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1540 WADK.com Updates



A replica of the "Marquis de Lafayette" is sailing into Newport.  The Revolutionary War frigate will dock at Fort Adams to begin several days of tours, reenactments, and celebrations.  The three-masted, 216-foot vessel will arrive around noon on Wednesday.

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Thousands of people celebrated Independence Day in Providence.  Police kept a close eye on the festivities in India Point Park on Saturday due to a threat of terrorism alerted across the nation.  Visitors were thrilled by exciting music and glowing fireworks.

 

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Convicted criminals in Rhode Island are getting an opportunity to prove their innocence via DNA.  The state is among the first to pass a law allowing court-mandated DNA tests of evidence.  Senator Michael McCaffrey co-sponsored the Senate version of the bill, with Senator Erin Lynch supporting the law.

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Rhode Island talk show host Dave Barber is dead.  The long-time broadcaster died Saturday at a hospital after suffering cardiac arrest.  Barber was known for hosting "Straight From the Gavel" on Capitol TV.  He was 60.

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Tax credits are included in the state budget to help students with loans who are studying STEM subjects.  Credits would be capped at one-thousand dollars per year for an associate degree, and four-thousand for a bachelor's or six-thousand for those with post-grad degrees.  The plan is to inspire students to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.

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An investigation is underway at the Our Lady of the Rosary parish.  Parishioners at Mass yesterday could see thousands of dollars worth of damage which was the subject of the services.  Father Escobar said the pulpit will remain broken to show vandalism can happen anywhere.

 

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The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission is putting an end to National Grid adding a billing adjustment fee for those who buy power from competitors.  National Grid began adding the charge when customers changed from their standard offer to electricity suppliers who charge much less.  While National Grid did not break any laws with the fee, regulators believe it is not helping the effort to generate a vibrant electricity market in Rhode Island.

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Providence Roman Catholic Bishop Thomas Tobin wants people to reject same sex marriage.  Tobin is encouraging people to exercise conscientious objection to same sex marriage.  The bishop's effort comes following last week's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that says same sex marriage is legal across the country.  Tobin says he's offering encouragement and support to people who are deeply troubled by the court's ruling.

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An East Providence man is free on bail after being arrested and charged with child molestation.  Police say 61-year-old William Christensen is charged with two counts of second degree molestation of a child under the age of 14.  Police are concerned that there may be other victims in the case.  East Providence Police are urging any parents of children who have had contact with Christensen to call them immediately.

 

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Four restaurants in Providence are being ordered to pay 135-thousand-dollars in back wages to a total of 17 employees.  The affected workers are from Cafe Paragon, Better Burger Company, Mile and a Quarter and Andreas Restaurant, all owned and operated by Andrew Mitrelis.  The restaurants are accused of not paying for all hours worked, paying straight time when overtime should have applied and not paying any hourly wages to some tipped employees.

 

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Senator Sheldon Whitehouse says he's working to bring federal dollars to help rebuild Rhode Island's crumbling roads and bridges.  Whitehouse says he has added a measure to a highway finance bill that would help pay for the planned reconstruction of the Interstate-95 connector with Routes Six and Ten in Providence.  That project alone has an 800-million-dollar price tag.

 

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Tiverton is requesting permission from the state Department of Environmental Management to expand the height of its landfill by 3 feet.

Stephen Berlucchi, the director of the town's Department of Public Works, tells the Newport Daily News the expansion of the 33-acre landfill would allow it to remain open for two more years.

The landfill is currently expected to reach capacity in January, 2017.

Once it is closed, trash from Tiverton would be shipped to Johnston.

Berlucchi says allowing the expansion would save about $900,000 in hauling fees and tipping fees.

It also would give the town more time to raise money for capping the landfill, which is expected to cost about $9 million. The town now has $6 million in its closure account.

