The head of Rhode Island's Department of Transportation is defending a decision to shut down state government during a storm this week that was not as serious as first thought. Director Peter Alviti says the decision to close government Wednesday was made when the forecast called for a much more dangerous storm. Alviti says he is not second-guessing himself for standing by the advice he gave the governor because the decision was made "on the basis of people's lives."
The business community is optimistic about Rhode Island's economy. Based on a survey conducted yesterday morning at a breakfast hosted by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and Santander Bank, about two-thirds say they believe the state's economy will be stronger a year from now. The majority also thinks the national economy is better now than it was a year ago.
The former Sears store in Warwick is undergoing a transformation. The old Sears Auto Center at the Rhode Island Mall is now BJ's Brewhouse, known for its handcrafted beer and deep dish pizza. The main part of the store is being converted into a Raymour and Flanigan furniture store and an At Home store.
The state's jobless rate is holding steady. The Department of Labor and Training released the latest numbers yesterday and the unemployment rate is four-point-five percent, four-tenths of a percent higher than the national average last month. While the rate held steady, the number of jobs grew by 12-hundred in February and 63-hundred from the same month a year ago.
Club Ultra in Providence is being allowed to reopen after a double stabbing last weekend. The Providence Board of Licenses is requiring the nightclub on Pine Street to have a police detail at the club. The investigation into the stabbings is ongoing.
State lawmakers are proposing legislation that would protect immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Representative Shelby Maldonado says the bill is a bridge until Congress takes action. About 33-hundred people in the state are eligible for DACA, but only 12-hundred signed up before it was terminated.
Motorists are being advised on weekend delays as a result of a resurfacing and roadway improvement project on Route 138 between the Jamestown Verrazzano and Newport Pell bridges.
According to the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, one lane of the road will be closed in both the eastbound and westbound directions from Friday evening until Monday morning. Similar work is planned for the weekends of March 31 and April 7. All of the work is weather dependent.
Rhode Island Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung has dropped his Providence campaign chairman a day after announcing the position. Fung's campaign manager tells says they were unaware of Hamlet Lopez' past arrest for domestic violence when they announced he would serve as the city's campaign chairman Monday. Lopez says he didn't think he needed to disclose the charge with the campaign because it was dismissed.
A special official appointed to oversee Rhode Island's troubled benefits system has ordered the state Department of Human Services to hire more call center workers to handle food assistance applications. Special Master Deming Sherman says the Pawtucket call center has "unacceptable" wait times that frustrates applicants with questions and hinders the timely processing of applications.
The FBI confirms it executed warrants on Saturday to search the home and clinical office of a Woonsocket physician. The Woonsocket "Call" reports that an FBI spokeswoman says that because it's an ongoing investigation, she could not comment on what agents were looking for or whether Doctor Stuart Gitlow is a target of the investigation. Gitlow, who is a psychiatrist with a national reputation in addiction medicine, says he doesn't know what the agents were looking for.
Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is under fire from Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee. Elorza has endorsed McKee's Democratic primary opponent, Providence state Representative Aaron Regunberg. McKee says he has a good working relationship with mayors and municipal officials statewide. He says Elorza's endorsement of Regunberg further isolates Providence from other communities at a time when the city is using speed cameras to generate revenue in its struggle to stay solvent.
There's a bill in the House to require speed limit sign beacons be installed 100 feet from a school zone and any automated speed cameras in Providence. State Representative Anastasia Williams says protecting pedestrians is an undisputed necessity, but she calls the city's use of speed cameras a cash grab. She says people who have been ticketed were not properly notified about the cameras in their neighborhoods. Williams says her bill protects pedestrians without reaching into the wallets of people who can't afford a 95-dollar ticket.
A Providence woman is facing theft and fraud charges in Arizona. Police arrested 40-year-old Berkley Vallone yesterday morning at her home. Authorities say Vallone was an interior designer in Maricopa County, Arizona, when she spent more than 122-thousand dollars from a project for personal use and left the project uncompleted. Authorities say Vallone has waived extradition.
Saint Pius Regional Academy in Westerly will close its doors at the end of the school year. The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence's school office cites declining enrollment as the reason. The school currently has 118 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through eighth grades. Students will be placed in other Catholic schools.
A winter storm warning has been issued for the state until 8 a.m. tomorrow. A light snow mixed with sleet will begin to fall this morning, then change to a heavy, wet snow this afternoon and evening. Winds will be gusting up to 45 miles-per-hour creating hazardous driving conditions. Snow accumulation is expected to be between four and eight inches inland and two to five-inches along the coast.
