We liked this week
A young woman who grew up on Springdale Avenue in Meriden, a few doors down from the childhood home of Rosa Ponselle, is on her way to following in the famed opera diva’s footsteps. Gabriella Reyes de Ramirez, 24, a 2010 Maloney High School graduate, recently won first place in the prestigious Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions in the New England Region, in Boston. She now moves on to the semifinals March 12 and joins the winners from 12 other districts on stage at the Metropolitan Opera in New York.
The holiday season is over, but members of the Meriden Kiwanis Club haven’t forgotten about the needy. Last weekend the organization donated 2,590 food items to the city’s soup kitchen at First Baptist Church. The club held a drive, dubbed the “Souper Bowl,” to collect non-perishable food donations.
Students from the Quinnipiac University Student Nurses Association threw a Winter Wonderland Senior Citizen Prom for residents at Elim Park, an assisted living facility in Cheshire. “We’re really a great big family here,” said nursing student Justin Ragozzina, who organized the second annual event. He said about 200 residents attended.
Two massive military CH-47 Chinook helicopters made a stop in Meriden last Friday afternoon, picking up 44 Connecticut National Guard infantry soldiers to deliver them to training in New Jersey. Earlier, a trio of CH-53 Sea Stallions belonging to the Marines were also seen traveling over the city, on the way back from cold weather training in Maine. Meriden-Markham Airport’s central location in the state makes it an attractive place to land and train, according to Chief Warrant Officer 4 Matthew McCullough, senior instructor pilot for the Connecticut Army National Guard.
A senior at Platt High School in Meriden has a chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C., and a $20,000 award for poetry recitation. Jessica Despres was school champion in the Poetry Out Loud competition on Jan. 19. She’ll participate in the state competition on March 4 in Manchester.
Joe Mirra of Wallingford was recently recognized by MidState Medical Center for more than 20 years of service. Mirra received the hospital’s Crystal Obelisk Award, given to one recipient each year for “contributions to the advancement of healthcare programs in the community.” He has served on MidState’s Board of Directors and has led several local philanthropy efforts to support programs and services at MidState, which has locations in Meriden, Wallingford and Cheshire. “It’s a big honor,” Mirra said.
The Meriden City Council awarded the Spirit of Meriden award to the Meriden Antique Veterans, a group that honors veterans during funeral and burial services. Mayor Kevin Scarpati praised the work the veterans have done in the community. The Spirit of Meriden award was recently revived and will be given to individuals and groups at the first City Council meeting of every month.
We didn’t like this week
Although early estimates show that Wallingford’s 2016 grand list of taxable property increased by .33 percent compared to 2015, the increase could be wiped out by several pending tax appeal lawsuits against the town. The grand list increased by $14 million to $4.217 billion. The increase, however, could be “easily wiped out and turned to a negative number” following several lawsuits the town has yet to settle with businesses, Tax Assessor Shelby Jackson said.
Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan Harris told state lawmakers Tuesday that he’d be willing to revise the prohibition on self-service liquor machines. The machines, modeled after soda fountains but stocked with alcohol, have grown in popularity. Harris urged the legislature to ensure any changes don’t give minors access to alcohol.
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