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1540 WADK.com Updates Archives for 2015-03

East Greenwich Animal Shelter Seeks Adopters As It Closes


An East Greenwich animal shelter that is closing its doors is seeking new homes for its animals.

The East Greenwich Animal Protection League is located at the East Greenwich Animal Hospital, which is closing this week for financial reasons.

Tammy Flanagan of the protection league says that it is fortunate to have received hundreds of applications from people hoping to take in some of the animals.

The group has sheltered homeless cats and dogs for more than three decades.

The shelter is still hoping to raise enough money for a building of its own but if successful it would be months before a new location is ready.

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State Officials Propose Do-Over-Day


Governor Gina Raimondo is announcing Rhode Island's second annual Do Over Day on April 18th.  The day is designed to give people a chance to go out and do something that may have been canceled by winter weather.  Rhode Island's hospitality industry is on board with the promotion.  Many restaurants, hotels and tourist attractions are offering special deals as part of the event.

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2 Firfighters Injured In Pawtucket Blaze


Two firefighters have been taken to a hospital for treatment of minor injuries after responding to a blaze in Pawtucket.

Two triple-decker homes caught fire on Monday night, one that was vacant and another that was home to several families. The residents all got out safely.

Firefighters were directed to evacuate one of the buildings twice over concerns that the roof might collapse.

The firefighters received treatment for heat exhaustion and minor injuries and are expected to be fine.

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Cranston Teachers Reach Good Friday Deal


The dispute over Cranston teachers being banned from taking Good Friday of work is now resolved.  The school district is agreeing to allow teachers to take Good Friday off if they submit a request in writing by tomorrow.  Teachers cannot be disciplined for taking the day off under the agreement that ends a lawsuit filed by the teachers union.  However, teachers could be asked to reimburse the city if it's determined that they were not legally entitled to the day off.

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Cranston Police Arrest Shooting Suspect


Cranston Police say the suspect responsible for a shooting at a market over the weekend is now in custody.  Police say Rony Martinez shot Fuad Yusuf of Providence at the Tuma Mini Market on Dyer Avenue on Saturday.  After his arrest police executed a search warrant at his apartment and found heroin, marijuana, drug packaging materials and various types of ammunition.  Martinez is being held without bail.

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Casino Hotel Bill Facing Final Vote


A bill that would allow construction of a hotel near Twin River Casino faces a final vote in the legislature this week.  The House approved the bill last week, and will be taken up by the Senate on Wednesday.  Any hotel must conform to all local zoning rules and regulations in Lincoln.  Hotels were banned near to the casino years ago to protect Providence's hotel industry, but the casino says it needs lodging to remain competitive.

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Raimondo Hopeful For Pension Settlement


Governor Gina Raimondo is hopeful that the settlement between the state and employee unions over the 2011 pension reforms is finalized.  However, she says the state must continue to prepare for trial, which will start April 20th if the settlement is not approved.  Raimondo is not saying much else about the settlement, as there is a gag order in place.  However, she says the settlement would be a good thing for everyone and remove the risk from the table on both sides.

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Warwick Man Arrested For Threats


A Warwick man is facing charges after he allegedly used a public Twitter account to make threats against Rhode Island State Police.  Police say 20-year-old Corey Coelho posted the threats to harm troopers on Friday.  Coelho is charged with making threats to public officials, and was released without bail following his arrest.  State Police Colonel Steven O'Donnell says they take threats against troopers seriously, and those who make them will be held accountable.

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New Unit Will Investigate SS Disability Claims


Rhode Island's attorney general and the Social Security Administration have established a new unit to investigate and prevent fraudulent Social Security disability claims.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin and the Social Security Administration, Office of Inspector General, announced that two full-time investigators will staff the Cooperative Disability Investigations Unit.

They will investigate Social Security disability claims that state disability examiners find suspicious, or lack the evidence they need to make an accurate decision, before the benefits are ever paid. The administration will pay their salaries.

CDI Units also investigate individual disability claims and identify lawyers, doctors, translators and others who facilitate disability fraud.

Kilmartin says the unit will save taxpayer dollars and bringing greater integrity to the disability programs.

Rhode Island is the 24th state to participate in the CDI program.

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Sword Attack In Pawtucket Leaves 3 Injured


Police in Pawtucket say a dispute at a nightclub led to an attack in which three people were stabbed with a sword.

Two victims had non-life-threatening injuries and the third required surgery but is expected to recover. All three were taken to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment.

The dispute began inside an unidentified nightclub and carried into the street where the stabbings occurred early Sunday morning.

Police have not identified any suspects.

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R.I. Gets $3.4 In New HIV Care Program Funding


Rhode Island is receiving more than $3.4 million in new federal funding for HIV testing, prevention and related health services.

Sen. Jack Reed announced the funding Sunday from the Department of Health and Human Services' Ryan White HIV/AIDS Program. The program works with cities, states and community organizations to serve people who don't have the financial resources to cope with HIV.

The federal funding is to encourage outreach and testing. Three-fourths of the money must be spent for medications, outpatient and ambulatory services, mental health services, and home health care.

Reed says it's hoped the funding will provide help for people who might otherwise not get it.

The Rhode Island health department reported 87 new diagnoses of HIV infection through last October, up from 74 in all of 2013.

 

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State Unemployment Rate Drops


Rhode Island's unemployment rate is at its lowest level since January of 2008.  State labor officials say the jobless rate was six-point-three-percent in February.  However, the report also indicates that the state lost 27-hundred jobs between January and February.  Governor Gina Raimondo says the lost jobs underscore the need to reignite Rhode Island's economy.

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Girl Struck And Killed By RIPTA Bus


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

         
                 

A nine-year-old girl is dead after being struck by a transit bus in Providence.  Police say the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority bus struck the girl on Smith Street yesterday morning.  The victim and the driver are not being identified at this time.  Transit officials say the driver was on his second run of the day when the incident occurred.

