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1540 WADK.com Updates


The federal government has awarded a Rhode Island firm a contract worth more than $29 million to produce berets for American military personnel.

The Woonsocket Call reports the U.S. Defense Department's contract with The Brickle Group is the largest the textile manufacturer has won in years.

Max Brickle, president of the Woonsocket-based company, says the firm is looking to double the workforce of their beret division in light of the contract.

The division currently makes up about 15 percent of Brickle's 130 employees.

The contract comes on the heels of the so-called "Brickle Amendment," adopted by the House of Representatives on May 14. The amendment reforms defense procurement regulations that favored foreign competition over domestic operations.


 

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Portsmouth has tapped a former top Navy official to serve as the town's administrator.

The Newport Daily News reports that Richard Rainer, who most recently served as the chief operations officer for the U.S. Navy- NATO Joint Force Command in the Netherlands, will take the job on July 1.

He replaces John Klimm, who left the post earlier this year for a similar job in Aiken, South Carolina.

Rainer was the director of international studies at the Naval War College in Newport from 2008 to 2012.

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Aviation enthusiasts will head to North Kingstown this weekend for the annua lRhode Island National Guard Open House and Air Show.  The big event will take place at Quonset State Airport.  The Navy's famous Blue Angels flight squad will be the headlining act.  The demonstration team has already given some Ocean State residents a show this week as they have been practicing their precision flights over lower Narragansett Bay the past several days.

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Rhode Island Senate Majority Leader Dominic Ruggerio is offering a tax stabilization plan for vacant Interstate-195 land in Providence.  Ruggerio says the high tax rates have become an obstacle to job creation and development in Providence.  He says every developer that has expressed interest in I-195 land has said they would not proceed without tax stabilization agreements.  Ruggerio hopes to hold a hearing on the measure next week.

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A Woonsocket man says he's not guilty of murdering a 78-year-old grandfather during a 2013 home invasion.  Leopoldo Belen is facing 13 charges related to the incident where Delor Cabral was shot and killed in his Ontario Street apartment.  Belen is currently being held without bail on unrelated sexual assault charges.  Wilbert Richardson is now officially cleared in Cabral's death, as he spent ten months in jail after an eyewitness named him as the attacker.

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A legislative committee is planning a hearing for next week on the budget amendment offered by state leaders to repair Rhode Island's bridges.  Governor Gina Raimondo and legislative leaders are planning to impose a toll on large commercial trucks to pay for the bridge repair and maintenance.  The hearing is planned before the House Finance Committee late in the afternoon on June second.

 

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Rhode Island House Speaker Nick Mattiello says their reworked version of Governor Gina Raimondo's budget will be released soon.  Mattiello says most of Raimondo's economic development proposals will remain in the new plan.  He also says the package will increase the income tax exemption for Social Security recipients past what the governor offered.  Mattiello says he doesn't expect assistance for a new minor league baseball stadium in Providence to be included in the budget.

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Providence schools are going to have to get by without nine-million-dollars in federal funding in the upcoming school year.  Some of the lost money had been anticipated by school officials, but they are now being forced to make new cuts to balance the books.  One thing that won't occur is teacher layoffs, as they are not allowed this year under the new teacher contract.  The district budget for the 2016 fiscal year is currently 353-million-dollars.

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Leaders in the General Assembly have agreed to raise the minimum wage to $9.60.

Lawmakers were considering raising the $9 hourly minimum by $1.10 to $10.10 per hour beginning Jan. 1. Gov. Gina Raimondo supports that increase.

But organizations representing small businesses, the hospitality and food industries, home health care and hospice agencies, and others say they can't afford it.

Leaders of both chambers are amending the proposals to $9.60 per hour, effective Jan. 1.

The bills will be considered in committee on Wednesday in the Senate and Thursday in the House.

If passed, this would be the fourth year in a row Rhode Island raises the minimum wage.

Connecticut is raising its rate to $9.60 in 2016 and $10.10 in 2017.

The proposal in Rhode Island doesn't address 2017.

 

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Rhode Island has dropped out of the top 10 states with the worst unemployment rate for the first time in nearly eight years.

The state's 6.1 percent unemployment rate in April ranked 12th in the nation.

According to the state Department of Labor and Training, it's the first time Rhode Island hasn't ranked in the top 10 since June 2007.

Department spokesman Mike Healey says at that time, Rhode Island's 5 percent unemployment rate put it 11th among states, tied with Wisconsin.

