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1540 WADK.com Updates

Snail harvesting permitted but other shellfish still banned

Environmental officials in Rhode Island are lifting a ban on harvesting certain snails even as a ban on other types of shellfish remains in effect because of a harmful algae bloom.

The state Department of Environmental Management said Tuesday it will permit harvesting of carnivorous snails like whelk and moon snails in lower Narragansett Bay, lower Sakonnet River, and a portion of the Rhode Island Sound.

But harvesting of all other types of shellfish remains in effect for those areas.

The state imposed the shellfishing closure Oct. 21. State health and environment officials have been conducting regular water and shellfish tests for the presence of domoic acid, which they say is responsible for poisoning in humans.

Officials say whelk collected from the closed areas tested negative for the toxin Monday.


3 N.E. states choose 6 clean energy generators

Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts have selected six proposals to develop more clean energy for the New England market.

The projects announced Tuesday include mostly wind and solar projects, which are expected to generate 460 megawatts of electricity collectively.

The three states received more than 50 solicitations from entities offering projects for consideration.

The request for proposals marks the first time New England states have joined together in a coordinated procurement for clean energy resources. The states are hoping to leverage their combined purchasing power and attract projects they likely couldn't lure on their own.

State officials want to ultimately lower consumers' utility costs in a high-priced part of the country.

Final acceptance of the six proposals depends on the bidders successfully negotiating power contracts and receiving required regulatory approvals.


Ex-state lawmaker accused of trying to steal campaign signs

A former Rhode Island lawmaker has been charged with trying to steal the political signs of another candidate.

Brian Coogan was arraigned Tuesday in Providence on misdemeanors including attempted larceny and conspiracy.

Police say a witness saw 46-year-old Coogan and a woman attempt to remove from a fence a sign for City Council candidate Bruce Rogers while on a motorcycle in East Providence.

Police say they couldn't get it off because it was too tightly secured. They say a different stolen sign fell off the bike.

Coogan has denied stealing the signs and says the allegations are political retaliation.

Coogan recently lost his bid for the House seat in District 64 against City Councilman Helder Cunha. He told the newspaper Cunha and Rogers are political allies.


2 state DHS offices to extend hours to reduce wait times

Two field offices for the state Department of Human Services are offering extended hours to help reduce wait times stemming from the state's new $364-million public assistance computer system.

Gov. Gina Raimondo had recently ordered the agency to offer extended hours until 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday at its Providence office. Officials say the Woonsocket office will also have extended hours on those days.

Both field offices will now be open Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

State officials said last week a backlog of public assistance applications had grown to nearly 8,400 following the troubled September rollout of the benefits system.

The DHS says their top priority is to ensure that customers' needs are being met while workers get used to the new technology.


High court steps into fight on Vanderbilts' Breakers mansion

Rhode Island's highest court has heard arguments in a fight that has pitted dozens of members of the Vanderbilt family against a nonprofit that owns several Gilded Age mansions in Newport.

The nonprofit wants to build a visitors center on the grounds of the spectacular Vanderbilt mansion The Breakers, a national historic landmark.

Opponents include designer Gloria Vanderbilt and nearly four dozen other members of the Vanderbilt family, as well as dozens of preservationists. They say the plan would "permanently mar this national symbol of Newport's Gilded Age."

The arguments before the Rhode Island Supreme Court on Tuesday involved zoning and licensing issues raised by neighbors and the city.

The mansion's owner, the Preservation Society of Newport County, wants to build the visitors center to better serve its 400,000 annual visitors.


Private service set for woman lost at sea in boat sinking

A memorial service for a Connecticut woman who was lost at sea during a fishing trip with her son will take place this week after all, but at an undisclosed location.

An attorney for Linda Carman's son, Nathan Carman, tells the Hartford Courant that friends and family have been invited to a private service on Wednesday morning.

A memorial Mass was originally scheduled at a church in West Hartford, but church officials said it was canceled. Linda Carman's sisters released a statement questioning the memorial service with the sinking still under investigation by multiple police agencies.

Nathan Carman was rescued by a freighter about 100 miles off the coast of Martha's Vineyard after the boat he and his mother were on sank during the weekend of Sept. 17.


RI lawmaker wants to ban counterfeit drug

A Rhode Island lawmaker says he's introducing a bill to ban online sales of a new synthetic opioid blamed for overdose deaths around the country.

Warwick Democratic Rep. Joseph McNamara, chairman of the House's health committee, said Monday he is filing legislation that will be considered when the state's General Assembly reconvenes in January.

The drug, U-47700, is also known as "pink." The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says it's aware of at least 15 confirmed fatalities associated with the counterfeit drug since last year and is working to place it on its list of the most dangerous banned substances.

It was invented in 1978 by a pharmaceutical company looking for a morphine alternative but was never approved for use.

Several states have recently implemented emergency bans.


State police investigating after child left on school bus

Rhode Island State Police have opened an investigation into whether any criminal violations occurred when a 5-year-old girl was left unattended inside a school bus in Westerly.

Police launched the probe last week after the school district's former director of transportation lost track of the girl on Sept. 21.

Peter Denomme resigned this month. He had worked for Westerly Public Schools since 2009.

Capt. John Allen says troopers will begin conducting interviews next week.

Superintendent Roy Seitsinger Jr. says the district will fully cooperate with the investigation.

An attorney representing the girl's family requested that state police investigate because the potential criminal acts occurred in multiple towns.


Gas prices stay at $2.24 per gallon in RI

Gas prices are holding steady in Rhode Island at an average of $2.24 for a gallon of regular unleaded.

