Wheeler High School principal Christopher Sandford spent his last day in that position last week, before moving on to the headmaster role at Woodstock Academy, a private school serving six towns in northeastern Connecticut. Sandford came to Wheeler in 2008 as associate principal and was promoted to principal two years later. He spent his last few days in the halls and classrooms of the region’s smallest high school, bidding farewell and reminiscing. Sandford presided over a school with an uncertain future, as voters weighed whether to close the facility in light of needed repairs and a tiny tax base. That plan failed and Sandford turned the small-school concept into a plus by floating the idea of marketing Wheeler as a sort of charter school for families looking for that intimate, small-class setting. He made an impact during his short tenure here, and we wish him well. We include him as a “high” for his work, not for his leaving.
Frank Todisco is the new chairman of the Stonington Board of Education and we wish him well. But we have to wonder what exactly is going on with the board given that veteran board member and former chairman Gail MacDonald felt she needed to resign after learning she no longer had the support of her colleagues. Todisco, in a story in Wednesday’s edition, said everything is fine, the board is working well, and he complimented MacDonald on her tenure. MacDonald said there apparently was communication among the others that did not include her. Something happened and no one wants to talk about. We appreciate the time and effort of these volunteers, but members of town boards and commissions must be able to have frank discussions and reach compromise for the benefit of their mission. On behalf of Stonington residents, we thank MacDonald for her considerable efforts.
The Westerly Town Council last week voted to hire a Massachusetts firm to conduct a study intended to identify, in general, the types of industrial and other land uses that could be detrimental to the public drinking water system. The council also decided to move forward with preparations for an additional study that will specifically examine the effects of a quarry operation on White Rock Road on the water supply. The broader study will include an examination of the town’s zoning regulations to determine whether certain permitted uses could be harmful to the water supply. The idea for such studies came about when Cherenzia Company, owners of the White Rock Road quarry, proposed an asphalt plant. The plan was later withdrawn in the face of opposition from residents as well as town councilors.
Last Wednesday’s wind and rain didn’t just interrupt travel plans for hundreds of thousands of people across the eastern half of the country, it also forced the cancellation of the annual downtown rally by cheerleaders and fans of the Westerly and Stonington high school football teams. What a shame. We’re talking tradition here. But we grudgingly admit that we get it. Had those high winds kept up on Wednesday there was the potential for downed wires. And with this type of event, officials couldn’t really wait until the last minute to make the call. Still, we feel bad for this year’s senior classes at both schools. It’s an experience and a yearbook shot they won’t have.
Speaking of the Westerly-Stonington football game, the two teams played one of the more entertaining games in the Thanksgiving Day series that dates to 1911. The well-played contest was a seesaw affair, with both teams having a chance to win. It featured a Westerly player, Jacee Hamelin, returning a kickoff for a touchdown for the first time in the rivalry’s Thanksgiving history, two long kickoff returns by the Bears and a combined 530 yards of offense from both teams. Stonington won, 33-28, before an estimated 3,300.