NEW LONDON GETS NEW SUPER
The city of New London has a new school superintendent. Cynthia Ritchie was appointed by the Board of Education during its meeting last night. Ritchie says she’s looking forward to leading the New London school district. She has served as assistant superintendent in East Hartford for the past four years. Before that, she worked for the Salem school district as a principal and administrator. Ritchie replaces Stephen Tracy, who took over for Manuel Rivera last year following his sudden retirement. A 15-member search committee recommended Ritchie after conducting a nationwide search that lasted several months.
FAMILY DISPLACED BY FIRE
Canterbury firefighters responded to a home at 1 North Canterbury Road that was destroyed by fire around 12:15 Thursday afternoon. Firefighters from several towns were called in to battle the fire that displaced a family of two adults and three children. The first units on scene encountered a first floor that was completely involved. It took firefighters almost two hours to get the fire under control. Officials say no one was home, and no injuries were reported. Cause of the fire is under investigation.
KELLY SEARCHED FOR DRUGS, NOTHING FOUND
Norwich police officers and K-9 units from several police departments conducted a narcotics sweep of hallways and common areas at Kelly Middle School in Norwich on Thursday morning. School superintendent Abby Dolliver reported that nothing was found. She said the search was routine and not in response to any suspected drug problems at the school but wanted to be proactive. Kelly houses 687 students in the seventh and eighth grades this year.
WATER LINE WORK ALMOST READY
Ten years ago, Sprague’s main drinking water well failed when it became clogged by sediment. Construction of a 10,000 foot, $5 million dollar pipeline that will provide an emergency water supply to the town will begin soon. The state has offered to subsidize 50 percent of the project’s cost through a $2.5 million grant, and the remaining $2.5 million will be covered by a two percent loan to be paid back over 20 years. The state views the project as a “regional asset.”
NON-PROFITS FIGHTING BACK
Earlier this week Norwich Tax Assessor Donna Ralston announced many religious, educational, veteran and non profits would be denied tax-exempt status, more than half of them for failing to file statements required every four years by state law. While those denials were automatic, Ralston also decided to deny exemptions for many other organizations, some for checking a box on the form that states: “property is not being used for statutory exempt purposes.” Several Norwich nonprofit organizations are now gearing up to challenge the assessor’s denial of their property tax-exempt status, in court if necessary.
HORSES MAY GET TAX EXEMPT STATUS
The North Stonington Board of Selectmen has unanimously expressed their support for moving forward a measure that would make horses, that are housed in town, tax exempt. Residents will more than likely have the ability to vote on giving horses tax exempt status at a town meeting that is anticipated for late next month. First Selectman Mike Urgo said that taxing horses currently generates less than $2,000 in revenue. Currently horses that are housed in North Stonington are assessed as personal property, however, if the owner files a personal property declaration, there is an exemption of up to $1,000. Also, if horses are used in a farming operation, they can be totally exempt, provided they meet certain criteria.
Preston voters Thursday approved by a 36-23 margin to spend up to $35,000 from the town’s capital plan to replace the bleachers at Preston Veterans’ Memorial School with new ones that would better meet federal handicapped-accessibility standards. The town’s $3.65 million capital plan, approved by voters in a Feb. 6th referendum, included $118,000 to replace the gym floor. It only cost $81,000 for the project. Left over money was approved by last night’s vote for the new bleachers.