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1540 WADK.com Updates Archives for 2018-01

Ginsburg skips State of the Union to speak in RI

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg says one of her great fears is that the federal judiciary will start to be seen as just another political branch of government. Ginsburg skipped  President Donald Trump's first State of the Union address Tuesday. Instead, she spoke at Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol. She did not discuss Trump, but bemoaned the partisan atmosphere in Washington.

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Police: Teacher fends off school intruder carrying knife

Police say a man with a knife in his backpack tried to force his way into his former high school's gymnasium and then punched and kicked a teacher who blocked his path. Police say students were in the gym at Portsmouth High School Tuesday morning when 22-year-old Marcus Schlip demanded to be let inside. Police say he then assaulted a physical education teacher who denied him entry and told him to go to the main office.

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State police report focuses on increasing diversity

Rhode Island State Police have released recommendations from an outside consultant focused on increasing diversity at the agency. Col. Ann Assumpico says state police have already adopted some of the changes suggested in the 154-page report released Tuesday. Among those are the creation of a mentorship program for applicants to the state police academy and improved efforts to publicize the agency's physical requirements.

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Wall In Pawtucket Now Has Clean Look

The centerpiece of a small park at Main and Broad streets in Pawtucket is no more.  The chalkboard wall with the heading "In my lifetime I want to ..." was meant for people to fill in the blank with something inspirational.  But it turned into crude comments and pictures in recent months, and became a burden for the city to keep things clean.  The chalkboard is gone and it is now an off-white color. 

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Pawtucket School Closed Today

A Pawtucket school is closed today.  Curvin-McCabe Elementary School is closed due to a lack of heat in the building.  There's no word yet if repairs will be made in time for tomorrow's classes.

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RI's Delegation Weighs In On President's Speech

Rhode Island's Democratic delegation to President Trump's State of the Union address is painting a different picture.  Senator Jack Reed says, "His sales pitch just doesn't add up."  Senator Sheldon Whitehouse says the President's tax giveaway "offers mere scraps to middle-class families."  Congressman Jim Langevin says the president's speech celebrated a failed year.

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Town And Navy Close On Land Deal

The Newport Daily News reports that after about a decade of work, the town of Middletown has finally taken ownership of the former Navy Lodge property.
Last night, municipal and Navy leaders came together for a ceremony in Town Hall to complete the sale of the 3-acre property at the corner of Coddington Highway and West Main Road for $1.3 million.
The deal is the first for the 165 acres of federal land that is part of the ongoing Base Realignment and Closure process.

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14 firefighters hospitalized for chemical exposure

Fourteen firefighters were hospitalized after being exposed to chemicals while responding to a fire at a Rhode Island business. The fire was reported Monday at a Cranston jewelry manufacturer that also rents space to a chemical distribution company. Cranston Fire Chief William McKenna says various chemicals were released after being disturbed by sprinklers and fire hoses. Seven firefighters had been discharged by late Monday and the other seven were in good condition.

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Gov. wants to extend state care to young adults

Gov. Gina Raimondo says she wants to allow young people to access care and support through the state Department of Children Youth and Families up to age 21.

Each year about 70 teenagers exit DCYF care when they turn 18.

Raimondo says the commitment would allow older youth, if they choose, to live in stable housing and receive support while they're in school, in a job training program or working.

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Newest Kennedy in Congress to give Democratic SOTU response

The newest generation of the Kennedy political dynasty will be introduced to a national audience tonight as he delivers the Democratic response to President Donald Trump's State of the Union. Rep. Joe Kennedy III is a 37-year-old Massachusetts congressman and grandson of Robert F. Kennedy. He says his speech will be "guided by a simple belief that equality and economic dignity should be afforded to every American." Kennedy was elected to the House in 2012.

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Ginsburg to skip State of the Union to speak in RI

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is skipping President Donald Trump's first State of the Union address while she travels to Rhode Island to speak to a group of law students. Ginsburg is scheduled to speak today at Roger Williams University School of Law in Bristol. The talk will only be open to students, faculty and staff, although members of the media are allowed.

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Proposal To Eliminate Front License Plates

State Representative Robert Nardolillo is proposing the elimination of front license plates in Rhode Island.  The Coventry Republican says it's estimated the state could save as much as two-million-dollars.  Nardolillo says to date, 19 states don't require a front plate.

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Special Legislative Commission Appointed

A special legislative commission is going to study the effects of enacting a line item veto.  It would allow a governor to veto particular parts of a state budget.  The commission will also explore a constitutional amendment that would require a run-off election for governor when one person in a multi-candidate race does not get the majority of votes in the general election.

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Gas prices rise 3 cents per gallon in RI

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

AAA Northeast said Monday in its weekly survey that self-serve regular is averaging $2.57 per gallon. That's one cent below the national average of $2.58.

The average price of gasoline in Rhode Island is 32 cents higher than it was at this time last year, when it sold for $2.25 per gallon.

AAA found gas selling for as low as $2.45 per gallon and as high as $2.66 in Rhode Island.

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Union says state should hire more deputy sheriffs

The union that represents Rhode Island deputy sheriffs says the state should hire more deputies instead of boosting court security with state and local police. Union president Paul Clays says the group has warned for years that courthouse security staffing levels were too low. A spokesman for Gov. Gina Raimondo says the Division of Sheriffs' resources are being strained by its "injured on duty" system.

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Providence gun violence on rise

Providence officials are grappling with an uptick in gun violence this month compared to recent years. Police Chief Hugh Clements said that as of Friday nine people had been shot so far in 2018. That's the highest number of shootings during this time period since 2014. Two people have been killed. Clements say some of the violence is connected to gangs and some stem from personal disputes.

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Newport Polar Bears Reschedule Annual Plunge

The annual Polar Plunge in Newport that was canceled on New Year's Day due to frigid temperatures will take place next month. The Newport Daily News reports that the event will happen Sunday Feb. 25 at noon at Easton's Beach. Wind chills below zero prompted organizers and city officials to postpone the New Year's Day event

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Navy to turn over former lodge property to Middletown

The U.S. Navy is set to turn over the site of a former Navy Lodge to the town of Middletown.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed's office says that Navy officials are scheduled to travel to Rhode Island this week to sign the paperwork for the $1.3 million deal.

The Navy is selling the 3.25-acre site after declaring it surplus property. Reed  says the sale is a smart, cost-effective move for the Navy and taxpayers.

Council President Robert Sylvia calls it one of the most important acquisitions the town has ever made and says it has the potential to be a long-term economic catalyst.

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US Supreme Court Justice Ginsburg to speak in RI

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is set to speak to a group of law students in Rhode Island.

Ginsburg's talk tomorrow at Roger Williams University's law school is billed as a "fireside chat" with 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Senior Judge Bruce  Selya.

The talk will only be open to students, faculty and staff due to space limitations.

The trailblazing, 84-year-old justice is the subject of a new documentary, entitled RBG, just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

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Surgeon general praises state effort to combat opioid crisis

U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams says he's impressed by how Rhode Islanders are working together to curb the opioid epidemic. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse brought Adams to the Anchor Recovery Community Center in Pawtucket Friday to meet with state leaders, people in recovery and addiction specialists. Adams says the visit made him optimistic "we can all come together to solve this crisis."

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Fogarty retiring as elderly affairs director

State Director of Elderly Affairs Charles Fogarty is planning to retire later this year.  Governor Gina Raimondo has high praise for Fogarty, calling him a trusted friend and colleague who has been a vocal advocate for Rhode Island seniors.  During his career, Fogarty has been a town councilor in Glocester, a state senator and lieutenant governor.  Governor Raimondo says she intends appoint someone with extensive human services experience as the next Elderly Affairs director. 