A weekly survey released Monday by AAA Northeast finds gas prices in Rhode Island unchanged from last week and two cents per gallon more than the national average of $2.22.

Prices are seven cents per gallon higher than at this time last year, when the average price was $2.17 per gallon.


Youth league kicks out team after man plays in football game

The founder of a Rhode Island youth football team says its season is ending early after the coach put a man into a game against 13- and 14-year-old players.

Capital City Buccaneers founder Alexandra Diaz says she had stepped away from the Sunday game in Scituate when the coach let the young man believed to be at least 18 take part in several plays before getting kicked out.

The Providence team had been losing when the incident occurred. Parents spotted the man suit up on the sideline.

Diaz says the coach took full responsibility and has been fired. She says the varsity team has been stripped of the remainder of their season.

The league's vice president says the decision has been made to remove the team indefinitely.


Fight over Vanderbilts' Breakers mansion goes to high court

The Rhode Island Supreme Court is stepping into a fight that has pitted dozens of members of the Vanderbilt family against a nonprofit that owns several Gilded Age mansions in Newport.

The court will hear arguments Tuesday that will affect the group's plan to build a visitors center on the grounds of the spectacular Vanderbilt mansion The Breakers, a national historic landmark.

Opponents, including designer Gloria Vanderbilt and nearly four dozen other members of the Vanderbilt family, as well as dozens of preservationists and others, have said the plan would "permanently mar this national symbol of Newport's Gilded Age."

The Preservation Society of Newport Country wants to build the visitors center to better serve its 400,000 annual visitors.


State looks to assemble holiday care packages for troops

Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee and the Rhode Island National Guard are launching a seasonal initiative to send care packages to Rhode Island troops this holiday season.

The 14th annual "Operation Holiday Cheer" kicks off tomorrow.

The goal is to ship hundreds of care packages to servicemen and women who are away from home during the holidays.

McKee works with the National Guard, businesses and community groups on the effort. They're gathering at the armory on Airport Road in Warwick Tuesday morning to mark the launching.

McKee's website has a "troops' wish list" with suggested donations and a link for monetary donations. Volunteers can sign up to assemble care packages.

Donations will be accepted and sorted at the Warwick Armory on Nov. 19. Care packages will be assembled the next day.


Free coats offered to homeless and low-income veterans

A nonprofit group is working with the Providence VA Medical Center to give away winter clothing to homeless and low-income veterans.

Operation Stand Down Rhode Island is holding its third annual coat giveaway for veterans at the medical center on Chalkstone Avenue in Providence from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday.

The group helps homeless veterans and veterans who are at risk of becoming homeless.

It's giving away coats, gloves, hats, blankets and toiletries to help keep veterans warm this winter.

More than 100 coats were donated for the giveaway.

Operation Stand Down says hundreds of veterans benefited from the coat giveaway last year.


Hundreds defend yoga pants in protest parade

The organizer of a yoga pants parade held in response to a man's letter lamenting the attire says the author of the letter is backpedaling by saying it was a joke.

Jamie Burke says even if Alan Sorrentino was joking, it doesn't change the tone of his message.

More than 300 people peacefully paraded Sunday around the town of Barrington wearing yoga pants in response to Sorrentino's published letter calling the garb "ridiculous."

Sorrentino had said he hoped readers would enjoy the letter as a break from presidential campaign rhetoric and that he enjoys yoga pants and even owns a pair.


Authorities investigating fires on URI campus

The state fire marshal's office is investigating two small fires over the weekend at the University of Rhode Island.

School officials say early indications show the fires were intentionally set between Saturday night and Sunday morning inside the university's Hillside Hall.

Authorities the incidents involved burning toilet paper or paper towels and a trash can in one men's bathroom. No injuries were reported.

The first fire happened on the fifth floor around 8:40 p.m. Saturday. While authorities were investigating that fire, a second one occurred in the same bathroom at around midnight. Students were evacuated and allowed back into their rooms in each incident.

Students whose residents were affected by water damage have been relocated.


Board Rules Dollar General Is Not A General Store

Charlestown's Board of Zoning Appeals is saying a proposed Dollar General store is not a "general store." The town's zoning regulations describe a general store as "space in a building used for the purpose of serving residents in the immediate vicinity."  The board determined that the proposed store is a department store and not allowed in the Traditional Village District. 


Warwick Parents, Educators Detail Special-Ed Issues In Schools

City leaders are getting an earful about special education issues in Warwick city schools.  Councilman Ed Ladouceur organized last night's forum after receiving calls, emails and letters from parents and teachers.  Some teachers said they had too many children with IEPs in their classrooms to meet everyone's needs. Teachers say there's not enough support staff to help with students who make threats and disrupt teaching. 


Rhode Island to accept voters' tribal ID cards

Members of the Narragansett Indian Tribe will be allowed to use their tribal identification cards when voting in Rhode Island.

The state Board of Elections Wednesday approved a directive ordering local election boards to accept the cards.

Rhode Island passed a law in 2011 requiring voters to show a photo ID before casting a ballot.

State law says poll workers can accept a variety of forms of identification, including driver's licenses and U.S. passports, but there was no mention of cards issued by federally recognized tribes such as the Narragansett.

Loren Spears says she tried to use her tribal ID at her Charlestown polling place in September's primary but was denied. She provided her driver's license instead but says not everyone has one.


RI initiative aims to find work for unemployed

Getting jobs for the long-term unemployed is the goal of a new statewide initiative in Rhode Island modeled after a program in Chicago.

Gov. Gina Raimondo and other state officials and business leaders unveiled the new Skills for Rhode Island's Future on Wednesday.

