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1540 WADK.com Updates Archives for 2016-06

Cianci charity gives out $48,500 in scholarships, grants


A charity set up by the late Providence Mayor Buddy Cianci is giving out $48,500 in scholarships to students and grants to community groups.

Cianci's family also says they are merging two Cianci charities to form a new one. The Cianci Educational Foundation will give out scholarships and support the arts, urban development and other causes Cianci valued.

Cianci died in January at age 74.

Fourteen college-bound students will each receive $1,000 scholarships. Eight groups, including WaterFire, the Providence Preservation Society and the Anthony Quinn Foundation will receive grants.

Rick Simone, who is working with the family, says the new foundation will start July 1. He says in addition to the scholarships and grants, they plan to host quarterly "Cianci Talks" on subjects such as arts and culture.

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Men-only RI yacht club dealing with fallout


A Rhode Island yacht club that allows only men as members is dealing with fallout of the policy, as at least one event there has been canceled and a local hospital says it won't book future events there.

The membership of the Westerly Yacht Club voted this month to uphold the policy. Celebrities including Taylor Swift and Conan O'Brien have homes in the seaside community.

Performer Dave Kane said Tuesday that he canceled his planned one-man comedy show booked for January at the club.

A spokesman for Westerly Hospital says a Thursday event they planned will go on, but they will not book future events there until the policy changes.

The club's commodore did not immediately comment.

The club allows wives as associate members, but they can't vote.

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RI governor signs school recess mandate into law


A new Rhode Island law is requiring elementary schools to give children at least 20 minutes of recess each day.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo signed the school recess legislation into law on Monday.

The mandate takes effect immediately and requires schools to provide at least 20 consecutive minutes of free play.

The law also allows schools to treat recess as instructional time so that they don't have to extend the school day to meet the requirement.

Parent groups had pushed for the recess mandate and had wanted to ban teachers from taking a child's recess away as punishment. That ban was dropped in the compromise legislation that passed the state's General Assembly this month, but the new law says teachers should make a good-faith effort not to withhold recess.

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Providence School Board passes transgender support policy


The Providence School Board has passed a new policy that aims to strengthen the district's support of its transgender and gender-expansive students.

The policy provides guidelines on restroom usage, physical education classes and intramural sports teams while also establishing a Transgender and Gender Expansive Student Point Team for further support.

School Board member Robert Gondola, who sponsored the initiative, says the policy further underscores the district's commitment to providing an inclusive learning community to all students.

Under the policy, transgender and gender-expansive students are free to select the restroom of their choosing and have the option for private bathrooms and separate changing areas. Gender identity and expression will now also be considered when selecting the physical education and sports programs that students participate in.

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Treasurer of children's charity admits to stealing $186k


The treasurer of a Rhode Island children's charity has admitted to stealing nearly $186,000 from the organization.

Authorities say Robert Lonardo, of Burrillville, pleaded guilty Tuesday in federal court in Providence to one count of wire fraud.

Prosecutors say the 67-year-old Lonardo began withdrawing funds from the bank accounts of the Rhode Island Association for Cardiac Children in January 2013, following the death of his mother, who founded the charity. They say Lonardo withdrew money for his own personal use up to August 2015.

The charity raises funds for hospital equipment, children's cardiac treatment and research and families whose children need surgery for cardiac disease.

Lonardo is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 16. He faces up to 20 years in prison.

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240-foot turbine blades arrive for offshore wind farm


Workers at ProvPort have been unloading the 240-foot-long turbine blades that will ultimately be used for the nation's first offshore wind farm, off Block Island.

Deepwater Wind says dockworkers began unloading the 15 blades on Tuesday. They are scheduled to be brought to the Block Island Wind Farm site by boat in August.

The company says several other steps have been progressing as they work to complete the five-turbine wind farm.

A 6.5-mile cable that will connect the wind farm to Block Island has been installed. And a 17-mile cable that will connect Block Island with the mainland reached Block island last week.

Deepwater Wind says it will complete the cable connections between the wind turbines next month.

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Assistant AG sworn in as RI Superior Court judge


An assistant attorney general from Newport has been sworn in as Rhode Island's newest Superior Court judge.

Maureen Keough's ceremony took place at the State House rotunda in Providence on Tuesday.

Gov. Gina Raimondo says Keough would be ready to hit the ground running and operate an effective courtroom.

Keough, a deputy criminal chief of the attorney general's office, is filling the opening created by Judge Edward Clifton, who retired last year.

The Newport woman began working with the attorney general's office in January 1999.

Keough says she's "truly humbled" and thanked those who played a role in bringing her to this point.

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RI OKs tax deal for Ocean State Job Lot expansion


Ocean State Job Lot is getting help from Rhode Island to expand its main distribution center.

The state's Commerce Corporation has approved $7.8 million in tax incentives for the discount chain.

The planned $49.1 million expansion is scheduled to break ground in August at the Quonset Business Park in North Kingstown.

Job Lot executives earlier this year had threatened to pull back on the expansion because the state plans to install new highway truck tolls. Based in North Kingstown, the company operates 122 stores from Maine to New Jersey.

The Commerce Corporation also approved on Monday $5.3 million in economic incentives to help D'Ambra Construction build a new 120-room Hyatt Place hotel near T.F. Green Airport in Warwick.

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RI launches new campaign to combat opioid abuse


Rhode Island has launched a new public awareness campaign to combat opioid abuse.

Gov. Gina Raimondo made the announcement Monday at the Brown University School of Public Health.

The campaign includes a new phone help line connecting people to treatment and recovery services between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily.

It also includes a new website, , as well as bus ads and TV and radio commercials.

The state Department of Health says the drug overdose crisis has claimed more than 1,000 lives in the past five years.

The campaign's message is that addiction is a disease and recovery is possible.

Raimondo says it's important to get rid of the stigma so people feel comfortable asking for help.

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Gas prices stay at average $2.29 per gallon in RI


Gas prices in Rhode Island were unchanged from last week, holding at an average $2.29 per gallon for regular unleaded.

AAA Northeast released the numbers from its weekly gas survey on Monday.

It found gas in Rhode Island was averaging 2 cents per gallon less than the national average of $2.31.

The price of gas continues to remain significantly lower than at this time last year, when it was $2.78 per gallon in the Ocean State. That's 49 cents more, or 21 percent higher, than today.

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New, lower rates announced for parking at state beaches


New, lower rates for parking at Rhode Island's state beaches are set to go into effect this week, after the season rates were recently halved.

Residents who purchased a season pass after May 17 will receive a credit in the form of a gift certificate that can be used to buy a future season pass.

To apply, residents must submit their contact information to the Department of Environmental Management, either in person at DEM Rhode Island State Parks Headquarters or online between July 9 and Sept. 15.

As of July 1, resident parking passes will cost $6 for weekdays, $7 for weekends and holidays and $30 for the season. Nonresident passes are $12 for weekdays, $14 for weekends and holidays and $60 for the season.

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State police probe lawmaker in wake of residency questions


State police are investigating a Rhode Island lawmaker after questions were raised about his residency.

Col. Steven O'Donnell confirmed Monday that the Financial Crimes Unit is investigating Democratic state Rep. John Carnevale.

O'Donnell declined to provide further details, but confirmed police have obtained records from the Providence Board of Canvassers. The board voted there's reasonable cause to challenge whether Carnevale lives in the city.

A months long investigation by WPRI-TV revealed Carnevale owns a Johnston home he hadn't declared on ethics filings.

The station repeatedly visited the home and found Carnevale and his vehicles there, but never found him at the Providence home where he says he lives.

Carnevale, elected in 2008, is vice chairman of the House Finance Committee.

He declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

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RI congressman to launch re-election campaign


U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin is set to officially launch his re-election campaign for Congress.

The Rhode Island Democrat is scheduled to file his Declaration of Candidacy on Tuesday at the Rhode Island Secretary of State Elections Division in Providence.

Langevin is pursuing a ninth term. He was first elected to Congress in 2000. He currently serves as a senior member of both the House Armed Services and Homeland Security committees.

