This is a follow-up to my letter “Hopkinton residents urged to weigh in”, from the Saturday, Jan. 5, issue of The Westerly Sun.
Regarding the Martin Luther King holiday, Hopkinton changes its normal third Monday meeting in January to the following day; this year it’s on Jan. 22. I remind Hopkinton residents and others of Hopkinton’s civil rights history. The underground railroad helping escaped slaves to freedom is part of our town’s past, which also includes the town being the birthplace of Prudence Crandall, Connecticut state heroine. Crandall was born in a house in Hope Valley (which is still standing,) and ran a school for young black girls in Canterbury, Conn., against great public opposition in the first half of the 1800s. That school and home in Canterbury can still be visited.
Whether you go to Hope Valley where Crandall was born, or in Ashaway, where the underground railroad houses still are with us, that part of our town’s history is not really known to many, as it should be. I recall there was at least one other place in town involved in the underground railroad, on Kuehn Road.
Any Hopkinton citizen interested in any budget-related matter dealing with Chariho can advise me on any topic to bring up at the Chariho omnibus meeting tonight, Jan. 9. This meeting has the School Committee and the town councils of Charlestown, Richmond, and Hopkinton present to discuss the school budget.
While it may be impolitic to give the School Committee and administration a “heads up” before that meeting, I will once again bring up my desire for an outside management study. The school budget is approaching $60 million. It is important to have an “outside look” at such a large budget, including labor costs and other items. In addition, I am concerned about how effectively they use their membership in the Rhode Island Association of School Committees, the dues for which are covered by the budget, and state aid. In addition, both the School Committee and the municipalities through the Rhode Island League of Cities & Towns need to advocate more on how education is funded. The extent property taxes are used to finance public education is a very serious issue. Hopkinton residents should remember who their school committee members are, specifically George M. Abbott, Catherine Giusti, Lisa Macaruso, and Sylvia Stanley.
I want to note to Hopkinton residents who are senior citizens and interested in some property tax relief that they need to fill out an application through the tax assessor’s office. The deadline is no later than March 15, 2019. I would inquire about other tax benefits if you are a veteran or in another category such as the blind. The phone number for the tax assessor is 401-377-7780 and the fax number is 401-377-7788.
In closing, those interested in contacting me can do so at firstname.lastname@example.org and 401-360-4603. To contact the whole town council, use email@example.com. I cannot reply all, if you contact the whole town council. I can only really respond to you personally, to prevent an open-meetings violation.
Scott Bill Hirst
The writer is vice president of the Hopkinton Town Council.