Stratford's HamletHub Sun, 20 Oct 2019 04:30:55 -0400 New Exhibit: In a Dark Wood, Wandering at Housatonic Museum of Art

The Housatonic Museum of Art proudly presents a career survey exhibition of sculpture by artist Joseph Saccio entitled, “In a Dark Wood, Wandering.” The show features a selection of two dozen large-scale sculptures, and takes inspiration from mythology, nature and the struggle of living.

An opening reception with this New Haven-based artist will be held on Thursday, November 7 from 5:30 pm to 7 pm in the Burt Chernow Galleries. This free event is open to the public, and will offer light refreshments. The exhibition will be on view through Saturday, December 14, 2019.

Using wood, natural materials and found objects, Saccio draws on classical mythology and religious connotations to create profound and fantastical works of art that are frequently dark and pensive. The pieces reflect his feelings about loss and rebirth though the mood is often lightened by flecks of humor.

Largely self-taught, Saccio has made art throughout his life. Upon retirement from his first career as a child psychiatrist, his devotion to sculpting has yielded awards in local, area and national competitions.

“These works were created over a span nearly thirty years, reflecting the personal history of the artist,” said Robbin Zella, Director of the Housatonic Museum of Art. “Through his art, Saccio invites viewers to meditate and reflect on loss, grief, faith and regeneration.”

The Housatonic Museum of Art is located on the Housatonic Community College campus, 900 Lafayette Blvd. in Bridgeport. It is home to one of the premier college art collections in the United States. The museum’s collection offers the opportunity to view works that span the history of art from the ancient to the contemporary, and is on continuous display throughout the 300,000 square foot facility. Visit to learn more.

]]> (Kerry Anne Ducey) Places Thu, 10 Oct 2019 10:40:40 -0400
CT Residents Rate Gov. Lamont In Latest Poll

FAIRFIELD, Conn.—A new poll by Sacred Heart University’s Institute for Public Policy, completed in partnership with the Hartford Courant between September 17 and October 2, examined Connecticut residents’ reactions to local quality-of-life issues, rated Governor Ned Lamont’s performance and solicited responses about taxes, immigration, flavored e-cigarettes and the general cost of goods. The results depict an electorate divided by income and party affiliation, with significant concerns over the costs of living in Connecticut and mixed reviews for the governor’s performance to date.

The majority of Connecticut residents surveyed (59.4 percent) reported their quality of life in the state as either “excellent” (16.4 percent) or “good” (43 percent), which remains consistent with the 60.4 percent who reported the same in May of 2019. However, in contrast, a higher rate of September 2019 respondents expressed belief that the quality of life in Connecticut is “declining” (27.8 percent), compared to the rate of those who expressed belief that the quality of life is “improving” (14.9 percent).

Annual income factored significantly in these quality-of-life opinions, with 78.7 percent of respondents earning $150,000 or more per year reporting their quality of life as either “excellent” (41.6 percent) or “good” (37.1 percent), compared to only 45.4 percent of respondents earning less than $50,000 annually. And 30 percent of residents earning between $100,000 and $150,000 per year reported their quality of life in Connecticut as “declining.” Age also was a factor: 46.9 percent of respondents ages 18-34 reported their quality of life as either “fair” (32.6 percent) or “poor” (14.3 percent) when compared to only 29.5 percent of respondents age 65 or older. 

Expressing longer-term concern, more than half of residents surveyed (58.4 percent) reported it is “very difficult” (19.3 percent) or “somewhat difficult” (39.1 percent) to maintain their standard of living. The top-reported reasons for these challenges included “tax increase - state” (61.1 percent); “price increase – general goods” (50.9 percent); and 50 percent said “increase/high taxes overall.” The perception among a majority of residents that Connecticut is a difficult state to maintain their standard of living is not surprising given the recent sales tax increases that went into effect on October 1 for a host of consumer items. The other items most often cited as expense-related factors include electrical/gas/oil (44 percent), health insurance premiums and co-pays (27.2 percent) and low-paying jobs (27.2 percent).

Regarding Governor Lamont’s performance to date, more than two-fifths of Connecticut residents surveyed (46.9 percent) reported they “disapprove” of the way Lamont is handling his job as governor, which is up nearly seven points since May. The disapproval rating among Republicans is highest at 74.2 percent (with 15.5 percent unsure), followed by 53.1 percent disapproval among unaffiliated residents (29.8 percent unsure) and 26.5 percent disapproval among Democrats (33.4 percent unsure).

When asked about specific areas of positive performance, the highest percentage of respondents reported they “approve” of the way Lamont handles “public primary education” (27.8 percent), while the lowest number reported they “approve” of the way he is handling “taxes” (16 percent). Additionally, 24.8 percent reported they “approve” of the way Lamont is handling “health care,” and 23.1 percent reported they “approve” of the way Lamont is handling “tolls.”

