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1540 WADK.com Updates


The  New Bedford City Council has voted to order a referendum on a $650 million casino, hotel and conference center development proposed for the city's waterfront.

Following the announcement of the council vote Thursday night, councilors urged residents to come out to the polls.

Councilor Linda Morad says she hopes "the apathy" the city has seen in previous elections doesn't occur June 23, the date of New Bedford's special election.

New York-based developer KG Urban Enterprises faces a May 4 deadline to secure sufficient equity investment in the project, as part of its application to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. If voters reject the proposal, KG Urban would be unable to ask the city for a new election for six months.

 

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Gov. Gina Raimondo has approved legislation clearing the way for Twin River Casino to build a hotel on its Lincoln property.

Raimondo signed the House bill and its companion Senate bill Thursday, saying the state needs to examine ways to create more economic opportunities in Rhode Island.

State Rep. Jeremiah O'Grady introduced the legislation in March to lift a ban on building a hotel at the casino. The restriction was originally put in place to satisfy Providence hotel owners concerned about competition.

But Twin River now faces competition of its own as future gambling facilities in neighboring Massachusetts threaten to take away the casino's clientele.

The president and CEO of Twin River Management Group, George Papanier, says the hotel would create approximately 200 temporary construction jobs and 100 full-time jobs.

 

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 Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has agreed to take several steps to improve safety following an accident that severely injured several acrobats during a hair-hanging stunt in Rhode Island last year.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the settlement agreement Thursday. It says the circus has agreed to have all its aerial acts reviewed by a registered professional engineer and take other steps.

Eight acrobats plunged to the ground during a performance in Providence in May 2014, when a clip that was suspending them in the air snapped. A ninth worker on the ground was also hurt.

Circus spokesman Stephen Payne says Ringling Bros. wants to do whatever it can to make the circus safe, and has already taken many of the steps covered in the agreement.

 

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 Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says he wants to kill a proposed tax on luxury vacation homes, the so-called "Taylor Swift Tax."

Mattiello told Rhode Island Public Radio Thursday  he hopes the state will have the money to eliminate the tax proposed by Gov. Gina Raimondo on vacation homes worth more than $1 million.

The tax was named for the pop singer who owns a beachfront mansion in Westerly.

Critics of the tax say it would send a bad message about Rhode Island's tax climate.

The Raimondo administration says the tax is projected to generate about $12 million to help alleviate the state's budget deficit, which currently stands at $190 million.

Raimondo's press secretary wasn't available for the radio station's request for comment.


 

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 Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed four bills aimed at strengthening Rhode Island's campaign finance reporting laws.

Raimondo approved the new laws Thursday, saying elected officials must uphold the highest ethical standards and Rhode Islanders deserve honest government.

Lawmakers reviewed the campaign finance system after ex-House Speaker Gordon Fox pleaded guilty last month to exploiting weaknesses in it. Fox acknowledged taking a $52,500 bribe and making dozens of interbank transfers totaling $108,000, using money from his campaign account for personal expenses.

Candidates and political action committees will be required to create separate bank accounts for campaign funds and file statements for those accounts with the elections board.

Candidates also will be prohibited from serving as their own campaign treasurers if their accounts reach or expend $10,000 or more annually.

 

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 A young male harp seal is back in the Atlantic more than a month after being found dehydrated in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

The 1 to 2-year-old seal, named "Dill" by his rescuers, underwent treatment at Mystic Aquarium's Animal Rescue Clinic in Connecticut for dehydration and stomach parasites.

Workers there were able to get his weight up from 62 pounds to 75 pounds, allowing him to wobble back into the sea Thursday in front of a crowd at Blue Shutters Beach in Charleston.

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 A former state medical examiner told jurors that 6-year-old Marco Nieves would have endured excruciating pain in the hours leading up to his death, caused by a "substantial" blow that ruptured his intestine.

The Providence Journal reports Dr. Thomas Gilson was the state's final witness in the murder trial of Michael Patino. Prosecutors say the 33-year-old Patino beat his girlfriend's son so badly that his intestines tore, leading to the child's death.

The key evidence in the case is a series of cell phone messages containing messages sent by Patino and Oliver indicating Patino had hit the boy. The state Supreme Court ruled last summer they could be used as evidence in the case.

Nieves' lawyer says his client accidentally hurt the boy.


 

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 Johnson & Wales University has broken ground for a new academic center on land opened up by the relocation of Interstate 195 in downtown Providence.

