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1540 WADK.com Updates Archives for 2018-02

Newport Official Announces New Schools Security

City officials chose a “State of Our City” forum last night to make some major announcements. Among those was City Manager Joseph Nicholson, who is also the city's director of public safety, announcing that beginning this week , there are now full-time police officers stationed at Rogers High School, Thompson Middle School and The Pell Elementary School.

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GOP Complaint Against Raimondo Tossed

The Rhode Island Ethics Commission has dismissed a state Republican Party complaint against  Gov. Gina Raimondo. The head of the state GOP argued that Raimondo violated a rule barring financial transactions with subordinate employees when she struck a fundraising deal with a local Democratic group headed by a state employee. But the ethics commission said Tuesday the employee was not a subordinate because he worked in the human services department, not the governor's office.

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Hospitals Look At Merge Options

The largest hospital system in Rhode Island is joining merger discussions between a major Boston-based hospital operator and another large Rhode Island operator. Care New England and Partners HealthCare said Tuesday they'll begin discussions with Lifespan to see how all three can "strengthen patient care delivery in Rhode Island." Boston-based Partners had been seeking to purchase Care New England, Rhode Island's second largest hospital system. Lifespan is Rhode Island's largest hospital group.

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Lawmakers Consider New Gun Laws

Rhode Island lawmakers are proposing new gun restrictions in the wake of the deadly school shooting in Parkland, Florida. Democratic state Sen. Joshua Miller and Rep. Jason Knight introduced legislation Tuesday banning weapons like the one used in the Feb. 14 shooting that killed 17 people at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Democratic Reps. Teresa Tanzi and Kenneth Marshall also filed separate bills Tuesday raising the legal age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21 in the state.

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Eastland Food Employees Hold One-Day Strike

Employees of Eastland Food are expected to be back on the job today after a one-day strike.  The employees of the Cranston food wholesaler are demanding better benefits and working conditions.  Local union officials say the company doesn't offer paid vacations or holidays and most workers earn minimum wage.  The union has been negotiating with the company for two years.

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Gun Shops Busy As Lawmakers Consider Weapon Restrictions

State gun shop owners are saying firearm sales have rapidly increased since the governor announced a crackdown on guns.  The owner of the Pine Ridge Indoor Shooting Range in Exeter, Mike Aiello, says he sold more AR-15s last weekend than he has in five months.  Kyle McCarthy, owner of Midstate Gun Company in Coventry, says that gun owners react and buy more of them.  He says whatever they had on their wish lists, they're buying.

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Cano, Luciano win primaries for open state Senate seat

The field has been set for a special election to fill the state Senate seat left open by the retirement of Democrat James Doyle.

Democrat Sandra Cano and Republican Nathan Luciano won their respective primaries Tuesday for the seat that represents Pawtucket.

They will vie with independent candidate Pamela Braman in the April 3 election.

Doyle, who has held the seat since 2004, announced his resignation in January to concentrate on his struggle with alcohol.

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Providence Mayor In Puerto Rico

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is in Puerto Rico with a group of mayors.  The visit is organized by the Open Society Foundations and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.  The intent is to improve disaster recovery resources available to the island devastated by Hurricane Maria by matching mayors in Puerto Rico with mayors on the mainland.  Elorza's travel expenses are being reimbursed.  

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Special Election Primary Today In Pawtucket

There's a special primary election today in Pawtucket with three Democrats and two Republicans on the ballot.  They're vying for the seat left open by the recent resignation of Senator Jaime Doyle for personal reasons.  Today's two winners will face each other in an April 3rd general election.

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Six New Speed Cameras To Go Active In School Zones

The Providence Police Department is installing six new speed cameras in school zones.  Signs will be placed at the locations before the cameras become operational March 5th.  If a car is caught going ten miles-an-hour or faster the fine is 95-dollars.

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New Subcommittee To Examine Cranston School Safety Plan

A newly-created subcommittee will study a Cranston City Council approved plan that calls for armed officers and metal detectors at the city's schools.  Residents at the meeting spoke out against the plan.  The subcommittee made up of residents, police officers and school officials would look at how to best implement such a plan and examine the costs associated with it. 

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Governor Signs "Red Flag" Order To Disarm Dangerous People

A statewide "Red Flag" policy is in effect ordering police to take steps to remove guns from dangerous individuals.  Governor Raimondo signed the executive order yesterday at Warwick City Hall surrounded by dozens heads of law enforcement.  In addition to state police conducting an investigation of anyone deemed a threat they can refer the person to a mental health facility and start criminal proceedings.