Over two-thirds (72.5 percent) of Connecticut residents surveyed reported to “strongly” (56.4 percent) or “somewhat” (16.1 percent) support the ban on flavored e-cigarettes. Less than one-fifth of respondents (18.7 percent) “somewhat” (9.4 percent) or “strongly” (9.3 percent) opposed the ban, and another 8.8 percent were “unsure.” For younger respondents, 60.5 percent of residents surveyed ages 18-34 “strongly” (40.7 percent) or “somewhat” (19.8 percent) supported the ban on flavored e-cigarettes, and the numbers for residents whether Democrats, Republicans or unaffiliated were all above 70 percent in support of a ban.

In response to a question regarding immigration issues facing the state, a higher rate of residents surveyed said they did not believe illegal immigration is a serious problem in the State of Connecticut (47.6 percent) when compared to those who do believe it is a serious problem (37.3 percent). However, the majority of respondents (61 percent) thought local law enforcement in Connecticut should assist federal authorities with deportation of illegal immigrants who were convicted of crimes.

The responses along party lines showed 65.2 percent of Republicans believe illegal immigration is a serious problem in the State of Connecticut, compared to only 39.3 percent of unaffiliated and 19.4 percent of Democrats. And 56.2 percent of respondents ages 18-34 reported they did not think illegal immigration is a serious problem in Connecticut. 

“Quality-of-life issues continue to play a central role in residents’ responses to our latest Connecticut poll, with concern over the high cost of taxes, general goods, energy and health insurance,” said Lesley DeNardis, executive director of the Institute for Public Policy and director of Sacred Heart University’s master of public administration (MPA) program. 

“The honeymoon for Governor Lamont was short lived, and residents are watching his performance closely. As one might expect, attitudes vary significantly by party affiliation, income and age. Key considerations for residents in gauging the Governor’s performance were kitchen table issues such as the cost of consumer goods and the recent sales tax increases affecting their pocketbooks. Concerns over the availability of jobs, insurance costs and the ongoing impasse over tolls rounded out their list of top issues,” she added.

GreatBlue Research conducted the 34-question Connecticut-specific scientific survey on behalf of the SHU Institute for Public Policy, interviewing 1,000 residents either by phone or electronically. Statistically, this sampling represents a margin for error of +/-3.02 percent at a 95 percent confidence level.     

Sacred Heart’s Institute for Public Policy, which was established in 2017 in the College of Arts and Sciences, is aligned with the University’s MPA program. In addition to hosting state-wide polls, the institute conducts public policy research, hosts public forums and workshops and serves as a public-policy learning incubator for students. 

A PDF file of complete polling results is available at



About Sacred Heart University

As the second-largest independent Catholic university in New England, and one of the fastest-growing in the U.S., Sacred Heart University is a national leader in shaping higher education for the 21st century. SHU offers more than 80 undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and certificate programs on its Fairfield, Conn., campus. Sacred Heart also has satellites in Connecticut, Luxembourg and Ireland and offers online programs. More than 9,000 students attend the University’s eight colleges and schools: Arts & Sciences; Communication, Media & the Arts; Computer Science & Engineering; Health Professions; the Isabelle Farrington College of Education; the Jack Welch College of Business & Technology; Nursing; and St. Vincent’s College. Sacred Heart stands out from other Catholic institutions as it was established and led by laity. The contemporary Catholic university is rooted in the rich Catholic intellectual tradition and the liberal arts, and at the same time cultivates students to be forward thinkers who enact change—in their own lives, professions and in their communities. The Princeton Review includes SHU in its Best 384 Colleges–2019 Edition, “Best in the Northeast” and Best 267 Business Schools–2018 Edition. Sacred Heart has a Division I athletics program and an impressive performing arts program that includes choir, band, dance and theater.

]]> (Kim Swartz) Politics Thu, 10 Oct 2019 10:36:54 -0400
CT's Beardsley Zoo Welcomes a White-Naped Crane

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is the new home for a White-naped crane (Antigone vipio). The male crane, named McDuffy, arrived from Turtleback Zoo in New Jersey several weeks ago, and after a quarantine period (required for all new arrivals), has taken up residence in a large grassy habitat located next to the Natt Family Red Panda Habitat.

White-naped cranes are an elegant species native to northern Mongolia, southern Siberia, Korea, Japan and central China.  They have a white nape and vertical gray stripes on their necks, as well as a distinct red patch surrounding their eyes. They are found in in grassy marshes, wet sedge meadows and reedbeds in broad river valleys, lake depressions and boggy upland wetlands. They prefer areas where their nests can be concealed and there is little grazing pressure.