The Newport Daily News reports that The James L. Maher Center announced Tuesday that it is permanently closing the Maher Garden Center on Aquidneck Avenue in Middletown after a more than 40-year run.
According to Rose Morton, executive director and CEO, the Center incurred financial losses over the past several years, which made keeping the Maher Garden Center open no longer sustainable.
Rhode Island’s health insurance exchange saw a nearly 5 percent increase in enrollment this year.
HealthSource RI says on Monday that 30,637 people enrolled and paid for 2018 coverage, up from 29,224 last year.
More than 8,000 of those customers were new to the exchange, and 35 percent of those were ages 18 to 34, the age range that includes typically healthier people who use less medical services. HealthSource RI Director Zachary Sherman says that helps the stability of the market.
A representative with the Federal Communications Commission levied heavy criticism on Rhode Island for diverting 911 fees, calling it an "enormous deception." FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly said Monday the state has diverted more than $8 million, or 60 percent, of the 911 fees it collected last year. Gov. Gina Raimondo says her administration would support legislation creating a restricted account for 911 fees.
Jump Bikes is figuring out where it will station 400 electric-assisted "Smartbikes," in neighborhoods around Providence. The network of bicycles will use new designs that include electric motors that activate when sensors detect riders need certain amounts of pedal power. They will also feature a GPS tracker that allows riders to "park" at public bike racks instead of returning to a station. Forty stations are planned.
Portsmouth Police say a man is facing multiple charges after a DUI arrest turns into a marijuana bust. Officers arrested David Myrick just after midnight Saturday on Route 24. A search of Myrick's vehicle turned up more than 700 pieces of marijuana candies labeled with names such as Tangerine Mango and Tootie Fruity. Authorities also seized a quantity of marijuana and cash.
Two men and a woman are facing kidnapping charges after keeping a panhandler captive in Pawtucket. Police say the 42-year-old victim had been held in an apartment on Union Street for about ten days. The man claimed drug dealers locked him in a closet and threatened to kill him and his family if he didn't panhandle and do as he was told. The three were arrested Friday.
Students at Westerly High School are now required to use identification tags to gain access. The badges are activated only during passing periods and if a student is late or on campus after hours they can't get into the two main buildings. Yesterday was the first day the badges became operational as a new security measure.
A winter storm watch is in effect for tomorrow. Snow is expected to fall in the afternoon and evening affecting the ride home from work. Accumulation will be between three and five inches and winds will be between 35 and 55 miles-per-hour. The snow will taper off early Thursday.
Gov. Gina Raimondo toured Portsmouth Middle School on Monday, touting how a $1 billion investment in school infrastructure would address its deficiencies or, perhaps, build a replacement.
She went from room to room with General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, school officials, local politicians and building and trades officials, asking students and faculty for the building's most pressing needs.
Gasoline prices in Rhode Island have remained the same this week.AAA Northeast says the average retail price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in the area is $2.53.
A gallon of gas in Rhode Island is 31 cents more expensive than a year ago, when it was $2.22. The state's average gas price is two cents below the national average of $2.55.
Firefighters in South Kingstown responded to a call for a fire at a home on Blueberry Lane Sunday evening.
The initial call came in just after 5 p.m. When crews arrived, fire and smoke were seen coming from the top of the home.
Two residents were home at the time of the fire. One of them was transported to an area hospital. It is unclear the extent of the injuries.
Students at Westerly High School will encounter new security measures when they get to class Monday.
The Westerly Sun reported that Westerly High School students will need badges to get inside the building. The badges are part of a swipe system recently installed. Each badge has a code that's read by keypad devices.
School leaders said the system won't work for students who are late or trying to use it at times other than in between classes. They would have to contact someone in the main office to get it.
The move to increase security comes amid concerns about school safety, most recently after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.
Two Rhode Island School of Design employees were put on administrative leave after being tied to a party with underage drinking.
The incident took place off-campus over the weekend. One of the individuals is a staff member and the other is an adjunct faculty member.
The college says they expect employees to abide by a code of ethics and provide a safe and supportive environment for students.
In addition to a police investigation RISD is also looking into the matter.
The Tiverton Town Council will hold a public hearing Wednesday night at the high school to hear from both sides on a proposal by Twin River-Tiverton to keep its “convenience” casino open 24 hours a day, unlike Newport Grand slots parlor that currently closes at 1 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends and the nights before holidays.
The Community College of Rhode Island is helping graduating high school seniors and their families apply for federal student aid. CCRI is hosting events at its four campuses to help people complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The events will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. today in Warwick, tomorrow in Lincoln, Wednesday in Providence and Thursday, here in Newport.
