Tag Archives: Westport Fire Department

Hocon’s Hocus-Pocus

The other day, a Westport resident turned on her oven. A stench “like rotten avocados and burning pineapple” wafted through her home.

She called Hocon. They sent a “thorough and considerate” technician. Within 20 minutes, he determined there was no leak.

That’s the good news.

Unfortunately, the reader writes:

A week later I received a bill for over $470. It was $199 for the Hocon rep visit, $225 for an emergency, $18 for a gas surcharge, plus a surcharge for something else I was too stunned to memorize.

Days later, I learned that our local fire departments check out gas leaks for free.

But the person on the phone at Hocon never mentioned that, or anything about extra emergency charges. They just sent someone over.

The company president writes on Hocongas.com: “It is our hope to provide you with a level of service that is beyond your expectations, in line with what my dad always strived to achieve.”

Goal: achieved. The invoice was Way. Beyond. Expectations.

Excellent service — no complaints there. But a 20-minute visit, 10 minutes of driving at most, and a bill for almost $500? I understand there’s a level of expertise here, but seriously? (Don’t forget, our expert fire department is free.)

I’m thinking (for a hot nanosecond) it’s my fault for not asking about fees in advance. But I didn’t think I’d have to. Experience has taught me there’s typically a fee of $100. Maybe $150.

Then I realize, horrified: I’m victim-blaming myself. They’re the large company. I’m the paying customer. It’s their responsibility to be transparent.

We could easily assume there’s no fee if they don’t tell us there’s a fee. But society has taught us to quietly pay any invoice we receive. Hocon — and many other companies  — make a lot of money because of this.

To be sure I hadn’t overlooked anything, I poke around their website. No fees are listed anywhere.

I call an employee, asking, “Where can I find the fees?” Her response: “I don’t really know.”

I email the president (let’s call him “Dave”): “Where can I find a list of fees? Your employee doesn’t even know.”

Days later I receive a response from the general manager of a Hocon office: “Our fee schedule is posted in the office as required.” (Then he dismisses the clueless employee as possibly new and “flustered.”)

Fun! A trip to the Hocon office! But when can I come? I have to email the GM to find out.

He writes, “We have some availability later this week or anytime next week.” (M-F, 8:30-4:30).

The Hocon office is at 33 Rockland Road in South Norwalk.

Sounds like Hocon is taking advantage of an antiquated law (policy?), writing their fees on a scrap of paper and taping it to an office wall. They can probably count on one hand how many residents know about the posting, and even fewer who have seen it. That gives Hocon freedom to charge whatever they want to. We’ll blindly pay it.

President Dave further writes:“As a kid, I grew up listening to [Dad] tell me about taking care of the customer.” You mean taking advantage of a crazy old policy to ensure customers are unaware of your ever-increasing rates?

Consider the following scenario – a long-time customer who has never missed a payment:

I ask Dave to post his fees on his newfangled “internet site.” It would be a super easy way to take that scary first step into the 21st century!

But I haven’t heard from him.

If he really wants to help his customers, he could tell them to call the local fire department for emergencies. He could put his fees on the site so we can make informed decisions — or, better, question why they need a full $18 to drive 10 minutes to our home on top of a $225 emergency fee?

But he won’t. That would be bad business!

If you’d like to know what you’re expected to pay — and you prefer to not schedule an appointment and drive to the Hocon office to view the fee poster on a mutually convenient time during your work day — please email him and ask him to be transparent. Put fees on the site, in an easily located spot.

His email is dgable@hocongas.com.

(“06880” aims for much better customer service. After all, we’re entirely reader-supported. Please click here to help.)

Roundup: TikTok Teen Arrests, Water Main Break, Wall That Heals …

Last Saturday night, the Westport Police Department received several calls from locations around town. All concerned a group of youths in a vehicle, shooting projectiles at pedestrians. One victim was struck in the eye.

Callers provide a detailed description of the vehicle. Officers found and stopped it near Greens Farms Road and Compo Road South.

All 3 occupants were juveniles. Police found toy air guns that fired gel-like projectiles at high speed.

The teens were participating in TikTok’s viral “Orbeez Challenge.”

The 3 juveniles were charged with multiple counts of assault 3rd degree, reckless endangerment 2nd Degree, and breach of peace 2nd degree. They were released to their parents.

Victims from that evening are encouraged to report the incidents to the Westport Police Department.

Gun and pellets used in the Orbeez Challenge.


A photo contest for the cover of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce 2022-23 Visitors/Membership Guide is now open.

In 2015 and ’17, the Chamber received over 1,000 pictures from dozens of photographers, amateur and professional. Westport residents Mark Litvinoff and William Scalzi won, with their shots of the Levitt Pavilion and a serene dock setting respectively.

Scores of runner-up photos were used inside the 68-page booklet and map guide. Every winner received credit in the publication.

