Winners and Losers , 12-7-2013

We liked this week

Meriden’s most recognizable police officer, Hector Cardona, is retiring next week after 32 years. Although it might be strange seeing Cardona in civilian clothes, the cop with the award-winning mustache isn’t going away. “It’s just how you treat people,” he said about his popularity. “I’ve dealt with generations of people. Now those kids I crossed (in traffic) are parents and grandparents. Sometimes I’ll be in my car and there will be two to three cars deep waiting to talk to me.” We wish this much-admired, much-appreciated officer every best wish for happiness in retirement.

Hundreds of people were greeted by a large Christmas tree at the entrance of Lake Compounce theme park last Friday night. It was decorated with colorful lights from top to bottom. Surrounding the tree were red, white, and green candy canes that were lit up. For the second year the park was covered with thousands of lights on rides, trees, buildings, and more for the Holiday Lights event. It will be open on Fridays and Saturdays until Dec. 22.

Southington has hired Robert Phillips as the new director of planning and community development. Phillips started work Monday, attending his first Planning and Zoning Commission meeting Tuesday night. “It was good,” Phillips said of Tuesday evening’s meeting. “Every town is a little bit different.” Phillips had been the town planner in Farmington since July. Before that, he was the town planner in Ellington for eight years. We wish him well in his work.

Fifteen hours, 5 minutes and 15 seconds. That’s the amount of time it took Wallingford’s 67-year-old Larry Wood to cover 140.6 miles to cross the finish line of Ironman Florida last month — finishing 10th in his age group and marking the completion of his journey for redemption. “I’ve done an Ironnman a little bit faster before, and I’ve certainly done some slower” said Wood, a town resident and the executive director of Benhaven, an autism learning and support center. “But I’ve never been as happy before. I felt like I dealt with all the problems well.” Well done!

On any given Saturday morning during the school year, many Cheshire first-graders are at home watching cartoons, while a proportionate number of high-school kids are probably sound asleep. There’s one group of first-graders and high-school students who are wide-awake, having fun and at the same time learning during the weekend’s Youth Literacy Project at the Yellow House. The program is meant to strengthen the reading and comprehension skills of young children under the guidance of volunteer high school students. They Yellow House, part of the town Youth Services department, is home to many different programs and activities for children.

Driving down Pleasant Street in Southington past DePaolo Middle School or on South Main Street by Kennedy Middle School, one can see steel beams, construction workers coming in and out of the buildings, and large piles of dirt. Officials say work on the renovation projects at both middle schools is making great progress.

We didn’t like this week

A Metro-North commuter train rounding a riverside curve derailed Sunday, killing four people and injuring more than 60 in a crash that threw some riders from toppling cars and swiftly raised questions about whether excessive speed, mechanical problems or human error could have played a role. It was the latest accident in a troubled year for the nation’s second-biggest commuter railroad, which had never experienced passenger death in an accident in its 31-year history.

The state fire marshal is investigating a garage fire on Cheshire’s Sorghum Mill Road early Monday morning. Fire Chief Jack Casner said crews were dispatched to a report of a car fire about 8:14 a.m. at 35 Sorghum Mill Road. Crews found an attached garage with two cars inside fully on fire, Casner said. The fire spread into the attic above the garage but crews were able to stop it there, and the main part of the home only sustained smoke damage, Casner said. The garage and two cars inside were deemed a total loss. Two adult residents were home at the time, and one was taken to a local hospital for evaluation, Casner said. The residents will be displaced due to the electrical and plumbing systems being affected.



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