Over the past few weeks, Middletown has welcomed legislators from across the region to discuss issues of mutual importance
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MIDDLETOWN KEEPS BUSY WITH LEGISLATORS
MIDDLETOWN, R.I. (APRIL 12, 2021) – The Town of Middletown has been a pretty popular place recently with state and federal legislators.
Last Thursday, town officials met via a Zoom based webinar with U.S. Rep. David Cicilline to discuss a number of issues. Among those included the American Rescue Plan, the upcoming infrastructure bill from President Joseph Biden and local projects that could use federal support.
Included in the call were Town Administrator Shawn J. Brown, Town Planner Ronald M. Wolanski and Interim Fire Chief Robert McCall.
During the chat, Brown said Middletown thanked Cicilline for his recent work to help secure federal money to cover the cost of new 10 firefighters for the first three years. The additional staff allows Middletown to put a second rescue wagon and fire truck on the road when necessary to improve the town’s response to all emergencies.
“It was a really good call,” Brown said. “Anytime we can meet and talk with our legislators, it’s a positive so they have a better understanding of exactly what’s happening in Middletown and how invaluable their assistance is, whether it’s on the state or federal level.”
Earlier last week, the Town Council met with State Reps. Deborah Ruggiero and Terri Cortvriend, also by Zoom.
There, the council and both state representatives covered several important areas. Among those included updates on the state budget, the status of three local bills before the General Assembly, the potential legalization of recreational marijuana use in Rhode Island and related items.
One area council members agreed they wanted to see changes was to expand the allowances that give communities permission to hold certain public meetings remotely.
Council members said while they didn’t think every meeting needed to be open to Zoom access, many should be down the line as COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift.
Council Vice President Paul M. Rodrigues said the council has received plenty of positive feedback from residents and businesspeople about the transparency provided by Zoom meetings and how much easier it is to get involved with town government.
Area legislators said they’ve heard similar input and that was one area of many they’d pursue in coming days for Middletown.
“There’s a lot that’s going to happen over the next 90 days,” Ruggiero said.
On April 3, Governor Daniel McKee visited the Federal Emergency Management Agency COVID-19 vaccination center at 1400 West Main Road, site of the closed Benny’s department store.
There, McKee spoke about the importance of the vaccination program and everyone getting their shots. He also went on to say that vaccinations were a critical part of reopening Rhode Island, particularly during the important summer months when the Ocean State is an international tourist destination.
On March 19, U.S. Senator Jack Reed visited two local vaccination centers and dropped by Town Hall in between, where he spoke about the importance of getting Rhode Island back on track.
Reed said the federal government will play an important role in this process, with several bills aimed at channeling funding to the state. He also said as time goes along, more COVID-19 vaccines will be available to those who haven’t gotten their shots yet.
“Each one of these meetings is important,” Brown said. “It’s a good way to connect with our legislators and make sure everyone is on the same page and pulling in the same direction.”