Habitat destruction of wetlands due to agricultural expansion, as well as hunting, pose the most critical threat to their survival. This species is classified as Vulnerable, facing a high risk of extinction in the wild. Since 1994, AZA institutions have been sending surplus White-naped crane eggs to Russia to be reared and released to the wild. Currently, the International Crane Foundation is also involved in the conservation of White-naped cranes throughout their range in eastern Asia.

“McDuffy is a beautiful new addition and contributes to the Zoo’s demonstration of the rich biodiversity in nature,” said Gregg Dancho, zoo director. “We continually look for new and unusual species to educate and delight our guests, that also meet our mission of wildlife conservation.”

The White-naped crane is a popular symbol of the Korean New Year celebration, and a symbol of peace for the people of the Korean peninsula.

# # #

About Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo

Let your curiosity run wild! Connecticut's only zoo, celebrating its 97th year, features 300 animals representing primarily North and South American species. Guests won't want to miss our Amur tigers and leopards, Mexican and Red wolves, and Golden Lion tamarin. Other highlights include our Spider Monkey Habitat, the Natt Family Red Panda Habitat, the prairie dog exhibit with "pop-up" viewing areas, plus the Pampas Plains featuring maned wolves, Chacoan peccaries and Giant anteaters. Guests can grab a bite at the Peacock Café, eat in the Picnic Grove, and enjoy a ride on our colorful, indoor carousel. For more information, visit


 Photo credit: Jack Bradley

]]> (Lisa Clair) Places Wed, 09 Oct 2019 09:20:06 -0400
2019 Chowdafest Champions Announced

Westport, Conn – The 12th Annual Chowdafest, presented by Stop & Shop, was another record breaker.  Both Pike Place Chowder from Seattle, Washington and Our House Bistro from Winnooski, VT won for a fifth straight year in the New England clam chowder and creative chowder categories respectively, each tying the record for consecutive wins. Gates of New Canaan won the soup/bisque category as a rookie in the event while Cast Iron Chef Chop House and Oyster Bar, also a first time entrant, won the vegetarian category with a soup aptly named after the restaurant.

Event attendance figures aren’t available yet though the crowd looks to equal the event’s all-time high of 12,000, as people attended from all over Connecticut, New England and all over the country to determine this year’s winners! The top three in each category are listed below:

New England Clam Chowder:

- 1st:  Pike Place Chowder from Seattle Washington

- 2nd:  Our House Bistro from Winooski VT

- 3rd:  Hub & Spoke from Bridgeport CT


Creative Chowder:

- 1st:  Our House Bistro from Winooski VT – Drunkin Pumpkin Chowder

- 2nd: Ribbon Cafe from Saratoga NY – Southwest Shrimp & Corn Chowder

- 3rd:  Tarry Lodge from Westport CT – Montauk Chowder



- 1st:  Gates from New Canaan CT – Crab & Roasted Corn Soup

- 2nd:   Vazzy’s from Stratford CT – Savory Sausage Soup

- 3rdL  Geronimo of Fairfield and New Haven CT – Shrimp Posole


- 1st Cast Iron Chef Chop House & Oyster Bar In New Haven CT – Cast Iron Soup

- 2nd: Saybrook Sandwich & Soup Company in Old Saybrook CT – Roasted Butternut Squash and Seared Pumpkin Bisque

- 3rd: Mystic Market in Westport & Mystic CT – Ginger Carrot Soup

Special thanks to those volunteers who have helped at all 12 events along with the student athletes from Sacred Heart University who pitched in for this annual tradition. Thanks to the National Honor Society students and Service League of Boys from Staples High School plus the park personnel who make Sherwood Island State Park the unofficial home to the New England Chowdafest.  

The big winner when all is said and done will be the charity, Food Rescue US and the fight against hunger. Over 2 million meals have been funded through Chowdafest in the past 4 years alone and the event hopes to add another half million meals to that number. For additional information about Chowdafest, please visit or email event director, Jim Keenan at  

Chowdafest is sponsored by Cabot Creamery Co-operative, Chabaso Bakery, Chica de Gallo, City Carting, CT Bites, Copp's Island Oysters, Eight O’Clock Coffee, Even Hotels,  Foods of the Vine, Hood Cream, Local Food Rocks, Lowe's, Lucy’s, Michele's Pies, Mi Nina Tortilla, MINI of Fairfield County, Natalie’s Juices, New England Dairy Council, People’s United Bank, Polar Beverages, PKF O’Connor Davies, Silly Cows Farm, Tetley Tea, Toast Point of Sale, Wades Dairy, Vazzy’s, WEBE 108 and Westminster Crackers. 

