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When the 2020 (’21) Paralympic Games begin Tuesday in Tokyo, Westporters should pay attention to swimmer Matthew Torres.
The 20-year-old Fairfield University sophomore — born without part of his right leg and missing all but one toe on his left foot, along with curvature of his hands — will compete in the 100 and 400 meter freestyle, and 100 meter backstroke.
He’s a proud alum of the Westport Weston Family YMCA Water Rats program — and winner of the 200 individual medley at the 2019 World Para Swimming World Series.
Go get ’em, Matthew. And congrats to the Water Rats, who helped get him there!
The Westport Police Benevolent Association Car Cruise scheduled for today (Saturday), has been canceled due to weather concerns. The new date is October 2 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.)
All 3 sailors from Longshore Sailing School’s week-long regatta in honor of the late Doug Sheffer are Staples High School students. In the photo below, winner James Russell is flanked by second place finisher Annabelle Lott, and bronze medalist Alex St. Andre.
Who knows what Henri will bring?
But even as the clouds rolled in, there were few worries last night at Compo Beach:
Brian Keane is headed to the New England Music Hall of Fame.
The Emmy Award-winning film documentary composer — also a professional guitarist, film producer and Staples High School Class of 1971 graduate — joins a glittering case of 2021 inductees. They include the late Muddy Waters and his son, Mud Morganfield; blues greats James Cotton, James Montgomery and Duke Robillard, and John Cafferty & the Beaver Brown Band.
Connecticut Magazine features Keane this month. Click here for the full story. (Hat tip: Fred Cantor)
For the past couple of years, the state Department of Transportation has been removing trees, bushes and buffering hills from the northbound side of Merritt Parkway Exit 41, near the Westport Weston Family Y.
Now they’re putting stuff back. It won’t look the same as it did before.
But it won’t look the way it did recently, either.
Local to Market — the new artisan food-and-crafts store in the old Remarkable Book Shop — hosts a farm stand on their patio from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. today (Saturday, July 31).
They feature Silverman’s Farm and Shaggy Coos farm. There’s fresh veggies including corn and peaches, fresh milk, and 2 local artists: pottery by Anna Aron and woodturnings by Dick Stein. A portion of all sales goes to charity.
In addition, Local to Market is looking for a store manager and sales associate. It’s a great chance to be part of the resurgence of Main Street — and help all kinds of local folks get to market (duh).
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
The Local to Market patio opened recently, across from Cold Fusion.
The program’s goal is raising $7,500. Each dollar raised will be doubled. This will allow Sustainable Westport to do so much more for our community. Donors will be entered to win a giveaway from one of the sponsors.
Our Food Scrap Recycling is working to decrease residential food waste by at least 25%. Close to 1 out of 4 bags of groceries are eventually thrown away. Food waste is one of the heaviest, wettest and most expensive types of trash for the town to incinerate.
If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gases, behind China and the US.
Sustainable Westport has partnered with Earthplace and Wakeman Town Farm to transform Westport into a green community. The goal is to become a Net Zero community by the year 2050, when the community has reduced its impacts across energy, water and waste so they are sustainably managed, using approaches that are economically viable, of social benefit, and environmentally responsible.”
As expected, I missed at least one Westport-connected Emmy nomination yesterday.
Staples High School 1974 graduate/former Player Sue Handman is up for her writing and narration on “Once Upon a City.” Good luck to all Westport nominees!
And while I noted that Staples High School Class of 1988 graduate Kerri Kenney-Silver is up for an award as Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series for “Reno 911!”, she’s also nominated for an executive producer award for the same show. Kerri had 2 similar “Reno 911!” nominations in 2020.
John Porio grew up in the 1970s and ’80s with classic rock. He was pleased when his own kids — like himself, Staples High School students — got involved with the School of Rock.
Then he did too. He met some fellow musicians there, and did a couple of adult shows.
Now they’ve formed their own band. They’re having fun — and raising funds for Homes for the Brave. Since 2002, the Bridgeport organization has provided housing, vocational education and life skills training to over 1,200 veterans.
