Tag Archives: Westport Library

Pic Of The Day #1638

Boys and their bikes at the library (Photo/Robin Myers)

Kelli O’Hara’s Next Star Turn: Library’s Malloy Lecture

The Westport Library’s Malloy Lecture in the Arts has drawn some impressive names here: Philippe de Montebello, Arthur Miller, Christo, Joshua Bell, Joyce Carol Oates, John Lithgow, Clive Davis and Salman Rushdie, to name just a few.

This year’s guest is equally luminous. But she’s a lot more familiar locally.

Kelli O’Hara “comes to town” November 11 (7 p.m.).

Our neighbor just happens to be one of Broadway’s great leading ladies. She earned a Tony Award in 2015 for her portrayal of Anna in “The King and I,” along with Drama League and Outer Circle nominations.

The Oklahoma native made her Broadway debut in “Jekyll & Hyde.” She followed with shows like “The Light in the Piazza,” which garnered her first award nominations. She got more for “The Pajama Game,” “South Pacific,” “The Bridges of Madison County,” “Kiss Me Kate” and others.

Kelli O’Hara

O’Hara also starred in NBC’s live telecast of “Peter Pan.” She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in “The Merry Widow,” with Renee Fleming. She is a frequent guest on PBS’ Memorial Day and July 4th celebrations, and has performed i Kennedy Center tributes for Jerry Herman and Barbra Streisand.

She and her husband, musician/filmmaker Greg Naughton, have 2 children. O’Hara is passionate about furthering the arts in education. She serves on the boards of New York City Center and the New York Pops.

The Malloy Lecture in the Arts is the legacy of the late Susan Malloy. It was created in 2002 as a free, public annual discussion by an individual with significant cultural influence, whose work has enhanced an understanding and appreciation of the arts.

A limited number of in-person tickets are available, beginning at 10 a.m. today (Tuesday, October 12). Click here to register. The event will also be livestreamed and recorded.

New COVID Protocols For Town Hall, Library

We’re not yet through with COVID.

In fact, we’re entering a new, worrisome phase.

Based on advice from the CDC and state Department of Health as the Delta variant spreads, town officials have announced new safety protocols. They are effective immediately.

Staff, visitors and patrons of all town buildings — including the Westport Library — will be required to wear a mask regardless of individual vaccination status.

Walk-ins will continue to be allowed in Town Hall.  Visitors must follow contact tracing, mask requirements, temperature checks and other safety protocols upon entering. As an alternative, it is recommended that the public consider the town’s online services or other options for in-person meetings.

New — actually, old — COVID protocols have been implemented at Town Hall.

Town Hall meetings can also be held outside at the picnic table in the rear of the building, or in the lobby.

Staff are required to check their temperature upon entering work for the day.

Town and Library employees will return to weekly testing for COVID, for their safety and for the safety of any visitors.

First Responders will return to COVID protocols by wearing masks when interacting with the public indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

The public should expect that many businesses and restaurants will return to requiring masks, regardless of vaccination status. That decision is currently at the discretion of the establishments.

Westporters are urged to remain vigilant and informed as the Delta variant continues to spread and impact even those who are fully vaccinated.

Those who are eligible and who have not done so already are encouraged to get vaccinated. Please discuss any concerns about the vaccine with your health care provider.

Unsung Heroes #199

In the best of times, we take librarians for granted.

These past 16 months have not been the best of times.

Through it all though, the Westport Library staff has been there for us.

Despite an ever-changing environment, with constantly shifting rules, they’ve:

  • Delivered an astonishing array of virtual programs
  • Got the Verso studios up and running
  • Answered our reference desk phone calls and emails
  • Provided curbside pickup — and home delivery for folks unable to get out
  • Quarantined newly returned books
  • … and did all that (and much, much more) with their usual efficiency, aplomb and smiles.

Even when it was closed to the public, the Westport Library staff worked behind the scenes — sometimes remotely — to serve the public.

Like air and water, we just kind of expect our Westport Library to be there for us.

They’ve had as tough a year as the rest of us. Thanks to Bill Harmer and his entire staff for all they do — and to alert and gracious “06880” reader Iain Bruce, for reminding us of the magic that happens every day, down by the river in one of Westport’s true crown jewels.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Roundup: Senior Center, Benches, Best Of …

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Most Westport seniors are too young to remember Franklin Roosevelt’s campaign song.

But all can now sing “Happy Days Are Here Again.” Yesterday, the Senior Center reopened. It was shut for 15 months, during the pandemic.

