Editorial: Highs and lows from last week

Editorial: Highs and lows from last week

The Westerly Sun

(High) Just two months after hearing the sad news that all Benny’s stores would be closed by the end of the year we get word that a major real estate and retail developer has purchased all 29 locations in three states with plans to get new tenants up and running in the 14 Rhode Island properties by the end of 2018. The Carpionato Group of Johnston has said it will invest more than $100 million to make it all happen. If it all comes to fruition, it means existing commercial space will be reused for commercial purposes — a far better outcome for host towns than having a large empty retail space sit vacant while open space is paved over for another commercial use.    

(High) Mystic Seaport is being considered as one venue in which to display “the longest painting in North America” — a quarter-mile-long panorama depicting a whaling voyage. Completed in 1848, the artwork was a featured display on a tour around the U.S.  The panorama would be mounted on a system of cranks and reels to go across a theater stage as a narrator told stories of hunting whales and processing their carcasses. The item fell into disrepair over the years, but the New Bedford Whaling Museum has had it restored and is looking for a large venue to display it. “It’s a national treasure that’s been out of the spotlight for too long,” said D. Jordan Berson, who’s managing the project.

(High) Students in the Chariho Tech marine technology program will get the chance to operate the kind of technology currently in use out in the “real world” in commercial boat building facilities thanks to a $100,000 grant from the Champlin Foundation. The grant will fund the purchase of computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines and other equipment. “With these machines, which are used extensively in today's marine industry, students will gain a strong foundation in advanced technology principles,” Superintendent of Schools Barry Ricci said last week. “This equipment will allow students to receive hands-on experience in computer 3D modeling and machining which they can then use in class to build wooden or composite boats and components,” said marine technology instructor Jacob Guilbert, who pursued the grant.

(High) From the outside, you’d think that St. Michael the Archangel Church in Pawcatuck is back to hosting parishioners every Sunday just as it has for the last 166 years. While the exterior of the church — including its restored stained-glass windows — has been rebuilt, the interior needs to be finished. Thus far, parishioners and other donors have raised $4.3 million to get the project to the this point. It will take another $3.8 million to complete the utilities and interior finish work. It’s nice to see this landmark coming back to its rightful stature in the community.

(Low) While other towns are well into their work on the 2018-19 budget, resident in North Stonington just voted on their 2017-18 budget. They approved the $6.38 million town budget, but defeated the proposed $12.87 million education budget, which included a zero percent increase. Superintendent of Schools Peter Nero said Tuesday that the education budget has been level-funded for four of the seven years of his tenure, and that continuing to manage without an increase was becoming increasingly difficult. As things stand, the school system’s revenue might not be enough to last the year, he said.


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