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Warwick Teachers Reject Pension Deal


The Warwick Teachers Union is saying no to the proposed pension lawsuit settlement.  Around 80-percent of the teachers voted yesterday to reject the settlement.  The lawsuit was filed after the Legislature substantially cut retirement benefits for state employees, teachers and other government workers in 2011.  The lawsuit is expected to go to trial next month if the settlement deal is not approved.

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Newport Opposes Proposed Luxury Tax On Pricy Homes


The Newport City Council has voted to oppose Gov. Gina Raimondo's proposed luxury tax on second homes valued at more than $1 million and whose owners live mainly out of state.

The Newport Daily News reports that Vice Chairman Marco Camacho called it "nothing more than a money grab by the state."

Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano said she knows the state needs money, but the tax will primarily affect Newport County and South County and she said she has "a problem with that."

The resolution calls on state legislators to reject the tax.

Raimondo has defended the tax that would raise nearly $12 million. She says her proposed tax policies would create jobs.

The tax has been called the Taylor Swift tax because the singer owns a beachfront mansion in Westerly.

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Anti-Stalking Bill Passes House


The Rhode Island Senate will soon be considering a measure that seeks to protect victims of stalkers.  The State House yesterday approved a bill that would make it a crime to electronically track a vehicle without the owner's consent.  Advocates of the bill say it will close loopholes caused by the lack of laws regulating the use of this kind of technology.  The bill was sponsored by House Speaker Nick Mattiello.

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First Daughter Visits Providence


There was a first daughter sighting in Rhode island this week.  Malia Obama was in Providence Tuesday for a visit to the Brown University campus as she decided on her college choices.  The teen was also seen dining at XO Cafe on North Main Street in Providence with two friends and an adult.  President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama did not make the trip north, but the Secret Service was on hand for the trip.

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R.I. College Hoops Tourney Proposed


The state Legislature is looking to put its stamp of approval for a proposed college basketball tournament featuring Rhode Island teams.  The tournament being discussed would feature teams from Providence College, Brown University, the University of Rhode Island and Bryant University.  The resolution calls for the tournament to be held over Thanksgiving weekend, and support a scholarship fund for Rhode Island students. 

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Providence Station Improvements Begin


Work is underway on the Providence Station improvement project.  The state Department of Transportation is spending nearly seven-million dollars to upgrade the southern entrance plaza of Providence Station.  The goal is to improve circulation for all station users and create an inviting civic space.  The project should be complete by spring of next year.

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Police Settle With Woman


Cumberland Police are settling a lawsuit filed by a woman who suffered an injured leg when officers tackled her during an arrest in 2010.  Ruth Upchurch is receiving more than two-million dollars for the serious injury that required surgery.  Officers who responded to a domestic violence incident tackled Upchurch and wrestled her to the ground.  The settlement will be covered by the town's insurance policy.

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School Found Safe After Evacuation


Barrington Middle School is deemed safe after being evacuated yesterday because of a natural gas leak.  Students were evacuated from the school yesterday morning when the gas smell was detected.  National Grid crews immediately responded and inspected the building, quickly determining that there was not a problem.

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Criminal Activity At Warwick Motel Continues


Warwick police are trying to deal with a serious crime issue at the Motel Six on Jefferson Boulevard.  Police say 75 arrests have been made at the motel in the last year for all kinds of criminal activity.  Police are especially concerned by arrests in the last two weeks, when a methamphetamine lab was found and a man was allegedly prostituting a teenage girl.  Police don't want to shut the motel down, and hope to work with the owners to eliminate the criminal activity.

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Kilmartin Offers E-Cigarette Bill


Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is offering legislation to place tougher regulations on e-cigarettes.  The proposal would require child resistant packaging for the liquid used in electronic nicotine delivery systems.  While the health impacts of e-cigarettes is being debated, Kilmartin says clearly these products need to be kept from children.  The bill will be subject of a legislative public hearing today.

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Cottam Confirmed As Board Of Ed Chair




The Rhode Island Senate is confirming the nomination of Barbara Cottam as state Board of Education chair.  Cottam is currently an executive vice president at Citizens Financial Group.  She has a long history in both the private and public sector in Rhode Island.  The attended Providence College, and went on to be communications director under Governor Bruce Sundlin in the 1990s.

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Woman Charged In Girlfriend's Murder


A Johnston woman accused of killing her girlfriend last year says she's not guilty.  Sendra Beauregard is accused of killing Pamela Donahue in their home on Quarry Street in Johnston.  A judge has ordered a mental competency exam for Beauregard, who is being held without bail.  The 50-year-old Donahue died from a gunshot wound to the chest. 

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R.I. Gas Prices Drop 4 Cents


Gas prices in Rhode Island have fallen slightly to an average of $2.40 for a gallon of regular.

AAA Northeast says in its weekly survey released Monday that the average price of a gallon of gas has fallen 4 cents from last week, but is still 11 cents higher than a month ago.

A year ago, the price was $1.20 higher, or 50 percent, at $3.60 per gallon.

The price in Rhode Island is 2 cents lower than the national average of $2.42 per gallon.

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Raimondo To Meet With Youth Caucus


Governor Gina Raimondo will get some valuable input today on who should be the state’s next education commissioner.

The Governor will meet with the Providence Youth Caucus at 5pm at the Highland Charter School. The group unites students from across the capital city to work together for citywide education changes.

The contract for the state’s current education commissioner, Deborah Gist, is set to expire on June 30.

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Retirees,Union Reach Pension Settlement


The long dispute over the state's 2011 pension overhaul is moving closer to being resolved.  More than a thousand retired state workers voted to accept the settlement yesterday.  Also yesterday, the local 580 of the Service Employees International Union voted to approve the deal.  Details of the proposed settlement are not being released because of a gag order imposed due to the sensitive nature of the negotiations.