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Rhode Island fireworks stores located near the Massachusetts state line are reporting brisk sales as the Independence Day holiday.  Most fireworks are illegal in Massachusetts, and many residents are slipping into Rhode Island to stock up for the holiday.  Fireworks sellers expect the sales to continue to increase through the rest of the week.  Those near the border also say they expect many of their customers to continue arriving to shop in vehicles with Massachusetts license plates.

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A Bristol man is heading to prison for five-years for possession and distribution of child pornography.  Mathew Antignano was found in possession of over seven-thousand child porn images and 180 videos depicting children involved in sex acts.  Antignano was identified as a suspect last summer, when an Internet address being used to share child porn was linked to him.  Antignano has been jailed since his arrest, and his time spent behind bars will count towards his sentence.

 

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Rhode Island state lawmakers are getting a small raise.  New federal cost of living calculations mean a one-point-six percent raise for members of the legislature.  That amounts to an increase of 242-dollars a year, bringing their annual salary to 15-thousand, 414-dollars.  The Senate President and House Speaker earn double the salary of a rank and file lawmaker.

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Rhode Island's new fiscal year begins today, and the state budget is officially in place.  Governor Gina Raimondo signed the eight-billion-dollar budget package yesterday, hours before the new fiscal year began.  The signing ceremony came as tensions lingered between state House and Senate leaders over the end of the legislative session.  House Speaker Nick Mattiello says he hasn't spoken to Senate President Teresa Pavia Weed since the session ended.

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Details are emerging on the tax stabilization plan for the former Interstate-195 land in Providence.  The deal reached between the city, legislative leaders and the governor's office creates a two tiered system of tax credits.  Projects costing over ten-million-dollars automatically receive 15-year tax programs that reduce the amount of commercial taxes.  Projects over 50-million-dollars would receive 20-year tax package, which is designed to attract a large scale development quickly.

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The state of Rhode Island is receiving two-million-dollars in federal grants to help the state's unemployed residents.  The U.S. Department of Labor grants will help state labor officials to better connect job seekers with employers who need workers.  Some of the money will allow the state Department of Labor and Training to make individualized assessments of unemployed people to help identify their strengths and identify work or training options.

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A garage is destroyed and a home damaged following an explosion and fire in Cumberland.  Officials believe an electrical fire spread to a car battery, then to gasoline powered tools and machines that exploded.  It took over an hour for fire crews to bring the blaze under control.  No injuries are reported, as the home was not occupied at the time of yesterday's incident.

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A Massachusetts man is heading to prison for six months for embezzling from the Rhode Island Lottery.  Paul Mahfouz stole more than five-thousand-dollars from the lottery that was held in trust with him as a retail agent.  Mahfouz was also convicted of stealing 31-thousand-dollars from a man by trying to sell him a motor vehicle inspection machine that was never provided.

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Rhode Island officials are celebrating the beginning of a new high speed rail project.  The work getting underway this summer on the 41-million-dollar track and platform expansion in South Kingstown.  Most of the work is being funded by a federal grant, with Amtrak covering the rest of the cost.  The extra track will allow another train to pass through the South Kingstown station while another is stopped to pick up and discharge passengers.

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Emergency repairs are underway on the Park Avenue Bridge over the Amtrak railroad tracks in Cranston.  The bridge was suddenly closed last week, drawing demands for an investigation by House Speaker Nick Mattiello.  His law office is a short distance from the bridge, and he has been skeptical of Governor Gina Raimondo's one-billion-dollar bridge repair plan.  The 411-thousand-dollar bridge contract requires that the emergency repairs be completed within 30 days.

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A homeless shelter that has been in Newport County for 30 years  is expanding in an effort to support more families.

Middletown lawmakers were at Lucy's Hearth on Monday to celebrate the acquisition of a new facility on Valley Road.

The organization provides 24-hour assistance and serves as a transition shelter for homeless woman and children.

The shelter has been housed in a former convent on West Main Street. The new building is expected to be up and running by next spring.