]]> (Jim Keenan ) Events Tue, 08 Oct 2019 09:18:55 -0400
Athletic Brewing To Host First Annual Non-Alcoholic Oktoberfest 5K on Oct. 12

Post-Run Fun Without the Headache on Saturday, October 12 at Athletic Brewing Company in Stratford

For the first time ever, Athletic Brewing Company will host an Oktoberfest 5K starting and ending at their Stratford brewery. A 1-mile walk route will also be available. Attendees will receive a celebratory Oktoberfest Stein, and the event will offer authentic German cuisine, live music, and NA beers courtesy of Athletic.

  • 5K run/1 mile walk at 11am
  • Oktoberfest Celebration begins at 12pm
  • $30 (beer and food); $45 for runners (race entry + t-shirt)
  • Kids are welcome, and eat for free

Tickets available here

Athletic Brewing Company is located at 350 Long Beach Blvd, Stratford, CT 

]]> (Submitted) Events Mon, 07 Oct 2019 08:43:00 -0400
Local Domestic Violence Vigils Set through October

Bridgeport, Ct. – The Center for Family Justice, with the support of community leaders and law enforcement in the six communities it serves, has scheduled series of vigils to mark the observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

These seven vigils, which will take place at 6 p.m. beginning on Tuesday, Oct. 1 at the Bridgeport Police Department, will honor those who have been impacted by intimate partner violence; raise awareness and inspire hope that the cycles of violence can be broken. 

The vigils will also remind local residents that domestic violence homicides—with a total of nine in Connecticut so far this year—are a problem in every demographic and community in the state and region.

Each vigil will include a solemn reading of the names of the people who lost their lives to domestic violence in Connecticut in 2018 and so far in 2019.

The 2018 vigil schedule is as follows: 

  • Tuesday, October 1: Bridgeport Police Headquarters, Bridgeport
  • Thursday, October 3: University of Bridgeport Student Center 
  • Tuesday, October. 8:  Easton Community Center Gazebo
  • Tuesday, October 15:  Stratford Town Hall Green 
  • Wednesday, October 16: Monroe Town Hall Gazebo
  • Thursday, October 17:: Community Room, Trumbull Library
  • Tuesday, October 22: Fairfield’s Sherman Green Gazebo.

Debra A. Greenwood, CFJ’s President and CEO, will join police chiefs and community leaders in each town, to speak to their hope that the statistics on domestic violence can improve with continued dedication to protecting victims and educating the public about prevention. 

“This has been a particularly challenging year for those of us who care about victims of intimate partner violence,” said Greenwood. “Sadly, we have had several domestic violence homicides in recent months-- as well as a high profile missing person’s case in New Canaan-- that have put a spotlight on just how insidious and dangerous intimate partner abuse can be in the lives of victims.” 

Greenwood noted recent cases involving the August murder of Meriden mother Perrie Mason; the murder of Chesire mother Monica Dominguez and the case of missing mother New Canaan mother-of-five Jennifer Dulos, in which police have said violence is suspected and her estranged husband has been implicated on charges related to her disappearance, have highlighted that domestic violence has multiple victims. “We continue to be concerned about the amount of domestic violence taking place in homes where children are present and witness to this horrific acts,” Greenwood said. “Domestic violence causes residual trauma that can impact its primary and secondary victims for generations.” 

Greenwood noted the vigils also serve the purpose of allowing victims to know that at CFJ there is a safe place, close to home, where they can receive free and comprehensive services to help them lead lives free of trauma and abuse. These services include free counseling, emergency shelter, 24/7 crisis hotlines and civil legal services.  “Every year, I hear a story at a vigil from someone in attendance who feels compelled to come forward with their experiences with domestic violence because of the support they feel at our vigils,” Greenwood said. “That tells me how important it us for us to gather together to demonstrate that there is entire community behind them ready of offer its support.”

CFJ’s vigils begin at 6 p.m., are appropriate for all ages, and open to the public. Members of the press are welcome and encouraged to attend. 

Please follow CFJ’s social media channels (Facebook/Twitter) or visit its website for updates on rain locations. 


The Center for Family Justice Inc. (formerly The Center for Women and Families of Eastern Fairfield County Inc.), brings all domestic, sexual and child abuse services – crisis intervention, police, prosecutors, civil/legal providers, counseling – under one roof, in our headquarters in Bridgeport, CT. Together, we work to break the cycle of violence by helping those in crisis restore their lives. Although our name has changed, we continue with the work we have provided for 12 decades, providing free, confidential, bilingual crisis services in Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull. It is the comprehensive services our partners are providing that are streamlining the road to healing and self-sufficiency. 

