Looking Back: Pickup policy, poverty problems

Some things never change.

One can’t help but feel that sentiment looking over the front page of the Feb. 4, 1993, Press, where the sight of a long line of cars at East Ridge Middle School created an obvious headline: “Traffic Jam.” Sound familiar?

“The recent barrage of parents picking up [ERMS] students has at times presented a safety hazard on Prospect Ridge Road,” the newspaper reported. “The problem has become so bad, Principal Mary Capwell said she’ll be changing the school’s pickup policy.”

“We’ve always had parents who have driven up to the rear of the school and picked up their children,” she told The Press. “But in the last month or so, it has become an impossible situation. … Police have been here daily asking parents to move on.”

It wasn’t the only school-related story to warrant a big front-page photo. High school cafeteria worker Fran Gardner was pictured scrubbing one of the two 40-gallon pots used to prepare food — everything from tacos to sauces for Italian dishes — for young, hungry eaters.

“School cafeteria workers recently formed their own union,” the caption noted.

Next to the 40-gallon pots was a story about the state’s Department of Transportation suspending its efforts for a long-planned four-lane connection between Norwalk and Danbury.

“Is Super 7 dead?” The Press asked.

“What they’re saying is that in the next 10 years the state could not afford to do it,” said Ridgefield state Rep. Barbara Ireland.

Now, that definitely sounds familiar to those who have been reading The Press in 2018.

50 years ago

Ridgefield has never been a town synonymous with poverty, which makes the headline about an upcoming church series in the Feb. 1, 1968, Press stand out.

Racial and poverty problems in the cities was the focus point of the series, which was sponsored by the Ministerial Association of Ridgefield.

“The first session will deal with the history at the root of the urban poverty problem, the situation of the minority groups in the cities and why these problems continue to exist,” The Press reported.

The second session was supposed to highlight the efforts of social workers and anti-poverty programs. The third would act as a workshop, the newspaper said, where the group would analyze the problems of Danbury.

Want some juxtaposition? “Grand List Increases $6,269,211,” read another headline on that week’s front page.

“The taxable value of Ridgefield property, real and personal, has increased more than $6 million during the past year,” the paper reported.

“The total valuation on the grand list which was completed and signed at 10:15 last night in the assessor’s office is $80,051,321. Just 10 years ago it was $30,334,613.”