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1540 WADK.com Updates Archives for 2017-11

Former RI Police Officer Sentenced

A former Rhode Island police officer has been sentenced to probation for trafficking steroids and money laundering. The U.S. attorney's office in Rhode Island says 35-year-old Evan Speck was sentenced Wednesday to three years of probation and 1,000 hours of community service. Speck abruptly resigned from the Charlestown police force after federal agents raided his Westerly home in March.

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Air Canada Announces New Flights from RI

Air Canada is resuming flights out of Rhode T.F. Green Airport. The airline said Wednesday that it's offering summer seasonal flights between T.F. Green Airport and Toronto. Air Canada had suspended its service between the cities in 2013. It's now expanding its North American network with several new trans-border routes, starting in the spring.

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Counterfeit Suspects Sought By EP Police

Two suspects who passed counterfeit cash in East Providence are being sought.  Police say a man and a woman bought American Express cards at the Rite Aid on Warren Avenue using bogus 100-dollar bills.  Anyone with information is urged to contact East Providence police.  

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Newport Cliff Walk Vandals Are Being Sought

Newport police are looking for a pair of Cliff Walk vandals.  Photos of two women holding spray-paint cans are posted on the police department's Facebook page.  The photos were taken around 3:30 Saturday afternoon.  Anyone with information is urged to contact Newport police.

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Ribbon-Cutting At South Street Landing

The redevelopment of the former South Street Power Station in Providence is being hailed by political leaders and university officials.  A ceremonial ribbon-cutting was held yesterday at the site that now houses Brown University administrative offices and the Rhode Island Nursing Education Center, a collaborative effort of URI and Rhode Island College.  The South Street Landing project was funded through a public-private partnership between the state and Brown University along with federal, state and local tax credits.

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Brown, Prospect Considering To Buy Care New England

Brown University and Prospect Medical Holdings are considering buying Care New England.  The proposal is an option if Care New England doesn't merge with Massachusetts' largest hospital group, Partners Health Care.  Should a deal go through it would be Brown's first foray into operating a hospital.

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Police Discover Hidden Drug Stash

Providence  Police say they found more than $600,000 worth of narcotics hidden behind a secret wall inside a bungalow.  Maj. David Lapatin said Tuesday the raid last week followed a months long investigation.  Two men were arrested as a result. Investigators seized cocaine, heroin and fentanyl found hidden in the basement.

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Longtime RI prisons chief to retire in 2018

The longtime head of Rhode Island's prison system and the longest-serving state prisons chief in the country is planning to retire. Department of Corrections Director A.T. Wall was appointed in 2000 and has been working in Rhode Island's criminal justice system for three decades but will retire in early 2018.  Gov. Gina Raimondo calls Wall a "treasure" and says he has dedicated his life to public service, including developing inmate and parolee job training programs.

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ACLU: Traffic ticket quotas break RI law

Civil liberties advocates say Rhode Island police departments that require officers to issue a certain number traffic tickets are breaking a state law and should stop. The state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union on Tuesday says it sent a letter to police chiefs following reports of officers being mandated to make a certain number of stops within a certain timeframe.

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Reward Offered In North Kingstown Arson Case

There's a five-thousand-dollar reward in an arson investigation.  Police say a fire on Sunday in a building that houses several companies in North Kingstown was set.  The reward is for information that leads to an arrest and conviction.  Anyone with information is urged to contact the Arson Watch reward program or North Kingstown police.

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Cicilline Calls Utility Rate Hike Request Unacceptable

Congressman David Cicilline says National Grid's rate hike request is unacceptable.  The company is seeking a five-percent increase for gas customers and a six-percent hike for electricity customers.  Cicilline says people are already being crushed by high costs from their pharmacy to their cable bills.  National Grid says the increase is needed to modernize the energy network, promote renewable energy and assist income-eligible customers.

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Police Keeping A Lookout For Package Thieves

Providence police are looking for the Grinch who stole a package from the front porch of a home.  A woman was caught on surveillance video casually walking up to the front door and grabbing the package from a home on Governor Street on Monday.  Police say there's an increase in this type of theft this time of year as more people have packages delivered, but there are options to prevent theft.  They suggest having packages delivered at work, to a less obvious location at home or at a neighbor's home.   

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Ex-Cop To Be Sentenced For Selling Steroids, Money Laundering

An ex-cop will be sentenced today after pleading guilty to attempting to distribute steroids and money laundering.  Former Charlestown police officer Evan Speck could face several years behind bars for making more than a half-million-dollars selling steroids.  Speck's attorneys are asking for probation and home confinement.  

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Bank Robbery Suspect To Be Arraigned

A bank robbery suspect is scheduled to be arraigned today.  Police arrested 56-year-old William Dority yesterday for the robbery of the Centerville Savings Bank in Narragansett around 3:30 p.m.  A K-9 tracked Dority to a shed near the bank where he was arrested.

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Developer Buying Benny's Locations

The Carpionato Group is buying 29 Benny's store locations.  The purchase price of the properties has not been disclosed and does not include the Benny's name.  The real estate company has developed many regional properties and is expected to find new retail clients to take over the spaces in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts.  The deal does not include two locations, which were leased sites.

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Newport Looking To Fill City Council Seat

The Newport City Council is looking for city residents who would like to join the council and fill out the term of office of Councilor-at-Large John Florez, who is resigning effective Jan. 9.
Mayor Harry Winthrop, who is also chairman of the sevenmember council, is accepting applications that must be submitted by Friday, Dec. 15.

Florez, who was first elected in 2014 and was reelected in November 2016, announced his pending resignation last week mainly for business reasons.

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Final hearings delayed on proposed power plant

State regulators have granted an extension to push back final hearings on a proposed natural gas-fired power plant in Rhode Island.

The Energy Facility Siting Board approved the 90-day extension filed by the Conservation Law Foundation Monday. The hearings will now start in March instead of Dec. 8.

The environmental advocacy organization plans to use the extension to gather more testimony after one of the power plant's generating units was disqualified from an auction. The auction would have assured electric capacity for the area.

The plant's developer, Chicago-based Invenergy, says the disqualification was due to permitting delays.

The company is seeking to start operations at the $1 billion plant in June 2021.

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Tech Company Opening In Providence

Information technology outsourcing firm Infosys says it's opening a design and innovation hub in Rhode Island and plans to add 500 jobs in the state in the next five years. Gov. Gina Raimondo and Infosys President Ravi Kumar made the announcement Monday in Providence, where the hub is planned. State officials say the Bangalore, India-based company is eligible for about $10 million in incentives and the average annual salary of the jobs in the state would be $79,000.

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Trout Stocking In A Tiverton Pond

Trout is being stocked today  in Tiverton's Stafford Pond.  The pond wasn't stocked earlier in the fall due to a toxic algae bloom.  Experts say this is a good time of year for trout fishing.  The state Department of Environmental Management stocked ponds in other areas including South Kingstown, Richmond and Coventry earlier this month.

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Gas prices in RI hold steady this week

Gas prices are holding steady this week in Rhode Island.

AAA Northeast said Monday in its weekly survey that self-serve, regular unleaded is averaging $2.60 per gallon. That's unchanged from last week.

The average price is nine cents above the national average of $2.51. It's also 40 cents higher than the price in Rhode Island was a year ago at this time- $2.20 per gallon.

AAA found self-serve, regular gasoline selling for as low as $2.43 per gallon and as high as $2.70 in Rhode Island.