Gov. Gina Raimondo is meeting with business and community leaders to discuss the state's economy and ways to develop it. Santander Bank and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce will host their 18th annual Economic Outlook Breakfast for the business community on Wednesday morning at the Omni Providence Hotel. Raimondo plans to give welcoming remarks. A panel of local business and community leaders will discuss issues and challenges facing the state.
A state lawmaker is trying to stop people from pretending their pet is a service dog. Democratic Rep. Thomas Winfield said pet owners are increasingly putting vests on their dogs to bring them into restaurants and other places service dogs can go. Winfield said Friday he has introduced a bill to prohibit dressing pets as service dogs to attain privileges provided to disabled people by federal law. He introduced the legislation at the request of the restaurant and hospitality industry.
A Rhode Island lawmaker who introduced a bill that would ban outhouses in the state says he is withdrawing the legislation.
Republican Rep. Justin Price said Wednesday he is pulling the measure ahead of a scheduled State house hearing. Price says the issue should be addressed by local municipalities, not the state.
The bill would have required any outhouse existing as of Jan. 1, 2019, to be "abandoned, filled up and destroyed" within one year.
A Rhode Island renewable energy company has started construction on an $84 million wind farm. North Kingstown-based company Green Development recently started preparing the Johnston site where seven wind turbines will be erected. Green Development has contracts with both the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority and the National Grid.
Trinity Repertory Company is commissioning a stage version of the Book "The Prince of Providence." The 2004 book chronicles the life of late Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci. He was forced from office twice and served prison time following his conviction on federal corruption charges in 2002. Cianci died in 2016.
More than two-hundred people are losing their jobs at a food company plant in North Kingstown. Greencore, based in Dublin Ireland, makes sandwiches and other prepared foods for clients including major retailers and convenience stores. The company says its production plant at the Quonset Business Park has been losing money and will cease operations on March 25th. The state Department of Labor and Training will deploy a Rapid Response team to try to help laid off employees find work.
Former boxer Vinny Paz is on probation for a year after pleading no contest yesterday to a charge for assaulting his girlfriend. Paz was arrested around 4 a.m. yesterday at his Warwick home. He is also ordered not to have any contact with the victim.
Providence shoppers are being encouraged to use reusable bags. City council approved an ordinance last night that requires shoppers to pay a fee for reusable plastic bags available at stores. It's estimated that the city will save about one-million dollars annually while it removes 95-million single use plastic bags from the landfill.
Some Providence residents want city council to scrap its new speed camera program. More than 17-thousand drivers have received tickets since the program started in January. At last night's meeting city council voted to review the program after Municipal Court Chief Judge Frank Caprio dismissed a number of tickets citing errors with the process.
A company official at Pawtucket-based Hasbro says the Toys R Us closing will have a short-term impact on the company's business. Spokeswoman Julie Duffy says over the long term the company will prosper. Kohl's and JC Penney have indicated that with Toys R Us closing they plan to expand their toy lineup. Currently the top toy retailers are Walmart and Target.
A Massachusetts company has announced it will buy the parent company of a former Rhode Island credit union.
In an announcement Wednesday, Coastway Community Bank says it has been sold to HarborOne Bankcorp Inc., of Brockton, Massachusetts, for $125.6 million cash.
The companies say the deal is expected to close later this year. It needs the approval of Coastway stockholders, who would receive $28.25 for each share they own.
Former boxer Vinny Paz was arrested Thursday morning for assault, according to Warwick police.
Police say that Paz was arrested at approximately 4 a.m. at his Tivoli Court house.
Captain Michael Gilbert says that they received a call from a third-party who told police that Paz’s girlfriend was possibly assaulted.
When officers arrived at Paz’s Warwick home, he allegedly refused to answer the door and turned off all of the lights in the house.
Captain Gilbert says police had to force their way into the home through the garage door and took Paz into custody without incident.
The state House of Representatives has passed a bill to allow children in Rhode Island public schools to bring in sunscreen without a doctor's note. The House passed the measure unanimously Wednesday. The Senate is considering identical legislation. Many school systems categorize sunscreen as an over-the-counter medication requiring special paperwork.
The University Of Rhode Island is responding to an increased demand for active shooter trainings after the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida. The University’s Department of Public Safety has provided its officers with such training for a number of years, and is adding community trainings. They're scheduling additional 90-minute sessions to accommodate interest.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is seeking General Assembly approval to name a new building after one of his predecessors. He wants to name a building that will house the Consumer Protection Unit and other divisions of the AG's office after former Attorney General Julius Michaelson. Michaelson served in the office from 1974-to-1979 and is considered the architect of many of Rhode Island's customer service protection laws. The new building on Howard Avenue in Cranston is expected to be completed this summer.
