Mayor Joseph J. Solomon joined members of the Warwick Sewer Authority (WSA) to award $1,000 scholarships to three Warwick high school graduates during a ceremony Wednesday in the WSA’s meeting room, 125 Arthur Devine Boulevard.
This year’s scholarship recipients are Alyssa Silvestre and Allaire Allen from Toll Gate High School and Marie Balemian from Pilgrim High School. Silvestre ranked sixth in her class and will major in secondary education at Rhode Island College this fall. Allen ranked ninth in her class and will be heading to Bridgewater State University this fall to major in aviation science. Balemian, who ranked 48th in her class, will be attending Fairfield University this fall where she will work toward a degree in neuropsychology.
The scholarships have been given annually since 2003 in honor of the late John A. Caruso, a longtime chairman of the WSA board. Recipients are chosen each year based on certain criteria, including grades, letters of recommendation, participation in extracurricular/community activities and financial need.
“Each of these young women represent the importance of a well-rounded education,” Solomon said. “While all three are clearly driven academically, they each have excelled in others areas like community involvement, extracurricular activities and athletics. This drive will not only prove beneficial as they continue their education, but also as they look towards their future and all the promise that lies ahead of each of them.”
Funds are administered through the WSA’s Industrial Pretreatment Program (IPP), which was established in the early 1980s as required by the federal government. In an effort to protect the sewer collection system, treatment facility, Pawtuxet River and Narragansett Bay, the IPP ensures that wastewater discharge permits are in place for all Warwick-based industrial and commercial facilities that discharge wastewater into the system. Facilities that violate conditions contained within their permit are subject to fines of up to $25,000 per day per violation. Most permit infractions are inconsequential, sporadic, non-compliant events constituting minor penalties ($50-$100). These minor infractions, however, escalate when a facility is identified as a repeat violator. Each year, the IPP reserves a portion of the collected fine money for the scholarship program, with annual grants ranging from $1,000 to $2,000. A panel comprised of WSA staff and board members reviews the applications and determines which applicants will be the recipients of the scholarship awards.
“From its inception in 2003 to the present day, the John A. Caruso Scholarship Award program has distributed nearly $67,000 among forty-three of Warwick’s most exceptional, and very grateful, high school graduates,” said Betty Anne Rogers, IPP coordinator. “Given the ever-increasing cost of higher education, the scholarship money is such a blessing to these students. I’m so grateful that we can take a ‘negative-fine’ and turn it into ‘positive-scholarship.”