TOM WARD - An electrifying win for towns

TOM WARD - An electrifying win for towns

After a rough and rainy Victory Day weekend in August, the leaders of the CumberlandFest festival had some soul-searching to do. Sports organizations which had benefited mightily from the event over its 28-year run were no longer coming forward with the needed volunteers. The weekend washout nearly sealed its fate.

And so, a last-ditch meeting was held Nov. 26, and I’m glad to see there may be new blood coming forward with new ideas. It is “kick in the pants” time; a reset is a must. But let’s not kid ourselves. Much more help is needed. It was a bit disappointing to see only one elected official at the meeting – Councilor-elect Mike Kinch – for this, the town’s largest annual event.

I’m heartened to see, however, that going forward there may be new beneficiaries in the arts, and not just sports groups, assuming the arts groups provide volunteers. After all, more than $30,000 is raised in an average year. CumberlandFest is worth saving!

Special thanks to all – Joe and Carol Vela, Jerry Schimmel, Rebekah Puloe, Ernie Labbe, and others – who have worked through the years to keep Cumberlandfest humming. It’s a tall order, and the real planning will begin after the holidays. Call anyone named here or town Recreation Director Michael Crawley to learn how you might help.

It’s Electric!

Last week’s win by Mayor Joe Polisena in Johnston could push part of the streetlight electric bill off to the state in all of Rhode Island’s cities and towns. Polisena won an eight-year battle with National Grid. Now, the state – and not cities and towns – may have to pay for electric lighting on “state roads.” Many cities and towns have state roads, and residents can most easily tell which they are by watching snowplows in a storm. If a state D.O.T. truck is plowing the road, it’s a state road. Now, Rhode Island might get the electric bill, too.

Of course, before we all get too excited, it’s just an exercise of which pocket we’re all paying the bill from. Both state and local taxes come from us, so.... Still, for cities with greater fiscal challenges, this may help.

Baby They’re Cold

It seems the 1944 holiday duet “Baby It’s Cold Outside” is no longer appropriate in the Me Too era. You know, the song has predatory suggestions and the guy’s just a rapist. Actually, I had never heard this song until about a decade ago, so it must have spent about 40 years in the deep freeze, where it’s going back, thanks to political correctness.

Hillary, Just Stop!

It’s coming from The New York Times, so perhaps we can finally stick a fork in Hillary Clinton. Last week, columnist Maureen Dowd went to Toronto for the Clintons’ (both of them) appearance in a huge arena. Few showed up. (Honestly, is anybody surprised?) Dowd made fun of their money-grubbing years and this final attempt at relevance. Of course, this is the Clintons she’s insulting, and that’s no small sin on the left. So Dowd added, “After losing to an orange puffer clown fish who will go down as one of the most destructive forces in American history.” Ah, way to go, Maureen! After all, it’s cocktail party season in Manhattan. You wouldn’t want to miss out chortling with the swells!

Bush v. Trump

The passing of President George H.W. Bush, one of the classiest and most dignified men to ever hold the office, puts into sharp relief how far we’ve been polarized and separated as a society in just 30 years. Eventually, there will be a post-Trump president who will behave more diplomatically. Still, social media demagogues on both the right and left will keep driving wedges between us. I fear what happens next, when free speech is declared the enemy, as it has been already on many of our nation’s campuses.

Finally, thanks to all of you who reached out with your condolences regarding the passing last week of my brother, Kevin. He was a kind and sensitive brother who grew to become a devoted husband and gentle friend. He will be missed.

Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze newspapers