It matches businesses with people who've been unemployed for more than six months, or underemployed and looking for a better job.

Rhode Island obtained $1.25 million for the program from the U.S. Department of Labor last year.

It's based on Skills for Chicagoland's Future, which says it has found jobs for more than 3,100 people in Chicago since 2012.

Chicago businesswoman Penny Pritzker helped start the organization before joining the Obama administration as U.S. commerce secretary in 2013. It's now looking to expand around the country.


RI Oks some voter applications after deadline

The Rhode Island Board of Elections has decided to accept voter registration applications postmarked after the state's deadline.

The board voted Wednesday to accept applications postmarked two days after the Oct. 9 deadline because it fell on a Sunday and was followed by the Columbus Day holiday.

The board considered the grace period after U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Patrick Leahy of Vermont expressed concerns to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and the U.S. Department of Justice about Rhode Island and nine other states.

The senators say the deadlines before Oct. 11 violate the National Voting Rights Act, which calls for mail-in voter registration applications to be accepted if they are postmarked 30 days before the election.


Ex-US Rep. Kennedy gets mistaken criticism from email probe

Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy is clarifying that he isn't the Patrick Kennedy featured in newly released records from an FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.

The former Democratic Congressman from Rhode Island said on social media Wednesday that many people have confused him with Patrick F. Kennedy, who was Clinton's aide when she was secretary of state.

Documents released by the FBI disclosed that the other Patrick Kennedy asked the FBI to change the classification of an email on Clinton's private server last year to keep it secret.

After the documents were released, some Twitter users told the ex-congressman that he'd shamed his family's name. He's a son of the late Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy. He says he never served in the State Department.


DOT to re-route traffic on Interstate 95 lane in Providence

The state Department of Transportation will make its second attempt to move traffic on an Interstate 95 lane onto a newly built Providence Viaduct bridge after the first try resulted in delays and driver confusion.

One of three southbound through-traffic lanes will be re-routed from the old bridge to the new bridge starting at 10 p.m. Friday.

DOT officials say they will move the same plan to Saturday night if wet weather is in the forecast.

A traffic jam ensued Tuesday when the agency began transitioning lanes on I-95 South at Exit 21 to the new bridge. Southbound traffic was split in half, with two lanes on the old bridge and two lanes on the new bridge.

The department restored the original traffic pattern.


Ethics Commission dismisses case against Pawt. mayor

The Rhode Island Ethics Commission has dismissed a complaint filed against Pawtucket's mayor over the city's hiring of one of his tenants in 2011.

The commission voted 6-0 on Tuesday to dismiss without prejudice the complaint against Mayor Donald Grebien.

An ethics investigator who looked into the 2011 hiring of Grebien's tenant for a city sanitation job said in a 20-page report there was no evidence of wrongdoing.

Grebien declined comment after the hearing. He has previously said the ethics complaint filed by his former director of administration was motivated by a personal grudge.


Protesters gather at truck stop for anti-truck toll rally

Opponents of a plan to impose a toll on trucks on Rhode Island's highways gathered at a truck stop in West Greenwich to protest the plan.

The plan, pushed by  Gov. Gina Raimondo, will use tolls to play for repairs to bridges and roads. It was recently given the OK by federal officials.

About 50 people attended the rally, including both Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

Christopher Maxwell, head of the Rhode Island Truckers' Association, says he believes the plan will be a key issue in several legislative races. He says he wants to send a message "that we no longer will tolerate this sort of governance."


Foundation launches new Roger Williams scholarships, website

A new scholarship program and statewide education initiative has launched honoring Rhode Island's founding father.

The Rhode Island Foundation unveiled The Roger Williams Initiative on Tuesday at the Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence.

The group is awarding up to $240,000 a year in college scholarships to Rhode Island high school seniors who display appreciation of the values of Williams, the religious dissident who settled Providence in 1636 and championed religious freedom and democracy.

Up to three students a year will be given scholarships. Each will be eligible for as much as $20,000 per year for as many as four years.

The deadline for the first year of scholarships is February 16.


DOT to revert to old traffic pattern after delays, confusion

The state Department of Transportation says it plans to restore the old alignment of highway lanes on Interstate 95 in Providence after its new traffic pattern resulted in delays and driver confusion.

The agency had begun transitioning lanes on I-95 South at Exit 21 to a new bridge being built as part of the Providence Viaduct Replacement Project. Southbound traffic was split in half Tuesday, with two lanes on the old bridge and two lanes on the new bridge.

Director Peter Alviti says the agency failed to let people know in advance what would be happening and didn't have adequate signs to direct drivers through the new alignment.

The department will revert the highway back to the original traffic pattern on Tuesday night and it will remain effective until Saturday morning.


Care New England, Southcoast Health call off affiliation

Officials with Rhode Island's Care New England and Southcoast Health of Massachusetts have announced that plans to merge the two health care systems have been called off.

A joint statement released Monday said the boards of the two nonprofits each voted to terminate their affiliation agreement after determining that their visions for a combined system "could no longer be achieved."

The statement said the decision was reached during the process of conducting "due diligence reviews and preparing regulatory filings." No further details were immediately available.

Plans for a potential partnership were first announced in November 2015. The boards of directors of each institution voted to approve an affiliation agreement in May 2016.

The merger would've established a health system comprised of eight hospitals and more than 15,000 employees.


Raimondo extends hours at DHS center to curb wait times

 Gov. Gina Raimondo has ordered the state Department of Human Services to offer extended hours starting this week after the troubled September launch of a new $364 million public assistance computer system.