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Police Looking For Bank Robber

Warwick police are looking for the man who robbed a bank.  The heist happened around 1:15 p.m. yesterday at the Citizens bank on West Shore Road.  The white man about five feet eight inches tall and in his late 40s to early 50s is stocky in build with gray unshaven facial hair.  The man left the bank with an undisclosed amount of cash. 

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Only Three Benny's Stores Remain

Only three Benny's stores remain after yesterday's closings of stores in East Greenwich and Wakefield.  The store in Taunton, Massachusetts, will close Thursday, while stores in Greenville and Providence will shut down next month.  Inventory from the stores that have closed will be consolidated into the remaining locations.

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Newport Teenager Arrested For Gun In Carry-On Bag

A Newport teenager is facing charges for allegedly carrying a firearm through airport security.  Authorities say the incident happened Sunday at Raleigh-Durham International Airport in North Carolina when 19-year-old Sydney Ann Webster passed through TSA screening.  They say Webster, who does not have a concealed carry permit, had a gun in her carry-on bag.  She was taken into custody by airport police.

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National Grid Seeks Rate Increase

National Grid is seeking a rate increase and it's not going over well with state officials.  The utility is asking for a six-percent increase in electric bills and a five-percent increase on gas bills.  Governor Raimondo says families and small business owners are already hurt by high energy costs.  The new rates would raise more than 71-million-dollars annually for the utility to cover increased operating costs. 

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Public Concerned About Hospital Closing

Many people are concerned about the closing of Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket.  Care New England took ownership of the struggling facility four years ago and after a deal fell through to sell it, it announced the facility's closing.  The Department of Health is examining a proposal to close the emergency department and keep internal medicine and family care there, but nurses say they're unsure about job security.  Others say the closing will have a negative impact on the area.

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Student holiday concerts to begin at RI Statehouse

Student musicians from across the state will be featured in a series of concerts at the Statehouse to celebrate the holiday season.

The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts announced that the concerts begin today and will run through Dec. 22.

The arts council organizes the series and says more than 3,300 student musicians from 52 schools are expected to perform.

The series opens with a morning performance by the Davisville Middle School string ensemble from North Kingstown.

The concerts are free, open to the public and are held on weekdays.

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Bristol Police Announce Lock-Box Program

Bristol Police will soon begin placing lock boxes at homes where occupants want emergency personnel to be able to enter when needed. Authorities have had to kick down doors in cases where the person who needed help couldn't get to it. For those who participate in the program, police will instead have the code to a lock box on the property. The code opens the box and gives the person access to the house key.

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Trout Stocking Set for Tiverton Pond

State environmental officials say they will be stocking trout in a Rhode Island pond this week. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management says Stafford Pond in Tiverton will be stocked with trout on tomorrow. An infestation of toxic blue-green algae blooms prevented the department from stocking trout earlier this fall. Anglers may catch up to five trout a day at most locations  throughThursday.

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Free Parking in Providence For Holidays

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is again extending the holiday tradition of free street parking in several city neighborhoods as a way to encourage shoppers to buy local.  The city is now offering two hours of free parking in those areas from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Jan. 1.

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National Grid Under State Review

The state has begun its review of National Grid's response to a recent storm that caused widespread power outages through the region. Rhode Island's Division of Public Utilities and Carriers said Friday that it scheduled a public hearing and it's currently accepting public comment as part of its investigation into the October storm.  Gov. Gina Raimondo ordered the review.

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Newport City Councilman Resigning

The Newport Daily News reports that  Newport City Councilman John Florez is resigning effective on January 9th.  Florez says the reason for his departure is that he's expanding his website design, development and consulting company to Austin, Texas, but adds the company will remain headquartered in Newport.

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Gov. Raimondo sets Statehouse tree lighting event

The annual lighting of the Christmas tree in the Rhode Island Statehouse rotunda has been scheduled.

Gov. Gina Raimondo announced the tree lighting ceremony and holiday celebration will take place on Thursday. .

The lighting ceremony will feature a visit from Santa and performances by two school choirs and the Rhode Island Army National Guard's "Governor's Own" 88th Army Band.

Unwrapped toys will be collected to benefit local children in need.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. The tree will be lit at 6:15 p.m.

The public is invited.

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Food Bank Says Hunger In R.I. Rising

More people in Rhode Island are seeking help feeding their families for the holidays.

The Rhode Island Community Food Bank says hunger is on the rise in Rhode Island and the problem-plagued launch of a new state computer system is hindering enrollment in the food stamp program.

Spokesman Hugh Minor said Friday their network of food pantries was busy leading up to Thanksgiving.

He says food banks in South Kingstown and Newport each distributed 50 more Thanksgiving baskets this year than last year.

The Jonnycake Center of Peace Dale distributed 350 baskets. The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center distributed 300.

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Closed Massachusetts power plant sold to St. Louis company

A decommissioned coal-fired power plant that was long known as one of Massachusetts's worst polluters has been sold to a company with experience redeveloping polluted sites.

Brayton Point Power Station in Somerset has been sold to St. Louis-based Commercial Development Co. Inc., which redevelops "underutilized, distressed or environmentally challenged properties."

The announcement came less than a week after current owner Dynegy Inc. said it had selected a buyer.

Commercial Development says it will transform the plant for "post-coal utilization."

Brayton Point was commissioned in 1963.

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Former Providence police chief dies

ABC-6 News reports that former Providence Police Chief Urbano Prignano Jr. has died.

They say family members announced his death this morning on social media.

Prignano Jr. was police chief for the late Providence Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci for many years.

He was forced out amid scandal in 2001.

Prignano Jr. is survived by his three daughters.

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RI National Guard promotes woman to brigadier general

The Rhode Island National Guard has promoted a woman to the rank of brigadier general for the first time in its history.

Col. Kimberly Baumann will be responsible for establishing policy and monitoring more than 1,000 people assigned to the Rhode Island Air National Guard.  Baumann is a graduate of Norwich University in Vermont and was previously deployed in support of numerous overseas operations.

The Guard says Baumann will be chief adviser to Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Christopher Callahan on all matters pertaining to Air National Guard policies and operations.

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State board approves tax credits for greenhouse project

The Rhode Island Commerce Corp. has approved about $2.2 million in tax credits to encourage a New York City company to build a greenhouse in Providence.

The board voted 6-1 to approve the tax credits for the $12.2 million project. Brooklyn-based Gotham Greens Holdings LLC plans to build a 95,000-square foot  greenhouse to grow vegetables at a vacant lot that once housed a General Electric lightbulb factory.

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Walmart temporarily closes due to air irritant

A Rhode Island Walmart has reopened after 15 people were evaluated and one hospitalized from an unknown air irritant.

The North Kingstown Fire Department responded to the store around 1:45 p.m. after several employees and customers reported bouts of coughing.

Fire officials evacuated the building, and one person was transported to the hospital for difficulties breathing.

Fire Chief Scott Kettelle says air tests came back negative for carbon monoxide and other gases. He believes the issue is related to the store's heating, ventilation and air conditioning system.

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Sheriffs Academy Graduates New Class

There was a graduation ceremony last night for 21 members of the Sheriff's Division Training Academy at Johnston High School.   Following six weeks of training, the graduates will fill existing and future vacancies.  Sheriffs provide courtroom and cell block security within each of the state's court buildings, as well as transporting suspects, extradition and civil service. 

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Virgin Pulse Makes Move To Providence

The new global headquarters for the health-tech company Virgin Pulse is in Rhode Island.  A workforce of 100 is settling into the Providence Journal building in downtown Providence.  Lured by state tax credits, the company is relocating from Framingham, Massachusetts, and it's expected to generate nearly 300 additional jobs over the next five years.   Owned by British billionaire Richard Branson, Virgin Pulse designs software and programs for companies to promote employee wellness.