A press release says the Rhode Island Democratic Party State Committee, the Rhode Island Association of Democratic City and Town Chairs and the AFL-CIO have endorsed Langevin in the 2016 election.

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Providence-to-Newport ferry set to make its debut this week


Transportation officials in Rhode Island are moving forward with plans for a new Providence-to-Newport ferry service expected to make its debut this week.

Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti says that the state has reached a tentative agreement with New Jersey-based Seastreak LLC to operate the 149-passenger ferry.

Alviti says the ferry will be up and running July 1 if everything goes well with the Public Utilities Commission.

The service is scheduled to run from India Point in Providence to Perotti Park in Newport through Sept. 5.

The ferry will shuttle passengers on three roundtrips between the two cities on weekdays and four trips on weekends and holidays.

Alviti declined to discuss financial terms of the agreement until it's finalized.

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Fishing boat, yacht collide off RI


Authorities are investigating after a 100-foot fishing excursion boat and a 70-foot yacht collided on Block Island Sound off Rhode Island.

A U.S. Coast Guard spokesman says that both boats were damaged above the water line on Monday.

The fishing boat came out of the Narragansett port of Galilee and the yacht was sailing out of Newport. Neither took on water and both were able to return to port.

The owners of the fishing boat say that it was carrying 36 passengers, with 3 crew and 2 crew members who were fishing on their day off.

Petty Officer Andrew Barresi says the collision is under investigation. No injuries were reported.

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Police investigate death of man found unresponsive on street


Police are investigating the death of a man who was found unresponsive on a street in Newport.

Police on Friday identified the man as 30-year-old Jonathan Flores.

Police say Flores was found unresponsive around 10:30 a.m. Wednesday on Clinton Avenue.

Flores was taken to Newport Hospital and later transferred to Rhode Island Hospital, in Providence, where he died Thursday morning. Police haven't released details regarding the nature or extent of Flores' injuries or the treatment he received.

A Rhode Island Department of Health spokesman confirmed an autopsy was performed Friday but says a cause of death hasn't been determined.

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RI to require Holocaust, genocide education


Rhode Island schools will have to teach students about genocide and the Holocaust under a new law signed by the governor.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo announced last week that she signed the bill.

Beginning in fall 2017, school districts will have to educate middle or high school students about the subject at least once before they graduate from high school.

An earlier 2011 law encouraged schools to make curriculum materials available about the Holocaust and genocides in Armenia, Cambodia, Rwanda and elsewhere. The new law makes teaching the subject a requirement.

East Providence Democratic Rep. Katherine Kazarian says it's not a pleasant topic but it's important for children to study in order to prevent similar atrocities from happening again.

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Governor hones art of elevator pitch to rebuild RI


After enticing General Electric to plant a new software engineering office in Rhode Island, Gov. Gina Raimondo is setting her sights on PayPal, SolarCity and other firms she hopes could transform the smallest state's lagging economy into a high-tech hub.

The Democrat is not the only governor making direct appeals to CEOs and offering generous state incentives, but the zeal of her efforts has attracted attention.

GE Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Bornstein has said Raimondo was so relentless and persuasive that the company committed to a new GE Digital office in Providence even after choosing Boston for its new headquarters.

With PayPal, it was the North Carolina transgender bathroom law that sparked Raimondo's action. Her talks with PayPal began after the company canceled a planned Charlotte office in protest.

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Government, development corp. invest in Port of Davisville


The federal government and the Quonset Development Corporation are investing in Rhode Island's Port of Davisville.

U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Rep. James Langevin recently announced that the U.S. Economic Development Administration will award a new $625,000 federal grant to increase shore-side capacity at the port in the Quonset Business Park.

The development corporation is matching the grant, for a total investment of $1.25 million.

The goal is to expand the port's capacity for additional automobiles, cargo and offshore wind components by paving over a gravel area. The area covers over 13 acres and is currently not suitable for importing vehicles.

The Democratic members of the state's congressional delegation touted the fact that the project will help modernize the port and create jobs.

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State health officials promote National HIV Testing Day


Rhode Island health officials are encouraging residents to get tested on National HIV Testing Day.

The annual observance to promote testing is Monday.

The state Department of Health says there will be free and low-cost tests available at multiple Providence locations, including at AIDS Care Ocean State, Crossroads RI and AIDS Project Rhode Island.

Testing will be offered for high-risk women at the Project Renew Drop-In Center in the First Tabernacle Church.

Planned Parenthood of Southern New England is also offering free testing at its Providence health center.

Officials encourage testing for people ages 13 to 64 years old.

The department says there were 67 new cases of HIV identified in Rhode Island in 2015. There are an estimated 300 people who are undiagnosed.

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Lawmakers "leap" for charity


A unique event that made national headlines a year ago, was held again Sunday for a new cause.

Cumberland/Central Falls Rep. James McLaughlin and Rep. Robert Nardolillo of Coventry hosted the 2nd Annual Legislative Leap.

The lawmakers jumped from planes, with the help of Newport Skydiving, to raise funds and awareness for the Rhode Island Military Family Relief Fund.

The event was supposed to take place two weeks ago, but was cancelled due to high winds.

Organizers hosted a similar event last year, which benefited the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.

They expected to raise roughly $4,000, which will provide support to the families of the state's veterans. The money came from private donations, as well as Newport Skydiving, which donated $50 for every legislator, family, and staff member, willing to jump.

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Man gets life in killing of RI justice's brother


A Massachusetts man has been sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to his role in killing the younger brother of a Rhode Island Supreme Court justice.

Twenty-three-year-old Matthew Marcotte, of Rehoboth, Massachusetts initially faced a first-degree murder charge in the stabbing death of William McKenna. The judge dropped it down to second-degree murder as part of a plea deal.

Marcotte was sentenced Wednesday in Providence to life for the murder charge and 10 years for conspiracy. Both sentences will be served simultaneously.

Police say Marcotte stabbed 53-year-old McKenna outside a Pawtucket convenience store on Feb. 10, 2015 after 24-year-old Rolando Brooks punched him. McKenna died at the hospital.

Brooks is charged with murder and has pleaded not guilty.

McKenna was the younger brother of state Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg.

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Feds consider cut to catch of herring, a key food web fish


Federal fishing regulators are considering a slight cut to the catch limit for Atlantic herring, a fish that is important both to the fishing industry and the ocean's food web.

Atlantic herring are small fish that gather in schools that can number in the millions. They are a critical food source for bigger fish, seals and whales, and are important to humans as food and bait.

The National Marines Fisheries Service might reduce the catch limit by about 3 percent to about 105,000 metric tons. The proposal's up for public comment until July 21.

The herring fishery takes place in New England and the mid-Atlantic, but is principally based in Maine and Massachusetts. It was worth a little less than $30 million in 2014, when fishermen caught 92,000 metric tons.

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20 coworkers win lottery, will split $5M prize


Twenty co-workers in Rhode Island will be taking home $250,000 each after winning $5 million as part of a joint lottery-playing effort .The men, who work together at a medical supply manufacturing company, play either Powerball or Mega Millions every week.

They bought the ticket in Friday night's Mega Millions drawing at Chum's Spirits in Harrisville.

They won the $1 million prize for matching five of the six numbers drawn. The group increased the prize by purchasing a "multiplier" option, making the total $5 million before taxes.

Most of the men say they plan to retire soon and the money will help to make that happen.

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Legislation would give drivers who forget license a break


Motorists in Rhode Island may soon get a break if they're pulled over without a license.

State lawmakers approved a bill last week that would make driving without a valid driver's license a civil infraction rather than a misdemeanor.

Lawmakers say the change aims to spare one-time and accidental license violators from harsh punishments and to allow the justice system to focus on more dangerous defendants.

Current law says anyone who drives without a license - or drives with one that's expired, suspended or revoked - is subject to arrest and up to 30 days behind bars. The bill eliminates the potential prison sentence for first- and second-time offenders.

The legislation tightens the rules for anyone caught without a license three or more times.

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Raimondo says she'll sign school recess mandate


Gov. Gina Raimondo says she'll sign a bill mandating at least 20 minutes of recess at elementary schools, joking that her kids wouldn't let her back in the house if she vetoed it.

