Tag Archives: Westport Weston Health District

Marpe Lifts Indoor Mask Mandate

1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:

Over the past few weeks, the daily rate of COVID cases in Westport has been trending downward. The town continues to be in the “gray” category (fewer than 5 cases per 100,000). Therefore, in collaboration with Westport’s COVID emergency management team, I am hereby rescinding Executive Orders #9 and #10, and lifting the mask mandate in indoor public settings in Westport, effective immediately.

This is certainly an optimistic trend =- one that we have been anxious to announce. But we continue to be aware of the potential of stronger strains and breakthrough cases that could impact future recommendations. Those who are eligible are strongly encouraged to get fully vaccinated and/or receive a booster.

Masks are no longer mandated in most indoor spaces in Westport. (“Mask Quilt” by Amy Schneider)

Westport Weston Health District director of health Mark Cooper said, “We are in support of this action for those in the lower risk category for severe COVID illness and who have been vaccinated, so long as the local transmission rate remains low. If everyone proceeds with caution and some common sense, we may be able to enjoy the coming holiday season with family and friends in a more traditional manner. For those in a higher risk category for severe COVID illness, masking is still highly recommended because, although the transmission rate is low, the COVID virus is still in the community.”

According to the CT Department of Public Health:

  • Outdoors
    • Masks are not required to be worn by anyone.
  • Indoors: 
    • Vaccinated individuals are generally not required to wear masks.
    • Unvaccinated individuals must continue to wear masks.
    • Masks will still be required in healthcare facilities, facilities serving vulnerable populations, public and private transit, correctional facilities, schools (public and non-public, when students are present), and childcare facilities.
    • Some businesses, state and local government offices, performance spaces, and certain events, may still require universal masking.

Roundup: Stolen Bench, Porchables, Partrick …

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This is the lowest of the low. Nathalie Jacob writes:

“Am I the only one that this has happened to?

“Someone took by accident or stole my little Nicole’s bus bench in Old Hill. She was so sad 😢 this morning when she walked down her driveway to find that someone had stolen/taken her little bus bench. It was gifted to us by a neighbor.

“The one cute thing that makes her comfortable and happy before the 🚌 picks her up, was that bench. She is so sad to not have it anymore.

“The bench was in my driveway, more than 10 feet inside of our property.

“Maybe an ‘06880’ reader might know where it is? Have missing benches been a thing around town?”

Nicole Jacob on her bench, before it was borrowed — okay, stolen.

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As Broadway (and off-) return, it welcomes back old faces — and new.

Among the latter: Colin Konstanty.

The Staples High School senior has joined the ensemble cast of Trevor: The Musical.

Colin — who has appeared in many Staples Players shows — says: “I’m so excited to be a part of Trevor: The Musical, and look forward to working with the amazing cast and creative team of the show. To be a part of the reopening of off-Broadway this fall means a lot to me, especially because the musical, even though it’s set in 1981, deals with a lot of the challenges that LGBTQ kids still face today and has an really important message about accepting, being, and loving who you are.”

For more information, click here.

Colin Konstanty

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The Westport Weston Health District — the first in the state — will add Easton to its list of town serves.

Instead of lengthening its name, the organization is shortening it. Starting January 1, it will be called the Aspetuck Health District. The new name honors a nearby river and reservoir.

It’s back to the future, in a way. At its inception in 1965, the original name was the Aspetuck Valley Health District.

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Gifts to museums take many forms: buildings. Exhibits. Endowments.

You don’t often hear, though, of donations like this. An anonymous donor has just guaranteed that admission to MoCA Westport’s gallery is now free. For all visitors. For an entire year.

“This gift supports our belief in the power of art to educate, enrich and build connections between us — a power that should be equally accessible to all in the community,” says executive director Ruth Mannes.

The current exhibition – “Between the Ground and the Sky” — is on view through October 17.

Up soon: a weekend brunch with food trucks and cocktails from Bar MoCA, plus a free drop-in art class for kids.

The MoCA exhibition — now free. (Photo/JC Martin)

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Shred it!

Westport’s 12th annual Shred Day is Saturday, September 25 (9 a.m. to 12 noon). There’s a ne location: the Greens Farms train station.

Residents may shred up to 8 paper bags or 3 boxes (12 inches by 18 inches), per household.  Each car will be charged $5. Proof of Westport residency is required.

Bank statements, canceled checks, credit card statements, tax papers and medical records are among the items Westporters shred.

It’s safe, secure, confidential — and environmentally sound. All material is recycled.

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The Porch @ Christie’s is pretty close to 4 schools: Staples High, Bedford Middle, and Coleytown Middle and Elementary School.

Which makes it perfect for parents who want “PorchAbles.”