Within the past year, The Center answered more than 1000 calls on a 24-hour crisis hotline; assisted with the civil and criminal court processes for more than 2,500 survivors of domestic violence; responded to more than 500 survivors of sexual assault and their families; provided a safe home for more than 100 women and children fleeing domestic abuse; coordinated the investigations of more than 170 cases of child sexual and severe physical abuse, developing service plans for the young survivors and their families; and provided psycho-educational support to more than 1,200 survivors of domestic violence, planning for their safety and promoting self-sufficiency.

As part of our mission, The Center educates approximately 4,000 members of the community about the issues of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse to prevent future violence and spread the word that about the services we offer at The Center for Family Justice. Annually, we teach more than 2,000 children and teens about building healthy relationships, bullying prevention and dating violence.

For more information, visit

]]> (Beth Fitzpatrick ) Events Fri, 27 Sep 2019 07:41:20 -0400
Avison Young Helps Stratford Distributor’s Expansion Plans

Sean Cahill, Principal and Managing Director of Avison Young’s Fairfield/Westchester office, announced that they represented Connecticut Distributors, one of Connecticut’s largest distributors of wines and spirits, in its sublease at 1400 Honeyspot Road in Stratford.

Connecticut Distributors, Inc. will sublease 19,200 square feet as it expands its warehouse distribution center. Cahill brokered the deal on behalf of the tenant, while Bruce Wettenstein of Vidal/Wettenstein LLC negotiated the deal for the sublandlord, Nations Roof of New England, LLC.

Connecticut Distributors, which was founded in 1933, handles more than 3,000 on-premise and 1,125 off-premise accounts and employs approximately 300 associates. CDI is an affiliate of Breakthru Beverage Group, LLC.

“We are seeing a lot of demand for warehouse distribution facilities in Fairfield County,’’ Cahill said. “This location meets the company’s needs for a larger facility and offers convenient access to Interstate 95.”

For more information about the Fairfield County office of Avison Young, visit its website.



]]> (Thomas Renner) Places Wed, 25 Sep 2019 09:20:03 -0400
Network of Executive Women's Luncheon in Stratford on Oct. 1

The Network of Executive Women’s monthly luncheon meeting will be held on Tuesday, October 1, 2019 at Riverview Bistro 946 Ferry Blvd in Stratford at 12:00pm. Speaker and exercise specialist Michele Krushinski will discuss Exercise for Women through the 3 Stages of Menopause.

Open to women in business. Guest attendance is limited to two NEW events; thereafter membership is required.

Please register in advance at Cost is $24.99 for members and $29.99 for non-members and walk-ins.

]]> (Jocelyn Murray) Neighbors Wed, 18 Sep 2019 09:33:48 -0400
AZA Grants CT's Beardsley Zoo Accreditation

Silver Spring, Maryland – The Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA) has announced that Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo was granted accreditation by AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission.

“Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is among the outstanding aquariums and zoos that have met or exceeded our rigorous accreditation standards,” said AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe. “The hundreds of millions of annual guests to AZA-accredited facilities like Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo can be assured their visit is supporting a facility that provides the highest-quality animal care and welfare and is contributing to initiatives that save animals from extinction.”

To be accredited, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo underwent a thorough review to make certain it has and will continue to meet ever-rising standards in categories which include animal care and welfare, veterinary programs, conservation, education, and safety. AZA requires zoos and aquariums to successfully complete this rigorous accreditation process every five years in order to be members of the Association. 

The accreditation process includes a detailed application and a meticulous on-site inspection by a team of trained zoo and aquarium professionals. The inspecting team observes all aspects of the facility’s operation, including animal care and welfare; keeper training; safety for visitors, staff and animals; educational programs; conservation efforts; veterinary programs; financial stability; risk management; visitor services; and more. Finally, top officials are interviewed at a formal hearing of AZA’s independent Accreditation Commission, after which accreditation is granted, tabled, or denied.  Any facility that is denied may reapply one year after the Commission’s decision is made.

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo has been an accredited AZA member since 1987.

“For more than three decades, Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo has been recognized as a member of the AZA, an organization that ensures the highest level of professionalism in animal care and welfare, health, safety and guest services from its members,” said Zoo Director Gregg Dancho.

“Accreditation every five years is not automatic, but instead, is a rigorous re- evaluation of our ability to meet AZA standards,” he continued. “I’m proud to be associated with AZA facilities across the country, helping to sustain endangered species, and educate children and adults in our communities about our critical connection with nature.”