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Naval Station Newport to participate in exercise

Naval Station Newport will join installations across the nation in an annual training exercise to better prepare Navy security forces.

Exercise Solid Curtain-Citadel Shield 2018 will be conducted on naval installations beginning today.

Officials say they want the public to know that the events are planned and are not in response to an emergency or threat.

There may be times when the exercise causes increased traffic around the naval station or delays in base access.

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Business group to host forum

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce is hosting a forum to allow business leaders to question the state's lawmakers about issues affecting their companies.The event will be held at noon on Wednesday at the Rhode Island Convention Center.
Laurie White, the chamber's president, is scheduled to speak.

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Public schools paid for private school crossing guard

A Rhode Island public school district has been paying for a crossing guard at a private school for 18 years, now the superintendent says it needs to stop.

Westerly Superintendent Mark Garceau told the school committee that the deal with St. Pius X Regional Academy came to light earlier this month when the department's payroll office was preparing for the upcoming budget.

Garceau said the crossing guard was costing the school district about $5,000 a year. He called the principal of St. Pius X to tell her the situation would end.

The Catholic school's principal said the crossing guard is important because the school is on a dangerous street.

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Proposed Health Care Merger Moving Forward

The proposed merger of Care New England with Boston-based Partners HealthCare is moving forward.  Both sides announced yesterday their boards have agreed to enter into a definitive agreement.  Once negotiations are successfully completed, the merger will need regulatory approval from Rhode Island, Massachusetts and federal officials.  Care New England, which recently closed Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket, is Rhode Island's second largest hospital group, comprised of Women & Infant's, Kent and Butler hospitals.

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Accessibility Issues At State-Owned Train Stations

Federal investigators say the state-owned train station in Kingston is now in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.  The state Department of Transportation made the necessary renovations.  RIDOT has also made renovations at the Westerly train station.  The U.S. Attorney's office says Amtrak is expected to make updates to platform access from the tunnels to make the Westerly station ADA compliant as well.

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Seal Released After Rehab

After two months of rehabilitation, a nine-month-old seal is back in the wild.  The seal was released yesterday at Blue Shutters Beach in Charlestown.  "Sweet William" was rescued off the coast of Maine in November and brought to the Mystic Aquarium weighing 29 pounds.  The seal, which now weighs 50 pounds, was treated for severe facial wounds and pneumonia.

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North Smithfield Man Charged With Cyberstalking Ex-Girlfriend

A man is facing multiple charges for allegedly cyberstalking and threatening to kill his former girlfriend in Texas.  Howard Bishop had recently moved to North Smithfield when he was arrested Tuesday by FBI agents.  Bishop is charged with using the Internet to send harassing and threatening messages to his former girlfriend, her family and three Texas prosecutors involved in his earlier prosecution of violating a protective order.

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11 Deaths In Rhode Island From The Flu

Eleven people in Rhode Island are dead from the flu so far this season.  The Rhode Island Department of Health says ten of the eleven were people over the age of 65.  Last year, there were 33 deaths for the entire flu season.

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Providence Loses Appeal In Sexual Harassment Lawsuit

The U.S. First Circuit Court of Appeals is upholding an award of half-a-million-dollars to a former Providence firefighter.  Lieutenant Lori Franchina sued the city claiming her co-workers harassed her because she's a woman and a lesbian.  Franchina claimed she had filed complaints with the department prior to her retiring in 2013.  Mayor Elorza says the city will not appeal the latest three-judge panel decision.

 

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Brown University Student Arrested

A Brown University graduate student is facing fraud charges.  Shishuai Li was arrested yesterday after an investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security into a claim by a 74-year-old Florida woman.  Authorities say the woman met Li on an online dating site and thought she was sending a 60-year-old man 30-thousand-dollars to build a school for underprivileged kids in Dubai.  They say the money wound up in Li's bank account, which had 181-thousand-dollars in deposits since August and triggered an investigation.

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State, city police enlisted to maintain peace at courthouses

State courts in Rhode Island are getting some added security. Four State Police troopers and four Providence police officers will be posted at two major judicial complexes in Providence. Courts spokesman Craig Berke says the armed, uniformed officers will be patrolling the hallways at the courthouse following a number of recent incidents. The majority will be posted at the Garrahy complex that houses Family Court and Sixth District Court

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Calls for universal health care renewed in RI

Supporters of universal health care are renewing their push for publicly-subsidized health insurance for all Rhode Island residents. State Rep. Aaron Regunberg, a Providence Democrat running for lieutenant governor, is a sponsor of this year's legislation. He says the proposal calls for a 10 percent payroll tax but would lead to $4,000 in annual savings for residents.

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Triple A Advice For Super Bowl Travelers

Triple-A Northeast is offering advice to New England Patriots fans planning to be in Minneapolis for the Super Bowl.  Fans are cautioned to make sure they are dealing with a reputable company for game tickets.  Other advice includes checking out hotel packages, car rental rates, ride-sharing and mass transit options.  Triple-A says the best protection from scams is to use a qualified tour operator or travel agency to plan the trip. 

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More 38 Studios Investigation Information Released

Audio files and emails from the 38 Studios investigation are now accessible on the Rhode Island State Police website.  Most of the information was already available, but some had previously been sealed from the public by a court order that has since been lifted.  The video game design company owned by former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling secured a 75-million-dollar loan guarantee from the state to move from Massachusetts to Rhode Island.  It went bankrupt in 2012 and a four year investigation into its financial collapse resulted in a 2016 announcement that there would be no criminal charges filed.  

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Legislator Looks To Remove Outdated Laws

A state lawmaker is trying to take some laws off the books.  House Majority Whip John Edwards says there are a number of laws that don't make sense today regarding dueling.  Other laws involve testing the speed of horses on the highway and the amount of seaweed that can be taken to be used as fertilizer.  Edwards is introducing a bill to create a committee to work on repealing the outdated laws. 

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Governor Touts Plan To Help Small Businesses

Governor Raimondo is outlining her plan to assist small businesses.  Raimondo says local governments need to cut red tape so business owners spend less time dealing with city hall.  Raimondo says there's 200-thousand-dollars in the proposed budget for creating a fund to help cities streamline business registration and licensing. 

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Pawtucket Mother, Son Arrested On Drug Charges

A Pawtucket mother and son are facing multiple drug charges.  Police say they were tipped to the activity of Lisa Ellis and James Gomes by concerned neighbors.  Authorities arrested the pair Monday and seized a quantity of cocaine, heroin, oxycodone and cash.

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RIDOT To Remove 350 Guardrails Blamed For Deadly Crashes

Rhode Island is following suit with six other states to remove guardrails blamed for deadly crashes.  RIDOT installed the X-LITE guardrails four years ago and will now remove them from 350 locations.  The end of the guardrail is supposed to collapse, but there have been reported failures causing severe injuries and even death.  It's not yet known how much it's going to cost to remove and replace the guardrails. 

 

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Commission OKs Salve Regina demolition permit

The Newport Daily News reports that The Historic District Commission approved on 5-2 vote Tuesday night a demolition permit allowing Salve Regina University to raze five small single-family homes built in the 1950s. The homes are located just to the west of Lawrence Avenue, between Shepard and Victoria avenues, and would be cleared to make way for a proposed dormitory to be called Watts Dormitory that would house 214 students.