Any resident or businessperson from Westport or Weston may submit what they believe is the “quintessential” photo that represents our community. Use Dropbox, Google or an email attachment to send one or more photos to matthew@westportwestonchamber.com; use the subject line “Photo Contest.”

The deadline is June 19.  Be sure to have a full resolution of the photo for printing, but email a lower resolution for greatest efficiency.

Questions? Use the email above, or call 203-227-9234.

The 2017 guide.


An “06880” reader reports that on Sunday, a number of homes in his Long Lots neighborhood lost water.

He called Aquarion, and was told there was a water break somewhere on Long Lots Road. That’s a first for him, in over 30 years here.

The break — apparently near Fairfield County Hunt Club — was fixed a few hours later. However, brown water persisted at least through yesterday.

What’s particularly distressing to him is that Aquarion never called him — either about the break, its cause or its resolution. There was a notice briefly on the water company’s website, he says, but it was soon gone.


As Rev. Alison Patton heads to her sabbatical, visiting minister Rev. Dr. Jim Antal hits the ground — and Saugatuck Congregational Church — running.

The climate activist delivers a public lecture on June 9 (7:30 p.m.): “Let’s Makek our Coastal Community a Climate Leader!” The event is co-sponsored by Wakeman Town Farm and Sustainable Westport.

The lecture is followed by a community conversation about the topic.

In addition to his public talk, Rev. Antal will share a 3-sermon series, “Responding Faithfully to the Climate Crisis,” at Saugatuck Church on the first 3 Sundays in June.

Drawing from his activism and his book “Climate Church, Climate World: How People of Faith Must Work for Change,” Antal will challenge attendees to see their place in the work of climate justice.

The 10 a.m. topics are:

  • June 5: “Welcoming the Fullest Truth”
  • June 12: “Attenting to the Source”
  • June 19″ Living Into a New Story.”

The public is welcome to attend those services too.


Terrence Dunn was sworn in as Westport’s new fire marshal yesterday. He replaces Nate Gibbons, who has retired.

1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker calls Dunn “a genuine and humble leader who has the skills and experience necessary to ensure that the Fire Department continues to provide exceptional service to the community.”

He was hired as a Westport firefighter in 2003, and promoted to fire inspector in 2009. He graduated from the University of New Haven with a major in arson investigation and a minor in criminal justice.

Along with state certification as a fire marshal, Dunn is licensed as an assistant building official. He is first vice president of the Connecticut Fire Marshal’s Association, a member of the Fairfield/New Haven County Fire Marshal’s Association, the International Association of Arson Investigators, and District 8 Building Official’s Association.

A formal pinning ceremony on June 21 (5 p.m., Christ & Holy Trinity Church) will celebrate the department’s promotions and medals.

Fire marshal Terry Dunn


“The Wall That Heals” is a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington. Since its dedication in 1996, it has been displayed at nearly 700 communities across the country.

From tomorrow (June 2) through June 5, it will occupy a place of honor at Veteran’s Memorial Park in Norwalk.

Yesterday, the Westport Police and Fire Departments helped escort it from its staging area at Sherwood Island State Park to the park. Click here for details of the exhibit.

The staging area at Sherwood Island. (Photo and hat tip/Chris Swan)


Anthony LoFrisco is a Westport motorcycle rider. He’s organized a series of rides.

But they’re not just rev-up-the-engines-and-make-loud-noises jaunts. Starting last Sunday, and continuing each month through August, they deliver donated items to food pantries throughout Fairfield County.

The first was to the Gillespie Center in Westport, from Grace Community Church in New Canaan. Parishioners provided cereal, peanut butter, jelly, pasta sauce, canned goods and other items.

The weather was beautiful. The riders — on 4 BMWs and 1 Harley — met at the Westport train station, headed to the church, then returned here for the drop-off.

The next deliveries will be in Stamford, Bridgeport, and then the Gillespie Center again. Anthony invites everyone to drop off non-perishable food items at 11:15 a.m. on June 26, July 31 and August 28 — and/or join the motorcycle riders.

For more information, email anthony@lofrisco.com.

Motorcycle gang at the Gillespie Center.


This weekend, celebrate Connecticut Trails Day (actually, 2 days). The event draws thousands of people of all backgrounds, ages, abilities and interests, across the state. 

Friends of Sherwood Island State Park will host 4 hikes:

Saturday, June 4: Butterfly Walk (10 a.m.): Explore the gardens and natural areas around the park’s Nature Center, searching for caterpillars, skippers, moths and butterflies. Bring binoculars and a camera or smartphone. You’ll learn how to report your findings on iNaturalist, so scientists everywhere can see how these insects are doing.

Saturday, June 4: Kayak Paddle (1 p.m.): See Sherwood Island from the water. Explore the park’s shoreline. Bring your own kayak, canoe or other paddle craft, and a pump/bailer. A life vest and whistle/horn are required by state boating regulations.

Sunday, June 5: Archaeology Walk (1 p.m.): See interesting terrain, and examine traces of past inhabitants, from 1000 B.C. to the 1940s. Learn about recent excavations, including Native American, early settlers, and onion farmers.

