EDITORIAL: 10 things we liked this week, one we didn’t

We liked this week

A series of weekend academic sessions that would eventually be dubbed “Get it Done Saturday” started out as the brainchild of Michael Strumski. Strumski has worked at Meriden’s Platt High School as a ninth grade transition specialist and spearheaded an informal version of the program that targeted ninth-grade students who were on the cusp of passing their classes.

The Wallingford Family YMCA is slated to receive a $750,000 state grant to help with renovation of its two branches, including the expansion of its aquatic facilities. The funds would provide a grant-in-aid to the town for the YMCA, which would cover installation of a new playscape, construction of an aquatics center at the west side branch and accessibility enhancements.

Thousands of Cubans have raised their voices in protest as the country faces its worst economic crisis in decades, but local residents stressed that the main thing Cubans are asking for is freedom. Daniel De Malas came to the United States in 2013, eventually arriving in Southington and working at his dream company, ESPN. The protests should have happened a long time ago because the Cuban population has had “enough,” De Malas said.

The president of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system announced Tuesday that the state’s community colleges will forgive $17 million of student debt accumulated during the pandemic. The debt, which students took on during the pandemic or could not repay because of it, will be made up with money from the federal Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund, CSCU President Terrence Cheng said. 

The individuals selected to serve on the city’s American Rescue Plan Steering Committee form a group that is politically bipartisan and includes the leader of a local nonprofit organization and a local business owner. The City Council is expected to vote to confirm the steering committee’s membership when it meets on Aug. 2.

A federal version of a new state law is aimed at keeping kids safe around ice cream trucks across the country. The state recently enacted Tristan’s Law, named after Tristan Barhorst, which requires ice cream sellers to equip vendor trucks with safety equipment and prohibits trucks from stopping to sell in high-traffic areas. Tristan Barhorst, 10, was struck and killed by a passing vehicle after buying ice cream from a truck in Cheshire on June 12, 2020.

The women running the pollinator pathway garden along the Farmington Canal Heritage Trail in Southington are looking for volunteers to help with daily maintenance so they can resume focusing on educational activities now that the pandemic has eased. In the past when college students and residents were able to help care for the garden, Kim Rees and Clare Bean were able to bring scout troops and other groups to the garden and teach them about pollinators and the ecosystem. With pandemic restrictions lifted, Rees hopes to resume hosting groups.

Students began moving into the former Lincoln College property in Southington last Thursday as part of a Jewish summer camp. It’s the first major activity on the 32-acre campus since the for-profit college closed in 2018. New Haven developer Mendel Paris said the camp will run until September. He’s negotiating with two organizations looking to lease the property long-term and is optimistic a deal will result.

LiveWell Dementia Specialists can issue $90 million worth of bonds following Southington Town Council approval. It’s an unusual situation, according to town officials, since the spending will be conducted by a private group and creates no obligation on the town. LiveWell, a nonprofit dementia center, is looking to borrow up to $90 million in tax-free bonds for a major renovation and expansion to its South Main Street facility.

The summer playground program offered by the city’s Parks and Recreation Department is an affordable way for kids to enjoy the break with peers. The playground program for children ages 6 to 12 started June 28 and will run Monday to Friday until August 13. The cost is $25 a week per child. A few slots remain.

We didn’t like this week

Connecticut’s COVID metrics continue to inch upward as the Delta variant’s foothold in the state grows stronger. Connecticut is currently posting a seven-day positivity rate that is comparable with its numbers from early May. In other parts of the country where Delta is dominant, hospitalizations have surged and deaths are on the rise. It’s unlikely that Connecticut will see the same magnitude of increases in hospitalizations and deaths given that the state has one of the highest vaccination rates in the country.

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