In March, Rhode Island's unemployment rate of 6.3 percent put it 10th among states, tied with Georgia.

The national unemployment rate in April was 5.4 percent, seven-tenths of a percentage point less than Rhode Island's rate.

 

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A Providence man is admitting to his role in a sex trafficking operation.  Kemont Bowie pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy, sex trafficking of a child and transporting a minor for sexual activity.  Bowie faces a possible life sentence, admitting that he and two others plotted to traffic a runaway teenage girl for sex. 

 

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Rhode Island is receiving one-million-dollars from the federal government to clean up contaminated sites in Providence, Pawtucket and Central Falls.  The brownfield grants come from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  The I-195 Redevelopment Commission in Providence is receiving 200-thousand-dollars to clean a parcel contaminated by a jewelry manufacturer.  Pawtucket will get 600-thousand-dollars to clean three polluted parcels, and Central Falls gets 200-thousand-dollars to clean a contaminated industrial site on Broad Street.

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Governor Gina Raimondo and state legislative leaders have a plan to address Rhode Island's crumbling transportation infrastructure.  Governor Gina Raimondo says the state is last in the nation in the condition of its bridges, and that needs to change.  Titled RhodeWorks, the program will fund repairs to 150 structurally deficient bridges and to prevent 500 others from becoming deficient.  A fee on commercial vehicles will generate revenue to pay off the bonds for the program. 

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The Pawtucket Red Sox ownership group says they plan to continue with the vision of late principal owner James Skeffington.  Principal owner Larry Lucchino says they will continue to pursue Skeffington's plan for a new stadium on former I-195 land along the Providence waterfront Lucchino says the stadium will be a gem, and they plan to honor Skeffington's dream and goals.  Skeffington died suddenly May 17th after suffering a heart attack while exercising.

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Rhode Island’s lowest paid workers could soon be getting another raise.

The Senate Labor Committee is set to vote today on legislation that would increase the state’s minimum wage to $10.10 per hour.

If approved, the $1.10 increase would go into effect January 1.

It would mark the fourth wage hike in as many years

The federal minimum wage is $7.25.

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Treasurer Seth Magaziner says Rhode Island will only invest in funds from now on that allow their performance, fees, expenses and liquidity to be made public.

Magaziner says the public has a right to know where the money is invested and how it's performing. He says he's asking the state's existing fund managers to comply too.

The new investment policy is one of several initiatives Magaziner announced Tuesday to increase transparency.

The treasurer's website now has a data portal for publications and datasets the office produces. For the first time the office is reporting investment-related fund expenses charged to the state's pension portfolio.

There's a new calendar for contract end dates and proposed dates for new requests for proposals.

Magaziner says a commitment to transparency will produce better financial results.

 

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High school students in Providence are calling on the city's mayor to reduce the minimum distance students must walk to school to qualify for a bus pass.

Students rallied Tuesday at Providence City Hall, marching for five miles past Mayor Jorge Elorza's office. The Providence Student Union says this represents the roundtrip distance more than 1,000 students in Providence walk to and from school each day.

They say Elorza promised while campaigning last year to reduce the minimum distance to two miles, but that hasn't happened. Currently, a student must live at least 2.5 miles from school to qualify for a bus pass.

Elorza says he looks forward to meeting with the students to talk about immediate steps, such as offering students reprieve during inclement weather or partnering with RIPTA.

 

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A Rhode Island Air National Guard cargo plane has landed safely after its landing gear malfunctioned.

Colonel Peter Parente says three C-130 crew members manually landed the plane after the system that lowers the landing gears failed over North Kingstown late Tuesday.

No injuries were reported. North Kingstown police and fire responded to the scene for support.

Parente says the malfunction is a standard issue that can happen, and the crew was successful in their handling of the situation. He says the crew had been conducting routine flight training when they noticed an issue with the hydraulics that control the flaps of the landing gear.

The plane circled the area as the three crew members re-energized the hydraulics. Officials say hydraulic malfunctions like this are common.

 

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Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline is joining the movement to clear the name of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.  Cicilline yesterday posted a picture of himself on Twitter holding a sign reading Free Brady.  Brady recently received a four game suspension from the NFL amid accusations that he was aware team staffers were deflating game footballs.  Cicilline says he joins with other Pats fans in calling for Brady to be reinstated immediately.

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Providence is launching a midnight basketball league.  Mayor Jorge Elorza says the league will provide healthy community interaction and alternative night recreation for young adults.  Registration for the basketball league is underway at Providence Recreation on West Drive.  Games will be played from nine p.m. until midnight at four different locations around Providence.