John’s band — Gold Dust — performed on Memorial Day weekend. On July 24 (4-9 p.m.), they’ve got a bigger gig. The venue is a group member’s property at 399 Center Street in Easton. There’s a barn, patio and big lawn — perfect for any rock show.
Gold Dust includes Westporters Jeffery and Laurie Gross, and Leila Jones Shields. They’ll perform after the School of Rock band. The public is invited.
A celebration of the life of David Tarqueno will be held this Saturday (July 17, 2 p.m., St. Luke Church). The Staples High School graduate — an avid fisherman and nature lover — died in December, from complications of COVID-19. He was 61.
And finally … the incomparable Darlene Love headlines tonight’s benefit show at the Levitt Pavilion. There’s a reason she’s on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Singers. And in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame.
After one rainout, and then a COVID cancellation, the “06880” community was ready to party.
I did the hard thing (picked the most beautiful night of the summer) and the easy one (put out the word for people to come).
You guys did the rest.
Over 150 “06880” readers gathered at South Beach last night for our annual “blog party.”
The crowd was young …
Ann Sheffer with her grandson.
… and old(ish).
Dan Woog (left) and Miggs Burroughs. (Photo/Patrick Kennedy)
It included folks who grew up here in the 1940s, and a couple who moved here in April.
There were politicians, and normal human beings.
There were Westporters with beach stickers, and Westonites, Norwalkers and Fairfielders who got rides, walked from nearby friends’ houses, or paid the full boat at the gate to get in.
Everyone brought food, soda, beer and wine (no glass bottles, though!).
The Westport Garden Club even brought decorations. Their #FridayFlowers were a day early, but “06880” was honored to be this week’s recipient.
Yours truly, with a gorgeous Westport Garden Club arrangement. (Photo/Dennis Jackson)
People chatted with old friends, and made new ones. They ate and laughed. They luxuriated in a beautiful, pre-pandemic community gathering, at one of the most beautiful spots in town. They watched the sun go down. Some stayed until long after dark.
Thanks to all who came to our party, and made it such a fantastic evening.
Westport’s land use community was stunned this week by the death of Larry Bradley. The town’s Planning and Zoning Department director from 2005 to 2016 succumbed to a heart attack on Wednesday. He was 54 years old.
Bradley resigned to become planning director of planning and community development for the Seminole tribe in Florida. Since 2019, he serve das director of Palm Bay Growth Management, also in Florida.
Before Westport, Bradley worked at municipal planning posts in Greenwich, White Plains and Rye.
According to Florida Today, he was a New York Giants fan; he enjoyed travel and opera, and was a ember of the Loyal Order of Moose. He is survived by his wife Maria.
“Larry Bradley was beloved and respected in Westport, especially by all members of the P&Z and Zoning Board of Appeals.
“Larry was a master of land use regulation, and a gentle person with residents and elected officials. In a time when many sought to show their power or position Larry was always a steady voice, listening and seeking advice from those who had an opinion but not always the regulatory knowledge to back it up. He played well and patiently in the sandbox.
“There were always voices that said Larry was not forceful or aggressive enough on Westport land use, but those voices did not appreciate his working hard to engage all parties, while inserting his wealth of local, state and overall land use regulation and theory.
“Larry was a big influence on Westport as we know it today, establishing regulations protecting open space and natural resources, reining in sprawl, and maintaining a level playing field between development and preservation.
“Westport residents today: Whether or not you were lucky to have known Larry Bradley in his time here or have arrived since his departure. we all owe a smile and prayer in his passing with a big thanks for being here, and hope Larry’s new home allows him to smile back down on Westport.”
Tomorrow (Sunday, July 11, 2 to 6 p.m.), the Boathouse at Saugatuck Rowing Club hosts its first-ever tea dance.
Modeled on one at its semi-namesake — the Boatslip in Provincetown — it’s open to the public. Music is by DJ Mo. The LGBTQ community is especially invited. Proceeds from the $10 admission will be donated to the Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth organization.