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Fundraising License Plate For Gaspee Days Committee

Rhode Island is offering a special fundraising license plate to benefit the Gaspee Days Committee.  Governor Gina Raimondo held a ceremonial signing of the bill creating the plate yesterday.  Gaspee Days commemorates the burning of the British ship HMS Gaspee in Narragansett Bay in one of the earliest events of the Revolutionary War.  Once a design is approved by the State Police, a minimum of 900 pre-paid sets of plates is required before the DMV will begin distribution. 

 

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Survey: Providence Ranked High For Retirees

Providence is ranked as the fifth-best city among 50 metropolitan areas in the country for retirees.  A survey from Bankrate.com considered cost of living, crime rate, health care, senior population, taxes, public transportation, weather and well-being. On the plus side, Providence gets a "great" rating for health care, "good" for well-being and "average" for cost of living.  The negatives include high taxes and a "poor" rating for public transportation.

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No Charges Against Former Providence School Official

A former assistant principal at Central High School in Providence is not going to face criminal charges. Thomas Bacon resigned last month after his altercation with a student surfaced in a video recording.  The 15-year-old boy was accused of assaulting two school employees. Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare says the police investigation of the incident is closed.

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Report: Hunger in Rhode Island on the rise

A new report on hunger in Rhode Island says it's on the rise, and the problem-plagued launch of a new state computer system is hindering enrollment in the food stamp program.

The report released Monday by the Rhode Island Community Food Bank cites a U.S. Census Bureau survey for the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It says 6.1 percent of households in the state reported "very low food security," or hunger, from 2014 to 2016. That's up from 4.6 percent from 2011 to 2013.

The report says access to food stamps has been blocked and delayed by last year's launch of the new eligibility system, known as RI Bridges.

The report says food stamp enrollment dropped by more than 12 percent, from 169,373 people in July 2016 to 148,179 in July 2017.

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October house sales rise, but pending sales suffer drop off

Diminishing inventory is being blamed for a nearly 20 percent decline in pending house sales in Rhode Island last month.

The Rhode Island Association of Realtors report released Monday says sales rose by 9 percent in October, but pending sales have fallen by 18 percent compared to last year. The association says "diminishing inventory" is the reason for the decline, and the group says it predicts a further slowdown in sales.

The association says the supply of homes for sale dropped by almost 9 percent from October 2016 to October 2017.

There were 1,038 single-family house sales in Rhode Island in October, up from 956 in October 2016. There were 54 distressed sales, down from 99 in October 2016.

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Gas prices up 2 cents per gallon for Thanksgiving travel

The price of gasoline in Rhode Island is up two cents this week.

AAA Northeast said Monday in its weekly survey that self-serve, regular unleaded is averaging $2.60 per gallon. That price is six cents above the national average of $2.54.

AAA projects that nearly 51 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more away from home this Thanksgiving, a 3.3 percent increase over 2016.

AAA says the 2017 holiday weekend will see the highest Thanksgiving travel volume since 2005.

The average price of gasoline in Rhode Island is 42 cents higher than it was at this time last year. At that time, gas was averaging $2.18 per gallon.

AAA found self-serve, regular gasoline selling for as low as $2.39 per gallon and as high as $2.70 in Rhode Island.

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State Treasurer Mailing Unclaimed $10M

More than ten-million-dollars is being mailed to 35-thousand Rhode Islanders.  General Treasurer Seth Magaziner says the money is unclaimed property that is owed by companies, banks, insurance companies and utility companies.  Magaziner says using a new program called "Your Money," the state will use databases to match unclaimed funds with a person's address.  Magaziner says the average check is about 250-dollars.

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Large Firefighter Graduating Class Expected To Trim Overtime Costs

Providence is filling a big shortage as it graduates 83 new firefighters from the training academy.  Yesterday's graduates are the department's most diverse recruiting class and fills most of the 100 positions vacated by retiring firefighters since the mayor imposed a shift change two years ago.  City Councilman John Igliozzi has criticized Mayor Elorza's plan as overtime costs have risen more than six-million-dollars over those two years.  The mayor says going forward there will be a savings of more than five-million-dollars.  

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E. Greenwich Town Council Re-Appoints Corrigan Town Manager

Gayle Corrigan is the East Greenwich town manager again after a three-to-two town council vote last night.  A judge had declared Corrigan's initial appointment null and void as were some of her decisions because the town council violated the state's open meetings act when she was hired.  The lone Democrat on the council, Mark Schwager, says Corrigan should step aside because she's become a lightning rod for disruption.  Schwager doesn't think she can be effective in her position.

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Big Blue Bug will be transformed for holidays

It's become a holiday tradition in Rhode Island: the annual lighting of the Big Blue Bug.

The 25th annual lighting of Nibbles Woodaway is scheduled to take place at 5:30 p.m. at Big Blue Bug Solutions in Providence.

This year's lighting will honor the 40th anniversary production of "A Christmas Carol" at Trinity Repertory Company.

Trinity resident actor Joe Wilson Jr., as Ebenezer Scrooge, will flip the switch to turn on 7,500 lights and Nibbles's red nose.

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E. Greenwich Special Town Council meeting set for tonight

The East Greenwich Town Council will hold a special meeting tonight to determine the fate of embattled Town Leader Gayle Corrigan.

Two weeks ago, a judge determined that the appointment of Corrigan as Town Manager was “null and void” because the Town Council made the decision behind closed doors.

Corrigan’s appointment has faced scrutiny from many residents in the town.

In fact, the last council meeting was abruptly cancelled because so many residents attended. It was over capacity.

To handle a bigger crowd, tonight’s meeting will be held at East Greenwich High School at 7 p.m.

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RI secretary of state recognizes civic leaders

Rhode Island's secretary of state has recognized three people and two institutions with an award for outstanding public service and civic engagement.  Nellie Gorbea says she chose Democratic state Sen. Erin Lynch Prata, Aram Garabedian, Shanna Wells, the Providence Student Union and the Rhode Island Foundation to receive the 2017 National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award.

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ACLU brings back hotline for food stamp processing delays

The American Civil Liberties Union is bringing back its hotline for people having trouble getting their food stamp applications processed quickly. The ACLU of Rhode Island says it's re-staffing the hotline because of the continuing large backlog of applications that are causing undue hardship to poor residents. A federal judge appointed an attorney this month to ensure that Rhode Island residents receive food stamps on time.

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Virgin Pulse sets up shop in Providence

An employee well-being company owned by British billionaire Richard Branson is moving its global headquarters from Massachusetts to Rhode Island. Virgin Pulse has already set up workstations in the former Journal building in Providence. The company is expected to formally announce the move at the Rhode Island Convention Center today.

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Grid operator discusses region's constrained gas pipelines

The independent corporation overseeing the operation of New England's power system says natural gas pipelines feeding the region are so constrained that electricity prices are driven higher during cold winters.

ISO New England President Gordon van Welie says regional pipelines were built for gas distribution companies' heating demands, not for power generation. He says they're at, or near capacity, in winter and generators have to use more expensive fuels, including oil and liquefied natural gas.

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PawSox Identify Possible Alternative Stadium Location

The Pawtucket Red Sox are reportedly looking at a potential stadium site just over the Massachusetts border in Attleboro.  PawSox Chairman Larry Lucchino says it's in an old industrial park off I-95.  He says it's one of the alternative sites that has been identified if the team's efforts to build a new ballpark in downtown Pawtucket are unsuccessful. 

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Lawsuit accuses utilities of jacking up natural gas prices

A class-action lawsuit accuses two utilities of conspiring to drive up energy costs in New England.