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Public Hearing On Casino Issue Set

A public hearing to discuss whether Twin River-Tiverton casino, which is slated to open in October, should be allowed to operate 24 hours a day has been slated for Wednesday, March 21, at 7 p.m. at the high school.
The Newport Daily News reports that the Tiverton Town Council also passed a resolution last night opposing bills in the House and Senate that would allow sports wagering at the two casinos in the state, with the state keeping all the profits and not sharing any with host communities.

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Bag Ban Now Island Wide

The Newport Daily News reports that The Portsmouth Town Council last night made a single-use plastic bag ban island wide, voting 6-1 to approve a prohibition in Portsmouth effective Sept. 1 this year.
The push, led by the nonprofit group Clean Ocean Access, is intended to protect the environment from a material that never fully decomposes and prompt residents to start bringing reusable bags to retailers.

Newport and Middletown had similar bans take effect late last year.

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Emergency responders to train at former Army Reserve Center

A training exercise will draw many emergency responders to the former U.S. Army Reserve Center in Providence.

The Providence VA Medical Center says it's hosting a joint exercise with federal, state and local emergency responders at the former Army Reserve Center on Niagara Street today.

The medical center says it's advising residents that they may see or hear a large number of emergency responders in the vicinity of Niagara Street, Cadillac Drive and the Interstate 95 corridor.

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State launches online system for fishing, hunting licenses

The state is launching an online system for fishing and hunting licenses.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management says the new system can be used beginning Thursday.

It replaces license issuances on paper. In addition to fishing licenses currently available online, hunting licenses, permits, tags and stamps will be available too.

Anglers and hunters will be able to access their accounts anytime so they can manage their licenses and add new permits and licenses.

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Kayakers Safe After Spill In River

A group of kayakers is safe after being pulled from the Pawtuxet River in Warwick.  The incident happened around 2 p.m. Saturday as their kayak flipped over near Knight Street as they struck a tree branch.  Three of the kayakers were able to pull themselves out of the frigid water using branches.  Firefighters pulled a fourth from the river.

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Cranston City Council To Call For Increased School Security

Cranston City Council is expected to ask the state to require schools to have metal detectors at all entrances and arm specially trained officers.  The resolution to be taken up at today's meeting is proposed by the five Republican council members and comes two weeks after the deadly shootings at a Florida school.  School Committee Chairwoman Janice Ruggieri says the schools already have video surveillance, resources officers, teachers have fobs to get into secure areas and visitors have to be buzzed into buildings.

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Governor Expected To Sign "Red Flag" Policy Today

Governor Raimondo is expected to sign a "Red Flag" policy today that would ban guns from people who are at risk.  Under the policy police could obtain a court order that would prevent people who are a danger to themselves or others from having a gun.  It would be similar to the process used to keep guns away from people in domestic violence cases.

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State Police Reject Town Of Foster's Inquiry

The state police response to an inquiry from the town of Foster to replace the local police force is no.  The town council recently voted to ask if the state police would consider assuming responsibility for the town as a way to save money.  Foster's police department of ten officers has a budget of about a million-and-a-half-dollars and the town is faced with building a new police station.

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Senate President Reacts To Kettle's Resignation

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio says Coventry Senator Nicholas Kettle's decision to resign avoids requiring his colleagues having to consider expulsion.  Ruggerio says that while he respects Kettle's right to due process, the Senate has an obligation to ensure a safe working environment.  Kettle is charged with extortion and video voyeurism.  He's accused of extorting sex from a Senate page and sending explicit photos of his ex-girlfriend to a man in New Hampshire.  

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RI Joins "States For Gun Safety" Coalition

Rhode Island is now part of "States for Gun Safety," a four state coalition to address gun violence. The intent is to better share information and establish a multi-pronged approach to the issue.   Governor Gina Raimondo says Rhode Island has some of the nation's strongest gun laws, but the U.S. has some of the world's weakest due to federal inaction.  The other states in the coalition are Connecticut, New Jersey and New York. 

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Traffic Pattern Change Soon In West Warwick

A traffic pattern change is being implemented March sixth for repairs to the Clyde Bridge in West Warwick.  RIDOT says all westbound traffic on Main Street will be detoured, while eastbound traffic will not be affected.  It's estimated that work on the bridge will be completed by mid-summer. 

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House Minority Leader Is An Award Recipient

House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan is the recipient of a Friend of Government Accountability Award.  The Foundation for Government Accountability says it's in recognition of Morgan's work sponsoring legislation that promotes better lives for Rhode Islanders.  The West Warwick Republican says she's proud to receive the award and says she'll continue working to make government accountable to taxpayers.