The Providence DHS Center will extend customer hours until 6:30 p.m. every Tuesday and Wednesday in an effort to reduce wait times and assist more residents with their benefits.

This comes after a recently released report revealed hours-long waits at welfare offices and waits of more than an hour by phone since the launch.

Raimondo's office says Deloitte, the company hired to build the system, will assign additional managers to supervise technical staff at DHS field offices at "no additional taxpayer cost."

Lawmakers are set to hold a hearing Tuesday on problems with the new system.


Gas prices up 4 cents in RI, to $2.24 per gallon

Gas prices are on the rise in Rhode Island.

AAA Northeast says in its weekly survey on Monday that the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded had risen two cents from last week, to $2.24.

That's the same price as the national average.

It's four cents higher than last year at this time, when the average price of regular unleaded gas in Rhode Island was $2.20 per gallon.


'Hiring Our Heroes' job fair

The US Chamber of Commerce Foundation is hosting a job fair today for members of the military as part of the "Hiring Our Heroes” campaign.

The job fair will take place at the National Guard Armory in Warwick

More than 40 employers are set to attend the event. In addition to the hiring fair, the job fair will also host workshops on resume building, interview skills, and networking.


Roger Williams project to teach about RI founder

Rhode Island's founding father and theologian Roger Williams is the inspiration behind a new statewide education initiative.

The Rhode Island Foundation plans to unveil The Roger Williams Initiative on Tuesday.

Its mission is to give students and teachers online educational tools about Williams, the religious dissident who settled Providence in 1636 after being expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Philanthropists Letitia and John Carter are funding the initiative. It will be managed by the Providence-based nonprofit foundation.

The group is also awarding up to $240,000 in college scholarships.

Gov. Gina Raimondo is among the state's leaders planning to attend an event to launch the initiative on Tuesday at the Roger Williams National Memorial in Providence.


RI's last remaining water-powered mill reopens

Rhode Island's last remaining water-powered mill is operating again in South Kingstown, after being shut down for a year for repairs.

The Samuel E. Perry Grist Mill began producing cornmeal again on Sunday.

The mill, built in 1703, received around $30,000 in grants from various sources to repair its turbine and sluiceway.

It has been run by Bob and Diane Smith for the past 30 years. They donated the mill and 3.28 acres to the South Kingstown Land Trust in 2012, and now lease it from the trust for $1 per year.


Deadline to get RI mail ballot approaches

The deadline for Rhode Island voters who want to vote by mail in the November 8 election is approaching.

Registered voters have until 4 p.m. Tuesday to apply for a mail ballot.

Voters can download the application online or contact a local board of canvassers to request one. Completed applications must be returned to the voter's local board of canvassers by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Once voters have a mail ballot, they can mark their choices and mail it in. They can also deliver it by hand on election day by 8 p.m. to the state Board of Elections.

More than 20,000 people have already applied for mail ballots.


Officer, 3 others hurt in South Kingstown crash

State police say a South Kingstown police officer was among four people injured in a multi-vehicle crash over the weekend.

Police say the officer was responding to a call around 9:30 p.m. Saturday when his marked cruiser collided with another vehicle at an intersection.

The officer and three other people were hospitalized with injuries not considered life-threatening.

The crash remains under investigation.


Person struck, killed by Amtrak train in East Greenwich

Authorities say a person has been struck and killed by an Amtrak train in East Greenwich.

Amtrak police say the Northeast Regional train heading south from Boston to Washington D.C. hit a person on the tracks just after 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

Spokesman Mike Tolbert says he has no further information on the victim or what led to the crash. He says 378 people were aboard the train, and it was delayed for about three hours.


Nightclub fire memorial reaches $2M fundraising goal

Organizers of the effort to build a permanent memorial at the site of the Station nightclub fire in Rhode Island say they have achieved their $2 million fundraising goal.

The February 2003 blaze in West Warwick killed 100 people and injured more than 200.

The leadership committee of the Station Fire Memorial Park Campaign announced Monday that after several years of fundraising, it had reached the $2 million mark.

Former Republican Gov. Don Carcieri , co-chair of the committee, credited the generosity of Rhode Island businesses and thousands of ordinary citizens.

The memorial park is expected to be dedicated in the spring and include granite monuments for each person who died.

The fire started when pyrotechnics for the rock band Great White set fire to flammable foam inside the club.


IRS Scam Warning Issued In RI

Rhode Island taxpayers are warned to be vigilant for IRS scam phone calls demanding money or personal information.  Federal authorities say despite reports from India that several people were recently arrested at a call center there, that doesn't mean the scam will stop.  U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha says those who get such a call should hang up.  Anyone who thinks they've been victimized should file a report with the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.


RI Ranks High For Voter Participation

Rhode Island is ranked 15th-best among the 50 states for voter turnout.  The WalletHub.com survey is based on factors including race, age, gender, education, employment status and income.  Virginia is number-one and South Dakota is ranked last. 


Majority Leader Launching Write-In Campaign

House Majority Leader John DeSimone is launching a write-in campaign.  The Providence Democrat made the announcement today at a news conference.  The long-time veteran of the General Assembly was defeated in the September primary by political newcomer Marcia Ranglin-Vassell.  Warren State Representative Jan Malik announced last week that he's waging a write-in campaign after his primary loss to Jason Knight of Barrington.


Providence Installing Unique Bike Lane

The city of Providence is creating a new "safe" bike lane on Fountain Street.  The path is between parked cars and the curb to protect bikers from traffic.  A dirt "bus island" is also being installed for RIPTA passengers as they step off the bus so they can avoid cyclists.