Neither rain nor sleet nor gloom of night keep the Westport Garden Club from delivering its #FridayFlowers. This week — despite torrential rain — an arrangement including a variety of hydrangeas welcomes Westporters at the main entrance to Longshore Club Park.
“Westport … Naturally” offers this lesson on dragonflies: They were among the first winged insects to evolve, 300 million years ago. Modern dragonflies have wing spans of only 2 to 5 inches — but fossil dragonflies have been found with spans of up to 2 feet.
And finally … On this day in 1925 in Dayton, Tennessee, the “Monkey Trial” began. John T. Scopes, a high school science teacher, was accused of teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act.
Scopes was found guilty and fined $100 (equivalent to $1,500 in 2020), but the verdict was overturned on a technicality. Nearly a century later, Americans continue to argue about the importance of science in our daily lives.
Speaking of education: Sure, the Westport Public Schools select a Teacher of the Year. But there’s something special about earning that honor from a different source: the Staples High School football team.
This spring, the Wreckers — used to be cheered for — turned the tables. They gave shout-outs to their favorite educators in a homemade video. At the end, they announced the winner.
Who is this year’s football team Staples Teacher of the Year? Click below to see:
Two more sings that Westport is getting “back to business.”
The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce held its first in-person gathering in 20 months yesterday, at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center. Over 60 people gathered in the garden, in beautiful weather. They shook hands, ate food catered by Calise’s Deli, and — as they did for years before the pandemic — exchanged business cards.
Sal Gilbertie spoke about the 100 years since his grandfather began as a flower grower, then turned to herbs. Today Gilbertie’s is a major micro green seller, in addition to their nursery’s plants and trees.
Sal Gilbertie addresses the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce.
But the Chamber wasn’t the only major Westport organization holding its first live-and-in-person meeting yesterday.
Sunrise Rotary also gathered together, for the first time in over a year. Attendance was solid. Handshakes and hugs were heartfelt.
And for those unable or not yet ready to attend, the event was livestreamed.
Westport Country Playhouse has 4 new trustees. Three are from Westport: Jessica Caldwell, Will Haskell and Margie Jacobson.
Haskell — a state senator whose district includes Westport — has a long theatrical history. As a member of Staples High School’s Class of 2014, he was elected of Players, the drama troupe. One of his first memories of live theater was seeing “Curious George” as a child, at the Playhouse’s old barn.
Caldwell graduated from Columbia University’s MFA film program. She produced independent feature films, while her feature film productions have premiered at Berlinale, SXSW and Tribeca. Her short film work has premiered at Sundance, Telluride, and Tribeca. Caldwell was also the writers’ room assistant and showrunners’ assistant on “Billions.” She is also a Moth storytelling contest GrandSlampion.
Jacobson is a nonprofit leader and attorney with legal experience spanning a variety of diverse settings. She is currently of counsel to a boutique law firm advocating for students’ rights from birth through post-secondary education, and co-founder of Woman’s Compass Forum. Jacobson previously served on the Playhouse board, from 2010 to 2016. She also serves on the boards of the ADL and the Remarkable Theater.
The WCP board of trustees is chaired by Westporter Ania Czekaj-Farber.
The Westport Library has 2 new trustees too.
Anna Alemani is CFO of Pierrepont School. Previously she had a 15-year career in finance. She holds an MBA from Columbia Business School and a BA in Business Administration from Bocconi University in Milan, where she focused her studies on management of museums and cultural institutions.
Dave Briggs spent his career in television, as a sports and news reporter/anchor. He has moved from South Dakota and Oklahoma to Boston, where he covered Red Sox World Series championships, Patriots Super Bowl titles and a Celtics NBA crown. He also hosted “Fox & Friends Weekend,” and (for NBC) NHL, NASCAR, NFL and Olympic tennis, before anchoring “Early Start” on CNN. He currently interviews important Connecticut residents for Moffly Media content.
Speaking of politics: On Tuesday night, the Representative Town Meeting affirmed the Planning & Zoning Commission’s decision to allow 157 units of housing to be built on Hiawatha Lane.