The Cross Highway eatery has introduced a new item: school lunches that parents can order ahead to pick up, be delivered, or enjoyed in person at the Porch.

Pickup can be the night before school, or that morning.

There are 5 choices: Turkey, roast beef (both roasted at The Porch) or ham sandwich, with choices of bread (whole grain, white or gluten-free) and cheese (American, Swiss, cheddar or none), pizza pop’ems, or a bagel with cream cheese.

All come with a side of fruit salad, and a Sweet P cookie.

In addition, The Porch now delivers all menu items within a 5-mile radius. Click here for more information.

 

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Sunday’s “Photo Challenge” included — as an aside — a question about the derivation of the street name “Partrick” (off Wilton Road).

Turns out it’s the name of a family from the neighborhood.

Iain Bruce went one step further. He notes: “There are lots of Partricks and Partrics in Christ & Holy Trinity Cemetery. Spelling is irrelevant. People get all intense about names from 100 years ago. They forget that a) standardized orthography is pretty recent; b) moat of their ancestors couldn’t read or write anyway.”

(Photo/Iain Bruce)

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It doesn’t get more classic than “Of Mice and Men.”

The Westport Country Playhouse produced John Steinbeck’s famed play in 2008. Now — but only through September 26 — it’s available as an on-demand livestream.

Click here for more information, and tickets.

“Of Mice and Men”

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Congratulations to Jon Adler!

The 2004 Staples High School graduate won an Emmy Award Sunday in Los Angeles for his role as supervising producer of the CNN original series “Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy.”

Jon Adler, and his Emmy.

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Today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo was taken in a dahlia garden. It doesn’t get more gorgeous than this.

(Photo/Steven Rothenberg)

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And finally … on this day in 1741, George Frideric Handel completed his oratorio “Messiah.”

No, today is not Christmas. Or Easter.

But who needs an excuse to hear this?

Roundup: Ida, Newcomers, Yappy Hour …

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Last night was crazy.

Yesterday afternoon, Dick Lowenstein stuck an empty pail outside his home.

This morning, it showed nearly 7 inches of rain.

(Photo/Dick Lowenstein)

But just a couple of hours after Hurricane Ida roared away, our beaches were calm.

If it weren’t for flooded basements, tree limbs on lawns and some ponds in places they shouldn’t be, it could seem like last night never happened.

Old Mill Beach, just after sunrise. (Photo/Matt Murray)

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Lost in last night’s weather news: The Parks & Recreation Commission approved a conceptual plan for a small area of active recreation (pickleball and bocce) on the Baron’s South property last night.

The vote was 3 for, 1 abstention.

In the plan below, one bocce court is just west (below) the Senior Center. The pickleball courts abut Imperial Avenue, on the lower left side of the plan. Click on or hover over to enlarge.

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“Newcomers” groups are great — in theory. In reality, they often bring together only other newcomers.

Neighbors & Newcomers of Westport is different. The club is a mix of recent arrivals and more seasoned residents. It’s a perfect way for newcomers –and there are a ton — to immerse themselves in Westport, while meeting others in the same situation, and those who know the ropes.

N&N activities include a book club, beach walking, tennis, Girls Nights Out, meet-and-greet and other gatherings.

The new season begins with coffee at Compo Beach (September 14, 10 to 11 a.m.).

Click here for more information.

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Congratulations to Jacob Troelstra. The 2015 Staples High School graduate — and 2020 graduate from the US Military Academy at West Point — completed Army Ranger School training.

Called the toughest combat leadership course in the world, t tests physical and mental endurance of soldiers under sleep and caloric deprivation for 62 days.

Jacob now heads to Fort Campbell, Kentucky as a platoon leader.

Jacob Troelstra

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The first 2 nights of  “Stars on Stage from Westport Country Playhouse” are already wrapped.

The final two tapings — for a national television audience, after noted producer Andrew Wilk works his editorial magic — are tonight. There are 2 shows: 7 and 9 p.m. Brandon Victor Dixon (NBC’s Jesus Christ Superstar, Hamilton) is the star.

A few tickets are still available. Click here for details.

Shoshana Bean shined during Tuesday’s taping at the Westport Country Playhouse. She was joined by Luke Edgemon and Melanie Nyem. (Photo/Carol Rosegg)

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Today at MoCA Westport, it’s double trouble: monthly Yappy Hour, plus the regular Happy Hour (5-7 p.m.).

It’s a great way to meet other people — and dogs — in the museum’s great outdoor space. You can also purchase cocktails from Bar MoCA (this week’s custom cocktail is Honey Lavender Bee’s Knees), and enjoy free admission to the new “Between the Ground and the Sky” exhibit.

All dogs must be leashed!

Happy scene from the August Yappy Hour.

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This Labor Day weekend should be remarkable — at least, Remarkable Theater-wise.