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Accused Teacher Placed On Leave


A Warwick teacher is on leave after being charged with sexually assaulting a girl.  Groton Junior High School teacher Mario Atoyan is accused of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old female relative last year.  The North Kingstown resident is charged with first and second degree sexual assault.  His bail was set at ten-thousand-dollars and he's order not to have any contact with the teen.

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Man Guilty Of Sex Trafficking


A Pawtucket man is admitting his role in the sex trafficking of two young women.  Ricky Wallace admits in federal court that he and two other men transported the 17-year-old and 20-year-old women for commercial sexual activity.  Wallace faces a possible life sentence for the conviction.  The cases of accused co-conspirators Kemont Bowie and Raechyl Spooner are still pending.

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Providence River Walkway Delayed Again


It looks like the proposed walkway over the Providence River is being delayed once again.  State transportation officials first proposed the pedestrian bridge to link the Fox Point and College Hill neighborhoods with downtown seven years ago.  Now, the plan to build a minor league baseball stadium near the western end of the proposed bridge has the plan on hold.  Officials say they want to have more information on the stadium before moving forward.

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Fisherman Rescued Near Block Island


Two fisherman are safe after being rescued from their fishing boat not far from Block Island.  The Coast Guard were called in yesterday when the 38 foot fishing boat ran into trouble and began taking on water.  The Coast Guard quickly responded, rescued the men and were able to pump the water from the boat.  The vessel was then towed to Newport without further incident.

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Ceramic Artists In RI This Week


Thousands of ceramic artists are heading to Rhode Island this week for a special event.  Organizers expect over five-thousand people to attend the annual National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts conference in Providence.  The event gets underway tomorrow and runs through Saturday.  The last time the annual conference was held in Rhode Island was in the 1960s.

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First Week Of Testing Complete



The first week of the administration of a challenging new standardized test in Rhode Island is complete.  Most school districts say the testing of students in grades three through eleven in math and English has taken place with with few problems.  The new tests were developed to replace the New England Common Assessment Program.  While most districts have had strong participation, a few towns that include Scituate and Burrillville have high percentages of parents opting out of the testing for their kids.

 

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Nightclub Fire Victims Remembered


Survivors and family members of Station nightclub fire victims say the 100 people who died in the blaze will never be forgotten.  An event was held yesterday at Warwick City Hall to remember the victims on the 12th anniversary of the deadly nightclub fire.  A foundation working to create a Station nightclub memorial says they have raised a quarter of the two-million-dollars needed to create and sustain it.  Groundbreaking is expected to take place this year.

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Teenage Girl Shot In Providence


A 16-year-old girl is recovering after being shot in the face during a Providence drive by shooting.  Police say the teen was shot Saturday night as she sat in the back seat of a car in the area of Camp and Cypress streets.  The girl is hospitalized with injuries not considered life threatening.  No arrests have been made, and police are trying to determine who fired the shots.

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Panel To Consider Shark Bar Licenses



The Providence Board of Licenses is planning to meet next week to discuss whether to void the business licenses of the Shark Bar and Grill.  City officials want the licenses voided after former House Speaker Gordon Fox admitted to accepting bribes from the bar.  The panel will meet March 30th and decide whether the business will be allowed to continue operations.  The owners of the restaurant have not been charged with any crimes.

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West Warwick Man Busted For Child Porn


A West Warwick man is facing charges accusing him of possession of child pornography.  State Police 42-year-old Timothy Nolan was identified as a suspect in an investigation into child porn through his use of the Internet.  A search warrant was executed at Nolan's home yesterday, and police say evidence of Nolan's guilt was recovered form digital media at the house.  Police say there are currently no allegations that Nolan engaged in inappropriate activity with any children.

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Marijuana Lab Found In Burned Out Mill Building


Officials say a drug lab was found inside a huge mill building in Providence that was destroyed by fire last week.  Police say a marijuana burning operation was found, where pot is burned to produce hash oil.  The cause of the fire at the 93-thousand square foot building at Sims and Kinsley avenues has not been determined and remains under investigation.
 

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Tempest Testifies In Bid For New Trial


Raymond Tempest's effort for a new trial for the 1982 murder of Doreen Picard is now before a judge.  Tempest took the stand on his own behalf yesterday, describing his actions the day that Picard was beaten to death and denying any role.  Tempest was convicted in 1992 and has been in prison ever since.  A judge is allowing him to seek a new trial based on new evidence that may prove his innocence.

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House OK's Twin River Hotel Bill


The Rhode Island House is giving Twin River Casino its permission to build a hotel on or near the Lincoln facility.  The measure is necessary because of a long standing law that bans hotels near the casino to protect the Providence hotel industry.  This measure is designed to protect Twin River from competition in Massachusetts, where three resort casinos are in the works.  A companion bill is currently being considered by a Senate committee.

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More Winter Weather In RI Today



Today is the first day of spring, but it will look a lot like winter in Rhode Island.  The National Weather Service says one to three inches of snow is expected to fall across the state today.  That will be followed by another Arctic blast tomorrow, with temperatures expected to be below average well into next week.  Despite all of this year's snow, the state's 76 inches of the year is nowhere near the record of 106 inches set in the 1995-1996 winter.

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Cigarette Toss Blamed For Fire


A careless toss of a cigarette is being blamed for a fire that displaced eleven people in Providence.  Investigators say someone tossed a cigarette from a second story window at a home on Burnside Avenue.  However, the wind apparently blew it back, and it caught the building on fire.  The blaze was quickly brought under control, and no injuries are reported.

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Saltwater Fishing Big Business In R.I.


A new report indicates that saltwater recreational fishing adds over 200-million-dollars to Rhode Island's economy.  The federal report also says the industry supports over two-thousand jobs in Rhode Island.  The challenge of properly managing the resource is going to be the subject of an event being held next week.  The Southern New England Recreational Symposium is being held Tuesday at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick.

