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EDITORIAL: 12 things we liked this week, 2 we didn’t

EDITORIAL: 12 things we liked this week, 2 we didn’t

We liked this week

Scientists on Wednesday announced the first effective treatment against the coronavirus — an experimental drug that can speed the recovery of COVID-19 patients — in a major medical advance that came as the economic gloom caused by the scourge deepened in the U.S. and Europe. The U.S. government said it is working to make the antiviral medication remdesivir available to patients as quickly as possible. Stocks surged around the world on the news.

Meriden’s Hunter Memorial Golf Course reopened Tuesday, one month after the city closed the municipal course because some visitors weren’t complying with social distancing guidelines. Players will be able to golf in groups of up to four at the course, which will be enforcing social distancing requirements and requiring players to call ahead for a tee time.

Barker Specialty, a promotional product manufacturer in Cheshire, has created a T-shirt that speaks to the current COVID-19 crisis. To help the Cheshire Food Pantry, Barker has teamed up with Main Street Caffe to distribute the shirts and raise funds.

Meriden Mayor Kevin Scarpati said the city’s Economic Development Department is working on establishing a relief program for businesses. “There’s obviously a concern and fear as to what the short and long term looks like from an economic development standpoint and what our business community is going to look like,” Scarpati said. The city could use money provided by the state or federal government for the local program, he said.

Nurses and doctors at Wallingford’s Gaylord Hospital were treated to free coffee from a gourmet coffee truck, courtesy of a local family selling homemade lawn signs to raise money for health care workers. Mitchell Wollen, 16, has been creating and selling wood “thank you” signs to raise money since April 5. The Wollen family purchased 150 cups of coffee for Gaylord staff on April 23.

The Community Health Center of Meriden was among 16 health organizations statewide recently awarded a share of $15.9 million in federal stimulus money. The center on State Street is part of the Community Health Center network headquartered in Middletown. The network received $2.2 million to be distributed among its clinics. Other agencies, including those in Danbury, Plainville, Torrington, Waterbury, New Haven and Bridgeport, also received funds.

The state Department of Labor has completed computer programming changes that allow the state to make the $600 weekly stimulus payments authorized by Congress for people receiving unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, state officials announced Tuesday. Applications were expected to open Thursday for a separate benefit, “pandemic unemployment assistance,” for self-employed and gig workers who cannot work due to the COVID-19 restrictions. 

As a way to celebrate Arbor Day, city staff planted several beech trees at Meriden’s Brookside Park this week as part of the Harbor Brook master plan. The plan includes other improvements, such as a walking trail and pollinator pathway. The brook runs through the park.

City officials are tracking costs associated with the pandemic so they have dollar figures to present to the federal government when it’s ready to dispense aid to municipalities. In an April 22 letter to U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Christopher Murphy and 5th District U.S. Rep Jahana Hayes, city officials outlined the need for municipal aid to help residents and businesses struggling with the pandemic.

Pablo Soto and a team from Veterans Response, a locally based nonprofit disaster relief organization, raised money and delivered much needed supplies to the food pantry at New Opportunities of Greater Meriden. Over the last several weeks Veterans Response has also helped food pantries in Chester and Middletown. They’ve dubbed their work “Operation Hope.”

Capital projects to improve several tennis courts, playgrounds and basketball courts in Cheshire are underway. Among them is a $290,000 upgrade to the tennis and pickleball court at Cheshire Park. Upgrades to the basketball courts at the town's youth center, McNamara Legion Field and Cheshire Park are also underway.

The city is getting ready to install large steel pipes under the railroad tracks near the former Church & Morse building on South Colony Street to fix what officials say is a main choke point along Harbor Brook and the origin of many past floods. The drainage pipes will be pushed underneath the tracks at the “Amtrak Bridge” to drain excess water in the event of a storm. The bridge is located off Hanover Street, behind the police station.

We didn’t like this week

The Wallingford Town Council meeting held remotely this week was interrupted twice by graphic sexual content broadcast on the audio and video feed by an unknown party. Further incidents could affect public participation in future meetings just as the budget process begins, said Town Council Chairman Vincent Cervoni.

The billions of dollars in coronavirus relief targeted at small businesses may not prevent many of them from ending up in bankruptcy court. Business filings under Chapter 11 of the federal bankruptcy law rose sharply in March, and attorneys who work with struggling companies are seeing signs that more owners are contemplating the possibility of bankruptcy.