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Cranston unions lose federal appeal over RI pension changes

A panel of federal judges has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Cranston police and firefighter unions challenging the constitutionality of Rhode Island’s 2011 pension overhaul.

The unions sued in 2016, arguing that the 2011 law wrongly violated their contract rights by reducing their future retirement benefits.

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Feds ask mariners to slow down to protect right whales

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is announcing a voluntary speed restriction zone south of Nantucket to protect a group of rare whales.

The federal agency said Tuesday that the restriction for mariners will be in effect through Feb. 5 to protect a group of 22 North Atlantic right whales seen south of Nantucket on Tuesday.

Right whales are among the most endangered marine mammals, and are coming off of a year of high mortality and low reproduction.

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Scituate Residents Approve Funding New Police Station

Scituate residents are agreeing to funding a new police station.  The old station was vacated last September due to high levels of lead, asbestos, mold and radon in the building.  Since then, staff has been working from trailers.  The new station will be built next to the Scituate Senior Center on Chopmist Hill Road. 

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Governor Launches A Small Business Program

Governor Gina Raimondo says nine of Rhode Island's biggest employers are committing to buying more goods and services from the state's small businesses.  The state will also increase its use of suppliers by ten percent.  The governor made the announcements yesterday at the launch of Supply RI, an initiative to help small business owners.  Raimondo says even if purchases increase by just a couple of percent, it has the potential to create hundreds of jobs and generate about 50-million-dollars for the economy.

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Portsmouth Retains Town Administrator

The Newport Daily News reports that The Portsmouth Town Council voted 4-3 last night to retain Town Administrator Richard Rainer for three more years.
A native of Niagara Falls, New York, Rainer's ties to Aquidneck Island include serving as the director of international studies at the Naval War College in Newport from 2008-12.

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Electric Boat says its workforce continues to grow

General Dynamics' Electric Boat says its workforce continues to grow as it prepares to build a new class of ballistic-missile submarines. The Day of New London reports Jeffrey Geiger, president of the U.S. Navy contractor, said Monday Electric Boat has 16,200 employees, the highest headcount in nearly 25 years. He discussed the company's future at a hotel in Groton. The Groton-based company plans to hire 2,200 employees in 2018 in Connecticut and at its Rhode Island manufacturing facility.

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Narragansett Indian Tribe won't supply water for power plant

The Narragansett Indian Tribe says it won't abide by an agreement to be a backup water source for a proposed natural gas-fired power plant in Burrillville. The state Energy Facility Siting Board was notified of the termination Monday. Chicago-based developer Invenergy says the tribe's decision won't impact the water supply plan because it has another backup agreement in place.

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Bill Would Exempt Some From ID Fee

There's a House bill that would exempt people with disabilities and those over the age of 59 who can't or don't drive from having to pay for a state-issued ID card.  Portsmouth state Representative Dennis Canario says identification cards are necessary for many things and it's vital everyone has one.  He says the exemption would help many people, including those on a very limited income.

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RIEMA Earns National Accreditation

The Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency has been recognized for receiving national accreditation.  The independent Emergency Management Accreditation Program awards agencies after they meet 64 standard requirements in more than a dozen functional areas.  An awards ceremony was held yesterday morning at the State House.

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Restaurant Suddenly Closes, Employees Surprised

Employees of a Richmond restaurant are suddenly finding themselves out of a job.  Billy Hill's Roadhouse announced yesterday it was underperforming and closing for remodeling.  An owner says it would reopen as a cigar bar and lounge.  Employees say they received no advance notice of the closing with some learning about it on Facebook. 

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Mattiello Says PawSox Funding Bill Won't Pass In Current Form

State House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said Monday  a Senate bill to provide public funding for a new PawSox stadium won't pass in its current form. The Senate bill calls for state and Pawtucket taxpayers to put up 38-million of the 83-million dollar stadium.  Mattiello says the consensus of his House Democratic colleagues is to shift more risk to the team's owners. 

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Gas prices rise 3 cents per gallon to $2.54 in RI

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

AAA Northeast said Monday in its weekly survey that self-serve regular is averaging $2.54 per gallon. That's the same as the national average.

The average price of gasoline in Rhode Island is 26 cents higher than it was at this time last year, when it sold for $2.28 per gallon.

AAA found gas selling for as low as $2.43 per gallon and as high as $2.70 in Rhode Island.

AAA says the increase is due to the price of crude oil.

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Federal agency to hold meeting about offshore drilling plan

A federal agency will hold a public meeting in Providence to discuss President Donald Trump's plan to expand offshore drilling.  Sen. Jack Reed says the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will be at the Providence Marriott Downtown on Thursday. Reed says the public is invited to attend the meeting from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and submit prepared written comments.

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Dog Rescue In East Greenwich

First responders in Rhode Island put their live-saving skills to the test over the weekend, rescuing a dog that fell into icy water at a park. East Greenwich officials responded to the scene at Scalloptown Park, where Bethany Verret says her one-year-old dog Archie got trapped after falling through thin ice. Verret says Archie must have gotten caught up chasing after a bird, and didn't realize there was water underneath the ice.

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Repairs at water-damaged RI buildings may take months

Officials in Warwick and Cranston say it could be months before damage is fully repaired at town-owned buildings that were flooded by water pipe breaks during frigid temperatures earlier this month.

Building directors, inspectors and construction workers will need that time to assess and fix the damage at the Warwick City Hall Annex and Cranston's Edgewood Highlands School. Students at the school and workers at the annex have been moved to temporary quarters in other buildings.

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URI campus center recognized as a historic district

The University of Rhode Island says it's been informed that the core of its main campus will be added to the National Register of Historic Places. The university says the U.S. Department of the Interior's National Park Service recognized the campus center as a historic district, which  includes more than a dozen structures on 29 acres.

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Voter registration among goals of Providence women's march

Large crowds gathered in front of the Statehouse over the weekend  for the Rhode Island's Women's March, part of worldwide rallies for female empowerment. Many of the participants in the Providence event wore pink and carried signs denouncing President Donald Trump. Organizers said the event focused on efforts to register women to vote and connect people to volunteers to social justice organizations.

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Providence aims to help entrepreneurs

Providence has launched a new program to help entrepreneurs start their own businesses. Mayor Jorge Elorza says that up to 100 unemployed and under-employed residents will receive entrepreneurship training and support to start their businesses. The city made $100,000 in community development block grant funding available for the program.

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City Council Committee To Study Homelessness

There's a new Providence City Council committee that will study homelessness in the city.  According to a resolution approved last weet, the committee will issue a report by November.  Ward 11 Councilwoman Mary Kay Harris will chair the committee which includes four other members of the council.

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Bill To Give Public Easier Statehouse Access

There's a pending legislative package designed to give the public easier access to the State House.   Providence Representative Aaron Regunberg says his intent is to level the playing field between ordinary citizens and lobbyists.  Among his proposals are 100 free parking spaces for the public at the State House and a new bus stop nearby.  He's also proposing child care for visitors during committee hours when the General Assembly is in session. 

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Lynch Is Not Running For State Senate

The former chairman of the state Democratic Party isn't running for a state Senate seat.  Attorney Bill Lynch says he doesn't want to hurt his personal and professional commitments with a campaign.  The District 8 seat in Pawtucket is open with the recent departure of Jaime Doyle for personal reasons.

