Tag Archives: Westport Library StoryFest

Roundup: School Security Unit, DPIC Comments, Lyman Update …

Westport’s new School Security Unit begins work Monday (September 11).

The unit is a partnership of  the Police Department and Board of Education. Funding was approved unanimously this week by the Representative Town Meeting.

Officer Sean Kelley will be promoted to sergeant soon, and will supervise the unit. He was hired by the WPD in 2000, and has served as a detective in the Youth Division. He will be assigned to Bedford Middle School.

Officer Dennis Broderick will be assigned to Coleytown Middle and Elementary Schools. He was hired a year ago, after retiring as a sergeant with the Milford Police Department, where he spent over half his 20-year career in the Detective Bureau.

Corporal Rachel Hall will be assigned to Saugatuck and Kings Highway Elementary Schools. She was hired in 2016, after beginning her career with the Ridgefield Police Department. She is a member of the Marine, Motorcycle and Drone Units, and served as a desk officer.

Officer Edward “Ned” Batlin will be assigned to Long Lots and Greens Farms Elementary Schools.  He was hired in 2001, and was the DARE officer for many years. He is very active with local sports, at the high school and PAL levels.

Though the SSOs will primarily remain outside of the schools, they will work directly with administrators as needed.

In addition to providing enhanced security, they will  focus on traffic enforcement and safety concerns during student drop-off and pick-up.

Officer Ed Wooldridge will continue as Staples’ highly regarded and very popular School Resource Officer.


John McCarthy has been adamant recently about the need for more openness and transparency in local town government.

So he took notice yesterday when the Downtown Plan Implementation Committee posted scores of comments, following their Parker Harding Plaza August 22 charrette at the Westport Library.

“Kudos to the DPIC,” John says.

“It took a lot of work to get the comments typed up. I would have been happy with just copies of people’s handwritten notes,  but nice to see they went the  extra yard.”

Click here to read them all. It’s a great way to get a feel for the pulse of the community.

Members of the public were invited to comment after last month’s Downtown Plan Implementation Committee meeting about Parker Harding Plaza. (Photo/Dan Woog)


On Wednesday, the Flood & Erosion Board approved Vita Design Group’s plan to build a house next door to Eloise A. Ray Park, on Riverside Avenue.

A “Friends of the Park” group is concerned that the park will be unusable while construction is ongoing; that it will be used in part as a staging area, and damaged by equipment; that the park will be “forever altered by having a multi-level house, driveway, patio and walls” encroaching on it; that trees will be cut, and wildlife, and that traffic on Riverside will be affected.

They invite interested residents to email saveeloise@gmail.com.

The next hearing is before the full Conservation Board, on September 13.

Eloise A. Ray Park


The bad news is: In Lyman, dozens of apartment buildings need repair before winter sets in.

The good news: It’s been several weeks since Russians attacked our Ukrainian sister city. And Westporters’ donations have already helped shore up 15 apartment buildings.

Ukraine Aid International’s Brian Mayer — the Westporter who co-founded the boots-on-the-ground non-profit, and helped engineer our town’s sister city relationship — provided an update yesterday.

He told First Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Police Chief Foti Koskinas and “06880” that a construction firm is doing the dangerous work of repairing roofs and windows, to enable the damaged apartments to withstand the coming snow and freezing temperatures.

Mayer recently visited Lyman Mayor Alexander Zhuravlov. Behind his desk is a shelf filled with items sent from Westport.

Tooker and Koskinas are in near daily contact with the mayor and Lyman police chief. Each time, the Ukrainian officials tell their Westport counterparts how much our town’s support means to them.

(Donations through Ukrainian Aid International will help rebuild the many heavily damaged apartments. Click here to help. Under “Designation,” click the dropdown menu and select “Westport — Lyman Sister City.”)

In July — just hours after a Russian attack killed 8 Lyman residents — Mayor Alexander Zhuravlov sent a video thanking Westporters for their support.


Connecticut’s annual 9/11 remembrance ceremony drew a reverent crowd yesterday to Sherwood Island State Park, the site of the state’s official memorial.

From that spot in 2001, smoke from the Twin Towers was visible.

Connecticut holds its ceremony before the September 11 anniversary, so relatives and friends of those killed in the terrorist attack can also attend the New York memorial on that day.

Yesterday’s 9/11 memorial, at Sherwood Island State Park. (Photo/Harris Falk)


Westoberfest — the Westport Downtown Association’s Oktoberfest-style event — has something for everyone.

There’s beer tasting from dozens of craft breweries, sure.

