Highs and lows from last week: Federal rail decision, rat infestation and more

Highs and lows from last week: Federal rail decision, rat infestation and more


(High) There was nearly an audible sigh of relief across the region on Wednesday when the Federal Rail Administration announced it was dropping its plan to build an additional set of tracks inland and parallel to the shoreline tracks currently in place. The proposal was intended to improve service along the railroad’s Northeast Corridor, which carries passengers between Washington DC and Boston. While many want better and faster service, few were willing to publicly agree that it would be a good idea to rip up housing tracts, business parks and large swaths of deeded open space to shave a little time off that total trip.

(High) Pick your spot early and claim it early for this year’s Westerly-Pawcatuck Columbus Day Parade. National recording artist Billy Gilman, who was the runner-up in season 11 of NBC’s “The Voice” singing competition, has been named the grand marshal of he parade and he’s sure to pack the sidewalks along the two-state route on Oct. 8. Joe Potter, president of the parade’s permanent committee, credited fellow committee member and parade chairwoman Beth Frenette’s perseverance for getting a commitment from Gilman, whose schedule has prevented him from accepting previous invitations. Kudos to all who work so hard during the rest of the year to keep this event running smoothly.

(Low) It was hard enough to read a few weeks ago that a property off Route 1 in Pawcatuck had become infested with rats. Now we find that homeowners on at least three streets about a mile away are seeing the rodents running around. Residents want the town to take responsibility, but the Connecticut Public Health Code states in part that the “owner of the premises” shall keep it free from “accumulations” which may invite the “breeding or collections of flies, mosquitoes or rodents.” The problem, of course, comes when a responsible homeowner lives next door to someone less responsible about conditions that invite rats and other rodents. Regardless, if this problem grows, the town will be hard pressed to operate solely by the letter of the law. Surely a growing rat problem would come under the “health, welfare and safety” heading of municipal responsibility.

(High) For small town success stories, the rebirth of the Quonochontaug Grange is hard to beat. The 1947 building — the local organization was established in 1911 — had fallen on hard times several years back and push finally came to shove thanks to folks who took it upon themselves to get the place in order. The efforts of the nonprofit Friends of the Quonochontaug Grange, formed in the summer of 2015 to make repairs, were celebrated July 8 along with the 70th anniversary of the local affiliate of the national organization. The group is “committed to the preservation and maintenance of the structure as an historic community resource and meeting place,” and thus preserving an important piece of local Americana.

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