Tag Archives: Westport-Weston Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Roundup: Human Services News; CT FAQs; What’s Open; Resource Pages Galore; Interesting Offers; Inspiring Stories And More

The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has added a new page: Markets. It includes not just supermarkets, but food sellers like Balducci’s, Double L, Organic Market and Stiles, with hours of operation (including senior shopping) and phone numbers. Click here to see.

It’s an invaluable service — as is their other page featuring restaurants that offer takeout and delivery. Click here to see.


Human Services Department director Elaine Daignault says:

“The health and safety of our residents is our top priority. The Department of Human Services stands ready to help. Many seniors and other at-risk populations may need assistance in procuring supplies for extended self-isolation. DHS is investigating ways to provide safe and efficient help to at-risk homebound seniors and/or households.

“We encourage residents to call their neighbors and offer help, while taking care to follow CDC precautions by keeping a safe social distance. Remember that even if you are feeling well, you could still be a carrier of the virus.”

The Department has compiled a guide that provides up-to-date financial and social services information for the most vulnerable and at-risk members of the Westport community. Click here to see.

Residents should call Human Services at 203-341-1050 or email humansrv@westportct.gov if they or a neighbor have an emergency need of food or medications, or need other help.

For general town information on the coronavirus, click here.


WestportMoms.com constantly updates their list of things to do with kids (Quarantine Scavenger Hunt, anyone?), along with resources and even a bit of humor. They’re on Facebook and Instagram too, and via email newsletter.


The State of Connecticut has a superb, 34-page document answering Frequently Asked Questions about the coronavirus. It covers everything from testing and childcare to the DMV, unemployment and medical leave. Click here to download.


Alert and involved “06880” reader Gil Ghitelman reports that his wife Doris just came home with bunches of flowers from Trader Joe’s.

“I thought she blew the week’s budget,” he says. “But she told me they’re for some friends and neighbors.”

Gil was still thinking about the budget when Doris added that Jared — one of the Trader Joe’s guys — heard about her kindness. He told her the flowers were on the house.

“The budget’s intact. A bunch of people are happy. And a big hat tip to TJ’s!” Gil says.

 


Several readers report finding discarded latex gloves in supermarket and shopping center parking lots. Bring a bag — then dispose of them carefully! 


Connecticut restaurants are now allowed to sell alcohol with takeout and delivered meals. In addition, bars that deliver can sell beverages in sealed containers, just as liquor stores do.


Tonight (Friday, March 20, 7 p.m.), Senator Chris Murphy will host a telephone town hall. Click here to join in.


Besides the COVID-19 testing planned for Westport over the next 3 Tuesdays, there are other test options in Connecticut. Contact them for screening procedures:

• Yale New Haven Health system (833-275-9644)
• Hartford Health Care (833-621-0600)
• Stamford Health (203-276-4111)
• Connecticut Children’s Hospital (833-226-2362)
• DOCS Urgent Care https://docsmedicalgroup.com/telemedicine/


The Red Cross is in dire need of blood. Click here for donation centers, and to learn who is eligible to give during this pandemic.

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Staples High School Class of 1985 grad Mitch McManus is president of BMW of Bridgeport. They’ll drop a loaner off at your home or workplace, then take your car in for service. I am sure many other dealerships offer ways to avoid crowds too. Call yours for details.


CVS is no longer open 24/7. The new hours are 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. They do offer free delivery (1 to 2 days) of prescriptions and other “essential” items. Click here for details.


Connecticut’s Department of Motor Vehicles will not allow remote or distance driver’s ed classes. (Probably a good move, all things considered.)

So The Next Street — a private company — has pivoted. They’re offering students a 10-week “Intro to Entrepreneurship” remote course — for free. (It is open too to anyone interested in starting and running their own businenss).

The course meets via Zoom on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 to 2 p.m. Click here for info.


The Federation for Jewish Philanthropy of Upper Fairfield County asks children to send pictures and letters, to be shared with seniors in nursing homes and assisted living centers. Click here for details.

 

COVID-19 Roundup: What’s Open And Closed: New Police Procedures; Access To Health Insurance; Earthplace Ideas; Help Your Household Help; Jim Himes Telephone Town Hall, And More

Looking for an up-to-date list of what’s open, closed or semi-operating downtown? Click here for the Westport Downtown Merchants Association list.

