Not long ago, Westport Police participated in the state’s distracted driving campaign. They nabbed dozens of drivers.
Now it’s time to buckle up.
They’re joining the state Department of Transportation “Click It or Ticket” campaign. Officers will be vigorously enforcing seat belt laws, for drivers and passengers.
Connecticut law requires that drivers and passengers in the front seat, regardless of the age, as well as all children under 16 anywhere in a vehicle, to wear seat belts. Fines start at $92 for the first offense. For more information, click here.
As Westport begins a new year — battling a now-old pandemic — the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has a few strong thoughts.
In an email sent to “members and more,” they say:
“We are at a health and workforce crossroads.
“Westport reported 150 new cases since last weekend, and that does not account for all the at-home tests. The state is at 15% positivity. Businesses all across the area and country are closing. with employees falling ill.
“The First Selectwoman mandated that masks must be worn in all town-owned buildings. The business community must fill in the rest.
Meanwhile, Superintendent of Schools Thomas Scarice sent this email yesterday to all Westport Public Schools families:
“As you are all aware, the recent surge of infections has gripped our region. We are experiencing infection rates unlike any time since the start of the pandemic. We do know that our students are best served being in school and, along with continuing to maintain the health and safety of our students and staff, keeping our students in school and engaged in all of their programs remains our priority.
“As the conditions rapidly unfold, guidance from our partners at the state Department of Education and Department of Public Health remains delayed. There are legitimate questions about our ability to staff our schools next week based on recent infection rates, travel cancellations for those out of state, among other complications. With limited guidance from the state level, we will work at our local level to develop approaches in the event conditions warrant further interventions and modifications.
“For this reason, a decision has been made to extend the winter break by one day for all students. Monday, January 3 will not be a school day for students.
“All faculty and staff will report on Monday. This will enable the district to work collaboratively to develop a range of responses to the changing conditions over the coming weeks. The fluid situation requires thoughtful consideration and this additional day on Monday provides a measure of time to continue planning and assessing actual staffing levels to ensure that we can provide a healthy and optimal educational experience for our students.
“Among the many considerations, the district team has been working this entire week to make provisions for:
a range of potential Executive Orders or state emergency declarations,
additional ways to support a significant increase in the number of students in isolation due to infection
optimizing mitigating measures in schools, such as lunch waves
State adoption of new CDC guidance which potentially shortens isolation and quarantine periods, and redefines “fully vaccinated” (all of which could impact staffing levels and student attendance)
the high school mid-term exams
“There are obviously other considerations beyond this list, however, this is illustrative of the many challenges we face in successfully returning our students and staff to school next week.
“You can expect further information over the weekend. In the meantime, stay healthy.”
Larry Silver — the Westport photographer whose work has been shown internationally — had special reason to remember the star. In the 1990s, he did a commercial shoot with her for Humana of California.
Larry recalls: “It was obvious Betty was paid quite well for this shoot. She arrived with her own hair and make-up person, an assistant to help the hair and makeup people, and her own wardrobe, which was perfect.
“She was adamant that I photograph her from what she said was her best side. She was very cooperative, but became a little agitated when a much younger photographer than me — the director — would tell her what to do.
“A lot of our conversation was about her pets, and her love for animals.”
Some of the images — including this one — have never been published before:
The past few days have brought numerous reports of a bear wandering in northern Westport. It is behaving normally — and non-aggressively.
The Westport Police Department says:
“Black bears are becoming increasingly common in Connecticut. To safely co-exist, residents are reminded to take precautions to prevent negative encounters.
“Bears have an incredible sense of smell. To prevent luring them towards your property, secure your garbage in sturdy covered containers in a garage or outbuilding. Residents who compost should do so responsibly. Do not throw meat scraps or greasy, oily, or sweet materials in your compost pile. These will attract bears and other animals.
“Clean barbecues and grills after each use, refrain from leaving pet food outdoors, and remove bird feeders from your property for the summer. Keep your eye on pets and small children playing outside.
“While it can be frightening to see a bear on or around your property, it is important to know that they are very timid animals. They try to avoid human contact.
“If sighted, use caution, and do not approach the bear. The mere presence of a bear does not necessitate its removal. If left alone and given an avenue for escape, the bear will usually wander back into more secluded areas. Sightings can be reported to Westport Animal Control at 203-341-5076, or reported to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection (click here).”
After a year’s hiatus, beach sticker sales to non-residents is back.
Westport’s Parks & Recreation Department began sales yesterday. The cost is $775 (plus tax). Click here, then follow the “Membership” links.
Back too are Staples Players. Their laugh-out-loud funny, wide-ranging, clever and very welcome spring production — “Words Words Words … and Music” drew raves when the high school troupe returned to stage last month.
Now it’s available — this weekend only — as a video stream. Starting at noon on Saturday (June 5) through midnight Monday (June 7), you can watch the show as many times as you like. It’s a great offer for out-of-towners, and anyone who missed the show (or wants to see it again). Click here for tickets.
Sophie Rossman, Benny Zack and Samanath Webster in “Words Words Words.” They are monkey, writing “Hamlet.” Or trying to … (Photo/Kerry Long)
The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce announces the return of 2 favorite events. Both were knocked out last year by COVID.
Slice of Saugatuck returns Saturday, September 11. It’s an afternoon of food, entertainment, food, games, food, fun and food. It takes place in the pizza-shaped “slice” of Saugatuck that is home to so many restaurants, and is so easily walkable.