An attorney says the lawsuit filed in Boston federal court accuses Eversource Energy and Avangrid Inc. of using their market power to "unlawfully jack up" consumer electric bills. The suit contends customers in New England were overcharged $3.6 billion.

The two companies are being investigated by the Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel and the state's public utilities authority on charges of market manipulation.

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Grant Money Receipients Announced

The Rhode Island Foundation has announced more than $470,000 in grants to fund animal welfare services in the state.

Stand Up for Animals and the Sea Research Foundation were among the animal care organizations that wre grant recipients.

The foundation's Program for Animal Welfare is funded with help from 11 private family funds and the Chariho Westerly Animal Rescue League Animal Welfare Fund.

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Committee Chair Calls Training School Assessment Troubling

The chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee says she's concerned by the situation at the Rhode Island Training School.  State Representative Patricia Serpa says it's troubling that children are at serious risk due to the inadequacies of a state agency.  In the aftermath of recent serious incidents, Department of Children, Youth and Families Director Trista Piccola says issues including security, personnel and youth services will be addressed.  Serpa says the committee will give DCYF the opportunity to put solutions into practice. 

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State Budget Deficit Is Looming

It's estimated Rhode Island will finish the 2017-2018 fiscal year next June with a more than a 60-million-dollar budget deficit.  The projected deficit from the state budget office is based on actual spending from July through September and updated forecasts for revenue and social services.  The primary reason cited is overspending by state agencies far above what was budgeted by the General Assembly earlier this year. 

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RI Unemployment Rate Is Unchanged

Rhode Island's October unemployment rate is four-point-two percent, unchanged from September.  The Department of Labor and Training says the current jobless rate compares to five-point-one percent in October of 2016.  Nationally the unemployment rate for last month is four-point-one percent.

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Republican Flanders Joins U.S. Senate Race

Robert Flanders is officially in the race for the U.S. Senate.  A former justice on the Rhode Island Supreme Court, Flanders launched his campaign for the Republican nomination on Thursday.   Coventry State Representative Robert Nardolillo is also seeking the party's nomination.  The GOP is hoping to unseat incumbent Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse in next year's election.

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Four More Benny's Closing Today

Four more Benny's stores are closing today.  Once the stores in Cranston, Fall River, Plymouth and Dennisport close, there will be only five stores remaining.  The chain, which is closing by the end of the year, is urging anyone with gift cards to use them as soon as possible. 

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High Carbon-Monoxide Levels Linked To Microwavable Dinner

Authorities are blaming high carbon-monoxide levels at a Barrington prep school on a microwavable dish.  Authorities at first thought there was a carbon-monoxide leak in one of the dormitories at Saint Andrews School around 5:25 p.m. yesterday.  Investigators learned that a student was making a beef dinner called a hotpot that his parents sent him.  The dinner was confiscated and four students were checked out at the scene.

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Boil Water Order Expected To Be Lifted Later Today

The Westerly Water Department is hoping to lift a boil water order later today.  The latest round of testing was sent to a lab yesterday and the results are expected soon.  The affected well that had E. coli present has been taken out of service.

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Councilwoman Calling For Review Of Police Pursuit Policies

A Providence councilwoman wants police to review their pursuit policies after last week's chase and deadly shooting on Interstate 95.  Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune says the public is asking questions that have gone unanswered.  LaFortune's request for a review is now headed to a committee for consideration.

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Gov. Raimondo To Visit Newport today

Gov. Gina Raimondo will join AIPC to host a “Resiliency Round Table” in partnership with the URI Coastal Resources Center, the R.I. Infrastructure Bank and the Community College of Rhode Island. The event will be held in the auditorium at CCRI’s Newport campus this afternoon from 1-3 . The purpose of the round table is to help better prepare for intense coastal storms, sea level rise and other climate change impacts, and to elicit information from the communities that will be incorporated into a new Statewide Climate Resiliency Strategy that the governor has asked state agencies to complete by next summer.

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Lobster Regulators Seek Input

Federal fishing regulators are soliciting public comments about possible changes to lobster fishing in southern New England. The National Marine Fisheries Service is seeking the feedback about changes that could include restricting the number of lobster traps or permits an individual or a business would be allowed to own. The agency is taking comments through Dec. 15.

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Raw Milk Warning Issued

The Rhode Island Department of Health is advising consumers that a company that sells raw milk, Udder Milk, has been ordered to cease and desist its sales after a woman became infected from drinking it.

Health officials announced Wednesday that the New York-based company has been illegally selling raw milk in several states, including Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

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Missing Woonsocket Man Found

Woonsocket police say a missing man has been located.  Stewart Sutton was reported missing shortly before noon yesterday.  Police did not say where the 84-year-old man with Alzheimer's disease was located. 

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Christmas Tree Prices Expected To Be Higher

Searching for the right Christmas tree this year could prove to be a bit pricey.  The National Christmas Tree Association says fewer trees are available this year, leading to higher prices.  John Leyden, owner of Big John Leyden's Tree Farm in West Greenwich, says labor costs are going up, adding to the price.  He says when the recession hit in 2007, he had to make a decision on what and how many trees to plant back then.  

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Westerly Water Customers Under Boil Water Order

A boil water order is in effect for customers of the Westerly Water Department.  Water in one of the town's wells tested positive for E. coli bacteria.  Customers are advised to not drink the water before boiling it to kill any contaminants.  The Westerly Water Department also sells water to customers in Pawcatuck, Connecticut.

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Who invented Game of Life? Court aims to find out

Testimony is set to begin in federal court in Los Angeles Thursday in a lawsuit over one of the most popular board games of all time: The Game of Life.

The widow of a toy inventor says her husband, Bill Markham, has been denied his legacy of creating the game, after another man, Reuben Klamer, took full credit for it.

Lorraine Markham also says she was cut out of more than $2 million in royalties by Klamer and Rhode Island-based toy company Hasbro.

Both Hasbro and Klamer argue that Markham was merely hired to create a prototype.

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New Signs At Westerly Hospital

There's a new look at Westerly Hospital.  Signs have been installed noting the hospital's affiliation with Yale-New Haven Health Group.  The affiliation took effect in September of 2016.

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Officials Seek Answers From Care New England

Governor Gina Raimondo and the mayors of Pawtucket and Central Falls are seeking answers from Care New England.  They want the hospital group to identify which out-patient services will be maintained on the Memorial Hospital campus after the financially-troubled hospital closes.  Memorial's Intensive Care Unit was shut down on Monday.

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Renumbering Of Exits To Start On I-295

RIDOT will begin the renumbering of exits on Interstate 295 the last week of the month.  I-295 will be the first highway in the state to have the federally mandated change to mile marker exit numbers replacing sequential numbers.  The change will start in Diamond Hill and head south.

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Crowd Forces Cancellation Of Town Meeting

East Greenwich residents are not happy over the prospect of the reappointment of Town Manager Gayle Corrigan.  The town council was met with boos by an overcapacity crowd at last night's meeting and it was canceled.  The controversy is about Corrigan's appointment in July that was declared null and void by a judge because the town violated the open-meetings act.  The meeting will be rescheduled for sometime in the next week at the high school, where there's room to accommodate a crowd. 

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Flounder fishing shut down in RI for rest of year

The federal government is shutting down fishing of a popular species of flatfish in Rhode Island for the rest of the year.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says boats fishing under a federal permit for summer flounder may no longer bring the fish to shore in Rhode Island. The shutdown went into effect early Tuesday morning and will last until the end of the year.