The Democrat talked to reporters Wednesday about a few of the hundreds of bills heading to her desk after the state's General Assembly passed them last week before adjourning.

Raimondo had earlier expressed concerns about the school recess bill. She now says she's pleased by an amendment that gives teachers more leeway to withhold a child's recess if necessary.

Raimondo says she's less sure if she'll sign another education bill that could curb the growth of charter schools.

The bill would give towns more say over whether a new charter school can open.

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Gov. vetoes revenge porn bill


In her first veto since taking office, Governor Gina Raimondo has decided not to sign the “revenge porn bill”. The bill would have prohibited the posting of nude photos without permission. The images are often posted by ex-spouses, former partners or extortionists. The penalty would’ve been up to a year in prison for first offenses, and up to five years for extortion cases.

The Governor said she acknowledged that this is an important and serious topic and would work with lawmakers to create a more narrowly-tailored bill in the next legislative session.

The ACLU has expressed its thanks to the Governor, saying the bill would have had a “chilling effect on free speech rights”.

However, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says he hopes to override the veto.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin was also disappointed and released a statement expressing his dismay.

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RI governor awaits hundreds of bills


About 300 bills approved during an all-night session of the Rhode Island General Assembly are heading to the desk of Gov. Gina Raimondo.

The state House of Representatives passed 273 bills between Friday afternoon and just after dawn Saturday, including bills sent to it by the Senate. The Senate passed 237 bills, including House bills.

The bills will be transmitted to the governor in the coming weeks, but not all at once so she has time to review them.

The legislation includes next year's $8.9 billion budget.

Other legislation would mandate at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted recess at public elementary schools; regulate ride-hailing app companies such as Uber; combat opioid addiction; incentivize solar panels; tighten child abuse reporting laws; and crack down on massage parlors used as brothels.

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Gov. Raimondo loses 2 top aides


Two top aides to Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo are stepping down.

The Democrat announced the departures Tuesday.

Chief of Staff Stephen Neuman is leaving this week and heading to Michigan to join the Democratic presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton.

Communications Director Joy Fox is leaving in early July to work on economic initiatives for former U.S. Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin.

Fox has worked with Raimondo since 2011, when Raimondo became the state's treasurer.

She'll be replaced by Mike Raia, who is now a spokesman for the state Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Neuman's duties will be taken over by David Cruise, Raimondo's legislative director, who will become her acting chief of staff.

Both Neuman and Raia formerly worked in Maryland for then-Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Democrat.

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RI flower show to merge with home show


The floundering Rhode Island Spring Garden & Flower Show will combine with the Rhode Island Home Show after a drop in attendance.

The Rhode Island Home Show announced the expansion of its 67th annual show in 2017 to include garden and flower categories.

The yet-to-be-named combined show is scheduled to be held from March 30 to April 2, 2017, at the Rhode Island Convention Center. Officials say the new show will have a "green" energy focus.

Maury Ryan has run the Spring Garden & Flower Show since 2000. He says he sold the name and website of the show after attendance dropped from an average 32,000 people to 19,000 within the last two years.

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Shaw's to reinstate food pantry donations across New England


Shaw's Supermarkets has agreed to reverse a policy and resume contributions to food pantries in Maine and throughout New England.

The announcement comes at a time of high food insecurity in Maine and follows pressure from Democratic U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, who's made eliminating food waste a goal in Congress.

After initially rolling out the program in Massachusetts and Maine, Shaw's will expand it to stores in New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

In 2013, Shaw's notified all Maine food banks and pantries that it would no longer donate food. A spokeswoman declined to say why Tuesday, instead stating: "At the time we were re-evaluating a number of our business processes."

Now, Shaw's says it's in a position to relaunch the Fresh Program by working with the charity Feeding America.

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In Ocean State, yacht club's men-only policy rankles many


Taylor Swift has a home in the seaside community of Westerly, Rhode Island. But she wouldn't be able to join the Westerly Yacht Club, even if she wanted to.

Membership is reserved for men. Women are allowed to be non-voting associate members, and then only if they are married to a member.

A vote to change the policy failed to reach a two-thirds majority last week.

One member who voted "no" says many women like things the way they are because they don't have to pay the $600 annual dues. Others say it's ridiculous in a year when Hillary Clinton is making a historic run for president that they can't join.

The club says it's legal, but a civil rights lawyer says the policy may run afoul of antidiscrimination laws.

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Ethics commission to investigate complaint against mayor


The Rhode Island Ethics Commission has voted to examine a Rose has said that the accusations are untrue. A full hearing will be held to determine whether an ethics law was broken.

complaint against the mayor of East Providence.

The commission voted unanimously Tuesday to investigate the complaint alleging Thomas Rose submitted a lease payment bill for his personal car to the city for payment.

The commission concluded that if the allegations are true, they constitute a violation. State police have investigated and determined there was no criminal violation.

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Summer price drop for live lobsters may come early this year


Live lobster prices still are high across the U.S., but the annual summer price drop may come a little earlier this year.

Each summer, lobsters become more abundant on the market as they reach legal trapping size and catches increase. Prices tend to drop after the annual surge, which usually happens in early July.

Scientists with the Portland-based Gulf of Maine Research Institute have predicted this year's lobster season will start two or three weeks early because of warm ocean temperatures.

Prices for lobsters have been somewhat high for most of the last two years. The consumer price is in the range of $8 to $12 per pound at most retail outlets in Maine, the country's biggest lobster producer. That's a couple dollars more than a year ago.

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Gas prices in RI down 2 cents, to $2.29


Gas prices in Rhode Island are down two cents this week.

AAA Northeast found in its weekly survey released Monday that the average price of a gallon of self-serve, regular gas has dropped to an average $2.29.

Rhode Island's price is four cents lower than the national average.

The price in Rhode Island at this time last year was 51 cents higher, at an average $2.80 per gallon.

AAA found self-serve, regular selling for as low as $2.18 and as high as $2.39.

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Businessman pleads guilty to selling mislabeled drugs


A Rhode Island businessman has admitted to running a scheme to sell mislabeled drugs, including those used to treat cancer.

Arif Diwan pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in Providence to conspiracy to engage in false labeling of pre-retail medical products and related crimes.

Diwan ran Lifescreen LLC, a Cranston-based company that sold drugs under the brand name LifeLogic. Between 2012 and 2015, Diwan filled numerous orders for high-cost pharmaceutical products, including a number of cancer treatment products.

Prosecutors say he rebranded and relabeled drugs manufactured in India, adding bogus Federal Drug Administration codes to make it appear the drugs were manufactured in the United States or Europe and approved by the FDA. Diwan shipped the drugs to customers in numerous countries.

Diwan is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 16.

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Sheriff shortage affecting Providence County Superior Court


Rhode Island's shortage of deputy sheriffs has forced the Providence County Superior Court to limit the number of trials held at once to ensure that adequate security staff is available.

There are currently 167 sheriffs employed by the state, with 19 listed under injured-on-duty status and another eight out on long-term sick leave.

Lt. Col. Kevin Barry, commanding officer of the state Department of Public Safety, says the shortage is going to affect the courtroom calendar. He says DPS officials aren't willing to risk putting lives in jeopardy because of the lack of sheriffs.

A sheriff is assigned to each judge and the jury during a trial. Two sheriffs accompany every defendant to their court appearances and others may be needed for additional tasks.

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Lawmakers OK letting breweries sell more beer to visitors


The Rhode Island legislature has passed a law to allow breweries to sell more beer to visitors on site for consumption off premises.

The legislation would allow breweries and distillers to sell up to 288 ounces of malt beverages and 750 milliliters of spirits per day to each visitor for consumption off site.

Rhode Island currently allows for 72 ounces per visitor. Many other states have a higher limit or none at all.

Among Rhode Island's neighbors, Connecticut's limit is 9 liters, while Massachusetts doesn't have one.

Breweries pushed for the change to help their companies and the state's economy. Some retailers wanted to maintain the current system.

The legislation was approved at the end of the session late last week and now goes to Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo's desk.

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RI lawmakers vow not to repeat all-nighter session


Rhode Island lawmakers are vowing not to repeat the all-nighter legislative session that kept them in the State House until after dawn on Saturday.

Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said Monday he's frustrated with the marathon meeting that didn't end until after 6 a.m.

Mattiello says he almost called it a night late Friday because of stalled negotiations between the House and the Senate, but lawmakers wanted to finish and adjourn the annual session.

Republican House Minority Leader Brian Newberry began voting "no" on every bill in protest. He says it's hard to make good decisions in the wee hours of the morning.

As night turned to dawn, nerves were frayed. Democratic Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed choked up at the rostrum over a bill the House wouldn't move.

 

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Ex-high school basketball player shot in Providence dies


Police say a former Rhode Island high school basketball player is dead following a weekend shooting in Providence.

Major David Lapatin says 22-year-old Kip Stewart died Monday night of his injuries at Rhode Island Hospital. Stewart was shot in the head at the Hartford Park housing complex on Saturday night.

Lapatin says the former Mount Pleasant basketball player was "probably not the target" when the gunman opened fire on people outside the projects.

Stewart's death marks the city's third homicide this year. No arrests have been reported.

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Attorney pleads no contest to stealing more than $25K


A Rhode Island attorney has pleaded no contest to charges she stole more than $25,000 from a 91-year-old man for whom she had durable power of attorney.

Humberta Goncalves-Babbitt entered the plea Monday in Providence to one count of misappropriation of over $1,000.

The Bristol attorney was sentenced to eight years suspended with probation. She was also ordered to pay more than $26,000 in restitution.

Prosecutors say that between June 19, 2012 and Jan. 11, 2014, Goncalves-Babbitt failed to pay certain living expenses for the victim, who lived at a Warren convalescent facility.

The Alliance for Better Long Term Care had filed a complaint with the Rhode Island Judiciary Disciplinary Committee. Authorities suspended her license to practice law in Rhode Island after an investigation.

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RI to kick off summer meals program


Rhode Island is kicking off its summer meals program as the school year ends.

First Gentleman Andy Moffit, Democratic U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, Democratic U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin and other officials are scheduled to launch this year's program on Monday in East Providence.

They're holding the event to let families know that free meals will be offered at about 200 sites across Rhode Island.

Moffit says the program can make the difference between good nutrition and hunger for many children.

The program is supported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide healthy breakfast and lunch options for children from low-income families during the summer.

USDA Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Audrey Rowe is expected to visit Pierce Field in East Providence for the launch.

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General Assembly wraps up session after all-nighter


The Rhode Island Senate has approved next year's $8.9 billion budget and both chambers passed dozens of bills after an all-nighter wrapping up the annual session.

The state legislature called it quits just after 6 a.m. Saturday.

The Senate passed the budget just after 1:30 a.m. The House passed the budget on Wednesday. It now heads to Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo's desk.

Among the bills approved include legislation creating a process for people convicted of domestic-violence felonies to surrender their guns. Domestic-violence prevention advocates described the bill endorsed by Democratic leaders as too weak.

Both chambers passed legislation requiring children to get at least 20 minutes of uninterrupted recess at public elementary schools. Lawmakers also reached a compromise blending dueling proposals to regulate ride-booking companies such as Uber and Lyft.

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RI gets $2.2 million for AmeriCorps programs


Six community service organizations in Rhode Island are slated to receive a total of $2.2 million in federal funding.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed announced the funding on Friday in Central Falls for members of AmeriCorps.

Serve Rhode Island, which administers the state's AmeriCorps program, will receive about $650,000 to award grants to nonprofits and government agencies to respond to local needs.

City Year Providence will receive about $725,000 to support 60 AmeriCorps members providing academic and youth development services in public schools.

The Learning Community, NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley, Brown University and Providence Children's Museum were also awarded funding.

Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, says it's a smart federal investment because the grants will enable these organizations to help youth and families in need and disadvantaged students.

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Plane crashes, sparks small fire on Block Island


Police in Rhode Island say no one was seriously hurt when a small plane crashed on Block Island.

New Shoreham Police Chief Vincent Carlone says it happened around 3 p.m. Sunday when the plane was attempting to land.

Carlone says the plane apparently overshot the runway, went through a fence across the street and into the bushes. The crash caused a small brush fire, which was quickly extinguished.

He says six people walked away from the crash with minor injuries. They weren't immediately identified. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Authorities say the pilot of a single engine airplane crash landed in the waters off Westerly on Saturday. He wasn't seriously hurt.

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A decade after boom, RI housing market struggles


A decade after the housing boom, Rhode Island's housing market still is struggling to recover.

While the number of home sales has bounced back, the median price of a single-family home in 2015 was 20 percent below the 2006 level, and more than 1,000 homes were sold under foreclosure or short sale. That's according to data from the Rhode Island Association of Realtors.

An analysis by The Associated Press finds the housing recovery in the Providence metro area was among the weakest in the nation among large metro areas. The Providence metro area encompasses most of Rhode Island and several Massachusetts communities, including Fall River and Attleboro.

In Rhode Island, the median price of a home in 2015 was $225,000, still significantly lower than in 2006, when it was $282,500.

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Winthrop, Former Newport Mayor, Announces City Council Bid


After a two-year hiatus from the City Council, former Newport Mayor Harry Winthrop is ready for a return.

Winthrop, who served terms from 1990 to 1993, in 1995 and from 2011 to 2012, announced his candidacy for a citywide seat on the City Council on Sunday.

Winthrop served as mayor from 2012 to 2014.

In prepared remarks, Winthrop said his agenda is focused on addressing core infrastructure issues, such as securing funding for the realignment of the Claiborne Pell Bridge ramps and following through on the acquisition of Navy property that was the former home of the Newport Naval Hospital.

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Ken Read and Comanche smash Newport-to-Bermuda race record


Ken Read and his crew aboard `Comanche' left no doubt in their quest to break a record in one of yachting's most popular races.

 

Read, of Seekonk and Newport, guided Comanche to the finish line at St. David's Lighthouse in Bermuda at 4:22 a.m. Sunday. The elapsed time was a record of 34 hours, 42 minutes and 53 seconds. The corrected time of 35 hours, 20 minutes and six seconds still blew away the record in the 50-year old race by four hours.

 None of the other 130 competitors in the race are expected to reach Bermuda until sometime later this afternoon.

The previous record of 39:39:18 was set by Rambler in 2012.

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NOAA closing area southeast of Cape Cod to scallop fishing


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is closing one of the key fishing areas off of New England where fishermen seek scallops.

The administration is closing the Nantucket Lightship North Scallop Access Area to scallop vessels that fish under "limited access general category" rules. The closure goes into effect at 12:01 a.m. on Thursday.

Regulations require that NOAA close the fishing area once it projects that the fleet has fished all of the 485 trips it is allowed. The area is located southeast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Scallops will likely remain plentiful in grocery stores and restaurants, as they are fished from a variety of areas.

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Guidance on transgender students released to RI schools


The Rhode Island Department of Education has released guidance on how schools should treat transgender students.

The 11-page document released this month is not binding, but recommends best practices for schools to use when setting their own policies.

It includes a discussion of relevant state and federal laws, and suggests approaches for schools on several issues.

For example, it says students may access the restroom, locker room, and changing facility that correspond to their gender identity. It says transgender students should not be required to use separate facilities unless they request them.

It also suggests that if some students feel uncomfortable sharing facilities with a transgender student, schools could consider gender-neutral restrooms and changing facilities.

The guidance was prompted by the Obama administration's recent directive on transgender students.

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Nurse gets 18 months for assault on disabled boy in Cranston


A nurse practitioner who was hired to babysit a developmentally disabled boy has pleaded guilty to assaulting the 9-year-old while his parents went on a rare night out.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin says 49-year-old Kimberly Faneuf, of Cumberland, pleaded guilty Tuesday to the 2013 assault at the family's home in Cranston.

She was sentenced to serve 18 months in prison.

Kilmartin's office says the boy's parents had set up a camera in his bedroom to monitor him because he was prone to seizures. When they checked the camera while at dinner, they saw Faneuf grab their son, assault him and toss him onto his bed.

Faneuf told police that she was overworked and tired.

Her nursing license was suspended.