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Rhode Island taxpayers will have a few extra days to get their returns in next year.  The state Division of Taxation says next year's filing deadline will be April 18th, three days later than usual.  The reason for the later date is that Emancipation Day falls on Saturday, April 16th and the holiday will be celebrated on Friday the 15th.  Since Rhode Island typically follows in the federal  rules, the date is being pushed back to the 18th as well.

 

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A Massachusetts man is being ordered to serve four consecutive life sentences for the 2009 murders of two men in Providence.  Nigel Nichols of Brockton was convicted in February on two counts of murder and other offenses.  A jury finds that Nichols shot and killed David Thomas and Domingo Ortiz and injured 18-year-old Dwayne Thomas.  The shooting occurred in December of 2009, and apparently followed Nichols being teased by the victims over his level of toughness.

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Rhode Island officials are looking at a plan to impose tolls on large commercial trucks to fund a billion-dollar bridge reconstruction program.  The user fee on trucks would be collected electronically and is expected to generate around 100-million-dollars a year.  The money would be used to repay a 700-million-dollar bond that would be used for bridge repair.  Most of the money would go towards bridge repairs at the Routes Six and Ten connector, with the rest earmarked for other troubled bridges around the state.

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An Armenian church will welcome a head of the Armenian Apostolic Church later this month.

Sts. Vartanantz church says Catholicos Aram I will visit the Providence church on May 30. He is one of two heads of the Oriental Orthodox religion and is based in Lebanon.

Catholicos Aram I is expected to visit the Armenian Martyrs Memorial Monument in the city's North Burial Ground. Then, he'll give traditional blessings and deliver remarks at the church.

Parishioners will then have an opportunity to approach the church leader to receive personal blessings.

The church says Providence's Armenian community is one of the nation's oldest, with immigrants arriving from 25 different countries beginning in the American Industrial Revolution. The state currently has three Armenian churches.

 

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The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded more than $250,000 in grants to five health-care organizations to expand and improve primary care services.

The philanthropic organization awarded grants to the Comprehensive Community Action Program, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, The Providence Center, Rhode Island Hospital and the Rhode Island Parent Information Network.

Foundation President and CEO Neil Steinberg says the grants help make health care more accessible and affordable to Rhode Islanders.

The grants are made available through the RIGHA Foundation Fund, which was created when Harvard Pilgrim Health Care acquired the former Rhode Island Group Health Association.

Harvard Pilgrim Health and the RIGHA Foundation transferred its $1.6 million endowment to the foundation in 2010. The foundation says Harvard Pilgrim Health continues to make annual payments to the fund.

 

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Two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan is among four new board members of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.

The state Senate recently confirmed the new appointments, made by Gov. Gina Raimondo. Joining Providence resident Kwan are Kate Blacklock of Providence, Carmen Diaz-Jusino of Providence and Lorén Spears of Charlestown.

Kwan is a five-time world figure skating champion and nine-time U.S. figure skating champion. She retired in 2006 and is a senior adviser for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of State.

Blacklock is an artist who has taught industrial design at the Rhode Island School of Design since 2002. Diaz-Jusino is the program director for the Center for Women & Enterprise in Providence. Spears is the executive director of Tomaquag Museum in Exeter.

 

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A bill that would make it a felony to use a computer to threaten students at a school is being considered by Rhode Island lawmakers.

Rep. Deborah Fellela says she introduced the bill out of concern over threats made last year in three local school systems.

The Johnston Democrat says the state should stiffen the penalties for using computers to make threats against schoolchildren.

The measure has cleared the House and now heads to the Senate.

Under the bill, a first conviction would be a misdemeanor. A subsequent conviction would be a felony.

Letters were sent in October threatening schoolchildren in Cranston, Johnston and Warwick. The exact nature of the threats wasn't disclosed.

Legislators said at the time they would push for legislation making threats against schools or schoolchildren felonies.

 

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U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jack Reed are leading a delegation of senators to Vietnam and Singapore.

McCain, an Arizona Republican and former Vietnam POW, chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee while Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, is the panel's ranking member.

Reed's office says the senators will meet this week with government officials and other Vietnamese leaders in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City to discuss security and economic issues in the Asia-Pacific region.

The year marks 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War.

In Singapore, Reed's office says the delegation is scheduled to take part in the 2015 Asia Security Summit, also known as the Shangri-La Dialogue The meeting will include defense ministers and other officials from the region. U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is also scheduled to attend.

