Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 01-10-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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NO. SMITHFIELD BLACKSTONE WOONSOCKET | VALLEY BREEZE | JANUARY 10-16, 2019 LETTERS / NO. SMITHFIELD 11 Fond farewell, faithful farmer This valley bid a fond farewell to a favored son, and his family bid adieu to it's beloved patriarch last week as Edward R. Wright was laid to rest in a peaceful plot in a North Smithfield church yard. Despite the awesome suc- cess of one of Rhode Island's – and proba- bly New England's – premier "farm to table" enterprises, it was evident that Ed never forgot his farmer roots as his tough and trusted bright green John Deere tractor led his funeral proces- sion through the farm property to the church and grave site. How fitting! His obituary highlighted his some- times difficult life as, at only 18 years of age, he confronted the passing of his older and only brother so had to step into fill the farm boots which would carry him through – and ultimately define – his life's journey. His Mount St. Charles Academy education and experiences may, oth- erwise, have led him toward other pursuits. And how, for the sake of his family, he made some perhaps risky decisions to discontinue home deliveries and establish a retail farm store and later a bakery. (The rest is history). Virtually every aspect of the revered Wright's Dairy Farm and Bakery we know today is testament to Ed's hard work and vision and his legacy continues through the work ethic, core values, and business savvy he instilled in his wonderful family and extended family who carry on. Ed Wright possessed enviable ener- gy and ethics, impressive business acu- men, and enough kindness, respect, and humility to more than fill a silo. Interactions with him were always pleasant, respectful, and enlighten- ing. No doubt, Ed furrowed his way to an eternity of bountiful harvests, and through God's mercy he will be judged as having reaped far more than he has sown. May his eternal pastures be forever green, his soil forever rich, and his memory forever fond! Rest in peace, Ed. THOMAS P. TATRO Burrillville WRIGHT Upset that mural at VA painted over I am writing with outrage to learn that beautiful mural that was hand- painted by students of RISD some years back is being painted over to what I was told would present cases to show different type of uniforms. I share my frustration to whomever decided to go forward with this plan, that other options were not explored! That mural was a total piece of R.I. history, showing everything from the Newport Bridge, to beach scenes, a famous Pawsox stars that went on to play in Boston. That mural rep- resented all of what was good here in R.I. With a few strokes of a roller it was covered over and lost for good. This issue is shameful and shows that government bureaucracy continues to exist at the Providence VA Medical Center. My feelings go out to the stu- dents that took their time to paint that mural, only to have it destroyed by someone's stupidity. DAVID SILVIA Woonsocket Jan. 3. The Stone Arch Bridge traces its history to 1855, when it was built to replace a previous wooden bridge over the Branch River. At the time, the Slatersville Mills operated a successful textile operation on the river's northern bank, where the accompanying mill village was still developing. Today, the bridge is the oldest of its kind in the state, a long- standing icon of a critical era in the Blackstone Valley's development. Though the bridge has displayed an impressive longevity, it was overdue for a rehab after 150 years of use. In 2007, the bridge was declared structurally deficient and closed to trucking, and in 2014, traffic was reduced to one lane. In 2017, RIDOT broke ground on a $13.5 million reconstruction project intended to improve the bridge to contemporary standards while keep- ing its historic structure intact. "This was really a labor of love. This was an iconic structure that's part of the community here," said Alviti. The bridge's continued impor- tance in the community became evident last spring, when several business owners shared concerns about a drop in customers due to the prolonged closure. At Quik Stop Deli, owner Jocelyn Labrecque said traffic decreased by as much as 40 percent at certain times of day as the deli's breakfast and lunch custom- ers found easier places to buy their morning coffee without detouring around Railroad Street. Since the bridge reopened on Dec. 21, she said, business has begun to return to pre-bridge closure levels, and regular customers are returning. Even more exciting, she said, the deli's annual stock of holiday meat pies is com- pletely sold out. "It's been great. It's been much, much better. Previous customers are coming back. We had a lot of faithful customers that continued even while the bridge was closed," she said. Three storefronts away from Quik Stop in the Commercial Block, Slater Clothing Company co-owner Leslie LaForest-Branchaud said she looks forward to a new year without the bridge closure. While the store's November 2017 opening makes it difficult to gauge what impact, if any, the closure had on business, LaForest-Branchaud said she expects an increase in drive-by traffic now that residents can access the village center more easily. "I'm thinking in the next few weeks, I'll start seeing some activ- ity," she said. Town Administrator Gary Ezovski praised the cooperation of RIDOT with town officials and said the opening generated wide inter- est among residents, including on social media, where a video of the December opening by local filmmaker Christian de Rezendes garnered 15,000 views. The bridge opening was a welcome change for residents, he said, even if the easier traffic route took some getting used to. "People are thrilled to be able to go north and south again. Some of us, I think, forget once in a while and wind up on the detour route. I know I did it yesterday," he added. Town and RIDOT officials are now turning their attention to two other upcoming bridge projects. Within the next few months, work will begin on the Route 146 bridge over Connector Road, also known as Old Great Road, resulting in a temporary road closure under the bridge. Then, in April, RIDOT will begin a two-year restoration of the Branch River Bridge on Great Road, a project that is expected to close eastbound traffic for an extended period of time. Ezovski said he is working with RIDOT officials to improve traffic flow during the proj- ects. "We get concerned about all these things, how they go together. We're working with DOT to make sure they recognize that," he said. All three projects are funded by the $4.9 billion RhodeWorks infra- structure legislation passed in 2016. The initiative will address more than 600 bridges around the state over the next 10 years. Work on the Stone Arch Bridge will continue to restrict pedestrian access into 2019, including pav- ing and the installation of ADA- compliant railings and sidewalks. The project was originally scheduled for a 2020 completion but is now on track to finish up in 2019. The historic STONE ARCH BRIDGE, constructed in 1855, reopened on Dec. 21 after an extensive reconstruction project by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation. BREEZE PHOTOS BY LAUREN CLEM Local and state officials and business leaders present at the STONE ARCH BRIDGE RIBBON CUTTING last week included, from left, Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti Jr., Sen. Thomas Paolino, Sen. Jessica de la Cruz, Town Councilor Douglas Osier Jr., Town Administrator Gary Ezovski and Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce President John Gregory. STONE ARCH From Page One Rachel A. Baboian, Au. D. 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