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Providence cancels 2 federal grants to nonprofit after audit


The city of Providence has cancelled two federal grants worth more than $137,000 for a local nonprofit agency after a federal audit revealed numerous financial deficiencies.

The city cancelled a $110,000 community development grant issued in 2014 and another for $27,581 issued in 2015 to the John Hope Settlement House.

A Providence official said in a letter Tuesday the decision followed an audit of John Hope by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said Wednesday afternoon he was pulling a $300,000 state grant to John Hope from the upcoming budget following the audit's findings.

Democratic Rep. Anastasia Williams, John Hope's chairwoman, says it's unfortunate the agency will be hurt by the "misdeeds of previous leadership of the agency."

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Providence man sues city police over 2013 traffic stop


A Providence man is suing city police, alleging a sergeant violated his rights by beating him while other officers watched during a traffic stop in 2013.

25-year-old Joshua Robinson is accusing Sgt. David Allen and several other officers of using excessive force and assault in the March 2013 stop.

The suit filed in federal court alleges Allen struck Robinson with a flashlight after stopping him. It claims another officer arrived and punched him in the face. It says that other officers at the scene had failed to intervene.

A police report says that Allen saw Robinson try to conceal drugs when he was stopped, and a struggle ensued. The suit says no drugs were found.

The city has denied the allegations in court papers.

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RI House passes budget 59-13


The Rhode Island House of Representatives has passed a revised version of Governor Gina Raimondo's $8.9 billion budget.

The 59-13 coming down right around midnight after hours of debate.

A topic of much debate was,the school funding formula.

That piece of legislation ultimately passed with a majority vote now allowing school districts to choose between a 7 percent cut in payments to charter schools or a cut based on itemized costs.

Other notable parts of the budget include a break on pension costs and a reduction in beach fees.

The budget now goes to the Senate for approval. Legislators are hoping to wrap up this session on Friday.

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Ethics reform measure tweaked to address concerns


Lawmakers have tweaked an ethics reform initiative proposed for Rhode Island's November ballot.

Judiciary committees in the state Senate and House amended the legislation Tuesday after critics said it fell short.

The legislation seeks voter approval of a constitutional amendment that would allow the state's Ethics Commission to investigate and sanction lawmakers for conflicts of interest.

It would restore powers taken from the commission in a 2009 court ruling.

The committees passed the legislation to the full House and Senate after dropping a provision that would have created a blackout on ethics complaints before an election. Critics opposed putting an election-season moratorium in the Constitution.

Lawmakers had been concerned about frivolous, politically motivated complaints, but the Ethics Commission is now looking at creating its own administrative moratorium.

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Shark fin sales banned in Rhode Island


Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed into law a ban on selling shark fins.

The law takes effect in January and makes it a crime in Rhode Island to own or sell a shark fin unless it's used for scientific research or in preparing a shark for ordinary consumption.

Rhode Island will become the 11th state to ban the sale of shark fins.

Hawaii was the first in 2010. Massachusetts has also banned it.

Shark fin soup is popular in Chinese cuisine but animal rights activists say the practice of slicing off a shark's fin and leaving the fish to die is cruel.

The Humane Society of the United States says the laws will help global shark populations recover.

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Lawmakers drop energy initiative from state budget proposal


Legislative leaders are dropping a clean energy initiative from Rhode Island's proposed state budget over concerns that it could unfairly favor a wind-energy developer.

Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says it's a distraction, so lawmakers are dropping the entire renewable-energy initiative from the budget.

The House of Representatives is scheduled to vote on the $8.9 billion budget Wednesday.

The article would have expanded "net metering" incentives that help offset electricity costs for owners of solar panels and other renewable energy sources.

The Providence Journal reported Monday that one provision in the budget article would have helped North Kingstown-based Wind Energy Development.

Critics said the language let the company circumvent a ruling by the state Public Utilities Commission in a dispute with utility National Grid over interconnection costs.

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Federal appeals court puts Cranston redistricting on hold


A federal appeals court has agreed to put on hold a judge's order that a Rhode Island city redraw its voting boundary lines.

The 1st Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston agreed to stay a federal judge's finding that Cranston's 2012 redistricting plan violated the one-person-one-vote premise by counting about 3,400 inmates.

The judge ruled that including the prisoners diluted the voting strength and political influence of residents in other wards. He ordered the city to redraw its district by June 20.

The city appealed that ruling, arguing it would cause disruption in this candidates' declaration period.

The original lawsuit was brought by the state American Civil Liberties Union. Officials from the organization say they're disappointed the stay has been issued.

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RI House prepares to pass $8.9 billion budget


Rhode Island's proposed $8.9 billion budget is headed to a vote in the state House of Representatives.

Lawmakers are scheduled to begin deliberating on Wednesday afternoon.

The budget drafted by leaders of the Democratic-controlled House meets some but not all the objectives proposed earlier this year by Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo.

Among the most contentious issues is a budget article that would shift the education-funding formula in a way that could help some charter schools but hurt others.

Republicans who were mostly supportive of this fiscal year's budget are more vocally opposed to next year's.

Among the amendments they'll be seeking is one giving income tax relief to retirees.

Once passed by the House, the budget moves to the finance committee of the Democratic-controlled Senate.

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Security for RI Pride Festival under review


State police and Providence police have met with the owners of several gay bars and with organizers of the upcoming Rhode Island Pride Festival following the attack at a gay nightclub in Orlando that left 49 people dead.

State Police Col. Steven O'Donnell says the gay community is nervous, and during Monday's meeting he expressed that "law enforcement stands with them."

He says police will provide additional security for events this week, including more officers, dogs and other measures.

Saturday's festival is expected to bring about 40,000 people to Providence.

A candlelight vigil was planned Monday night outside the Dark Lady LGBTQ nightclub and neighboring Alleycat bar, in downtown Providence, followed by a march to the steps of the Statehouse. Other vigils and memorials were scheduled around the state Monday and Tuesday.

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GE begins recruiting for RI tech office


General Electric executives say they're already reaching out to Rhode Island universities with plans to recruit 100 people for a new digital technology office in Providence.

GE Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey Bornstein visited the State House on Monday with the state's political leaders and college presidents.

Bornstein credits Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo for convincing GE to open a branch office in the state, describing her efforts as relentless.

The company's GE Digital division announced Thursday that it's opening a Providence office to develop advances in supercomputing and internal software applications used by GE workers.

Raimondo had been in talks with GE since the company began looking a year ago to relocate from Connecticut. It eventually settled on Massachusetts, where it will employ about 800 workers at a new Boston headquarters.

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RI awarded federal grant for lead abatement


The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded a $3.4 million grant to Rhode Island for the removal of lead and other hazards from low-income housing.

The award is part of $46.5 million in funding disbursed by HUD's Lead Hazard Reduction Demonstration grant program.

HUD Secretary Julian Castro says the grants will help clean up lead paint hazards in low-income homes, eliminating the sources of permanent health and behavioral problems caused by lead poisoning.

The grants were designed to reduce the number of lead-poisoned children in the country and to protect families by removing various health hazards from more than 3,100 low-income homes.

The grant money awarded to the state will be administered by Rhode Island Housing.

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Crews battle large fire at Roger Williams Park


Firefighters battled a large fire in a building at Roger Williams Park in Providence.

Black smoke was billowing from the building Monday afternoon and could be seen around the city. The Providence Emergency Management Agency was asking people to avoid the area.

Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare says that firefighters were having "water issues" and were pulling water from a nearby pond.

Reports also indicate the building  had flammable chemicals stored inside.

There were no immediate reports of any injuries.

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Gas prices remain at $2.31 per gallon in RI


Gas prices are holding steady in Rhode Island at an average $2.31 per gallon.

AAA Northeast says its weekly survey on Monday found no change from last week.

AAA says gas costs 7 cents less per gallon in Rhode Island than the national average of $2.38.

A year ago at this time, gas prices were 20 percent higher in Rhode Island, at $2.78 per gallon, or 47 cents more.

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Researchers to receive more than $3.7M to study monkfish


The federal government says two projects designed to improve the future of the monkfish fishery will receive more than $3.7 million in grants.