 

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The state's attorney general is asking the General Assembly to pass a bill prohibiting medical marijuana patients and caregivers from extracting a high-potency oil from marijuana.

Democratic state Sen. Frank Ciccone III of Providence is sponsoring the bill on behalf of Attorney General Peter Kilmartin.

The legislation would allow only compassion centers to extract butane hash oil from marijuana, following the rules and regulations to be promulgated by the Rhode Island Department of Health.

The manufacturing process involves forcing extremely flammable butane through the marijuana. Pot users have caused fiery explosions as they try to make the oil in crude home-based laboratories.

Kilmartin says Colorado, Oregon and Washington have similar prohibitions on producing homemade butane hash oil.

He says Rhode Island needs to address this public safety problem.

 

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The man who fell 80 to 100 feet to his death Sunday at an old quarry in Westerly has been identified as 28-year-old Jack Daniels.  According to police, he had been riding motorcycles in the area when he fell, but Police Chief Ed St. Clair notes he was not on a bike at the time of the fall.  Daniels fell to his death around 2 a.m. Sunday, and police have interviewed the other people with whom he was riding.

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Police are investigating the death of a woman in Coventry who was hit by a car just after 9 p.m. Monday.  The woman's name has not been released, and the driver who hit her is cooperating with police.  Authorities say that person is not facing any charges as yet.  The woman was pronounced dead at Kent Hospital.

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Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island is expecting savings of at least two-point-seven million dollars in its first year though home visits by caregivers.  The "Providence Journal" reports the savings could actually double that amount due to the overwhelming success to date of the Health Home program.  The health insurer identified 450 Medicaid patients in January who were likely to have large medical bills and frequent healthcare needs and dispatched a team to work with them at home instead of having them go to the hospital.

 

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The Rhode Island Senate has passed a bill aimed at getting rid of the state's outdated statutes.

The Senate unanimously approved legislation Thursday to create a joint committee within the General Assembly to review laws and recommend which ones are no longer needed. The legislature would consider the suggestions at the start of each new year.

It is still the law in Rhode Island, for example, that every person guilty of profane swearing and cursing shall be fined up to $5.

Democratic Sen. Erin Lynch, the bill's sponsor, says general laws also have become littered with outdated or burdensome statutes that may be hindering economic growth or business development.

A companion bill is pending before the House Judiciary Committee.

The proposal hasn't gained traction in the House in previous sessions.

 

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The Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence has unveiled plans to add a new education center and rainforest building as well as tigers, grizzly bears and moose by 2035.

Zoo officials announced the 20-year plan Wednesday, saying it will be completed in three separate, $25 million phases lasting between five and seven years each.

The zoo has requested bids to design a rainforest building with a rising path allowing visitors to see animals at different levels. The current education center would be converted into a reptile house.

The second phase calls for new penguin, seabird and sea lion exhibit as well as a gift shop and admission area.

The third phase will add the new animals. Four new restroom buildings and more than 400 parking spaces also will be added.

 

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Officials say they no longer plan to prosecute two Misquamicut businessmen for selling ice cream and other frozen treats in an alleged violation of a street vendor ordinance.

The Westerly Sun reports George Manko was informed Wednesday by his lawyer that Assistant Solicitor Leo Manfred decided to drop the case against him. Manko was charged last June with 16 counts of violating the ordinance for selling shaved ice from his Hawaiian Desserts trailer on Atlantic Avenue.

A July 2014 case against Kenneth Adams was also dropped. He's charged with four counts of violating the ordinance.

Town council says recent modifications to the street vendor ordinance were designed to allow a limited number of vendors to work in the town.

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The head of Twin River says a proposed casino in Tiverton would include about 1,100 slot machines, about the same number as at Newport Grand.

Twin River Worldwide Holdings Chairman John E. Taylor Jr. said at a question-and-answer session Thursday that table games would include blackjack, craps and roulette, but probably not poker.

The Newport Daily News reports  that he says a casino of the size being proposed would likely contribute about $4 million a year in taxes on gambling, property, food and beverages.

Twin River Worldwide Holdings, which operates the gambling center in Lincoln, is seeking to buy Newport Grand and move to Tiverton. Taylor said the sale awaits state regulatory approval.

Tiverton officials and state lawmakers also must approve a November 2016 referendum on the state and local ballots.