Division Of Taxation To Upgrade Computer Systems

The Rhode Island Division of Taxation is getting ready to begin the third phase of their computer system upgrade.  The division stated that they will remain open to the public during the entire process the week of November 7th.  However, some services will be unavailable.  People will be unable to issue letters of good standing, release license and registration blocks, or to check taxpayer account balances.



Multi-City Drug Bust leads To 7 Arrests

Seven people are facing drug charges after a lengthy investigation into large scale narcotics distribution operations.   Local, state and federal authorities executed search warrants last Friday in Central Falls, Providence, and Pawtucket.  A large quantity of heroin and cocaine was seized during the raids that led to a 37-count indictment from the Rhode Island Grand Jury. 


State lawmakers to hold hearing on benefits system rollout

Rhode Island lawmakers plan to seek answers in the recent rollout of the state's new $364-million benefits system after documents revealed that federal regulators warned state officials it wasn't ready.

House Finance and House Oversight Committee members will hold a joint hearing Oct. 20 on the Sept. 13 launch of the Unified Health Infrastructure Project.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo said Wednesday she wasn't informed of the warning letters from the federal Food and Nutrition Service. One dated Sept. 6 said the agency was concerned with system defects and a "lack of detail" in contingency plans, among other complaints.

A spokeswoman with the Executive Office of Health of Human Services says they "welcome the opportunity" to talk with legislators about the system's launch.


Church defrocks priest accused of molestation at prep school

An Episcopal priest accused of molesting children at an elite Rhode Island boarding school and elsewhere has been removed from the priesthood.

The Episcopal Diocese of Central Pennsylvania announced Monday that it had defrocked the Rev. Howard White. The diocese says White accepted his removal but didn't admit guilt. White didn't immediately return a message seeking comment Tuesday.

The move came after an investigation into widespread abuse at St. George's School in Middletown, Rhode Island, found White abused children there in the 1970s before being fired. He went on to teach in other private schools.

The 75-year-old White has been accused of molesting children in New Hampshire, West Virginia and North Carolina.

St. George's School's famous graduates include poet Ogden Nash, Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson and NBC's Billy Bush.


GE ramping up presence at new headquarters, digital hub

General Electric is ramping up its presence at its new corporate headquarters in Boston and has unveiled a new digital hub in Rhode Island as it prepares to leave its Connecticut home of the last 42 years.

The company now has more than 200 workers in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, many of whom are transplants from Connecticut. They include CEO Jeff Immelt, who has worked from a temporary Boston office since late August.

GE plans to empty its headquarters in Fairfield, Connecticut, by the end of the month after occupying it since 1974. Many of those not migrating to Boston are shifting to another Connecticut office in Norwalk.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo on Tuesday welcomed the first employees hired at the new Providence office for software division GE Digital.


Rhode Island gas up 3 cents per gallon

The price of a gallon of gasoline in Rhode Island has risen 3 cents in the past to an average of $2.22.

AAA Northeast said Tuesday that the price for self-serve, regular is 4 cents per gallon lower than the national average and a penny higher than the in-state per-gallon price a year ago.

AAA found a relatively small range of prices from a low of $2.13 for a gallon of self-serve, regular, to a high of $2.32.


Feds asked RI not to roll out new benefits system

Documents show federal regulators urged Rhode Island officials to delay rolling out its new $364-million benefits system last month, saying a live pilot test wasn't performed and it wasn't launched in phases.

The Unified Health Infrastructure Project launched on Sept. 13.

The federal Food and Nutrition Service in a Sept. 6 letter said it was also concerned with system defects and a "lack of detail" in contingency plans, among other complaints. The agency said financial penalties could be levied for violating federal regulations.

Gov. Gina Raimondo's administration last week acknowledged there were problems with about 29,000 Supplemental Security Income payments to aged, blind and disabled persons.

Some have also reported that Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program debit cards weren't replenished in October.

State officials on Friday said the system is working.


Board of Elections proposes a raise for its members

The state Board of Elections is proposing to give its commissioners a raise next year.

The seven-member board has proposed doubling stipends from $7,000 a year to $15,429, which is what lawmakers in the General Assembly make.

The proposal is in a budget request to the governor's office. It would have to be approved by state lawmakers as part of next year's budget.

Commissioner Stephen Erickson says it's a way to recruit qualified people for the board that oversees elections in the state. He says tying the stipend to legislative pay ends the annual debate over whether members should get a raise.

Only some board members would benefit from the raise because commissioners who collect a state pension are ineligible for the stipend.


Pronk Fest an anti-Columbus Day parade

Just don't call it a Columbus Day parade: Hundreds of people were marching through downtown Providence for a street party meant to be a raucous alternative to the federal and state holiday.

Revelers gathered late Monday afternoon and evening for the Providence Honk Festival, better known as Pronk, an annual celebration of street music and social activism.

Brass bands and other performers led marchers on a 1-mile parade route through downtown streets.

The festival describes itself as a "heartfelt antidote to mainstream culture" and a celebration of resistance to consumerism, colonialism, hatred and injustice.

The Providence festival began in 2008 as a spinoff of the Honk festival that originated in Somerville, Massachusetts, in 2006. Several other cities now have similar events.


Brown celebrates indigenous peoples after renaming holiday

Students and faculty at Brown University have celebrated Indigenous Peoples' Day after faculty renamed what used to be called Columbus Day.

Dozens gathered at the Providence campus Monday to mark the occasion.

The Ivy League University in 2009 changed the name of the holiday that falls on the second Monday of October to Fall Weekend. Some said the change didn't go far enough though, so they changed it again in February.