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The 2015 Educators Association (NMEA) conference kicks off this week in Newport.

The five-day event begins Sunday evening with a reception headlined by Rhode Island Senators and and Newport Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano.

Southeastern New England Marine Educators (SENEME), a regional NMEA chapter, is hosting this year's event. SENEME focuses on promoting marine education in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

This year's conference will include more than 150 multidisciplinary sessions and plenaries.

More than 300 marine education professionals from around the world are expected to attend this year's conference.

NMEA is the only professional organization dedicated to those who educate others on marine and aquatic environments.

NMEA is member-based organization of classroom teachers, informal educators, university professors and scientists.

 

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An effort is underway to help support Providence's independent shopkeepers.  More than 50 shops in the city are offering customer discounts for a one week period beginning on Wednesday.  The event is modeled after the Small Business Saturday that is used to help convince people to shop at local shops instead of the big national chains.  Shoppers can download a coupon for the event at the Buy Local RI web site.

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Around 20 junk cars are now burned following a large fire at an auto salvage yard in Providence.  The fire broke out Saturday night at the A-and-M International Auto Salvage Yard near the Cranston city line.  The fire sent thick black smoke billowing into the air.  The cause of the fire has not been determined and remains under investigation.

 

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A woman is recovering after being shot in Providence.  Police say 31-year-old Elizabeth Hernandez arrived at Rhode Island Hospital on her own for treatment of a gunshot wound to the arm.  The woman apparently was struck by a bullet near Orms and Smith streets in Providence.  However, police are having difficulty with the investigation because the woman gave conflicting statements about what happened.

 

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A Massachusetts man is dead following a motorcycle crash in East Providence.  Police say 28-year-old Jonathan Frazier was driving on Wampanoag Trail when his motorcycle crashed.  There were no passengers on the motorcycle, and no other vehicles were involved.  The cause of the crash remains under investigation.

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A new report indicates that Rhode Island's economy grew at a slower rate than anticipated in the first quarter of the year.  The report says the state's economy grew by one and a half percent in the first quarter of the year.  That's below the two-percent growth that the Rhode Island Current Economic Indicator had predicted.  The report also says that the state economy has grown slower than the regional economy for two straight quarters.

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The Bluegrass on the Pawtuxet festival scheduled for July Third and fourth is canceled.  Organizers of the event at Pawtuxet Village on the Cranston-Warwick border say no new date for the festival has been scheduled.  The cancellation was called because one of the main organizers is very sick. 

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Johnston firefighters making a routine inspection of a home discovered a large marijuana growing operation.  The discovery was made last week at the home on Winfield Road.  Officials say dozens of pot plants were found throughout the basement and in a room on the first floor of the home.  Police arrested 22-year-old Mason Douradoon numerous drug charges, and he's being held on ten-thousand-dollars bail.

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Opponents of a plan to build a minor league baseball stadium on former Interstate-195 land in Providence have delivered their message to state lawmakers.  A rally was held yesterday outside the State House as lawmakers wrapped up their work for the year.  The opponents say the amount of public money sought by the Pawtucket Red Sox for the move is just too much.  The team is seeking 120-million-dollars from the state over 30 years to relocate the team to Providence.

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An agreement is in place that averts a legislative vote on commercial tax rates of former Interstate-195 land in Providence.  The majority leaders of the House and Senate and Providence officials say they will work together to develop a tax stabilization agreement.  The goal is to reach an agreement that encourages development and protects the interests of state and city taxpayers.

 

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The Rhode Island legislative session for the year is over.  The state Senate recessed before ten p.m. yesterday after negotiations on final bills came to an impasse between the two chambers.  Senate President Teresa Pavia-Weed left the door open for a possible special session.  House Speaker Nick Mattiello indicates that a special session will likely take place in September or October to deal with major unresolved issues.