The Dog Festival returns Sunday, October 10. Winslow Park — always a haven for canines and their masters — really goes to the dogs. It’s filled with vendors, K-9 demonstrations, obstacle courses, contests and much more.
And back too is the Longshore pool. Michael Catarevas reports: “After rainouts Saturday and Sunday, and no one showing up on Memorial Day, I was delighted to be first in the water this season — especially after it was closed all last year. I had three pools to myself Tuesday afternoon, though I only used the big one. The water was very cold, but great!”
Michael Catarevas: first in the Longshore pool. (Photo/Patrick Haggerty)
Yet another post-pandemic sign: Starting Monday (June 7), the Board of Education will return to in-person meetings. Everyone must wear a mask, and maintain 3 feet of social distancing. Meetings will still be livestreamed on the town website and Cablevision Channel 78.
MoCA Westport’s “Yappy Hour” — yes, for dogs — has been postponed. It was set for tomorrow (June 3); the new date is Thursday, June 10.
The event includes custom drinks (for owners), and a chance for pets to meet others, sit for a free portrait, and romp outdoors. It’s free — but all dogs must be leashed. (MoCA encourages donations of unopened food or treats to support local rescue organizations. For more information, click here.
A crew of volunteers — including Danielle Dobin, Michael Cammeyer, Emma Rojas, Sarah Manning, Luc Lafonta and Shawn Kapitan turned out yesterday to change the lights on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen bridge.
Danielle Dobin and Michael Cammeyer, on the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge.
They now shine in the colors of the rainbow, to celebrate Pride Month. Enjoy them throughout June!
One of the 3 American oystercatcher chicks at Compo Beach has died, Carolyn Doan reports.
She adds: “My son James is a huge fan of the piping plovers, so we visit the area regularly. The Audubon Society has talked with the town because of drones being flown overhead. Oystercatchers attack them frantically to distract them from the nest, thinking they are predators.”
So, Westporters: Give all these birds space. They were there long before us!
Before we close the book on the 2021 Memorial Day parade, here’s one final shot. It’s a unique drone perspective from Joel Triesman, as marchers turn onto the Post Road and cross the Ruth Steinkraus Cohen Bridge:
Tina Green reports that the American oystercatcher pair has returned to Compo Beach for the season.
“Their loud. distinctive calls announced their early morning arrival for all to hear yesterday,” she says.
“No doubt they will try to nest again in the same area of the beach just north of the cannons. The pair successfully raised and fledged 3 juvenile birds last year, due in part to the beach being closed because of COVID. They had the beach to themselves until May, along with the piping plovers.
“Compo visitors — especially those with dogs — should keep away from the oystercatchers and give them some space. Westporters are very fortunate to have a front row seat to watch nature up close and personal in our hometown.
American oystercatchers at Compo Beach yesterday. (Photo/Tina Green)
Besides the oystercatchers, there’s another returnee to Westport: drive-in concerts.
The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce and Westport Library sponsor 2 next month. The site is the Imperial Avenue parking lot.
Sophie B Hawkins — a great talent, and Westport resident — opens the season on Friday April 23rd. The show — featuring her 5-piece band is a fundraiser for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
Deep Banana Blackout follows on Saturday, April 24. The 8-piece band is an area favorite, with a high-energy mix of jam, funk and blues.
Tickets for each show are $150 per car (5 person max). Tickets for Sophie B Hawkins go on sale on this Monday (March 29, 10 .am). Deep Banana Blackout will go on sale Tuesday, March 30, also at 10. Click here to order.
Speaking of entertainment: Jamie Mann — the Staples High School senior who stars in Netflix’s new hit, “Country Comfort,” which premiered Friday — has written a great piece for Backstage on the highs and lows of being a young actor.
He writes honestly about his love for dance, the “dead zone” when child actors grow too tall and add braces, the mentors he found in Westport like Cynthia Gibb and Jill Jaysen, being just another cast member with Staples Players, and more. Click here to read.
John Noble writes: “I live near Earthplace, and walk by this house on Woodside Avenue almost every day.
It’s a teardown. I totally get it — but why did the developer take down over 17 large mature trees to create this eyesore of a lot now? There’s always 2 sides to a story, but as a neighbor this tree obliteration really bugs me.”
The Westport Library is seeking candidates for its Board of Trustees. Of particular interest: people with expertise in finance, fundraising and development for non-profits; knowledge and understanding of current trends in digital media and information technology, or a background in municipal government and/or not-for-profit law.
Trustees serve 4-yeare terms. Click here for more information.Interested candidates should email a resume and letter of interest to email@example.com. The deadline is April 19.
Westporter Ana Cristina Purcell died on March 16. She was 68.
Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, she immigrated with her parents to the US in the 1950s.
Ana was a graduate of Staples High School. She served as the office administrator for Purcell Moving Corporation, a family-owned business, for over 20 years. She enjoyed traveling, the beach, and spending time with family and friends.
She is survived by her husband Lawrence; daughter Cristina; son Shane (Jennifer Soyeck); sister Julia Huber; niece Rachel Greene; nephew Philip Huber, and grandchildren TJ Altman, Kroy Purcell and Camilla Purcell.
Harding Funeral Home is in charge of arrangements. Services will be held at Assumption Church this Saturday (March 27, 11 a.m.). After, close friends and family are welcome to their home to share memories of her life.
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