Renaming the holiday, according to the rationale for the motion, "would recognize the contributions of Indigenous People/Native Americans to our community and our culture and foster a more inclusive community."

Efforts are underway nationwide to drop the Columbus Day name - named in honor of explorer Christopher Columbus - because it represents the oppression of Native Americans.


Middletown shelter expanding to support 5 more families

A Middletown  shelter for homeless families is expanding so it can support five additional families.

Lucy's Hearth is an emergency and transitional shelter for homeless women and children and one of just four in the state that houses families.

The shelter was in a former convent, with space for 10 families, but on Thursday a ribbon-cutting is scheduled for a new facility in town that can accommodate 15 families and has space for additional services.

Rhode Island currently has a wait list for families seeking shelter, and families can sometimes wait weeks to be placed.

The four shelters collectively have about 150 beds, but that doesn't always mean they can accommodate 150 people.

Families generally have a room. An available bed may be in another family's space.


Matthew's path means little rain for parched New England

The National Weather Service says the latest forecast for Hurricane Matthew has it traveling east of New England with little, if any, rain this weekend.

Meteorologist Margaret Curtis says the projected track has changed in the last 24 hours, with the most likely scenario sending the storm and rain offshore.

The region can use some rain, with extreme drought conditions in parts of Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

The National Hurricane Center has extended the hurricane warning northward in Florida as Matthew heads toward the East Coast. The storm was pounding the Bahamas on Wednesday, a day after sweeping across a remote part of Haiti.


RI highway truck tolls get federal approval

Rhode Island's plan to charge big-rig trucks that travel along its highways has won approval from the federal government.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation said Wednesday it has executed agreements with the Federal Highway Administration for 13 tolling locations around the state.

Beginning as early as 2018, the tolls on 18-wheelers will raise money to rebuild or replace 34 bridges. Rhode Island will become the first state with truck-only tolls, though many states with tolls charge large commercial trucks at a higher rate than cars.

State lawmakers passed the truck tolls legislation earlier this year amid strong opposition from truckers. Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo signed it into law in February.

It allows trucks to be charged up to $20 to cross the state along Interstate 95.


Classic RI diner rescued from wrecking ball

Each year some of the roughly 2,000 classic diners around the United States are demolished, but an enduring fascination with the 20th-century breakfast tradition has helped some get rescued from the wrecking ball.

After sitting vacant for 14 years in a weed-strewn lot in Pawtucket, the historic Silver Top Diner was sold for $30,500 to the highest bidder at a public auction Wednesday.

A constable held a bidding war outside the boarded-up restaurant that an expert says was built during the "golden age of the diner" in the 1930s. The winner owns a burger restaurant in North Attleborough, Massachusetts, and wants to expand.

Buying the diner is the easy part. Architects who've transformed old diners into new restaurants say it can cost half-a-million dollars to do it right.


Fox anchor, Hasbro end suit over toy hamster with same name

A Fox News anchor has settled a $5 million lawsuit against Hasbro over a toy hamster that had her name and she says was designed to look like her.

Harris Faulkner sued Pawtucket -based Hasbro Inc. in federal court in New Jersey last year. She said a plastic hamster named Harris Faulkner that was part of the company's Littlest Pet Shop line wrongfully appropriated her name and persona, harmed her credibility as a journalist and was an insult.

Hasbro had said the hamster wasn't named for her.

Both sides asked for the lawsuit to be dismissed Wednesday.

Faulkner and Hasbro say the toy is no longer sold and the lawsuit was "settled amicably." They havent' released details.

Faulkner hosts the show "Outnumbered." She used to work in Minnesota for KSTP-TV and hosted "The Harris Faulkner Show" on FM107 Radio.

This story has been corrected to show Faulkner and Hasbro, not Faulkner's lawyer, said the toy is no longer sold and the lawsuit was settled amicably.


Senators ask DOJ to intervene over voter deadlines

Two Democratic senators are asking the U.S. Department of Justice to ensure that 10 states do not violate federal law with their mail-in voter registration deadlines for the November election.

Federal law requires mail-in registrations to be postmarked 30 days before the election. But that falls on a Sunday this year, followed by the Columbus Day holiday.

In their letter Wednesday, U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer of New York and Patrick Leahy of Vermont said all states should allow postmarks on the Tuesday after the holiday weekend. They say those that do not could disenfranchise thousands of people.

The states cited are Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah and Washington. Officials in Utah, Washington and Arkansas say they will accept applications postmarked by the later date.


Church restoration a throwback to days of Kennedy wedding

The church where John Kennedy and Jacqueline Bouvier married is being restored to the appearance it had when they wed in 1953.

St. Mary's Church in Newport, Rhode Island, was the site of the Sept. 12, 1953 wedding, when Kennedy was a senator from Massachusetts. The couple worshipped there during his presidency and would sit in pew 10.

The Rev. Kris von Maluski  says in 1958, a new organ was installed with pipes and casework that covered stained glass windows and architectural features.

That organ broke in 2014. As part of its restoration, von Maluski says those details will be uncovered so the church looks as close as possible to the appearance it had when the Kennedys married.

Von Maluski says the church attracts many tourists interested in the Kennedys.


After being spared from euthanasia, Coyote captured, moved

A Rhode Island coyote that was recently spared euthanasia after a public outcry has been captured, but the animal's future remains in doubt.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said Wednesday that the coyote known as Cliff was caught and relocated to an undisclosed location in the state.

The coyote was set to be killed after it was spotted roaming around Newport and Middletown during the day and appeared at a bus stop crowded with children. Police rescinded the kill order after a public outcry.