The schedule for the Imperial Avenue parking lot drive-in includes:

  • Friday, September 3: “Stand by Me” (7:45 p.m.)
  • Saturday, September 4: “The Graduate” (7:30 p.m.)
  • Sunday, September 5: “The Sandlot” (7:30 p.m.)

Click here for tickets and more information.

The “Stand by Me” kids.

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The Westport Weston Health District has a new director of clinical services.

Vanessa Hurta has worked in healthcare for over 17 years, including primary care and preventive cardiovascular medicine, clinical research and teaching. Her most recent position was nurse practitioner for Yale New Haven Health. She has lectured and written about hypertension and obesity.

In other WWHD news, travel and vaccination clinic operations are expected to resume by mid-September. Call 203-227-9571, ext. 224, for appointments.

Vanessa Hurta

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The Levitt Pavilion is not quite finished.

They’ve added one more (great) show: Pete Muller and the Kindred Souls. The date for the intriguing instrumental/vocal quartet is September 26th (7 p.m.).

Click here for tickets, and more information.

Pete Muller and The KIndred Souls.

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Marla Cowden, Democratic Registrar of Voters, will leave office September 13.  She has served as Democratic Registrar for 11 years.

The new Democratic Registrar is Deborah Greenberg.

Marla Cowden

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The September/October issue of Westport Magazine includes a cover story on Kitt Shapiro.

The lively owner of WEST is the magazine’s face for its fall fashion feature. There are also interviews with Instagram stars Emily Rosnick, Zac Mathias and (the biggest) little Piglet.

Particularly timely: a chat with Rob Marciano about covering the weather.

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The view from the Westport Weston Family YMCA’s fitness center is gorgeous — and ever changing. Floor-to-ceiling windows look out over woods, water — and wildlife.

Treadmill, erg machine and elliptical users are used to seeing interesting things. But yesterday’s view was particularly intriguing. And worthy of inclusion for “Westport … Naturally.”

(Photo/William Strittmatter)

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And finally … the great, versatile (R&B, rock, funk, soul, gospel) keyboardist Billy Preston was born today, in 1946. He played with Little Richard, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, the Everly Brothers, Rolling Stones, and Beatles — among others — and also achieved fame with solo recordings.

He died in 2006, age 59, from kidney and other ailments.

 

Roundup: 3rd Moderna, Modern Thermometer, Polestar EVs …

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The Westport Weston Health District will host a “3rd dose” Moderna vaccine clinic — for moderately and severely immunocompromised people — on September 10 (1 to 4 p.m., Senior Center).

Appointments can be scheduled here. Bring your vaccination card to the appointment.

The CDC’s additional dose recommendation includes people who have:

Been receiving active cancer treatment for tumors or cancers of the blood

Received an organ transplant and are taking medicine to suppress the immune system

Received a stem cell transplant within the past 2 years, or are taking medicine to suppress the immune system

Moderate or severe primary immunodeficiency

Advanced or untreated HIV infection

Active treatment with high-dose corticosteroids or other drugs that suppress an immune response.

To learn more, speak with your healthcare provider. Click here for the CDC website.

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Polestar2 — an all-electronic vehicle — is giving test free test drives to the public. From now through Sunday (11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.), they’re doing it at Bedford Square.

If you’ve never driven a fully electric vehicle, this is a great. chance. Everyone is welcome — so long as you have a driver’s license!

Polestars, at Bedford Square.

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On Wednesday, Bob Weingarten went to Town Hall, for house research.

Usually he signs in at the front desk, and heads to the Town Clerk’s office. This time, he was asked for a temperature check — and to do it himself.

There’s a device, just inside the main door. Stand in front, and get a readout.

I haven’t been in Town Hall in months. I don’t know if this is new and noteworthy, or not news. It could be cool — or a story like George H.W. Bush’s surprise at how a supermarket scanner works.

You be the judge. I’m just passing along Bob’s photo.

(Photo/Bob Weingarten)

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2003 Staples High School graduate Jesse Levin owns the Readiness Collective — an emergency training club and outfitter in Norwalk. Earlier, he opened a pop-up shop in Bedford Square.

After the chilling news from Afghanistan, Jesse turned the Collective into am ad hoc volunteer emergency operations center, to facilitate emergency evacuation efforts.

We have turned our training club, The Readiness Collective into an ad hoc volunteer emergency coordination operations center to facilitate efforts under way for emergency evacuations in Afghanistan.

Professional logistics and disaster response experts on site help guide volunteers on how to contribute. They’re tied in with working groups on the ground, and assisting from abroad.

Recent efforts include the expatriation of 20 targeted Afghan nationals and their families to Uganda, critical medical advice provided to parents of a young girl injured by a tear gas canister and unable to reach medical help, and the development of overland evacuation plans for wide distribution.