About AZA

Founded in 1924, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of zoos and aquariums in the areas of conservation, animal welfare, education, science, and recreation. AZA is the accrediting body for the top zoos and aquariums in the United States and eleven other countries. Look for the AZA accreditation logo whenever you visit a zoo or aquarium as your assurance that you are supporting a facility dedicated to providing excellent care for animals, a great experience for you, and a better future for all living things. The AZA is a leader in saving species and your link to helping animals all over the world. To learn more, visit

About Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo  

Let your curiosity run wild! Connecticut's only zoo, celebrating its 97th year, features 300 animals representing primarily North and South American and Northern Asian species. Guests won't want to miss our Amur tigers and Amur leopards, Mexican and Red wolves, and Golden Lion tamarin. Highlights include our Spider Monkey Habitat, the Natt Family Red Panda Habitat, the prairie dog exhibit with "pop-up" viewing areas, plus the Pampas Plains featuring maned wolves, Chacoan peccaries and Giant anteaters. Guests can grab a bite at the Peacock Café, eat in the Picnic Grove, and enjoy a ride on our colorful indoor carousel. For more information, visit

]]> (Lisa Clair) Places Wed, 18 Sep 2019 08:21:03 -0400
Housatonic Museum of Art Re-Opens with Close to the Line Geometric Abstraction

After a year of renovation, the Housatonic Museum of Art re-opened its doors Thursday night with a celebration of geometric abstraction. The exhibit on view, Close to the Line: Mari Rantanen and Kirsten Reynolds, pairs brightly painted canvasses and sculptural installations, creating a harmonious environment of form, pattern, precision and play.

In the newly restored Burt Chernow Galleries, guest curator Barbara O’Brien paired the artists together for the first time. Rantanen’s large-scale paintings of boldly colored geometric shape and exact patterned line envelop the viewer, while Reynolds’ two large architectural installations constructed with open grids, dramatic curves and a playful spirit invite the viewer to physically engage with the structures.

The construction of Reynolds’ performative pieces, Switchback and post, invite the viewer to step through the work for an interactive experience, all the while taking in the structures’ levels of imbalance and Rantanen’s surrounding work.

“Our pieces stand on their own and talk to each other; it’s a conversation” said Rantanen. “Architecture has been inspiring for me, when I paint I’m thinking of the architecture in a different way. Our work is the perfect pair.”

For this show, Rantanen created a new, enormous triptych, Aesthetic Ecstasy and Uncertain Universe (2019). Measuring some six feet high and ten feet wide, the piece fills one’s peripheral vision with the Finnish artist’s characteristic pallette of vivid hues, patterned line and optimism.

“There’s this whimsical precision to this exhibit,” said Christine Jewel, Director of Westport Continuing Education. “It presents an interesting juxtaposition because the work is so clean and carefully planned, yet extremely playful; the colors are so bold, yet very soothing to view.”

“With the precision of geometric abstraction, this exhibit is a beautiful counterpoint to the anxious times we’re living in,” said Robbin Zella, Director of the Housatonic Museum of Art. “That’s what art is, sometimes it confronts issues, and sometimes it’s an escape. This show is a joyful respite.”

The show marks the grand re-opening of the museum, which has been closed since August of last year. At that time, the walls and floors of the museum’s Burt Chernow Gallery suffered water damage when the sprinkler system activated in response to an overheated computer on the floor above. Fortunately, the museum’s collection did not experience any damage.

“We are thrilled to have the museum’s gallery open again,” said Dr. Paul Broadie, President of Housatonic Community College. “The changing exhibitions add to the vibrancy of our campus and provide our region with valuable opportunities for cultural exploration and enrichment.”

The exhibition will remain on view through October 12, 2019 and is located in the Burt Chernow Galleries in Lafayette Hall on the Housatonic Community College Campus, 900 Lafayette Blvd, Bridgeport. Visiting is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Thursday evenings until 7 p.m. and Saturdays, 9 a.m. until 3 p.m. For additional information, visit or call 203-332-5052.

]]> (Kerry Anne Ducey) Places Mon, 16 Sep 2019 12:02:04 -0400
Tickets Now On Sale for Chowdafest

Westport, Conn – The 12th Annual New England Chowdafest is just a month away.  Foodies have been waiting almost a year to judge this annual culinary competition that determines who has the best chowder, soup & bisque in New England.  Tickets are now available online at  Tickets are also available at the gate.

“It’s the tastiest deal in town,” said Executive Director Jim Keenan.  The all-you-can-eat event remains at just $20 for adults and children 6-12 are just $5.  “Every year the crowd comes earlier and hungrier, anxious to sample this year’s incredible line-up of chowders," he added.  Those conducting the event spend months traveling all over New England in search of the best chefs and restaurants to invite to the competition.  “We only invite those we think can win the competition so whoever takes the title has truly earned it." 

For the fifth straight year, the New England Chowdafest will be held at Sherwood Island State Park in Westport CT from 11AM to 3PM on its traditional first Sunday in October date (10/6/19) “Chowdafest has helped make Connecticut the chowder capital of New England because people now travel from all over the country to experience this unique event,” Keenan noted. The event even has a hotel & ticket deal to accommodate the growing interest.  “We’ve become a nice feather in the state’s tourism cap."

