TOM WARD – Apologize in public, and be done with it

TOM WARD – Apologize in public, and be done with it

It’s hard to imagine what Pawtucket City Councilor Mark Wildenhain was thinking when he made his “breathtakingly disrespectful and reprehensible” comment to Councilor Elena Vasquez (her quote) at a Dec. 16 Christmas party. She’s right. He did. Since then, he has apologized repeatedly, but Vasquez has not accepted the apology, asking instead to bring it all up at a public council meeting. Other councilors are balking at that.

I would suggest Wildenhain apologize to Vasquez in public session, and end it. She deserves that. What happens after that, however, should be up to voters. Enough.

Good wishes

Best wishes to new North Providence Police Chief Arthur Martins, who officially replaced Col. David Tikoian Tuesday night. Nearby North Smithfield is still looking for a new chief to replace retiring Steven Reynolds.

Short of cash?

The town of Lincoln may have to pare back its wish list as Twin River Casino is finding it difficult to snap back from financial losses suffered at the hands of the new Encore Casino in Boston. Everyone knew and expected gamblers would head to Boston to try out the new, full-blown Las Vegas-style casino. For years, Twin River has done a great job creating relationships with Massachusetts gamers, and hoped that many would return after a few spins of the Encore wheel. So far, though, it’s not happening nearly enough. Lincoln may be down a million dollars in table game and slot losses by fiscal year-end, according to my brother, Finance Director John Ward. Further, sports gambling isn’t catching on in Rhode Island as hoped.

What does this mean? Less money for Rhode Island – and the town of Lincoln. The good news? For years, Lincoln kept those funds “off budget” and paid cash for things like the town’s Senior Center, expanded police station, and many improved town streets. With reduced cash from Twin River, no cuts are needed. It just might take a bit longer to get some things done around town.

Still, here’s hoping the Bay Staters come back!

Check ‘em out

There are a couple of new things for residents of Smithfield and North Smithfield to check out in the days ahead. And why not? It’s winter!

In Smithfield, the YMCA, 15 Deerfield Drive, will open its doors to the community to show off its recent renovations. It takes place on Saturday, Jan. 25, from 10 a.m. to noon. Besides some general brightening, a new fitness center is open after a recent auto accident damaged the facility. New CEO Shauna Lewis promises much more – including pool work – in the months ahead. See for yourself!

• In North Smithfield, residents will be invited to inspect the new science labs at the town’s high school. The open house will be on Monday, Feb. 3. at 5:30 p.m. prior to the Town Council meeting.

The $2.3 million project includes a complete overhaul of three old labs, and the addition of two more new classrooms for science.

Parks and Rec

Finally, in Cumberland, Mayor Jeff Mutter and town officials plan an open meeting soon to tell the public more about the plans for Diamond Hill Park. Some of the discussion will center on the much-unloved (to put it mildly) pond in front of the bandstand, a pond that keeps musicians away from their audience, and vice versa. Add to that the bureaucracy of the state’s Department of Environmental Management, and significant change there is difficult to design. Still, I’m interested to hear what the plans are for park improvements. No meeting date has been set yet, but the mayor expects it will be soon.

Ward is publisher of The Valley Breeze newspapers.