Sunday, June 5: Nature Walk (2 p.m.): Go beach to beach  along Long Island Sound. Discover habitats, inhabitants, birding locations, viewing platforms, a purple martin enclave, and other special features of this waterfront park. Other points of interest include Connecticut’s 9/11 Memorial, model aircraft airport, trail heads, wetlands, and a pine forest.

Click here for more details. For questions, and to register (recommended, but not required), email cece@historicalperspectives.org, or call 203-984-1488.

Sherwood Island State Park is a natural wonderland. (Elena Nasereddin)


1999 Staples High School graduate Kyle Martino has been the National High School Soccer Player of the Year, MLS Rookie of the Year, a US men’s national team athlete, and a highly regarded analyst on NBC Sports.

Now he’s the founder of the Over Under Initiative. The non-profit increases access to sports in urban neighborhoods, by converting basketball courts and other blacktops to multi-sport spaces. Martino designed the innovative and elegantly simple conversion process himself.

On June 13 (5:30 p.m., Autostrada, 499 Post Road East), Martino joins Westporters Dan Donovan, Mark Kirby and friends for a fundraiser. Tickets are $250 each. To attend and for more information, email rsvp@overunderinitiative.com.

Youngsters play at Cesar Batalla School’s new multi-sport court. The soccer goal can be pulled out of the ground, then sunk back into the ground, with ease. (Photo/Dan Woog)


Lou Weinberg sends along this gorgeous “Westport … Naturally” image of a Lansdowne song sparrow — and adds a link to its equally beautiful song:

(Photo/Lou Weinberg)


And finally … Happy Connecticut Trails Day!

Nate Gibbons Hangs Up His Fire Department Hat

Nate Gibbons may be the only fire marshal in America who graduated from Choate and Yale, and whose resume includes radio DJ, cable TV director and video producer.

Soon, Gibbons could be the only ex-fire marshal with that resume.

The Westport Fire Department icon retires May 31. He’s spent 27 years here, in roles that also include public information officer. Before that, he was a volunteer firefighter.

Long before that — as a kid growing up not far from the Greens Farms fire station — he rode along as trucks responded to brush fires. (“You can’t do that today,” he notes.)

Gibbons has had long, fulfilling careers, both before and with the WFD. The other day he sat in the central firehouse. As firefighters trained outside using a wrecked vehicle, and a call sent them scrambling into action, he reflected on all those years.

Westport fire marshal Nate Gibbons.

After creating a production studio on Post Road West, and his own company in Norwalk, Gibbons traveled the world making corporate training films.

The Fire Department of New York and a fire magazine were early clients. Working closely on scripts and shoots, he bonded with fire officials. But the constant travel burned him out.

“You should be a firefighter!” they told him. He took tests, was #1 on the Westport list, sold his company and — despite taking a pay cut from 6 figures to $26,000 his first year — never looked back.

“I was outside. I developed great relationships. Every day was exciting, and a challenge,” Gibbons says. “I thrived.”

Firefighter Nate Gibbons, in action.

with his experience as a DJ — he was a calm, clear, compassionate, just-humorous-enough and very educational voice on WWPT-FM in the days after storms like Sandy, Henri and Isaias.

From how to take care of your generator and how to conserve ice, to trivia like the difference between flotsam and jetsam, Gibbons kept residents safe and sane in tough, unelectrified times.

As a fire inspector and marshal, he spent countless hours reviewing site plans. He talked with stakeholders, walked construction sites and mediated conflicting demands, all so that his colleagues would have fewer calls to answer — and we’d all be safer.

Nate Gibbons, through the years.

It’s impossible to know exactly how many disasters his work prevented. But the fact that Westport has not had an issue in years — no major fires, no problems with emergency vehicle access, none of those things we never think about until they happen — did not happen by, um, accident.

Not all of that is due to Gibbons’ vigilance, of course. He notes that a sharp decrease in smoking has led to a similar drop in fires caused by cigarettes. And public education about drinking and driving has lessened dramatically the number of extrications the WFD performs. (Another reason: improved automotive design and technology.)

Other changes are less positive. When Gibbons first started, many co-workers lived in Westport, or nearby. Changing housing patterns — and salaries that lag behind — mean that some firefighters live as far away as Brookfield, Killingworth and Mystic.

Gone are the days when, even off duty, they could respond within minutes to a call.

Nate Gibbons was called one day for a possible hazardous material. No one knew what was inside a large container. It turned out to be a few pounds of marijuana.

Looking ahead 5 years, Gibbons says that the WFD’s biggest challenge will be related to those same changing housing patterns, including many new apartments. Fighting fires in “podium-style” buildings (those built over parking garages) is hard. Renters are not always as safety-conscious as homeowners.

Fortunately, he says, many of Westport’s biggest new residences have fire alarms, and are built with safety in mind.

