.

“A gentleman in uniform came in. I’m not sure if he was a police officer or firefighter. I heard him speaking to the owner and workers, who are Asian.

“He warmly told them that we (I assuming he meant Westport law enforcement) are very proud of and value our Asian business community. He said ‘we are here to support you,’ &Sp and that anything they need, or any issues they might have, they should not hesitate to contact them.

“I am proud of our community and law enforcement, that they made this outreach to these wonderful people of whom I have grown very fond. It is these unseen acts that help make Westport the place that it is.”

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Invasive plants have invaded Westport. They crowd out natives and are harmful to our natural resources, disrupting biodiversity and ecological processes.

Earthplace has partnered with Sustainable Westport and the Town of Westport to host 2 events.

The first is an in-person walk this Sunday (March 28th, 1 to 2:30 p.m., $10). Click here to register.

The second event is a free webinar on Sunday, April 11 (1- to 1:45 p.m). Click here to register.

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The Assumption Church Youth Group holds a food drive this Sunday (Palm Sunday, March 28, 7:30 a.m. to noon). Non-perishables are needed. All donations go to their sister parish in need — St. Charles in Bridgeport — and to children in the care of Missionaries of Charity in Bridgeport.

Donors should pull into the back parking lot. Someone will unload your trunk.

Meanwhile, tomorrow (Saturday, March 27, 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.), Weston’s St. Francis Church holds a drive-through food drive in their parking lot on 35 Norfield Road. As with Assumption, volunteers will unload non-perishables from your trunk. All donations will be delivered to the Weston Food Pantry, and Norwalk’s Open Door Shelter.

Assumption Church, from Imperial Avenue (Photo/Patrick Goldschmidt)

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And finally … ladies and gentlemen: The Remains!

 

Roundup: Firefighters, Swans, Geese …

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Earlier his week, Westport firefighters assisted the Westport Weston Health District and Department of Human Services by providing COVID vaccinations to homebound residents.

And … while delivering the vaccines, Fire Department members performed home safety inspections, including inspecting flammable substance storage, and checking and installing smoke and CO2 alarms.

Then yesterday morning, our firefighters helped Human Services by loading and unloading food boxes from the Connecticut Food Bank. 60 will be distributed to food-insecure households in Westport. Two more pick-ups are scheduled next month.

For more information on food resources, email humansrv@westportct.gov or call 203-341-1050.

Kudos to all involved. It takes a village — and ours is a great one. (Hat tip: Jennifer Gallini Petrosinelli)

Firefighter Liz Ferguson helps with food distribution.

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At the same time, Fire Department members were training downtown:

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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Audrey Hertzel posted a COVID vaccine comment. It’s so good, I’m repeating it here. Every “06880” reader needs to see this — and follow through.

Audrey wrote: “I had my first shot at the Stamford Lord & Taylor parking lot last week. Everyone was so wonderful.

“Someone on a local neighborhood group suggested bringing cookies, coffee, etc. to the the workers.

“I brought 100 Dunkin’ Munchkins and a Box of Joe for them to share. They couldn’t have been more appreciative. I’m hoping more people do the same — and spread the word to others!”

Thank-you donuts. (Photo/Audrey Hertzel)

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Interested in the future of downtown?

Tomorrow (Friday, March 26, 1:30 p.m., Zoom), the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Senior Center offer an interesting online panel.

Topics include:

  • How is downtown doing?
  • Where is downtown headed, post-COVID?
  • Can people live downtown?
  • What is there for seniors?

The high-powered panelists include:

  • Randy Herbertson: President, Westport Downtown Merchants Association
  • David Waldman: Owner, David Adam Realty
  • Kim Harizman: Realtor, KMS Partners @ Compass
  • Annette Norton: Owner, Savvy + Grace

Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell will moderate.

Click here for the Zoom link. The meeting code is 889 0588 3613. The passcode is wcsa.

What’s up downtown? (Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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Yesterday, the Board of Selectman unanimously adopted this resolution:

WHEREAS, Asian-Pacific American communities are suffering acts of discrimination, hate crimes, and microaggressions, which have been exposed and heightened due to COVID-19; and

WHEREAS, anti-Asian rhetoric and sentiment is stigmatizing, tends to incite fear and xenophobia, and numerous Asian-Pacific Americans are experiencing increased racial profiling, hate incidents, and, in some cases, hate violence; and

WHEREAS, in an effort to bring attention to baseless and xenophobic actions, hate speech, and bias, and most particularly, those against the Asian American and Pacific Island community, the Town of Westport must demonstrate its support for neighbors, families and friends who are adversely affected and traumatized by these acts.