Click here for the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s list of restaurants that offer takeout and/or delivery services. In addition to ordering delivery directly, Seamless, Grubhub and UberEats also deliver without personal contact. They can leave the food at the door. Payment is automatically processed through a credit card in their systems. Most Westport restaurants are participating in one or more of these services.

Another resource: FindingWestport.com. Their “What’s Open” page includes stores, restaurants, gyms, services, real estate firms and salons around town.


To protect the public and police officers during the COVID-19 emergency, the Westport Police Department encourages telephone contact, rather than visits to headquarters.

Calls made to non-emergency and emergency lines will continue to be answered as always. The operator will ask questions about the nature and details of the call, to determine whether officers are required to respond.

Officers will continue to respond to crimes in progress, violent offenses and medical emergencies. If the call does not meet criteria for response but requires follow-up, the call taker will log the complaint. An officer or detective will remotely conduct a follow-up investigation.

Click here for information on online reporting.

The records division will no longer process requests at the window. All records related inquiries should be directed to 203- 341-6001. Requested records will be sent electronically

In addition, fingerprinting services are suspended indefinitely.  ‘


Effective today, the Saugatuck and Greens Farms railroad stations buildings are closed to the public. This has no impact on normal railroad operations.

The closures are meant to keep people from congregating in close contact. It is unknown how long they will last.

The building is closed. Trains are still operating.


Westporters without health insurance can pick up coverage starting tomorrow through April 2, through Access Health CT. Click here for information. (Hat tip: Mary Jennings)


Earthplace is continually updating its website with ideas and resources for crafts, home study,  and outdoor and online activities. Click here for details.

 


Concerned reader Lindsey Blaivas writes:

Many of us have people come to our homes on a weekly basis — cleaning crews (mine are like family), babysitters (also like family), piano teachers and more.

Each have their own families and rely on their income. Please consider supporting them — for example, through Skype lessons or outdoor alternatives for cleaning crews (grills, outdoor furniture, garage cleaning). Think creatively.

Or maybe just pay them as you normally would, because they (like us) need to survive and protect their families. My cleaning people have reported many clients are cancelling without pay.

Please consider the macro impact on micro thinking. It’s not just one person cancelling — it’s everyone.


Grateful reader Deborah Green called Verizon with a question about her iPhone.  She did not want to come in, because of her age.

Manager Dominic di Pasquale — whom she had never met — answered her question. Then, remarkably, he told Deborah to call if she needed him to shop for groceries or do any other errands!

She thanked him profusely. He replied simply, “We all have to be there for each other during these times.”

She made one more call: to Verizon’s HR department, to praise their magnificent employee.


The other day, Congressman Jim Himes held a fascinating, informative telephone town hall. He’s got another one set for tomorrow (Thursday, March 19, 3:30 p.m.)

The call-in number is 855-962-0953. The streaming link is Himes.House.Gov/Live.

For answers to his most frequently asked questions, click here(Hat tip: Nicole Klein)

Congressman Jim Himes


Le Rouge Aartisan Chocolates is — like many small businesses — struggling. But owner Aarti Khosla is still thinking of others.

Customers can buy her “Give a Little Love” chocolate hearts, to send to first responders, hospital workers and others on the front lines. She’ll match whatever you buy, to let them know how much we appreciate their work.

She started by campaign by donating 100 hearts to Norwalk Hospital and EMS. Click here to donate.


The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has extended its Soup Contest through April. They encourage everyone to try soups via restaurant takeout or delivery services.

 

 

Chamber Of Commerce: Support Local Stores — And Order Takeout!

In normal times, the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce supports local businesses in a variety of ways: networking opportunities, marketing help, community-building events.

These are not normal times.

As COVID-19 attacks the country, some of the first casualties are small businesses.

When the first line of defense is social distancing — with isolation close on its heels — the last things on people’s minds are shopping for anything beyond necessities, or dining out.

When “wash your hands!” is the new mantra, no one is in the mood to handle merchandise in a store, or be served a meal in close proximity to others.

But small businesses need customers to survive. Even a small drop in patronage can spell the difference between paying the rent, paying employees, and going under.

Savvy + Grace on Main Street, one of many locally owned stores throughout town. (Photo/Lynn Untermeyer Miller)

The Chamber is marshaling its resources to help.

They encourage Westporters to continue to shop locally. In addition, they recommend buying gift cards, to use later.  You can do this not just for stores, but nail salons, yoga studios — you name it.

“This small act, if done by many, will help infuse capital to help them hold over until next month,” the Chamber says.