The agency says the state has also closed down commercial summer flounder fishing. It says the shutdown is taking place because Rhode Island fishermen have reached their annual quota.

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Zoo: Oldest Masai giraffe in North America dies at 26

Roger Williams Park zoo says the oldest Masai giraffe in captivity in North America has died.

They say the 26-year-old giraffe was named  Amber and died Tuesday morning.

Amber had lost her sight due to cataracts over the past year. She had recently become unable to maneuver properly in her exhibit, leading to the zoo staff's decision to euthanize her.

The giraffe was born in Cleveland in 1991. She went to the Roger Williams zoo in 1992.

Zoo spokeswoman Diane Nahabedian says the median life expectancy for a giraffe in captivity is about 17 years.

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Warwick School Committee approves new contract with teachers

The Warwick School Committee has approved a new contract with the city's teachers' union.

The committee on Tuesday actually approved two contracts, one for the last two years when teachers worked without a contract, a new one for the next three years.

Details of the contracts have not been disclosed.

The union now has 10 days to ratify the deals. Union President Darlene Netcoh says a ratification vote has not been scheduled.

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Disgraced former RI House Speaker Gordon Fox finds new job

Former Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox, who served two years at a prison in Pennsylvania for accepting bribes and filing a false tax return, is working at Dean Warehouse Services in Warwick following his release into a halfway house in Pawtucket.

Company owner Brad Dean says that Fox is doing some picking and packing, adding that he's a good worker.

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Westerly residents approve sewer improvement bonds

Voters in Westerly headed to the polls for a special referendum Monday to decide on spending $1.66 million on sewer improvements for the town.

They overwhelmingly favored the bonds on a 429-82 vote, according to the Rhode Island Board of Elections.

Since it was approved, residents should expect an increase in their taxes.

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RI gas prices up 1 cent per gallon

The price of gasoline in Rhode Island is up one cent this week.

AAA Northeast said Monday in its weekly survey that self-serve, regular unleaded is averaging $2.58 per gallon. That price is two cents above the national average of $2.56.

The average price of gasoline in Rhode Island is 37 cents higher than it was at this time last year. At that time, gas was averaging $2.21 per gallon.

AAA found self-serve, regular gasoline selling for as low as $2.39 per gallon and as high as $2.70.

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Hospital's ICU shut down ahead of impending closure

The intensive care unit at Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket has been shut down.

Care New England says the move Monday was "in the best interest of patient care" and was coordinated with the Department of Health. The unit wasn't able to care for as many critically ill patients as it usually treats due to the limited availability of physicians.

The Providence-based nonprofit health system announced plans to close the facility last month.

A union that represents nurses and other Memorial employees blasted Monday's decision, calling it an attempt by Care New England to "sidestep" state approval processes required for the closure.

A health department spokesman says Care New England submitted a closure plan to the state last week. The move to close the ICU was allowed.

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CVS Pharmacy battles prescription database issues

A connectivity problem downed CVS Pharmacy prescription services nationwide for most of day on Monday.

The Woonsocket based company said some pharmacies experienced service interruptions on Monday which prevented pharmacists from filling out certain prescriptions.

A spokesman from CVS said the issue primarily affected insurance claims processing.

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Roger Williams Medical Center recovers stolen patient information

ABC-6 News reports that Roger Williams Medical Center has recovered medical records and documents stolen from dozens of patients back in September.

A spokesperson for Chartercare, the hospital’s parent company, says that on September 13th 2017, somebody broke into the hospital’s registration area and stole the medical records of over 60 patients.

As of Friday, the spokesperson says that Roger Williams Medical Center, with the help of Providence Police, has recovered the stolen information, and there is no indication that any of it has been misused.

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RI opens new home for veterans

Rhode Island officially opened its new home for veterans on Veterans Day.

Gov. Gina Raimondo hosted the state's Veterans Day ceremony and a traditional ribbon cutting Saturday afternoon at the home in Bristol.

The veterans had previously lived at a home dating back to 1955.

The new, state-of-the-art, 208-bed home was built at the same site in Bristol to provide nursing and residential care for veterans.

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Man Who Stole State Police Cruiser, Two Others Arrested

The suspect who stole a state police cruiser is in custody.  Donald Morgan was arrested around 7 p.m. Friday after authorities tracked him to Vermont Avenue in Cumberland.  There was a struggle inside a car before Morgan was dragged from the vehicle and taken away.  Two people, Daniel Medeiros and Rachael Read, were also charged with harboring a criminal.

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State reminds people about emergency registry after storm

State health officials are encouraging people with special health care needs to enroll in an emergency registry.

The state Department of Health says it wants to remind people about the Rhode Island Special Needs Emergency Registry following the recent storm that cut power to nearly 1.5 million homes and businesses in New England at its peak, and in advance of winter weather events yet to come.

The state established the registry to help emergency officials in planning and caring for residents with disabilities, chronic conditions and other special health care needs during storms and other disasters.

Residents can enroll by calling 401-222-5960 or by filling out a form online .

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Portsmouth Crash Kills 2

Police say a Boston man drove his car into oncoming traffic on route 114  in Portsmouth, causing a crash that left two people dead and two others injured.

20-year-old Houston Smith was headed south near the Raytheon  on Friday when he crossed the double yellow line and hit a car carrying three people that was traveling in the opposite direction.

Ninety-year-old Portsmouth resident Dina Occhi and 59-year-old Theodore White, of Little Compton, were killed in the second car. The 58-year-old driver of that car, Mary Ann White, of Little Compton, was taken to a hospital, along with Smith.

Smith was arraigned Sunday on charges that include driving under the influence with death resulting. He was released on personal recognizance.

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RI home prices hit highest quarterly numbers in a decade

Home prices in Rhode Island have hit their highest quarterly median price in a decade, rising to $265,000 from July through September.

The Rhode Island Association of Realtors says the median price of a single-family home in the state has risen 8 percent from the same time last year. It says all but four towns saw an increase in the median sales price.

The group says that there was a drop in the number of sales from 2016, which saw record sales. Joseph Luca, president of the group, says there's a shortage of inventory, which is holding sales back.

The median price of condos in the quarter also rose 15 percent, to $224,000, while the median price of multifamily homes grew 17 percent, to $220,000.

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New center opens to help combat opioid epidemic

A new treatment center has opened in Rhode Island to help combat the opioid epidemic.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo called the epidemic the most urgent public health crisis during an appearance at Butler Hospital in Providence Thursday.

The hospital chain Care New England is offering medication-assisted treatment for opiate addiction 24 hours a day, seven days a week, through the new program. Patients are being seen at Butler and an outpatient facility in North Kingstown, Continuum Behavioral Health at Meadows Edge.

It was launched using about $250,000 in federal funds Rhode Island received to combat substance abuse.

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Roadway deaths up 50 percent in RI

Statistics show deadly crashes are on the rise across Rhode Island.

WPRI-TV reports that the state Department of Transportation says 61 people died on Rhode Island roads between January and September of this year. That's a 50 percent increase from 2016, when 41 people died over the same time span.

Of those who died in 2017, a majority were occupants of motor vehicles.

Transportation officials say they are hoping to decrease the chance of fatalities through an annual media campaign.

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RI $27.3 million over budget on social services spending

State budget officials say Rhode Island is about $27.3 million over budget on social services spending this year.

The state is expected to be $29.3 million over budget by the time the fiscal year ends June 30.

The state Senate Fiscal Adviser says part of the spending increase is due to Congress ending the federal Children's Health Insurance Program, which assists pregnant women and children.

The state has also seen an increase in Medicaid enrollment this fall to 303,000 people - about 5,600 more cases than officials projected in May.