NOW THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Westport Board of Selectmen emphatically denounces xenophobia and anti-Asian sentiment. The Town of Westport joins municipalities, counties, and states across the country in affirming its commitment to the safety and well-being of Asian-Pacific Americans and in combating hate crimes targeting Asian-Pacific Americans; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that Westport remains committed to condemning all manner of racism, stigmatization, hate speech, hate crimes, xenophobia, discrimination and violence.  Protecting residents, business owners, workforce members, and victims of hate through supportive programs and policies that embrace inclusivity, diversity, civil discourse, and acceptance for all, remains at the forefront of our intentions as a community to combat hate and racial injustices.

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Yesterday’s “06880” Roundup mention of Christopher Lloyd prompted Jack Backiel to dig out his Staples High School 1958 yearbook.

Here’s what he found for his now-famous classmate:

Football? Party of the year? Lawrence (sp) Olivier? But hey — he still looks (almost) the same.

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Whitney Raith spotted this scene on Monday, just a few steps from busy Parker Harding Plaza. The swans were protecting their nest.

(Photo/Whitney Raith)

But, she notes: “When I walked by, one of the parents got very upset. I know swans can get nasty. I hope people are aware, and keep their distance.”

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On the same day, Daniel Hoffman spotted this guy at Compo:

(Photo/Daniel Hoffman)

“Spring is officially here,” Daniel says.

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After 38 years as founder and chair of the Susan Fund — where she oversaw raising and distributing nearly $2 million in scholarships to 285 Fairfield County students diagnosed with cancer — Ann Lloyd has stepped down from her role.

Incoming chair Jeff Booth’s first official act was to name Ann chairman emeritus.

That’s her second recent honor. Last month, the indefatigable Westporter was an “06880” Unsung Hero of the Week.

Ann Lloyd

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And still another sign of spring — and the (hopeful) end of the pandemic:

(Photo/Bill Ryan)

Bill Ryan says that the Longshore golf course sand traps are raked — and rakes are in place, ready to be used.

Last year, COVID restrictions included the removal of all rakes. Fore!

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And speaking of sports: Dave Briggs is a great interviewer. (He should be: He spent more than 2 decades at Fox News, NBC Sports and CNN.) His Instagram Live sessions have become must-see viewing for ever-larger audiences.

It helps that he snags great guests.

Today’s is Jay Williams. The NBA analyst and ESPN radio host is — like Dave — a a Westport resident.

It’s live at 2 p.m. today (Thursday, March 25; @WestportMagazine). The 2 guys welcome your questions. Shoot!

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In January 2020, “06880” reported that Little Beet was coming to the Fresh Market shopping center.

The chain offers “wholesome, healthy food that not only tastes great, but makes you feel great.” Food is “carefully sourced … from farmers and purveyors we trust, guaranteeing all of our food is gluten-free and better for you.”

The menu includes make-your-own rice and quinoa-based meals, poké and other bowls, vegetable sides, and breakfast sandwiches, parfaits and oatmeal.

Little Beet would open that summer, I confidently said.

COVID and (perhaps) other issues intervened. The storefront sat empty. But now, work has begun.

Perhaps a summer 2021 opening is on the table?

(Photo/Dan Woog)

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Last month, “06880” paid tribute to Bob Comstock. After a legendary career in New Jersey journalism, he spent nearly 20 years in Westport. He was active in the Unitarian Church and Y’s Men.

Yesterday, at his daily COVID press briefing, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy added his own tribute to Bob. Click below to watch:

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And finally … we celebrate 2 big musical birthdays today: Aretha Franklin and Elton John. What a duo they would have made!

Friday Flashback #236

“06880” recently took a deep dive into local artists.

We ran a contest to identify the creator of a work — perhaps an ad or magazine illustration — that Alan Neigher unearthed.

We posted automobile advertising art that used Pack Roads and Main Street as backdrops.

This week we feature one of Westport’s — and America’s — best known illustrators.

Stevan Dohanos drew some of Saturday Evening Post‘s most memorable covers. (Along with postage stamps, commissions and plenty else.)