The grants are going to the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth School for Marine Science and Technology and Cornell University Cooperative Extension.

The UMass project will tag juvenile monkfish to improve growth estimates for the fish. Cornell's project is a two-year study of the genetic population structure of monkfish.

The monkfish fishery was worth more than $18 million in 2014. It is based in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Fishermen also land monkfish in other states including New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Maine.

The projects will be funded by the sale of monkfish harvested through an annual "research set aside" program. That program does not use federal money.

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Lawmaker to talk about paid family leave at women's summit


A Rhode Island lawmaker will speak at the White House women's summit about her work on paid family leave.

The legislative press office says Democratic state Sen. Gayle Goldin is a panelist for Tuesday's "United State of Women Summit" in Washington, D.C.

Rhode Island began allowing workers to take up to four weeks of paid leave to care for a new baby or an ailing relative in 2014, becoming the third state with such a program.

Goldin, of Providence, sponsored the law. She continues to work to provide longer coverage and increase eligibility.

Goldin says she wants to spread the word about the state's success with paid family leave.

The White House convened the summit to discuss gender equality issues.

Democratic Rep. Teresa Tanzi, of South Kingstown, is also attending.

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Senate passes bill that would curb out-of-school suspensions


The Rhode Island Senate has passed legislation that would curb out-of-school suspensions and curtail racial disparities in school discipline.

The Senate passed the bill last week. It would direct school superintendents to review discipline data for their school districts, decide whether there is an unequal impact on students based on race, ethnicity, or disability status and respond to any disparity.

It would also limit out-of-school suspensions to the most disruptive students.

The House passed a similar bill and must now take up the Senate's version.

The bill's sponsor, Providence Democratic Rep. Grace Diaz, says it expands on a 2012 law she sponsored that bans schools from making students stay home just because of truancy or absenteeism.

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State lawmakers cancel charity skydive due to high winds


High winds have forced Rhode Island lawmakers to cancel a skydiving excursion to raise money for charity.

Republican Rep. Robert Nardolillo said the event originally planned for Sunday will be rescheduled. A new date hasn't yet been set.

Nardolillo organized the first "legislative leap" last year to support the Rhode Island Community Food Bank.

This year, Nardolillo and Republican Rep. James McLaughlin are asking colleagues to skydive to raise money for the Rhode Island Military Family Relief Fund, which provides grants to military families in need.

Donors should send checks made payable to the Rhode Island Military Family Relief Fund to the National Guard offices in Cranston.

McLaughlin, an Army veteran, says it's heartwarming how many people have donated already. He says their goal is to raise at least $5,000.

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Jury deliberating in civil case against cops in fatal crash


Jurors are deliberating in a civil case alleging three Providence detectives were reckless by chasing a suspect whose car slammed into a vehicle carrying a 17-year-old boy, killing him.

Randy Cabral died in the April 2007 crash in Providence. His estate filed a wrongful death suit against the city, officers and Angelo Caba, the suspect who was pursued. The lawsuit seeks more than $1 million for lost wages, pain and suffering.

The judge and jurors heard closing arguments in the trial on Friday.

Cabral's lawyers argue that detectives put the public in peril by engaging in a high-speed pursuit. The detectives' lawyer says Caba's negligence caused the crash.

Caba served prison time for the crash.

 

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Black bear captured in Providence, released into forest


A black bear that was spotted in a Cranston neighborhood has been safely captured in Providence.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management says the bear was captured Sunday morning near Rhode Island Hospital with help from city police. The bear was tranquilized, checked out and released back into a forest near the Connecticut border.

The bear was spotted Saturday night in the area near Pontiac Avenue. It's unclear why the bear was far from its normal habitat.

The department says that people should remain calm and stay away from a bear if they see it.

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Flags lowered in RI to honor victims in Florida


Gov. Gina Raimondo has ordered all U.S. and Rhode Island flags to be flown at half-staff at all state facilities and buildings in honor of the victims of the shooting at a gay nightclub in Florida.

Raimondo says her thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their loved ones who were killed early Sunday in Orlando. But the Democratic governor stresses "we must do more than pray." She says it's time to "take greater action to keep America safe."

Raimondo says she's committed to protecting the members of the state's LGBT community. She says she's in contact with the state police and security efforts will be increased around Pride festivities.

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High court reinstates ex-state senator's law license


The Rhode Island Supreme Court granted a petition this week to reinstate the law license of a former state senator who was previously convicted of bank fraud.

Christopher Maselli was reinstated to the practice of law following a recommendation by state Supreme Court Chief Disciplinary Counsel David Curtin.

Maselli, a Democrat, represented Johnston in the Senate from 2006 until he pleaded guilty to bank fraud in June 2010. He lied about his income and falsified bank records and tax forms to obtain more than $1.7 million in loans.

Maselli surrendered his Rhode Island law license before serving 27 months in prison and was officially disbarred in October 2011.

He served as chair of the Senate Committee on Rules during his time in the General Assembly.

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House passes bill prohibiting 'revenge porn'


The Rhode Island House of Representatives has passed legislation that would prohibit a malicious practice known as "revenge porn."

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin announced Wednesday that lawmakers approved the bill.

The legislation was sponsored by Rep. Robert Craven, a North Kingstown Democrat.

It would prohibit the posting of naked pictures on a website without the permission of the person in the photos. The images are often posted by ex-spouses, former partners or extortionists demanding ransoms to remove the photos.

A person convicted of revenge porn would face up to a year in prison. Second and subsequent convictions would be felonies punishable by up to three years behind bars. Extortion involving sexually explicit images would result in up to five years in prison.

The Senate passed a companion bill in May.

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With women in combat, taking the 'man' out of job titles


Now that women will be allowed to serve in all combat jobs, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are dropping the word man from some of their job titles to make them inclusive and gender-neutral.

Much like the term fireman has evolved to firefighter, an engineman could be called an engine technician. A yeoman could be called an administrative specialist.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus says this is one more step in how the force has changed.

Army and Air Force titles end in "man" too, but the services aren't currently considering changing them.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter ordered the military in December to open all military jobs to women.

Carter said recently in Newport, Rhode Island, that it's appropriate to signify that change with new titles.

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Providence fire department official to retire


The Providence Fire Department's assistant fire chief is stepping down.

Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare says Scott Mello, who has worked in the department since 1984, gave his retirement notice this week.

Mello's decision to step down prompted criticism from the president of the city's firefighter's union, Paul Doughty, toward Mayor Jorge Elorza. Doughty says the focus of the fire department "has become the defense of his disastrous platoon change."

The city and the union have been embroiled in a dispute over the administration's decision to move from four platoons to three, which required firefighters to go from working an average of 42 hours per week to an average of 56 hours.

Elorza's spokesman says Doughty's criticism is a "gross mischaracterization of the state of the department."

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Thunderbirds cancel weekend appearance in RI


The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds have canceled an air show appearance in Rhode Island this weekend.

The Thunderbirds announced Tuesday on Twitter that they canceled their appearance at the Rhode Island National Guard Open House Air Show scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. The air show announced on Facebook that it looks forward to welcoming them back in the near future.

A Thunderbirds pilot was forced to ditch his plane last weekend shortly after a flyover at the Air Force Academy's commencement ceremony, where President Barack Obama was speaking. Officials said at the time they would cancel upcoming shows while they investigate, but they didn't say how for long.

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Gov. OKs bill letting wine biscuit bakers buy bulk wine


Rhode Island's governor has signed a law to help bakers buy wine in bulk for use in making crunchy Italian-American treats called wine biscuits.

A spokeswoman says Gov. Gina Raimondo signed the legislation into law on Monday.

Wine biscuits are cookies commonly sold by Rhode Island's Italian-American bakeries but are difficult to find elsewhere. Bakers mix wine into dough to create them.

The law creates a wine biscuit license letting bakers each buy up to 2,000 gallons of wine a year from wholesalers. It had been proposed for years by baker and Democratic North Providence Town Councilwoman Kristen Catanzaro, who didn't want to have to make trips back and forth to a liquor store for wine.

Supporters say it was a way to update antiquated state liquor laws.

