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1540 WADK.com Updates Archives for 2016-02

Governor to help kick off Newport opera house restoration


Gov. Gina Raimondo is helping to kick off the upcoming restoration of Newport's nearly 150-year-old opera house.

The Democrat is the keynote speaker at today's event celebrating the restoration of the Newport Opera House Theater and Performing Arts Center.

A spokesman for the group behind the restoration says it will cost at least $14 million to restore the building overlooking the city's Washington Square. It's set to become a year-round performing arts center with a rooftop garden terrace.

A $4.2 million state grant from a 2014 voter-backed bond measure will help pay for the mostly privately funded project.

The opera house, built in 1867, was used as a cinema for much of the 20th century before closing in 2010.

Construction begins this spring. The re-opening is set for late 2017.

 

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School building on I-195 land expected to be ready this fall


Officials say the first new building on the former Interstate 195 land is expected to be completed this summer on one of two parcels bought by Johnson & Wales University.

The Providence school bought the land for $3.9 million from the state Department of Transportation in 2012.

The 71,000-square-foot building will house the university's School of Design and Engineering and its undergraduate biology program. It's expected to be completed by July.

Chancellor John Bowen has said the project is part of the school's effort to expand its health and science curriculum and encourage students to launch their own companies and create new products.

University spokesman Ryan Crowley tells The Providence Journal students are expected to begin attending classes in the fall.

Officials say the project costs $42 million.


 

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Coalition offers ways to prevent domestic violence


The Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence is proposing ways to prevent domestic violence homicides in Rhode Island based on a new analysis of data from the past decade.
The coalition says it analyzed the data to produce a first-of-its-kind report for the state and propose recommendations such as prohibiting people convicted of domestic violence from possessing guns.
Other recommendations include strengthening laws against stalking and fostering collaboration among law enforcement, court officials and victim advocates.
The coalition says 54 people died as a result of domestic violence incidents in Rhode Island between 2006 and 2015.
Sen. Cynthia Coyne and Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, both Democrats, cited the report as they submitted three bills Thursday to ban domestic abusers from possessing firearms.
The report is available on the coalition’s website.

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Raimondo asks young girls what they would do if governor


Gov. Gina Raimondo is once again asking young girls what they would do if they were Rhode Island’s governor for a day.
The Democratic governor is holding a second annual Governor for a Day essay contest to encourage young girls to become leaders as part of Women’s History Month.
Raimondo says one of her favorite parts of being Rhode Island’s first female governor is talking to girls about their dreams.
The essay contest is open to Rhode Island girls in 5th through 8th grades.
The winner will be named “governor for a day” and spend a day meeting with leaders across state government this spring.
The deadline to submit essays to the governor’s communications office is March 14. Essays must be 400 words or less.

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Rhode Island Foundation awards fellowships to writers


The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded $25,000 fellowships to three local writers.
The foundation selected Julie Danho, of North Providence, Sussy Santana, of Providence, and Susannah Strong, of Exeter, from nearly 200 applicants for the annual Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowships.
Danho and Santana are poets. Strong is an assistant art professor at Salve Regina University.
The foundation says the grants are designed to give writers more time to concentrate on developing their craft.

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Lawmakers to debate renaming I-195 bridge


Lawmakers want to rename an iconic highway bridge that spans the Providence River but disagree on which person it should memorialize.
The Interstate 195 Providence River Bridge, also known as the I-Way Bridge, opened to traffic in 2007.
One bill being considered in the state Senate on Wednesday would change the name of the bridge to the William D. Warner Memorial Bridge.
Warner was an architect and urban planner who died in 2012 at age 83. He was credited for work that helped reshape Providence’s downtown. A competing bill would name the bridge after community activists Manuel Q. Ledo and John F. Lopez.

 

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Poll: Clinton And Trump Ahead In RI


Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump are the leading presidential contenders in Rhode Island.  The Brown University poll gives Clinton a 49-to-40-percent lead over Bernie Sanders.  Trump leads Marco Rubio by a margin of 43-to-25 percent, followed by John Kasich, Ted Cruz and Ben Carson in that order.  The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus four-percent. Rhode Island's primary isn't until late April. 
 

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North Kingstown Bakery Ranks Among Best Donuts In U.S.


A Rhode Island bakery is getting national recognition for having some of the best donuts in the country.  Allie's Donuts in North Kingston was named on Thrillist.com list of the 33 best donut shops in the U.S.  The shop was picked for its crullers, glazed donuts, jelly sticks and its top seller: the sprinkled donut.
 

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New Report Looks At Domestic Violence Incidents In RI


A new report is revealing the number of domestic violence incidents in Rhode Island.  The state's Coalition Against Domestic Violence found that 54 people have been killed over the past ten years because of domestic violence.  The majority of victims were women.  The group is making recommendations, including strengthening domestic violence laws, investing in community responses and screening domestic violence cases for lethality risk factors.
 

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1 killed, 3 seriously hurt in Exeter crash


State police say one person is dead and three are seriously injured after a car crash in Exeter.

Police say a car carrying four people was traveling southbound on South County Trail at around 10 p.m. Thursday when the vehicle spun out across the road, hit a pole, rolled over and stopped in a resident's yard. All four were taken to a hospital.

Authorities didn't immediately identify the victims. Police say speed and alcohol were factors in the crash.

 

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Ex-Providence mayor's grandson pleads no contest to charge


The grandson of the late former Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci has pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor charge in connection with a shooting last month.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin's office says 18-year-old Joseph Cianci entered the plea to one count of possession of a weapon that is not a firearm.

Cianci's conviction will disappear if he stays out of trouble for a year.

Authorities said Cianci and 18-year-old Joshua Conti were sitting in a car in Providence when a gunman walked up and opened fire. Conti was shot and injured.

The attorney general's office says Cianci was in possession of brass knuckles when he was arrested after the incident. The alleged gunman was arrested days later.

 

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Cranston mayor announces re-election bid


Cranston mayor and former Republican candidate for governor Allan Fung has announced that he's seeking another term in city hall.

The 46-year-old Fung said at a birthday celebration and fundraiser Thursday that he intends to seek a fourth term as mayor.

Fung touted his accomplishments as mayor, including a cumulative operating budget surplus, an enhanced bond rating, and three out of the past four years with no real estate tax increases.