Director Sue Pfister, Friends of the Senior Center president Jack Klinge, and selectmen Jim Marpe and Jen Tooker spoke.

Then — justlikethat — one of Westport’s most popular institutions was back in action.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

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On Wednesday (July 7, 7:30 p.m., Town Hall auditorium), the Board of Finance considers a request by Public Works for “standard street furniture in the Downtown Area.”

The $154,000 appropriation includes 18 benches; 32 trash and recycling receptacles; 16 bike racks; 7 fixed tables (6 chairs per table), and 2 café tables (4 chairs per table).

The outdoor furniture would be located along the river and in Parker Harding Plaza, and on Main Street, Elm Street, Church Lane, the Post Road (east to Bay Street), and in the Taylor parking lot.

The 5-year capital forecast includes the item, at a funding level of $275,000.

The type of benches requested (right), and their proposed placement downtown.

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Bruce Waldera is well-known to many Westporters, for his years of service at De Mattia Fuel, near the Sherwood Island Connector. He started around age 14, and continued until they closed a decade or so ago.

Bruce is a kind, caring, down-to-earth, compassionate, funny, fun, selfless and hardworking man. He loves Westport.

Now he’s battling brain cancer. A GoFundMe page has been set up so that he, his wife Amy — a longtime special education paraprofessional in Westport — and 3 daughters can spend quality time together — and manage some of their many medical bills. Click here to help.

Bruce Waldera

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For the second time in a month, a large yacht is anchored off Compo Beach.

Matt Murray wonders if it’s waiting for the July 4th fireworks. If so, it will be there a while. This year’s display — which would have happened tonight — was canceled by COVID.

(Photo/Matt Murray)

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The July/August issue of Westport Magazine includes its annual “Best Of the Gold Coast” lists. There are more than 175 categories, from Cocktails and Seafood to Jewelry and Workouts. Westport winners include Manna Toast, Match Burger Lobster, Soleil Toile and WEST.

It’s been a tough year for small local businesses. This issue celebrates them.

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Artistic swimming — formerly “synchronized swimming” has been an Olympic sport since 1984.

Alessandra Gavriloiu won’t be going to this month’s Tokyo Olympics. But Paris in 2024?

The Staples High School rising freshman was part of the New Canaan YMCA Aquianas team that finished 3rd in the nation Tuesday. She and Alaina Argiriou of Darien took 10th in the duet competition too. Both were in the 13-15 age group.

The Junior Olympic competition took place at the US Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Congratulations, Alessandra. On to Paris, oui?

Alessandra Gavriloiu (left) and Alaina Argiriou.

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The Westport Library has some intriguing events ahead. They include:

“Camp Explore: Homemade Microphone Magic” (Tuesday, July 6, 10 to 11;30 a.m): Students in grades 5 to 8 use repurposed materials from around the house, to build a working microphone for use anytime and anywhere. Click here to register.

“Burning Down the House: The New Republican Party” (Wednesday, July 7, 7 p.m., livestream): Princeton historian and CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer shares the history of the “new” Republican party with Bruce McGuirk, leader of Pages Through the Ages (the Library’s history discussion group). Click here to register.

“Verso Studios Production Pizza Party” (Monday, July 12, 6 to 8 p.m.). Find out about opportunities to learn, laugh and let rip your creative talents. Click here to register.

Part of the Westport Library’s Verso Studios.

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Westport Country Playhouse Radio Theater — a series, with WSHU-FM — presents a new humor and suspense play. “Special Delivery” (Saturday, July 10,  1:06 p.m.; rebroadcast Sunday, July 11, 4:06 p.m.). is also available on the Playhouse website (westportplayhouse.org) from July 12 through August 1.

“Special Delivery” is about Leesa Colescott, a courier of fine arts. She must deliver not only a strange piece of art, but also an angry 12-year-old boy named Asher, to the home of an uncle he’s never met – during a raging thunderstorm.

Their destination — an isolated farmhouse — is full of surprises, including other-worldly voices coming from the paintings on the walls. Running time is 35 minutes.

For more information, click here.

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“Westport … Naturally” roams to Saugatuck Shores today, for this serene shot:

(Photo/Patti Brill)

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And finally … today is the 183rd day of the year. Only 182 remain. We’re more than halfway to 2022.

Shattered Window Shatters Library Calm

Westport Library patrons were startled this afternoon by a loud boom. Almost immediately, a window in the children’s library shattered in place.

No cause has been determined. No bird, rock or other item was seen outside.

An “06880” reader reports: “You could hear the window tinkling as it continued to crack, but not fall.” The area outside was cordoned off by library staff.