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A new survey indicates that Rhode Islanders are not big fans of hot weather.  The Weather Channel survey indicates that state residents have the lowest tolerance for heat in the country.  Residents of Rhode Island feel it's too hot at 85-degrees.  By contrast, Arizona and Nevada residents aren't bothered by heat until the mercury rises over 100 degrees.  Even residents of Minnesota are more tolerant of heat than people in the Ocean State, as 87-degrees is where they feel the heat is too much.

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Providence startup company Teespring is moving most of its Rhode Island jobs out of state.  The company that allows customers to design their own t-shirts is moving 70 of their 120 workers to Louisville and San Francisco.  The 70 Providence workers losing their jobs learned the bad news on Tuesday.  The company was founded in 2010 by a pair of Brown University students who set up a web site to sell t-shirts to commemorate the closing of their favorite bar.

 

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A state House committee has approved a bill that would suspend the driver's license and registration of people who have over 100 unpaid toll fines.  Officials say there are currently 138 people with over 100 unpaid toll fines, and they are the main target of the measure.  The House Judiciary Committee quickly voted to move the bill to the full House yesterday.  State tolling officials say neighboring states have used similar efforts to convince their biggest scofflaws to pay up.

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House Speaker Nick Mattiello is calling for an investigation into the sudden closure of the Park Avenue Bridge in Cranston.  The speaker is upset because the state DOT knew nine months ago that the bridge needed immediate attention.  However, no action was taken until the situation got so bad that the bridge was closed for immediate repairs this week, as lawmakers debate a huge bridge repair plan.  The bridge is located one block from Mattiello's Cranston law office.

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Rhode Island lawmakers may wrap up the legislative session for the year today.  The House and Senate were working hard on bills last night, with the Senate passing a measure to raise the minimum wage for tipped workers.  The House passed a bill equipping schools with the heroin overdose antidote Narcan, and another expanding the medical marijuana program to more conditions.  One bill not expected to see a vote in the House is Governor Gina Raimondo's proposal to raise tolls on trucks to pay for needed bridge repairs.

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A new report places Rhode Island among the worst states in the nation as a destination for a summer road trip.  The report from WalletHub.com takes into account factors that include driving and lodging costs, road conditions and fun, scenic attractions.  Rhode Island ranks next to last in road and lodging costs, and 34th in fun and scenic attractions.  The list's best summer road trip destination in the nation is Oregon, and neighboring Connecticut is  the worst.

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A man wanted for two separate Providence homicides is now in police custody after being found in New York City.  Malcolm Querido is a person of interest in last month's killing of Kareem Barnes in a Camden Avenue apartment building.  He's also a suspect in the stabbing death of Robert Bullard in an Allston Street apartment last September.  Querido has a long record of committing violent crimes, and was on probation when the killings occurred.

 

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A plan to repair Rhode Island's bridges with money raised by a new toll on large trucks is moving forward in the state legislature.  The state Senate approved the measure by a 33 to four vote yesterday, sending the bill to the House.  The bill's fate is much less certain in that chamber, as House Speaker Nick Mattiello says he is not sure whether it will be taken up before the session wraps up for the year. 

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Former North Providence Police Chief John Whiting is headed to prison for the next six months.  Whiting was convicted of felony larceny for stealing over 700-dollars from a stripper during an incident in 2011.  Whiting is also ordered to undergo a mental health assessment and anger management classes during his stay at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston. 

 

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The Rhode Island Senate is giving final legislative approval to the state budget bill that takes effect July first.  The eight-point-six-billion-dollar budget was approved by the House last week, and now heads to Governor Gina Raimondo for her consideration.  The budget eliminates income taxes on Social Security benefits for most residents, and increases cigarette taxes by 25-cents a pack.  The budget also eliminates a tax on energy bills, and reduces the minimum corporate tax paid by small businesses.

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Governor Gina Raimondo is planning to develop a new school funding formula.  The governor's deputy chief of staff yesterday said that she will be taking action, regardless of how the legislature moves on the issue.  There are several bills related to education funding currently pending as the legislative session winds down.  One would place a one year moratorium on all new or expanded charter schools, and another would freeze all charter school funding until a new formula is put into place.

