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    Highs and lows from last week

    Maria Gabrielle Allen, the proprietor of Bella Vita Salon in Westerly, was named the Dante Society’s 2013 Person of the Year. Allen was chosen for her extraordinary volunteerism, her generosity and philanthropy, her knack for supporting people of all ages, and for exemplifying the society’s goals to “preserve and foster the Italian culture.” “She’s compiled an impressive record for such a young woman,” said Dr. Dan Gaccione, a Westerly native who chairs the society’s nominating committee. “From her involvement with youth soccer to her commitment to the adult day center, she serves the young and the old.” Allen, a board member for the Adult Day Center of Westerly, helped raise more than $25,000 for its Share the Care capital campaign and has served as chairwoman for two of the organization’s major ben­efits, which raised more than $40,000. She also serves on the board of the Westerly Youth Soccer Association, and runs the concession stand at the soccer field.

    It’s taken awhile, but the paving of Elm and Beach streets was expected to finally be finished on Friday. The work, part of a $2.5 million road reconstruction project, was supposed to wrap up Nov. 1, but inclement weather and unexpected extra repairs on the bridge combined to delay the project. Westerly Town Councilor Kenneth Parrilla, for one, can breathe easier now that the job’s done. He said he recently drove into an exposed manhole cover on Elm Street, ruining a brand new $500 tire on his SUV.

    The Copar drama continued — a Superior Court judge’s restraining order stopped the Zoning Board of Review from resuming a hearing on Copar Quarries of Westerly and Westerly Granite Co. Inc.’s appeal of cease-and-desist orders filed against the companies by the town’s zoning officer, a hearing already delayed numerous times. The two companies filed a 36-page motion seeking the restraining order, claiming that there were a host of missteps and irregularities by the board and the Town Council. Jeffrey Gladstone, Copar’s lawyer, and Christopher Mulhearn, the lawyer for Westerly Granite, also noted in the motion that the matter is likely headed to court regardless of whether the zoning board is allowed to resume the hearing and regardless of its decision. “There is little doubt that this matter will end up before this court anyway, making the continued futile hearings before the Zoning Board of Review of little consequence.”

    Samantha Read, a 2009 Westerly High School graduate, is one of the five finalists in the 2014 “Rhode Show” Search for a Star contest. The winner will be named live during a “Rhode Show” prime-time special on Dec. 9, and be hired by WPRI-12 as co-host of the “Rhode Show” for one year. If she lands the role, Read said she will have reached her goal. “It’s my dream job,” said the 22-year-old, who graduated from Springfield College last May with a degree in sports communication and journalism. “I love being in front of the camera and I love TV.” To view the finalists and cast a vote, visit wpri.com/rhode-show. Online voting counts for a percentage of the overall score, and each video view on the contestants’ pages counts as one vote for that person.

    Austin Gray, a junior at Wheeler High School, is a national champion in the sport of MotoTrials, which uses specialized motorcycles that are ridden while standing up. In the past year, Gray has advanced through the ranks to reach the expert class. Along the way he was the North American Trials Council Junior Class national champion (the North American Trials Council is a professional circuit); the New England Trials Association Advanced Class champion; and the third-place finisher in the New England Trials Association Expert Class.



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