The university held a ceremony for the $40 million engineering and science center Wednesday. The school says it put the "first shovel in the ground" on the land freed up for redevelopment.

University Chancellor John Bowen says school officials hope their plans for the land will serve as a catalyst for other private development.

Twenty acres of land on the edge of downtown Providence were freed up for redevelopment by the interstate's relocation. The ribbon of land can support 3 million square feet of mixed-use space.

The university purchased a parcel in 2012. The academic center is scheduled to be complete in July 2016.

 

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  Several local soldiers are back home. WPRI-TV reports five soldiers returned home to Rhode Island after serving a ten month deployment in Kuwait. The report says the soldiers were greeted by friends and family yesterday afternoon at T.F. Green Airport.
 

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 A Rhode Island Department of Corrections officer is in trouble with the law. Authorities say Captain Paul Bartholomy was arrested for DUI following an incident on Route 102 in West Greenwich, Sunday morning. Authorities say Bartholomy hit the back of a car, sending four people to the hospital with minor injuries. Authorities say Bartholomy failed a field sobriety test and later refused a chemical test.
 

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  A girl from Newport is living out her dream. Yesterday Khatima Bulmer got to be Rhode Island's Governor for a day. The fifth grader at Thompson Middle School was sworn into temporary office by Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg. Bulmer won the honor by beating out around 600 people in an essay contest. She got to spend the day with Governor Gina Raimondo.
 

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 Rhode Island's governor is awarding $3.3 million in state and federal grants to projects around the state that aim to reduce storm water pollution.

For one of the projects, the State Department of Transportation will create wetlands and carry out other work to capture and treat storm water contaminating Roosevelt Lake.

Other projects that will receive funding include work in Newport to build roadside drainage areas that, if successful, could be duplicated elsewhere, and a project to plant trees to absorb runoff in the Pleasant Valley Stream watershed.

Raimondo says the projects will preserve not only rivers and bays but will help create jobs.

She made the announcement Wednesday at Roger Williams Park.

 

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 Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner is joining with other state treasurers to petition the Securities and Exchange Commission to adopt a rule to require all publicly-traded corporations to disclose their political contributions.

The treasurers say they're responsible for making sure public funds are invested responsibly and accountably, and that secret political spending continues to be a top issue in the investment world.

Along with the Rhode Island treasurer, the treasurers of North Carolina, Washington, Vermont and Oregon signed a letter to the SEC.

Magaziner says requiring publicly-traded corporations to disclose political giving will help provide investors with the information they need to make informed decisions, and increase transparency.

Treasurer Ted Wheeler of Oregon says they can't do their job effectively as treasurers without knowing how corporations spend their clients' money.

 

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The working group created to cut down on unnecessary regulations and attract businesses to Rhode Island revealed potential cuts to Medicaid costs to help eliminate Rhode Island's deficit.

The Reinventing Medicaid Working Group proposed Wednesday to cut $85.5 million in state expenditures, close to Gov. Gina Raimondo's goal of $90 million.

According to briefing documents, reductions would be worth a total of $158.6 million.

Medicaid reimbursements for hospitals would see a 5 percent rate cut and nursing homes would see a 3 percent cut.

The group also proposed to allow medical providers to make up some of the losses by awarding bonuses to organizations that become more efficient and offer higher quality care.

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Fifteen years after the city of Providence released firefighter John Sauro (saw-ROW)  with a job-related disability pension, the retirement board says he no longer qualifies for it.

The city board terminated Sauro's $3,900 tax-free monthly accidental-disability pension on Wednesday. Sauro had been collecting the pension for a dislocated shoulder and torn rotator cuff injury he suffered when he helped carry a large person down a flight of stairs in 1998.

Sauro came under fire when a TV news report utilized an undercover video camera to show him lifting heavy weights at a fitness center, despite his injuries.

He says the workout was to improve his physical and mental well-being. Mayor Jorge Elorza says the video clearly shows Sauro abusing Providence's public disability pension system.

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Rhode Island's six-point-three percent unemployment rate in March is the 10th highest in the country.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says Rhode Island is tied with Georgia and Tennessee. Connecticut has the highest jobless rate in New England at six-point-four percent.  Nationally the unemployment rate last month was five-and-a-half percent.

 

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 A new casino in Tiverton with table games and easy access to state highways would allow Rhode Island to compete with neighboring Massachusetts for gambling revenue, state casino operators said Tuesday.