But also live music; food by Walrus Alley, Kneads Bakery, Lobstercraft and Little Pub;  a children’s area run by the Artists’ Collective of Westport and MoCA; a street magician, bubbles and face painting; a pumpkin and apple giveaway; food trucks, shopping and vendors like Savvy + Grace.

Take-home tasting glasses with koozies are courtesy of Lux Bond & Green.

It all takes place October 14 (2 to 5 p.m.), off Elm Street. Click here for tickets, and more information.

Westoberfest is for beer drinkers — and families. (Photo/JC Martin)


Jennifer Johnson spotted this ship in Long Island Sound, earlier this morning.

(Photo/Jennifer Johnson)

“What is it dumping?” she asks.

I have no idea. But I’m sure someone in our “06880” universe does. Click “Comments” below, if you know.


A service for Rev. Ted Hoskins — the former and much-loved Saugatuck Congregational Church pastor who died last month — will be held this Sunday (September 10, 2 p.m.) in Blue Hill, Maine. Doug Miller — Rev. Hoskins’ former associate minister in Westport — will officiate.

The service will be livestreamed. Click here for the link.

Rev. Ted Hoskins (Photo courtesy of Penobscot Bay Press)


Forget car washes and candy sales. The Staples High School girls swim and dive team has a fundraiser that will really make you smile: a comedy show.

Their first-ever “Dive Into Comedy” (get it?!) event includes 4 comedians who have slayed it in laces like Caroline’s, Stand Up New York, Broadway Comedy Club and The Stress Factory.

It’s September 28, at the Fairfield Theatre Company. Click here for tickets (adults 21+ only).

“Don’t tread water. Get your tickets today!” the girls say. Hah!

“Make people laugh,” the photographer told the Staples swim and dive team. They did.


But speaking of sports team car washes: The Staples boys soccer team holds theirs tomorrow. It’s 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Christ & Holy Trinity Church parking lot on Elm Street.

Like the girls swim team, they’re raising money for costs not covered by the Board of Education budget.

Workin’ at the (boys soccer) car wash…


Gary Lucas — a rock guitarist lauded by Bruce Springsteen and Lou Reed, who collaborated with Captain Beefheart and Jeff Buckley — is the latest StoryFest addition.

He’ll rock the Westport Library October 22 (2 p.m.), accompanying George Melford’s 1931 Spanish-language “Dracula” film with a live guitar score.

Lucas will add even more to the largest literary festival in Connecticut. This year’s 6th annual event (October 20-22) includes a keynote conversation  with legendary writer Neil Gaiman; panel discussions and author conversations; a special reading of Eric LaRocca’s new play, “Gentle Hacksaw”; a children’s event with Pinkalicious author Victoria Kann, and PitchFest (a 5-hour paid workshop where aspiring authors can speak to literary agents about their book. Click here for more information.

Gary Lucas (Photo/Michael Arkk)


It’s not yet fall — but this guy is getting ready for winter, at Tracy Porosoff’s kousa dogwood tree. Nothing could be more “Naturally … Westport.”

(Photo/Tracy Porosoff)


And finally … Steve Harwell, former lead singer of Smash Mouth, died Monday. in Idaho. He was 56, and suffered from liver failure.

(There is a lot going on in town. And “06880” covers it all. Please click here to help support our work. Thank you!)

Roundup: Harvest Fest, Shorefest, StoryFest …

If you didn’t have somewhere to go yesterday, you just weren’t trying.

In addition to Slice of Saugatuck — the gorgeous festival already covered on “06880” yesterday afternoon — there were several great events.

Wakeman Town Farm raised nearly $100,000 at their annual Harvest Fest. The evening featured fantastic food and drinks, a kick-ass band, and the always-special pastoral setting.

The tent … (Photo/Gregg Bromberg)

… the food … (Photo/Dan Woog)

… the band … (Photo/Dan Woog)

… and the $20,000 check from Earth Animal. (Photo/Dan Woog)


From the farm to the beach … yesterday evening, Friends of Sherwood Island threw their annual Shorefest, at Connecticut’s first state park.

The meal …

… and the moon. (Photos/Gene Borio)


Yesterday also marked the final day of StoryFest, the Westport Library’s celebration of the story in all forms. It’s the largest literary festival in Connecticut.

Panels included this one on activism …

… and the finale, which included food, drink, and the “Reading Glasses” podcast, live from the Library stage.

(Photos/EJ Crawford)


Also last night: guitarist Robert Cray, at the Levitt Pavilion.

Now get set for next Saturday’s Lobsterfest at Compo Beach, courtesy of the Westport Rotary Club.