Westport firefighters keep an eye on the children’s library 3rd floor window.

Roundup: Masks, Music, Arts …

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Many “06880” readers have asked about funeral arrangements for Paul Lane. The famed Staples High School football coach died this week, at 93.

A private service will be held in Bethel, where many family members are buried. There will be no public service.

Paul Lane

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With more and more people wearing fewer and fewer masks, it may seem like that’s one part of the pandemic now in the rear view mirror.

But unvaccinated children still need them. And youngsters in Bridgeport summer camp programs don’t always have access to nice masks.

Since March 2020, Virginia Jaffe and her crew of volunteers has sewn over 8,500 masks. They gave them all away — and they’re still doing it.

Last month, they donated 200 masks to New Beginnings in Bridgeport. A thank-you note cited the “wonderful craftsmanship,” adding, “Their beauty will bring joy to our students. This donation has provided some of the most vulnerable children in the state with the resources they need to thrive.”

Virginia wants those youngsters to feel that brand new, unused masks show they feel cared for, and just a little bit safer.

To help in any way, email westportmaskgiving@icloud.com.

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Two of Westport’s most creative institutions are the Library and Artists Collective.

This summer, they’re collaborating on a very creative project.

“Piece by Piece” is a grid of 60 12-inch squares. Each of those 60 artists contributes one square. When assembled together, they form one image.

The work represents the artists’ response to the isolation they felt during the pandemic. E

Each square is available for sale. For $100, you can select one or more of the squares from a grid. Proceeds will be divided between the Library and the artist. The name of the artists, and the iconic masterpiece on which Piece by Piece is based, will be revealed on July 10th.

It, and more works by the Artists Collective, will be on display at the Library from July 10 through September 28.

For more details — including how to own a piece of “Piece” — click here.

Own a piece of “Piece by Piece.”

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Speaking of the Artists Collective: Their great live (!) exhibit ends this Saturday, with artist talks.

Works hang in the barn gallery at Westport Country Playhouse. Among the participants: Miggs Burroughs, Elizabeth DeVoll, Charles Douthat, Susan Fehlinger, Noah Fox, Toby Michaels, Nancy Moore, Melissa Newman, Diane Pollack and Ellen Schiffman.

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When PJ Pacifico plays the Levitt Pavilion June 25 (7 p.m.), the Westporter won’t have far to go. He lives right around the corner.

The singer/songwriter’s new single, “Every Little Heartbreak,” speaks to a world eager to embrace a fresh new day after a time of intense challenges. Sound familiar?

PJ’s perspective on the ups and downs of being an indie artist and songwriter are influenced by his experiences as a survivor of Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Beating cancer after undergoing months of chemo and radiation, and losing his spleen and part of his liver, made him feel like he had a second chance.

But he suffered with survivor’s guilt and “impostor syndrome.” He’s battled through all that — and is ready to rock the Levitt.

Just down the hill from his home.

The event is free, but tickets are required. Click here to register.

PJ Pacifico

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Monday — the first full day of summer — is the longest day of the year.

Recognizing that for those living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, every day is “the longest” — but also, that art has the power to inspire and excite — RaRa (“Real Art. Real Artists.”) is partnering with the Residence at Westport to produce an art exhibit.

The show (June 21, 3 to 5 p.m., The Residence, 1141 Post Road East), is open to the public. There’s wine and cheese, plus  live entertainment. A portion of art sales will be donated to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Can’t get out (even on the longest day)? Click here for information on the virtual version of the exhibit.

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In this hybrid summer, the Westport Library offers 2 learning clubs. Both are “blended” — meaning in-person classes at the Library, and a remote option for distance education.

The program for grades 1 to 5 includes week-lonf literacy, math and STEAM sessions. Grades 6 to 8 enjoy  STEAM, book clubs, and other programs that encourage academic independence. They beginning June 29, and end August 19.

For more information and to register, click here.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo includes a Fresh Mark osprey update.

Carolyn Doan reports: “We checked on the nest Monday and Tuesday. The parents were doing such a great job at shielding the chicks from the rain that they were impossible to see. The next day was a different story. Making lots of noise and waiting for an incoming fish, these two were front and center — literally.”

(Photo/Carolyn Doan)

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And finally … on this day in 1972, 5 men were arrested for burling Democratic National Committee offices at the Watergate complex. The crime drew little attention at the time. Of course …

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“06880, The Podcast”: John Dodig

As Pride Month begins, there is no better LGBTQ role model than John Dodig.