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Headmaster leaving after prep school sex abuse investigation


The headmaster of a prestigious Rhode Island boarding school has announced his departure days after state police concluded an investigation into dozens of sexual abuse allegations there.

The St. George's School Board of Trustees announced Tuesday that Eric Peterson won't seek to extend his contract, which ends June 30, 2017. Peterson has been headmaster of the Episcopal school in Middletown since 2004.

Police investigated dozens of former students' allegations of abuse by employees and classmates going back to the 1970s but announced Thursday they couldn't proceed with criminal charges. They cited the statute of limitations.

Peterson was told several times about the allegations. The school acknowledged in December it repeatedly failed to notify authorities about abuse.

The victims' lawyer says he hopes the next headmaster will understand the devastation the abuse has caused.

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Financially troubled Coventry fire district settles 2 debts


The financially beleaguered Central Coventry Fire District has settled two of its debts.

The district on Monday agreed to pay about $303,750 to the Kent County Water Authority for hydrant fees.

The district had been ordered in Kent County Superior Court to pay the water authority, but appealed to the state Supreme Court. The parties then entered mediation sessions.

The district in May negotiated a settlement with Local 3372 of the International Association of Fire Fighters. The union was paid about $282,289, saving taxpayers an estimated $1.2 million.

Taxpayers had voted to dissolve the Coventry district last June rather than raise the city's fire tax rate.

The district's administrator says settling the debts means it's taken another step toward financial recovery for taxpayers.

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House committee votes on nearly $9B state budget


A key Rhode Island legislative committee has voted to approve a nearly $9 billion state budget.

The House Finance Committee voted 14-2 around 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. Republican Reps. Patricia Morgan and Antonio Giarrusso both voted no.

The proposed budget contains no new taxes or fees except for a new medical marijuana plant tagging fee, which has been scaled back to about $25 to cover the cost of the regulatory system.

Under the plan, most everyone who receives a pension will get a break on their first $15,000 in retirement income, the corporate minimum tax will be reduced from $450 to $400 to help businesses and beach fees will be cut by almost half.

The spending plan will head to the full House for a vote next Wednesday.

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Gas prices in RI down 2 cents, to $2.31


Gas prices in Rhode Island are down two cents this week.

AAA Northeast found in its weekly survey Monday that the average price of a gallon of self-serve, regular has dropped to an average $2.31.

Rhode Island's price is five cents lower than the national average of $2.36.

The in-state price at this time last year was 42 cents higher, at an average $2.73 per gallon.

AAA found self-serve, regular selling for as low as $2.22 and as high as $2.55.

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Pawsox, city, state seek to study upgrades to McCoy


The Pawtucket Red Sox, the city and the state are seeking to study what it would take to upgrade McCoy Stadium.

Officials announced Monday the study will cost between $80,000 and $100,000. The team, city and state will split the cost.

It will take into consideration a study the team's ownership group had done last year that determined the stadium needs up to $65 million in renovations. The team has declined to release the study.

Team chairman Larry Lucchino declined to say whether the team intends to renovate McCoy. He says the team will stay until its lease ends in January 2021.

The team in September ended its pursuit of waterfront land near downtown Providence for a new ballpark after months of strenuous public opposition.

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Grant program for community groups overhauled amid scrutiny


Legislative leaders are overhauling how grants are awarded to community service groups, though another grants program isn't changing.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, both Democrats, said Monday the system isn't transparent enough.

The legislature directs about $11.4 million to community groups through the program. Larger grants will be now listed as line items in the budget. State agencies will distribute smaller grants.

The program was scrutinized after the May 3 resignation of Democratic House Finance Chairman Raymond Gallison, an executive at a nonprofit that received millions in community service grants that paid his salary.

Legislators will continue directing about $2.2 million in grants to charities in their districts. Critics say it's a way to curry political favor.

Mattiello says he hasn't denied a grant application.

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Mayflower II, replica of Pilgrim ship, returns to Plymouth


The Mayflower II has returned to Plymouth, Massachusetts.

The replica of the famed ship that carried the Pilgrims to Massachusetts in 1620 returned to its home port on Plymouth Bay on Monday.

The ship had been undergoing an extensive restoration in the run-up to Plymouth's 400th anniversary in 2020. That has meant spending the last few winters at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut.

The ship passed through the Cape Cod Canal before docking back home on the Plymouth waterfront.

The Mayflower II is a major tourist attraction and an educational resource that annually draws thousands of student visitors.

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N.E. governors to discuss opioid addiction crisis


New England governors are coming together to discuss ways to confront the opioid addiction crisis.

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker will meet Tuesday with Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, Maine Gov. Paul LePage and New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan. All are Democrats except Baker and LePage.

The governors are participating in a forum at the Harvard Medical School to discuss what their states have done to curb opioid abuse, overdoses and deaths.

Organizers say the conference also is aimed at primary care physicians, pain specialists and others interested in the public health aspects of opioids.

Massachusetts recently enacted what Baker calls the most comprehensive law in the nation to combat the opioid addiction scourge, including a seven-day limit on first-time prescriptions for opiate painkillers.

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Health department warns of possible listeria contamination


The Rhode Island Department of Health is advising people to discard products containing sunflower kernels that were recalled due to a possible bacterial contamination.The department said Monday that the manufacturer recall has been expanded to include Maranatha, Brown & Haley and Kashi.

The recalled products include trail mix, granola, sunflower seed butter and snack bars.

The companies' recalls are related to an expanded recall issued by their supplier of sunflower kernels, SunOpta.

The products contain sunflower kernels that are potentially contaminated with listeria monocytogenes, which can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, elderly people and others with weakened immune systems.

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City must reconsider firefighter's disability pension


Rhode Island's highest court has ruled that the Providence Retirement Board "misconstrued" a city ordinance when it denied a firefighter's request for a tax-free disability pension in 2012.

The state Supreme Court's ruling Monday means the board must reconsider Michael Morse's petition for an accidental disability pension.

Morse's petition stemmed from an injury he suffered in August 2012.

The board had voted to deny Morse the pension in 2013, citing a "unanimity" policy that required three doctors to agree that he was disabled. Only two of three doctors found that he could no longer work.

Morse argued the board had no right to adopt a policy that wasn't spelled out in the city ordinance.

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State warns of short-term damage to trees from caterpillars


Rhode Island officials are warning homeowners statewide that caterpillars may cause short-term defoliation of trees over the next few weeks.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management says high concentrations of caterpillars have been observed throughout the state.

State officials don't plan to apply pesticide to control caterpillars at this time. They say the population will eventually decline naturally.

DEM says damage typically includes small holes in leaves or leaves chewed down to the veins, most commonly on oak trees and other hardwood species.

The agency says these conditions are temporary and should not cause long-term damage to otherwise healthy trees. Damaged trees should recover with the proper care.

DEM says homeowners may also opt to apply insecticides on their property.

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Mayflower II, replica of Pilgrim ship, returning to Plymouth


The Mayflower II is sailing back to Plymouth this week.

The replica of the famed ship that carried the Pilgrims to Massachusetts in 1620 has been undergoing an extensive restoration in the run-up to Plymouth's 400th anniversary in 2020.

That has meant spending the last few winters at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut.

On Monday, the vessel is scheduled to return to its home port on Plymouth Bay. Tides and weather permitting, organizers say the ship should pass through the Cape Cod Canal between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. and dock back home on the Plymouth waterfront between 1:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.

The Mayflower II is a major tourist attraction and an educational resource that annually draws thousands of student visitors.

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Police investigating crash that killed Richmond woman


Police are investigating after a 26-year-old woman was killed in a single-car crash in Richmond.

The crash was reported around 9:20 p.m. Sunday in the area of Lewiston Avenue.

Police say the driver was trapped in the car and unresponsive when officers arrived at the scene. She was extricated and taken to South County Hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Police say speed may have been a factor in the crash. The Richmond woman's identity is being withheld pending family notification.

The medical examiner's office will determine her exact cause of death.

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Sen. Reed, maritime agency head to tour RI ports


Rhode Island U.S. Sen. Jack Reed will give the head of the U.S. Maritime Administration a tour of two Rhode Island ports.