Jesse’s Collective needs help and support. “Just bring a computer and a willingness to dig in,” he says.

Offices are in the SoNo Collection (just off I-95 Exit 15 in Norwalk, Level II0. Questions? Email ready@readinesscollective.com, or call 203-275-7297.

Jesse Levin, providing aid in Puerto Rico.

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Sure, Westport Book Shop is the go-to for “pre-owned” (okay, used) books and more — including music.

But they also run an online store. It’s got a selection of new, sealed CDs, in categories from pop and oldies to classical and jazz.

Click here to browse the online selections.

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Three attorneys at Westport-based FLB Law have been named to the Best Lawyers in America list.

The FLB honorees are managing partner Stephen P. Fogerty, and attorneys Alan S. Rubenstein and Leslie E. Grodd.

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Seen the giant sunflower at Viva Zapata?

The restaurant’s Sam O’Mahony explains today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, growing out of the 2nd-floor window boxes:

“We didn’t plant sunflowers this year! We’re assuming a bird dropped it up there last summer from our garden in the side yard.”

(Photo/Sam O’Mahony)

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And finally … in honor of Town Hall’s new temperature scanner:

 

Roundup: Donut Crazy, Merritt Parkway, “La Mancha” …

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Donut Crazy — the wonderful, warm, not-for-the-calorie-conscious coffeehouse on the eastbound side of the Saugatuck train station — is closed today.

It’s unclear whether it’s permanent. Loyal customers hope not. Their fingers are crossed it will reopen — perhaps under new owners.

The past 17 months have not been easy. Always a bit out of the way for late-arriving morning commuters to New York, the steep drop in ridership during the pandemic must have hurt.

The arrival of Steam donuts and coffee at Desi’s Corner, at the Railroad Place by Riverside Avenue, is another blow.

Donut Crazy’s 4 other locations — in Stratford, Shelton, Branford and West Hartford — remain open. That’s not too far to go for some of the craziest donuts (and more) on earth. (Hat tip: Carolanne Curry)

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Hurricane Henri was a washout. It had virtually no effect on Westport — except for a ban on beach activities through Wednesday.

Swimming, fishing and paddle crafts are prohibited for the next 2 days, says Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper.

The cause: possible contamination of Long Island Sound, from untreated sewage discharges after the storm.

It’s a good thing Caroline Sherman swam to Cockenoe Island before Sunday. (Photo/Alex Sherman)

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The Merritt Parkway paving project between northbound Exits 40 and 41 appear to be a mess.

Readers report numerous flat tires, due to holes in the pavement. Be careful out there!

In better days …

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Sam Palmer is the son of a Staples High School teacher. A 2019 graduate of Fairfield Warde High School, he’s been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He’s waiting for a blood stem cell/bone marrow transplant.

And he needs a donor.

A “Swab for Sam/Be the Match” donor registration drive is set for this Saturday (August 28, 9 to 11 a.m., Fairfield Warde High School, 755 Melville Avenue).

It takes just 5 minutes to register, and have your cheek swabbed to enter the marrow donor registry. The more donors, the more chances Sam — and others like him — have to live long, full lives.

Sam Palmer

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Rod Gilbert — the New York Rangers great who died last weekend at 80 — leaves behind many fans.

Among them: Charlie Capalbo. The Fairfield hockey player — and grandson of Westporters Ina Chadwick and Richard Epstein — has battled cancer for several years. His spirits have been lifted by many people in the hockey world.

Gilbert was among the first. Here was his message to Charlie, in 2017:

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Did you miss the 2018 Westport Country Playhouse presentation of “Man of La Mancha?” Saw it, and want to see it again? Just looking for great entertainment, as the Delta variant has us all wary again of crowds?

The award-winning show is available now, on demand, through September 5.  Tickets start at just $25. Click here to order.

Pick a time. Buy sangria. Prepare paella. Enjoy!

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Laura Nelson died Friday, surrounded by family and friends, following a battle with cancer. She was 55.

Her family says: “Laura’s light always shined brightly. The people of Westport may remember sharing a friendly wave, a peace sign or a warm smile with Laura as she drove around the neighborhood in her clementine orange VW bus, laughing and soaking up every drop of life.

“She was an accomplished communications executive and public relations expert, dedicated wife and mother, loving sister and aunt, best friend, and adored colleague.

“Above all, Laura loved her husband Jim and their children Charlie and Annabelle fiercely and unconditionally. Her pride in their accomplishments knew no bounds.”

Laura began her career as a PR professional with Dan Klores Associates in New York City. For over 3 decades she rose through the media industry as the cable television business flourished.

In her early career she led the communications team at Comedy Central, then a fledgling startup channel. She rose to senior vice president of communications and public affairs for VH1 and MTV. She later joined Nielsen, where she served as chief communications officer during a transformative period.