For residents hesitant about eating out, Chamber executive director Matthew Mandell suggests takeout orders. Most restaurants offer that option; some deliver. And there’s always Uber Eats.

Oh, yeah: Mandell reminds everyone that the Great Westport Soup Contest continues all month. There are some things the coronavirus just can’t conquer.

State Senator Will Haskell (left) and Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell pick up takeout at Arezzo. Of course, the meal includes soup.

The Chamber also says: “If you have ideas on how to help our businesses, let us know. It takes a community to support a community.”

It’s easy. Click here for their website contact form. Email info@westportwestonchamber.com. Or call 203-227-9234.

PS: It’s not only small stores that are affected by COVID-19. Patagonia announced yesterday that it is closing all 37 stores — and its online operations — indefinitely.

PPS: The US Small Business Administration offers low-interest disaster loans to small businesses suffering substantial economic injury from the coronavirus. It must be requested by governors. It is unclear how far along in the process Connecticut’s request is. For more information, click here or email disastercustomerservice@sba.gov.

COVID-19 Update: Lamont Declares Emergency; Library Cancels Programming; “Seussical” Postponed; State Basketball Tournaments, WIN Canceled

The coronavirus continues to play havoc with Connecticut life.

Gov. Ned Lamont has declared both a public health emergency and a civil preparedness emergency.

The first edict gives the state power over quarantine. The second allows the governor to restrict travel, and close public schools and buildings, among other powers..

Right now, however, Lamont says that decisions about school closings and large gatherings are being made by local government and public health officials.


The Westport Library will postpone or cancel all “in-person programming” through the end of March. Some events may be live-streamed — as was Sunday’s public meeting on the COVID-19 virus.

The Spring Book Sale scheduled for this weekend has also been canceled. The summer book sale will be held July 18 through 21, at a new location: Staples High School.

Right now, the library plans to remain open for patrons, and is “extra vigilant” about cleanliness.

Executive director Bill Harmer encourages users to take advantage of the library’s “extensive downloadable and streaming digital resource, eAudiobooks, eBooks, eMagazines, music, movies, and many other entertaining and educational resources are available to all cardholders.” Click here for links to the digital collection.


Staples Players’ production of “Seussical” — scheduled for a 2-week run, beginning this weekend — has been postponed until April 24 and 25 (matinee and evening shows) and April 26.

Ticket holders will be contacted by the box office within the next few days regarding transitions or exchanges.

“We will work as quickly as we can to respond to patrons, but we ask the public to be patient,” say directors David Roth and Kerry Long.


The actors and tech crew — who have dedicated themselves to the show since December — are not the only Staples students disappointed by the effects of the rapidly spreading virus.

Wrecker basketball players were stunned today to learn that the Connecticut State Interscholastic Athletic Conference canceled the boys and girls state tournaments. (Click here for a video of the announcement.)

Both Staples teams were having their best seasons in decades. Last night, the girls beat Glastonbury to advance to the semifinals. The boys were set to begin their tournament this evening, home against Enfield.

It’s an abrupt ending for both squads.


Meanwhile, the Westport Soccer Association’s WIN tournament — for over 30 years, the kickoff to the spring season — has been canceled too.

The event — which draws over 160 boys and girls teams to indoor and outdoor fields at Staples High and Bedford Middle Schools — is a fundraiser for the Coleman Brother Foundation.

Over the years, it has collected and donated more than $100,000 in scholarships.


The Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce — which looks out for the interests of local businesses — has forwarded a CDC document: “Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers/Plan, Prepare and Respond to Coronavirus.” Click here for the link.

Great Westport Soup Contest: Mmm Mmm Good!

If you thought the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s Best Pizza and Best Burger contests were great, you’ll really enjoy this year’s menu.

It’s guaranteed to be super.

Well, at any rate, “souper.”

March is “Westport Soup Month,” the Chamber says. First Selectman Jim Marpe makes it official on Monday (March 2, 12:30 p.m., Mystic Market).

All month long, 19 soup-making restaurants and markets will compete in 7 categories. Westporters can visit the venues (see below), then vote for

  • Best Chicken Soup
  • Best Beef Soup
  • Best Vegetable Soup
  • Best Asian Soup
  • Best Onion Soup
  • Best Matzoh Ball Soup
  • Best Chowder.

The contest runs March 1 to March 31. Voting can be done online (click here). All voters are entered into a drawing, to win free soup from one of the victors.

Winners will be announced in April.

Here’s wishing the Chamber — and all participants — many soupy sales.