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Grant For Youth Recovery Community Center

Rhode Island's first youth recovery community center is getting a 50-thousand-dollar grant.  The Providence center specializes in providing after school and weekend programs coupled with recovery support for young people with substance disorders.  The money comes from a person who pleaded guilty to an illegal marijuana growing operation.

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RI police chiefs urging legislators to pass 'red flag' law

Rhode Island police chiefs are calling on state legislators to approve a so-called "red flag" law that would prevent people from having guns if they are deemed a danger to themselves or others. The Rhode Island Police Chiefs Association voted unanimously Tuesday in the wake of the Florida school shooting to ask the General Assembly to pass the law. The law would require people to surrender their firearms and prohibit them from buying new ones, if a judge determines they pose an imminent danger.

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State Police Colonel Receives Patriot Award

State Police Colonel Ann Assumpico is the recipient of the Patriot Award.  It's given to employers who provide exceptional support to employees serving in the National Guard and Reserve Force.  More than a dozen members of the State Police are currently active members of the National Guard and Reserve, including two who are serving overseas.  Assumpico says the State Police force is committed to troopers serving in the military and their families.

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Bill To Tax Violent Video Games

State Representative Robert Nardolillo is proposing a ten-percent tax on video games rated "M" or higher.  The revenue generated would be used to increase mental health counseling and conflict resolution activities in schools.  The Coventry Republican says there's evidence that children exposed to violent video games at a young age tend to act more aggressively.  Nardolillo says the goal of his bill is to make every school in Rhode Island a safe and calm place for learning.  

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ATV Rider Crashes After Telling Cops They Won't Catch Him

A man is in custody after crashing an ATV on Atwells Avenue in front of Providence Police.  Authorities say 25-year-old Ruddy Rodriguez drove alongside officers Wednesday night in Federal Hill yelling that they'd never catch him.  Rodriguez was one of about a dozen ATV riders racing through stop lights and on sidewalks.  Minutes later he ran into a cement pot and a traffic control box.

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Pawtucket Man Charged In Elder Fraud Scheme

A Pawtucket man is among 250 people facing multiple charges in connection with an international marketing scheme.  Court documents show Shawn Whitfield was a participant in a Jamaican-based lottery scam targeting the elderly.  The scam entailed the victims paying upfront taxes so their cash prizes could be released.  Authorities claim Whitfield collected nearly 100-thousand dollars from victims in 23 states. 

 

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Kettle Resigns

Former State Senator Nicholas Kettle's desk is empty. Two of his attorneys submitted his letter of resignation yesterday afternoon while another cleared out his belongings from the State Capitol.  Kettle's resignation came a day after the Senate President called for his expulsion.  Kettle's attorney Priscilla DiMaio says Kettle didn't resign because of Wednesday's action in the Senate.  

 

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Student Charged After Yelling "School Shooter"

A Woonsocket Middle School at Hamlet student is facing a disorderly conduct charge for jokingly yelling "school shooter."  The comment by the 14-year-old student was made the same day that ammunition was found in a boy's bathroom at the school.  A teacher heard the girl's shout Friday and reported it to police.  The girl, accompanied by her parents surrendered to police Tuesday and was released pending a future court date.


 

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Rhode Island Joins Anti-Gun Violence Coalition

Governor Raimondo and the governors of three other states are forming a coalition to stem gun violence.  Raimondo says the states can't wait for Washington to do something.  In making yesterday's announcement New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy says the States for Gun Safety would focus tracing and intercepting illegal guns, sharing information about gun crimes and having universities research gun violence and develop solutions to the problem.  Raimondo says she will push for legislation regarding military style weapons and high-capacity ammunition magazines.  New York and Connecticut are also part of the coalition. 

 

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Median Price Of Single-Family Homes Soars

The median sales price of a single-family home in Rhode Island jumped 9 percent last month when compared to January 2017, driven by a diminishing supply of homes on the market. The Rhode Island Association of Realtors on Thursday announced that the median sales price last month was $244,900, thanks in part to the fact there were just 2,497 single-family homes on the market.Closing activity dropped nearly 9 percent in January from a year ago, while pending sales plummeted 33 percent year-over-year.

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New England Leaders Gathering To Discuss Opioid Epidemic

New England politicians, medical experts and drug treatment advocates are gathering in Boston to discuss the opioid crisis that continues to batter the region. The Washington Post is holding a conference Thursday at the Downtown Hyatt Regency Hotel as part of its "Addiction in America" series.