Laura advised celebrities and media executives throughout her career. Her family says, “She was known as a savvy strategist and insightful advisor. She was a student of the spoken and written word and used this knowledge to advance the interests of her clients and organizations. Maybe most importantly, Laura knew how to bring out the best in her people—she was the perfect combination of mentor, coach, advocate, leader, and friend. Over the years, she assembled multiple award-winning teams, and many of her protégés have gone on to serve as chief marketing and communications officers themselves.”

Born in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, Laura grew up in Darien. In 1983, Laura served as a Page in the US Senate and attended the Capitol Page School. At Darien High School she was the editor of the school newspaper. She graduated from Boston College with a BA in ohilosophy. As part of her undergraduate studies, she attended Temple University in Rome, where she developed a lifelong love of Italy and its culture.

Her family notes: “Laura was generous, loyal, and warm, and she readily adopted friends into her extended family. She was known for her sense of humor, authenticity, and dedication to her family and friends. She was unyielding on the things that mattered to her and to the world, and she loved with her whole heart and soul.

She is survived by her husband James A. Kremens; children Charles Kremens and Annabelle Kremens, all of Westport; siblings Gina Wilcox (Brady) of Old Lyme; Paul Nelson (Julie) of Wilmette, Illinois, and Andrew Nelson (Meghan) of Cincinnati.

A mass of Christian burial will be held Friday, (August 27, 11 a.m., Church of the Assumption.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to The Cancer Couch Foundation, P.O. Box 1145, Southport, CT 06890, or thecancercouch.com.

Laura Nelson

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The rain seems finally to have moved away. As it moved out yesterday, it left this hopeful sign over Sherwood Mill Pond:

(Photo/Ferdinand Jahnel)

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The Friends of the Weston Senior Activities Center plan a flea market for Saturday, September 18 (9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Weston High School).

Past years have drawn 80 vendors, selling old, new and handmade items. Spaces are going quickly. To reserve a space, call 203-222-2608.

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It doesn’t get more “Westport … Naturally” than this Winslow Park scene.

(Photo/JC Martin)

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And finally … country singer/songwriter Tom T. Hall died Friday, at his Tennessee home.

He was known both for the songs he wrote and sang himself, and those he wrote for others. Click here for a full obituary.

Former Employee Sues Westport Weston Health District Director

For more than 16 months, the Westport Weston Health District has been at the center of the COVID fight.

Now, executive director Mark Cooper is in the hot seat.

Last month, Louis D’Onofrio Jr. resigned as WWHD director of clinical care. This month, he sued his former boss.

The suit, filed in District Court, charges Cooper with retaliation against D’Onofrio, after he tried to address alleged health and safety hazards in the Health District office.

D’Onofrio made multiple complaints about rodent droppings, which he says Cooper disregarded.

Louis D’Onofrio Jr.

D’Onofrio says he then complained to the Connecticut Interlocal Risk Management Agency, which inspected the premises in June 2019. The suit says that CIRMA found that safety data sheets had not been updated in over a decade, and that unlabeled bottles of chemicals where improperly stored where they could harm staff or visitors.

D’Onofrio says that Cooper did not review and resolve the concerns. Rodent droppings continued. D’Onofrio says that rodents also chewed through raincoats and jackets worn by employees.

This past April, D’Onofrio said he spoke with the Westport Police Department about concerns of possible financial mismanagement. He says approximately $73,000 was part of “unclassified” medical services.

After D’Onofrio spoke with the WWHD board chair about his financial and safety concerns, he alleges that Cooper “initiated an investigation into a fictitious vaccine matter.”

D’Onofrio also says that Cooper threatened to eliminate his position, because the district had lost approximately $70,000.

In May, D’Onofrio charges, Cooper took away a bonus, with “no valid cause.”

D’Onofrio submitted his resignation on June 16, “because of the intolerable condition of being required to continue to work in a setting that was hazardous to health and safety of himself, co-workers, and members of the public.”

Westport Weston Health District director Mark Cooper (right) addresses the media on March 11, 2020, when the pandemic first hit Westport. First Selectman Jim Marpe is at left. Mask wearing was not yet mandatory.

D’Onofrio charges infringement of his free speech rights, and unlawful employment practices. He seeks a jury trial, and asks for compensatory and punitive damages.

“I wish things had never gotten this far,” D’Onofrio told “06880.” “I love my career helping people. Our staff did everything to combat the pandemic. They should not be surrounded by such horrible conditions. I just wanted him to clean the office.”

Asked to respond, Cooper told “06880”:

I am certainly aware of the report since I approved the request to have CIRMA, the WWHD’s insurance carrier, conduct the voluntary assessment. The request to have CIRMA conduct the assessment was made to help staff prepare for our outpatient clinic license application to the State, as well as to identify any potential risks so they could be addressed.