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A crowd of Providence community leaders are calling for an immediate end to growing violence in the city.  The clergy and other community activists are urging an end of the cycle of violence that began with a killing outside a city hookah bar last Friday night.  The gang related incident is being blamed for a spike in shootings since then, culminating with a shooting that left two young men injured on Wednesday.  Police say they have identified persons of interest in several of the shootings, but no arrests have been made.

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Rhode Island's unemployment rate is continuing to decline.  The state Department of Labor and Training says the unemployment rate dropped slightly to six-point-one percent in April.  The report indicates that the state gained 600 jobs during the month, and the number of unemployed people dropped by one-thousand.  The Rhode Island workforce currently stands at 553-thousand people, which is nearly two-thousand workers more than March levels.

 

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Ten men are facing charges after they were all allegedly caught in a Central Falls prostitution sting.  The operation involved three undercover female police officers posing as prostitutes and making themselves available on city streets.  When men approached the women for sex, they were arrested.  Seven of the suspects are charged with soliciting from a motor vehicle for indecent purposes, while three others are charged with procurement of sexual conduct for a fee. 

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Roger Waters is signing on to perform at the Newport Folk Festival on July 24th.  The Pink Floyd co-founder has never been known as a folk performer, but will reportedly perform a set of music geared for the festival.  July 24th is the only day that is not currently sold out for the festival, which runs from the 24th to the 26th in Fort Adams State Park.

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A Newport man is facing charges accusing him of possessing and transferring child pornography.  State Police say 30-year-old Marc Mathis was identified by law enforcement as the owner of an Internet connection where child porn was being shared.  A court ordered search of his home on Oak Street in Newport took place yesterday, and Mathis was taken into custody.  he's charged with possession and transfer of child porn, and is free on five-thousand-dollars bail.

 

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NAACP officials are urging Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza to appoint a black police officer to the rank of major in the Providence Police Department.

A study commissioned by the NAACP shows the highest rank held by a black officer in the city is sergeant.

James Vincent, president of the NAACP's Providence branch, tells the Providence Journal  that a high-ranking black officer would help foster community trust.

The NAACP also calls for a new community service division to oversee outreach efforts and the recruitment of police officers of color.

Vincent says the lack of diversity at the command level "jeopardizes the relatively good" relations that have developed between police and the community.

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Officials from Twin River will be holding a gathering to address the public on a proposal to move Newport Grand to Tiverton.

Twin River wants to build a new casino bordering the Massachusetts line in Fall River, with slot machines and table games.

The town council and the general assembly would need to approve of the move in order for the casino to have any hope of being built. If approved, the proposal could be on the ballot next year.

The meeting with the public this evening, will be held at the Lil Bear Sports Pub on Main Road in Tiverton at 6 p.m.

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The city of Providence is saving more than six-million dollars by successfully refunding 146-million dollars in bonds.  The city is taking advantage of more favorable market rates, and state law will allow the city to retain 80 percent of the savings.  Mayor Jorge Elorza says this is a clear win for the taxpayers of Providence, who deserve to know that their tax dollars are being used effectively.

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Police in Warwick are investigating an attempted child abduction.  Police say a 12-year-old girl was walking home from school on Tuesday when a man approached and pulled her backpack.  The girl says she immediately ran home and alerted her parents to the incident, which she says took place near Osceola Avenue.

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Invitations to Hillary Clinton's fund raiser next month in East Greenwich have begun circulating in Rhode Island.  The event is being held June 10h, with ticket prices starting at one-thousand dollars per person.  Those who pay ten-thousand dollars get to attend an additional host reception, with 27-thousand dollars providing full admission to all of the evening's events.  The location of the event is not yet revealed, with donors told they will find out where the event is when they RSVP.

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Two men are wounded after being shot inside a parked car in Providence.  Police say the two victims are in their late teens or early 20s, and both were conscious after being shot on Sassafras Street.  One of the men was shot in the neck, and the other was hit in the torso.  Both men were rushed to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment, and police are trying to determine who is responsible for their injuries.

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A woman is injured after being hit by a Rhode Island Public Transit Authority bus in Providence.  The incident happened before five o'clock yesterday afternoon on Broad Street, and the woman was pinned underneath the bus.  Airbags were needed to lift the bus off the woman, who was rushed  to the hospital in very critical condition.  The 31-year-old victim has been identified as Bobbi Moore and the incident remains under investigation.

 

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Providence officials say the city is owed more than $1 million in police and firefighter detail fees from private contractors.

