Bidders had their hands in the air last week when 25 properties hit the auction block. The town of Westerly was hoping to collect nearly $250,000 in back taxes with a tax sale. The bidders were vying for a percentage share of each property. The payoff for them comes later when the property owner must pay back the sale price, with 10 percent interest. If the original owner fails to pay, the bidder can take the original owner to court to recoup the investment. The sale is good for the town because it gets the funding it’s due in taxes without further legal action. It could also be a windfall for the winning bidder who gets a decent rate on his investment. Unfortunately, it probably hurts the beleaguered property owner even more. The biggest sale of the day was a $102,789 bid on property at 16 Yosemite Road. The town also received a payment of $102,827 from the former Bradford Printing and Finishing before the auction, taking that property out of the running.
A 1933 graduate of Stonington High School and his wife have left a lasting legacy for future graduates of the school — a scholarship fund nearly three times the size of the next largest fund benefiting Stonington High grads. Thomas J. Ellis Jr. and his wife, Barbara, left most of their joint estate of nearly $865,000 to the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut to establish a permanent four-year scholarship fund for college-bound Stonington High seniors. That is such a generous legacy and one for which many Stonington graduates will be grateful for in the years to come.
The Farm to School program in Westerly is a wonderful education tool. Students get to eat fresh vegetables and learn about the source of that food. Hopefully, it’s a lesson that will stick with students when they become adults and buy their own food. It might also help influence the buying choices of their family. Supporting local farmers is good for a lot of reasons. The transportation costs and carbon footprint of that effort can only hurt Mother Earth. Right now, students are enjoying a crop of organic potatoes grown specifically for them, and it was heartening the hear from the students that they were tasty. Hat’s off to Hillandale Farm and the nonprofit Ayers Foundation for making it a reality. And kudos to the schools and the school’s food service provider for recognizing the benefit.
An amendment to Stonington’s zoning regulations to allow the keeping of chickens in residential zones was ratified last week by the Planning and Zoning Commission. The new rules will go into effect Dec. 9. It was a decent compromise to allow the keeping of chickens on a minimum 20,000-square-foot lot instead of the minimum 10,000 lot sought by the Chicken Lovers Urge Change or CLUC*K. Officials also set the maximum number of chickens allowed at 10, and that the coop and fence enclosure must be at least 20 feet from the nearest property line. It should be noted that given the requirements, 60 percent of the property owners in town would be eligible to have a flock. It seems unlikely that there will be a sudden rush to build chicken coops, but allowing people the option seems worthwhile.
The WARM Center, a 19-bed shelter and food kitchen, is opening a small overflow shelter for the winter in an effort to help those less fortunate. We wish that there was not a need for the WARM Center’s services, but that is not the reality in which we live. The overflow shelter will be located in the Roger Williams Inn on Granite Street, and can house up to six homeless men between Dec. 1 and March 31. This is the fifth year WARM will open an overflow shelter, according to Russ Partridge, the center’s executive director. The shelter has been full in previous winters, and Partridge said he expects this year to be no different.