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House Speaker Nick Mattiello says a bill could be coming in the near future that raises the minimum wage for tipped workers.  Mattiello's comments came before Governor Gina Raimondo signed a bill increasing the state minimum wage for the fourth straight year.  He says the sub-minimum wage paid to workers who earn most of their money from tips should be their next target.  That rate is currently two-dollars and 89-cents an hour, and a proposal on the table would raise it to four-dollars and 50-cents in January.

 

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The Rhode Island Trucking Association wants lawmakers to pause before imposing a huge toll on large trucks crossing state bridges.  Association President Chris Maxwell says the process of imposing the tolls to pay for a billion-dollars in bridge work is moving too fast.  He says the formation of a commission to study the impact of tolls would lead to a more collaborative and transparent process.  A Senate committee could vote on the toll proposal as early as today.

 

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The Cranston City Council is saying no to a new Cumberland Farms gas station and convenience store in Edgewood.  The council rejected a proposed change in the city plan that would have allowed the development to occur.  Many residents opposed the plan, with some saying the store would have a negative impact on the Edgewood neighborhood.  Mayor Allan Fung had been pushing for the development because the building currently on the site is currently vacant and an eyesore.

 

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A Middletown man who died while scuba diving in Newport Harbor is being identified as 58-year-old Mark Gruchy.  Police say the incident occurred Sunday night as Gruchy went on a dive with a friend.  The body was later spotted floating in the water near the Ida Lewis Yacht Club, and was pulled from the water by the Newport Harbormaster.  An autopsy is being conducted to determine the cause of death.

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Plans for a new Cumberland Farms store in Cranston are being met with resistance by some city residents.  The gas station and convenience store would be located on Park Avenue near Edgewood, with seven buildings needing to be demolished to make room for the business.  Opponents say the store will be out of character with the area, and its presence would harm area businesses.  The chief supporter of the plan is Mayor Allan Fung, who says the location is blighted and in need of new life.

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Tax season may be over, but that is not stopping the IRS scammers from targeting Rhode Island residents.  State officials say residents are complaining that callers are threatening them with immediate arrest if their back taxes are not paid immediately.  The caller demands payment by wire transfer, pre-paid debit card or credit card.  Officials say the IRS never threatens taxpayers with arrest over the telephone and does not demand immediate payment.

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Rhode Island is last in the nation in home ownership by people who are not white.  The U.S. Census says Rhode Island's home ownership rate is 60-percent.  The statistics show that 67-percent of those properties are owned by white people.  At 32-percent, Rhode Island's non-white home ownership places it last out of the 50 states.

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Police are investigating a series of shots fired incidents that occurred within a few hours of each other in Providence.  The first incident occurred just before midnight Saturday on Union Avenue, when several shots were fired at a home.  A short time later a parked car on Regent Street was struck by a bullet, and around the same time someone fired a gun from a vehicle on Dover Street.  No injuries were reported in any of the incidents. 

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The Rhode Island legislature is poised to take up a bill that would have the state take over the taxing authority on former Interstate-195 land in Providence.  The bill is offered by Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio.  It would establish 20 year tax treaties for projects on the former highway land with the goal of attracting developers to the land.  Ruggerio had tabled his bill earlier in the session on hopes the city would develop a tax plan, but says now is the time for the state to act.

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Police are investigating a man's diving equipment after he was rescued in Newport.

Two bystanders saw the diver in the water near Fort Adams and Brenton Cove Sunday evening.

They alerted authorities and then helped fire, police and U.S. Coast Guard crews rescue him. The diver had not been seen for nearly an hour before he was rescued.

Officials performed CPR on him before taking him to Newport Hospital.

His condition and identity are unknown.