Reed and Administrator Paul Jaenichen will visit a facility at the Newport shipyard Monday that recently won a $744,990 federal grant for capital improvements and equipment.

The Democratic senator and Jaenichen will later join Gov. Gina Raimondo at ProvPort to christen a 300-foot, $7.4 million barge.

Jaenichen has led the U.S. Maritime Administration in Washington since July 2014. The agency within the U.S. Department of Transportation works to ensure the nation maintains adequate shipbuilding, efficient ports, reserve shipping capacity.

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Pawsox, city officials request proposals to study McCoy


The Pawtucket Red Sox and city and state officials are seeking proposals to study what it would take to upgrade McCoy Stadium.

The Boston Red Sox Triple-A affiliate plans to hold a joint press conference at the stadium today.

A team spokesman said in a statement the study would determine the “needs, upgrades, improvements and the associated costs” of the team's current home.

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State's lawsuit in 38 Studios deal will go to trial


A Providence judge won't delay a state lawsuit accusing Wells Fargo Securities of withholding crucial information in the state's $75 million deal with 38 Studios, the failed video game company started by former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling.

Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein denied a motion from Wells Fargo to hold the trial pending a federal lawsuit against Rhode Island Commerce Corp. and Wells Fargo.

That lawsuit was brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in March and accuses both entities of defrauding investors in the deal.

The Rhode Island Commerce Corp. filed suit in November 2012, and the case has been pending in state court since then.

The case is set to go to trial on Sept. 15.

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Navy fires officer in charge of warfare center's RI division


The officer in charge of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Newport Division in Rhode Island has been fired and reassigned.

The Navy said in a statement that Capt. Howard Goldman was relieved of duty on Wednesday due to a loss of confidence in his ability to command.

The Navy said it investigated reports of a "hostile work environment and poor command climate" at the facility. The investigation hasn't been released.

Goldman told The Navy Times his leadership didn't meet standards and he accepts the decision. He was reassigned to Naval Station Newport.

He became the warfare center's commanding officer in November 2014.

The Navy has assigned an acting commanding officer.

The center's divisions in Newport and Keyport, Washington, conduct research, development and testing for warfare systems.

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Prep school says it's focused on abuse survivors


A prestigious Rhode Island boarding school says it "cooperated fully" with a state police investigation into sexual abuse there going back to the 1970s.

St. George's School says it's focused on supporting survivors and making sure it's safe for current students.

State police announced Thursday their investigation into dozens of sexual abuse allegations had resulted in no criminal charges. Authorities determined they cannot proceed with criminal charges for various reasons, including the statute of limitations.

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Gov. Raimondo heads to New York


Gov. Gina Raimondo is making an official state government trip to New York.

The Democrat is scheduled to hold economic development meetings today before returning to Rhode Island.

A spokeswoman declined to specify what the meetings will be about.

Raimondo has made several out-of-state trips she describes as attempts to sell Rhode Island as a place for businesses to invest and expand.

She flew to San Francisco in May for a three-day trip to talk to Silicon Valley companies.

Her office says that unlike the California trip, her time in New York will not include any political fundraisers.

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'One-man crime spree' from Woonsocket sentenced to 35 years


A serial robber from Rhode Island described by a judge as a "one-man crime spree" has been sentenced to serve 35 years in prison without the possibility of parole.

Twenty-year-old Zachary Alvarado was sentenced Wednesday for the robbery of several cellphone stores in Woonsocket and the shooting of four people in a separate incident.

Prosecutors say an armed Alvarado robbed a Metro PCS store on Main Street three times in March and April.

Alvarado was also convicted of robbing another Metro PCS location on Social Street on June 13. Six days after that robbery, prosecutors say Alvarado shot four people outside Aly's Riverside Pub.

None of the shots were fatal and Alvarado turned himself in the following day. He pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the multiple incidents in March.

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Firing of janitor who brought gun onto RIC's campus upheld


A Superior Court judge has upheld the decision by Rhode Island College administrators to fire a longtime janitor after he brought a loaded gun onto the school's Providence campus and lost it.

Judge Luis Matos ruled that RIC had just cause to terminate Robert Panciocco from his position as housekeeper at Whipple Hall and that an arbitrator was wrong to reinstate him.

In his decision, Matos wrote that the arbitrator's decision was wrong because it "rendered RIC powerless" to fire an employee who exposed the community to the security risks of bringing a loaded gun onto campus.

Panciocco was accused of violating two of RIC's policies on workplace violence when he accidentally brought his .22-caliber semi-automatic pistol to work in July 2013 and lost it.

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Gas prices up 4 cents per gallon in RI


Gas prices are up an average of 4 cents per gallon in Rhode Island.

AAA Northeast found in its weekly survey released on Tuesday that the average price of a gallon of self-serve, regular has risen to $2.33.

AAA found self-serve, regular selling for as low as $2.23 and as high as $2.41 per gallon.

The Rhode Island price is a penny higher than the national average.

Last year at this time, the price of gas was 36 cents higher, at $2.69 per gallon.

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Battle over ice cream shop solar panels may be thawing


A battle over solar panels installed on the roof of a Westerly ice cream shop may be thawing.

A lawyer for the family that owns the St. Clair Annex shop and an attorney for the Watch Hill Fire District tell The Westerly Sun that a settlement is in the works.

The family installed a 36.9-kilowatt solar array on the shop's roof in December with a $42,000 grant administered by the state's economic development agency.

The fire district appealed, saying permits for the panels should not have been issued before a development plan review was conducted. District officials also say the panels detract from the architectural character of the area.

Lawyers say they are not yet prepared to discuss specifics of the settlement.

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Providence port operator pitches $20 million bond proposal


The corporation that runs Providence's deep-water port is working with state lawmakers to get a $20 million bond initiative on the November ballot to finance the port's expansion.

ProvPort spokesman Bill Fischer says that the port operator wants to tap into new markets that could emerge following the expansion of the Panama Canal.

Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio, a North Providence Democrat, introduced a bill Friday that would put the bond question to voters in November.

The money would be used to acquire land and build a new marine terminal.

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing Wednesday.

There's already another port-related bond question proposed for November. Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo wants to borrow $70 million to rebuild piers at Quonset Point in North Kingstown.

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Providence diocese eliminating fees for marriage annulments


The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence is eliminating all fees for marriage annulments in light of comments by Pope Francis that the church should streamline the annulment process.

The Providence diocese said in a statement Tuesday that it hopes eliminating the fees will make it easier for divorced and remarried Catholics to "fully participate in the life of the Church."

The $500 cost for marriage annulments in the diocese will be completely eliminated, effective July 1. The diocese says nobody has ever been turned away because of the inability to pay.

The diocese says its marriage tribunal reviews more than 100 cases each year.

Annulments declare a marriage invalid and treat it as though it never happened. Without an annulment, Catholics cannot remarry in the church.

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Providence zoo reviews safety procedures after gorilla death


Officials at Roger Williams Park Zoo are looking to improve the park's safety procedures in response to an incident this past weekend where a young child entered a gorilla exhibit in Cincinnati.

Executive director Dr. Jeremy Goodman says each exhibit at the Providence zoo is individually designed for each species to ensure that the animals stay inside and humans can't get in.

The zoo is reviewing its safety protocol after a male gorilla was shot and killed Saturday when a 3-year-old boy fell into its exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Goodman says a lot goes into an exhibit's design to give the allusion of being up close to the animals, but safety is the zoo's "number one priority."

Zoo officials say they are confident in the park's current safety measures.

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Man pulled from waters off Narragansett coast dies


Police in Narragansett are investigating the death of a man who was pulled from waters off the southern coast of Rhode Island.

Officers were dispatched to Hazard Rock off Hazard Avenue around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday following reports of a person in the water. The unidentified victim was spotted about 200 feet offshore upon their arrival.

Police say an officer swam out to the man, who was found unresponsive. The Narragansett Fire Department deployed a boat to retrieve the officer and victim.

The victim was rushed to South County Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Hazard Rock has increasingly become known as a dangerous location to police, who warn that the area is restricted. A sign posted on the way to the rocks says, "if in doubt, don't go out."

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