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Governor Reacts To Increased Unemployment

Rhode Island's four-point-four-percent unemployment rate for December is one-tenth of a percent higher than in November.  However, Governor Gina Raimondo says while 600 jobs were lost last month, it was the fourth best month on record for the job count.  The governor also notes that Rhode Island set new records for job counts eight times in 2017.

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Leaders to announce legal action in the fight against opioid crisis

Lt. Gov. Dan McKee and several Rhode Island communities plan to announce legal action against companies that officials say are responsible for the proliferation of prescription opioids in the state.

McKee’s office says the “joint initiative” will be announced today.

The mayors of Warwick, Central Falls, Pawtucket, North Providence, Cumberland and Johnston were slated to participate, along with municipal officials from East Providence and Richmond.

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RI's Real Estate Market Is Hot

The local real estate market is hot.  The Rhode Island Association of Realtors says 2017 was a record year for single-family home sales, with over eleven-thousand sold.  There was also a significant increase in the sale of multi-family homes and condominiums.  Association President Joseph Luca says the biggest problem was a lack of inventory, especially in the starter home market. 

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RI AG Joins Net Neutrality Lawsuit

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is part of a coalition of 22 attorneys general seeking to stop the rollback of net neutrality.   A petition for review has been filed with the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C. beginning a lawsuit against the FCC and the federal government.  Kilmartin calls the rollback anti-consumer and says a free and open Internet ensures equal access to information and promotes innovation in the digital economy.  He warns repeal would have serious consequences for consumers and businesses in Rhode  Island and elsewhere.

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State Treasurer Supports School Construction Initiative

State Treasurer Seth Magaziner says Rhode Island's aging school buildings must be a priority.  He notes that an engineering study shows school districts have an immediate need for more than two-billion-dollars in repairs.  Magaziner says every district in the state has at least one building that does not meet basic warm, safe and dry standards for students.  He says the state must make a once-in-a-generation investment so that students have a fair chance to succeed in the 21st century economy.

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RI's Unemployment Rate Inches Up

Rhode Island's December unemployment rate is four-point-four percent.  That's one-tenth of a percent higher than the November number.  The Department of Labor and Training says about 500 jobs were lost last month.   The national jobless rate for December is four-point-one percent. 

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Extension Cord Cause Of Explosion And Fire

Fire officials are saying the cause of an explosion and fire in Providence was an extension cord.  The fire happened around 9 a.m. yesterday at Monk Road and Enfield Avenue.  A couple on the second floor suffered minor injuries.  The house was a total loss.

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House Democrats Say PawSox Stadium Deal Needs Improvement

House Democrats don't like what they see in a current proposal for a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium.  House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says the issue will not go to a November voter referendum.  After an hour-long closed-door session with fellow Democrats, Mattiello says the General Assembly will ultimately make a decision on the proposed 85-million-dollar plan.  He says his colleagues want the proposal improved so the state doesn't bear as much of a financial burden. 

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Governor Presents Budget To House

Governor Raimondo's nine-point-four-billion-dollar budget calls for voters to approve a 250-million-dollar bond so the state can spend one-billion-dollars on a five-year school reconstruction plan.  Another part of the governor's budget that was presented yesterday to the House supports gambling at two casinos and would bring in 23-million-dollars.  House leaders are wary about that part of the spending plan.

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Law limiting sex offenders at shelters put on hold

Rhode Island officials have agreed not to enforce a state law that limits the number of registered sex offenders at homeless shelters until a judge rules on the legal challenge. The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island says the decision followed a closed-doors conference with a U.S. district judge Tuesday. Lawyers argue the state's 10-percent limit on the number of shelter beds given to registered sex offenders is unconstitutional.

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GOP senator not stepping down amid investigation

The lawyer for a Republican state senator being investigated by state police says his client has decided not to step down. Sen. Nicholas Kettle's attorney, Paul DiMaio, said on Wednesday that Kettle doesn't believe he committed a crime, and will stay in his seat. DiMaio said on Tuesday that Kettle likely would step down after state police confirmed they were investigating Kettle. Police haven't said what they're investigating.

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House Democrats To Caucus On Stadium Proposal

House Democrats are going to meet in a closed-door caucus this afternoon regarding the Pawtucket Red Sox stadium proposal.  The Senate passed the plan Tuesday that authorizes taxpayers to cover 38-million-dollars of the estimated 83-million-dollar price tag for a new ballpark.  It remains unclear whether House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello will ultimately support the bill.  PawSox ownership is threatening to leave Rhode Island unless a new stadium is built.

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Police Look For Suspects Who Stole Speed Camera

Providence Police are looking for the two men who stole a new speed camera.  The 80-thousand-dollar camera was stolen from its location on Peace Street earlier this week.  Police say the two people used a dark-colored Dodge pickup truck to haul the camera away. 

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Number Of Flu Cases Rising

Hospitals across the state are seeing increased cases of the flu.  State Health Director Nicole Alexander-Scott is urging everyone to get a flu shot.  So far this flu season, there have been 203 people hospitalized, with 94 just this week

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Early Morning Blaze in Little Compton

ABC-6 News reports that the Rhode Island Fire Marshal is investigating a fire on Old Farm Road in Little Compton early this morning, after the home owners drove to the fire station to alert the department.

The fire broke out just after midnight.

When crews arrived on scene, heavy fire could be seen coming from the garage of the home.

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Alex & Ani Founder Opening Newport Restaurant

The Newport Daily News reports that Carolyn Rafaelian, the founder of Alex and Ani, is launching a new group of full-scale restaurants this year and the flagship will be on Thames Street. A spokesperson says the new Bar and Board restaurant will be in the former People's Credit Union building on Thames St., with an opening is planned for May 1.

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City Pitching Sale Of Armory

The Newport Daily News reports that the city is proposing to sell the Armory building on lower Thames Street to the National Sailing Hall of Fame for a little less than $2 million, according to parties involved in the negotiations.
The purchase-and-sales agreement has to be approved by the Sailing Hall of Fame's board of directors and by the Newport City Council, but leaders in both parties are not anticipating any problems.
 

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Owl Rescue In Coventry

A trash collector picked up and rescued an injured owl while working in Coventry. The Coventry Public Works Department said on Facebook that one of their trash collectors noticed an owl sitting too close to the road on the employee's route Tuesday. City Animal Control were soon called to the scene while the driver waited with the owl.

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Physician Running For Governor As An Independent

A physician and political newcomer says he's running for governor as an independent.  Doctor Luis-Daniel Munoz says he'll focus on improving schools, job creation and access to health care.  There's one other independent candidate and three Republicans in the race.  Incumbent Governor Gina Raimondo may also face a Democratic primary challenge. 

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State Senator Under Investigation

State police are investigating state Senator Nicholas Kettle.  Authorities would not say why they were at his home in Coventry yesterday morning seizing cell phones and computers.  Kettle's lawyer Paul DiMaio says the investigation has nothing to do with Kettle as an elected official but, rather, a breakup with a girlfriend.  DiMaio says that Kettle will likely resign from the General Assembly. 

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State Senate Approves Subsidies For PawSox Stadium

A proposal to provide public subsidies to fund a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium is moving to the House.  Two bills were approved yesterday in the state Senate.  Under the proposal, the state would pay 23-million-dollars of the 83-million-dollar stadium.  The House Finance Committee will review the plan.

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Governor Paints Optimistic Picture Of State

Governor Raimondo is optimistic as she heads into her fourth year in office.  The governor gave her State of the State address last night touting lower unemployment, new construction projects and repairs to aging infrastructure.  Raimondo touched on her proposed budget, which will be released tomorrow.  Part of that proposal is one-billion-dollars to be spent over the next five years on school repairs to be partly funded by a 250-million-dollar bond referendum on the November ballot.