Much of his work included Westport scenes. A favorite model was his son Anthony.

Anthony lives far from here now. From the Big Island of Hawaii, he sent these reminders of his father’s work.

This was the old firehouse on Church Lane. In the 1970s it became part of the YMCA, when they expanded from the original building. Today — reimagined — it’s part of Bedford Square.

That’s Stevan Dohanos himself in the center, talking with firefighters. Check out the Dalmatian between them.

Here’s Anthony in the firetruck. Looking on with smiles are Dohanos, and Fire Chief Harold Shippey.

But life is not all fun and games. When the alarm comes in, the men race to the fire. The dog must stay behind.

Note the realistic map of Westport on the wall!

Roundup: Super Bowl Sounds, PAL, Minute Man, More

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I’m not a fan of the fake crowd noise that’s pumped into sports broadcasts, ever since the pandemic slashed — or eliminated — crowds.

But I’ve always wondered how they did it.

Yesterday, on his regular “CBS Sunday Morning” gig, David Pogue explained.

He took a trip from his Westport home — where some of the segment was filmed — and headed to Met Life Stadium for a chat with (among others) Harry Carson. I guess the actual Giants team was unavailable, although there is some doubt as to whether they have an actual team.

At any rate, it’s an intriguing piece. Click below to watch:

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Westport PAL president Ned Batlin is stepping down.

The Westport police officer — a former 3-sport athlete at Staples High School (football, wrestling, lacrosse) — has led the organization for 5 years. PAL serves thousands of youngsters through football, lacrosse, basketball, wrestling, rugby, track and cheerleading programs.

PAL also runs a robust scholarship program — and Westport’s annual Independence Day fireworks.

Batlin — who will remain on the Westport Police Department force — will be succeeded by PAL vice president and veteran police officer Craig Bergamo.

Officer Ned Batlin, at Westport PAL’s 2015 July 4th celebration.

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Love is in the air. And the Westport Downtown Merchants Association want you to feel it, by using an eGift Card.

Or giving a gift card, as a gift.

The card can be used at many locations downtown, including retailers, restaurants and service providers. Click here to purchase. Click here for a list of participating businesses.

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They’re not called Friends of Sherwood Island for nothing.

On Friday, the group’s garden team kept Connecticut’s first state park looking good — and healthy. They pruned suckers from the base of several 200-year-old trees on the west beach. Many are from Westport.

It’s all part of their year-round effort to maintain and enhance wildlife habitat.

From left: From left to right: Barrie Holmes, Michele Sorensen, Chris Swan, Jackson and Johannes Cregan, Lavinia Larsson and Pamela Nobomuto.

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A certain segment of Westporters loves decorating our Minute Man. They decorate him with Santa Claus hats, Easter bunny ears, and (last spring) a COVID mask. It’s all part of humanizing our town’s most recognizable symbol.

Another segment thinks that’s disrespectful. He’s a patriot, they say; don’t make light of what he symbolizes.

Whichever side of the memorial’s wrought-iron gate you’re on, you must agree: Yesterday’s decoration was certainly different.

(Photo/Pam Kesselman)

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The Fire Department responded to a potentially dangerous blaze yesterday, on Bayberry Lane.

First arriving units found a 2-story, 2-family home with fire on both floors, and the attic.

Second floor residents were alerted to the fire by a carbon monoxide detector. They notified residents of the first floor to evacuate. There were no injuries, but 3 residents were displaced by the fire.

Wilton and Fairfield Fire Departments assisted on scene, and with station coverage during the fire.

The Westport Fire Department reminds residents to have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on all floors of their homes.

Aftermath of the Bayberry Lane fire. (Photo courtesy of Westport Fire Department)

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Anne Lowrie’s snowman looks suspiciously like her father, Tom — right down to the Sunrise Rotary cap.

(Photo/Anne Lowrie)

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And finally … James Dean was born on this day, in 1931. He died in a car crash in 1955, age 24. Had he lived, the star of “Rebel Without a Cause” would be celebrating his 90th birthday.

 

Remembering Herbie Carusone

Westport native and longtime Westport firefighter Joseph Herbert Carusone died last week in his Walpole, Maine  home. He was 88.

Herbie’s father owned the Mayfair Market grocery store, on the corner of Post Road West and Wilton Avenue. He worked there, and enjoyed fishing and crabbing in the nearby Saugatuck River.