His tenure hasn't been without controversy. A state police assessment of the Cranston Police Department was sharply critical of the mayor for playing politics with the department.

Robert Coupe, city director of administration, said supporters hoped to raise $25,000 at the party.


 

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Providence's ShapeUp bought by Virgin Pulse


Virgin Pulse has acquired Providence-based tech startup ShapeUp and Australia's Global Corporate Challenge in a push to expand its software for corporate wellness programs.

The terms of the deals announced Wednesday were not disclosed.

Virgin Pulse is based in Framingham, Massachusetts, and is part of Richard Branson's Virgin Group.

Branson says the three companies joining together will allow the creation of a stronger software platform for companies to promote employee health.

A spokeswoman for Virgin Pulse says all but seven of ShapeUp's 130 employees will stay on at their offices in Providence and Boston.

ShapeUp CEO Rajiv Kumar, a physician who co-founded ShapeUp in 2006, will become Virgin Pulse's president and chief medical officer.

 

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Thousands without power following thunderstorm


Thousands of residents in Rhode Island and Massachusetts were without power Thursday morning following a severe thunderstorm that moved through Southern New England.

As of 5:30a.m. over 15,000 Rhode Islanders and close to 20,000 residents in Southern Massachusetts had lost power.

Officials at National Grid told NBC 10 News they had several line and tree crews on standby Wednesday night and state agencies were in full force Thursday morning.

At its peak, the storm prompted 149 storm reports from residents.

Southern New England caught a lucky break when it came to the severity of the thunderstorms. The system proved to be fast moving, and cleared out without causing too much damage.

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RI high school graduation rates reach all-time high


High school graduation rates in the state have reached an all-time high of 83 percent, state officials announced Wednesday.
Gov. Gina Raimondo made the announcement during a student assembly at North Providence High School. The school’s 98 percent graduation rate last year was the highest in the state.
Officials said the 2015 statewide graduation rate was 2 percentage points higher than a year earlier, and represents a 6-point improvement over the past three years, since the Class of 2012. Across the state, 24 high schools had a graduation rate of 90 percent or better. A number of schools made significant oneyear gains, with Burrillville High School, Central High School in Providence, Mount Pleasant High School in Providence and Rogers High School in Newport all improving by 10 points or more since the previous year, officials said.
Graduation rates among students with disabilities increased the most. The graduation rate also went up among black, Latino and low-income students.

 

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Cranston police launch security camera registry program


Cranston police have launched a program that will allow home and business owners to help catch criminals.

The department said Wednesday it's launched a voluntary private security camera registry program.

People who own surveillance cameras can add their information to a registry. Investigators could access the registry, contact those businesses and residents and access and review surveillance video only with their permission.

Officers wouldn't be able to access the camera remotely or in real time.

Chief Michael Winquist says knowing where cameras are will save investigators time when chasing down a suspect.

Camera owners can opt out of the registry at any time.

 

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Work underway to restore part of RI's coastline


A project aimed at restoring a section of Rhode Island's coastline is underway.

The $644,000 project aims to protect the marsh at Middletown's Sachuest Beach from rising sea levels and coastal storm surges.

Work is underway to dig and move around dirt and sand — a process called thin layer deposition.

Hurricane Sandy Resiliency Coordinator Jennifer White says too much standing water on the marsh causes plants to die.

White says animals such as the salt marsh sparrow are also at risk. She says 50 percent of their population is found within Rhode Island and Connecticut and they need the marsh to breed successfully.

The project's bill is covered by federal funding for Hurricane Sandy recovery.


 

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Officials: 45 died in R.I. crashes last year


Rhode Island transportation officials say 45 people died on the state's roadways last year, a steady decline from previous years.

Most victims were in a motor vehicle. Nine were riding bicycles and eight were pedestrians.

Transportation Director Peter Alviti says he's pleased the fatalities are declining. He says one life lost is still too many.

Sixty-seven people died in Rhode Island automobile crashes in 2010. Each subsequent year had more than 60 deaths until 2014, when the number of deaths dropped to 51.

Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott says one reason for the decline is increased seat belt usage, which last year reached an all-time high of 87 percent.

 

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Raimondo nominates ex-GMAC CFO for new revenue director


Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has nominated her pick for the state's new revenue director.

The Democrat says Robert Hull has deep management experience in the financial industry. She's submitting his name to the state Senate.

Hull was chief financial officer at Ally Financial Inc., the Detroit-based automotive financial firm called GMAC Inc. at the time of its bailout during the financial crisis. He worked with the U.S. Treasury Department to pay off federal assistance from the Troubled Asset Relief Program.

Hull most recently worked at Providence Equity Partners. He was in senior finance positions at Bank of America and a board member of the Providence Foundation.

The revenue department has a $478 million budget and more than 500 employees. It handles the state lottery, motor vehicles, municipal finance and taxation.

 

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20 displaced after condo complex deemed uninhabitable


Twenty people have been displaced from their homes after a Woonsocket condominium complex was declared uninhabitable.

Residents of the Social District Condominiums had until Tuesday to stay in the three-story building. Some had lived there for years.

City Solicitor Michael Marcello says the building had more than $3,000 in unpaid water and sewer fees. He says people can't occupy a building that lacks water, sanitary facilities and a bathroom.

 The condo association's lawyer says the building's owners abandoned their units and failed to pay condo fees.

The city is working with some of the residents to help them find housing.

 

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Rhode Island home sales rise, median price up in January


The median price of a single-family home in Rhode Island climbed nearly 10 percent in January compared to the same time last year, and the number of sales grew almost 2 percent.

The Rhode Island Association of Realtors on Wednesday said it was the busiest January since 2004 for single-family home sales.

Arthur Yatsko, president of the group, says a strong housing market in 2015 appears to be continuing in 2016. He says low interest rates and less onerous lending requirements are helping to bring buyers into the market.

The group estimates the state had a five-month supply of single-family homes for sale in January, giving sellers a slight edge in the market. A six-month supply of homes is considered to be well balanced between buyers and sellers.

 

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Loaded gun found near Cranston high school


 Police are examining a loaded gun that was found stuck between two curbstones near Cranston High School East.