Twin River Management Group has secured the rights to acquire 45 acres of land off of Route 181, along the Massachusetts state border, and the operators of the Twin River Casino in Lincoln plan to build a new casino there with about 1,000 slot machines and 30 to 40 table games, said John Taylor, the group's chairman.

The existing gambling license at Newport Grand, which Twin River acquired last month, would be transferred to the new casino, but voters must approve the plan first, Taylor said. He said he hopes to see the question on the ballot in November 2016.

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 A University of Rhode Island fraternity member has been arrested after police say they found marijuana at his fraternity house.

South Kingstown Police said they arrested 21-year-old Dan Coburn on Monday after they were tipped off that a Sigma Pi fraternity brother was selling large amounts of marijuana from the frat house.

Police said detectives seized about two pounds of marijuana, hash oil, and $604 in cash.

Coburn was charged with a felony count of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. He was freed on $10,000 bail.

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 The Rhode Island tax division says about 281 taxpayers using direct debit to pay their 2014 state income tax have been overcharged because of a computer problem.

State tax administrator David Sullivan said in an email Tuesday that taxes were taken out of some accounts twice. He said those taxpayers will get automatic refunds and the state will also cover any overdraft fees or other charges they incurred.

Sullivan said the double-billing totaled about $450,000, and most of that was to one taxpayer billed $290,000.

Officials said the problem surfaced after the April 15 filing deadline and is believed to have been caused by a high volume of last-minute returns forwarded by the Internal Revenue Service.

The state is notifying the people who were overcharged.

 

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A plant that makes lottery ticket vending machines will be closing its doors and plans to lay off up to 44 employees following the merger of two gaming companies.

Rhode Island-based GTECH and International Game Technology completed a $6.4-billion merger earlier this month.

Workers were notified Tuesday that the Coventry plant would be closing by the end of the year.

The company says manufacturing operations will now be consolidated at a facility in Reno, Nevada. Angela Wiczek, a company spokeswoman, says some employees will be offered transfers to Nevada, but the majority will lose their jobs.

About three dozen other workers at the closing plant will remain with the company and be relocated to an existing manufacturing center in West Greenwich.

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 Rhode Island College is expanding its undergraduate degree offerings.

The school  has announced it is adding new undergraduate degree programs in environmental studies and global studies for the fall 2015 semester.

Ron Pitt, RIC's vice president for academic affairs, says  the programs will help the school meet its mission by providing the state with highly qualified workers in two of the nation's fastest growing areas of study.

The environmental studies program will include the opportunity for field study and the global studies program will include the opportunity to study overseas.

The school says students also will be able to minor in both concentrations.

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A gas explosion has severely damaged a Portuguese bakery in East Providence and left a worker seriously injured.

Fire officials say several people escaped the bakery on Taunton Avenue when the blast occurred just after 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

East Providence Fire Chief Oscar Elmasian says one man was hospitalized with burns over about 20 percent of his body.

Officials had to shut off the gas to the building before fighting the fire, which destroyed much of the building.

No other buildings were damaged.

Fire marshals are investigating the explosion, but officials say it appears to have been accidental.

 

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No injuries are reported after a tree fell on a home in Tiverton. WLNE-TV reports that a tree crashed into a home on Riverview Drive last night. The report says the home suffered heavy damage.

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Two people are recovering after being shot in Providence. Authorities say a vehicle with five people in it was shot at near Union Avenue, Sunday night. Authorities say a person wearing a mask pulled up in another car, got out and started shooting. The two victims were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. No arrests have been made at this point.

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Police are looking for the person who is responsible for painting graffiti on several buildings in Providence. Yesterday Providence Police released a picture of the suspect, who was caught on surveillance video in a stairwell of a building, wearing a maroon backpack and carrying a paint tray filled with pink paint and paint roller. Authorities say the suspect somehow gains access to rooftops, then hangs over the roof to paint messages on the sides of buildings. Anyone with information is asked to call police.

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A fire is to blame for destroying several vacation homes in Burrillville. Authorities say the fire started early yesterday morning on Bethany Lane. Authorities say three homes were destroyed and a couple others were damaged. No injuries were reported.

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Police are identifying the woman who was killed in a train crash over the weekend. Police say 21-year-old Deanna Bates of Kingston was killed when an Amtrak train collided with her vehicle that was sitting on the tracks near Waites Corner Road late Saturday night. She was pronounced dead at the scene. No one on the train was injured. The incident remains under investigation.