He’s also proud that Westport has invested in thing like hazmat protection and marine firefighting, and training. “These guys drill all the time,” Gibbons notes.

Gibbons’ service to Westport includes years as a union official. He fought for many things, including additional firefighters on trucks.

He’s seen “terrible things” in his time here, he says: two young children who drowned in a swimming pool, and horrific accidents on I-95.

But, he notes, “in what other job could I deliver a baby without being a doctor?” It happened at Sherwood Island one hot summer day.

“I was more scared than at any fire,” he recalls. But his training kicked in. He got the baby out, cut the umbilical cord, put it on its mother’s chest — and heard it cry.

Quick decisions are part of that training. And, Gibbons notes, making a wrong decision is better than making none at all. At least you can change a wrong decision.

His best decision ever was “taking this job.” His mother was opposed. His father loved it. His wife Elizabeth has always been behind him.

Nate Gibbons’ wife has always supported him — even when his public information duties meant he’d be away from home, right after storms or other disasters, for days at a time. Here he records a daily briefing for WWPT-FM.

Another good decision was to retire. Gibbons is just 65. But, he says, “It’s time. I’ve got a great guy backing me up. It’s his time now. I’ve got an obligation to let other people move up.”

After retirement, Gibbons will spend time fixing up the Spicer Road farmhouse he recently bought.

He’ll also have more to spend with his wife. He worked 13 straight days after Superstorm Sandy. Westporters hung on to his every word, with his frequent updates on WWPT.

We will miss his soothing voice, and wise words. We’ll miss too his behind-the-scenes work, making our town safer for everyone who lives, works and passes through it.

But — based on that impressive and eclectic résumé — Nate Gibbons is just warming up for his next act.

BONUS FEATURE: I asked soon-to-retire Nate Gibbons for any last message to Westporters. Instantly, he said: “Have working smoke detectors. Have an escape plan, and practice it. Not just for fires — there are plenty of guns, and plenty of kooks, out there. Keep your head on a swivel. And don’t just have Plan B. Have Plans C, D and E.”

Fatal Crash On Saugatuck Avenue

At approximately 4:20 p.m. today, Westport’s Police Department, Fire Department and Emergency Medical Services responded to the area of 294 Saugatuck Avenue near the Norwalk town line, on a report of a 2-car accident.

One driver was conscious, and able to speak with emergency responders. That person was extricated by firefighters and transported to the hospital for treatment. The driver of the other car was unresponsive and did not have a pulse. That individual was pronounced deceased by medical personnel.

The name of the victim will not be released until next of kin are notified.

The Westport Police Department’s accident investigation team, with assistance from the Fairfield Police Department’s accident investigation team, will handle this investigation.

Saugatuck Avenue between Ferry Lane and Duck Pond Road is closed, and is not expected to reopen for the next several hours.  However, residents who live within that area will be allowed to access their homes.

Roundup: Pro-Choice Protest, Mitzvah Day, Bathroom Humor …

News of a draft of the Supreme Court’s decision in an important abortion case has sparked nationwide protests.

There’s one planned for 4 p.m. this Sunday — Mother’s Day — on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge downtown. Organizers (DefenDemocracy of CT) expect a large turnout.


“Mitzvah,” loosely translated from Hebrew, means “good deed.”

Last Sunday, over 150 congregants of all ages showed up at Temple Israel to perform mitzvahs.

Among the donations:

  • 10,000 meals to Ukrainian refugees
  • 200 comfort bags to hospitalized children
  • Dozens of lap blankets, walker bags, potted plants, and centerpieces to Jewish Senior Services and Weston Senior Center
  • 100 blessing/toiletry bags to Bridgeport Rescue Mission
  • 12 lasagnas were baked and delivered to Homes with Hope
  • 100 bagged lunches to Gillespie Center
  • 30 Mother’s Day cards to women fighting breast cancer
  • 50 cards and letters to US service members and IDF lone soldiers,

It was truly a local — and global — Mitzvah Day.


Want to give Mom something different for Mothers Day weekend? (Psssst…it’s Sunday!)

Take her to join Anthony Zemba at Earthplace on Saturday (May 7, 8 to 10 a.m.). The avid birder/environmental analyst/soil scientist/certified ecologist will lead a group along the trails of the nature and wildlife sanctuary.

Anthony recently joined LandTech, the civil engineering and environmental science firm that’s underwriting the bird walk.

Among the probable wildlife: scarlet tanagers; wood thrush; pileated, red- bellied, hairy and downy woodpeckers; indigo buntings, goldfinch and orioles.

Spots are limited. Click here to register, and for more information.

Calling all bird watchers: See the pileated woodpecker!


Staples was ranked #5 nationally (large schools division), in this year’s 100 Best Wise (Working In Support of Education) High Schools Teaching Personal Finance. It was the top finish for any Connecticut school.

The list and ceremony honor excellence in personal finance education. Congratulations to teachers Lenny Klein and Sarah White — and of course their very “wise” students.