Documents show higher enrollment has pushed the state's total estimated spending on social services this year to $2.5 billion, with the state's share at $997 million.

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DEM Stocking Trout For Veterans Day Weekend

In honor of veterans, the Department of Environmental Management is stocking ponds statewide with trout ahead of Veterans Day weekend.  A current fishing license and a Trout Conservation Stamp are required and can be purchased at any city or town clerks office or from an authorized agent.  Information is available online at dem.ri.gov. 

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Authorities Look For Person Who Stole State Police Cruiser

Authorities continue their search for the person who stole a state police cruiser.  A trooper was transporting 35-year-old Donald Morgan of Providence to court yesterday when they came upon an accident on Route 146 and the trooper left the vehicle to check on the crash.  Morgan, while in handcuffs, was able to get behind the wheel and drive away.  The cruiser was found about an hour later on Vineyard Street, but a search for Morgan came up empty. 

 

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Scituate Town Hall Being Vacated Because Of Mold, Asbestos

The Scituate Town Hall is being vacated today because of mold and asbestos.  It's going to cost more than 330-thousand-dollars to make the building safe.  Employees will work out of the building and zoning office behind Town Hall and the highway garage.  If everything goes to plan, the mold should be removed by November 25th.

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More security measure to come at URI

ABC-6 News reports that tighter security should be expected at parts of the University of Rhode Island officials announced on Wednesday.

URI is adding new security to the Ryan Center for the upcoming basketball season.

Those measures will include metal detecting wands at every entrance.

This type of security is standard at most college arenas.

The venue will also continue to implement its bag search policy.

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House Halts PawSox Stadium Issue Until '18

Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has told the chairman of the Pawtucket Red Sox that he is not planning to call lawmakers back this year for a vote on the team's proposed new stadium. A spokesman for the Democrat said Wednesday that Mattiello and Larry Lucchino met last week. Mattiello says the House has no plans of returning this year to consider the proposal.

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Gov. Signs Vets Bills

Gov. Gina Raimondo has ceremoniously signed six bills to support the state's veterans. She’s told veterans she's redoubling the state's efforts to help them. Among the changes, veterans will be given a preference when state contracts are awarded. The state gives a similar benefit to women-owned and minority-owned businesses.

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Nine Benny's Remain

There are nine Benny's locations remaining.  The chain's Coventry store closed yesterday and there's a 50-percent off sale starting today at the remaining locations.  All of the chain's stores will close by the end of the year as the owners are retiring. 

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Judge Voids Town Manager's Appointment, Reinstates Fired Firefighter

A Superior Court judge is invalidating the appointment of East Greenwich Town Manager Gayle Corrigan and reinstating a fired firefighter.  Judge Susan McGuirl ruled yesterday that town council was in violation of the state's open meetings law when it appointed Corrigan to the post in June.  The action was the result of a trial lawsuit filed by the East Greenwich Firefighters Union.   

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Residents Displaced By Fire At Olney Tower Apartments

As many as 30 people are displaced by a fire in Providence.  The fire happened around 8 p.m. on the fifth floor of the Olney Tower Apartments.  The sprinkler system was activated and the fifth floor and those below were flooded.  All five floors were evacuated.  The cause of the fire is under investigation.

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Driver Injured After Pickup Crashes Into House

The driver of a pickup truck is being treated for non-life threatening injuries after the vehicle crashed into a house in West Warwick.  The accident happened around 5 p.m. yesterday on Washington Street.  Police are investigating what caused the crash.  The house has been declared safe by building officials, but some residents are being assisted by the Red Cross.

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Bridge Work Ahead Of Schedule

The first phase of the long-term deck repairs on the Pell Bridge was completed weeks ahead of schedule, the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority announced Wednesday.
Starting tomorrow morning, traffic will be restored to all four lanes after the work had limited traffic to one lane in each direction. The first phase of the project included partially demolishing and replacing the deck on the stretch of the bridge closest to Newport.

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Sale Of Newport Daily News Official

A New York-based media company announced it has completed the purchase of the family-owned business that operates The Newport Daily News. GateHouse Media Inc. announced the purchase of The Daily News Tuesday. Several other publications such as Newport Life Magazine and The Independent were included in the sale.

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RI Deputy Sheriff Is On Administrative Leave

A Rhode Island deputy sheriff is on administrative leave after his personal gun accidentally discharged.  Authorities say it happened early Saturday night in his hotel room in Rockland, Massachusetts.  The bullet hit a wall, no one was hurt, and the off-duty deputy sheriff immediately notified local police.  Investigators found no evidence of wrongdoing and no signs of impairment.

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Public Comment Period Open On Truck Tolls

A comment period on plans for truck tolls in Rhode Island is now open, and a public meeting is planned at Chariho Middle School later this month.  The first two of 14 planned tolls are planned on I-95 in Exeter and at the Richmond-Hopkinton line.  The Department of Transportation expects them to be operational next February or March.

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Lt. Governor McKee Is Running For Re-Election

Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee is running for a second-term.  He made the official announcement yesterday morning in Warwick.  He says Rhode Island needs someone with experience and a business background in the office.  McKee is facing a Democratic primary challenge from Providence State Representative Aaron Regunberg.  Warwick Republican Paul Pence, a political newcomer, says he's also running for lieutenant governor.

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Reed Calls For Review Of DOD Notification

Senator Jack Reed is calling for a review of the Department of Defense criminal record notification system.  The Air Force is looking into how it handled the criminal records of former Airman Devin Kelley following his 2012 domestic violence conviction.  Reed, who is the ranking Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, says the Texas church mass-shooter should not have been able to legally buy and own a gun.  He says every branch of the military needs to determine if there are systemic issues that result in the failure to report violent crimes to the FBI and the National Crime Information Center.

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Providence Police Body Cameras In Operation

More than 100 body cameras are in operation by Providence police officers.  More are to go online as officers become acclimated to the devices.  Training is expected to take a couple of more months as 250 cameras will be in operation. 

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Gov. tells DMV To Hold Off On Charging Late Registration Fee

Governor Raimondo is telling the Division of Motor Vehicles to hold off on implementing a 250-dollar fee for not getting a vehicle inspected on time.  The fee was implemented in a 2009 law to reinstate a registration after it's been suspended.  The state has been collecting the fee for every type of suspension except the late inspection because of an old computer system.  House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello wants the legislature to amend the law to remove the fee for late inspections.

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Former State lawmaker Charged With Breaking And Entering

A former state lawmaker is facing charges.  East Greenwich Police say former House Minority Leader Robert Watson is charged with breaking and entering in connection with an incident on South Pierce Road.  Watson was on probation in an assault case at the time of Monday's arrest.  He's due in court November 21st for a probation violation hearing.  

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Raimondo orders flags lowered for church shooting victims

Gov. Gina Raimondo is ordering flags across the state to be lowered in honor of the 26 people killed in a shooting at a Texas church.

The  governor on Monday ordered flags to be flown at half-staff until sunset on Thursday.

Raimondo says her heart breaks for the victims, and says that she and her husband send their thoughts and prayers.

She adds that they also pray that "leaders in Washington find the courage to make changes that will prevent the next tragedy."

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Gas prices fall a penny in RI to $2.57 per gallon

Gas prices in Rhode Island have ticked down by a penny per gallon since last week.

AAA Northeast says its weekly survey on Monday found the price of a gallon of regular unleaded had fallen to $2.57.

That's four cents per gallon above the national average of $2.53 per gallon.

The price of a gallon of gas in Rhode Island has risen 32 cents per gallon since this time last year, when it was $2.25 per gallon. That's an increase of 14 percent.