Warwick Police are offering free rides to those that may have been partying too much on Saint Patrick's Day. The department is taking part in the "Safe Rides Program" to cut down on DUI crashes and drunk driving. The rides are available Saturday from 6 p.m. until midnight.
State lawmakers are trying to ease up on penalties handed out through Providence's school zone traffic cameras. A House bill would let first offenders off with a warning and require flashing lights on camera warning signs. Currently first time offenders are fined 95-dollars. More than 17-thousand tickets have been given in the first two months that five new speed cameras became operational.
Transportation officials are closing the Bath Street East Bridge in Providence. RIDOT says after an inspection the bridge is structurally deficient. The bridge spans the Woonasquatucket River between Kinsley Avenue and Promenade Street. Traffic is being detoured to the Pleasant Valley Parkway and Park Street bridges.
High school students across Rhode Island say by raising their voices when it comes to gun control they will be heard. Thousands of students participated in yesterday's National Walkout Day honoring the 17 victims of last month's deadly shootings in Florida. Students say unless there's change students won't feel safe.
The Red Cross is assisting two residents after a fire destroyed their home in Seekonk. The fire occurred around 10 a.m. yesterday in a barn converted to apartments on County Street. The residents were not at home when the fire broke out, but two dogs and two ferrets were killed in the blaze. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Hundreds of crews have been working through the night to restore power to Rhode Islanders. National Grid reports more than six-thousand customers are without service this morning due to downed tree limbs and wires from the nor'easter that swept the region. National Grid says it expects to have power fully restored by 11 p.m.
Providence police arrested 48-year-old Iris Rodriguez-Jones after they say she tried to use a fake bill for pay a cover charge at a Providence nightclub. When a security officer asked her to use "real money," Jones became argumentative, and said to call the police. They called her bluff. Rodriguez-Jones, a 27-year corrections official, was charged in District Court for passing a counterfeit bill, and disorderly conduct.
The Providence Journal is challenging the state's refusal to release its pitch for Amazon's new headquarters even though Rhode Island didn't make the cut for potential sites. The newspaper reports it filed a complaint with Rhode Island's attorney general, arguing the decision violates state law allowing access to public records. The governor has said the state didn't release its pitch for competitive reasons,
Electric Boat Quonset is holding a job fair next week, as it continues to expand its workforce. The job fair is being held on Thursday, March 22 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the New England Institute of Technology on Post Road in Warwick. For those unable to attend, information about job opportunities is available on the company’s website.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is voicing opposition to offshore drilling. DEM says the Trump administration's proposal to lift the ban on drilling would endanger the health of the state's environment and marine resources. In comments submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, DEM Director Janet Coit says oil and gas drilling pose major, direct and adverse impacts to marine resources relied on for food, jobs and recreation.
St. Patrick Academy on Smith Street in Providence was placed on a temporary lockdown Monday afternoon.
Principal Bruce Daigle says the school is on the same property as a soup kitchen, where a patron told an employee there was a weapon in his backpack.
The school was placed on lockdown and police searched the building. Authorities gave it the all-clear about 20 minutes later.
Nothing was found, and the patron had left by the time police arrived.
A foundation that's backing an art project built around a Detroit house where Rosa Parks once lived says it's considering legal options now that Brown University has said the project was canceled. The Wisconsin-based Nash Family Foundation says it paid Brown $45,000 and the university agreed to use the money for artist Ryan Mendoza to reconstruct the house in Providence. Brown says it did not breach any agreements.
There's a movie crew in Newport. Shooting was scheduled to start yesterday on a feature film entitled "Anastasia." It's described as a family movie that follows the adventures of Anastasia Romanov as she travels in time, escaping the 1917 Russian Revolution. TheRhode Island Film and Television Office says production actually started last summer in Lexington, Kentucky.
A temporary marine traffic restriction was scheduled to start Monday through the Sakonnet River Channel, weather permitting. The state Department of Transportation says the restriction, which is expected to last for approximately a month, is needed as the removal of the old Sakonnet River Bridge continues. Demolition work started last year.
Northern Rhode Island legislators are asking that the resurfacing of Route 146 between I-295 and the Massachusetts border be made a priority. They say the highway isn't scheduled for maintenance until 2022, but that the road surface has deteriorated to the point where four years is too long to wait. Twenty representatives and senators have sent a letter to RIDOT noting that Route 146 is one of five main highway entry points to the state. They argue the poor condition of the road gives visitors and residents alike the wrong impression about the state.
