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editorial Thumbs up, thumbs down

Staff WriterMay 14, 2019

Thumbs up to the 38-foot statue of Uncle Sam returning to Danbury, this time to find a home downtown outside the Danbury Railway Museum. The iconic and colorful Uncle Sam once greeted visitors to the annual Danbury Fair, but spent 36 years at a family amusement park Lake George, New York, before the city paid $50,000 to return him. The statue was put in place Wednesday and should be a draw for selfies. Along with Uncle Sam, the city also acquired the Cinderella exhibit that had been featured at the fair; we look forward to seeing where in Danbury that will go.

Thumbs up to the observance of Ella T. Grasso’s 100th birthday Friday at the State Capitol. Connecticut made history when Grasso became the first woman elected governor, in her own right, in the nation; she served from 1975 to 1980. She resigned from office when she was dying from ovarian cancer. Before leading the state, the Windsor Locks Democrat became a member of the General Assembly in 1952, secretary of the state in 1958, and two-term member of the House of Representatives in 1970. Younger generations should know of Grasso’s remarkable trailblazing, even as women still are underrepresented in many aspects of government.

Thumbs down to a continued wait for federal relief from the devastating tornadoes that hit the state one year ago. “I’ve never seen anything close to the devastation from that day,” said state Rep. Steve Harding, R-Brookfield, and his comments apply to many towns in the area, some still strewn with uprooted trees. But though the state applied for $23.7 million in federal disaster assistance, Connecticut has received only $1.6 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency. That needs to change for a real recovery to take root and for local communities to recoup their significant losses.

Thumbs up at long last to an agreement on post-traumatic stress disorder benefits for police and firefighters in Connecticut. The state has struggled to refine its workers compensation statute since the 2012 Sandy Hook shootings, with critics saying it applies too narrowly to people who suffer directly from violence or trauma rather than also to those who witness its aftermath. That appears likely to change thanks to a bipartisan compromise that should win easy passage in the Capitol.

Thumbs up to a new effort to keep trucks off Route 15. This isn’t a matter of preference; about a dozen times a year a truck strikes a bridge along one of the state’s parkways because it exceeds the clearance height. That leads to endless delays on an already traffic-choked roadway. Drivers say they’ve had a hard time reporting problems before they happen, and the state has taken notice. New signage, in addition to heavier fines, are in the works to clamp down on the issue, which only makes traffic a bigger headache for local commuters.

Thumbs down to the latest report confirming what we’ve long known - the opioid crisis is devastating communities across Connecticut and is hitting every corner of the state. Accidental overdoses increased almost 40 percent from 2015 to 2018, a review of state data has shown, with the problem as severe in rich towns as poor cities, as deadly in the suburbs as in rural communities. Though there have been hopeful signs and new calls for action, the crisis remains far from over.

Thumbs up to Mary Proudfoot for her 30-plus years of inspiring children to read through her position at Children’s Librarian at the Brookfield Public Library. Proudfoot made visiting the library fun with programs such as the annual Teddy Bear Sleepover and story time for children 10 and younger. She received the 2019 Faith Hektoen Career Achievement Award from the Connecticut Library Association. Proudfoot will be feted at the library from 3 to 6 p.m. May 20; the public is welcome.

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