We liked this week
The Meriden Board of Education voted to expand the free lunch and breakfast program to Israel Putnam and Benjamin Franklin elementary schools under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s community eligibility provision. The federally funded program went into effect at Casimir Pulaski, John Barry and Roger Sherman elementary schools last year, providing all students at the schools free lunch and breakfast. More than 50 percent of Israel Putnam students and 44 percent of Benjamin Franklin students are considered food insecure as defined by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut’s senior U.S. senator, blasted President Donald Trump Wednesday for recent remarks on the deadly protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, saying the president has emboldened racist organizations. “The blame is not on both sides,” Blumenthal said, citing the swastikas, torches, and hate-filled epithets coming from white supremacists, neo-Nazis and KKK members.
Wallingford’s plan to demolish the old C.F. Wooding Co. building behind the police station and build a new police storage shed received unanimous approval from the Planning and Zoning Commission this week. Police will gain storage space, and there will be about 80 temporary public parking spaces east of Wallace Street.
Brothers Chris and Nicholas Robertson have restored the Jonathan Root house on North Main Street in Southington, built in 1720, and have done extensive renovations inside and out. They have a letter of intent for a company’s offices to move in on Sept. 1. Soon the house will be returned to its original red color. “We definitely want to keep it that color,” Chris Robertson said. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.
A love for the game continues to hold true in the Jack Doyle Senior Softball League in Wallingford as players as old as 82 prepare to enter the stretch run of the league’s 19th season. Teams play Monday and Wednesday morning doubleheaders from April to October at Westside Field, Doolittle Park and Pragemann Park. The minimum age to join is 60.
An increase in call volume and staffing shortages have resources stretched thin at Meriden’s emergency dispatch center. However, five new hires are expected to start in the coming weeks, which will offer some relief to workers at the center, according to Emergency Communications Director Doree Price.
The new Hall Avenue Route 15 entrance ramp in Wallingford is open. The existing on-ramp located next to River Road has been taken out of service. The on-ramp, north of the Hall Avenue overpass, was built to improve driver safety. Motorists can now accelerate and merge onto Route 15 north on a long ramp rather than entering the highway from a stop sign off River Road.
We didn’t like this week
Southington police have investigated 37 vehicle thefts and 143 vehicle burglaries this year. About 85 percent of the vehicles burglarized or stolen in town were unlocked, Lt. Stephen Elliott said in a statement released Wednesday. Elliott reminded residents to lock car doors, remove keys, electronic devices, garage door openers and other valuables from vehicles and to report suspicious activity. Vehicle burglaries and thefts can lead to other crimes, such as identity theft, Elliott said.
With the new school year approaching, educators pressed legislators for the passage of a state budget at Maloney High School in Meriden on Tuesday morning. Several state education officials, superintendents and teachers spoke during the state Department of Education’s annual back-to-school meeting. “I am incredibly worried,” said Fran Rabinowitz, executive director of the Connecticut Association of Public School Superintendents. “No state budget at this point in time is a very crucial obstacle.” Representatives from 30 urban, suburban and rural school districts said a combined 400 positions are on hold or have been cut due to the lack of a state budget.
A dog abandoned Sunday in the parking lot shared by the Meriden Humane Society and Meriden Animal Control ran onto a nearby highway and died after being struck by a tractor-trailer rig. MHS workers attempted to lure the animal away from the highway, Interstate 91, but to no avail. A criminal investigation is underway.
Hartford is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, and the turbulence rocking that city has served as a stark reminder of the gulf between the affluent enclaves that drive Connecticut’s wealth and its larger cities that have long grappled with high crime, underperforming schools and unsure financial footing. Connecticut has the greatest degree of income inequality of any state, according to Daphne A. Kenyon, an economist at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Connecticut State Police are citing “privacy” concerns in refusing to release the findings of an internal affairs investigation involving a trooper and two sergeants accused of fabricating charges against a sobriety checkpoint protester during an encounter recorded on video. The investigation centered on the encounter between protester Michael Picard, of East Hartford, and the three officers at a sobriety checkpoint in West Hartford on Sept. 11, 2015. According to a lawsuit filed by Picard, the officers fabricated charges against him, not knowing they were being recorded by his camera after they seized it.
Meriden was fifth in a report of the most cases of childhood lead poisoning in Connecticut in 2015. Old homes with lead paint and dust are to blame, according to officials. The state Department of Public Health’s annual disease surveillance report for childhood lead poisoning notes 75 cases of children with lead poisoning in Meriden based on tests in 2015.
A fire at a vacant Wall Street house in Meriden last Saturday morning was intentionally set, Fire Marshal Steve Trella said Monday. The fire remains under investigation. Trella said samples of accelerants found at the scene were sent to a laboratory for analysis. The house was heavily damaged, but no injuries were reported.
Berlin Town Hall, the Berlin Peck-Memorial Library, the senior center and the police station, among other town buildings, do not comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. “Some buildings go back to the ’60s and ’70s,” said Jack Healy, the town’s public works director and interim town manager. Healy spoke at a recent Town Council meeting about making the town buildings more ADA-compliant.
After 24 years of living in the United States and raising two sons, Meriden residents Franklin and Gioconda Ramos have been informed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents that they have until the end of the month to purchase plane tickets back to Ecuador, leaving their children, jobs and home behind. Born in Ecuador, the couple illegally crossed the border into the United States in 1993, at age 19. The family is one of several in the city facing separation due to illegal immigration status.
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