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Whitehouse Blasts GOP Budget


Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is blasting the budget proposal being offered by Senate Republicans.  Whitehouse says the proposal seeks to protect tax loopholes for the wealthy and while cutting funds for projects that help the most vulnerable.  He says the GOP budget is an unreal document that relies on accounting gimmicks to stay in balance, and would repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act.

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Special Election Set For Lally Seat


A special election is scheduled for June 9th for the state House seat vacated by the resignation of Donald Lally.  The 33rd House seat includes parts of Narragansett and South Kingstown.  The declaration period for candidates to run for the seat is next Thursday and Friday.  A primary will be held on May 5th if more than one candidate from either party qualifies for the ballot.

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Raimondo Offers Second Home Tax


Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo is offering a new statewide property tax on expensive second homes.  The proposal in her budget would impose a tax on residential properties valued at over one-million-dollars that are not the owner's primary residence.  The tax is projected to raise over eleven-million-dollars in revenue for the state. 

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R.I. Boosts Regulations On Striped Bass Catch


The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has beefed up regulations on recreational fishing of striped bass to reverse a decline in the stocks of what is considered a premier game fish.

Environmental Management Director Janet Coit announced Tuesday the new regulations to cut the bag limit for recreational fishermen to one fish per person a day from two. It maintains the minimum catch size at 28 inches.

The specific change does not affect commercial fishing. It's expected to reduce harvests by 31 percent from 2013.

Coit said that after rebounding from a decline in the 1970s, stocks of the fish have been going down again for the better part of a decade.

Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and North Carolina have imposed catch limits.

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Newport Bridge To Close Center Lanes For Construction


The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority says construction is closing the center lanes on the Newport side of the Newport Pell Bridge.

The installation of an anchoring system has begun in Newport and an anchoring system is to be installed next week in Jamestown.

Beginning April 6, installation will begin for a median on the bridge

Commuters are advised to expect delays.

Construction is expected to last until mid-May. Progress on the median barrier installation can be followed on RITBA's Facebook page and Twitter feed and by visiting RITBA.org.

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N.K. Man Found Guilty Of Rape



A North Kingstown man is facing a long prison term after being convicted of first degree sexual assault.  A Kent County jury has found Stephen Mulcahey guilty in the rape of a 17-year-old girl in Coventry in October of 2013.  The girl reported the assault the following day and the 42-year-old Mulcahey was arrested a few days later.  Mulcahey is also charged with possession of child pornography in an unrelated case and is currently awaiting trial.
 

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Cranston Defends Good Friday Ruling


Cranston school officials are defending their decision not to allow teachers to take Good Friday off work this year.  The School Committee says teachers can observe Good Friday outside of the school day, as there are no set services.  The teachers union has sued the school district, saying teachers are being denied the right to practice their faith.  School officials say closing school on Good Friday is not an option.

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Providence Man Busted For Child Porn


A Providence man is facing charges accusing him of possessing and transferring child pornography.  Rudy Munoz is accused of using the Internet connection at his home on Elmdale Avenue to trade child pornography.  A search warrant was served on his home yesterday, and police say digital media was seized as evidence in the case.  Munoz faces a possible 15 year prison term if convicted on the transfer of child pornography charge.

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Possible Settlement In Pension Lawsuit


It appears a settlement is in the works in the legal battle over the 2011 state pension overhaul.  A notice has been sent to retired state workers that they will vote on a proposed settlement on Monday at Twin River Casino's event center.  Before the vote, the pension lawsuit special court master will explain details of the proposed settlement.  Past and current state workers sued to block the pension reforms, which seek to save the state billions in pension costs over the next two decades.

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State Rep. Lally Resigns


Longtime Narragansett state Representative Donald Lally is resigning his seat, effective immediately.  Lally says being a lawmaker is a full time job, and he wants to dedicate more time to his family and law practice.  Lally says the recent loss of both his parents in a nine day span played an important role in his decision.  Congressman David Cicilline's sister Susan Cicilline Buonanno is planning to run for the 33rd district seat.

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Cranston Teachers Sue Over Good Friday


Cranston teachers are heading to court over the school district refusing to let them observe Good Friday next month.  The teachers union alleges that around 200 teacher requests to take off for Good Friday are being denied by the district.  The issue arose this school year when the district decided to remove Jewish holidays and Good Friday from their list of days off.  The lawsuit was filed yesterday in Providence Superior Court.

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Twin River Hotel Vote Today


A legislative committee today will decide whether to allow Twin River Casino to build a hotel on the Lincoln property.  Current state law specifically bans hotels around the casino, which was passed to protect the Providence hotel industry.  However, Twin River says that with competition for the casino dollar coming to Massachusetts, they need to stay competitive.  The House Finance Committee will vote on the bill today.

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Elorza Wants Shark Bar License Voided


Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza wants the city Board of Licenses to void all licenses held by the Shark Bar and Grille.  The Thayer Street bar allegedly paid a 52-thousand-dollar bribe to former House Speaker Gordon Fox to get their licenses to operate.  Fox pleaded guilty this month to several corruption charges, some related to the Shark Bar.  Elorza says voiding the licenses would send a strong message that public corruption at any level of government is unacceptable.

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Overdose Deaths Continue In R.I.


The drug overdose problem is continuing in Rhode Island this year.  State Health Director Michael Fine says three more people died from drug overdoses over the weekend.  Fine says that brings the total this year to 51 overdose deaths, with two-thirds coming from illegal use of the drug Fentanyl.  The state has also adjusted last year's accidental overdose totals, adding 13 deaths for a total of 238 for the year.

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Killer Craig Price Denied Parole


Convicted killer Craig Price is being denied his release by the state Parole Board.  Price was 15-years-old when he killed a woman and her two daughters in Warwick back in 1989.  Price appeared before the Parole Board by video conference from Florida, where he has been serving his prison time since 2004.  The earliest he can now get out of prison is July of 2018.

