EDITORIAL: 15 Things we liked this week, 4 we didn’t 

EDITORIAL: 15 Things we liked this week, 4 we didn’t 

We liked this week

The city has retained a law firm to negotiate with MidState Medical Center on funding $500,000 for soil remediation on the Cook Avenue site of the former Meriden-Wallingford Hospital, said Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski. Discussions with MidState are ongoing but moving in a positive direction, Burdelski said. “It was a very cooperative discussion with MidState,” she said. A plan to use a $2 million grant and $2 million loan to clean up the abandoned hospital received preliminary approval this week and is headed to the City Council.

Developer John Orsini has a deal with Best Buy to build a new 80,000-square foot distribution center in the Northrop Industrial Park West, 1070 North Farms Road. Northrop Industrial Park is part of an 88-acre parcel that straddles the Meriden/Wallingford line.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy says his administration is closing one of 10 housing units at the Manson Youth Institution, a juvenile detention facility in Cheshire. The Democratic governor said Wednesday the planned closure will save the state of Connecticut more than $600,000 in annual operating costs. Malloy credits recent juvenile justice reforms and declining arrests for the reduction in inmates. 

A judge ordered the state Department of Correction to pay the town of Cheshire nearly $1.5 million on its complaint that the state underpaid for sewer costs. Judge Cesar Noble agreed with Cheshire officials that the department was underreporting the amount of wastewater the Cheshire prison complex discharged into the town’s water pollution control system, costing more money than the prison reimbursed.

Lyman Hall High School junior Meredith DeNegris plans to pursue a career in special education after she graduates, but the 16-year-old is already helping special education students at her Wallingford school. DeNegris created “Unified Physical Education” — a physical education course tailored for special education students. The new course will pair regular education students with special education students to teach them skills, said Anthony Loomis, health and wellness curriculum resource teacher.

Officials announced plans to begin leasing apartments in the new Meriden Commons complex beginning in March. The announcement was made during a Blights and Brownfields Committee meeting. The city and the Meriden Housing Authority partnered with Penrose Properties to construct the first phase of Meriden Commons, located at 161 State St. It has 75 apartments.

Downtown Wallingford storefronts have put their own spin on the holiday season in the Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce’s second annual Window Display Contest. “We are always trying to think of ways to support our small retailers,” said Dee Prior-Nesti, the chamber’s executive director.

Some of Meriden’s legislative delegation voiced support Monday for restoring cuts to the Medicare Savings Program, but warned reduced benefits could still be coming in the near future. Sen. Len Suzio, R-Meriden, and Rep. Cathy Abercrombie, D-Meriden, said they are both on board with restoring a $53-million cut to the program made by the governor last month as part of savings the legislature required him to identify.

Almost 200 community volunteers have delivered personally crafted gifts and holiday cheer to seven city families in the 16th annual Spirit of Giving campaign. The Spirit of Giving is a Meriden nonprofit established to help individuals and organizations within the community “who are in need of a ‘Helping Hand’ through financial aid or procurement of items to assist in satisfying special needs,” according to the organization’s mission statement.

Hanover School students sang Christmas carols and brought holiday spirit to patients in a Meriden rehabilitation center on Tuesday. The group of 66 children, including five from Puerto Rico, sang classic carols in English and Spanish for the residents at Apple Rehab Coccomo.

The Cheshire schools have suspended use of the Summit Learning Platform because parents revolted, saying there was no need to change what’s worked in a town with a prized reputation for good schools. Cheshire school administrators and some parents praised the program, built with help from Facebook engineers, but it faced criticism from others who said their children were spending too much time online, some content was inappropriate, and students were not getting enough direct guidance.

The Southington school district will offer a four-week course and an information session next month to help parents understand new math-teaching styles. Board of Education members said they often receive complaints from parents who are unable to help their children with math homework due to new teaching methods.

Eighteen young undocumented activists from Connecticut staged a sit-in at Sen. Chris Murphy’s Washington office Tuesday, demanding the Democratic lawmaker vote “no” on a must-pass budget bill if Congress fails to approve protection for the youths known as “dreamers.” Murphy listened to the stories of the youths, who were brought to the United States as children or infants, and thanked them for “speaking truth to power.” 

The local Ecuadorian community brought music, dancing and color to snowy Meriden streets as an inflatable nativity scene on a holiday-themed float led a parade Saturday morning for St. Rose of Lima Church’s Divino Niño celebration. The procession was centered around two columns of men and women dressed in traditional clothing of indigenous Ecuadorians. The columns danced for just over a mile to the music of the band marching behind them.

A new initiative in Connecticut seeks to level the playing field for veteran job seekers who’ve received an other-than-honorable discharge from the military. Veterans with this kind of administrative discharge, more commonly known as a “bad paper” discharge, can lose out on state and federal benefits, but also face barriers in finding employment, said Alyssa Peterson, a law student intern with Yale University’s Veterans Legal Services Clinic, which has represented vets seeking to upgrade their discharge status.

We didn’t like this week

The Meriden City Council voted 8-4 to fire City Manager Guy Scaife “without cause” after about 16 months on the job. The party-line vote took place at a contentious public meeting Monday, with the majority Democrats offering no explanation to either Scaife or the public. Scaife received support from members of the public, as well as minority councilors and Mayor Kevin Scarpati. After the vote, the four minority councilors walked out of the chamber. Fire Chief Ken Morgan was named to serve as acting city manager for 90 days.

The rush to launch service on a new, faster Amtrak route near Seattle came at a deadly cost Monday. None of the critical speed-control technology that could have prevented a derailment was active before the train set off on its maiden voyage. Work to install the sophisticated, GPS-based technology known as positive train control isn’t expected to be completed until next spring on the newly opened 15-mile span where the train derailed, according to Sound Transit, the public agency that owns the tracks.

The state has started notifying thousands of Connecticut families that it might have to close a popular health insurance program for children if the U.S. Congress doesn’t reauthorize federal funding. The Department of Social Services began sending notices to parents and guardians last weekend, letting them know that funds for HUSKY B are expected to run out on Jan. 31 unless additional federal money becomes available. 

It has been more than a year since an early-morning fire destroyed Berlin’s 19thcentury train station, and the brick building was eventually deemed a total loss and later demolished. But the cause of the fire remains “undetermined” and local officials still have unanswered questions about the site, its future, and some of the old station’s artifacts.

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