Police say a student found the loaded .22-caliber pistol near the school at around 2:15 p.m. Tuesday. Investigators rendered the gun safe and disassembled it for forensic examination.

Officers ran the serial number of the gun through their system and determined it wasn't stolen.

Officials are contacting the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to find the owner of the gun.

 

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ACLU Challenges Student Housing Ordinance


The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging a Providence law that regulates how many college students can live together.  The ACLU says the ordinance preventing more than three college students from renting a home together is discriminatory and ineffective.  The lawsuit also argues that it'll impact lower-income students the most.

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Police Searching For Cell Phone Thief In Providence


Police are investigating after a Providence cell phone store was broken into.  The alarms at Optimum Wireless were set off on Monday night.  When police arrived, they discovered that nearly a dozen cell phones were stolen from the display counter.  Surveillance footage shows a person wearing dark-colored clothes stealing the items, but their face wasn't visible on camera.

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Plane Turns Back To RI After Hitting Bird


A plane heading to Rhode Island is safely back on the ground after a possible "bird strike."  Southwest Airlines say the flight turned back to a Baltimore airport for a safety inspection after hitting a bird.  According to the statement, passengers were moved to a different airplane as a precaution.  No injuries were reported.
 

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Police evaluation expenses cost Cranston $850k


Officials say the costs of the Rhode Island State Police's involvement with the Cranston Police Department will cost the city approximately $850,000.

The assessment comes after Cranston City Council President John Lanni appointed internal auditor Anthony Moretti to determine the costs of the state police evaluation of the city police.

The state police had stepped in after a ticketing blitz in the wards of two city councilors who voted against a police union contract.

Moretti found that the involvement is costing state and city taxpayers between $5 million and nearly $8 million.

WPRI-TV reports that after the report came out, Mayor Allan Fung ordered his finance department to tally the legal fees and settlement costs. They found that the expenses amounted to an $850,000 cost to the city.

 

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Gas prices continue months-long fall across RI


Gas prices are continuing to fall in Rhode Island, and are down another four cents per gallon.
AAA Northeast says its weekly survey Monday found the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded has dropped to $1.76. It’s the 12th straight week of declining prices.
A year ago at this time, the average price in the state was $2.29 per gallon, or 53 cents higher than this week.
Despite the drop, Rhode Island gas prices are still five cents higher than the national average of $1.71 per gallon.

 

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Former nurse at Providence VA pleads guilty to stealing pills


A woman who was a registered nurse at the Providence VA Medical Center has pleaded guilty to stealing prescription drugs from the center and falsifying her employment application, according to police.
U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha announced Monday that Lisa McManaman, 47, of Providence pleaded guilty Friday to theft of government property and false statements.
Prosecutors said McManaman used an automated medication dispensing system between May 2015 and October 2015 to obtain controlledsubstance pills, including oxycodone and morphine. The pills weren’t prescribed for or provided to patients.
Prosecutors said she also failed to disclose on her employment application that in November 2013 she was fired from her job as a nurse in the intensive care unit of a Rhode Island hospital.
She’s scheduled to be sentenced May 13.

 

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No indictment for college students accused of rape


 A grand jury has declined to indict three Johnson & Wales University students who were accused of raping a female student at an off-campus apartment in Pawtucket.
Attorney General Peter Kilmartin announced Monday that a Providence County grand jury declined to indict Mohammed Aljohani, Tareq Alharbi and Mohammed Alsaqer, all of Saudi Arabia.
Kilmartin spokeswoman Amy Kempe said the office can’t comment on the grand jury’s findings. The men were arrested Oct. 6 and charged with first-degree sexual assault.
The university suspended the men pending an investigation. A university spokesman said the men were still suspended as of Monday.
Attorneys for Aljohani and Alharbi said their clients are relieved and appreciative of the legal process.
Alsaqer’s attorney wasn’t immediately available for comment.

 

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Fairholme sells for $16.1 million


The Tudorstyle Fairholme estate that overlooks the Cliff Walk and is off Ruggles Avenue on Ochre Point has been sold for $16.1 million.
Melanie Delman of Lila Delman Real Estate International announced the sale. Both the buyer, listed as Fairholme LLC, and the seller wish to remain anonymous.
This is the second sale of the estate in less than eight months. John Noffo Kahn, an heir to the Annenberg publishing fortune, sold Fairholme for $15 million last July, when the name of the buyer also was unavailable.
The original Fairholme was built in 1875 by Philadelphia architect Frank Furness as a summer retreat for Professor Fairman Rogers of Philadelphia.

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Sen. Whitehouse Staff To Host Event


Staff from the office of U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., will host a community outreach day on Thursday from 4-6 p.m. at the Newport Public Library, 300 Spring St.
Residents seeking help with a specific matter should bring all appropriate contact information including: daytime phone number, email address, any relevant identification or tracking numbers and as much information about their question or concern as possible, such as previous correspondence with the agency. For more information call, 453-5294 or visit whitehouse. senate.gov.

 

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Raimondo proposes pushing back license plate deadline


Gov. Gina Raimondo has proposed pushing back the date for issuing new license plates to between September and April 2017.

Raimondo in her budget proposed pushing back the July 1 deadline to no later than April 2017.

Officials tell the Providence Journal the delay is linked to the overhaul of the state Division of Motor Vehicles computer system. The overhaul has been fraught with delays and technical issues since it was announced in 2006. The project is expected to be completed in September.

Rhode Island law requires new license plates every 10 years. Consultants are working on a design for the new plate.

Car owners will be required to switch to the new plates when their current registration expires.

 

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Condo blaze displaces several in Warwick


Fire officials say a blaze at a condominium complex displaced at least three families in Warwick.

The fire was reported at 400 Narragansett Parkway on Sunday afternoon. Firefighters contained the fire in about 45 minutes. Officials say six condo units were damaged in the fire and deemed uninhabitable.

No injuries were reported. The Red Cross is helping displaced residents find a shelter.

The cause of the blaze is under investigation. Fire Chief James McLaughlin says it doesn't appear to be suspicious.

 

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Strip club dancer arrested for bank robbery twice in 1 month


Authorities say a dancer at a Providence strip club has been arrested in connection with a bank robbery for the second time in a month.