Carusone graduated from Staples High School in 1951, though he missed the ceremony because he had already joined the Navy. His 4 years of service included deployment to the Mediterranean Sea on the USS Tidewater.

He sent some of his pay back home to help his parents, but kept enough money to buy US Savings Bonds.

Joseph Herbert “Herbie” Carusone

After returning to Westport, Carusone joined his dad in the grocery store. He worked alongside his younger sister Pat, and his best friend Ray Bowne.

In 1964 he joined the Westport Fire Department. His grandfather had been a volunteer there too.

In his free time Carusone went fishing, clamming and lobstering in Long Island Sound. He also painted houses.

Carusone used his construction skills to build a house in Weston, acting as general contractor.

After retiring from the Westport Fire Department as a lieutenant in 1986, with 22 years of service, he sailed up the New England coast. Moving to Wiscasset, Maine, he became known by his first name, Joe.

In Maine he met Janis Breen Warsky. They were married in 1991.

Carusone frequented auctions to find diamonds in the rough, to refinish and sell in his shop, Wiscasset Cottage Antiques. Customers loved his workmanship, and he enjoyed sharing his treasures with them. He was in his shop through this past summer.

When he wasn’t there, Carusone caught stripers in the Sheepscot River, was an avid collector of antique household items, and renovated several houses.

Carusone particularly loved being with family and friends, having large family dinners, and chatting with his kids and grandkids. Recently he found joy in sitting on the patio with Jan, watching waves crash onto the rocks at Pemaquid Point.

Carusone was preceded in death by his sisters Naime Wakeman and Nona Aznar. He is survived by his wife, Janis Warsky-Carusone; his daughter Pamela and husband Garvin Gardner; sons Joseph (Maria) and Jeffrey; step-daughters Stephanie Smith (Nathan) and Kristen Warsky (partner Joshua); step-son Jordan Warsky (Kelly); sister Pat Stannard (Elmer); 9 grandchildren and several great-grandchildren.

His family thanks the many doctors and nurses who provided Carusone with exceptional care and love.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in his name to MaineHealth Care at Home,15 Industrial Park Road, c/o Roy Garland, Saco, Maine 04072.

There will be a special days of remembrance in Connecticut and Maine this summer.

Friday Flashback #223

This month, Anthropologie is decorated for the holidays. Even — especially? — in these COVID times, the old Tudor building looks inviting and warm.

But for most of its life, the handsome structure at Westport’s major downtown intersection was the YMCA.

Built by E.T. Bedford in 1923 to replace the Westport Hotel, the new Y featured reading and writing rooms, pool tables and bowling alleys.

A year later — during what seems to be late fall or early spring — this is what the YMCA looked like.

(Photo courtesy of Seth Schachter)

There was plenty of parking. A small sign at the top of the photo warned trolley conductors to go slowly.

The Y did not occupy the entire building. The far eastern portion — the section closest to Church Lane — housed Westport’s downtown fire department. If you click on or hover over the image to enlarge it, you can see the bay doors.

Judging by this photo, fire trucks had no problem roaring through downtown traffic en route to calls.

New Civilian Panel Reviews Police

Soon after the 2013 election, new First Selectman Jim Marpe met with Police Chief Dale Call and Deputy Chief Foti Koskinas.

“I’d never been a police officer,” Marpe — a former management consultant — says. “I needed their best input.”

Today, he notes, “I’m a lot smarter about their activity — and the Fire Department, and EMS.” Though the leaders of those department report to him, Marpe describes their relationship as “more collaborative than command-and-control.”

Nearly 5 years ago, Marpe appointed Koskinas as chief of police. He continued what Call had begun: a review of policies and procedures to reflect new national policing standards.

Westport’s manual dated back to 1972. It was one year younger than Koskinas.

The department enjoys an excellent reputation. In 7 years, Marpe says, “I don’t need 2 hands to count the number of genuine, legitimate complaints we’ve gotten — and that includes the Fire Department too.”

Nationally of course, police departments face intense scrutiny.

So — in addition to weekly meetings, and many more frequent phone conversations — Marpe has created a Citizen Review Panel. To “foster and maintain the public’s trust” in its public safety departments, the panel will:

  • Participate in the interview process of new hires and lateral transfer applicants of the Police, Fire and EMS Departments
  • Review and provide feedback on complaints
  • Advise the departments on policies and procedures that improve transparency and accountability.