The inspection was conducted over 2 years ago with the report noting that: “It is with the utmost appreciation to the Westport Weston Health District staff for time dedicated to assisting in this project. The coordination of on-site visit went extremely well…

The inspection resulted in several recommendations to address. All of CIRMA’s recommendations were corrected and clearly did not impede approval and issuance of WWHD’s clinic license.

Although not included in the lawsuit, D’Onofrio also told “06880” that Cooper refused to wear a mask in the office, and left the state for long weekends during the pandemic but did not quarantine upon his return.

Cooper did not reply to emails and text messages asking for responses to those allegations.

 

 

Marpe: Updated COVID Regulations. Town Reopenings

1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:

Yesterday, Governor Ned Lamont signed an executive order enacting updated COVID mask protocols in response to the new recommendations released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

These recommendations allow fully vaccinated individuals to forgo the use of a mask either when outdoors or when indoors with other fully vaccinated individuals. According to the governor’s order, a face covering is required when indoors in a public place or when safe social distancing of approximately six feet from every other person is not maintained – specifically for those who are not fully vaccinated. (Click here to read the entire Executive Order #12.)

According to the Westport Weston Health District, “In accordance with CDC and state Department of Public Health guidelines, the use of masks outdoors is no longer required, but recommended if an individual is outdoors in crowded conditions with others of unknown vaccination status and it is not possible to physically distance from others. Businesses, state and local government offices and event organizers may choose to require universal masking when there is uncertainty of the vaccination status of individuals visiting their facility and/or large crowds may be anticipated.” More information from the CT DPH can be found here.

Please note that this guidance does not mean that masks are no longer required or that social distancing is not recommended. Rather, it is a communication to those who are fully vaccinated that they may forgo the use of a mask in certain, if not most, circumstances. Individual businesses and offices may continue to require people to wear a mask in their facilities.

Currently, there is no process in place to recognize the vaccination status of others. Because of that uncertainty, it is recommended that individuals err on the side of caution and assume in certain larger gatherings that there are those who are unvaccinated, and a mask should be worn. Since many institutions will follow this logic, most indoor mask wearing provisions will remain in place until there is a higher degree of certainty of increased vaccination rates.

Effective June 1, town facilities, including the Westport Library, will be expanding capacity with the goal of returning to full in person and pre-COVID access. However, given the uncertainty of vaccination status, masks will continue to be required in all town facilities. The following procedures will be in place:

  • Town Hall:  The building continues to be open to the public. Effective June 1, walk-in services for certain departments will be reintroduced. Visitors may park in the front or the rear of the building and enter through the front entrance or the handicap ramp. Sign-in will continue as visitors enter the building at the reception area. Masks will be required to enter Town Hall.
  • Appointments: Appointments and remote services continue to be encouraged for the most efficient service. Most appointments will occur in the Town Hall lobby to allow for optimal air circulation and social distancing. For those who prefer to meet outdoors, the exterior tent will be reinstalled.

Town Hall is reopening — slowly. (Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

  • Plan review meetings with the Land Use Departments (Planning & Zoning, Conservation, Building and fire marshal) continue to be encouraged using remote technology, but those requiring in-person meetings that exceed 15 minutes should schedule an appointment during the hours of 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p,m. Monday through Friday in the Town Hall lobby. Plan review with the Building Department and fire marshal will follow the same protocol at Fire Headquarters at 515 Post Road East.
  • Public Meetings: Some public meetings will begin to return to in-person attendance by both board/commission members and the public. Municipalities are still authorized to host remote public meetings until July. It is expected that additional board, committee and commission in-person meetings will gradually return over this time period. Public meeting announcements will indicate how meetings will be conducted.
  • Parks & Recreation:  The Parks & Recreation Department will reopen its administrative office to the public beginning June 1. Masks must be worn. Please practice social distancing. Remote and online options remain the preferred methods of interacting with the Parks & Recreation Department.
  • Police Department:  The Police Department lobby is fully open, including the records window. Follow signage for safety procedures. Remote and online services remain preferred methods of business interaction.
  • Reopening Updates: For the latest on reopening updates, please visit here.

Our goal is to make the town’s transition to pre-COVID operations as safe as possible for residents and employees.  Your continued patience and cooperation are appreciated.

Certainly, anyone may wear a mask if they prefer to do so. Civil and courteous behavior towards all should continue to be the norm. Some individuals with underlying medical conditions who may be more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19 should consider continued mask wearing. Such conditions include cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, diabetes and those immunocompromised. More information on underlying medical conditions can be found at:  https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/need-extra-precautions/people-with-medical-conditions.html1

Roundup: Masks, Gatsby Day, Ospreys …

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Yesterday’s announcement by the Centers for Disease Control that fully vaccinated people can stop wearing masks in most situations — including indoors — will be effective next Wednesday (May 19) in Connecticut, Governor Lamont said yesterday.

