Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Cumberland Lincoln 03-18-2021

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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24 CUMBERLAND / LINCOLN MARCH 18-24, 2021 | VALLEY BREEZE | CUMBERLAND LINCOLN EDITION Jacobs, senior corporate relations manager at Rhode Island PBS, spoke about the several levels of sponsorships for the project, includ- ing the premier level at $2,500; benefactor level at $1,500; and patron level at $500. Each level comes with its own benefits. Snapshots of Cumberland Mesolella told The Breeze that she's already heard from a few folks about what they'd like to see in the episode, including from resi- dent Dave Brown who makes gift items from rare Cumberlandite, the state's official rock, found on his property. Other ideas that have been floated include the Nine Men's Misery monument at the Monastery as well as the annual Arnold Mills Fourth of July parade. Joyce Hindle- Koutsogiane, organizer of the annual Fourth of July parade, told The Breeze she was invited to last week's meet- ing but couldn't attend. She plans to be involved in the project, she said. She will certainly be involved in a segment about the parade, but added that she's hoping to get town officials organized around the 275th anniversary of the Town Hall as well. At the March 10 meeting, Patricia McAlpine, of the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, mentioned the river tours that take place out of Central Falls, which include Cumberland at Valley Falls and Lonsdale Marsh. Mesolella said other suggestions she's heard include the Blackstone River, as well as tales of hauntings and legends in town; Adams Farm and Franklin Farm; and The Valley Breeze. Supt. Bob Mitchell, who is retiring in June after nine years leading the school district, was one of a handful of leaders to attend the meeting last week. He told The Breeze, "I think it's a wonderful opportunity for resi- dents of Cumberland to share what it's like to live in this community. I think the educational system in any town is a big part of the com- munity." Mitchell noted he's shared the information about the March 31 meeting with the district. "I will do whatever I can to be a part of this. … I hope that certainly anyone asso- ciated with the School Department, but also the community in general, takes advantage of this opportunity to share what it's like to live in Cumberland." According to Mesolella last week there were 28 folks registered for the March 31 meeting, which normally attracts 40 to 60 people. "The num- ber of people registered (already) is great," she said. "People are reach- ing out." To register for the meeting, visit ripbs.org . For more information, visit www.ripbs.org/our-town or contact Mesolella at ourtown@ripbs. org or 401-222-3636, ext. 209. 'OUR TOWN' From Page 6 the Golden Apple Award. Mitchell said she's conscientious and highly regarded, and to win this award, one must be nominated by their peers. Chandler is someone who is in the profession to make a difference in students, he said, and families report being profoundly impacted by her. He called her "exceptional and deserving" of the award, going about her duties in an unassuming way. Chandler said she's fortunate to work with some great people, and "it was really an honor" to receive the award. • Mitchell gave a positive update on COVID-19 cases, saying there had been eight additional positive cases among students and one case in a staff member over the previous week, showing a continued decline. "The good news is the numbers are not increasing at a significant rate," he said. Committee member Kerry Feather said she was "so impressed to see that the numbers are where they are" and that the district hasn't seen a spike in cases. She said it represents "great work" by all involved. The district hosted a vaccina- tion clinic for school employees, as well as staffs from Mercymount and Blackstone Valley Prep, last Friday, March 12. • The lower COVID-19 numbers come even as the district ramps up in- person learning. Mitchell said leaders brought back students in early grades for four days of in-person learning starting two weeks ago, saying there are now 1,364 students in grades K-5 doing in-person learning and 501 in distance learning. Middle school stu- dents are also now back to class on a more regular basis, as are grades 9 and 12, according to the schedule Mitchell presented, but grades 10-11 will remain in hybrid learning until officials can find a way to bring them back to the high school. There remain many challenges, said Mitchell, including on busing, but the staff continues to be flexible and understanding. Member Mark Fiorillo asked for a full accounting on the age of every bus used by Durham School Services locally, saying he wants to analyze the age of the fleet. Member Keri Smith asked about why the decision was made to bring grades 9 and 12 back first, and Mitchell responded that social distanc- ing remains a big challenge at the high school. Students in grades K-8 can still be kept in pods, he said, while they can't be at the high school. Mitchell said one of the reasons seniors were brought back first was so they would have the opportunity to engage with each other prior to the end of their high school experience, as well as continue getting help with applica- tions to college and other tasks. As far as freshmen, he said, this is their first chance to be exposed to the high school experience. Having half of the students back makes for a manageable number for a school of Cumberland High School's size, he said. • Member Denis Collins asked about truancy cases and how the district ends up deciding to investigate them. Mitchell said there's a combination of ways, including tips from the public or teachers overhearing students talk- ing. Truancy Officer Guy DeAngelis does a great job of following