Whether it’s a Broadway show or a Westport restaurant, women know the drill: There’s a longer wait for the women’s restroom than the men’s.

So Tammy Barry was relieved (ho ho) when she spotted this sign yesterday at Rye Ridge Deli:

(Photo/Tammy Barry)

Every problem has a solution. This one is simple. It doesn’t cost a cent.

Now let’s see it everywhere else in Westport too.


Westporters know that the Memorial Day parade is one of the best community events of the year. Those who stay afterward, for the ceremony on Veterans Green across from Town Hall, know that it is a moving and important way to honor those who gave their lives for our country.

That is the idea of the holiday, after all.

There’s another chance to pay tribute too. That morning (May 30, 7:45 a.m.), the Fire Department honors all who died in service to our nation, and the Westport firefighters who died in the line of duty.

All are welcome at fire headquarters on the Post Road.

Westport Fire Department headquarters,


Former Westporter Diane (Prezkop) Reed died in November, after a brief illness. She was 71.

Diane graduated from Staples High School in 1968. She participated in intermural sports, and wrote for the school newspaper Inklings and yearbook.  She graduated from the University of Connecticut with a BA in English and a master’s in Counseling and Higher Education.

In 1972, Diane married Steven Reed. She began a career at UConn as a research associate, then became assistant director of research and data acquisition for the Institute of Social Inquiry at Storrs.

The couple’s careers took them to Ohio, where Diane worked as an analyst, project director, manager of research operations and operations manager. A final move took them to Michigan, where she worked as marketing group director and director of teleservices. She loved being a mentor and coach to her staff, and enjoyed social and golf activities at Indianwood Golf Club.

After her divorce= Diane created a consulting practice, developing and editing training curricula and coaching management teams. In 2005 Diane returned to Westport to enjoy her family, and pursue her writing.

Friends and family describe Diane as “sweet, witty, compassionate, generous and kind.” She loved literature, science, spectator sports, music and humanity as a whole.  She was an avid collector and supporter of local artisans and craftsmen. She was passionate about her family, lifelong learning, and creative writing.

Diane’s siblings were Edward of Seattle, Raymond of Westport, Carole Prescott of Madison, and the late Thomas Prezkop of Newburyport, Massachusetts.  She is survived by many nieces, nephews, cousins, great-nieces and great-nephews.

A memorial service to celebrate the lives of Diane and her brother Thomas Prezkop will be held June 29 at Waters Edge in Westbrook. Donations in her name may be made to the Westport Library.

Diane Prezkop Reed


Former Westporter Thomas Prezkop, of Newburyport, Massachusetts, died earlier this year, after a battle with pancreatic neuroendocrine cancer. He was 73.

Tom was raised, and taught himself to sail, here. That started a lifelong love for all things aquatic. He graduated from Staples High School in 1966.

In early 1971 he headed to St. Maarten. There he co-owned and restored a 108-foot ketch, which he chartered. He also managed restaurants, started an omelet café, and captained other boats.

In 1978, Tom settled in Massachusetts. He married his first wife, Linn Anderson, and had a son, Andrew

Tom’s second career was in mechanical design engineering. He worked for medical device companies before founding Andover Medical Development Group, to do component manufacturing. He operated AMDG for 35 years, fulfilling contracts with NASA, Boston Scientific and others.

Tom was a passionate sailor.  He was an expert angler, certified scuba diver, licensed pilot and professional cook. He also enjoyed snow skiing, surfing, water skiing barefoot, and golf. He could build and fix anything

Tom passed his patience, creativity and playfulness on to Andrew, in whom he fostered lifelong passions as a musician, athlete, craftsman, outdoorsman, adventurer and father.  He was overjoyed to be a grandfather to Avery and Luke.

In 1995, Tom and a friend rescued a fellow boater who had fallen overboard in Gloucester and been seriously injured by the propeller. Tom received a congressional commendation.

In addition to his wife, son, daughter-in-law Geneva Brion and grandchildren, he is survived by his sister Carole Prescott of Madison, and brothers Edward of Seattle and Raymond of Westport, as well as nieces, nephews and cousins. He was pre-deceased by his sister Diane Reed of Westport.

There will be a celebration of life at Water’s Edge in Westbrook on June 29.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to The Ocean Foundation and the Kaplan Family Hospice House.

Thomas Prezkop


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows a recent visitor to Berkeley Road.

Hey, a guy’s gotta eat!

(Photo/Jill Grayson)


And finally … in honor of Rye Ridge Deli’s new restroom policy (see above story): These are the 2 best bathroom songs I could find.

Westport Firefighters Send Protective Gear To Ukraine

The Westport Fire Department has donated used personal protective equipment — including coats, pants and boots — to Ukraine.

Fire marshal Nathaniel Gibbons organized the project. Yesterday he delivered the turnout gear, to be shipped to Ukrainian firefighters.

Gibbons says, “Firefighters support one another around the county and the world. The men and women of Ukraine fighting fire under war conditions reached out for our support- so we responded. We support them and their fight for freedom.”