That’s the date other restrictions will be lifted too.

Connecticut residents can’t abandon their masks just yet. Wait until May 19! (Photo collage/Miggs Burroughs)

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Happy Gatsby Day!

A few years ago, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe declared May 14 “Gatsby Day” in Westport.

That’s the date — 101 years ago today — that F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald signed their lease for the house at what is now 244 South Compo Road.

Marpe said that Gatsby Day should be celebrated in perpetuity. COVID has prevented celebrations last year — the centennial! — and this. But historian Deej Webb (who literally wrote the book on “Gatsby in Connecticut”) wants to make sure that Westport remembers the day.

It’s interesting to note that the Roaring ’20s — the decade associated so closely with the legendary author and his wife — were a direct result of the influenza pandemic of 1918-19.

Will a similar decade follow COVID? And if so, will the direct result of the Roaring ’20s — the Great Depression — ensue too?

FUN FITZGERALD FACT: Deej Webb says that the iconic shot of F. Scott and Zelda in front of their Westport house was not, as is often assumed, photoshopped. It’s legit:

We know the Westport Country Playhouse is a town jewel.

So does the National Endowment for the Arts. They just awarded the Playhouse a $10,000 Arts Projects grant. It supports “Ain’t Misbehavin,” the musical planned for 2022.

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Nico Eisenberger writes: “I just witnessed an unbelievable spectacle. Three bald eagles went up against 3 ospreys in a full-on battle for the skies … all right above the new osprey nest on the way to Burying Hill.

“They screeched, swerved, swooped, dove, teamed, ganged, isolated, regrouped and went at it again and again. My measly iPhone photo [below] doesn’t do it justice. It was jaw-dropping.

“I caught a hint of this growing local rivalry a few times over the past few days, but nothing like the epic battle now.

“I am sure there will be more. Fingers crossed for all involved, especially our new nesting pair. So far, it seems they have been able to defend themselves nicely.”

Nico copied Patrick Comins, executive director of the Connecticut Audubon Society. He replied:

“This is something we will see more and more of, especially with the overlapping hunting territories of the nesting eagle pair and many ospreys. Bald eagles regularly harass osprey, steal their prey, and occasionally kill or injure ospreys in the process.

“But both species treat each other with some degree of respect, because each can cause damage to the other.”

(Photo/Nico Eisenberger)

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Now there are 3.

Easton has joined the Westport Weston Health District.

Which means it needs a new name. Suggestions (beyond “Westport Weston Easton Health District,” I guess) are welcome. Email publichealth@wwhd.org.

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The only thing better than al fresco dining may be doing it with the best local bounty. Oh, yeah … with chef Alison Milwe Grace in charge.

The popular caterer works her magic at Wakeman Town Farm on June 12 (6 to 9 p.m.). The menu for the WTF fundraiser (for educational programs) includes chilled spring pea and basil soup, spring vegetables, spring lamb chops with mint chimichurri or herb-dusted salmon over asparagus, with lemon-thyme berry trifles. BYOB adult beverages.

Guests can stroll the grounds and gardens, visit the animals, and enjoy acoustic music.

Click here for tickets, and more information.

Alison Milwe Grace, at Wakeman Town Farm.

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And finally … there was no Billboard Hot 100 on May 14, 1920 (the day, noted above, that F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald signed their Westport lease). It started August 4, 1958.

However, there are records kept of the top records of 1920. The most popular song that year was Al Jolson’s “Swanee.” “How I love ya, how I love ya …”

The rest of the top songs include a few folks I’ve heard of (Paul Whiteman, Eddie Cantor, Jascha Heifetz, Sergei Rachmaninoff). But 2 titles caught my eye, for different reasons.

There was this topical tune, “Prohibition Blues” …

… and this one: “My Little Bimbo Down on the Bamboo Isle.” It would never fly today, 101 years later:

Marpe’s Vaccine Update: Patience, Persistence Needed

1st Selectman Jim Marpe says:

The state of Connecticut is scheduling and vaccinating people 75 and older as part of the vaccine rollout Phase 1b.

People ages 65 to 74 are next in line for eligibility. Information will be posted on the Westport Weston Health District website when the state opens up clinics to this group. More information for frontline essential workers and individuals with underlying medical conditions with increased risk for severe illness will be forthcoming.

Many Westporters are eager to get vaccines. Some have registered themselves into the CDC’s Vaccine Administration Management System (VAMS), scheduled their appointments and have received first and, in some cases, second vaccine doses.