Police say 27-year-old Shannon Sampson, of Cranston, was apprehended Saturday at the Warwick Mall.

She's charged in connection with a robbery earlier Saturday at a Citizens Bank branch in Coventry.

Police say a woman entered the bank around noon and passed the teller a note before leaving with "a small amount" of money.

Sampson was arrested Feb. 10 in connection with a Cranston bank robbery after police found her in a Massachusetts motel room bed with cash possibly linked to the holdup.

Her attorney declined to comment on the Feb. 10 charges.

It's unclear whether she has an attorney to comment on the new charges.

 

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R.I. to get $10 million to prevent foreclosures


Rhode Island is slated to get nearly $10 million in additional federal funding to help prevent foreclosures.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed announced that the U.S. Treasury Department is allocating another $9.68 million to the state through its Hardest Hit Fund program. The program gives states money for local initiatives to assist struggling homeowners.

Reed says he asked the department for additional resources.

The Rhode Island Democrat says the funds will help stabilize the housing market, keep more families in their homes and minimize further foreclosures that burden neighborhoods.

To date, Rhode Island has received $79 million from the Hardest Hit Fund to help prevent foreclosures and stabilize the housing market.

Reed says Rhode Island's percentage of loans in foreclosure and its serious delinquency rate are higher than the national average.

 

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Fishermen to get federal funding


Rhode Island fishermen affected by catch limits are set to get more than $700,000 in federal funding.

The state's Department of Environmental Management, Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo and Rhode Island's congressional delegation announced Saturday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was releasing $705,658.

The funding will be administered by DEM to fishermen including captains and crew to mitigate the economic impacts of reductions in quotas for several species of groundfish.

Officials say the funds are part of a $75 million federal package in response to six declared fishery disasters throughout the nation. The U.S. Secretary of Commerce in 2012 declared a disaster for the Northeast due to sharp reductions in catch limits for 2013.

The state has received a total of $2.65 million from the federal package.

 

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Body of missing swimmer recovered on beach


Authorities say a body that has washed up on a Narragansett beach appears to be that of a missing swimmer.

Police said Saturday morning the body recovered on the beach in Jerusalem matches the description of 61-year-old Peter Butler.

The body was turned over to the state medical examiner's office for further examination. No foul play is suspected.

The U.S. Coast Guard began searching off the coast of Narragansett after a report of a person in the water Thursday night.

The Coast Guard suspended its search Friday afternoon after searching for several hours.

Police say a man using Butler's passport checked out of the Best Western in Warwick earlier Thursday and took a taxi to Hazard Avenue in Narragansett.

They say luggage containing Butler's passport was found at the scene.

 

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Cicilline, Paiva Weed to host Newport coffee hour


The Edward King House Senior Center, 35 King St., will host a coffee hour on Monday at 10 a.m. with Rep. David N. Cicilline, D-R.I., and state Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, D-Newport.
Attendees will have the opportunity to share thoughts and concerns, and hear what issues are being tackled at the federal and state level that will directly affect the community.
The event is free and open to the public.

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Passenger Numbers Are Up At T.F. Green Airport


More people are traveling through T.F. Green Airport in Warwick.  The number of passengers rose four-percent last month compared to the same time last year.  According to an airport spokesman, the increase is attributed to an increase in available seats.  There has also been a 17-percent rise in airport parking revenue.
 

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Ex-chaplain At St. George's School Previously Sued By West Virginia Man


 The former chaplain at the embattled St. George's School was previously sued by a West Virginia man for molestation allegations.  Victim Richard Albright accused Reverend Howard White Jr. of sexually assaulting him when he was a child, and that the Diocese of West Virginia tried to cover up the scandal.  White was previously fired from St. George's after a male student accused him of sexual misconduct.  White is now living in Pennsylvania where he acts as a fill-in priest at a local church.  He is currently on administrative leave.
 

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Senator says Obama must stand up to GOP on Scalia successor


 U.S. Sen. says President must stand up to Republicans who are trying to block him from nominating someone this year to replace the late Supreme Court Justice .

The Rhode Island Democrat said that not replacing Scalia soon would be a "really big mistake."

Rhode Island's other U.S. senator, Democrat , also said in a statement Thursday that the nomination and confirmation process should move forward.

Whitehouse thinks the court needs a justice with political experience, such as a governor or senator. He said the Supreme Court's "wretched" Citizens United ruling came about, in part, because the justices were "ignorant about political life." The ruling cleared the way for super PACs and unlimited campaign contributions.

Whitehouse, a former U.S. attorney and state attorney general, isn't interested in the job. There was speculation he could be considered.

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Police evaluation expenses cost taxpayers nearly $8M


An audit has found that expenses related to the Rhode Island State Police's involvement with the Cranston Police Department are costing state and city taxpayers nearly $8 million.

City Internal Auditor Anthony Moretti submitted his analysis Thursday at a City Council Finance Committee meeting.

The audit attempts to determine the costs of a state police evaluation of the Cranston Police Department.

The evaluation stems from a ticketing incident. State police found that Capt. Stephen Antonucci orchestrated a ticketing blitz in which citations were issued in the wards of two city councilors who voted against a police union contract.

Moretti's analysis found that the state police takeover of the Cranston Police Department, as well as the troopers' investigation and evaluation, are estimated to have cost taxpayers at least $600,000.

 

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Raimondo heads to Washington for governors' meeting


Rhode Island Gov. will be in the nation's capital this weekend for a meeting of the National Governors Association.

Her office says she planned to leave Friday morning and will return to Rhode Island on Monday.

She will participate in a panel discussion on climate and energy, attend meetings about the economy and join other Democratic governors gathering with President at the White House.

She will be accompanied by a chief of staff, two state troopers and her husband, Andy Moffitt.

Moffitt is scheduled to attend a panel discussion on the changing roles of first spouses.

 

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Amtrak will welcome small pets on trains


Amtrak says it’s expanding a pilot program permitting travelers to bring aboard small pets on many Northeast Corridor trains serving Boston, Philadelphia, New York, Washington and other cities.
The railroad said it began allowing small dogs and cats to accompany their owners on most long-distance routes on Tuesday, and small pets will be allowed on Acela Express highspeed trains on weekends only starting Saturday.
Amtrak said travelers will have to pay a $25 surcharge, and the pet and its carrier won’t be able to exceed a combined 20 pounds.
It says service animals will continue to ride for free.