Officials had considered sending Cliff to a zoo. But state veterinarian Dr. Scott Marshall says wild animals don't generally assimilate well.

Marshall says Cliff "will have challenges ahead." He says coyotes in the state are territorial and may not welcome a newcomer.


About 4,000 HealthSourceRI users eligible for tax credits

Federal officials say approximately 4,000 Rhode Island residents are eligible for tax credits if they purchased insurance through the state's health care exchange.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday that only residents who bought their 2017 plans on the HealthSourceRI website are qualified.

Health officials say the tax credits were designed to make coverage more affordable and protect consumers from the impact of rate increases.

Residents who earn 100 to 400 percent of the federal poverty level may be in line for the credits. Consumers who receive Medicaid or Medicare are not.

A single person living in Rhode Island with an annual salary of less than $47,000 would qualify for a premium tax credit.


More info sought on proposed Burrillville power plant

A company seeking to build a gas-fired power plant in the town of Burrillville has been ordered to provide more information before a review of the proposal can move forward.

The Rhode Island Energy Facility Siting Board voted Monday to issue an order to Chicago-based Invenergy that requires them to explain why the proceedings shouldn't be suspended.

Board spokesman Todd Bianco says that Invenergy failed to provide a cooling water source for the facility after the Pascoag Utility District took the proposed water supply off the table.

Invenergy will have to present its case before the board decides whether the $700 million project can move forward.


Processing errors delayed SSI payments from state

Officials in Rhode Island say processing errors caused the delay of Supplemental Security Income payments to thousands of the state's recipients.

Executive Office of Health & Human Services spokeswoman Ashley O'Shea said Tuesday the direct deposit file used to process approximately 29,000 payments recently failed due to an issue with routing numbers and account numbers.

O'Shea had said Monday approximately 3,200 SSI payments were delayed. That included 1,900 direct deposits that were impacted by a separate processing error.

Officials have acknowledged the payment problems are connected to the Sept. 13 launch of the "Unified Health Infrastructure Project", an IT project aimed at replacing old computer systems.

O'Shea says the SSI issue was limited to the state supplement, not the Oct. 1 federal SSI payment.


House speaker unveils 2017 priorities amid re-election fight

Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has promised to reduce taxes in next year's legislative session, including the car tax and estate tax.

The Cranston Democrat unveiled his priorities Tuesday, just weeks before he faces Republican challenger Steven Frias in November's election.

Towns and cities set car taxes, not the state, but Mattiello says he wants to restore state aid to municipalities that lower the burden on car owners.

Frias has also called for cutting car and estate taxes and says Mattiello had his chance to do it earlier. He calls Mattiello's promises election-year gimmicks.

Mattiello spoke at the Cranston headquarters of Taco Comfort Solutions, where CEO John Hazen White, Jr., said he supported cutting the estate tax to keep executives like him from leaving Rhode Island.


RI gas prices on the way up

Rhode Island drivers are paying a little more at the pump this week.

AAA Northeast reported Monday that the average price of self-serve, regular gasoline jumped 3 cents to an average of $2.19 per gallon.

That price is 3 cents per gallon lower than the national average and a penny lower than the Rhode Island price a year ago.

AAA found self-serve, regular selling for as low as $2.03 per gallon and as high as $2.39.

AAA says a preliminary decision by OPEC nations to limit production may have an impact on oil prices.


Diversity sought in RI's search for police boss

Rhode Island's governor is being urged by some to do more to recruit women and minority candidates in her search for a new superintendent of the state police.

Lt. Charles Wilson, chairman of the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Officers, sent a letter to Gov. Gina Raimondo calling for a wider search. He says considering internal candidates only perpetuates the lack of diversity in police agencies.

The Democratic governor says she's looking for the best person regardless of race or gender.

Raimondo has reached out to at least one woman for the job, but the retired police official wasn't interested.

She's looking for a successor to Col. Steven O'Donnell, who retired Sept. 23.

Lt. Col. Kevin Barry was named acting superintendent and is being considered for the permanent job.


No West Nile found in latest mosquito tests in RI

State environmental officials have not found West Nile virus in the latest round of mosquito tests in Rhode Island.

The Department of Environmental Management said Monday that 50 mosquito samples from 24 traps set statewide on Sept. 20 tested negative for West Nile and eastern equine encephalitis.

Two weeks ago, the agency reported the first confirmed human case of West Nile virus in the state this year. The 49-year-old patient was diagnosed with meningoencephalitis caused by West Nile virus. The patient has recovered.

Last month, the agency reported one confirmed finding of West Nile virus and one confirmed finding of EEE in a mosquito sample.

The agency traps mosquitoes weekly and tests them at the state health laboratories. As temperatures cool, mosquito populations will die out and testing will conclude.


6 hospitalized after ambulance, 2 cars crash in Providence

Police in Providence are investigating after a multivehicle crash involving an ambulance sent four adults and two children to the hospital.

Officers responded to the scene just after 5:30 p.m. Monday. Police say an ambulance responding to a call was going through a red light when another car failed to yield and hit the vehicle.

A third car involved had been traveling the opposite direction of the rescue vehicle.

Fire officials say no one was badly hurt. Four adults were taken to Rhode Island Hospital and two children were transported to Hasbro Hospital. The youngest victim was a six-month-old.

No charges have been filed as of Monday. Authorities are investigating.


City officials propose plan for Providence interchange

City officials are proposing a project for a deteriorating Providence interchange that could save money and free up 55 acres of land for new development.