Others have found technical challenges, a lack of information and guidance, or difficulties getting their first or second doses scheduled. Currently, vaccination dates are not being scheduled sooner than 3 weeks out. The process is moving slowly. Frustrations are high.

Additionally, the supply of vaccines is not keeping up with the demand. A total of 1.3 million Connecticut residents are eligible for the vaccine during Phase 1b. The state must ration the 46,000 doses it receives each week. At this rate, it will take months before all eligible residents are vaccinated. There is a national vaccine shortage, and it impacts us locally.

The WWHD staff have consistently ordered more vaccines than it they receive. The WWHD runs up to 3 vaccine clinics per week at the WWHD on Bayberry Lane, and the Westport, Weston and Easton Senior Centers.

With a limited supply of vaccines, the WWHD advises eligible Westporters not to wait for an appointment at a Westport clinic. Rather, go to the first available appointment and plan to schedule your second vaccine immediately after. The state’s 211 line now includes a public vaccine clinic directory to search for local clinics.

We are aware that some have found success bypassing VAMS and registering through hospital portals in the surrounding cities. These third party VAMS sites appear to be more direct and do not require waiting for confirmation emails and codes. For links to some local participating vaccination centers, please see further below.

We are also aware that some residents do not have the mobility to obtain a vaccine in another nearby community, or might not be able to leave their homes. Once supplies are available, the town plans for a larger-scale local vaccination site, as well as a traveling clinic for those who are most vulnerable and homebound.

The state’s long-term distribution plan focuses on 5 or 6 large vaccination clinics set up across Connecticut, and with neighborhood CVS and Walgreens pharmacies as potential local options. However, there are multiple challenges with distribution, administration and the vaccine supply itself that must be overcome at the state and federal levels first.

Keep in mind that neither the Westport Department of Human Services nor the Westport Senior Center has access to the VAMS portal, nor can they schedule a vaccination on a resident’s behalf. Human Services staff is working diligently to answer questions and offer resources to help.

Vaccine line outside the Westport Senior Center. (Photo/Ted Horowitz)

Ultimately, the state’s official helpline (211) is the best option for registration by phone or to have your technical questions answered.

Do not be discouraged as the inevitable complications and delays occur. Your patience is needed during these trying times. Please remember to continue to wear a face covering, social distance and maintain good hygiene.

For more information on the vaccine in Westport, visit www.westportct.gov/vaccine or print Westport’s Vaccination Tip Sheet here: https://www.westportct.gov/home/showpublisheddocument?id=37255

For information on the WWHD’s plans to schedule and conduct vaccinations, go to www.wwhd.org

The state’s vaccine information site can be found here: https://portal.ct.gov/Coronavirus/COVID-19-Vaccination—75-and-older

Remembering Dr. Jack Shiller

Dr. Jack Shiller — pediatrician to generations of Westport Baby Boom boys and girls, co-founder of Willows Pediatrics, and founder of the Westport Weston Health District — died Wednesday in his home in Redding. He was 92 years old.

The Brooklyn native graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1947, and Columbia Medical School in 1952.

Dr. Shiller received the Connecticut Veterans Wartime Service Medal for his service in the Air Force as captain of the 47th tactical hospital stationed at Sculthorpe, England.

After training at Bellevue Hospital and The Babies Hospital in New York City, he was board certified in pediatrics.

He established his own private practice in Westport before forming Willows Pediatric Group in 1973 with Dr. Albert Beasley. Dr. Beasley died this past June.

Dr. Jack Shiller

He was active on the staff of Norwalk Hospital, where he started the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, and later served as interim chief of pediatrics. He continued academic ties to Babies Hospital as teaching staff.

He was an advocate of equal representation, disease prevention, and education during and after helping to form the Westport-Weston Health District in 1967. It was the first of 20 such districts in the state.

He was named director of the district he formed, and was named the Champion of Immunization by the Governor of Connecticut. 

Dr. Shiller was proud of his published works — especially “Childhood Illness and Childhood Injury: A Commonsense Approach,” which helped new parents recognize and treat common childhood ailments and injuries at home. This practical resource remains relevant today.

He is survived by daughter Bethanne McCarthy (husband Steven) of Savannah, Georgia; sons Stephen (Emily) of Ridgefield and son Andrew David (Raaya) of Jerusalem, Israel; brother Marvin (Annie) of Manhattan, and grandchildren Shane, Krystle, Jessica, Matthew, Samantha and Naama.

A graveside funeral service will be held tomorrow (Sunday, January 17), at Mt. Hebron Cemetery in New York. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, only immediate family will be in attendance.

In lieu of flowers, donations in the name of Dr. Jack Shiller can be made to Shriners Hospitals for Children.

(Hat tip: Dick Lowenstein)