Detail fees are charged to businesses and organizations that require police or firefighters on hand, including at bars, nightclubs, festivals or other events.

The Providence Journal reports the city pays police and firefighters up front when a detail is required and is supposed to get reimbursed.

A City Council Finance Committee report shows that more than 180 businesses and organizations owe the city $1.2 million in fees.

The mayor's office says the city has established an escalating scale of warnings that culminate in a bill being turned over to a collection agency after six months.


 

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A 26-year-old Warren woman has been arrested for a tree-sitting protest of a proposed natural gas pipeline expansion.

Sherrie Anne Andre was charged Tuesday afternoon with trespassing, resisting arrest, obstruction and disorderly conduct.

Andre had suspended a wooden platform in the tree near a Spectra Energy compressor station in Burrillville early Tuesday. Police say she was in the tree for about five hours.

Andre is a member of Fighting Against Natural Gas, or FANG. The group says the tree is on land that would be cleared if the gas compressor station were upgraded to expand the Algonquin pipeline, which brings natural gas to New England from shale formations.

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Rhode Island's T.F. Green Airport is adding international options this summer.

Starting in June, the airport will begin offering flights to Frankfurt, Germany, and Cape Verde off the western coast of Africa.

The airport has a revamped area for U.S. Customs and Border Protection where agents can welcome travelers into the United States through Rhode Island.

The customs area received $110 million in upgrades could begin operating as soon as June 2, though the area had existed for years.

Kelly Fredericks, president and CEO of the Rhode Island Airport Corporation, tells WJAR-TV the goal is to make the airport more competitive. He says he will likely propose rebranding T.F. Green as an international airport.

 

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Funeral services have been scheduled for James Skeffington, the principal owner of the Pawtucket Red Sox, who died Sunday evening.

A spokeswoman for the PawSox said Tuesday that Skeffington's wake will be held from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Friday at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence. The funeral mass is scheduled for 10 a.m. Saturday at the same cathedral.

Skeffington suffered a heart attack while jogging near his home in Barrington. Skeffington was a Providence native. He was 73.

His death has led to questions about the next step for the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Skeffington was the team's public face and lead advocate for a plan to move the team to a new stadium in downtown Providence.

 

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Providence police have identified the man accused of punching a public bus driver in the face thanks to the suspect's mom.

Police asked for the public's help in identifying the man who punched a Rhode Island Public Transit Authority driver on May 6.

The man, who had a cut on his hand, was apparently angry that the bus driver refused to take him to the hospital, which was not on the driver's route.

RIPTA publicly released surveillance photos the suspect and the mother of 24-year-old Jose Rivera Lopez recognized her son and made him turn himself in.

Lopez is charged with simple assault.

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Four U.S. postal workers are facing charges accusing them of stealing over a million-dollars worth of U.S. Treasury checks.  Prosecutors say Joan Mustafa, Erick Garzon, Brenda Canuelas and Jesus Rivera conspired to steal hundreds of checks from the providence mail processing and distribution center.  Some of the checks were sold on the streets for a fraction of their value, while others were deposited into fraudulent bank accounts and quickly withdrawn.  All four suspects are free on bond.

 

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A new report indicates that Rhode Island has the 18th highest home rental rates in the country.  The report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition says Rhode Island has one of the biggest gaps between the average wage of a renter and the earnings needed to afford a two bedroom apartment.  The nation's highest rental costs are in Hawaii, and the lowest prices are in Puerto Rico.
 

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A Providence man is facing a likely prison term after being convicted by a jury on child molestation and sexual assault charges.  The jury convicted 69-year-old Antonio Acosta on charges accusing him of molesting a young girl from when she was 11-years-old until she was 14.  The victim reported the abuse to a school counselor, which led to an investigation by Pawtucket Police and Acosta's arrest.  Acosta remains free at least until his sentencing.

 

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Pawtucket Red Sox principal owner Larry Lucchino is expected to take a more active role in stadium negotiations.  A spokesperson for the team says in light of the death of fellow principal owner James Skeffington, Lucchino will become the team's point person in stadium talks.  Lucchino is also president and CEO of the Boston Red Sox.  Skeffington had been leading negotiations that sought to move the team to a state of the art new ballpark that would be located on the Providence waterfront.

 

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U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has now preached the dangers of climate change from the Senate floor 100 times.

The Rhode Island Democrat gave his 100th "Time to Wake Up" speech Monday.