Another record setting crowd is expected.  “We’re particularly proud of the foodies who come year after year,” says Keenan.  “They take their responsibility of being a judge seriously.  They don’t play politics.  They don’t care what state the chef or restaurant is from.  Only if their chowder, soup or bisque is worthy enough to get their highest vote."  People are given a ballot, pencil and of course, spoon when they enter.  Unlike most food competitions,  Chowdafest is not based on the quantity of votes but the quality of votes using a unique rating system.  Attendees rate only what they try on a scale form 7 to 10.5.  Keenan likes to say the scale goes to ten and a half “because sometimes a perfect ten is not enough."  

Chowdafest takes the voting seriously, too. Like the Oscar’s, Chowdafest has it’s own official accountant, PKF O’Connor Davies, oversee the integrity of the results  Thousands of ballots are scanned at the event which determines an average rating for each restaurant.  The highest average rating within each category will be declared this year’s champion. There are four categories making the competition even fairer:  New England clam chowder, creative chowder, soup & bisque and a vegetarian category introduced three years ago that is growing in popularity.   

Chowdafest presented by Stop & Shop benefits Food Rescue US in the ongoing fight against food insecurity.  Over 2 million meals have been funded through Chowdafest in the past 4 years alone and the event hopes to add another half million meals to that number.  For additional information about Chowdafest, please visit or email event director, Jim Keenan at  

Chowdafest is sponsored by Cabot Creamery Co-operative, Chabaso Bakery, Chica de Gallo, City Carting, CT Bites, Copp's Island Oysters, Eight O’Clock Coffee, Even Hotels,  Foods of the Vine, Hood Cream, Local Food Rocks, Lowe's, Lucy’s, Michele's Pies, Mi Nina Tortilla, MINI of Fairfield County, Natalie’s Juices, New England Dairy Council, People’s United Bank, Polar Beverages, PKF O’Connor Davies, Silly Cows Farm, Tetley Tea, Toast Point of Sale, Wades Dairy, Vazzy’s, WEBE 108 and Westminster Crackers. 

]]> (Jim Keenan ) Events Fri, 06 Sep 2019 08:53:30 -0400
Fitness center for individuals on the autism spectrum announces FREE workshop

ASD Fitness Center, a fitness center for individuals on the autism spectrum in Orange, CT announces a FREE workshop titled “Back to School and Beyond: How to Manage Your Child’s Special Education Journey” to empower parents of children with special needs.

The speakers are Lawrence W. Berliner, Special Education Law Attorney, and Dr. Shelley Pelletier, Neuropsychologist and School Psychologist. Parents will have an opportunity to ask questions of two experts in the field of special education.

This workshop will take place on September 17 at 6:30 p.m. at ASD Fitness Center, 307 Racebrook Road in Orange, CT. It is free and open to the public. Registration is recommended.

To register for the workshop, please contact Angela Degrassi, Executive Director at ASD Fitness Center at or (203)-553-9508.

Parents will learn strategies to navigate the special education process for the new school year.

Topics will include:

  •        Your child’s basic educational rights.
  •        The Turning Point: What to do when your child is struggling and the school is not responding to your child’s needs.
  •        Demystifying the role of the Attorney, Neuropsychologist and the PPT Team.
  •        The evaluation process: School evaluation and the parents’ right to an IEE (Independent Educational Evaluation). 
  •        Social /emotional and cognitive/learning issues.

Lawrence Berliner is a special education and disability rights law attorney with offices in Guilford, CT and Westport, CT. Attorney Berliner has been representing children with disabilities and their families for 36 years and founded the Law Office of Lawrence W. Berliner, LLC in 2011.

Dr. Shelley Pelletier is a pediatric neuropsychologist and school psychologist in private practice with Shoreline Pediatric Neuropsychological Services, LLC in Old Saybrook, CT. Dr. Pelletier works with children ages 3-21 and their families in situations that present a wide range of social-emotional, physical, cognitive, and learning issues.

]]> (Rachel Berliner) Places Fri, 06 Sep 2019 07:43:57 -0400
Art Activist and Founder of The Spoon Movement to Speak at Housatonic Community College

On Wed., Sept. 18, 2019 from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m., global game changer Fernando Luis Alvarez, and founder of The Spoon Movement, will present, “Demanding Accountability Through Art Activism, Passion and Fearlessness,” in Housatonic Community College’s Beacon Hall, Room BH-214. The free lecture is open to HCC and Gateway Community College students, the public and the media.