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Cicilline To Re-Introduce Weapons Ban

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline  says in a letter being circulated to members of Congress that he plans to re-introduce legislation for an assault weapons ban next week. In a letter, Cicilline says the planned legislation will prohibit the sale, transfer, manufacture and importation of semi-automatic weapons and ammunition feeding devices capable of accepting more than 10 rounds.

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Brown University Swim Team Sanctioned

Brown University says its men's swimming and diving team will not participate in this week's Ivy League Championships as it investigates allegations of hazing. The university says in a statement its investigation and the student conduct review process are expected to conclude "in the coming weeks." It began looking into the team's conduct in November after The Brown Daily Herald student newspaper found team members engaged in a night of drinking and vandalism on Oct. 7.

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Veteran State Rep Faces A Challenge

Longtime Providence state Representative Anastasia Williams is facing a primary challenge in her bid for another term.   Dwayne Keys, the president of the South Providence Neighborhood Association, has announced his candidacy for the District 9 seat.  His official campaign kick-off is scheduled next week.  Williams was first elected to the General Assembly in 1992. 

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Less Than A Week To Special Primary

It's now less than a week to a special election primary in Pawtucket for an open seat in the state Senate.  Three Democrats and two Republicans are in the race to replace Jaime Doyle who recently resigned the District 8 seat for personal reasons. The two winners in Tuesday's primary will face each other in a special election on April 3rd.

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AG Kilmartin Opposes Reinstatement Of College Accreditor

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is opposed to an effort by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools to regain its status as a nationally-recognized accreditor.  Kilmartin and a coalition of attorneys general note the nonprofit agency lost national recognition last year for enabling fraud and abuse by predatory for-profit schools. 

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Process Begins To Expel A State Senator

A move to expel Coventry Republican Nicholas Kettle from the Rhode Island Senate is underway.  A bipartisan resolution was filed yesterday and will be heard by the Judiciary Committee on Tuesday.  Kettle is charged with extortion and video voyeurism.  He's accused of extorting sex from a Senate page and sending graphic photos of his ex-girlfriend to another man. 

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Brown University Swim, Dive Teams Not Competing

The men's swimming and diving teams at Brown University will not compete at this week's Ivy League Championships.  The decision comes as the school investigates claims of hazing.  The investigation began in October after the student newspaper reported a night of drinking and vandalism by team members.  "The Brown Daily Herald" had obtained pictures and audio describing the night as hazing.

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Pair Charged With Tracking Woman With GPS Tracker

An East Providence city employee is free on bond after being arraigned on a stalking charge.  Providence Police say 37-year-old Leah Stoddard attached a GPS tracking device to the car of John Mitchell's ex-girlfriend.  Mitchell is charged as a co-conspirator in the case.  The victim went to police after Stoddard and Mitchell showed up numerous times at restaurants where she was and mechanics discovered the device in her car.

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Boston and Worcester set record warm temperature

Boston and Worcester have broken record high temperatures set in 1930. The National Weather Service said New England's first and second largest cities exceeded their respective daily record temperatures for Feb. 20. Boston hit 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius) and Worcester reached 67 degrees Fahrenheit (19 degrees Celsius) on Tuesday. Hartford, Connecticut and Providence, Rhode Island, were in the low to mid 60s and didn't match their record temperatures for Feb. 20.

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ACLU: Don't rush to expel lawmaker facing criminal charges

The American Civil Liberties Union is urging Rhode Island lawmakers to proceed with caution as they weigh expelling a state senator accused of extorting sex from a page in the Senate's page program. Steven Brown, the executive director of the ACLU's Rhode Island office, said in a letter to Democratic Senate President Dominick Ruggerio on Tuesday that a vote to oust Republican Senate Minority Whip Nicholas Kettle could set a "dangerous" precedent. Kettle has denied any wrongdoing.

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Cranston School To Reopen

Students at Edgewood Highland Elementary School in Cranston will be back in their classrooms next week.  It's been nearly two months after a water main burst flooding the lower level of the building.  Students have been attending class at Norwood Avenue School since January 11th.

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Brown University Backs Down From Demolishing Houses

Brown University is revising plans for a new performing arts center. The change comes after preservationists were opposed to the demolition of four historical houses on College Hill.  Changing the location of the center will call for moving of one of the houses.  The university will present its revised plan to the City Plan Commission March 20th. 

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Woman With Infant In Vehicle Arrested For DUI

A North Providence woman is facing DUI charges after driving with an infant in the vehicle.  Police say 44-year old Margaret Khoury was driving erratically on Tiogue Avenue in Coventry Monday.  The seven-month-old baby was given to its father.  Khoury is to be arraigned February 28th.

