EDITORIAL: 13 things we liked this week, 5 we didn’t

EDITORIAL: 13 things we liked this week, 5 we didn’t


We liked this week

On Sunday, Meriden celebrated 50 years of recognizing its Puerto Rican heritage with the anniversary of the Meriden Puerto Rican Festival, which featured dozens of tents and stands selling Puerto Rican food, various vendors, space where car and motorcycle clubs displayed their vehicles, bouncy houses and carnival rides.

A Wallingford elementary school has been renamed after longtime state Rep. Mary Fritz, who taught at the school before her political career. She died last July at the age of 78. The Town Council voted unanimously last September to rename Yalesville School in memory of Fritz, a 32-year Democratic legislator who represented the 90th House District in Wallingford. A renaming ceremony will be held at the school on Aug. 28.

State Democratic and Republican leaders reopened budget talks Tuesday for the first time since a key vote last week on a labor savings agreement, but acknowledged the meeting was largely for information sharing. House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz, D-Berlin, said he didn’t think Tuesday’s meeting was to “start from scratch,” but agreed lawmakers from both sides need to find common ground. Democrats and Republicans have been stuck at this point for weeks, unable to come to terms on how to close a projected $5 billion combined deficit for the current and upcoming fiscal years.

A Southington parents group has collected nearly $10,000 in pledges to fund middle school sports for the fall. The Southington Middle School Athletics Association hopes to form a partnership with the school district, along with an activity fee which will help pay for sports. Funding for middle school sports was cut earlier this summer as part of the Board of Education’s budget reduction plan.

The Rev. James Manship has only been at St. Rose of Lima Church in Meriden for a month, but he’s already immersed in advocating for the city’s non-criminal undocumented families being sent out of the country at a rising rate. The bilingual priest, who has advocated for the large Guatemalan population in New Haven, also helped bring U.S. Department of Justice attention to the East Haven Police Department’s practice of targeting local Latinos. He said he follows the Catholic church’s teachings on justice from Pope Francis and Hartford Archbishop Leonard Blair.

Members of the Wallingford Fire Department helped deliver a baby at a local family’s home last Saturday. Gretchen Richardson was originally scheduled to give birth to her daughter, Skylar Richardson, on Monday, but complications led to a change of plans. On Saturday morning, Gretchen Richardson and her husband, Damon, decided to call 911, and within moments, six members of the fire department responded to the home. Gretchen and Skylar were then taken to the hospital and released the next day.

For the 10th straight year over a thousand runners and walkers came together in Plainville Sunday to run or walk to help raise money for the Petit Family Foundation. “It’s great. It shows how people care and how they give,” Dr. William Petit said before the race. “And they know we are a volunteer program and we give to many good projects all around the state.”

Nearly 500 children showed up in Southington Saturday to swim, bicycle and run in the fourth annual statewide Race4Chase youth triathlon, the finale of a summer fitness program founded by the family of a boy killed in the Sandy Hook shootings. Seven-year-old Chase Kowalski had competed in his first youth triathlon just months before he was shot to death along with 25 others at a Newtown elementary school in December 2012. Race4Chase is a free, six-week day camp, run in conjunction with local YMCAs.

The Workforce Alliance will be hosting a job fair Tuesday to fill seasonal part-time positions at the Amazon sorting center in Wallingford. The job fair will be at the Meriden American Job Center, 87 W. Main St., and includes an online assessment and pre-employment drug screen. Amazon is looking for part-time seasonal fulfillment associates for four-hour shifts starting at 9 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m.

To celebrate its 10th year, the Wallingford Community Theater brought not one, but half a dozen plays Saturday to Sheehan High School’s stage. The cast received a standing ovation as it came to a close. To pay homage to all their past performances it was decided that instead of performing any one script, the play would be composed of some of the best scenes of the past nine shows, including “The Wizard of Oz,” “The Music Man,” “The King and I,” and “Beauty and the Beast.”

After a rash of vehicle break-ins this summer in Wallingford, Jeremy Glazewski got together with some of his neighbors to start a neighborhood watch. “You feel a little violated,” said Glazewski, whose vehicle was rummaged through one night when he forgot to lock it. “But unfortunately it’s the times we’re living in these days. It’s become a lot more prevalent, unfortunately.” In the past, police in Meriden and Southington have noted that vehicle break-ins and thefts are often crimes of opportunity and alerted residents to lock their vehicles and remove any valuables.

A drop in the national unemployment rate in July to a 16-year low raises a tantalizing question about the job market: How much better can it get? Employers added 209,000 jobs, after a solid gain of 231,000 in June, the Labor Department said. The unemployment rate ticked down to 4.3 percent, from 4.4 percent, matching the low reached in May.

We didn’t like this week

Local officials across the state say they may have to begin making dire decisions if Connecticut remains under the executive order that Gov. Dannel P. Malloy put in place on June 30 to keep the state running without a budget. Malloy signed the executive order after lawmakers were unable to reach a compromise on how to close a projected $5 billion combined deficit over the current and upcoming fiscal years. The executive order includes deep cuts to municipal aid.

With no state budget in sight and the first day of school just around the corner, education officials in some towns have taken severe steps to cut costs, hoping more draconian efforts won’t be necessary. At least one district, Torrington, has delayed the opening day of school to conserve cash as long as possible. In Tolland, 15 teachers and staff have been laid off, but officials fear that number could climb to as many as 40. Other districts have delayed hiring non-tenured teachers and ordering books and supplies, put off repairs, and frozen non-payroll expenses.

As the Spanish Community of Wallingford prepares to renovate the inside of its building to create more space for programming, the nonprofit is in financial limbo waiting to learn how much grant revenue it will receive from the state. Like several other nonprofits around the state, SCOW is feeling the effects after the legislature failed to pass a budget prior to the start of current fiscal year.

Sadly, the more-than-century-old sycamore tree in front of the Augusta Curtis Cultural Center on East Main Street in Meriden had to be taken down after it was deemed unsafe by the city’s tree warden, Chris Bourdon, who is also the parks and recreation director. Bourdon had the tree inspected by two state-licensed arborists.

The annual Connecticut Veterans Parade through Hartford, the largest of its kind in New England, will not be held this year, as attendance and donations drop. “This was a difficult decision for our committee to make because the parade has been a labor of love for all of us,” Connecticut Veterans Fund President Ray Lilley said. “But the rising costs of producing an event of this magnitude, combined with funding challenges, and the dwindling number of spectators who come out to cheer on a cold November day, has brought us to this conclusion.”

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