 

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An East Providence man is facing charges after authorities say he was driving drunk when he collided with a motorcyclist. Authorities say the crash happened Saturday evening near the intersection of Veterans Memorial Parkway and Pawtucket Avenue, seriously injuring the motorcyclist. Police say Luis Alicea was charged with driving under the influence resulting in serious bodily injury, and driving while intoxicated.

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Authorities are investigating after a man was found dead in a fire pit in Woonsocket. Authorities say the body was discovered yesterday morning behind a home near Mason Street. The man has not been identified, and the cause of death is still under investigation. More information is expected to be released today.

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One person is dead after an Amtrak train collided with a vehicle on the tracks in West Kingston.  Authorities say the crash happened late Saturday night near Waites Corner Road. The driver of the vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. No one on the train was injured.

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A Providence man weighing more than 1,000 lbs. was moved by crane to a flatbed truck in order to make the trek down Interstate 95 to his new home.

A coalition consisting of the Providence and Cranston Fire Departments, Lifespan, the Hospital Association of Rhode Island and Bay Crane Northeast helped move the man from his closing nursing home room to a new facility in Cranston on Sunday.

Michael Raia of the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health & Human Services says planning for the move began weeks ago.

The transport took nearly seven hours.

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Rhode Island's first female governor says it's time for the nation to have its first female president.

Gov. Gina Raimondo says she's supporting Democratic favorite Hillary Rodham Clinton, who launched her 2016 presidential campaign this week.

The Democratic governor says she'll support Clinton even if former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, her predecessor as governor, decides to run.

Chafee has formed an exploratory committee to consider a Democratic presidential campaign.

Raimondo says she's a longtime Clinton supporter and intends to fully support the former secretary of state. Clinton campaigned for Raimondo during the governor's race.

Raimondo says Clinton has the skills and experience to do the job, and the right values.

She says it's time for a woman, and time to "put a mom in the White House."

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The unemployment rate in Rhode Island is continuing to decline.  State labor officials say the jobless rate fell to six-point-three-percent in March, a slight decrease from February.  That's still well above the national jobless rate of five-and-a half-percent.  However, the rate is nearly two-percent lower than March of 2014, when over eight-percent of the state workforce was without a job. 

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A bill that would allow Twin River Casino to build a hotel on their property is headed to the governor's desk.  The measure would undo a long standing law that prohibits hotels on or near the Twin River property in Lincoln.  However, casino officials say that with resort casinos coming to Massachusetts in the next few years, Twin River needs a hotel to remain competitive.  Twin River officials say they plan to build a four story hotel with around 200 rooms in the style of a Hampton Inn or Courtyard by Marriott.

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Gun control activists are urging the Rhode  Island Legislature to impose limits on where guns can be carried in the state.  Around 200 people rallied outside the State House yesterday, calling for support of several key measures.  One would ban people convicted of domestic violence from owning or buying guns, while another would limit ammunition clips to a maximum of ten bullets.  Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and a retired Newtown, Connecticut teacher were among those at the rally.

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Not all Rhode Island officials are endorsing the proposal for the state to pay 120-million dollars towards a Providence baseball stadium.  Narragansett state Representative James Sheehan says the plan may be a bad dream instead of a field of dreams.  Sheehan says the proposal is incredibly one sided, and should be a non-starter for state and local officials involved in the direct negotiations.

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Governor Gina Raimondo says she will review the proposal for a downtown stadium in Providence.  The owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox are looking for 120-million dollars in state assistance to relocate the team to Providence.  The owners would pay for stadium construction under the plan.  Raimondo says she is committed to working with Mayor Jorge Elorza and legislative leaders to determine if the project is in the best interests of the state.

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Actress Debra Messing is this year's recipient of the Pell Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Arts.  Messing is an East Greenwich native who's best known for her role in the sitcom "Will and Grace."  She currently stars in the NBC series "The Mysteries of Laura."  Messing and three other award winners will be honored at a ceremony in June at Trinity Rep.   

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A RIPTA spokeswoman says she can't rule out a fare hike.  "The Providence Journal" reports the transit agency's planning director made the comment yesterday during a community meeting in Providence.  RIPTA is planning a series of community meetings as part of a study about fares. 