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State Not Using Face Match System


The FBI's new facial recognition program is a crime fighting tool that won't be deployed in Rhode Island anytime soon.  State law enforcement officials say it would be extremely costly to upgrade technology in order to work with the new FBI system.  The new system is a computerized database that manages mug shots, fingerprints and other information about people convicted and accused of crimes.

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State Working To Repair Roads


Rhode Island transportation officials are working to repair state roads and highways damaged by the brutal winter weather.  As the temperature rises potholes are opening all across the state.  DOT officials say at least 50 crews are in the field daily, applying patching materials to potholes.  Governor Gina Raimondo says her administration is committed to tackling the state's poor road conditions with urgency and restoring damage caused in the last two months.

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State Receiving Traffic Safety Funding


Rhode Island is receiving more than a million-dollars from the federal government for traffic and vehicle safety programs.  Senator Jack Reed says federal Department of Transportation grant is a smart investment that will help reduce traffic related injuries and deaths.  He says the money will be given to critical programs that will work to enhance safety conditions for drivers and pedestrians. 

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Cause Of Warwick Condo Fire Still Unknown


Investigators still have not determined what caused last week's fire that destroyed a Warwick condominium complex.  Around 75 people are left homeless by the blaze that destroyed the Westgate Condominiums on Quaker Lane.  Warwick's mayor and police chief held an informational meeting with residents yesterday, answering questions from the audience.  Residents believe the fire was started by the use of space heaters in one of the units.
 

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Senate Passes Powdered Alcohol Ban


The Rhode Island Senate is acting to ban the sale and use of powdered alcohol in the state.  The Senate bill passed yesterday would impose a fine up to one-thousand dollars for people who violate the ban.  Powdered alcohol is a product that when mixed with water creates an alcoholic beverage.  A similar bill is currently being considered in the House Committee on Judiciary.

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Wrong Way Driver Charged With DUI


A Providence man is facing charges after he allegedly caused a crash driving the wrong way on Route-Six while drunk.  Police say Eugene Rodriguez Barberan slammed into a pickup truck after entering the road the wrong way early yesterday morning.  Two people in the pickup truck were hospitalized for injuries not considered life threatening.  Rodriguez Barberan was not injured, and is charged with DUI, driving to endanger and other offenses.

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State Unemployment Rate Drops


Rhode Island's unemployment rate is continuing to drop.  State officials say Rhode Island's jobless rate was six-and-a-half percent in January.  That's down from six-point-eight percent in December.  The state added 24-hundred jobs during the month, and has regained well over half of the 39-thousand jobs lost during the recession.

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Raimondo Delivers Budget To Lawmakers


Governor Gina Raimondo says her eight-billion-dollar budget proposal will help jump start Rhode Island's economy.  Raimondo delivered her budget address to lawmakers last night at the State House.  She says the proposal will close a 190-million-dollar budget deficit and make progress towards eliminating the structural deficit.  The budget also makes cuts to Medicaid and hospitals, and includes 22-million dollars in givebacks from state employees.

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Newport-Pell Bridge Adding Concrete Barrier


A concrete center median barrier is being installed on the Pell Bridge connecting Newport and Jamestown.  The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority says work on the concrete barrier will begin on Monday.  The goal is to prevent vehicles from crossing the center line and slamming into oncoming traffic.  Officials are warning of delays and lane closures during the barrier installation.

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Condos Destroyed In Warwick Fire


Numerous condominium units are destroyed following a huge fire in Warwick.  The fire broke out at the Westgate Condominiums on Quaker Lane yesterday and spread quickly.  Numerous residents were displaced by the fire, and all were able to make it out without any serious injuries.  The cause remains under investigation, and officials say there were no working sprinklers in the complex.

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Students Protest Brown Dealing Of Sex Case


Many Brown University students are upset with the school's handling of a sexual assault case that occurred last fall.  Around 400 students wore dollar bills on their mouths with the Roman numeral nine written on it.  They marched on the president's office at University Hall, delivering a series of demands to the administration.  They say the school mishandled a case where two female students were reportedly drugged at a fraternity party.

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Raimondo To Deliver Budget Address


Governor Gina Raimondo tonight will deliver her first budget address to the Legislature since taking office in January.  Raimondo says her budget proposal will focus on jobs.  She says the themes of the address will be to build skills, innovate and attract, breaking the cycle of poor economies and years of painful cuts.  Raimondo says the budget will be the true beginning of the process of delivering on her campaign promises.

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Payroll Company Owner Sentenced


The owner of Checkmaster Payroll Services is heading to federal prison following his conviction on tax fraud charges.  Warren Hebert of Barrington defrauded small businesses and a municipal water supply of over one-million-dollars.  Hebert diverted money that was supposed to be withheld for federal income taxes for his own personal use.  Hebert is sentenced to 254 months in prison, and must make full restitution to the victims.

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Mattiello Wants Social Security Exemption


House Speaker Nick Mattiello expects Governor Gina Raimondo's budget to exempt some Social Security income from state tax.  Mattiello says he's not sure what form the exemption will be.  However, he has made it clear to the governor that the issue is a priority of his this year.  Raimondo will lay out her budget proposals for lawmakers tomorrow.

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RIC Seeks To Return Fox Donation


Rhode Island College wants to return a 55-thousand-dollar donation it received from former House Speaker Gordon Fox.  The donation came when Fox closed his leadership political action committee last year.  In addition to returning the money, the college is also stripping Fox of his honorary degree.  Fox pleaded guilty last week to corruption charges and awaits sentencing.