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Middletown Looks To Expand Beach Lot

According to the Newport Daily News, the town of Middletown is considering adding about 200 resident-only parking spaces at Sachuest Beach by closing the Second Beach Family Campground.
The proposal was rolled out for the first time Tuesday night by the Town Council's Beach Evaluation Committee as a way to help address longstanding gripes from some locals about the shortage of beach parking on busy days, where all the lots can fill by 10 a.m.

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Raimondo To Give State Of State Tonight

Gov. Gina Raimondo will deliver her State of the State address tonight, seeking to convince voters she is making progress on tackling the state’s problems even as her opponents ramp up their criticism ahead of the November election. Raimondo is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. at the State House before a joint session of Rhode Island’s 113 state lawmakers and other dignitaries in the House chamber

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Gas prices fall to $2.51 per gallon in RI

Gas prices have fallen slightly in Rhode Island, to an average $2.51 per gallon for regular unleaded.

AAA Northeast says its weekly survey on Monday found that the price of gas in the state had fallen an average of two cents per gallon from last week.

The price in Rhode Island is two cents below the average price nationally, of $2.53 per gallon.

But it's 20 cents higher than at this time last year, when gas was averaging $2.31 per gallon in the Ocean State.

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Kilmartin Opposed To Burrillville Power Plant

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin says he's opposed to construction of the Invenergy power plant in Burrillville.  He says he plans to seek court permission to file a brief in Superior Court challenging the plant's water-supply plan. Kilmartin remarked that much has changed since the plant was proposed in 2015.  He added that there's growing evidence it's not needed and is not in the best interest of taxpayers or the state's natural resources. 

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Bill Would Increase Protections For Internet Users

There's a bill that would give Internet users in Rhode Island more protections.  Warwick Representative Evan Shanley's legislation would protect people from having their personal information disclosed by operators of commercial web sites or online services.  The bill notes that personal information is being collected, shared and sold in ways not considered or covered by current state and federal laws.  The measure has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

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Norwegian Air Drops Flight

Norwegian Air is dropping its flight from T.F. Green Airport in Warwick to Bergen, Norway.  The biweekly flights are being shifted to Shannon, Ireland.  Travelers who have already booked flights to Norway will get a refund or can reschedule their flight.  The airline is also reducing the number of weekly flights to Edinburgh, Scotland, from four to three.

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Authorities Look For Arsonist, Reward Offered

A five-thousand-dollar reward is being offered leading to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for setting two fires in Warwick.  The fires happened about two hours apart yesterday morning on Strand Avenue and Sea View Drive.  No one was injured, but both homes are heavily damaged.  The owner of one of the homes only lives there during the summer. 

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Gov. pushes for bill to give her office line-item veto

Gov. Gina Raimondo is pushing for a bill that would give the governor power to veto parts of the state budget. The governor says that she's launching a stronger push for line-item veto power this year. Most states already allow governors to strike individual budget items without having to veto an entire appropriations bill. A bill has been introduced in Rhode Island to give voters the chance to vote on a constitutional amendment.

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State offers grants for local farm and food businesses

Rhode Island is offering grants to help grow local farm and food businesses and increase the competitiveness of their products in the marketplace. The Department of Environmental Management says $380,000 is available through two grant programs that have invested about $3 million in the state. DEM Director Janet Coit says farming and fishing are increasingly vital to the state's economy.

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WWII vet receives overdue military honors

U.S. Jack Reed has presented a 92-year-old World War II veteran with military honors he earned during the war but never received. Reed said Saturday that Willard "Bud" Voigt now has his overdue Bronze Star, Purple Heart and other prestigious honors. Voigt, of Warwick, grew up in Fall River and joined the U.S. Army after graduating from high school in 1943. Voigt served with the 90th Infantry Division in France.

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Unemployment Website Back Online

State residents can once again access their unemployment claims online.  Flooding at the Department of Labor and Training's data center in Cranston forced the web site to go off line Saturday morning.   By yesterday everything was up and running again.  

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Governor To Deliver State Of The State

Governor  Gina Raimondo is planning to tout the state's economic success and education in the State of the State address.  Raimondo is to address both chambers of the General Assembly tomorrow at 7 p.m.  The governor will outline how incentives and job training has helped the state recover from the recession. 

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Missing Man's Kayak Recovered

Authorities say they have recovered a missing man's kayak.  The kayak of 46-year old Michael Perry was found around 10:30 a.m. yesterday in East Providence.  Perry has been missing since Friday afternoon after he went kayaking at Conimicut Point in Warwick.

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Relative Opposed To Airport Name Change

A descendent of T.F. Green Airport's namesake says she opposes a proposal to change the name of the Rhode Island airport.

Keena Palmer, the grandniece of former Gov. Theodore Francis Green, says officials should instead add "international" to the end of the airport's name.

House Majority leader Joseph Shekarchi previously announced a bill to change the name of the Warwick airport, saying  he wants the name to reflect the airport's international status.

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CVS to add sites for discarding unwanted opioids

CVS Health Corp. plans to install medication disposal units in dozens of pharmacies around Massachusetts as part of the state's effort to fight opioid abuse.

The units allow customers to safely dispose of prescription painkillers that have expired or are no longer being used.

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RI looking for its first youth poetry ambassador

Rhode Island is looking for its first youth poetry ambassador. Rhode Island Poet Laureate Tina Cane and the Rhode Island Center for the Book at the Rhode Island Council on the Humanities are partnering to look for a high school student to serve in the role. The winner will have an opportunity to publish a guest column in The Providence Journal, have their poetry featured on public buses and record an episode for Cane's podcast.

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Officials blame flu for long ER wait times

Some Rhode Island residents say they were forced to wait hours in the emergency room, and state officials say the flu is to blame.

The state Department of Health says they have seen "higher than usual" volumes at emergency departments statewide. A spokesman says the driving factor has been an extremely significant jump in flu cases across the state.

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New England reps' bill would prohibit offshore drilling

Bipartisan members of New England's congressional delegations have introduced a bill to prohibit oil and gas drilling off the New England coast. The New England Coastline Protection Act would prohibit oil and gas extraction activities in New Hampshire, Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island. It's a response to the Trump administration's plan to open nearly all U.S. coastlines to offshore oil and gas drilling.

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Date Set For Special State Senate Election

A special election for Senate District 8 in Pawtucket is set for April 3rd.  The vote is needed to fill the seat vacated by the departure of Senator Jaime Doyle.  Citing his struggle with alcohol, Doyle unexpectedly announced his immediate resignation on Tuesday.  If more than one candidate from either party qualifies to be on the ballot, a special primary will be held on February 27th.

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Governor Announces Initiative To Help Foster Families

The state is proposing an investment of nearly one-and-a-half-million-dollars in resources to foster families.  Governor Gina Raimondo says it's part of her administration's effort to increase the number of children in foster care and reduce the number living in group homes.  The governor says there's a need for 250 loving, supportive families for children currently in institutional care.

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Brown University Challenging Sale Of CNE

Brown University is mounting a challenge to the sale of Care New England to Boston-based Partners HealthCare.  In a campus letter, Brown President Christina Paxson says the sale to Partners is not in the best interest of Rhode Island and not in the best interest of Brown and its medical school.  Partners is closely aligned with Harvard Medical School. Brown is partnering with Prospect Medical of California in an effort to buy financially-struggling Care New England.  Prospect is already in Rhode Island, operating Roger Williams Medical Center and Fatima Hospital.