The decision to settle with the developer — Summit Saugatuck — and put an end to 3 lawsuits seems to be final.
However, Carolanne Curry — a resident of the area, and founder of Save Old Saugatuck — vows to keep fighting.
“SOS will continue efforts,” she says. “Neighbors will continue to meet and share ideas and concerns. We will continue to do our collective research and telephoning. Motivated more than ever to save this community and keep our homes, we will find other paths to victory.”
SoulCycle has reopened its indoor Westportstudio, at 50% capacity. They’ve redesigned their space, emphasizing safety, comfort — and of course, the importance of cycling for physical and mental health.
Start time for the Representative Town Meeting’s special June 8 (Tuesday) meeting to reconsider the Planning & Zoning’s adoption of a new zoning district that would enable a 157-unit development on Hiawatha Lane has been pushed ahead to 7 p.m.
However, the RTM will not address the petition until 7:30 p.m.
The meeting will be livestreamed on www.westportct.gov, and shown on Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020. To attend by video, send an email to RTMcomments@westportct.gov; include your name and address, to receive participation details.
Emails may be sent before the meeting to RTMmailinglist@westportct.gov; this goes to all RTM members.
It’s called “CT Trails Day.” But Friends of Sherwood Island are actually sponsoring two days — today and tomorrow — of activities at Connecticut’s first state park.
Today, there’s a Wonder of Flight Interactive Air Show (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), featuring radio-controlled model planes, helicopters, gliders and drones, followed by a Butterfly Walk with Michele Sorenson (2 p.m.; meet at the Nature Center).
Tomorrow (Sunday), Louis Petig leads a Nature Walk at 1 p.m. along the Sound. It begins at the Nature Center, and includes birding locations, the Connecticut 9/11 memorial, model aircraft airport, trailheads, wetlands and a pine forest.
At last: There’s smooth sailing — well, driving — to the beach.
Just in time for this weekend’s 90-degree weather, Hillspoint Road has been repaved. Residents and beach-goers have been frustrated for weeks, after Aquarion’s work left the street rough and rutted.
Striping should begin next week, weather permitting.
RTM member Andrew Colabella credits teamwork with 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, Public Works director Peter Ratkiewich, RTM colleague Chris Tait, Joey’s by the Shore owner Hal Kravitz and resident Robin Tauck for helping move the project along.
Speaking of Tauck: The upscale guided tour and cruise company — based now in Wilton, but for many years a Westport operation, where many family members still live — will resume tour and river cruise operations in Europe, Africa and central America, beginning this month.
Some North America tours have already begun. Click here for details.
A limited audience saw Staples High’s first live musical performance of the school year last night.
Thunderstorms moved the first of 2 Pops Concerts was moved from the Levitt Pavilion to the auditorium. After a year of COVID, that hardly mattered.
A variety of choruses, orchestras and the freshman band entertained the socially distanced — but very grateful — crowd. Despite the masks, it was a sure sign that the district’s superb staff had shepherded through a very difficult year.
And that music makes us all truly alive.
The 2nd night of the Pops Concert — with other groups — is scheduled for tonight. All tickets have already been distributed.
Luke Rosenberg directs the Anima Cantorum.
Staples High School music instructors (from left): Luke Rosenberg, Candida Inanaco, Phil Giampietro, Carrie Mascaro, Jeri Muehleise. Innaco retires this year, after 36 years of teaching. (Photos/Dan Woog)
The Artists’ Collective celebrates Westport’s return to actual, live activities with 2 big events.
A pop-up art show opens in the Westport Country Playhouse barn June 12. It runs from 2 to 6 p.m. every day, through June 19. An artist’s talk on closing day begins at 4 p.m.
Participating artists include local favorites Lucienne Buckner, Miggs Burroughs, Elizabeth DeVoll, Charles Douthat, Susan Fehlinger, Noah Fox, Jen Greely, Toby Michaels, Nancy Moore, Mary Ann Neilson, Melissa Newman, Diane Pollack, Ellen Schiffman and Jahmane West.
