Virus stories and those that are not

Virus stories and those that are not

I’ve been on the lookout for stories that have nothing to do with the coronavirus. They can be hard to find. Since the onset of March, just about every story has some connection — and finding those that don’t can be elusive.

Any story that involves a meeting is connected to the pandemic, for example, because meetings have to be virtual. We’ll really have gotten somewhere toward getting back to normal when stories start emphasizing how a meeting took place in the flesh, so to speak. I’m not sure how we’ll put that — an “actual” meeting? Virtual meetings are still actual, aren’t they? How about “face to face?”

Anyway, a couple of recent stories could have been going on whether during a pandemic or not:

Over in Southington there’s a battle brewing that you could designate “sun versus dirt,” involving conflicting interests that you typically wouldn’t think of as antagonists. The match-up in question entails 31 acres of a 102-acre field off East Street.

I’m not sure I’ve heard anyone talk so enthusiastically about dirt. The ground there is pretty special stuff, according to Michael Karabin, the farm owner who leases the property.

“There is no other farmland in Southington that holds a candle to the quality of topsoil that is there,” he told the Record-Journal.

At this point I would just stop and take the farmer’s word for it. Who knows more about dirt? And others have said the same, including Town Councilor Paul Chaplinsky, who called it “the most pristine land that could be available.”

Yet it’s also eyed as a good spot for solar panels, by a Hartford-based solar energy developer, Verology. A solar-welcoming farm there would have a capacity for more than 4.7 megawatts. I don’t really know what that means, but it sounds like you could get a lot of good energy there.

The land is owned by the Catholic Cemeteries Association. John Pinone, its executive director, says they’re trying to make it a “win-win” for both the cemetery association and the farm. That will be worth watching to see if it can be done.

Also in Southington, drivers have been driving into a building in Plantsville that is not a drive-through.

As the R-J reported, the Hop Haus building, on West Main Street, has been struck four times by vehicles since 2017, which is a lot. It might not come as a surprise that Cheryl Moran, the building owner, is enthusiastic about efforts to deal with the issue: “I would take anything I could at this point,” she said.

Anything might include speed bumps or speed tables, which, as the R-J article put it, are “traffic calming devices that raise the entire wheelbase of a vehicle to reduce speed.”

I can tell you that I haven’t owned a vehicle that did anything but groan upon encountering such devices, but you can’t have cars running into buildings. “I know if I’m driving and I hit something like that, I slow down,” said Chris Poulos, a town councilor. Agreed.

There are other stories not shaped by the virus outbreak. While the R-J is committed fully to covering the impact of the pandemic, it’s important to not leave the other stories behind.

For the most part, though, you’re going to run into its influence, even if it’s not all that direct.

Sports are very quiet these days, at least at the levels at which we are used to watching. Out of that quiet are emerging some interesting initiatives.

Years ago I was doing a story about Wallingford Little League. In a conversation unrelated to the story I was working on, one of the organizers told me about how sandlot games would take place on the fields there. Sandlot baseball, impromptu games in which kids get together on their own to play, notably without adults, was once as common as a singing bird in spring, but is rare these days. It just kind of sprang up in Wallingford, I was told.

We can expect more of that kind of grass roots effort now.

I thought about that conversation while reading Bryant Carpenter’s recent R-J story about amateur baseball. With the cancellation of this year’s American Legion season, coaches and others in charge are looking for ways to keep players swinging, which might include an independent league based at Meriden’s Falcon Field.

“We’ll play anybody,” said Mark Verderame, a coach out of Southington.

If you see a determined spirit emerging, so do I.

Reach Jeffery Kurz at202-317-2213, or

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