In prepared remarks, Whitehouse reflected on the mounting effects of carbon pollution. He discussed the political obstacles to addressing climate change, notably pressure from the fossil fuel industry stifling Republican cooperation.

He says his top reason to act is Rhode Island, the "Ocean State."

Whitehouse wants to impose a fee on carbon emissions. He plans to announce details in June.

He's hopeful public pressure will lead to the passage of comprehensive climate change legislation.

Whitehouse gave his first speech in the series April 18, 2012.

He says he wants to shine light on the facts, science, and the polluters' "scheme of denial."

 

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A coastal Rhode Island company has been awarded a transport contract for a new Deepwater Wind project.

 North Kingstown's Rhode Island Fast Ferry won the 20-year contract to operate a specialized boat for construction and maintenance of a five-turbine wind farm. Deepwater Wind will install in waters near Block Island this summer.

The new vessel will be built by Warren's Blount Boats and will transport workers to and from the offshore wind farm. It will be the first of its kind in the country.

The boat is expected to be ready to provide crew and equipment support in spring 2016 in advance of Block Island Wind Farm's turbine installation.

Rhode Island Fast Ferry will spend $4 million building the vessel.


 

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A staffer for U.S. Sen. Jack Reed has been chosen as the next head of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce.

The group's board of directors on Monday announced it had selected Erin Donovan-Boyle as its new executive director.

She will succeed current Executive Director Jody Sullivan, who is retiring in June.

Ed Lopes, the board's chairman, says she has a deep knowledge of the community, experience in government and financial acumen.

Donovan-Boyle work's as outreach director for Reed's Rhode Island office. She previously served as executive director of the Ocean State Tall Ships group, and as campaign manager for former Secretary of State Ralph Mollis.

 

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The number of visitors to the Newport stopover of the Volvo Ocean Race exceeded officials' expectations.

Organizers of the 12-day celebration said Sunday it attracted about 125,000 people. They say the city had expected 60,000 to 80,000 visitors.

Sail Newport executive director Brad Read says the stopover had 20,000 visitors on Saturday, making it the event's busiest day.

Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad says Newport drew nearly four times as many visitors as Miami did when it hosted the stopover in the 2011-2012 race.

Frostad says Newport has been offered an exclusive two-month negotiating period to secure the return of the race in 2018.

The six sailing teams in the global race left Newport on Sunday, heading for Lisbon, Portugal. The race ends in June in Gothenburg, Sweden.

 

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A developer seeking to create private student housing on former Interstate-195 land now has until July 1st to reach a tax stabilization deal with Providence.  Texas based Friendship and Clifford LLC has an agreement to purchase more than an acre of the reclaimed highway land for well over two-million dollars.  However, the developer needs to reach a tax stabilization agreement because the city's commercial tax rate is very high.
 

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A multi-family home is destroyed following a fast moving fire in Cumberland.  The six unit home on Titus Street caught fire yesterday afternoon and quickly spread through the upper floors.  All of the residents and two cats were able to get out of the building safely, with one of the cats jumping to safety from a third floor window.  The cause has not been determined and remains under investigation.

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A major overhaul is complete at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport.  The results of the three-million-dollars in renovations and upgrades to the property will be revealed on Wednesday.  Changes include new multimedia exhibits and better access, and much of the old Newport Casino building has been restored.  Other projects are still in the works, including new tennis courts and a new grandstand at the stadium grass court.

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The Providence VA Medical Center is holding a town hall style meeting this week.  The event is designed to allow veterans, patients, family members and the public to comment on the facility and the care being delivered there.  The meeting is being held Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. at the medical center on Chalkstone Avenue in Providence.  Before the meeting, the Veterans Benefits Administration is holding a benefits clinic at the facility.

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Police in Pawtucket are looking for a suspect in a weekend shooting.  Police say 20-year-old Mark Cruz of Cumberland is identified as the person who fired shots early Saturday morning that wounded a man on Jenard Drive.  The victim drove himself to the hospital after the shooting, which reportedly occurred after an argument between the two men.  Cruz is considered armed and dangerous, and anyone with information about his whereabouts is urged to contact Pawtucket Police.

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The owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox say it would cost 65-million-dollars to make McCoy Stadium into a state of the art facility.  The owners say that steep price tag explains why the team needs a new stadium, but the city says that number is extremely high.  PawSox principal owner James Skeffington refused to provide the report when questioned by the Providence Journal.  Pawtucket city officials say the team has refused to share their report with them as well.

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A new food assistance program is launching in Rhode Island to help low-income seniors.