Fire marshal Nathaniel Gibbons and Uliana Khovanets, liaison with Ukraine Post, with Westport Fire Department gear headed to Ukraine.

Fire Chief Michael Kronick adds, “Imagine trying to put out a fire without the proper equipment. There are raging fires in cities, forests and fields from the numerous bombing attacks, which firefighters work around the clock to put out. We know that our equipment will save lives, and help the firefighters.”

Gibbons thanks Westporter Mark Yurkiw. Fluent in Ukrainian, he expedited the communication and logistics necessary to get the gear directly to Ukraine Emergency Services.

The National Fire Protection Association specifies that structural turnout gear should be retired when the garment is beyond repair and no longer able to pass the NFPA test. Though the donated gear is past its technical expiration date for use in the US, it is clean, in serviceable condition, and ready to provide protection to Ukrainian firefighters.

UPDATE: Dogs Safe In Fire

Westport Fire Chief Michael Kronick reports that approximately 50 dogs and cats were saved by firefighters and police officers at the Town House for Dogs fire early this morning.

They were moved to another part of the kennel not affected by the fire. They are safe, and being cared for by the staff of Town House for Dogs.

The scene today at Town House for Dogs.

However, 2 dogs died in the 2nd-floor apartment that was involved in the fire.

Town House clients who need information about their pets should call owners Mel and Sandy Goldman at 203-227-3276.

Fire Marshal Nathaniel Gibbons notes, “Residents were saved by an alarm system that had recently been upgraded during their annual fire inspection. This drives home the importance of having working smoke alarms in your homes or business.”

The cause of the fire is under investigation by the Westport fire marshal’s office.

A firefighter, battling today’s early morning blaze at the Town House for Dogs. (Photos courtesy of Westport Fire Department)

Roundup: Fire, Beach Stickers, Cannabis …


Just before midnight, Westport firefighters responded to a fire alarm at the Townhouse for Dogs building on the Post Road, between Little Barn and Maserati.

There was heavy fire on the 2nd floor apartment of the building, Fairfield and Norwalk Fire Departments provided mutual aid.

Westport firefighters and police officers rescued and removed approximately 50 dogs and cats from the pet boarding facility.

The 3 occupants of the 2-floor apartment were awakened by smoke detectors.  With their  exit blocked by fire, they jumped from a window. They were treated by Westport EMS, and did not require hospitalization.

The fire is under investigation by the Westport fire marshal’s office. The WFD reminds residents that working smoke detectors save lives.

Norwalk and Wilton Fire Departments provided station coverage during the incident.

Last night’s fire at the Townhouse for Dogs. (Photo courtesy of Westport Fire Department)


Beachgoers, take note: On May 1, parking emblems (aka “stickers”) will be required to drive into town beaches.

Click here to begin the purchase process online. If you bought an emblem or registered for Parks & Recreation programs previously, choose “Memberships”; in the search box, type “vehicle,” and follow the prompts. It may take 7-10 days to receive your sticker in the mail.

Walk-in purchases are available weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Questions? Email recreation@westportct.gov, or call 203-341-5152.

(Photo/Mark Marcus)


A towering, powerful band kicks off Levitt Pavilion’s “Stars on Tour” series.

Tower of Power comes to town Saturday, June 4 (7:30 p.m.).

The soul/funk/R&B horn-driven band has been rocking audiences for over 50 years.

Levitt Pavilion members can access the pre-sale now. Click here for information on membership.

General admission tickets go on sale tomorrow (Friday, April 22, noon). Click here to purchase.


Lynsey Addario is back in Ukraine.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist — and 1991 Staples High School graduate — is once again documenting important front-line stories.

Yesterday, her photos from Avdiivka illustrated the brutal lives of those who live in the Donbas, the eastern territory in Russian forces’ crosshairs, as they begin a new and violent assault.

“God bless her, Tyler” — Hicks, her fellow Times award-winning photographer and Staples grad — “and everyone reaching out providing  aid to Ukraine,” Lynsey’s mother Camille says.

“Please let it end.”

Like other residents of Avdiivka, Ukraine, Matviy, 12, sought shelter in a basement. The village has come under increasing artillery fire as Russia shifts its offensive to Ukraine’s east. (Photo/Lynsey Addario for the New York Times)


A reminder about Arbor Day (April 29), and related events:

This Saturday (April 23, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Jesup Green, free): The Tree Board and Westport Book Shop celebrate Earth Day with a fun event to promote reading for all ages, with attention also on the value of trees. Interactive family-friendly activities involving reading and early learning; educational materials and a native tree sapling giveaway, courtesy of Bartlett Tree Company.

Friday April 29 (Arbor Day, 3 to 4 p.m., Town Hall, free):  The Tree Board hosts their annual native sapling giveaway, plus brochures and advice from professional associations on tree-related topics, from site selection to proper maintenance.  Native saplings for giveaway are donated by Bartlett Tree.