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Cats Abandoned At Shipyard, Reward Offered

A two-thousand-dollar reward is being offered after several cats were left abandoned at the Newport Shipyard.  The Potter League for Animals says someone found the cats in lobster crates and brought them to the shelter.  The cats were covered in flea dirt and scabs and were malnourished.  The reward is being offered for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person responsible for abandoning the cats. 

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National Grid Reduces Rate Increase Request

National Grid is reducing its proposed rate hike with the state Public Utilities Commission.  The utility initially sought a 71-million-dollar rate hike for electric and gas.  It has now reduced that amount by about 25-million-dollars.  The utility cites the recent federal tax changes as the reason for the reduction.  If approved, the rate increase would not take effect until September.

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Multiple Injuries Suffered After Explosions On Barge

A number of people were hurt and two are being treated for serious injuries after explosions on a barge in North Kingstown.  Authorities say the explosions happened while work was being done on a barge at Senesco Marine around 3:30 p.m. yesterday.  Fire officials say there were multiple injuries and two people were taken to Rhode Island Hospital.  One person has burns over 70-percent of his body, while the other suffered severe leg injuries.

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Newport Police Officers Awarded Pay Increase

The Newport Daily News reports that The Newport City Council unanimously approved Wednesday night a three-year labor contract for police officers that will provide them with a total pay increase of 6 percent over the life of the contract.
The council members approved the new personnel salaries on first reading, with a second and final vote scheduled for Jan. 24.

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Newport Foundation Announces New Leader

The Newport Restoration Foundation announced Wednesday that Mark Thompson will serve as the organization's next executive director, replacing Pieter Roos who left at the end of February last year. Thompson begins work on Feb. 5.
Thompson has been serving as the executive director of the Jefferson Patterson Park & Museum in St. Leonard, Maryland, since 2011

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Medical marijuana sellers lose ability to take debit cards

Two Rhode Island medical marijuana dispensaries have lost their ability to accept debit cards after Attorney General Jeff Sessions last week reversed an Obama-era policy not to prosecute marijuana cases. Dispensaries in Warwick and Portsmouth are accepting only cash and checks. Both used a payment processing company that worked with a bank in Massachusetts, where the U.S. attorney says there's no guarantee medical marijuana operations won't be prosecuted.

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PawSox 2018 Coaching Staff Is Announced

Kevin Boles is returning in 2018 for his fifth season as manager of the Pawtucket Red Sox.  Kevin Walker is the new pitching coach after three seasons in that position at Double-A Portland.  Rich Gedman returns for a fourth year as Pawtucket's hitting coach.  The PawSox home season begins on Friday, April 6th. 

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RI's Whitehouse Appointed To Senate Finance Committee

Rhode  Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is joining the Senate Finance Committee.  Whitehouse says that in his new assignment he'll work to protect Social Security, Medicare and making the tax code fairer for middle-class families.  Two Republicans, former state Supreme Court Justice Robert Flanders and Coventry Representative Robert Nardolillo, are vying for the GOP nomination to challenge Whitehouse in his bid for re-election this year.  

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Bill Makes DUI With Children A Felony

A House bill is being introduced soon to make DUI with a child under 13 in the vehicle a felony punishable by up to five years in prison, stiff fines and license suspension.  Coventry Representative Robert Nardolillo says there's been an increase in the number of DUI cases involving children in the vehicle.  Companion legislation is expected to be filed in the Senate by Providence Senator Mary Ellen Goodwin.

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Ice Cream Bars Recalled

Several brands of ice cream bars are being recalled in Rhode Island because they could be contaminated with listeria   The treats are manufactured by Fieldbrook Foods Corporation and labeled under the Hood and Stop and Shop brands.  The products being recalled are orange ice cream bars and chocolate-coated vanilla ice cream bars.  Anyone who purchased the products can return them for a refund. 

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Electrical Fire Causes Partial Evacuation Of Mall

An electrical fire is being blamed for the partial evacuation of Providence Place Mall.  The fire happened around 6:30 last evening.  The third floor and cinema area were evacuated to the lower levels as firefighters dealt with the situation in the parking garage.  Everything was back to normal about an hour later. 

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Classes Resuming For Two Cranston Schools

Classes are resuming today at two Cranston schools that have been closed because of water issues.  Cranston East High School closed Monday after a pipe burst, while Edgewood Highland Elementary School has been closed since last week after water from a burst water main cascaded into the school's first floor.  Classes for Edgewood Highland students will be held at the Norwood Avenue School until the mess is cleaned up.  Preschool classes will be held at Rhodes School.

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Flood Watch Issued

A flood watch is being issued for all of Rhode Island and southern New England.  The National Weather Service expects the heaviest rain to fall tomorrow night into early Saturday.  As much as four inches of rain could fall along the coast.  The rain, combined with melting snow, could cause localized flooding along streams and clogged storm drains.

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RI's official tall ship is moving to Virginia

Rhode Island's official tall ship is moving to Virginia.

A  foundation in Alexandria, Virginia, has purchased the 110-foot sloop-of-war Providence.

The Tall Ship Providence Foundation says the ship will arrive in its new homeport in the summer of 2019.

The foundation bought it for $175,000 and is renovating it to host maritime educational programs.

The sloop Providence was built for the 1976 bicentennial and is a replica of John Paul Jones' first command ship.

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Female lawmakers wear black at RI Statehouse

Many female lawmakers are wearing black at the Rhode Island Statehouse in solidarity with the Time's Up movement and as a statement against sexual misconduct. Female senators and House members were asked to wear black on Tuesday. More than a dozen lawmakers posed for pictures at the speaker's rostrum after the session started, flexing their muscles like Rosie the Riveter, a symbol of female empowerment.

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Ikea Reported To Be Eyeing Warwick For New Store

Ikea is eyeing Warwick as the possible site of a new store.  GoLocalProv-dot-com reports that the Swedish furniture and home goods store has been in discussion with city officials about different locations.  One location is reported to be near the city line with West Warwick on Route 2. 

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Warwick City Hall Annex Offices Temporarily Relocated

Crews are busy cleaning up the Warwick City Hall Annex after a pipe burst this past weekend, causing damage.  The tax assessor and the building and planning departments sustained substantial damage.  Those services will operate from the old John Green Elementary School on Draper Avenue starting today.  Working from the temporary location may last as long as six weeks. 

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Senator Doyle Resigns To Battle Alcoholism

State Senator Jamie Doyle is stepping down due to his battle with alcoholism.  In making the announcement yesterday, Doyle says he needs to focus on his recovery and family.  Doyle has held the seat since 2004.  Doyle's immediate resignation means there will have to be a special election to fill the Senate District Eight seat. 

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Senate Committee Approves PawSox Stadium Bill

Legislation for a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium is moving forward.  The Senate Finance Committee approved the plan yesterday.  The bill now goes to the full Senate, which is expected to vote on it Tuesday.  Approval of the financing bill still needs to come from the House. 

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Raimondo to address school issues

Frustrations are rising as two Cranston schools remain closed today due to weather related damage.

Governor Gina Raimondo met with school superintendents from across Rhode Island at the State House Tuesday following days of damage, closures and cleanup at local schools.

Raimondo said she plans to unveil a proposal next week for funding the rebuilding of schools across the state.