AAA Northeast's Lloyd Albert says there's been high demand and falling supply levels since a string of hurricanes hit the nation earlier this fall.

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Mayor: Providence's giving meters raised $500 in 2 months

Providence's giving meters have collected more than $500 for organizations helping the homeless since the meters were unveiled by Mayor Jorge Elorza two months ago.

Emily Cromwell, a spokeswoman for the mayor, says that the city's nine giving meters have received $200 in coin donations and another $306 through credit cards at the meters and online at PVDGives.com .

The giving meter program was launched in part to limit panhandling in Providence.

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Women stuck on tracks narrowly escape freight train

Two women had a close call with a freight train, when they drove onto the tracks and got stuck, then had to jump from the car as the train bore down on them.

It happened around 11 p.m. Monday in Woonsocket.

Police say the women were from Massachusetts and unfamiliar with the area. When they entered the train crossing, they got disoriented and drove onto the tracks. They then got stuck as the crossing gate came down, but were able to jump to safety before the train barreled into the car.

The women were not seriously injured.

The driver was charged with DUI.

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Completion Of Fishing Area Repairs Ceremony

The state Department of Environmental Management and the Army Corp of Engineers on Monday marked the end of a more than eight-million-dollar restoration project in Narragansett.  Repairs and upgrades to the Camp Cronin Fishing Area and the East Shore Arm Breakwater of the Point Judith Harbor of Refuge are complete.   In 2012 Hurricane Sandy caused extensive damage to the area.

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Council To Vote On Education Commissioner's Contract

The state Council on Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to vote today to reappoint Education Commissioner Ken Wagner.  Commission Chairman Daniel McConaghy says Wagner understands building partnerships in order to support both students and teachers.  Wagner's reappointment must be confirmed by the state Board of Education.

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Pelosi Calls Tax Bill "Farce"

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is calling the Republican tax bill bad for the middle class.  Pelosi was on a tour of Community College of Rhode Island in Warwick yesterday.  Pelosi says doubling the standard deduction won't cover deductions for medical costs, mortgage interest and student loan interest.  She calls the tax bill a "farce." 

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Lt. Governor McKee To Announce Political Plans

Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee is expected to announce his political plans.  If he seeks re-election for a second term to his current office, he'll face a Democratic Party primary challenge from Providence state Representative Aaron Regunberg.   McKee's announcement is planned for 10 a.m. today in Warwick.  A Warwick businessman and Republican, Paul Pence, yesterday announced his candidacy for lieutenant governor.

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WWII veteran, 91, gets overdue medals for service

A 91-year-old World War II veteran has been honored in Rhode Island for his service.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed held a ceremony Friday at Cranston Public library for James Dowling. The Rhode Island Democrat presented Dowling with medals he earned but never received for his service, including the World War II Victory Medal and Good Conduct Medal.

Dowling, of Cranston, enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17. He was stationed in Hawaii on an aircraft carrier in 1943 and soon became a member of a six-man crew on a Navy patrol bombing squadron known as the "Blue Raiders."

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Lawmaker wants legislature to block proposed DMV late fee

Another state lawmaker has criticized a proposal by Rhode Island's Division of Motor Vehicles to levy a $250 late fee to restore the registration of vehicles if their safety inspection has lapsed.

Democratic Rep. Aaron Regunberg, of Providence, on Saturday called on the state legislature to rescind the DMV's authority to assess the fee, which the agency wants to begin collecting on Jan. 1.

The proposal was included in the DMV's annual budget request. The agency estimates it could raise $2.5 million annually.

On Friday, Democratic Rep. Jared Nunes, of Coventry, called the plan "a money grab."

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Former town official charged with embezzling

The former head of the Portsmouth Recreation Department has been charged with embezzlement after a town investigation found thousands of dollars missing from a beach fund.

The Newport Daily News reports that town officials say finance staff discovered a number of discrepancies in the Sandy Point Beach fund after the sudden resignation of Timothy Dunbar in September. He turned himself in Saturday.

The 42-year-old Dunbar, of Middletown, was arraigned by a justice of the peace and was released on $5,000 surety bail.

Town Administrator Richard Rainer says it was unclear how much Dunbar allegedly took, and the town may never know.

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State gets $22.4M to help people pay winter heating bills

Sen. Jack Reed says more than $22 million in federal funds is available to help Rhode Island families and seniors keep warm this winter.

Reed says the Trump Administration proposed eliminating the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program in the budget this year.

Reed and Republican Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine, led an effort to prevent the cut, securing $3.39 billion in a fiscal 2018 appropriations bill that passed the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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R.I. asks for express commuter trains to Boston

Gov. Gina Raimondo is asking the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority to run express commuter trains between Providence and Boston, but the agency says it would be difficult.

Express service is not currently offered on the Providence/Stoughton commuter rail line. The MBTA says it would be difficult to introduce express service before South Station in Boston is expanded because the trains would need room to arrive and depart.

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City, Firefighters reach pact

The city of Providence says it has reached an agreement with the local firefighters union to settle several outstanding legal matters, awarding members a total of $5.9 million over two fiscal years.   The deal announced Friday by Mayor Jorge Elorza's office will resolve ongoing arbitration, state court actions and a Fair Labor Standards Act lawsuit.

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Students return to class in Cranston

Tests show no carbon monoxide was found at Cranston High School East , which was closed Friday over concerns of possible CO exposure. School officials sent a letter to parents of students on Friday, saying an industrial hygienist found no evidence of CO. The school was closed after more than 50 students and staff reported feeling sick on Thursday, and classes have resumed today.

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Memorial Hospital Shutdown Plans Moving Forward

Steps to close financially-ailing Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket are moving forward.  Care New England submitted an application last week to the state Department of Health stating Memorial will cease operations as an inpatient hospital. It's also seeking approval to eliminate the emergency department and other services.  The closure was announced last month when negotiations for a California-based company to buy the hospital collapsed.

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Lt. Governor Says Power Outages Hurt Economically

Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee says last week's extended power outages caused by the recent storm is hurting businesses and local governments.  He says businesses have lost money and municipalities are facing additional costs for public safety overtime and an extension of the school year.  McKee says the message he's received is that communications between National Grid and its customers has been insufficient and inconsistent.    

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PawSox To Release Some Financial Information

The Pawtucket Red Sox organization is going to give requested financial information to state officials, under the condition it not be released publicly.  The team earlier had refused to disclose financial information requested by the Senate Finance Committee.  According to a letter from Senate President Domenick Ruggerio to state Auditor General Dennis Hoyle, a review of the information will not be an audit and can only be discussed with the governor and General Assembly leaders.  The state wants the information to determine if the team has the income and cash flow to cover its share costs for a new stadium.

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Report: Anti-Semitic incidents increase in New England

The Anti-Defamation League says anti-Semitic incidents have increased in New England.

The New York civil rights group that's focused on anti-Jewish attacks said in a report Thursday there have been 132 incidents recorded in the region from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30.

The organization says that's a 32 percent increase over the same period last year and it exceeds last year's total.

The incidents include harassment, vandalism and threats made against Jewish institutions. The Anti-Defamation League says a "disturbingly high number" happened in schools.

Most of the reported incidents, 117 of the 132, happened in Massachusetts.

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Licensing board chairman resigns, blames 'politics'

The chairman of a Rhode Island licensing board has resigned following the closure of a nightclub over a weekend shooting.

In a Facebook post Thursday, Juan Pichardo claims the Providence Board of Licenses has been compromised by politics. The board had issued a vote of no confidence in Pichardo Tuesday.