A winter storm warning is in effect as a nor'easter begins to hammer the state. Heavy snow and strong winds will create blizzard conditions. Governor Raimondo has issued a travel ban for tractor-trailers and urges residents to stay home so roads can be plowed. Providence and the eastern part of the state can expect up to 18 inches of snow, while the western part will get about a foot of accumulation.
Rhode Island residents are paying less to keep their vehicles running this week. AAA Northeast reported Monday that self-serve, regular gasoline is selling for an average of $2.53 per gallon, 3 cents lower than last week.
The University of Rhode Island is looking for volunteers to help monitor the water quality in local waterways. Volunteers in URI's Watershed Watch program check the water clarity, temperature, algae concentrations and dissolved oxygen in 220 lakes, ponds, streams and bays weekly or biweekly, from May through October. They also collect water samples. The program is beginning its 31st year of monitoring.
Providence City Council will consider an ordinance that will go further than just banning the use of plastic shopping bags. The ordinance would also require retailers to charge ten-cents for replacement paper bags or more durable plastic bags. The ordinance, if approved, would be an effort to change shoppers' habits and get them to use more durable reusable bags. The ordinance goes before council Thursday.
A former Providence police officer is in trouble with the law. Authorities arrested 41-year-old Jesse Farrell at the Mobil gas station on Atwells Avenue on Saturday for illegally using a city of Providence gas card. Authorities say they also seized an illegal firearm from his apartment. Farrell was fired from the police department in 2016 for his involvement in a coupon scam for which he was later convicted.
A winter storm watch is in effect for tonight into tomorrow. The third nor'easter to hit the state in ten days is expected to dump a foot or more of snow at the rate of one to three inches an hour. Strong winds causing poor visibility and some coastal flooding can also be expected.
There's movement in the General Assembly to amend a state law that let Providence put speed cameras near schools. Controversy has recently erupted because of thousands of violations at 95-dollars per violation. House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello reportedly says he's working with other legislators to change the law to provide warnings before tickets are issued, and to reduce the amount of the fines.
Rhode Island officials say some state residents may see plastic pinwheel-shaped objects washing ashore, but say they come from a wastewater treatment facility and aren't contaminated. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management says Friday the objects, known as "media," were flushed out of East Providence's wastewater treatment facility during a March 2 storm. They're used to help the wastewater system remove nutrients before the treated water is disinfected and discharged.
Brown University suspended its men's swimming and diving team after investigation finds alcohol and hazing violations. In a statement released Friday, Brown said the team will be suspended through May 27 and any team activity is prohibited. Brown also issued the team a deferred suspension through Dec. 21. During that period, the team can practice but not represent the university.
Rhode Island lawmakers are pursuing changes to a state law that allowed Providence to install speed cameras that have generated more than 17,000 violations and $600,000 in fines.
The House voted 54-16 in 2016 to pass the bill allowing municipalities to install speed cameras within a quarter-mile of any school. Providence City Council voted to allow cameras be installed in the city last year, and they started monitoring drivers Jan. 16.
Democratic Rep. Robert Craven, who introduced the bill, says the city is abusing the bill's intent. Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said Thursday he is working with Craven on a bill to reduce the $95 fine and turn more tickets into warnings.
Brown University has canceled plans to display the house where Rosa Parks lived for a time after she left the south and moved to Detroit. The house had been on a demolition list until it was saved by Parks' niece and an artist who moved it to Berlin. Brown cited an unspecified dispute involving the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. Park's niece, Rhea McCauley, called it a missed opportunity.
Rhode Island's unemployment rate has kept steady at 4.5 percent. The state Department of Labor and Training said Thursday the jobless rate for January was the same as in December. The state's unemployment rate was higher than the national rate of 4.1 percent in January, which is also the same as December.
A state Senate committee was scheduled to deal with health-related bills on Thursday. A late afternoon vote was expected by the Health and Human Services Committee on legislation regarding the development of incentives to lower staff turnover at nursing homes. The committee was also to hold a hearing on a bill to ban minors from using tanning beds.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is among 54 state and territorial attorneys general calling for passage of federal legislation pending in the U.S. House making it easier for child pornography victims to receive timely restitution. Kilmartin says the faster victims can get the restitution they deserve, the faster they can move forward with their lives. A similar bill was passed by the Senate in 2015 but failed in the House.
A 16-year-old boy is facing charges after police say he was shooting his BB gun at a passing bus in Providence. Police say the boy was shooting from his apartment at Dexter Manor and, at one point, fired at a security officer. Police went to the boy's apartment, where they seized a BB rifle and pistol.
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