Alvarez, who is the producer of the widely-acclaimed Opioid: Express Yourself! art show and director of Alvarez Gallery, will share his risk-taking art activism strategy behind the guerilla installations that continue igniting global awareness of the opioid epidemic while demanding accountability by the architects of this crisis.

“I am honored and excited to share my art activism, specifically, The Spoon Movement with attendees. The hundreds of thousands of victims of the opioid epidemic and their families deserve to be heard and those involved in creating and exacerbating this crisis brought to justice beyond civil suits,” says Alvarez.

Those interested in attending the free lecture can RSVP on The Spoon Movement’s Facebook event page. To learn more about The Spoon Movement, please log on to

]]> (Kerry Anne Ducey) Neighbors Wed, 04 Sep 2019 10:06:12 -0400
CT's Beardsley Zoo Transferring Out Amur Tiger

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. – Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo will say goodbye this week to our female Amur Tiger, Changbai, mother of tiger cubs Reka and Zeya, as she moves to a new permanent home. Born on May 24, 2007, Changbai arrived at Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo in January, 2017, from the Philadelphia Zoo. Her departure is scheduled for Wednesday, August 28. 

Managed by the AZA’s Species Survival Plan (SSP), inter-regional transfers are arranged with careful attention to gene diversity in the hope that successful breeding will take place. Chang was sent to Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo as an excellent genetic match to the Zoo’s resident male tiger at the time, Petya. In November, 2017, Changbai gave birth to the Zoo’s two remaining resident tigers, Reka and Zeya. Reka and Zeya’s father, Petya, was transferred to Sedgewick County Zoo in Wichita, Kansas, in November 2018.  

Amur tigers are very rare, and are critically endangered in the wild. According to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ (AZA) statistics, today Amur tigers are thought to occupy less than seven percent of their original range. Threatened by habitat loss and degradation, poaching, tiger-human conflict, and loss of prey, four of nine subspecies have disappeared from the wild just in the past hundred years. The future of the Amur tiger has been a major concern of the world’s zoos for many years. 

There is an SSP program in place for many species of animals through oversight by a group called the Taxon Advisory Group (TAG). The SSP makes breeding recommendations based on genetics, age and health of animals, and need for more of the species to protect future populations. 

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s Deputy Director, Don Goff, is the Chair of the National Felid TAG group. He leads a committee of AZA-accredited zoo members whose goal is to save declining species.

“As sad as we are to say goodbye to Changbai, the planned transfer of animals to other member zoos ensures the sustainability of a healthy, genetically diverse, and demographically varied AZA population,” explained Goff.

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo has had repeated success in breeding endangered species, a testament to the Zoo’s animal care specialists and the highest quality of animal care.  The Zoo has been the birthplace of multiple endangered species, including tiger cubs, maned wolf pups, Red wolf pups, two baby Giant anteaters, and most recently, two Amur leopard cubs. 

About Amur tigers

The Amur, once called the Siberian tiger, is a rare subspecies of tiger, and the largest cat in the world. Adult male tigers can weigh up to 675 pounds, with females weighing up to 350 pounds. Similar to people’s fingerprints, no two tigers have the same striped pattern. Amur tigers differ from other tigers with fewer, paler stripes, and a mane that helps to keep them warm. They live in southeast Russia as well as small areas of China and North Korea. They live for 10-15 years in the wild, and up to 22 years in human care.

About Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo:

Let your curiosity run wild! Connecticut's only zoo, celebrating its 97th anniversary this year, features 300 animals representing primarily North and South American species. Guests won't want to miss our Amur tigers and leopards, American alligators and Spur-thigh tortoises, Mexican and red wolves, and Golden Lion tamarin. Other highlights include the new Spider monkey habitat, the Natt Family Red Panda Habitat, our South American rainforest with free-flight aviary, the prairie dog exhibit with "pop-up" viewing areas, plus the Pampas Plains featuring maned wolves, Chacoan peccaries and Giant anteaters. Guests can grab a bite at the Peacock Café, eat in the Picnic Grove, and enjoy a ride on our colorful, indoor carousel. For more information, visit

]]> (Lisa Clair) Places Tue, 27 Aug 2019 07:00:25 -0400
Luncheon for Women in Business on Sept. 3 in Stratford

The Network of Executive Women’s monthly luncheon meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 3, 2019 at Riverview Bistro 946 Ferry Blvd in Stratford at 12:00pm. Speaker Tanya Detrik’s topic is ‘Change in the Blink of an Eye’ and she’ll discuss the power of perspective and how it shapes our experiences.

Open to women in business. Guest attendance is limited to two NEW events; thereafter membership is required.

Please register in advance at Cost is $24.99 for members and $29.99 for non-members and walk-ins.

]]> (Tara Daly) Events Tue, 20 Aug 2019 09:20:20 -0400