 

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Court adopts new breastfeeding policy


The state Supreme Court has adopted a new policy to allow for accommodations for women who are breastfeeding at the time of their bar exam.
Applicants can now fill out a form to bring medical equipment and supplies for breastfeeding to the test.
They can request extra breaks, special seating and other accommodations.
Several groups, including the ACLU of Rhode Island, and attorneys requested that applicants who are breastfeeding be allowed to easily request and obtain accommodations.
The groups said these applicants were choosing between taking the test under conditions that could cause health issues and postponing their test date. The court previously allowed accommodations for people with disabilities. Many other states also make accommodations for women who are breastfeeding.
The court recently approved amendments to the test policies.

 

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Feds: College building collapse preventable


Federal officials have determined that the collapse of an athletic building under construction at Bryant University was preventable. Workers were installing steel beams on a new indoor practice facility at Bryant in Smithfield on Sept. 1 when the beams collapsed. Six workers were injured, none seriously.
The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced Wednesday that Barnes Buildings & Management Group didn’t erect the steel framework for the facility according to the manufacturer’s plan. Barnes Buildings also failed to install adequate bracing to ensure the framework was stable during erection.
OSHA issued citations on Feb. 8 for one willful and one serious violation of workplace safety standards. Proposed penalties total $59,290.

 

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Student in threats appears in Court


A 16-year-old Rogers High School student charged in connection with bomb threats that disrupted Newport, Middletown and Tiverton schools earlier this month, along with other alleged threats, remains in custody at the Rhode Island Training School in Cranston after a probable- cause hearing in Family Court on Wednesday.
The Newport Daily News reports that he hearing before Judge Francis J. Murray Jr. was closed to the public. State Police announced earlier this week that the boy would be charged with 15 counts of making bomb threats and similar false reports, two counts of extortion and blackmail, and one count of accessing a computer for fraudulent purposes.
Special Assistant Attorney General Ed Mullaney presented the state’s case against the boy, who was defended by attorney Maurice Cusick, who has an office at 625 Thames St.
The attorney said the hearing went well but could not discuss any details of the case against his client.
Mullaney referred all questions to Amy Kempe, spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office.
Kempe said all proceedings in Family Court are “strictly confidential.”


 

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Navy man to head veterans affairs


The first director of the state’s Division of Veterans Affairs said on Wednesday that his top priority is listening to veterans’ problems and finding solutions.
Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Wednesday she’s appointing Navy Lt. Cmdr. Kasim Yarn to lead the division. Raimondo introduced Yarn to lawmakers and veterans at the National Guard Family Assistance Center in Warwick.
Yarn, a Saunderstown resident, has been a member of the faculty at the Naval War College in Newport. He’ll officially assume the director’s role in the spring after retiring from the Navy.
Yarn, 43, said he’s grateful for the opportunity to serve Rhode Island and its veterans.


 

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Tree falls, crushes cars in Newport


 

A 60-foot tree fell on Dresser Street in Newport around 5 p.m. on Tuesday, crushing two cars and narrowly missing a house.

A man who lives there said his home avoided disaster by inches.

No injuries were reported.

 

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Board of Elections, ex-secretary reach $85K settlement


The Rhode Island Board of Elections has reached an $85,000 settlement with a former confidential secretary who claimed she was fired in an act of retaliation.

Andreza Skipworth and board officials in January agreed on the settlement in exchange for Skipworth dropping her claims.

Suspended Executive Director Robert Kando terminated Skipworth in January 2015.

Skipworth made claims in May 2014 about mismanagement at the agency. She later filed discrimination complaints with the state Commission for Human Rights and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission alleging she was deliberately passed over for a raise.

Kando had said Skipworth had a poor job performance and unprofessional demeanor.

The board's attorney investigated the claims and said there was no documentation of any difficulties with Skipworth's job performance.


 

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Skating performance to take place Friday


The Island Skating Academy will host a professional skating show as a part of the 2016 Newport Winter Fest on Friday at 5:30 p.m. at the Newport Skating Center, 4 Commercial Wharf.
Viewers will also have the opportunity for photos and a public skate with the performers after the show.
The event is free and open to the public.

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Governors announce clean energy pact


Governors from 17 states,including Rhode Island. said Tuesday that they will work together to develop cleaner energy and transportation as they look to lead a national shift to renewable fuels.
The states vary widely in their approach and sources of fuel, but the bipartisan group said its goal is to cooperate on planning and policies.
The pact — known as the Governors’ Accord for a New Energy Future — calls for embracing new energy solutions to expand the economy and protect the health of communities and natural resources.
“We believe that this is a robust driver of economic growth, not a brake on economic growth,” Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee said in a conference call with reporters.
Other participating governors are from Delaware, Connecticut, Hawaii, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Nevada, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania,  Vermont and Virginia.

 

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Cold blamed for pipe burst at historic home


Officials say the extreme cold is to blame for a ruptured pipe at the historic Betsy Williams Cottage at Roger Williams Park.
WJAR-TV reported that the pipe broke around 8 p.m. Monday and was shut off at about 10:30 p.m. The pipe was added to the 243-year-old building as part of a sprinkler system that apparently froze over the weekend.
A parks and recreation spokesman said there likely won’t be any major damage because the break happened in a small room.
Betsy Williams was the great-great-great granddaughter of Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island on the principle of religious freedom. The cottage sits on land that was part of the territory allotted to Roger Williams by Native Americans. She donated the cottage upon
her death in 1871.

 

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State: Payment error affected workers


 A total of 14,000 state workers had their paychecks delayed last week because of what a state official is calling an “operator error.”
Department of Administration spokeswoman Brenna McCabe said on Tuesday that 90 percent were paid by the end of the day on Friday.
Hundreds more were paid over the weekend. Around 1,000 employees received their pay on Tuesday.
The department last week would not say how many employees were affected and blamed the problem on what it called a “file delay.”
McCabe on Tuesday didn’t say who made the error.
She said safeguards are being installed to make sure it does not happen again.
She said the state will pay for overdraft fees for anyone affected.