The Collective’s very popular trunk show returns in the Westport Library’s lower parking lot: July 11 (11 a.m. to 4 p.m.).
What is the Artists’ Collective of Westport? Click below to learn more.
The return to indoor events came too late for the Westport Country Playhouse to stage its full summer productions.
But the venerable theater welcomes a series of special events, to support next year’s full reopening.
“Cabaret in the Robards” is 3 evenings of shows featuring Broadway talent, with music, song and comedy.
The first one — June 26 — is “An Evening with Brad Simmons and Tonya Pinkins.” She’s a Tony-winning Broadway veteran; he’s a famed music director and concert artist. They’ll combine for show favorites, contemporary covers, classics and more.
This week, the Representative Town Meeting’s Planning & Zoning Subcommittee voted 5-1 to uphold the P&Z’s agreement with Summit Saugatuck, to build 157 units of housing — some of it deemed “affordable” — on Hiawatha Lane, near I-95 Exit 17.
The debate now moves to the full RTM. That meeting is set for June 8 (7:30 p.m., Zoom).
Members of the public may attend the meeting by video. Send an email before or during the session to RTMcomments@westportct.gov, with your name and address. Meeting details will be emailed to you. Registered electors attending by video can comment (3-minute time limit).
Emails to all members may also be sent before the meeting: RTMmailinglist@westportct.gov.
Artist’s rendering of one of the buildings at the Hiawatha Lane development.
Charlie Capalbo’s battles with cancer have inspired people around the world.
The 23-year-old Fairfield native — and grandson of Westport writer Ina Chadwick — beat lymphoma and leukemia. Now he’s facing off against leukemia again.
It’s a costly fight. And the need is great. Charlie’s dad lost his job at the beginning of COVID, and is just getting his new real estate career off the ground. His mom, Jen, has been working per diem. That’s now on hold.
Fortunately, Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask and radio personality Greg Hill have pledged to match every $1 donated — up to $20,000 each. That could mean a total of $60,000 to support Charlie and his family.
And finally … John Davis died this week, of complications from COVID. He was 66.
You may not recognize his name. But he was one of the real singers for the fake duo Milli Vanilli. They won a Grammy for their debut album in 1990, but lost it when news broke that the singers had not actually sung. Click here for a full obituary.
Longtime Westporter Joan Isaacson is a wife, mother, grandmother, world traveler and passionate cook. She was born in Naples, Italy, and migrated to New Jersey when she was 8 years old.
She rediscovered her love of writing after retirement. Now she’s a published — and debut — author.
“The Red Velvet Diary” is fiction — based on real life — told in the voices of 3 women. Her grandmother Maria, the daughter of a rabbi, goes to Greece as a young girl and is given a new identity. She takes the reader from her childhood home in Turkey to a girls’ school run by nuns in Athens, where a priest twice her age asks for her hand in marriage.
Isaacson’s mother Lula, Maria’s daughter, comes of age as she lives through World War II in war-ravaged Athens during the Axis occupation. She falls in love with an Italian sailor who is occupying her city. Her journey takes her to Italy and eventually to America, where the author’s story begins.
She studied at Rutgers University, married her high school sweetheart, and together they raised 3 daughters. Isaacson was a stay-at-home mom for several years. When she returned to the workforce she started and managed an international relocation company. She also served on boards for local charities, and remains an avid volunteer.
Isaacson hopes to finish her next book by the end of the year. Click here for a video interview with her, about her first one. Click here for more information, and to purchase “The Red Velvet Diary.”
They’re holding a book sale Memorial Day weekend: Friday, May 28 (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.); Saturday, May 29 (9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and Sunday, May 30 (noon to 5 p.m. — half-price day).
There are thousands of gently used books in dozens of categories: non-fiction and fiction, for adults and children, as well as antiquarian books, CDs, audio books and DVDs. (Vinyl is available at the Westport Book Shop, across Jesup Green.) Click here for more information.
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