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A Providence police K-9 unit is helping to provide security at next week's Boston Marathon.  The bomb-sniffing dog and her handler will be one of hundreds of bomb-sniffing teams working at the marathon.  This is the second year the Providence team has been assigned to the security operation following the deadly 2013 bombings near the finish line. 

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Corporate executives with Motel Six are trying to help deal with high crime rates at their facility in Warwick.  There have been 75 arrests at the Jefferson Boulevard motel in the last year, and the city is trying to work with the company to address the problem.  Police say they are increasing patrols at the motel, and management is sending a list of hotel guests to police each day.  Warwick Police Chief Stephen McCartney says Motel Six management is fully cooperating and are doing their best to resolve the issues.

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Providence Police say a 24-year-old woman's life was saved by officers after she suffered an overdose of narcotics.  Officers administered the drug Narcan to the woman when they responded to a home in the city Monday.  The victim was found unresponsive on a bathroom floor with a spoon and needle nearby, and she quickly came to and sat up once Narcan was given to her.  She was taken to the hospital for further treatment.

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A Tiverton woman is facing charges after she allegedly assaulted her husband and threatened to stab him with a knife.  Police say 24-year-old Whitney Correia attacked her husband earlier this month at a home on Fish Road.  She's charged with felony domestic assault and possession of a dangerous weapon.  Correia is free without bail on the condition that she stay away from her husband.

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The restaurant at the center of the Gordon Fox bribery scandal is fighting to keep its licenses to operate.  The city sought to nullify the Shark Sushi Bar and Grill's licenses because of the bribes paid to help obtain them.  A judge has issued a temporary order that allows the restaurant to continue operations as the case moves forward.  The restaurant is currently being run by a court ordered receiver.

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A pair of 12-year-old girls are facing charges accusing them of assaulting and kidnapping a teenager.  Police say the two juveniles lured the 15-year-old female victim into one of their homes, hitting and choking her.  They also allegedly made the victim remove her clothes and continued to bully her.  The alleged incident occurred last week, and the two juvenile suspects appeared in family court on Monday.

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Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is filing open government lawsuits against two fire departments. Kilmartin says the Western Coventry Fire District failed to post minutes of their meeting last October in a timely manner.  The Manville Fire Department is accused of failing to respond to document requests made through the state Access to Public Records Act.  Kilmartin says both districts have violated the law in the past and are still failing to comply.

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A Pawtucket man on probation for sex crimes is being held without bail on a new child pornography charge.  Police say Christopher Calabro was found with a cell phone containing child porn during a sex offender compliance check.  Calabro received a five year suspended sentence for a child porn possession conviction in 2012.  Police say there is no evidence of any inappropriate conduct between Calabro and minor children.

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Cranston School Committee is expected to name the district's new superintendent tonight.  It appears the hire is coming from within, as the agenda lists the appointment of assistant superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse to the position.  She will replace Judith Lundsten, who is retiring at the end of June and is moving to Cape Cod.  The School Committee meeting is at six p.m. at Western Hills Middle School.

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The new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox are planning to update the public on their ballpark plans tomorrow.  The team is hoping to build a new stadium on I-195 redevelopment land in Providence.  The owners will provide an update on that effort, and will also discuss how much financial assistance they plan to seek from state taxpayers.  Governor Gina Raimondo says she has not seen any proposals from the team and is not aware what state assistance they are looking for.

 

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Providence Police say they are going to hunt down and catch the person who injured one of their officers with a thrown bottle.  The vodka bottle struck Officer Michael Clary in the head, causing a concussion and serious cut in his forehead.  The incident occurred during the wild celebration that followed Providence College winning the NCAA hockey national championship.  The college says they are investigating as well, and are working with police to determine who threw the bottle.

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The cost of a gallon of gasoline in Rhode Island is holding steady.

AAA Northeast says its weekly survey found self-serve, regular selling for an average of $2.36 per gallon, the same as last week.

The in-state price is 3 cents lower than the national per-gallon average, 9 cents lower than a month ago and $1.24 lower than the Rhode Island price a year ago.

AAA found self-serve, regular selling for as low as $2.23 per gallon and as high as $2.52.

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Providence and Rhode Island Foundation officials are establishing a campaign to help finance improvements at the 141-year-old Roger Williams Park and also leave it with a multimillion-dollar endowment.

Foundation President Neil Steinberg told the commission that the goal is to raise about $10 million. Half will be used for improvements to the park and half will be an endowment.

