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Winners and losers

We liked this week

Red, yellow and white balloons representing the colors of the business decorated more than a dozen tables under a white tent in the parking lot of Hunter’s Ambulance Sunday afternoon to celebrate 50 years in business. Family, friends, co-workers, and state and town officials mingled, ate and celebrated. In the middle of the tent was a glistening maroon 1953 Cadillac ambulance, which was a replica of the one Vern Hunter purchased when he started Hunter’s Ambulance in 1963. Fifty years ago Hunter had only two employees. They waited two weeks to hear their first phone call. Hunter joked that he and his partner checked the wires to the phone many times to make sure it was working. Now, the company has 450 employees and 150 vehicles on the road. Congratulations!

Dozens of state troopers’ cars were parked on the grass, along curbs, and in spaces at the rest stop on Interstate 84 East past exit 28 in Southington. More than 40 troopers and some state officials gathered last Friday morning in a grassy area to dedicate the rest stop to Edward W. Truelove, an auxiliary trooper who was killed in the line of duty two decades ago. Truelove, of Waterbury, was 72 when he died after trying to keep others out of harm’s way. May he be remembered warmly and with deep gratitude.

A lack of parking has long been a gripe of downtown Meriden business owners and organizations. Trying to help the owners and aid the state Department of Transportation, which is planning a new parking garage on Colony Street, city officials recently took an inventory of the parking spaces downtown. “We always hear that business owners need more parking and we want to be responsive to that,” said Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski. Ample, convenient parking will indeed play an important role in a new, revitalized downtown.

Motorists driving by Gouveia Vineyards in Wallingford on Saturday morning may have noticed a lot of people picking grapes. They weren’t Gouveia employees. They were wine and grape enthusiasts participating in Gouveia’s Harvest Festival. More than a hundred people came to the vineyard Saturday morning to pick and cut three varieties of ripe white grapes. Dozens of other wine fans visited Paradise Hills Vineyard and Winery for its Harvest Celebration, where there was entertainment and activities going on all day to celebrate the harvest.

Meriden high school students who passed classes last year but lost credit due to a large number of absences have been given a second chance. The high schools are running a five-week Saturday Academy for select students to recover credits. For two hours each Saturday, students will show up at their respective schools. The first hour features a guest speaker from the community and during the second hour students will set goals, talk about future plans and career decisions.

Judicial system at work

It was a sobering but necessary moment as Connecticut’s judicial system meted out its decree: on Monday, a federal judge sentenced former Meriden police officer Evan Cossette to 14 months in federal prison for using excessive force against a prisoner and falsifying a police report to cover it up. U.S. District Court Judge Janet Bond Arterton sentenced Cossette to a term below the recommended guidelines of 27 to 33 months. Agree or disagree with the terms, the sentence includes one year of supervised parole and restitution to be paid in an amount to be determined in 90 days. He must report to federal marshals on Dec. 3 to begin his prison sentence. Evan’s case (given that he’s the son of Meriden’s police chief) also serves to underscore the need for an unambiguous anti-nepotism policy in Meriden.

We didn’t like this week

An electrical fire caused the destruction of a vehicle on the lot of Quality Auto Sales LLC at 286 S. Colony Road in Wallingford at about 4:30 p.m. last Friday and also damaged the siding on the building’s exterior.

An osprey nest atop a cell phone tower on Wallingford’s North Plains Industrial Road is causing service issues for Sprint Nextel customers in town, prompting some local residents to question the service provider and attempt to void their multi-year contracts. The 220-foot tower, owned by the American Tower Corp., is in the parking lot of R&L Carriers at 90 N. Plains Industrial Road. A large nest is visible at the very top of the tower. Rachael Crocker, a spokeswoman for Sprint Nextel, confirmed Friday that an osprey is nesting on the tower. The nest is causing cell service for customers in the area to be “on and off,” she said, because it leads to signals from a range extender to bounce, “so the signal is doing the same thing.”



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