 

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Gas prices in R. I. fall another 2 cents per gallon


Gas prices in Rhode Island continue to fall.

AAA Northeast says its weekly survey released Monday found that the average price of a gallon of self-serve, regular gas fell two cents from last week, to $1.80.

The price is 44 cents lower than the in-state price a year ago and 10 cents above the national average of $1.70.

AAA found that self-serve, regular is selling in the state for as low as $1.70 per gallon and as high as $1.99.

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Raimondo raised more than $1 million in 2015


Campaign finance records show that Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo pulled in more than $1 million in donations in 2015.

Raimondo spent $325,674 of the $1.01 million she raised in her first year in office, ending the year with $764,996 left over.

Most of Raimondo's donations were from Rhode Islanders. About 14 percent of the funds came from residents in neighboring Massachusetts.

Records show the state's two other powerful Democratic lawmakers also ended the year with leftover funds.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello pulled in $282,954 in 2015. He ended the year with $251,463.

Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed raised $116,625 last year. She has $77,989 remaining as of her latest campaign finance report.

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3 teens fall through icy pond in Barrington


Fire officials say three teenage boys are in the hospital after falling through an icy pond in Rhode Island.

Rescue crews responded to Brickyard Pond in Veterans Memorial Park Monday evening in Barrington.

Lt. Edward Owens says one boy pulled himself out of the water and called 911 around 6 p.m. Crews rescued two other boys about 75 yards off shore who had been there about 10 to 15 minutes.

Officials say the boys had been skating after dark.

All three have been taken to an area hospital. Their conditions have not been released. Authorities say the boys were able to get to the ambulance on their own.

A firefighter was also hospitalized for hypothermia after falling through the ice.

Owens says signs are posted prohibiting skating on the pond.

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TEEN CHARGED FOR BOMB THREATS AT R.I. SCHOOLS


A Newport teenager is charged in connection to several bomb threats made towards schools in several communities across Rhode Island.

According to a statement by the Rhode Island State Police, a 16-year-old male student from Rogers High School was arraigned on 18 violations including 15 counts of making bomb threats.

In the past month bomb threats have been made to schools in Providence, Bristol, Newport, Warwick, East Providence, Cranston, Tiverton and Middletown, as well as some private businesses.

Police say the investigation is ongoing and that they are looking for accomplices in the scheme.

The teen is also facing two charges of extortion and blackmail and one charge of access to a computer for fraudulent purposes.

The teen is expected to appear in Family Court Wednesday for a bail hearing.

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Fall River Government Center Transformed Into Warming Station



The Fall River Government Center is being transformed into a makeshift warming station.  As a result of the cold weather rolling in, city officials opened the doors to the first floor of the building to people stuck in the cold.  Volunteers and local restaurants have come together to equip the station with hot food.  The warming center in Fall River opens in the afternoon but will serve as an overnight shelter if other places are filled up.

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Actions Taken To Repair Rhode Island Bridges


Fourteen new management positions are being created to help tackle the need to repair Rhode Island bridges.  The state department of transportation was given 500-million dollars late last week to be spent on urgent bridge repairs around the state.  In addition to releasing plans to hire new managers, former Massachusetts transportation official Celia Blue was hired to be the Rhode Island DOT chief of staff starting on February 22nd.

 

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Two People Hospitalized After DUI Crash In Warwick


Two people are hospitalized after an alleged drunken driving related accident in Warwick.  Police were called to Metro Center Boulevard on Saturday night.  Bernard Sabetta was arrested and charged with a DUI after two cars ran into one another.  Sabetta is also accused of refusing to take a chemical test to find out his blood alcohol content.  Two people were taken to the hospital but the extent of their injuries is unknown.

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Record Breaking Valentine's Day Temperature In Rhode Island


A new temperature record has been set in Rhode Island.  The "Providence Journal" reports that yesterday the temperature at T.F. Green Airport was at negative nine degrees.  The temperature broke the 1979 Valentine's Day record of negative-seven degrees.  The recent weather is very different compared to last year, which was recorded as being Earth's warmest year since 1880.

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Man Accused Of Multiple Robberies Behind Bars


A man who's accused of robbing several businesses in Woonsocket is now behind bars.  Joshua Matteson surrendered to police over the weekend and is facing conspiracy and armed robbery charges.  Matteson is accused of robbing two Subway restaurants and two convenience stores.  He's expected in court today for his arraignment.

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Cranston Police Department Launches Smartphone App


In an effort to better connect with the community, the Cranston Police Department is launching a new app.  The app will include information like victim resources, news releases and pictures of missing people.  Police Chief Michael Winquist released a statement, saying the app proves their commitment to providing new and innovative ways to stay connected to residents and business owners.  It's free to download and is touted for being the first of its kind in the state.

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Newport Among Most Romantic Cities In U.S.


A Rhode Island city is among the most romantic places in the country.  OpenTable's "25 Most Romantic Cities in America" lists Newport in second place.  Virginia Beach, Virginia, took the top spot, with Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in third.  The online restaurant-reservation service did not say what factors make these destinations so romantic.

 

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Woman Arrested After Allegedly Robbing Cranston Bank


A woman who allegedly robbed a Cranston bank is now behind bars.  Authorities say Shannon Sampson was arrested in South Attleboro, Massachusetts, after walking into the Santander Bank and demanding cash from a teller.  Officers say they found Sampson lying in a bed of cash at the Attleboro Motor Inn yesterday.  She is facing multiple charges including being a fugitive from justice.

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Police Looking For Tire Slasher In Lincoln


Police are searching for the person responsible for slashing tires in a Lincoln casino's parking lot.  Police say more than a dozen car tires were found punctured in the Twin River parking lot last night.  Investigators believe cars were randomly targeted.  Officers are combing through surveillance footage and are following up on leads.  An investigation is ongoing.

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Hazmat Crews Respond To YMCA After Receiving Chemical Spill Reports


The all clear is being given at the YMCA in Woonsocket after a chemical scare.  A YMCA spokesperson says a strong chemical odor was first smelled on Tuesday afternoon and was thought to be a chlorine spill.  Firefighters arrived in hazmat suits and set up decontamination tents.  Hours later, fire crews determined there wasn't a chlorine spill and urged the recreational center to call its pool company.  An investigation is ongoing.