Saturday, April 30 (3 to 4 p.m., Earthplace): The Tree Board hosts a live discussion and free information session with a tree professional on the basics of tree planting and maintenance, including selection, mulching, pruning, pest management and more. Native tree saplings, courtesy of Bartlett, will be available while they last.

As part of Arbor Day, Earthplace also hosts a “Toast To The Trees” family event 4 to 6 p.m.), with kids’ activities and s’mores, handmade pizza, beverages for adults and kids, plus a “tree walk” tour.  Click here to purchase tickets.

Also, the Tree Board and Westport Library have created a “StoryWalk” at the Lillian Wadsworth Arboretum (2 Woodside Lane).  The featured book is “Be a Tree!” For more information, click here.


The District 8 “traffic meeting” — arranged by 1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, with Public Works, Planning & Zoning and Public Safety Department representatives — is set for tonight (April 21, 7 p.m., Town Hall). This is also the middle of our public schools’ spring break.

Residents who can’t attend tonight are invited to an alternate session on Tuesday (same location and time).

RTM District 8 includes Coleytown. Traffic issues include cars waiting on North Avenue, near Coleytown Elementary and Middle Schools. (Photo/David Gottlieb)


Speaking of traffic:

Replacement of the Bayberry Lane bridge over the Aspetuck River began yesterday. It’s scheduled to be closed from April 28 through November 30.

The detour route is Easton Road to Coleytown Road to North Avenue to Lyons Plain Road to White Birch Road, or the reverse as necessary.


If you’re not aware of AWARE: You should be.

For a decade, the non-profit (the acronym stands for Assisting Women through Action, Resources and Education) has partnered with non-profits like Mercy Learning Center, Female Soldiers: Forgotten Heroes, Malta House, Caroline House and Cancer Couch.

For a year, AWARE members learn about that particular organization, and its clients. Through hands-on activities and dinners, they offer support and guidance. Through fundraising, they offer financial help.

This year’s partner is the Women’s Mentoring Network. The Stamford-based group offers education and job training, and assistance in areas like financial literacy and computers.

This year’s fundraiser is May 14 (6 to 8 p.m.). “Tapas @ Twilight” includes food, beverages and an auction. Click here or email info@awarect.org for more information.


Unfortunately, we got this too late to post yesterday (4/20). Still, here goes:

The American Marketing Association Southern Connecticut chapter’s first hybrid event — “CannaCurious? Marketing, Regulations and Social Equity” (May 19, networking at 6 p.m., program at 7, Earthplace and Zoom) — focuses on the booming cannabis sector.

Industry leaders from state and federal regulatory, marketing, social equity and investment advisory groups will share best practices, tips and guidelines for the quickly changing landscape.

To register and for more information, click here.


Who would put a port-a-potty in the marsh, at the extreme end of Sherwood Island State Park?

(Photo/Art Schoeller)

No one. Well, no one except Mother Nature.

Greens Farms Association president Art Schoeller sent this photo, and an explanation: Monday’s storm floated the portable toilet from the Burying Hill parking lot — where it’s being used for the jetty reconstruction project — across the channel to Sherwood Island.

No s—.


Westport Country Playhouse has branched out into podcasting.

“Stories from the Playhouse” — a new series — launched this week on Spotify and Libsyn classic feed, and on the Playhouse website.

Hosted by Playhouse assistant artistic director Liam Lonegan, the podcast hopes to inspire artists, audiences and community members. The monthly series will feature guests from throughout the theater world, sharing their stories.

The first episode is “Redefining Normal,” with guest Marcos Santana, director and choreographer of “Next to Normal.” The show runs through Sunday, April 24. Santana tells his story, from growing up in Puerto Rico to performing on Broadway, and sheds light on bringing the pop/rock musical to the Playhouse stage.


Linda Colletta is launching a new “Westport Studio Concept Space,” open through September.

Her goal with the 33 Elm Street spot is to “make the art studio experience more accessible to the public, enhance education about abstract art, and invite artists and art enthusiasts to connect with the artist in person.”

An opening reception is set for April 29 (6 to 9 p.m.).

Linda Colletta, and her art.


Westport college admissions counselor Amy Chatterjee offers a free webinar on the admissions process, and the importance – or not – of the SATs and ACTs.

It’s set for Thursday, April 28 (7 p.m.). Click here to register.


“Westport … Naturally” appreciates our town at all hours of the day. Here was the view at 6:30 yesterday morning, on Riverside Avenue.

(Photo/Tom Cook)


And finally … tonight on this date in 1977, “Annie” opened on Broadway. The next morning … well, you know.

National Hall Fire Snarls Downtown

The Westport Fire Department says:

At approximately 3:50 p.m. today. the Department received calls reporting a building fire at 2 Post Rd West (National Hall).

Arriving units reported heavy smoke from the roof of the 3-story building. Firefighters searched all floors to ensure everyone had evacuated safely.