An educator for 47 years, it was only in his last 11 that he was out publicly as a gay man. But what an 11 years those were.

As principal of Staples High School, Dodig fostered an atmosphere of inclusion and acceptance for all. He was admired and adored by students, staff, and the entire community.

But it took a lifetime of struggle for Dodig to get there.

The other day, I sat with him in the Westport Library’s Trefz Forum. We talked about his career in education, his journey as a gay man, and what it all means for him and our community today.

As always, Dodig was clear, honest, incisive, and very funny. Click here for the newest “06880: The Podcast” interview.

Happy Pride!

Screenshot from John Dodig’s podcast interview.

Pic Of The Day #1495

Night at the library (Photo/Dinkin Fotografix)

Roundup: Library Parking Lot, AMG Catering, Miggs Burroughs …

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The Westport Library parking lot is being repaved.

Fingers crossed that the project will eliminate some of those lake-sized puddles that form even after a sprinkle.

Now about the topsy-turvy entrance to the lot itself …

(Photo/Amy Schneider)

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Speaking of books: The Westport Book Shop’s featured artist for May is Miggs Burroughs.

The native Westporter — and devoted book lover — exhibits his large lenticular installation “Sign Language” at the Drew Friedman Art Place. That’s at the rear of the popular used book store on Jesup Green.

“Sign Language” includes 25 small signs. Depending on the angle of the viewer, the words change in ironic or humorous ways.

Miggs has created art since he was 20. Six years later he was chosen to design a commemorative US postage stamp. He has also illustrated covers for Time magazine — and the Westport town flag. Miggs is a co-founder of the Artists Collective of Westport

Miggs Burroughs with his lenticular art. When looked at from a different angle, the words change.

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One more sign the pandemic is abating: AMG Catering has ended curbside pickup.

Business has picked up substantially. Owner Alison Milwe Grace is focusing once again on off-site events.

She is grateful to the many clients who kept her business afloat for the past 16 months. Bon appétit!

Alison Milwe Grace,back to catering.

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Dr. Parthena Penny Proskinitopoulos has big shoes to fill. But she’s ready to step right in.

The Fairfield educator is Staples’ newest assistant principal. She takes over from Meghan Ward on July 1.

She is a former technology integration specialist and social studies teacher. Most recently, she served as interim assistant principal at Roger Ludlowe Middle School.

Staples principal Stafford Thomas says, “Penny was the standout candidate out of a very large and talented administrator pool. She is thrilled to be joining our team at Staples, and I am excited that her arrival will coincide with our summer efforts to create an exciting and fulfilling 2021-22 school year.”

Dr. Proskinitopoulos earned a BA in psychology from St. John’s University, an MA in teaching and 6th year diploma from Sacred Heart University, and a doctorate in educational leadership from the University of Bridgeport.

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Speaking of Staples: Praise keeps pouring in for the high school’s SLOBs.

Among the many organizations the Service League of Boys helped at last weekend’s community work day: Homes with Hope.

COVID had depleted the food pantry, while more people than ever need help.  A townwide appeal brought in over 300 bags — and SLOBs worked tirelessly to collect and unpack them, then stock the shelves.

It takes a village to help, HwH officials said. They’re thankful SLOBs are part of ours.

PS: If you could not drop off food, monetary donations are needed to buy supplies. Click here: www.hwhct.org.

SLOBs, with officials and friends of Homes with Hope, outside the Gillespie Center.

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During this graduation season, here’s a shout-out to Tom Tarrant. He recently graduated from the Guiding Eyes for the Blind school — along with his new guide dog, a black Lab named Velvet.

Tom is a longtime Westporter, but this is his first guide dog. An avid rower, Tom has participated in his local area’s rowing club on and off for over twenty years. He looks forward to running with Velvet.

He and his wife have 2 sons, ages 20 and 14, and a 9-year-old golden retriever. The newest member of the family fits right in.

Tom Tarrant with Velvet.

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Wendy Crowther found this morel mushroom the other day, in her backyard near Winslow Park. She says, “The morel has a reputation for being one of the greatest mushrooms in the world — edible when cooked and prized by gourmets.  It was such a surprise to find one.”

(Photo/Wendy Crowther)

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And finally … Happy Cinco de Mayo!

The holiday has become commercialized here in the US — primarily by bars and restaurants — and it is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico.

It is not “Mexican Independence Day.” Cinco de Mayo celebrates the day in 1862 when the Mexican army defeated France at the Battle of Puebla. It was part of the Franco-Mexican War — a conflict I had never heard of until a few seconds ago.