July 20 was not the kind of day Mayor Frank Picozzi could have planned. It started with a text about McDermott Pool having to close and continued with a chat with the President over wearing a tie. In …
July 20 was not the kind of day Mayor Frank Picozzi could have planned. It started with a text about McDermott Pool having to close and continued with a chat with the President over wearing a tie. In other words, it went from what could have been a serious accident to shooting the breeze with Joe Biden that in the end turned out to be a self-imposed quarantine.
“It was one of those things, what comes next?” Picozzi said Tuesday. It was the first day he was back in the office after spending five days at home.
The text and photo from the pool started things off. The picture was of one of the ceiling mounted pool heating units showing it hanging from a couple of mounting brackets. A bracket had snapped and the unit was precariously dangling. From the shot, Picozzi couldn’t tell where the unit was exactly located, but he feared the pool would have to be drained -- mind you in the midst of a heat wave when the pool was in demand – in order for equipment to lift it back in place.
When he got to the pool, wearing work clothes, not a bathing suit, Picozzi found the unit hanging over the pool apron to his relief. It wasn’t going to drop in the water and the pool wouldn’t have to be drained. He stood by as highway director Rick Gallant and a crew maneuvered a pair of fork lifts along the pool. In order to gain access to the pool, Picozzi said, the forks had to be removed and the machines reassembled once inside.
The crew found that a bracket had rusted out, but fortunately those preventing the unit from smashing down were sound. The unit was lifted back into place with new hardware fitted to hold it. The pool reopened shortly thereafter.
There would be relief.
It wasn’t cool on the tarmac as Picozzi and a delegation of officials waited to greet President Joe Biden when he stepped off Air Force One at Green Airport. Protocol called for the mayor to be in the lineup for the official Rhode Island welcome.
While the President was on a schedule to visit the decommissioned Brayton Point coal-fired power plant as the backdrop for an announcement on an environmental initiative, he appeared in no rush to get there. He went down the receiving line shaking hands. Picozzi guessed the pilot had probably announced they were landing in Providence and he wanted to let Biden know he was in Warwick. Once through the line, the President lingered and returned to the mayor.
“He was lighthearted,” Picozzi said. The mayor had followed the dress code as spelled out in a White House memo. As it was expected to be hot, it wouldn’t be necessary to wear a tie. Picozzi didn’t wear a tie, nor did the President. But Gov. Dan McKee wore a cravat. It was reason for some friendly ribbing that McKee must have not seen the memo. The President put his arm around the mayor. There were pictures, which Picozzi shared on Facebook.
The shine came off the next morning when it was announced that Biden had tested positive for Covid.
Picozzi checked with health authorities. The governor had been double boosted so he was cleared for public contact. The mayor’s booster wasn’t current enough to give him clearance. He went into quarantine.
“I felt fine,” the mayor said. Nonetheless, he received wishes for a speedy recovery. What could he do? He was on the phone and working from home. And being as hot as it was, the pool was as close as the back door. He didn’t need to dip in McDermott, although that was open, too.
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