The Rhode Island Foundation started in 1916 with a $10,000 donation from industrialist and U.S. Sen. Jesse H. Metcalf and has grown to an organization with assets of nearly $800 million in 2013 and gave out more than $31 million in grants.

The city has already allocated about $3 million from bonds to repair the park's roads.

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Governor Gina Raimondo is calling for a unified statewide campaign to promote tourism in Rhode Island.  Raimondo says the previous strategy of promoting tourism through regional districts has proven to be a failure.  She says Rhode Island continues to lose out on tourism dollars to neighboring states, and now is the time to develop a statewide approach targeting people in other states.  The governor says the failure to properly promote state tourism is costing Rhode island thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic activity.

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A new report indicates that Rhode Island's retired judges are the biggest earners in the state's retirement system.  The average annual salary of a retired Rhode Island state judge is more than 140-thousand-dollars a year.  That's way above the 15-thousand-dollar average pension paid to a retired municipal worker each year, and the 31-thousand-dollar pension earned by state employees.  The highest paid state pension is 191-thousand-dollars paid each year to retired Superior Court Presiding Judge Joseph Rodgers.

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The number of babies born addicted to alcohol and prescription painkillers is rising in Rhode Island.  The nonprofit Rhode Island Kids Count says 76 babies were born with signs of prescription painkiller or alcohol addiction in 2013.  The group says that's nearly double the number of babies born addicted in 2006.  Rhode Island regularly scores in the top five states in the country in the percentage of people over the age of 12 using illegal drugs.

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A pedestrian is injured after being struck by an accused drunk driver outside a Cranston nightclub.  Police say Lorna Grassel of West Greenwich was driving in the parking lot at the Mardi Gras Club on Oaklawn Avenue when she struck the pedestrian.  The man struck his head on the vehicle and was thrown between two parked cars, suffering minor injuries.  Grassel is charged with driving under the influence and is free on bond.

 

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A Providence police officer is injured after being struck by a thrown vodka bottle during the Providence College hockey championship celebration.  Officer Michael Clary was one of around 60 who were called in to deal with a large disturbance near the college Saturday night.  Clary needed emergency surgery because of the head wound.  Police have not located the person who threw the bottle, and say it remains under investigation.

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A Providence city employee is being recognized for being selected as an on court official for the NCAA championship game this week.  Deputy Director of Recreation Michael Stephens has also been an NCAA referee since 1997.  Stephens received a key to the city from Mayor Jorge Elorza during a City Hall ceremony yesterday.  He had officiated Final Four games in the past but this was his first NCAA title game.

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The number of foreclosures in Rhode Island was higher last year than in 2013.  The research group HousingWorks RI says the more than 16-hundred foreclosure filings in 2014 was a ten-percent increase over the previous year.  The statistics show a 30-percent increase in the number of filings over the last three months of the year.  Rhode Island is among the top five states in the country in the percent of homeowners who owe more on their properties than they are worth.

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Convenience store owners are not happy with Governor Gina Raimondo's proposal to raise the cigarette tax.  The store owners say cigarette sales make up a large part of their sales, and are urging lawmakers to reject the increase.  The additional revenue would be used to spare state residents from paying income taxes on Social Security benefits.  Rhode Island's cigarette tax is already among the nation's highest at three-dollars and 50-cents a pack.

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A Providence music club is currently closed after a double stabbing.  Rap artist Lil Bibby was performing at Simon 677 on Valley Street Wednesday night when a fight broke out.  The stabbing happened when the fight moved outside, leaving two people with serious injuries.  The city Board of Licenses is ordering the club to remain closed at least until a hearing that is scheduled for Monday.

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Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee is considering a run for president next year.  Chafee made the announcement on his web site yesterday, saying he's forming an exploratory committee to consider a run for the Democratic nomination.  Chafee left office in January after serving one term as governor and deciding not to seek reelection.  Prior to serving as governor, Chafee was a U.S. Senator and the mayor of Warwick.

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Support is growing for Governor Gina Raimondo's plan to cut the commercial energy tax rate.  State officials say the most recent federal statistics show that only Hawaii has higher commercial electric rates.  Raimondo is proposing that the sales tax businesses pay for electricity, natural gas or heating be phased out over the next five years.  The state will lose around 26-million-dollars in annual revenue when the tax is completely phased out in 2020.

