(High) Workers in the finance office discovered recently that the Westerly Public School District has been paying for a crossing guard at St. Pius X Academy for some 18 years. It’s not a lot of money, about $5,000 annually this past year. It likely was much less when it started. We address this item based only on the merits of the staff finding this buried arrangement. Given all the focus in past years on the lack of transparency in the school budget, this is a good sign. Nice job by those in the finance office.
(High) Stonington’s Dean Mill School students had plenty of instruction in character building last week along with their routine studies. The school took part in the Kindness Challenge, a week-long program that schools across the country take part in as a way to create a climate of kindness and good deeds that hopefully takes hold for a lot longer than one week. Every day included a different focus, but all were related to treating one another with respect and compassion. Not a bad idea for the workplace either.
(Low) Foes of the long-discussed school renovation project in North Stonington came up with a last ditch effort to thwart that which voters approved in May — a $38 million project for work at the middle school-high school complex, elementary school and administration building. Two petitions were filed Jan. 16 claiming the reimbursement rate from the state is not verified at the 46.07 percentage outlined in the May referendum and seeking a town meeting vote to reconsider the project. Contracts were scheduled to be signed last Wednesday. Instead, Selectmen on Tuesday were forced to schedule a special town meeting for Feb. 1.
(High) With 55 submarines in the pipeline, Electric Boat is back at the top of its game and running full steam ahead at production facilities at Quonset Point in North Kingstown and in Groton on the other side of the border. CEO Jeffrey Geiger, in his annual legislative briefing for state and local elected officials and business leaders across the two-state region, painted a rosy employment picture. Add in Rhode Island’s workforce training initiatives — such as those at Westerly Education Center — to provide skilled workers, and the region has plenty to celebrate.
(High) In an interview with The Sun last week, state DOT director Peter Alviti talked about the $270 million in highway and bridge projects on tap for this region in the department’s 10 year plan. “That includes some 62 bridges in addition to roads, bike paths,” he said. Among the projects we find most necessary are a $2 million roundabout to be built in 2020 at the intersection of routes 112 and 138 in Richmond to improve safety, and the redesign in 2019 of the I-95 exit and entrance ramps in Richmond.