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Receiver Sues Over 38 Studios Code


A receiver charged with liquidating 38 Studios is suing a California company.  The receiver claims that the company FireForge was going to purchase a 38 Studios customer management program for more than three-million dollars.  However, it's alleged that FireForge instead hired several former 38 Studios staffers, who then revealed the software code to their new employer.  FireForge now sells a program similar to the one developed by 38 Studios.

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House Leaders Back Campaign Reforms


Rhode Island House leaders are backing a proposal to reform the state's campaign finance laws.  A key proposal would place a total ban on the co-mingling of a candidate's personal and campaign funds in a single bank account.  The proposal comes just days after former House Speaker Gordon Fox pleaded guilty to charges that included stealing from his campaign fund.  North Kingstown Representative Robert Craven is introducing the bill, saying it will also help ensure the accuracy of campaign finance reporting.

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Audit Frowns On Use Of HUD Funds



A new audit criticizes the state of Rhode Island for its handling of federal Department of Housing and Urban Development funds.  The HUD audit says the state did not properly administer over six-million-dollars given through a neighborhood stabilization program.  The report recommends that HUD require Rhode Island to repay over a million-dollars in ineligible costs and improve its record keeping.

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A.G. Calls For Tougher DUI Penalties


Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is calling for stiffer penalties for people convicted of driving under the influence causing death.  Legislation filed on Kilmartin's behalf would create some of the toughest crimes in the country for deaths caused by impaired drivers.  Kilmartin says strict penalties, enforcement and education have led to a decline in these crimes, but more needs to be done.  His bill would double the maximum penalty for DUI resulting in death to 30 years in prison.

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Portsmouth Man Busted For Child Porn


A Portsmouth man is accused of using Facebook and Instagram accounts to upload child pornography.  State Police say the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children reported that someone in Rhode Island posted child porn on Instagram.  Police say the investigation led to 19-year-old Dylan Mello, who was arrested yesterday.  Mello faces a maximum of five-years in prison if convicted.

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Crash Victim Identified


The woman who died in a wrong way crash on Interstate-95 in Pawtucket on Sunday is being identified by police.  Flory Hernandez of Central Falls was a passenger in a car that crashed while going the wrong way on the highway.  Hernandez was a passenger in a car driven by Jeremy Livia of Pawtucket.  He's now charged with DUI resulting in death and other offenses.

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Raimondo Wants Higher Minimum Wage


Governor Gina Raimondo wants Rhode Island's minimum wage to rise higher than ten-dollars an hour.  Raimondo says increasing the minimum wage to ten-dollars and ten-cents an hour this year is still not enough to lift a family out of poverty.  If the proposal is approved, it would be the fourth increase in Rhode Island's minimum wage in as many years.

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R.I. Hosting Mexican Prosecuters For Seminar


Rhode Island is hosting a training seminar this week for prosecutors, forensic scientists and investigators from two Mexican states.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin said Sunday his counterpart from the state of Morelos, Rodrigo Dorantes Salgado, will lead the visiting delegation, which includes colleagues from Hidalgo state.

Kilmartin said Mexican states have until next year to implement changes moving from a written inquisitorial criminal justice system to an oral adversarial system similar to the U.S.

Kilmartin said Rhode Island prosecutors and investigative experts will lead sessions on ethics, securing crime scenes, investigative strategies, preparing for trial, and examining expert and trial witnesses.

Participants will observe Providence Superior Court, and meet with forensic scientists, a ballistics expert and local police.

The meeting is part of a cooperative program to strengthen the legal systems of both the U.S. and Mexico.

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Bill Would Require GMO Labeling On Food In R.I.


A Rhode Island lawmaker says consumers deserve to know if they're purchasing food containing genetically modified ingredients.

State Sen. Donna M. Nesselbush has introduced a bill to require any food containing genetically modified ingredients to bear a label disclosing that fact, beginning in 2017.

Nesselbush, a Democrat, says she has nothing personally against these foods, but people have a right to know if they're eating them.

She says Rhode Island should join a growing coalition of states requiring labeling. A bill to require labeling didn't gain traction last session.

Similar proposals have been opposed by biotechnology companies and agricultural groups, who say farming these crops is more sustainable. Business groups worry about the cost of labeling.

Nesselbush's bill was referred to a committee. Similar legislation was filed in the House.

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Rough Landing At Newport State Airport


A pilot is shaken but uninjured after a rough landing of his small plane at Newport State Airport in Middletown.  Officials say the plane's wing and nose was damaged in yesterday's incident.  A small amount of fuel also leaked from the wing of the plane.  The pilot was able to free himself from the plane and declined medical attention after the crash, which remains under investigation.

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Fired Official Claims Pot Discrimination


A former Foster official is suing the town in federal court over medical marijuana.  Former town public works director Robert Hohler says he was forced to take a drug test, and was fired in 2013 when he failed the test.  Hohler says he has a medical marijuana card to ease pain from a car crash that left him with liver damage and caused him to lose a kidney and his spleen.  He's also accusing town officials of disclosing private medical information that has damaged his personal and professional reputation.

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Brown Holds Diversity Summit



Brown University is taking action as it seeks to become a more comfortable place for minorities and gay students.  Brown held a three day National Diversity Summit over the weekend as part of the school's effort to change the campus culture.  The summit was planned as part of a diversity action plan recently released by the school to improve Brown's academic and cultural climate.  Brown is already one of the nation's more diverse schools, with 40-percent minority enrollment.

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Woman Dies In Wrong Way Crash


A woman is dead after a wrong way drunk driving crash on Interstate-95 in Pawtucket.  Police say the unidentified woman was a passenger in a car that was driving the wrong way and collided head on with a pickup truck.  Jeremy Levia of Pawtucket was driving the wrong way car, and he's charged with DUI and other offenses.  Levia and two people in the pickup truck were all taken to the hospital after yesterday's crash for treatment of minor injuries.