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A suspect is facing charges in connection with a samurai sword attack in Pawtucket that left three people injured.  Leicy Osorio of Central Falls surrendered to Pawtucket Police yesterday after learning of the warrant for his arrest.  Osorio is charged with felony assault and is being held on 25-thousand-dollars bond.  The stabbing came March 28th at Dexter and Barton streets in Pawtucket following a dispute at a nearby nightclub.

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Two Massachusetts men accused of killing the brother of a Rhode Island Supreme Court justice are continuing to be held without bail.  Matthew Marcotte and Rolando Brooks are accused of killing William McKenna in February, and they were arraigned yesterday.  The men apparently ran into McKenna outside a Pawtucket store, and Marcotte was apparently upset with McKenna over a previous incident.  The victim was the younger brother of Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna-Goldberg.

 

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  A bill that would allow the construction of a hotel at Twin River Casino is another step closer to becoming law.  A state Senate committee yesterday passed the measure that matches the one approved by the House last month.  Current state law prohibits a hotel near the casino, a rule put in place to protect the hotel industry in Providence.  Twin River says they need a hotel in order to keep up with new competition and to retain jobs.

 

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The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing today on Governor Gina Raimondo's proposal to cut more than two-million-dollars in state funding for private school transportation and private school textbooks.  Bristol Representative Ray Gallison says House leaders plan to restore out-of-district transportation funding for private and parochial school students.  Currently the state reimburses public school districts for the cost of English and history-social studies textbooks.

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The man accused in a drunk driving crash that killed a young couple in Providence is free on bail.  Joel Norman of Massachusetts posted ten-thousand-dollars bail yesterday and was released with conditions.  Norman is accused of driving the wrong way on Route-Six while drunk on Sunday, killing Tiffany Sical and Brayan Rodriguez-Solis.  The couple was returning home from a night out at the movies when the head on crash occurred.

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Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor is defending a pair of tax increase proposals that are drawing criticism.  Pryor last night told the legislature's House Finance Committee that the new property tax on luxury second homes would raise 12-million-dollars a year to help close a budget deficit.  He also says a private home rental tax would help fund an aggressive new marketing initiative aimed at generating more tourism in the state. 

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Rhode Island First Gentleman Andy Moffit is recognizing the important roles of the state's former first ladies.  Moffit yesterday met with former first ladies Marilyn Almond, Suzanne Carcieri, Margherite Garrahy, Dorothy Licht and Marjorie Sundlun.  The first ladies shared their experience with the first gentleman during the visit.  He also presented each former first lady with a citation to acknowledge their contributions to Rhode Island.

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A Warwick man is accused of stealing more than 140-thousand-dollars from a Providence manufacturing company.  State Police say Paul Roderick is accused of stealing and reselling merchandise from United States Associates.  The company specializes in the production of metals, insignias, tools and badges.  Roderick allegedly deposited 88 checks into his account from a single client who had begun ordering directly from him.

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A Rhode Island legislative committee is considering a measure that would strictly regulate body works spas in the state.  The goal of the bill before the House Corporations Committee is to combat sex trafficking and shut down spas that are actually brothels.  The committee held a hearing on the measure yesterday and voted to hold the bill for further study.

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Mayor Scott Avedisian says Motel 6 executives have agreed to appear before the Warwick Board of Public Safety next week to discuss what they are doing to stop criminal activity at the chain's Warwick site.

Motel 6 agreed to changes after Warwick police began investigating last month. New measures include police details, filing a daily guest list with the city, raising the minimum check-in age to 21 from 18 and training staff on safety procedures.

The executives are set to meet with Avedisian and Police Chief Col. Stephen McCartney on Tuesday.

McCartney said there have been 75 arrests at the motel over the past year, including drug and prostitution offenses.

Motel 6 did not immediately respond to an early morning email Wednesday.

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A former owner of a Cranston tax preparation service is heading to prison for stealing and selling the identities of more than 300 minors.  The stolen identities were sold by Tashia Bodden for the purpose of using them on fraudulent tax returns.  Bodden pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to defraud the government and aggravated identity theft.  Her sentence is three years of prison, two years of supervised released and over a million-dollars in restitution.

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The strike is over at the Rhode Island School of Design.  The 44 unionized technicians walked off the job last week amid a dispute over contributions to retirement benefits.  The agreement came yesterday as a rally was about to begin outside the school where around 900 students came out to support the striking workers.  The technicians returned to the job yesterday afternoon.

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