September in Westport: It doesn’t get much better than this!


Friday was a big night for Staples High School football.

After an address by 3 active servicemembers, quarterback Caleb Smith led the Wreckers to a 42-13 rout of Conard-West Hartford. It was the season opener for both teams, at Paul Lane Field.

And the Gridiron Club presented Catch-a-Lift founder Lynn Coffland with a check for $23,000. Funds were raised this summer by the club and players, who participated in the “Murph Challenge.” The money helps post-9/11 combat wounded veterans, with gym memberships and fitness rehabilitation.

The Wreckers travel to St. Joseph next Saturday, for a 1:30 p.m. contest.

Gridiron Club and Catch-a-Lift representatives are all smiles Friday night.


A reader writes:

“There is a severe water shortage. It is recommended to water lawns at night.

“Did Longshore not get the message? Or are they privileged? I’m curious …”


Jill Grayson witnessed this “Westport … Naturally” standoff recently. She did not mention who backed off first.

(Photo/Jill Grayson)


And finally … anyone who lived through 9/11 remembers the profound sadness that hung in the air, and crept into our hearts, for so long.

There was little anyone could do, besides grieve. But music — as it always does — helped heal.

Three songs in particular will always remind me of the weeks after September 11, 2001. The world changed forever that day.

And so did the way I will always hear these songs.

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Roundup: StoryFest, Train Station, Puppies …

It’s almost here: StoryFest, the Westport Library’s genre-spanning literary festival (and the largest one in the state). Plus: It’s free!

StoryFest celebrates all forms of stories, and storytellers from across all media.

Among the highlights:

  • StoryFest Kick-Off: Isaac Fitzgerald in Conversation with Saeed Jones (Friday, September 9, 6 p.m. — click here to register)
  • Tessa Smith McGovern and Patricia Dunn launch their new podcast, “Go Ahead, Write Something” with bestselling author Naomi Novik  (Saturday, September 10, 4:30 p.m. — click here to register)
  • Raise a glass to StoryFest weekend with specialty cocktails. Mallory O’Meara (James Beard Book Award-winning author) and Brea Grant (filmmaker/actress) bring their podcast “Reading Glasses” to the Library stage, with guest stars: Paul Tremblay, Stephen Graham Jones, Alexis Henderson and Clay McLeod Chapman (Saturday, September 10, 6 p.m. — click here to register).

Several authors authors are releasing new books early, for StoryFest. They include:

For the full StoryFest schedule, and more details, click here.


It’s been nearly 30 months since the pandemic struck.

Westport — a town of commuters — changed immediately. Anyone who could work from home, did.

Metro-North slashed service. The railroad parking lots stayed empty. People who had waited for years for parking permits suddenly had them.

Offices re-opened slowly, often only 2 or 3 days a week. But many men and women — unwilling to sit next to others on trains where conductors did not enforce mask mandates — traded trains for cars.

Yesterday though, “06880” reader Ellen Bowen noticed something: The Westport train station’s eastbound lot was once again full. From Donut Crazy to the lower spots by Saugatuck Avenue, every spot was taken.

A sign that things are pretty much back to normal? A cause for celebration? Concern that the great experiment in working from home is ending?

Click “Comments,” to offer your take.

No spots — not even by Saugatuck Avenue. (Photo/Ellen Bowen)


Aquarion has requested a revenue increase of $49.9 million — a 25% increase. If approved by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority, it would add about $4.25 per month to the bill of a typical residential water customer using 72,000 gallons of water annually.

Public hearings will be held today (Thursday, September 8, 5:30 p.m., Town Hall), and Thursday, October 6  (via Zoom; click here) and Tuesday, October 25 (via Zoom; click here).

For more information, click here(Hat tip: Mark Lemcke)


The Porch @ Christie’s is going to the dogs.

This Sunday (September 11, 10 a.m. to noon), the popular Cross Highway spot will be overrun by puppies.

Westport animal Shelter Advocates will bring a litter of 11, and other furry friends, including older dogs — all available for adoption.

There is no on-site adoption. But for those who follow up through WASA, Earth Animal is donating pup packs. (They’ve already provided nutritious puppy food.)

WASA will also hold a silent auction at the Porch, to raise funds to assist and advocate for neglected and homeless dogs. Featured items include a certified signed Aaron Judge baseball, and four VIP Yankee Stadium Legends seats for the September 24 Yankees-Red Sox game.

For more information, call 203-557-0361. or email wasa1@optonline.net.


It’s a paradox: There are so many utility wires, we often don’t really notice them.

But Michael Brennecke does.