Participating restaurants:

  • Arezzo
  • Bankside Farms Kitchen & Bar (Westport Inn)
  • Calise Food Market
  • Chez 180
  • Dunville’s
  • Gold’s Deli
  • Joe’s Pizza
  • Kawa Ni
  • Little Barn
  • Match Burger Lobster
  • Mystic Market
  • Rive Bistro
  • Rizzuto’s
  • Romanacci Xpress
  • Rye Ridge Deli
  • Tavern on Main
  • Tutti’s
  • Viva Zapata
  • Wafu.

 

Acorn squash soup

A Carol Crawl Through Saugatuck

The Staples Orphenians can’t do pub crawls.

They’re still in high school.

So this Saturday (December 21) they’ll do the next best — no, an even better — thing:

A Caroling Crawl.

From 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., some of our town’s finest singers will entertain diners in Saugatuck.

A scene from last year’s Caroling Crawl.

They start at the Boathouse. Then it’s on to Parker Mansion, Kawa Ni, The Whelk, Tutti’s and the Black Duck.

The 6 — Claire Baylis, Brody Braunstein, Maddy Fass, Anna Maria Fernandez, Courtney Hoile and Tomaso Scotti — head next to Tarantino, Harvest, Romanacci Express and Tarry Lodge, before ending at Match Burger Lobster, Rizzuto’s, Viva Zapata and Dunville’s.

The 2nd annual Orphenians event is sponsored by the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce. It’s part of their “Eat Local” campaign.

But no matter what you order at any of those 14 restaurants on Saturday, the Orphenians are icing on the cake.

Fitness Week Kicks Off Sunday

Restaurant Week — the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce’s promotion of all things culinary — ended recently.

If you think the Chamber will celebrate the successful event with a cocktail or two, think again.

Starting Sunday (November 3), they’ll sponsor Fitness Week.

 The event kicks off from 1 to 4 p.m., with an expo at the Westport Weston Family Y.

A dozen local fitness studios will provide information, kids’ activities, and friendly competitions like sit-ups, push-ups and planks (3 to 4 p.m.; $10 to enter, benefiting Special Olympics).

Juice bars and restaurants provide healthy food samples, too.

All week, through November 10, studios will offer free classes. A raffle for attendees sweetens the pot: The more you exercise, the greater the chance to win prizes.

A family fun run is set for Saturday, November 9.

Participating businesses include Club Pilates, Fast Fitness, Fleet Feet, JoyRide, Cycling + Fitness, Orangetheory, Fitness Performance Physical Therapy, Restore Hyper Wellness + Cryotherapy, Row House, Sherpa, Stretch Lab and Westport Pilates.

(For more information, click here.)

Unsung Heroes #119

The other day, I posted a story about a long, important RTM meeting. After 3 hours, our town’s legislative body voted narrowly — 18-16 — against a motion to ban recreational marijuana sales in Westport. (Such sales are not yet legal in Connecticut.)

That was typical of our Representative Town Meeting. Once a month they meet to debate and approve town and education budgets, and all town appropriations over $20,000; enact ordinances; review bonds, leases, sales and purhcases of town property; review zoning, recreation and other regulations, and oversee labor agreements with town and Board of Education employees.

They meet much more frequently in committees. Each member serves on several.

It’s time-consuming, arduous and thankless work. And every 2 years, RTM members must run for re-election.

Fortunately, serving on the body is not all work and no play. Last week, 23 members — along with the town clerk and RTM secretary — gathered for lunch at Tavern on Main.

Member Matthew Mandell — whose day job is executive director of the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce — organized the event. It was a way for everyone to spend time together outside of Town Hall. (And yes, for the Chamber to promote Restaurant Week.)

The RTM lunch at Tavern on Main.

It was the middle of election season. But, Mandell says, “people enjoyed that we could all sit together. Political party means nothing to us” — the RTM is non-partisan.

“It was nice to just BS, and not discuss any issue coming before us, or even around town. The RTM has had some late nights recently. This was a good break.”

(Even though there was a quorum, no official notice was required. “Social gatherings do not constitute an illegal meeting — just fun,” explains town clerk Patty Strauss.)

“The RTM is a collegial bunch who volunteer a lot of time to the town,” Mandell notes.

So, to all 36 members — and all the others, running for a seat — thank you for all you do for Westport. You are our Unsung Heroes of the Week.

We hope you enjoyed your lunch. Now get back to work!