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RI OKs settlement over child welfare system

Rhode Island has agreed to settle a long-running lawsuit that alleged systemic abuse and neglect of the nearly 2,000 children living in state custody.

State officials and the advocacy group Children's Rights on Monday announced the settlement of the lawsuit first filed in 2007.

Under the terms of the settlement, the state Department of Children, Youth and Families must meet a number of new requirements. For example, it is barred placing children in shelters. It also agrees to put children in group homes or residential treatment centers only when they need that level of care.

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Former Obama official to help combat RI opioid crisis

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has hired a former Obama administration official to help tackle the state's opioid crisis. Former Democratic Sen. Tom Coderre will return to the state as a senior adviser to the governor. Raimondo's chief of staff says Coderre will help coordinate various departments and agencies to respond to the opioid crisis.

Coderre worked in the state senate from 1995 to 2014 before Obama appointed him as a senior adviser in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

His salary is reported at $150,797 a year.

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Senate Finance Committee To Consider Stadium Bills

The Senate Finance Committee is now scheduled to consider public financing bills today for a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium.  The bills address lease and financing issues and redevelopment plans.  The committee was originally set to consider the bills last Thursday, but the General Assembly session was canceled due to a snowstorm.

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McKee Wants Electric Rate Adjustments

The Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission is being asked to recalculate National Grid's current rates and proposed six-percent electric rate increase.  Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee wants the PUC to adjust rates to reflect the reduction of the federal corporate tax from 35-to-21 percent.  McKee says unless rates are adjusted, consumers will be substantially overpaying National Grid.   

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Ceremony Launches 6-10 Interchange Project

City, state and federal officials are hailing yesterday’s  launch of the 6-10 Interchange project.  The 410-million-dollar project will use an approach that will save time and money according to the state Department of Transportation. Governor Gina Raimondo says that for too long, the disrepair of the interchange near downtown Providence, symbolized Rhode Island's failure to invest in itself. 

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Restrictions Placed On Metal Recycling Facility

Restrictions are being placed on a metal recycling company in Johnston.  Residents have complained about explosions coming from the Sims Metal Management facility as well as the smell.  City Council last night mandated that Sims cease the explosions and that shredding can only be done between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. weekdays. 

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Gas prices rise 2 cents a gallon in RI

Gas prices have ticked up two cents per gallon in Rhode Island.

AAA Northeast says its weekly survey found that the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas grew to $2.53.

That's four cents above the national average of $2.49 per gallon.

It's also 7 percent higher than at this time last year, when prices were averaging $2.35 per gallon, a difference of 18 cents.

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Camacho Returned To Council

Marco Camacho is back on the Newport City Council.
According to the Newport Daily News, the council voted 4-2 Monday evening to appoint Camacho to the councilman-at- large position that was vacated by Councilman John Florez, who resigned effective last month. Camacho previously served on the City Council as the Ward 1 councilman beginning in 2012 and served as vice chair from 2014 to 2016.

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Boston murder suspect arrested in Middletown

WPRI-TV reports a man wanted for a deadly shooting in Dorchester was arrested Sunday in Middletown.

Boston Police say Marquis Martin, 28, of Roxbury was hiding out at a hotel in Middletown. Officers from the Boston Police Fugitive and Homicide units made the arrest with the assistance of U.S. Marshals and Rhode Island law enforcement. Authorities forced their way into Martin’s motel room, and took him into custody without incident. He had been on the run for a little more than two months.

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Area Hospitals Kept Busy From Storm

Hospitals in Rhode Island are treating dozens of storm-related injuries as the region gritted through a deep freeze that followed a powerful blizzard. Hospitals in Providence and Newport have treated at least 16 heart attacks, 16 snowblower or shoveling injuries, 7 motor vehicle accidents, 1 case of frostbite or hypothermia and nearly 30 other snow-related injuries.

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Programs that help the homeless get $5.8M in federal funding

Programs that help the homeless in Rhode Island have been awarded nearly $5.8 million in federal funding.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed announced that grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will support 38 homeless assistance programs that deliver safe, affordable housing and supportive services.

The federal grants will be administered by HUD, coordinated at the state level by Rhode Island Housing and jointly administered by nonprofits.

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Former Providence Mayor To Be Honored

An officials portrait of former Providence Mayor Angel Taveras is set to be hung in City Hall.  Taveras' official mayoral portrait will be unveiled April 7 at a ceremony in City Hall. The Democrat served as mayor from 2011 to 2015.

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Senate Finance Committee To Consider Stadium Bills

The Senate Finance Committee is now scheduled to consider public financing bills this week for a new Pawtucket Red Sox stadium.  The bills address lease and financing issues and redevelopment plans.  The committee was originally set to consider the bills last Thursday, but the General Assembly session was canceled due to the winter storm.

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New Name Reportedly Considered For Airport

A new name is reportedly being considered for T.F. Green Airport.  The "Warwick Beacon" reports the state Airport Corporation is considering a name change to Rhode Island International Airport.  A change would require approval from the General Assembly. The airport is currently named for Theodore Francis Green, a former Rhode Island governor and U.S. senator. 

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Portsmouth Mobile Home Destroyed By Fire

WPRI-TV reports a fire destroyed a mobile home and damaged two others in a Portsmouth mobile home park on North Drive Sunday morning.The fire started around 10:19.  The people in the mobile home where the fire began escaped with their two dogs. Portsmouth police officers who were first on the scene evacuated the other two mobile homes. No residents or firefighters were injured and the cause is still under investigation though it was not believed to be suspicious.

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Animals Die In Barn Fire

Cranston fire officials say they may never learn the cause of a fire that destroyed a barn and killed numerous animals.  The fire happened around 9:30 a.m. yesterday on Seven Mile Road.  No one was injured, but several horses, ponies, goats and dogs died in the blaze.  Fire officials say the damage was so bad it will be difficult to determine a cause. 

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No Classes Today And Tomorrow At Cranston School

There will be no classes today and tomorrow at Cranston's Edgewood Highland Elementary School due to water damage.  A water line under a nearby fire hydrant burst Wednesday causing damage to the bottom floor.  The Cranston School Department is working on a plan for where students will go while the building is repaired.

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3 hospitals divert patients due to flu, accidents

Officials say three hospitals in Providence have started diverting ambulances from their emergency rooms because they were overcome with patients.

Rhode Island Hospital first notified the state Department of Health it was going on diversion around 5 a.m. Wednesday. The Miriam Hospital followed around 6:40 a.m., and Roger Williams Medical Center sent the same notification around 11 a.m.

State regulations prevent more than two hospitals in the Northern Hospital Group from diverting ambulances at the same time. Officials say the three hospitals were required to reopen their emergency departments.

Officials blame the increase in patients on a flu outbreak and accidents attributed to the deep freeze.

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Gorbea: Voter fraud panel was an attempt to distract voters

Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea says President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission was an attempt to distract voters from the real dangers for election systems and she’s not surprised he disbanded it.

Gorbea, a Democrat, says the danger is lack of funding for modernization and security, including cyber threats from foreign actors.

The Republican president has signed an order dissolving the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity and asked the Department of Homeland Security to determine the administration’s next steps.

Gorbea says she wouldn’t release voters’ private information and didn’t comply with the commission’s “overly broad request for data.”

Past studies have found voter fraud to be exceptionally rare.

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Agency Warns Of Outages

The head of the R.I. Emergency Management Agency said Thursday the possibility of power outages remains a key concern as state officials monitor a major winter storm making its way toward the region.