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Money Coming To Rhode Island For Housing Improvements


Money is on the way to Rhode Island to go towards public housing.  U.S. Senator Jack Reed announced yesterday that 12-point-nine-million-dollars in federal funding is coming to 25 cities and towns.  The money will continue to make housing affordable, build stronger neighborhoods and be used to make repairs.  The money comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Public Housing Capital Fund Program.                                  

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Man Allegedly Tries To Illegally Sell Puppies


A Massachusetts man is accused of trying to illegally sell dogs in Rhode Island.  Justin Wagner of Fall River is charged with importing dogs without valid certificates and illegally operating a pet shop.  The state Department of Environmental Management says Loyal Labs placed ads on social media selling puppies.  It was later discovered that the company wasn't licensed to sell animals in the state.  When Wagner was arrested, the weeks-old pups were extremely dehydrated and infested with worms.  He's slated to be in court next week.

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URI Researchers: Chances Of People Affected By Zika Virus Are 'Low'


The Zika virus isn't a huge threat to people in Rhode Island.  That's according to URI researchers who found that the mosquitoes that carry the virus don't live within 14-hundred miles of the state.  Symptoms of the virus include painful joints, and red eyes and it can cause severe birth defects in newborns.  One-point-five-million people have been affected by the virus in Brazil.

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Providence To Stop Enforcing Panhandling Ordinance


A Providence ordinance that aims to stop panhandling is no longer being enforced in the city.  The ACLU of Rhode Island announced yesterday that officers will stop carrying out the ordinance because it, quote, "directly targets the homeless" and prevents those people from earning a living.  The law made it illegal for transients to ask for money on highways, the streets, in parking lots, amusement parks and playgrounds.  The ACLU is also pushing to shut down a similar ordinance in Cranston.

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Providence Mayor Elorza Delivers State Of The City Address


Mayor Jorge Elorza says Providence will continue to see growth this year.  During his State of the City speech last night, Elorza touted the city's accomplishments since the recession and says he'll continue to push to take down abandoned homes and improve the support system in public schools.  Although he didn't reveal a budget proposal, he revealed that over the next two years the city will spend more than 20-million dollars to repair school buildings.  This year, he plans to put a half-billion dollars into dozens of construction projects across the city.

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Gas Prices Fall In Rhode Island


Gas prices continue to fall in Rhode Island.  Over the past week, prices at the pump fell another five cents bringing the average to one-dollar-82-cents per gallon.  Triple-A reports that a year ago, the price was 37-cents higher at two-dollars-19-cents.  The average in the U.S. is one-74.

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Nobel Peace Prize Winner Coming To Rhode Island


A female activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner is coming to Rhode Island.  Malala Yousafzai will be speaking at the Dunkin' Donuts Center on July 28th.  The Pakistani woman is going on tour and Providence is one of three stops in the U.S.  To see her, people can buy tickets starting at noon on Friday at Ticketmaster.com.

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Department Of Corrections To Begin Hiring Correctional Officers, Again


The Rhode Island Department of Corrections is going to start hiring new correctional officers.  In 2013, a lawsuit was filed accusing the department of discrimination against black and Hispanic people.  After two years of being stalled, applicants who took the entrance exam should expect to receive test results sometime in the coming weeks by mail. 

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West Warwick Job Center Closing For Renovations


A West Warwick career center that aims to help people find jobs is closed next week.  The state Department of Labor and Training is locking up the building for renovations starting this coming Monday through Friday.  People who need help finding a job during that time are urged to get in touch with the state's other three job centers in Providence, Wakefield and Woonsocket.

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School Threats Traced Back To Russia


Bomb and shooting threats targeting Rhode Island schools are being traced back to Russia.  A police spokesman says the threats were made using an automated message.  A Newport Schools official described the calls as robotic with noticeable pauses in between words and phrases.  Multiple calls came in last week, forcing several evacuations in Warwick and Newport.

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Police Searching For Missing Man In East Providence


Police are continuing their search for a missing man in East Providence.  Joseph Pinheiro hasn't been seen since early last month.  Police say he was last spotted at an ATM in Seekonk, Massachusetts.  Pinheiro is described as five-foot-five, 150-pounds with a cast on his left wrist.  He has a history of depression.  Anyone with information about his whereabouts is urged to call East Providence Police.

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Norovirus Scare At Rhode Island College


Rhode Island College is looking into an uptick of gastrointestinal illness reports.  The campus' Health Services reported a rise in both students on-and off-campus with symptoms consistent with a norovirus outbreak.  Symptoms include dehydration, diarrhea, vomiting and severe stomach pain.  Anyone experiencing these is urged to call RIC Health Services as a precaution.

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13 Men Arrested In Cranston Prostitution Sting


More than a dozen men are behind bars stemming from a prostitution sting in Cranston.  Late last month, police set up a bust and posted a prostitution ad on Backpage.com.  The operation was to target men who were responding to the advertisements.  Thirteen men were arrested ranging in age from 22 to 61-years-old.  The group is slated to return to court later this month.

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Schools Evacuated After Receiving Bomb Threats


Police say schools were once again evacuated in Middletown and Newport in connection to bomb threats.  Rogers High School, Thompson Middle School and Middletown High School were evacuated yesterday afternoon after receiving the threats from an automated phone call.  Most students were sent home as a result of the incident.  In recent weeks, Newport has received multiple threats but so far nothing suspicious has been found.  A Warwick school is also taking precautions after receiving threats.  An investigation into the incidents is ongoing.

 

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Police Are Looking Into Two Deaths


Police are releasing the names of two women found dead inside an Exeter home.  Officers were called to a home on Skunk Hill Road Wednesday after a man found his mother and stepsister unconscious.  Wilma Reynolds and Carol Lydick were found dead in separate bedrooms.  Police say their deaths aren't considered suspicious but they're treating the incident as a, quote, "sudden death investigation."  No carbon monoxide was detected inside.

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Newport Restaurant Among Most Romantic In U.S.


A Newport restaurant is among the most romantic spots to dine this Valentine's Day.  OpenTable.com recently rolled out its list of the "100 Most Romantic Restaurants in America" this year and Bouchard Restaurant and Inn was named.  The website looked through more than five-million reviews with key terms like "romantic" to come up with the rankings.  The fine dining French restaurant was touted for being located in an old Georgian-style house.

