Dave Richards for February 12th…………
--The Northern Rhode Island Council of the Arts presents Woonsocket’s Mardi Gras again for the 25th consecutive year this month. The festivities revolve around two distinct events. The first, this Friday the Queen’s Coronation from 6pm to 8pm at Savini’s Pomodoro on Rathbun Street will see the five local ladies who have been selling tickets for a couple of months learn which one of them will be crowned Mardi Gras Princesses and which will be crowned Queen of the Mardi Gras.
Then, as her first official act as Queen of the Woonsocket Mardi Gras, the queen will unmask the local man who has been playing the heavily-costumed part of King Jace XXV since Christmastime. The two of them will reign over the Mardi Gras Ball on Saturday the 23rd from 5:30pm to 10:30pm at the St. Ann Arts and Cultural Center on Cumberland Street.
Tickets for either event as well as raffle tickets are available until Thursday from any of the queen contestants, or by phoning Lorraine Cloutier at 401-762-9072. Guesses to the true identity of the man playing King Jace XXV may be taken until 4pm Friday at either Woonsocket radio station or the offices of The Call, 75 Main Street.
Not unlike Halloween, Mardi Gras started off as a religious festival which has evolved over the years to be a good excuse for a party for everyone with little real religious significance. Holiday’s seem to have a life of their own, I think.
Valentine’s Day has followed Mother’s Day and Father’s Day as “Hallmark Holidays”. At least Christmas is still a religious holiday here in the U.S., though it has developed additional themes. And then there is St. Patrick’s Day. Ah, St. Patrick’s Day, now there’s a holiday which has really gone through changes. There was a lot of bigotry in this country years ago directed at the Irish. But where there is a will there is a way. When the Irish in Boston couldn’t get permission to have a parade on St. Patrick’s Day, they noted that on the 17th of March during the Revolutionary War, the British evacuated Boston. So, “Evacuation Day” was celebrated in bean-town. With a parade. Although it had a distinctly green tinge to it.
The point is a party is a party. It’s a good chance to blow off some steam and release the tensions which build up with daily life. Parties relieve stress. And that’s a good thing. As I always say, “Stress kills more people than guns…”. We’ll see you at the Mardi Gras!
--Did you ever have a problem with the response you received from National Grid during an outage or construction situation? Lt. Governor Dan McKee is on your side. He visited us last week on the radio and told us of legislation he asked State Senator (and Woonsocket native) Roger Picard to sponsor in the senate which would essentially put Rhode Island utility customers on the same footing as those in Massachusetts. It will, among other things, require the utilities to establish and review annually a plan of action to execute during weather (and other) emergencies which cause interruptions in service.
It’s not only natural disasters Dan is concerned about. He told us of an employer who has invested in new equipment to remain in Rhode Island and stay competitive. The equipment is installed, but cannot be used because of lengthy delays by National Grid in upgrading the electrical service to the building. And also a solar project which was quoted one price for connection to “the grid”, but when the bill came in it was more than doubled in cost. We may not realize it, but there are people out there who are being victimized by a utility which suffers little consequence when their service is lacking.
Public utilities enjoy special protections from government. Dan thinks they should therefore be especially accountable to their customers.
My take away from all this is that over the last couple of decades, the utility business has gone through many huge changes, but Rhode Island’s laws have not kept pace. Dan wants there to be teeth in our state’s legal oversight of the utilities so that when things go wrong the government isn’t reduced to simply yelling and screaming their displeasure, they can compel the companies to respond in a more satisfactory way. As much as I dislike adding more laws to our already bloated books, I see this effort as one of genuine protection for the consumer. I support it.
--That's what I think. What do you think? Comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org or postal mail to Dave Richards, WOON Radio, 985 Park Avenue, Woonsocket, RI 02895-6332.
Thanks for reading.