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Whitehouse Bill Takes Aim At Data Brokers



Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is introducing legislation that seeks to bring transparency and accountability to the data broker industry.  The bill targets companies that collect and sell personal information about consumers.  The measure would provide consumers with the right to stop data brokers from using, sharing or selling their personal information.  Whitehouse says selling this information is a violation of consumer privacy and the bill would allow people to take control from the brokers.

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Pension Overhaul Lawsuit To Proceed


Despite efforts to delay the state pension overhaul lawsuit trial by both sides, a judge is ordering it to move forward.  Attorneys for the unions challenging the changes and the state want more time to review millions of documents.  However, the state Supreme Court says the trial should begin as scheduled April 20th.  State employee unions are suing to stop reforms to the state pension system that were passed in 2011.

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Fire Destroys Landmark Farm Building


The main building at Schartner Farms in North Kingstown is destroyed following a fire.  The flames broke out at the landmark main building at the farm early yesterday morning.  The wood structure has been expanded several times over the years, and the flames apparently got trapped inside the walls.  No injuries are reported, and the cause remains under investigation.

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Majority Leader Targets Campaign Reporting



Rhode Island House Majority Leader John DeSimone wants to close loopholes in campaign finance reporting.  DeSimone's bill would require candidates and political action committees to file a copy of their next bank statement after submitting their quarterly campaign finance report.  The bill comes after the conviction of former House Speaker Gordon Fox for using campaign finds for personal expenses.  DeSimone says this change would help stop these crimes from happening.

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Lawmakers Propose Legal Marijuana


Rhode Island lawmakers are considering legislation that would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana.  The bills introduced separately in the House and Senate would legalize pot for people over the age of 21 and tax it similar to alcohol.  Cranston Senator Joshua Miller says marijuana prohibition has been a long term failure, and this would allow the drug to be sold safely and responsibly.  He also says legalization would bring tens of millions of dollars into the state's coffers.

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Senate Approves Polling Place Bake Sales


The Rhode Island Senate is giving its approval to the return of bake sales at polling places on Election Day.  The practice was banned last year by the election board amid concerns that the sales interfered with the election process.  The election board last year ordered PTO bake sales that had been set up at polling places in Cranston to be removed.  The bill moves to the House.

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Traffic Stop Leads To Cocaine Bust


Rhode Island State Police say they found two kilograms of cocaine during a routine traffic stop in Lincoln.  Police say the driver of the car did not have a license, and they noticed some unusual electrical wiring in the passenger side of the car.  The vehicle was impounded, and police say the cocaine was found in a hidden compartment.  Police arrested Jose Neysito Codero of Mattapan, Massachusetts on narcotics trafficking offenses.

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DCYF Worker Accused Of Road Rage


An employee of the state Department of Children, Youth and Families is accused of reckless driving in a state-owned vehicle.  State Police say Richard Davis of Pawtucket began chasing another vehicle in an apparent road rage incident.  Witnesses say Davis caused the other car to be involved in a multi-vehicle crash on Interstate-95 in Warwick.  Davis is a 27-year employee of the state, and is free on one-thousand-dollars bond.

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Widespread Flu Declaration Lifted


Rhode Island Health Director Michael Fine is lifting the declaration of widespread influenza in the state.  Fine says the combination of Centers for Disease Control guidance and reports from health facilities in the state led to the decision.  The declaration that the flu is no longer widespread means healthcare workers who are not immunized are no longer required to wear a  surgical mask during all patient contact.

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HealthSource RI To Offer Special Enrollment Period


Healthsource RI is offering a special enrollment period for eligible individuals and families to get coverage in order to avoid paying a tax penalty this year.

The state's health connector announced Tuesday that those who did not have health coverage last year could enroll from March 15 through April 30 to get covered for the rest of 2015.

The connector says people who sign up during this period will not have to pay a tax penalty when they file their taxes this year. Otherwise, residents who did not have coverage in 2014 must pay a fee of $95 per adult or one percent of their income when they file their taxes.

The connector says customers who pay the first month's premium by March 23 will have coverage effective April 1.

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Space Heater Blamed For Seekonk Strip Mall Fire


Investigators have nailed down he cause of a weekend fire that damaged several businesses at a Seekonk strip mall.

The state fire marshal determined that a space heater sparked the flames, according to the Seekonk Fire Department.

The three-alarm fire broke out at about 6:30 p.m. Sunday at the shopping plaza along Route 6. Fire Chief Michael Healey believes it started at the Bead and Wire store.

Some of the businesses sustained smoke damage and will be closed temporarily, while others were significantly damaged by the flames.

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Lawmaker Proposes Creation Of A Pothole Hotline


A Rhode Island state lawmaker is offering a bill that would encourage people to report potholes on state roads.  Lincoln Representative Gregory Costantino's bill would require the state DOT to set up a pothole hotline where drivers could easily report problem areas.  Costantino says potholes damage vehicles, but also create a safety concern when drivers swerve to avoid them.  The bill is being considered by the House Finance Committee.

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State Police Make Large Cocaine Bust


Three men are facing serious drug charges after State Police say they were found in possession of more than a kilogram of cocaine.  Police say the cocaine was detected in a shipment sent by regular mail to a post office in Providence.  After the package was retrieved police arrested Kley Guerra, Jose Guerra and Cesar Morales on cocaine distribution charges.  All three are being held without bail.

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Raimondo Picks New Health Director


Governor Gina Raimondo is naming Nicole Alexander-Scott to be Rhode Island's next health director.  Alexander is a doctor who also teaches at Brown University, and has served as a Health Department consultant in the past.  She replaces former health director Michael Fine, who submitted his resignation to Raimondo last week.  Alexander-Scott is expected to begin work as director April first.

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Brown: Lab Performed Inaccurate Date Rape Drug Test


Brown University says an unidentified laboratory performed an inaccurate test to determine whether a female student was drugged at a fraternity party on campus.