The concern is especially high for people who depend on their electricity working to heat their homes, since frigid temperatures are expected to follow in the storm’s wake.

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A.C.L.U. Takes Satate To Court

The Rhode Island ACLU has sued the state over alleged improper notification of benefit denials, blaming the problematic benefits system. ACLU says Rhode Island Legal Services began receiving calls from clients who learned their Medicare premiums were no longer being paid shortly after the computer system went live. A spokeswoman says the state is working to address the issue, which she blames on a vendor.

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Flu In R.I. Widespread

Unvaccinated healthcare workers are being ordered to wear surgical masks when working with patients due to widespread flu.  The state department of health requirement is to protect healthcare workers and patients with serious health issues.  Health officials say it's not too late to get a flu shot. 

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Airlines Offering Waivers

Airlines are allowing passengers to change their flights with paying a fee because of the winter storm.  The airlines are releasing travel waivers as a result.  Travelers should also call the airline before going to the airport to see if their flight has been delayed or canceled.

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Broken Water Main Floods School

Crews are cleaning up flood damage at a Cranston school.  A water main under Pawtuxet Avenue burst around 1 p.m. yesterday sending water into Edgewood Highland Elementary School.  Students and staff were bused to Park View Middle School.  It's expected to take several days to remove the four-feet of water that flooded the lower level.   

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Raimondo's State of the State set for Jan. 16

Gov. Gina Raimondo will deliver her State of the State speech on Jan. 16, a spokesman confirmed Wednesday.

Larry Berman, a spokesman for House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, said the governor and General Assembly leaders have scheduled the speech for Tuesday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m. The annual address is given to a joint session of lawmakers in the House chamber.

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AAA: Gas prices up 3 cents per gallon due to holiday travel

The price of gasoline in Rhode Island is up three cents this week. AAA Northeast said Tuesday in its weekly survey that self-serve, regular unleaded is averaging $2.51 per gallon. That price is two cents above the national average. AAA says high travel volume in the northeast over the holidays helped drive up the price of gasoline.

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General Assembly opens new legislative session

The Rhode Island General Assembly has opened the 2018 legislative session. House and Senate leaders gaveled their respective chambers to order on Tuesday. In the Senate, a bill was introduced for the state to help fund a new stadium for the Pawtucket Red Sox, the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. Legislative leaders are also focusing on a $260 million budget gap.

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Ex Boxing Champ Vinny Paz surrenders to assault charge

Police say that ex-boxing champion Vinny Paz, whose comeback story after a car crash was dramatized in the 2016 film "Bleed for This," has turned himself to face a felony assault charge.

Paz surrendered this morning, a day after Providence Police issued an arrest warrant. Paz is accused of beating a man and sending him to the hospital.

Paz made a series of statements on Tuesday defending his actions saying  that he got robbed, "and when that happens, you gotta do what you gotta do."

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Officials Prepare For Storm

State officials are preparing for the storm with the possibility that the emergency operations center will be activated.  Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency Director Peter Gaynor says RIDOT is pre-mixing road salt and sand ahead of the storm.  Strong winds are also a concern due to the potential of power outages that could leave people without heat.   

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Winter Storm Watch Issued

A winter storm watch is being issued for Rhode Island and southern New England.  The National Weather Service says the watch is in effect from late tonight through late tomorrow night.  A high wind watch is also being issued for Thursday, meaning there could be blizzard-like conditions as up to a foot of snow is expected across the state. 

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Newport Fire Under Investigation

Fire officials are investigating the cause of a two-alarm fire in a multifamily home that broke out around 5:30 p.m. in Newport Tuesday.

Crews responded to a house at 419 Broadway at the corner of Ledyard  for initial reports of a fire on the outside of the building.

The fast-moving fire made it’s way up the building, eventually engulfing all three floors in flames.

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Animal Rescue Struggling To Stay Open

A local animal rescue is asking the Glocester community for help.  Alyssa Danielson has been running Abandoned Dogs of Rhode Island on Paris Irons Road for about two years.  She has a good relationship with the owners of the boarding facility where the organization is located, but it comes down to funding.  Danielson says she needs about 30-thousand-dollars to make a down payment on the property, otherwise she'll have to shut the organization down.

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Faith leaders call on lawmakers to back anti-poverty agenda

The state's faith leaders are calling on elected officials to pass legislation to reduce poverty. The new legislative session begins today. Tomorrow,  the General Assembly's first full working day, faith leaders plan to march to the State House and hold a vigil inside at 3 p.m. They're calling it "fighting poverty with faith." It's the 10th annual vigil.

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State's Minimum Wage Increase In Effect

Rhode Island's minimum wage has climbed from $9.60 an hour to $10.10. The increase took effect Monday for the start of the new year. Lawmakers approved increasing the state's minimum wage by 90 cents within two years in 2017. It rises to $10.50 in January 2019. The minimum wage in Massachusetts is holding steady at $11 and Connecticut's hourly rate remains $10.10.

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Newport City Council to name Florez's replacement

The six members of the Newport City Council have called a special meeting for Thursday, beginning at 5 p.m., to appoint one of 10 applicants for the seventh council position. The new council member will replace Councilman-at-Large John Florez, who has resigned effective Jan. 9.

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State lifts remaining health advisories for blue-green algae

The state has lifted the remaining health advisories that were put in place for several bodies of water because of blue-green algae blooms. including the Almy Pond in Newport.

The advisories had cautioned people to avoid contact and recreational activities with the ponds. DEM plans to revisit water bodies in early summer, when blooms may occur, and issue new advisories as needed.

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Some In R.I. begin year with pay raise

Thousands of workers in Rhode Island will see an increase on their next paychecks.

On Monday, the start of 2018 brought a 50 cent increase to the minimum wage, bringing it to $10.10 per hour. That’s an increase of about six percent.

A total of 17 other states also increased their minimum wages.

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New Exhibit On Display At War College

The U.S. Naval War College Museum has unveiled a new exhibit to teach people more about World War I.

It focuses on the Navy's role in the war, using the career of Navy Adm. William S. Sims to tell the story. Sims commanded U.S. naval forces in Europe during the war, and his family donated artifacts.

The museum is displaying the exhibit for about three years.

Visits must be scheduled about a week beforehand so a background check can be done for entry to the Newport facility.

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Survey: RI Is Best Driving State

Rhode Island is the best driving state for 2017.  The ranking from the insurance website QuoteWizard.com, is based on accidents, speeding, citations and traffic deaths.  According to the survey, California has the worst drivers in the country.

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Protest held at property where dogs were left out in cold

Protesters have rallied near the property of a Rhode Island man accused of leaving his dogs out in freezing temperatures. The demonstration was held Sunday morning near the Warwick property where Clifford Dennis runs a dog breeding business. About two dozen protesters gathered in response to several pit bulls being left outside last week for several hours at a time. Authorities determined the dogs were in good condition and Dennis didn't break any laws.

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State's oldest documented masonry bridge closing for repairs

The oldest documented masonry bridge in Rhode Island will be closed for a year for repairs.The historic Slatersville Stone Arch Bridge in North Smithfield is scheduled to close tomorrow and remain closed through 2018.

About 8,000 vehicles traverse the bridge daily on Route 5 over the Branch River. It dates to 1855 and was deemed structurally deficient in 2007. The state Department of Transportation plans to remove the existing roadway and most of the stone arch, refill the arch with concrete and

The cost of the rehabilitation work, including historic preservation and roadway upgrades, is estimated at $13.5 million.

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