Crews searched the top floor and attic space for fire. Westport Truck 1 went to the roof and searched for fire in the heavy smoke. Fire was discovered under the roof sheathing, and was extinguished after access was made by crews on the roof and top floor.

The scene on Post Road West.

Norwalk Truck 2 assisted with roof operations, while Wilton Engine 1 provided manpower on scene. Roadways were shut down in the vicinity of the fire on Wilton and Post Roads for the duration of the operation.

Crews from Fairfield and Weston Fire Departments provided station coverage. One firefighter was treated on scene for minor injuries.

Cause of the fire is under investigation by the Westport Fire Marshal’s Office.

Firefighters on the National Hall roof. (Photos courtesy of Westport Fire Department)


Roundup: Carbon Monoxide, Ice Hockey, Local To Market …


The Westport Fire Department wants residents to know that carbon monoxide poisoning is a winter threat.

Carbon monoxide is an invisible odorless gas that can be fatal. It forms when fuels like gasoline, natural gas, propane, wood, charcoal, and kerosene do not burn completely. Breathing carbon monoxide can deprive the body of oxygen, and may lead to illness, loss of consciousness and death.

Symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning include:

  • Headache, fatigue, dizziness, confusion, nausea or vomiting, and loss of consciousness.
  • If several members of a household experience these symptoms when they are home but feel better when they are away from the home, there may be a carbon monoxide problem.

If you have symptoms:

  • Get out of the house immediatelyand seek medical help if you or a family member or guest has unexplained/sudden onset of symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Call 911 from a cell phone or neighbor’s home and the Connecticut Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222.

Carbon monoxide alarms are the only way to know if the deadly gas is present in your home. It is recommended that all residents with fuel burning appliances or indoor equipment install carbon monoxide alarms near all sleeping areas in their home to alert them of the presence of carbon monoxide. Install a carbon monoxide alarm on each floor of your home and outside of each bedroom. Install new batteries as per manufacturer’s instructions and replace alarms every five years, as the sensors degrade.

To stay safe:

  • Never use portable generators, charcoal or gas grills, gas or propane powered pressure washers, saws or other fuel powered equipment inside your home, garage, carport, basement, or other enclosed spaces. Opening windows and doors, and operating fans is not enough to prevent buildup of carbon monoxide in a home
  • Install a carbon monoxide alarm on each floor of your home & outside of each bedroom.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe on your standby generator is pointing away from the house.
  • Place portable generators at least 20 feet from the house.
  • Make sure gas dryer vents and automobile tail pipes are not plugged up with snow.
  • Have your heating systems, chimney flues, gas appliances, wood stoves, and generators checked every year, and cleaned and serviced as needed by qualified heating/appliance contractors.


There are many ways to illustrate the current tensions in Ukraine.
Staples High School 1988 graduate/Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times photographer Tyler Hicks did it with a unique shot of Ukrainian soldiers jumping into a cross made out of ice, near the Russian front — a tradition in that country.
The image was the lead one today, on page 1 of the Times. (Hat tip: John Karrel)
Congratulations to the Staples High School boys ice hockey team. The Wreckers beat Norwalk-McMahon 4-2 in the 3rd annual Dale Wemhoff Cup. Wehmhoff attended Westport schools and was the assistant hockey coach at Staples before taking over the Norwalk program. (Hat tip: Hannah Kail)

Staples High School ice hockey team.

There’s (almost) always something going on at Local to Market. Mark these dates, for the popular food-and-more store on Main Street next to Parker Harding Plaza.

Tomorrow (Saturday, January 22, 2 to 4 p.m.): Maria from Fairfield’s Bee Love Project offers tastings, suggests pairings and presents insights into the world of honey bees.

Two days before Valentine’s (Saturday, February 12, time TBD), Samantha from Locavore Kitchens in Westport talks about her rosemary glazed shortbread cookies (and more).
Go for the local food stars. Stay for the samples?

The Local to Market patio.


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo shows 3 deer, trying for camouflage. Or perhaps just hungry.

(Photo/Peter J. Swift)


And finally … 2 recent deaths with local connections.

Meat Loaf died yesterday, at 74 (or so — read full obituary here). The larger-than-life ’70s singer would of course be commemorated here no matter where he lived.

But for a while he was a Westport resident. He played softball on Sunday mornings at Compo Beach, coached his daughter’s softball team, hung out on Terry and Gail Coen’s very visible Soundview Drive front deck, and was a cheerful, popular presence in town. Everyone of a certain age has a Meat Loaf story from those days.

And Fred Parris, co-founder of the Five Satins and writer of “In the Still of the Night,” died recently after a brief illness. He was 85.

The New Haven native wrote the song while on guard duty with the Army in Philadelphia. His group recorded it “in a makeshift studio in the basement of St. Bernadette Roman Catholic Church in New Haven on February 19, 1956,” the New Haven Register says. Click here for the full obituary. (Hat tip: Audrey Rabinowitz)