The lab initially reported a urine sample taken from the student tested positive for GHB, a central nervous system depressant referred to as a "date rape" drug.

But university administrators said in an open letter that the laboratory recanted its findings after outside medical experts challenged the results.

The university has dropped its inquiry into drugging allegations by two female students who attended a party by Phi Kappa Psi last Oct. 17. The Rhode Island chapter of Phi Kappa Psi says no members served a spiked drink to either of the young women and challenged the laboratory's test results.

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Schilling Fires Back At "Cyberbullies""


Former Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is firing back at cyberbullies who posted offensive comments about his daughter on Twitter.

Schilling congratulated his daughter on Twitter last week after she was accepted into Salve Regina University, where she'll play softball next  year.

Multiple people then  posted vulgar and sexually explicit comments about her.

Schilling wrote on his blog Sunday the ignorance and lack of morals and integrity are astounding. He reposted Tweets and has identified some of the people responsible. He says it's never OK for a man to talk about a woman like that and it's time for it to stop.

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N.Providence Considers Zoning Change For Chicken Farming


North Providence is considering easing zoning rules to let some residents raise chickens in their backyards.

The proposed zoning change is largely the work of Timothy Thorp, a Brown University web developer who says he wants to introduce his children to home-grown eggs and other aspects of chicken farming.

He lives on a half-acre plot and his family grows tomatoes, basil, beets, apples and other vegetables and fruits.

Mayor Charles Lombardi does not support the proposal. He says it could create problems because North Providence has few open spaces for chickens.

The law calls for a 10-foot buffer from the property line and at least 25 feet between the chicken area and neighboring homes.

Thorp has assembled a petition with more than 200 signatures.

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R.I. Gas Prices Still On The Rise


Gasoline prices are continuing to rise in Rhode Island.  Triple-A Southern New England says the cost of a gallon of self serve regular gas is up eight cents in the last week.  The average cost is two-dollars and 37-cents a gallon in the state, which is six-cents less than the national average.  Triple-A says seasonal maintenance at refineries and volatile crude oil costs are the reason for the recent price spike.

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R.I. Among Worst For Business


A new report places Rhode Island as the ninth worst state in the nation for business.  The web site 24-Seven Wall Street used dozens of statistics in eight categories as they worked to determine the most and least business friendly states.  Rhode Island received good scores in technology and innovation, but ranked very low in business costs and regulation.  The most business friendly state in the list is Utah, and the least friendly is Louisiana.

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Raimondo Calls For Medicaid Reform


Governor Gina Raimondo is urging a newly formed panel to help the state bring its Medicaid costs under control.  One of Raimondo's first acts as governor was to form the 28 member Working Group to Reinvent Medicaid.  The panel met for the first time yesterday, and are expected to present a preliminary report to the governor by April 30th.  The panel will be holding hearings across the state in the coming weeks to solicit input from the public on the issue. WRITE IN: *NFL* MUST CREDIT ESPN Adam Schefter talks about free agency. The Patriots put the franchise tag on kicker Stephen Gostkowski and will try to sign a long term deal with DB Devin McCourty.

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Deepwater Wind Secures Financing


Deepwater Wind says they have secured financing for their planned wind farm off the shore of Block Island.  The Providence based company has closed on 290-million-dollars in financing for their 30 megawatt power project.  The company has also secured all of the permits they need to begin construction in the next few weeks.  The wind farm would be the first offshore wind facility in the nation.

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Iconic JFK Wedding Photos Among Those Lost In House Fire


Amidst another Sunday snowstorm, a fire started inside a triple-decker house on the East Side of Providence.

Flames shot up from the roof of 690 Hope Street as residents watched helplessly.

Providence firefighters battled the blaze for more than an hour.

“It looked like it came up from the back of the building to the third floor wall where it was fully involved,” said Acting Battalion Chief Jeff Gallo.

The acting battalion chief says firefighters did not have any problems with water supply or hydrants. Instead, the bigger challenge came from inside the home.

“There was a lot of debris inside the house that impeded our progress.”

The homeowner is Vivian English who is the widow of Award Winning Photographer Ed English.

English family members said several of his negatives and photographs were inside the home. Many are now destroyed.

Some of the pictures include John F. Kennedy wedding pictures, John Junior’s graduation at Brown University and Babe Ruth when he played in Providence.

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Police Quickly Locate Pair Of Teen Robbery Suspects


It took all of 20 minutes for Providence police to find two juveniles accused of robbing a gas station on Manton Avenue Sunday night.

Police say three teens robbed Manton Gas at gunpoint shortly after 7 p.m. Sunday, making off with about $400. An eyewitness told officers he saw the boys running down Sheridan Street toward a pedestrian bridge.

By 7:31 p.m., police apprehended a 16-year-old male near Glenbridge Avenue, according to an incident report obtained by WPRI.com. The boy told police he dropped his gun and mask when he saw an officer. A black BB gun was found nearby.

Minutes later, police said they caught one of the other teens trying to jump a fence near Fairfield Avenue. The 15-year-old had a handgun and $36 in his pockets.

The two teens were charged with first-degree robbery. The third boy was not caught Sunday

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Pawtucket Parade Will March As Planned


The record snowfall this winter is not going to stop the Pawtucket St. Patrick's Day Parade.  The event is scheduled to take place next Saturday, and organizers say they will be ready to go.  The most heavily viewed area of the parade is Wolcott Street and on to City Hall, and officials say that area is all cleared of snow.  Organizers point to 1996 when the city experienced similar snow late into the winter, but the parade still was held.

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Honeywell To Close Cranston Plant


Honeywell International is closing its plant in Cranston.  The company says the factory that makes safety gear will be phased out and closed by the end of next year.  Distribution and manufacturing employees will be laid off, but non-production workers will keep their jobs and be transferred to the company's Smithfield facility.  It's unclear exactly how many people will lose their jobs because of the closure.

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