The new plan introduced by city planners Monday has been given to the state Department of Transportation as an alternative to rebuilding the 6-10 interchange on its existing footprint at an estimated cost of $400 million.

It would feature an elevated rotary at the end of U.S. Route 6 in the city's Olneyville neighborhood. The rotary, described as a "halo" structure, would replace the ramps that feed traffic between the two expressways and include a connection from state Route 10 north to Route 6 West.

City officials say the estimated cost hasn't been determined. Construction and maintenance costs could be less than the state's current plan.


Tribe votes to impeach chief after residency flap

Members of Rhode Island's Narragansett Indian tribe have voted to impeach their chief sachem of nearly two decades following reports he may be a Florida resident.

Members of the tribe's executive board voted to impeach Matthew Thomas last week. The full tribal assembly unanimously agreed in a vote taken Saturday morning.

The move comes several months after an investigation by the news station showed that Thomas obtained a Florida driver's license and registered to vote in Florida. Florida tax assessor's records show that Thomas owns a home in Port Charlotte, Florida.

Narragansett Indian tribal election rules say that the chief must live in the state of Rhode Island or within a 50-mile radius.


Pregnant woman unscathed in car crash

A pregnant woman was unscathed in a car crash in Rhode Island that left the vehicle mangled and wrapped around a tree.

The crash happened just before 6 a.m. Saturday on Route 24 in Portsmouth.

Portsmouth fire Lt. Allen Levesque says the woman told police her car slid on the wet road, struck a barrier and then spun out. The car then hit a utility pole before sliding down an embankment and slamming into a tree.

Levesque says the passenger side of the car was "literally folded around the tree."

Levesque says the woman is 15 weeks pregnant and was taken to an area hospital as a precaution.

No other cars were involved.


Voters to decide if lawmakers should face ethics scrutiny

Rhode Island voters will decide in November whether to give an ethics commission power to investigate lawmakers for alleged conflicts of interest and sanction them when they act improperly.

The Rhode Island Ethics Commission once had oversight over state lawmakers, but lost it in a 2009 court ruling.

The ethics ballot measure, Question 2, asks voters to approve a constitutional amendment restoring the commission's oversight.

Supporters, such as Common Cause Rhode Island, say it will deter unethical behavior and force lawmakers to disclose potential conflicts.

It has no organized opposition, but some critics say it raises free speech concerns. The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union says it gives an unelected agency too much authority to decide what legislators can debate and vote on.


Raimondo to hold signing ceremony for insurance legislation

Gov. Gina Raimondo is planning to hold a bill-signing ceremony to draw attention to legislation that encourages insurance companies to create jobs in Rhode Island.

The ceremony is scheduled for this afternoon. The legislation was passed earlier this year.

A statement from the governor says the legislation offers a tax incentive to insurance providers. She says the bill ensures that the creation of new insurance industry jobs triggers a reduction in the tax rate that insurance companies pay in Rhode Island.

Raimondo says the reduction is designed to be "revenue-neutral," meaning the bill requires that the reduction be fully offset by the income tax generated by these new jobs.


Overnight standoff in Portsmouth ends peacefully

An overnight standoff with suspect inside a Portsmouth home has ended peacefully.

the standoff began at about 9 p.m. Sunday when a man police identified as James Lawrence allegedly pointed a gun at a neighbor.

Police say they suspect Lawrence was intoxicated. He surrendered peacefully at about 6:30 a.m. Monday after talking to negotiators.

Police blocked off several roads in the area during the standoff but they have since reopened.

Chief Tom Lee says the suspect also threatened police.


City skyline blinks in nightly ritual to cheer up sick kids

For one sparkling minute each night, blinking lights from skyscrapers, tugboats, hotels, a yacht club and police cruisers send a goodnight message to sick kids inside a children's hospital.

A gesture that began with a single bike light cheering up a patient six years ago has become a nightly ritual in Providence, Rhode Island.

Giddy kids inside the Hasbro Children's Hospital wait for 8:30 p.m. each night, when strangers flash lights from high-rise buildings and waterfront decks and parks. The kids get their own flashlights to return the message.

The hospital's resident cartoonist, Steve Brosnihan, started the phenomenon, known as Good Night Lights, and keeps expanding it by inviting more businesses and other groups to join the display.

Some bigger buildings now have automatic signs to display messages each night.


Navy insists speedy warship will be fine after a bumpy start

Five of seven of the U.S. Navy's speedy new warships have had engine problems in the past year and four of them are now considered "test" ships that'll rarely, if ever, be deployed.

The Navy insists the costly littoral combat ship program is going to be fine after a bumpy start.

Adm. John Richardson, the chief of naval operations, said recently in Newport, Rhode Island, that most major shipbuilding programs have "startup types of issues."

He says overall, the program is on track.

But two senior senators, Arizona Republican John McCain and Rhode Island Democrat Jack Reed, say it's time for the Navy to question all of its assumptions about the ship program, which has been criticized for its growing costs, questions about the warships' warfighting ability and now, mechanical reliability.


2 children injured when stroller struck by car

Two children were seriously injured when the stroller they were riding in was struck by a car in Providence.

Police say it happened just before 8 a.m. Thursday at an intersection near Alfred Lima, Sr. Elementary School.

Police say a woman was pushing the stroller when it was struck by the car. The force from the impact knocked the woman to the ground, and a 2-year-old boy was ejected from the stroller. A 3-year-old girl remained inside the stroller.

Both children suffered serious injuries and were taken to Hasbro Children's Hospital. The woman was taken to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.

The driver of the vehicle was identified as a 40-year-old Providence resident.

No further details were released.


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