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

 

Saugatuck Slice Will Be Extra Nice

Saugatuck may not have any room to expand.

But the Slice of Saugatuck does.

From Bridge Square to Railroad Place — and everywhere else — Slice of Saugatuck is packed. (Photo/Terry Cosgrave)

The 8th annual event — a popular food-tasting, shop-exploring, kids-romping, music-enjoying festival — pushes north and west this year.

This Saturday (September 7, 2 to 5 p.m.), the Slice includes newly opened  Mystic Market — the sandwich/salad/prepared foods/coffee mart on Charles Street — and the Goddard School, the daycare and childcare center on Saugatuck Avenue near Dunville’s (they’ll have a bouncy house).

They join more than 50 other businesses. All provide samples, and show off their merchandise or services (like Tae Kwan Do and dance). New this year too: boat rides, courtesy of Carefree Boat Club.

Firefighters at the Saugatuck station promote fire safety (and offer a seat in their very cool truck).

It’s a true community stroll. Kids love activities like an obstacle course, giant slide, balloon bender and Maker Faire area.

Adults appreciate 2 beer gardens (with wine as well), on Bridge Square and Railroad Place. Many restaurants offer specialty drinks (and hold happy hours after the Slice officially ends).

Saugatuck has always been about food. The Slice of Saugatuck festival is too.

People of all ages can hear bands like the 5 O’Clocks and School of Rock at 6 locations.

Music — not train horns and garbled announcements — fill the station air.

Tickets are $15 per adult (2 for $25). Children under 13 are $5; kids 5 and under go free. Admission (cash only) is available on site, starting at 1:50 p.m. Saturday.

Last year, the sponsoring Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce donated $4,000 of the proceeds to the Gillespie Center’s food pantry. The total over 7 years is $28,500.

Any way you slice it, that’s a great gift.

Ken Bernhard, Lori Cochran-Dougall: First Citizens Of Westport

In the vast constellation of stars that make Westport shine, it’s tough picking 2 of the brightest.

But the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce has done a stellar job. Lori Cochran-Dougall and Ken Bernhard will be honored Wednesday, June 12 (6:30 p.m., Westport Inn) at the organization’s First Citizen Award dinner.

The duo will be joined by 4 “Young Entrepreneur” honorees, from Staples and Weston High Schools: Ryan Felner, Lilly Garone, Garrett Meyerson and Brianna Zeiberg. Lieutenant Governor Susan Bysiewicz is the keynote speaker. Each year the Chamber honors one Westporter from the non-profit world, and one from the business sector.

Lori Cochran-Dougall

Cochran-Dougall is well known — and beloved — as executive director of the Westport Farmers’ Market. She’s made it not just a place to purchase great, fresh produce and organic goods, but a true community gathering spot, with entertainment and education too. Every Thursday from May through November, the Imperial Avenue lot  pulses with life and good vibes.

Cochran-Dougall grew up in Roanoke, Virginia — home of the oldest continually operating farmers’ market in the country. Before coming to Westport, she chaired the Jackson Hole, Wyoming Farmers’ Market board of directors.

Her achievements here include gaining 501(c)(3) status for the market (a rarity); implementing a winter’s market; working with area chefs and farmers to find solutions to food distribution issues, and advocating for agri-tourism.

Bernhard — the other honoree — is a principal in Cohen and Wolf’s municipal, business and corporate, real estate, family law and appellate groups.

He spent 8 years representing Westport in the General Assembly, rising to assistant minority leader. He was 3rd selectman from 1987-89, after which he was elected to the Zoning Board of Appeals.

Ken Bernhard

He is or has been a member of many boards, including the Westport Library, Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce, Norwalk Human Services Council, Earthplace, Westport Historical Society, Levitt Pavilion, Aspetuck Land Trust, Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation, and Connecticut League of Conservation Voters.

Bernhard helped found the Syria Fund, which provides support and education to refugees in Jordan. He’s deeply involved with the Tree of Life Orphanage in Haiti, which educates and feeds over 200 children, while creating jobs for adults.

He organizes shoe collection drives for Soles4Souls, shipping thousands of shoes to children around the world. He and his wife Alice have also raised 7 guide dogs.

If you want something done, the saying goes, ask a busy person.

On June 12, Lori Cochran-Dougall and Ken Bernhard will slow down long enough to be honored. “06880” joins the Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce in saluting these 2 superbly deserving First Citizens.

(For more information and tickets to the First Citizen Award event, click here.)