The native Westporter thinks there are too many. He cites this “particularly egregious example of wire pollution,” where Hillspoint Road and Prospect Road meet:

(Photo/Michael Brennecke)


As the weather cools, the Joggers Club heats up.

The all-runners-welcome group once again sponsors Saturday morning events, starting at the Greens Farms train station at 8 a.m. The $50 yearly fee includes all paces, 2 new routes each week, free Brooks Endurance running shirts for all new members, unlimited post-run coffee, along with track nights and the Joggers Club Jr., for youngsters in grades kindergarten through 8th.

For more information, click here, or go to Instagram (@TheJoggersClub.CT),
Facebook or Strava for weekly courses and local running chatter.


Speaking of sports:

First Selectwoman Jen Tooker honored Westport’s 11U Little League district all-star state champion team yesterday. Each player received a commendation for their “hard work and perseverance.”

Rear (from left):1st Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Nolan Walters, Wyatt Johnson, Justin Goldshore, Henry Ellis, Toby Slavin Jack McGrath, coach Jon Ellis, Dylan Burdeshaw, coach Marc Theisinger, manager Justin Walters Front: Torrey Rossetter, Chase Landgraf, Luke Moneyhon, Grant Theisinger, Miles Delorier, Christopher Lambert.


Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo is a bit different than most.

Maggie Boroujerdi writes: “Tuesday’s much-needed rain revived our dry stream along Morningside Drive North and Keenes Road.

“We’re relatively new to the neighborhood. At the bus stop the other morning, neighbors said this is the first year they’ve seen the little stream dry up completely, for weeks. I took this photo:

(Photo/Maggie Boroujerdi)

“I’m grateful to have the water running again.”


And finally … in honor of Sunday’s dog adoption event at The Porch @ Christie’s:


(How much is that doggie in the window? No clue. But you can click here to support “06880.” Any amount is appreciated!)

Diverse Lineup Lights Up Library’s StoryFest

It’s just 5 years old. And it weathered a couple of COVID years.

But since its debut in 2018, the Westport Library’s StoryFest has grown quickly into a major event. The celebration of reading, writing, ideas and community draws some of the region’s most accomplished, exciting and up-and-coming authors.

This year’s event is back fully live, September 9 and 10. The array of authors — of all genres, for all ages — solidifies the Library’s role as a literary leader.

There are 2 headliners: Isaac Fitzgerald, the How to Be a Pirate author whose debut memoir, Dirtbag, Massachusetts, is #2 on The New York Times best-seller list, and Saeed Jones, who was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry in 2014 and won the Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction in 2019 for his memoir, How We Fight for Our Lives. A conversation between the 2 is the Friday evening feature.

“What a joy to be attending the largest literary festival in Connecticut,” says Fitzgerald. “The two of us reconnecting onstage will be all the more special.”

From left: Isaac Fitzgerald and Saeed Jones.

StoryFest continues Saturday evening with an appearance by James Beard Book Award-winning author Mallory O’Meara and filmmaker/actress Brea Grant. The women behind the popular Reading Glasses podcast will host a live event that doubles as an episode of their show.

Joining in are StoryFest participants Sarah Gailey, Paul Tremblay, Stephen Graham Jones, Alexis Henderson, and Clay McLeod Chapman.

Other authors scheduled this year include May Cobb, Rachel Harrison, Gabino Iglesias, Alma Katsu, Eric LaRocca, Ellen Datlow, John Langan, Bracken MacLeod, Seanan McGuire, Gwendolyn Kiste, Hugh Ryan, Mondiant Dogon, Gus Moreno, Lorien Lawrence, Alexis Henderson, Isabel Canas, LaQuette, Julia Phillips, Greg Galloway, Coco Ma, Amanda Parrish Morgan, and Kate Racculia.

“StoryFest is one of the highlights of our year, and a crown jewel of the New England literary experience,” says Westport Library executive director Bill Harmer.

“It is an opportunity to welcome back old friends and fan favorites, while showcasing some of the country’s brightest rising talents. We are excited to celebrate 5 years of this remarkable event with readers from across New England and the tri-state area, and to welcome everyone to explore all our space has to offer.”

Past StoryFest participants include New York Times best-selling authors Mitch Albom and Michael Lewis; National Book Award finalist Jason Reynolds; Pinkalicious author/illustrator Victoria Kann; Goosebumps author R.L. Stine; young adult superstars Nic Stone, Tiffany Jackson, and L.L. McKinney; and Emmy Award winner Sheila Nevins.

For a complete list of events, panels, and authors participating in this year’s StoryFest, click here.  For a history of the event, click here.

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