EDITORIAL: 11 things we liked this week, one we didn’t

EDITORIAL: 11 things we liked this week, one we didn’t

We liked this week

Local and federal officials spoke Monday about the importance of remembering Martin Luther King Jr.’s message during the 35th annual Martin Luther King Jr./Albert Owens scholarship breakfast in Meriden. Speakers included U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, Mayor Kevin Scarpati and keynote speaker Congresswoman Jahana Hayes. 

A morning of songs, stories and speeches commemorated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Wallingford Town Hall Monday. About 150 people attended the annual town-sponsored celebration of the slain civil rights leader, who would have been 91 this year.

An ad hoc committee of the Meriden Board of Education has asked school officials for financial and enrollment information to help ease overcrowding in city middle schools. The committee members also asked for an accounting of expenses regarding the current operation of Edison Middle School, a magnet school owned by the city which enrolls 512 Meriden students. Washington Middle School is projected to peak next year at 121 percent enrollment, while Lincoln Middle School has hit its highest enrollment, at 115 percent. 

Gov. Ned Lamont used his executive authority Wednesday to direct the state’s Office of Health Strategy to come up with annual benchmarks for the growing cost of health care and require providers, insurers and others in the industry to report their yearly price increases. The order is a transparency measure designed to expose the hospitals, medical practices and insurance companies whose costs soar beyond the state-imposed targets.

The Wallingford Town Council on Tuesday night approved an increased tax break for volunteer first responders to the new maximum amount allowed by the state. The unanimous vote amends the existing agreement, under which volunteer firefighters, paramedics, emergency medical technicians and ambulance drivers are eligible for an annual tax abatement amount based on years of service.

State lawmakers are seeking funds to engineer and construct the Central Connecticut Loop, a 111-mile trail from the Arrigoni Bridge in Portland to the commuter rail stations in Hartford and Meriden. Much of the trail is finished in sections, except for 16 miles that needs to be constructed and connected. The largest portion is the 5 miles from Middlefield to Meriden.

A hardy crowd of 331 took part in the 51st annual Bernie Jurale Tradition Run on Sunday, running the 3 miles up Peak Drive to Castle Craig. The race is now organized by the Parks and Recreation Department. This year, the race also collected warm clothing for the homeless.

The tail end of the fourth- and fifth-grade lunch period at Southington’s Thalberg School features a new ritual: separating compostable leftovers out before tossing the rest into the trash. Students in Thalberg’s environmental club are the supervisors, hoping to educate classmates on composting and its benefits. “We’re trying to create more awareness for the Earth,” said fifth-grader Andrew Kessler, a member of the club.

While many were bundled up waiting for the snow last Saturday, over 200 people had something else in mind. They participated in the 15th annual Sloper Plunge at YMCA Camp Sloper. Teams from Southington and Cheshire ignored the below-freezing temperature of Sloper Pond and jumped in, raising nearly $70,000 to send children to camp during the summer.

The lack of a commercial tenant at 24 Colony St. has city officials demanding a strategy from Westmount Management Co. and the Meriden Housing Authority. More than three years after Westmount signed its first residential lease for the upstairs apartment units, the entire 10,000 square feet of first-floor commercial space remains empty.

After 37 years with the Meriden Fire Department, Assistant Chief Russell Donovan has retired. Donovan started in 1983 after serving as a firefighter with the U.S. Coast Guard. Donovan began his career with Truck Co.1 and was promoted to lieutenant in 1988 and then captain. He served as an assistant chief for the past eight years.

We didn’t like this week

Wallingford parents complain that repeated consolidations of school bus routes are resulting in disruptive delays and crowded conditions for the kids on board. Town Councilor Jason Zandri said numerous parents have contacted him, some sharing stories of waiting so long for buses to arrive that they ultimately drive their kids to school to avoid being late for work.