CRP members will be trained to understand policies, internal affairs and legal issues. They’ll hold regular public meetings.

The CRP will include the 2nd and 3rd selectmen (currently Jen Tooker and Melissa Kane); one member of TEAM Westport, and 2 members of the Westport electorate. Marpe has appointed TEAM Westport chair Harold Bailey to the panel, and will name the 2 other members soon.

Westport Police Chief Fotios Koskinas (Photo/Dan Woog)

Koskinas says that the police union is on board with the CRP. “They want accountability and transparency too,” he says.

Westport’s police already meet or exceed the state’s Police Office Standards and Training (POST) guidelines in areas like body cameras, chokehold procedures and more. Minority recruitment — including the most recent hire — is “the most diverse ever,” says Koskinas.

“But we want an outside party to see the complaints that come in. We want to highlight how well we handle our internal policing.” Sometimes, he says, an investigation turns up an issue that the initial complaint did not even include.

In 2016 there were 6 civilian complaints against the Police Department. The next year there were 5, then 6 and 8. In 2020, there have been a total of 3. Complaints against the Fire Department and EMS are even lower.

Most police complaints, Koskinas says, involve citizens dissatisfied with an interaction with an officer.

“It may be the way someone stopped the car or spoke to that person,” Koskinas explains.

“We look at the body camera. Maybe the officer spoke in a monotone. We try to explain what goes into controlling a scene.” Often, he says, a complaint is then withdrawn.

“But we do speak to the officers. We do adjust policies. We take every complaint seriously.”

Nearly all police interactions with the public are positive.

The Representative Town Meeting is currently examining a Civilian Review Board ordinance. Its members would be elected by the public.

Already though, the Civilian Review Panel is up and running. They are reviewing their first incident.

“Mr. Marpe and I believe in this,” Koskinas says. “We want to set it up for long success.”

RTM Upgrades Radio System, Seawall; Appoints Transit Director

This is Peter Gold’s report on the December Representative Town Meeting. He is an RTM member writing for himself, not in an official capacity.

December’s RTM meeting featured several housekeeping items, and 3 appropriation requests.

Dan Woog’s invocation gave thanks for America’s democratic traditions. He thanked the RTM for all it does for Westport, describing the RTM as ”its own tradition. It is non-partisan. It represents every segment of town. It is unique. It is quirky. It is ours.”

Members then reelected Velma Heller as moderator and Jeff Wieser as deputy moderator for the 4th time, and thanked retiring Town Clerk Patty Strauss for her 23 years of service to the RTM and the town.

The RTM also thanked Marty Fox and Patsy Cimarosa, who resigned as directors of the Westport Transit District, for their nearly 5 years’ service as directors.

The most expensive appropriation was $4,635,408 for a new public safety radio system. The current system is 15 year old, and has parts that can no longer be repaired.

The new system will piggyback on the state’s existing system. making it significantly less expensive than buying a stand-alone setup. The new system enables the Police Department, Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services to communicate together for the first time, and expands the area covered by the system.

$230,000 was approved to repair the seawall along the river at Jesup Green. The project adds a railing atop the seawall to help minimize accidental falls into the river. While the RTM agreed safety should be a priority, hope was expressed that the railing will obstruct river views as little as possible.

Repairs will be made along the Saugatuck River seawall.

The RTM also approved $80,000 for the design and permitting stage of a project to repair the Old Mill walkway and tide gates.

The final agenda item was to appoint a new volunteer director for the Westport Transit District.

Peter Gold, former chair of the RTM Transit Committee (and the author of this article) was nominated, because of his familiarity with the Transit District’s operations. He would resign once the town came up with a plan for the future of the Transit District.

A motion was made to delay appointing a new transit director until February to give the town additional time to decide on a course of action.

Peter Gold

While some thought the absence of a director would prod the town to take action more quickly, others noted that a director must be in place now to deal with day-to day operations, including the new Wheels 2U Westport on-demand door-to train station commuter service, and to prepare the Transit District’s budget for the next fiscal year.

The appointment of a director would not prevent the town from formulating its own solution. Based on this, and Gold’s knowledge and experience with the Transit District, he was appointed as a director by a vote of 34 in favor, and 1 abstention.