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank will distribute monthly food boxes containing items such as cereal, canned vegetables and fruits, pasta, and seasonal foods as part of the federally-funded Commodity Supplemental Food Program.

The initiative is a partnership between the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Rhode Island Division of Elderly Affairs and the food bank.

Rhode Island U.S. Sen. Jack Reed worked to insert language in an appropriations bill so Rhode Island and six other states could start participating, and secured more than $100,000 in federal funding for it.

Reed and representatives from the agencies will be at the Providence food bank Monday to celebrate its start.

The food bank serves about 12,000 seniors each month.

 

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The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded more than $200,000 to 33 nonprofit organizations that serve Newport County.

The philanthropic organization says the grants are made available through its Newport County Fund. The fund offered grants of up to $10,000 each in areas such as arts and culture and the environment.

Baby Steps of Newport received $10,000 to support its educational programs for families with infants and toddlers. Visiting Nurse Services of Newport and Bristol Counties received $5,000 to train staff on working with patients with Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease.

The Foundation says an advisory committee made up of Newport County residents determined how to allocate the funding.

The fund has awarded more than $2.8 million in grants for programs in Jamestown, Little Compton, Middletown, Newport, Portsmouth and Tiverton since 2002.

 

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It was a big weekend for college graduations in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island College handed out 1,493 baccalaureate degrees and 305 graduate degrees Saturday. Honorary degrees were awarded to Scott MacKay of Rhode Island Public Radio and Health and Human Services Secretary Elizabeth Roberts.

Bryant University also held its commencement Saturday, with journalist and author David Maraniss as speaker.

More than 1,000 students received degrees Sunday from Providence College. Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Darlene Love was awarded an honorary degree.

The University of Rhode Island awarded 668 graduate degrees Saturday and 3,204 undergraduate degrees Sunday. Neuroscientist Rudolph Tanzi, a Cranston native, received an honorary doctor of science degree.

Salve Regina University handed out 653 degrees during its 65th commencement Sunday. Two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan was awarded an honorary doctorate in humane letters.

 

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The competitors in the Volvo Ocean Race have departed Newport heading for Lisbon, Portugal.

The six sailing teams in the four-ocean, 45,000-mile race set out Sunday afternoon in light 10-knot winds for the seventh leg of the global race. The teams arrived in Newport over a week ago from Itajai, Brazil.

The Spanish boat MAPFRE led the race fleet out of Newport after winning the in-port race Saturday on Narragansett Bay.

Newport was the only North American stopover on this year's race. The stopover was hosted by public sailing center Sail Newport and tourism center Discover Newport.

The race got underway in October when the teams left Alicante, Spain. A seventh team was forced to suspend racing after its boat smashed into a reef in November.

The race ends in June in Gothenburg, Sweden.

 

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The Providence Redevelopment Agency has given permission to the corporation that runs the city's port facilities to expand.

The Providence Journal reports ProvPort will expand onto a 14-acre parcel of land near the end of Fields Point. The parcel lies between land now owned by ProvPort and Save The Bay.

The PRA endorsement means ProvPort will lease the land for $140,000 a year through July 2036 and use it to expand its terminal and port operations.

ProvPort's plans call for spending about $1.4 million to develop the site, a former landfill. The parcel will be cleared, graded and paved and perimeter fencing will be installed. ProvPort will also spend about $300,000 to restore the open space portion of the parcel.

Save The Bay officials endorsed the plan.


 

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Two men are facing charges in connection with a drive by shooting last week in South Providence.  Police say Johnny Pena and Wilmer Rosario are accused of shooting Elias Medina in an apparent gang related incident May sixth.  Both men are charged with felony assault and are being held on bail.  Medina drove himself to the hospital after being shot, where he was treated and released.

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The death of a male client of a state licensed program for the developmentally disabled is being investigated.  The call to 911 was made from a nonprofit day program on Commerce Street in Pawtucket last Thursday as a medical emergency.  Officials with RHD Rhode Island that runs the program are confirming the death but are not releasing any other information, citing federal medical privacy laws.  The program received over two-million dollars in federal funds last year.

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North Kingstown is introducing town-wide, full-day kindergarten in the fall.  The town school committee this week approved spending more than a half-million dollars to expand all-day kindergarten to all four elementary schools.  A pilot program was run at one of the elementary schools this year to help the town prepare for the rollout at the other schools.  Officials say the reading scores are significantly higher among children in the full-day program as opposed to the half-day students at the other three schools.

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