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The Rhode Island House has passed a bill that will make it much more difficult for charter schools to open and expand in the state.  The measure requires that any charter school expansion show that it will not have a negative impact on finances or academics of the local district.  The measure also requires that any charter school be approved by the local town or city council.  The bill would not affect any applications that have already been approved, and now heads to the Senate.

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The construction trades and truckers are squaring off over the proposal to impose tolls on large trucks to provide money for bridge repairs and replacement.  The trucking industry is urging state lawmakers not to rush this plan forward and weigh the impacts it will have on their industry.  Construction groups say the plan should move forward quickly, as the state's crumbling bridges cannot wait any longer for repairs.

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The death of a 13-month-old child Tuesday was apparently caused by an invasive strep bacterial infection.  The state Health Department says this is a rare result for someone with this type of infection.  Officials initially thought the toddler had been suffering from a type of meningitis.  Preventive action had initially been taken for children at the day care where the child attended in Warren, but those have been called off since the cause of death has been determined.

 

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Rhode Island's unemployment rate is now under six-percent.  The state Department of Labor and Training says the five-point-nine percent jobless rate for May is the lowest Rhode Island has seen since 2007.  That's a bit higher than the national unemployment rate of five-point-five percent.  The state added 34-hundred jobs during the month, but has not yet recovered all of the nearly 40-thousand jobs lost during the recession.

 

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A Providence man is accused of sexually assaulting two teenage girls in Cranston.  Police say 31-year-old Sergio Resto is accused of assaulting the 14 and 16-year-old girls while they lived with him in a Cranston home last year.  Resto is charged with child molestation and first degree sexual assault.  He was arraigned on the charges yesterday and ordered held without bail.

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Rhode Island is receiving more than a quarter-million-dollars to help prevent Medicare and Medicaid fraud.  The funding from the Department of Health and Human Services money will be used to educate recipients on how to defend against Medicare and Medicaid fraud.  In many cases officials say the schemes are presented as free services to seniors, but they come with a steep cost for taxpayers.  It's estimated that this type of fraud costs taxpayers across the country 60-billion-dollars a year.

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Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo is in Connecticut on Democratic Governors Association business.  Raimondo and several other governors are in Greenwich attending the association's northeastern policy conference.  The event got underway with a reception at an exclusive waterfront restaurant last night, and continues today with a full slate of panel discussions.  In addition to the governors of several northeastern states, leaders from major pharmaceutical and construction companies are also invited to participate.

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The Rhode Island House has approved a bill that would require all state public schools to have the opioid antidote drug naloxone.  The drug can be given as a nasal spray or an injection, and quickly reverses the effects of an overdose of heroin and other drugs.  The bill provides immunity for any school personnel who administer naloxone, and does not require school nurses to be trained in use of the drug.  The measure advances to the Senate, which passed a similar bill earlier this month.

 

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The head to the Rhode Island Trucking Association is demanding specifics on the latest plan to place tolls on large commercial trucks.  Christopher Maxwell says their group has been left out of the process from the beginning.  He says now that they are demanding specifics of the latest plan, their responses have been lacking.  Governor Gina Raimondo's plan calls for new tolls on large trucks to fund the repair and replacement of deficient bridges across the state.

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A toddler from Warren is dead and officials suspect that a bacterial infection is the cause.  The state Department of Health says the 13-month-old died on Tuesday.  More than a dozen children at the day care center where the toddler attended are being treated with antibiotics as a precaution.  The child is not being identified by state officials at this time.

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Voters in have decided to dissolve the troubled Coventry Fire District.  A referendum was held yesterday in Coventry, where voters refused to appropriate any more money to the financially troubled fire company.  The district had asked the town for 600-thousand-dollars to keep operations going through November.  As the voting was taking place, signatures were being collected for a petition calling on Coventry to form a townwide fire district.

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The House of Representatives voted Tuesday to expand the definition of hotel to include small bed-and-breakfasts, private home rentals and other rentals and to levy a new sales tax on these vacation rentals, despite efforts from some lawmakers to delay the tax.

