EDITORIAL: 11 Things we liked this week, 5 we didn’t

EDITORIAL: 11 Things we liked this week, 5 we didn’t


We liked this week

Necks craned and eyes widened as students walked through the lofty new glass entranceway at Platt High School in Meriden Monday. Not only was it the first day of school, but the first day without clamoring construction crews and blocked hallways after four years of renovations. Last year, construction on the $97.7 million Platt renovation project was still underway when students returned, forcing them to use a temporary entrance at the back of the building. Also, a new bus stop helps Middlesex Community College students get from downtown Meriden to the Platt campus.

A 1973 Southington High School graduate, with a distinguished career in the U.S. Coast Guard, was recently sworn in as the seventh administrator of the Transportation Security Administration. David Pekoske was confirmed by the U.S. Senate following his nomination by President Donald Trump, and was sworn in during a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

Families flocked to the Cheshire Grange Sunday for its 133rd community fair, featuring an animal tent, a pie-eating contest, roast beef meals and a goodie-basket drawing. The money raised goes to a few area charities, including My Sister’s Place, a shelter in Hartford where women and children can go to escape domestic violence, and to send baskets to soldiers abroad.

Wallingford’s former Yalesville School officially adopted its new name Monday, becoming Mary G. Fritz Elementary School on the first day of the school year. The Town Council voted unanimously last September to rename the elementary school on Church Street (Route 68) in memory of Fritz, who served as the state representative of the 90th district for 32 years, as the Wallingford Board of Education chairwoman, and as a local teacher. She died in July 2016 at age 78.

After a lifetime of volunteering and service to the community, Wayne and Concetta Catucci saw strangers from across the state converge on their Southington home and renovate it. The renovations were organized by the Connecticut chapter of House of Heroes, which has improved over 80 homes since it began operating five years ago. The Southington Rotary Club raised money for the effort.

A Meriden police officer and community groups held a back-to-school supply drive on Saturday to benefit local elementary schools. Cpl. Fred Rivera, of the police department’s neighborhood initiative unit, the Council of Neighborhoods, and Dynasty Jeep Club held the fundraiser outside the Target store on the Chamberlain Highway. “We’re just trying to give back to the community,” said Rivera, who also helps run an annual coat drive in Meriden.

With a new school year underway, middle school sports supporters in Southington continued their efforts to raise the $60,000 needed to pay for activities this fall. Parents and sports backers are raising money to replace the funding cut by the Board of Education for the upcoming school year. The Southington Middle School Athletics Association is seeking donations from parents, community members and business leaders.

Fans of fair food and entertainment can rejoice — it’s that time of year again. While the weather cools down, fair season heats up this weekend and continues through early October. Connecticut fairs this weekend include those in Haddam Neck, Woodstock, and Goshen.

The Coalition for a Better Wallingford marks its five-year anniversary by meeting with town officials today to talk about new initiatives to combat opioid addiction. The coalition will host a “community conversation” with several town departments and organizations at its office at 136 Center St. The coalition provides preventative information and outreach for substance abuse and helps people struggling with addiction find help and resources. It was founded in 2012 by Ken Welch and Jennifer Short.

Meriden resident Bonnie Lagocki recently accepted an award from the U.S. Attorney’s Office on behalf of The Roadway of Hope CT for the group’s work in educating students about the dangers of substance abuse. The nonprofit group, formed a year ago, promotes advocacy for people and families that struggle with substance abuse.

Wheeler Clinic in Plainville held a free all-day program Thursday to educate people on how to recognize and prevent opioid abuse, in observance of International Overdose Awareness Day.

We didn’t like this week

Overdose deaths in Connecticut are projected to rise almost 20 percent this year, according to statistics released this week by the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner. Through the first half of 2017, there have been 539 deaths as a result of accidental overdoses — 322 involving fentanyl and 257 involving heroin. Last year, 917 people died as a result of an overdose. “Fentanyl has surpassed heroin as the most common opioid of abuse,” according to Chief Medical Examiner James Gill.

Some Connecticut lawmakers are questioning why the state Insurance Department would allow homeowners-policy language to be altered as recently as last year, changes that protect insurance companies from having to pay out claims due to failing foundations, in the midst of a state investigation into the cause of crumbling concrete basements in certain towns.

The tick season has been just as bad as predicted, said Dr. Goudarz Molaei, a research scientist with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven. The laboratory examines ticks for evidence of disease-causing pathogens. The lab tests for Lyme disease and pathogens that cause babesiosis and anaplasmosis, other tick-borne illnesses. “With ticks, it’s no longer (just) Lyme disease,” Molaei said. “The tick infection rates with babesiosis and anaplasmosis are also relatively high.”

Researchers are reporting a “rapid build-up” of West Nile virus infected mosquitoes in the state. Mosquitoes carrying West Nile virus had been found in 20 towns, including Middlefield, according to the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station. “We are seeing rapid build-up of West Nile virus within the mosquito population especially in Fairfield and New Haven counties, with spread into new regions including Hartford County,” said Dr. Philip Armstrong, a medical entomologist.

Although Hurricane Harvey’s floodwaters started dropping across much of the Houston area and the sun came out Wednesday in a glimmer of hope for the stricken city, the storm pounded communities farther east. The scope of the devastation in Texas began to come into sharper focus as the confirmed death toll climbed to 25.

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