A spokesman for Mayor Jorge Elorza says he called for Pichardo's resignation after he rescheduled a Penthouse Club hearing. The nightclub was closed for 72 hours after shots were fired in the vicinity.

The board voted Thursday to revoke all of the club's licenses for violations unrelated to the shooting. An attorney for the club has already filed an appeal.

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Providence mayor creates municipal ID for immigrants, others

The mayor of Providence has established a municipal ID card for people living in the U.S. illegally and other city residents.

Mayor Jorge Elorza signed an executive order Thursday.

Elorza says many city residents don't have official identification, including immigrants, students, the homeless and others.

He says that restricts their ability to access city services and housing and apply for jobs, and makes them afraid to report crimes and engage with city officials.

The order creates the municipal ID program immediately, to provide a government-issued form of identification to city residents ages 14 and older.

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Court-Appointed Special Master For Benefits Program

There's now a special master appointed by a federal judge to oversee Rhode Island's troubled benefits program.  Problems with a new computer system have caused long delays in the distribution of food stamps to eligible recipients.  The ACLU filed a lawsuit arguing the state failed to process applications and issue benefits in a timely manner as mandated by the federal government.  The newly-appointed special master, attorney Deming Sherman, says he'll work to help people right away, and look for a long-term solution to the problem. 

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ACLU Files Lawsuit Against State Police

The Rhode Island ACLU is filing a federal lawsuit against the state police for abusing its power.  The suit claims state police retaliated against 25-year-old Marissa Lacoste, who did not want to be an informant in a criminal investigation.  The ACLU says in the suit that state police used a questionable law to bar Lacoste from her job as a waitress at Twin River Casino when she refused. 

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More Than 95-Percent Of National Grid Customers Have Power

National Grid is saying more than 95-percent of its customers now have power after Monday's storm.  The utility had hoped to have everybody back online by last night.  As of early this morning, more than four-thousand are still waiting for the lights to come back on.

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Six People Treated After Coming In Contact With Substance

Six people including five Warwick police officers are going to be all right after coming into contact with an unknown substance.   The incident happened around 12:30 p.m. yesterday at the Community College of Rhode Island Knight Campus near the athletic fields.  An officer was checking on a homeless person when he became faint, and he was treated with Narcan and sent to the hospital along with another person.  Four other officers were treated at the scene.  The substance found in tinfoil has not been identified.

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No Classes At Cranston High School East, Air-Quality Testing Underway

Cranston High School East will be closed today after some students and teachers showed signs of carbon-monoxide poisoning.  Two students went to the hospital Wednesday evening after feeling sick and tests indicated high levels in their blood.  Fire officials say no traceable amounts of carbon monoxide were found inside the building yesterday, but about 40 people reported symptoms.  A company will assess the air quality inside the building today.

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Report outlines more sex abuse allegations at prep school

An independent investigation into sexual misconduct at a New Hampshire prep school has expanded to include 18 former faculty and staff members dating back decades.

St. Paul's School released a report in May detailing allegations against a dozen men and one woman who worked at the school between 1947 and 1999. An addendum released Wednesday includes five staffers never identified before and outlines abuse that occurred up to 2009.

St. Paul's requested the investigation last year following reports about Howard White, who was fired from St. George's School in Middletown for sexual misconduct in 1974 and had previously worked at St. Paul's.

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Woman Files Suit Against State Police

A woman who lost her job at Twin River casino is blaming Rhode Island State Police, alleging in a lawsuit that the agency retaliated against her for refusing to serve as an informant. The Rhode Island chapter of the America Civil Liberties Union sued state police Wednesday on behalf of Marissa Lacoste, of Warwick. State Police say the agency takes allegations against it seriously but doesn't comment on pending litigation.

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HealhSource RI Calls Delayed

On the first day of open enrollment for health insurance, a glitch prevented hundreds of customers from reaching out to HealthSource RI.

About 300 calls were routed incorrectly, due to a change that was made to the agency’s phone menu Tuesday night, according to Brenna McCabe, a spokesperson for the agency.

HealthSource RI is in the process of reaching out to all of the impacted callers.

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Middletown Man Charged With Operating Hash Lab

A Middletown man was charged with felony drug distribution after a State Police task force confiscated more than 3 pounds of marijuana and $4,125 in cash from his home. Steven Sousa, 27, of 15 Woolsey Road, Apt. A, was arrested there Wednesday about 7:15 a.m. on charges of felony distribution of marijuana and possession of marijuana between 1 and 5 kilograms.

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Rise In Food Bank Demand, Drop In Donations

There's more demand for assistance from the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, but there are fewer donations.   The agency's director says unemployment is down, but people are not earning enough to support their families.  Donations from the food industry are down, so local food drives are even more important, especially as the winter months approach. 

 

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Gov. Wants Review Of National Grid's Preparedness, Restoration Efforts

Thousands of Rhode Islanders are still in the dark from Monday's storm and Governor Raimondo wants to know why.  The governor is calling for a review of the state's largest energy provider, National Grid.  Raimondo says the utility should make plans to prevent outages when storms are forecast.  The governor says the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers will conduct the review once power has been restored.

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Board issues vote of no confidence in chairman

A state licensing board has issued a vote of no confidence in their chairman after shots were fired near a Providence nightclub.

The Board of Licenses has closed the Penthouse Club for 72 hours following an emergency meeting after the incident last weekend. In a hearing Tuesday, the board cast a 4-1 vote to remove Juan Pichardo from his chairmanship position.

The vote comes the day after Mayor Jorge Elorza called for his resignation.

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Dems asking EPA why scientists couldn't discuss climate change

Several Democratic members of Congress are asking the head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency whether three agency scientists were prevented from speaking at a conference because it included a discussion of climate change.
In a letter to EPA Admin-istrator Scott Pruitt released Tuesday by the office of Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, members of the Rhode Island and Massachusetts delegations asked why the scientists were prevented from speaking at last week's conference on the health of Narragansett Bay.

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Raimondo: PawSox stadium deal doesn't need revisiting

Gov. Gina Raimondo said the deal for a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox does not need to be renegotiated, as the House speaker has requested.
House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said Friday he wants the state and the team to renegotiate, to reduce the risk to taxpayers and perhaps require the team or its owners to shoulder more of the cost.
The governor said Tuesday the current proposal protects taxpayers and keeps the team in Pawtucket, which could revitalize the city. Raimondo said it would be natural for lawmakers to amend it, but it's a good deal.

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Special master to be appointed in UHIP case

A judge is expected to appoint a special master to ensure that thousands of residents receive food stamps and other benefits in a timely way.
U.S. District Judge William Smith said in an order filed Tuesday he expects to appoint a special master after hearing from the parties on Thursday.
The state said Deloitte, the contractor responsible for the state's troubled benefits system, recently discovered several thousand more unprocessed benefits applications in the system.
 

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State police conference coming to Newport

More than 130 women troopers from all six New England state police agencies are scheduled to attend the second annual Women's Leadership Conference tomorrow and Friday at the Newport Marriott.
The two-day training conference promotes leadership and professionalism among women who serve in law enforcement, with a special focus on education, training, mentoring and support.

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Poll: Low Approval Rating For Governor Raimondo

A new poll is not good news for Governor Gina Raimondo.  The Morning Consult Poll shows the Rhode Island Democrat with an approval rating of 41-percent, while 47-percent disapprove.  By contrast Republican Governor Charlie Baker in neighboring Massachusetts is the nation's most popular governor with an approval rating at 69-percent.  Both Raimondo and Baker are expected to seek re-election in 2018.

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