State lawmakers approved a section of the budget expanding the definition and creating the tax with a 58-14 vote.

The proposed new sales tax on vacation rentals is expected to generate $6.9 million in additional revenue in fiscal year 2016, with $5.4 million of that coming from taxes on private vacation home rentals. The tax would go into effect July 1.

However, some lawmakers said they'd received phone calls and emails from constituents who were concerned that the tax would create an administrative nightmare as they're in the midst of renting out their homes for the summer.

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Security guards at a Rhode Island casino say taking their guns away would be a mistake.

The union for the security officers at Twin River Casino says management wants to phase out armed officers through attrition and new hires.

Union leaders tell WJAR-TV  more than half of the casino's 107 security guards are former police officers and carry guns while on the job. They say armed guards deter crime, and that gang members visit the casino knowing the officers have guns. Union leaders added that armed officers are paid substantially more than unarmed guards.

The issue is being discussed in contract negotiations.

A Twin River spokeswoman says the casino would not comment during the contract negotiation.


 

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A Rhode Island House committee is giving the go ahead to legalize hemp in the state.  The House Health, Education and Welfare Committee voted yesterday to legalize the product.  Police have expressed concerns about the bill because it legalizes a cannabis based industry.  However, supports say hemp has all kinds of industrial uses, and the bill would create stronger controls than are currently imposed on the state medical marijuana program.

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A Coventry woman is alive after jumping from the Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge into Narragansett Bay.  The North Kingstown harbormaster was nearby when the woman jumped from the center span of the bridge Sunday.  The 28-year-old woman was able to swim, and was pulled from the water by the harbormaster, who rushed her to a waiting ambulance at the shore.  She was taken to the hospital for treatment of injuries not considered life threatening.

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A Pawtucket police officer is injured after being involved in a crash with an alleged drunk driver.  Police say Darvin Benitez of Central Falls was driving on Division Street early yesterday when he turned into the path of a police SUV.  The officer was treated and released from the hospital, and he is only expected to miss a few days of work.  Benitez and a female passenger also suffered minor injuries, and Benitez was charged with driving under the influence.

 

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The Rhode Island Senate is expected to vote today on the eight-point-seven-billion-dollar budget bill passed by the House yesterday.  The House voted 75 to zero to approve the budget, which provides some tax cuts and increases education spending.  Lawmakers voted to keep the state health insurance exchange HealthSource RI under state control, and appropriated over two-million-dollars to help the exchange.  In addition, the House approved the proposed pension lawsuit settlement without any debate.

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Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is endorsing Hillary Clinton in her run for president.  Whitehouse says he has known Clinton for years, saying she has always fought for the needs of middle class Americans.  He's urging Democrats to unite behind Clinton as they prepare for a tough battle with Republicans and their big money backers.  Whitehouse says the nation needs a president who will be a champion for everyday people, and he feels nobody will be better for the job than Clinton.

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 An East Greenwich company that ships clean needles and other medical supplies to clinics nationwide has been cited by federal workplace safety inspectors for not adequately protecting its employees against exposure to contaminated needlesticks and bloodborne pathogen hazards.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Monday it cited Provant Health Solutions LLC for nine serious violations and one other-than-serious violation of OSHA standards and proposed $62,000 in fines.

Provant said in a statement that it's working with OSHA and reserves the right to contest the findings. It also added that it takes the violations seriously and remains committed to the safety of its employees.

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Gas prices are up again in Rhode Island, to an average $2.78 for a gallon of regular unleaded.

AAA Northeast says its weekly survey released Monday found gas prices had gone up an average 5 cents per gallon from last week in Rhode Island.

Prices in Rhode Island are still two cents less per gallon than the national average of $2.80.

AAA says last year at this time, gas prices were averaging 33 percent more than today in Rhode Island. Gas cost $3.70 per gallon a year ago, 92 cents more per gallon.

 

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