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Financial Aid Deadline Coming Up For Students


The deadline is coming for Rhode Island students to reach out for financial aid.  Ahead of the looming application deadline, the Rhode Island Student Loan Authority is offering extended hours for people to take advantage of the free help.  The planning center assists students while they fill out the necessary paperwork, including the FAFSA form.  Students are required to have an appointment.  For more information visit collegeplanningcenter.org.

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Providence Bar To Stay Closed After Person Attacked


A Providence bar will continue to keep its doors locked up after a person was allegedly attacked inside.  The "Providence Journal" reports that the Board of Licenses decided to keep The Fatt Squirrel closed through Thursday.  Members decided to suspend the bar's license last weekend after a person was allegedly assaulted and gunshots were fired inside restaurant.  Information about the victim's condition is unknown.

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Man Accused Of Driving Drunk In Warwick Police Parking Lot


A Warwick man is behind bars after being found allegedly driving drunk in the police department's parking lot.  An officer spotted an unfamiliar car parked in the lot while leaving the station over the weekend.  The driver, Richard Fisher, appeared intoxicated and blew nearly five times the legal limit during a Breathalyzer test.  Last month, two teens were arrested after they allegedly stole items from patrol cars in the Warwick Police Department parking lot.

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Man Dies After Being Pinned Underneath Car


Police are releasing the name of a Coventry man who died after being pinned underneath a car.  Keith Denton died in the hospital after rescue crews found the man trapped underneath a car on Washington Street.  Few details about the incident have been released, and an investigation is ongoing.

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Providence School Department Making Changes For Next School Year


Changes are coming to the Providence School Department.  During a meeting at Nathan Bishop Middle School yesterday, Mayor Jorge Elorza announced plans to move more than a dozen employees out of the school department's building and into multiple schools.  They're also looking to bring in ten new positions that'll focus on performance management.  A multilingual call center is also being created for parental concerns.

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Brown University Pushes To Improve Campus Diversity


Brown University is pushing to improve diversity on campus over the next six years.  President Christina Paxson says the plan will focus on increasing diversity in higher education by 2022.  In a statement, Paxson said the campus has made, quote, "substantial progress" in recent decades but agreed that it is important to bring more people together from different backgrounds to create a vibrant community.  For more details about the plan, visit the Brown University website.

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Police Searching For Man Who Robbed Taxi Driver In Providence


Police are searching for the person who robbed a taxi driver in Providence.  Nelson Estevez told police that he was parked on Cranston Street on Sunday night when he was approached by a man who got into the backseat of the car.  The man held a gun to his head and demanded money.  The suspect took off with a second person towards Messer Street after the victim handed over nearly 200 dollars.  An investigation is ongoing.

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Rhode Island Students Could Get Free SAT, PSAT Testing


Free SAT and PSAT tests could be on the way to Rhode Island students.  Governor Raimondo announced yesterday that she has proposed  setting  aside 500-thousand dollars to provide free college prep exams to all students across the state.  The move comes after numbers showed fewer than 60-percent of students in the state take the tests.  She's also considering replacing the Partnership for the Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers test with the SAT exam for juniors in high school.

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Girl Hospitalized After Car Accident In Cranston


Hospital officials are releasing an update about a teenage girl who was hospitalized after a serious car accident in Cranston.  Five teens were taken to the hospital on Sunday after their car crashed into a pole and flipped over.  Of the four passengers in the car, a 17-year-old girl, suffered the most injuries, including broken bones and a brain bleed.  She was thrown from the car into the road.  Driver Blake Carpenter is facing several charges including driving to endanger resulting in physical injury.

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Supreme Court Denies Appeal From Woman Accused Of Killing Daughter


The Rhode Island Supreme Court is denying to hear an appeal from a North Kingstown woman who killed her young daughter.  Kimberly Fry was convicted of murder in 2011 in connection to the death of her eight-year-old daughter, Camden.  Prosecutors say Fry strangled her daughter because she refused to take a bath.  Fry attempted to appeal her sentence because she had taken a lot of pills before the deadly incident occurred and was hoping to take up a diminished capacity defense.

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Providence Bar Temporarily Shut Down for Shooting Investigation


Police in Providence have suspended the Fatt Squirrel's Liquor License for the next couple of days.  Officers reportedly heard several gunshots at the bar early Sunday morning and when they went in to investigate, found a man with a broken jaw.  No one has been arrested yet but the bar has been ordered to shut down temporarily while police investigate.

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Buddy Cianci to Lie in State this Weekend


The body of former Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci will lie in state at City Hall this Saturday and Sunday before his funeral next Monday.  Cianci died last Thursday at 74.  He'll be buried at St. Ann's Cemetery in Cranston, and state flags will be lowered to half mast during the services. Rhode  Island Governor Gina Riamondo originally said she wouldn't lower all state flags, but reversed that decision Friday saying the state has done the same in the past for former Providence mayors.

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Missing Mansfield Man Found in Mill Pond


Mansfield Police found the body of a missing man in about ten feet of water at Mill Pond early Sunday morning.  The man had been reported missing on Saturday afternoon by his parents.  Officials believe he fell through the ice and may have committed suicide.  They haven't released his name yet.

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Cardi Corp. Fighting With State Over Bridge Fix


Officials with Cardi Corporation, which began repairs to the guardrail on the IWAY bridge along Route 195 in December, say they're doing the job under protest.  The Rhode Island Department of Transportation contracted Cardi to build the bridge in 2003, but a crash in 2013 showed the guardrails didn't meet safety requirements.  Cardi officials say they installed the guardrail as instructed by the state, and want to be paid more for the fix.  Department of Transportation officials say they won't pay Cardi any additional money beyond what contracted in 2003.   If Cardi continues to press, state officials said they'll explore legal options.

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RI Awards Grants to 11 Research Companies


The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation announced last week it will award grants ranging from ten-thousand to 50-thousand dollars to eleven companies around the state for more research.  Thirty-four companies had applied to the new program, which Governor Gina Raimondo said enables the state to support a wide range of technological explorations.  Winners include a company researching wind energy, one researching algae farming and one looking at technology to help organ transplant recipients.

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