up, he said. Collins then asked if the same processes are used if a student lives in Cumberland but is going to a middle school outside of his district, and Mitchell said yes. • Collins also brought up the dangerous traffic situation at North Cumberland Middle School, describ- ing how drivers trying to turn left out of the school have their vision blocked by waiting traffic on Nate Whipple Highway. He said it's a serious crash waiting to happen. Principal Bethany Coughlin updated the committee on various steps the staff is working on with local police to correct traffic flow and create a safer situation with a clearer vantage point for drivers. • Member Paul DiModica said the School Department is currently run- ning about a $300,000 surplus for this fiscal year, with anywhere between $2 million and $4 million coming to the district in federal stimulus money. Freedman described efforts at the state level that could force districts such as Cumberland to change their curriculum, at a cost of about $1 mil- lion over three years. The push seems "counterintuitive," she said, especially for top-performing districts that have put so much into the curricula they use and would have to put so much effort into implementing new material. RENOVATIONS From Page 8 Ayotte releases seventh book CUMBERLAND – Town resident Julien Ayotte has released his seventh book in eight years, his latest mystery thriller titled "The Treasure." "The pandemic, although a night- mare for everyone this year, provided me with so much solitary time that writing became the natural thing to do," he said in a release. In 2020, he released two books, first "Diamond and Pearls" and later "The Treasure," and has now started on his eighth novel. "The Treasure" is much more than the title implies, he said. Sebastian Reynolds, a noted Canadian col- umnist, teams up with Col. Jerome Woodrow, a retired Vietnam vet- eran with a heart of gold, to find the killer of his old military comrade on a Caribbean island. Together, they unearth a treasure from the past. From the Nova Scotia peninsula to a South Sea island, from a villa on Turks and Caicos to the rolling hills of Virginia, "the quest for pirated riches from long ago leads to murder, intrigue, and an unexpected romance along the way." Paul Caranci, a local author of nonfiction, and Jon Land, a USA Today best-selling author, have com- pared Ayotte's books to those by Harlan Coben and David Baldacci. His books can be found at Stillwater Books in Pawtucket, Phantom Farms in Cumberland, Tatnuck Booksellers in Westboro, Mass., or online at www. julienayotte.com or by emailing him at jpahome@cox.net . AYOTTE Small Business Swat Team formed CUMBERLAND – The Cumberland Democratic Town Committee is moving forward with a plan to try and help some local busi- nesses, says Chairman Tom Kane. Committee officers are excited to announce the formation of the Greater Cumberland Small Business SWAT Team, states a release. "This is a new, fun and exciting way for our committee to support local Cumberland businesses and engage with our community," it announces. "The Small Business SWAT Team concept has been very successful in Attleboro, Mass. Lisa Beaulieu spent some time with the Attleboro creator and helped lay the foundation for the effort in Cumberland. Here's a quick rundown of how the group works: • Each week, a new local business is selected to be supported by the SWAT group. This is the weekly "SWAT Mission." • Every three or so weeks, a nomi- nation will be posted and those busi- nesses will be placed in a poll, with the top five finishers selected for the next five missions. • For small business owners, the group has a small business Sunday mega-thread to promote them. They can nominate their business for the poll. • For SWATers each week, the goal is to support the local business by shopping/dining with them and then supporting them on social media. "This group is all about community and generosity," states the release. The group launched on Facebook on Monday. There are big plans in the works for the parade, including a renewal of the post-parade food truck event at Chase Farm Park. Gould said this year's event will be bigger and better than the 2019 celebration, as it will also be a celebration of the town's 150th anniversary since it was incorporated. He said committee members remember the parade during the town's 100th anniversary year, which included numerous floats decorated to the nines, and participants from all corners of town. Gould said they decided against holding the parade on the usual Memorial Day weekend due to so many unknowns. They talked about holding the parade on Labor Day, but having it on Columbus Day weekend will give the high school band and other school groups more time to prepare. They hope to be able to host the outdoor concert series later this sum- mer, which serves as a fundraiser for the parade. The annual pasta dinner fundraiser would be pushed to the fall, before the parade. Memorial Day will not go without observance, he said. The committee is planning to hold an honor guard and wreath-laying ceremony at each of Lincoln's war memorials on Memorial Day in an effort to recognize the town's veter- ans who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the performance of their military duties. "We do not want to lose out on rec- ognizing the importance of Memorial Day and remembering what the holi- day is all about," said Gould, who is a veteran. "We wanted to find a way to pay homage to the people from Lincoln who lost their lives in the line of duty, and not lose sight of that." Members of the town's rescue and fire services have agreed to help with each ceremony. A full schedule will be posted closer to Memorial Day, with times and locations. Gould said they hope to stream the ceremonies online as well. PARADE From Page 4

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