Low: Even though work on the Taylor Swift sea wall at East Beach has been going on since November, last week the story went viral. Websites from the Daily Mail, to TMZ, to Gawker, to Vanity Fair picked up the story, some displaying photographs of the Watch Hill house and heavy machinery on the beach. Callers to Westerly’s building officials and Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council also wanted to know what was going on. But it was all much ado about nothing: The CRMC has had its eyes on the project all along, especially considering the high visibility of the location and the property owner. “They are doing just what they said they would be doing,” said Laura Dwyer, spokeswoman for the CRMC. None of the topographical changes, Dwyer added, should affect wave action or the quality of surfing off East Beach, either. Said Town Manager Michelle Buck: “It is all within the jurisdiction of the CRMC.” Also, the project does not need permits from the town of Westerly, according to Amy Grzybowski, Westerly’s director of planning, code enforcement and grant administration.
High: Below-freezing temperatures didn’t stop almost 200 people from registering for the WARM Center’s eighth annual Penguin Plunge on New Year’s Day at Misquamicut Beach. “I just love what they do for the people of this area,” Audra Gentile said of the center, which receives all proceeds from registration fees. “Plus, this is an awesome experience. If you’ve ever thought about doing a plunge, it’s worth a try.” Of the five local bars that took part in a bartender challenge competition to raise money, 84 Tavern on Canal raised the most, around $400. “I can’t express my gratitude enough.” said Joy Cordio, events and volunteers coordinator for the center.
High: Frank Glista made sure 2013 went up in flames at the annual New Year’s Eve bonfire celebration at Ninigret Park. The free community event has become a Charlestown tradition and a great way for children to participate in the holiday. “The idea basically was not only to give something back to the community, but also to create something for the kids,” said Glista, who’s volunteered to stage the event the last four years. “... I thought this would be a great thing to do for them.” And he plans to keep on doing it, too. “The parks and rec director asked me how many more years I had left in me,” Glista said. “I said I’d like to keep going for another eight if I can. I’ll be 70 then.”
High: The week came to a close with a winter storm blasting through the area Thursday night that left frigid temperatures and coastal flooding in its wake. Although the 6-or-so inches of snowfall presented problems for commuters and meant shoveling and snow blowing for residents and business owners, the storm did provide local public works departments and emergency management coordinators with an early winter’s test that they passed. “The preparedness aspect went great,” said Amy Grzybowski, Westerly’s EMC. “People stayed safe, and it was good practice for the next big storm.” Said Stonington First Selectman Bill Haberek Jr.: “Overall, it was a relatively quiet night with no major problems.”