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Providence pays $1,500 stipends due to hundreds of retirees

Providence has made good on nearly $2 million it owed hundreds of former city workers as part of a pension settlement agreement reached in 2013.

The city paid 1,290 retirees or their beneficiaries a $1,500 stipend last month, according to Victor Morente, a spokesperson for the city. Approximately $300 from each payment was withheld for federal taxes and most had $75 in Rhode Island taxes withheld, Morente said.

The majority of retirees who received the payments were former public safety workers.

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Proposal Would Have One Security Officer In Every School

A bill in the House would have a trained security resource officer in every Rhode Island school.  The bill is one of many being submitted in the state legislature after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.  The bill's sponsor, Representative Gregg Amore, says like most security changes it's not clear how much the cost will be to taxpayers.

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Bride Gets Stuck In Elevator, Nearly Misses Reception

One bride says she almost missed her wedding reception after getting stuck in an elevator.

Melissa Rodger says she was heading to the 18th floor of the Providence Biltmore hotel Saturday when the elevator stopped within four feet of its destination. She says a bridesmaid alerted her husband shortly afterward that a "situation" was going on.

The fire department was called to the scene and pried the doors open to get Rodger out. A technician later got the elevator working again.

The process took about 45 minutes.

Rodger says the reception started about 20 minutes late, but everything else ran smoothly.

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Activists Claim Too Many Loopholes In Animal Cruelty Laws

Animal rights activists are claiming loopholes in the state's law are allowing people to get away with animal cruelty.  Activists were outside a pretrial hearing held for Eugene McQuade in South Kingstown yesterday.  McQuade, who is charged with animal cruelty, claims he raises the dogs for hunting, which provides an exemption.  Activist Anita Pimental says the laws aren't protecting the animals, they're protecting the owners. 

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Court Documents Show Kettle Sent Nude Photos To Friend

More details are coming out about the video voyeurism charges against Republican State Senator Nicholas Kettle.  Court documents in Coventry show that Kettle sent nude photos of his ex-girlfriend to a friend in New Hampshire in exchange for similar photos of that person's wife.  The pictures were discovered on Kettle's iPad by the ex-girlfriend when he left it at her home last month.  The case is separate from the two extortion cases unsealed in an indictment yesterday. 

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Station Nightclub Fire Anniversary Today

Today is the 15th anniversary of the Station nightclub fire.  The fast-moving flames on February 20th, 2003, killed 100 people and injured two-hundred others.  A memorial ceremony at the Station Fire Memorial Park on Cowesett Avenue in West Warwick is now scheduled for May 20th. 

 

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Gas Prices Fall 2 Cents, To $2.59 A Gallon In RI

Gas prices have fallen slightly in Rhode Island, down two cents per gallon to an average $2.59 for a gallon of regular unleaded.

A weekly survey by AAA Northeast on Monday finds the price of gas in Rhode Island is six cents per gallon higher on average than the national price of $2.53.

It's also 35 cents higher than at this time last year, when gas was averaging $2.24 per gallon. That's an increase of around 15 percent.

AAA's Lloyd Albert says prices were dropping every day last week, and says lower prices could be due in part to a rise in crude oil inventories and production.

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Senators Call For Universal Flu Vaccine

U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is calling for a $1 billion federal government investment for the development of a universal flu vaccine.

The Connecticut Democrat announced the proposal Saturday at a flu shot clinic in East Hartford. He’s co-sponsoring the bill with Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey and several other Democrats.

A universal vaccine would provide protection against multiple types of the flu, rather than a select few that a typical seasonal vaccine guards against. Federal officials estimate this year’s vaccine is only 36 percent effective in preventing severe flu illness.

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Portsmouth Finance Director Stepping Down

Portsmouth is looking for a new finance director because John Menke is leaving the post after a little more than a year to attend to a family matter.

Town Administrator Richard Rainer notified the Town Council in an email  and the listing is posted on the town website.

Menke has agreed to stay on until his replacement begins, according to Rainer.

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Republican senator charged with video voyeurism, extortion

A Rhode Island state senator under investigation by state police since January was arrested Friday on charges of video voyeurism and extortion.

Republican Sen. Nicholas Kettle faces one count of video voyeurism brought by state police for sending pictures of his ex-girlfriend’s “private parts,” Lt. Col. Joseph Philbin said. He also was indicted on two counts of extortion, but Philbin said he could not comment on those counts.

Kettle was being held in jail over the weekend and is to appear in court today.

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Live Ammo Found In Middle School Restroom Prompts Lockdown

Woonsocket Police say live ammunition was discovered by a custodian in a middle school boys' restroom.

Woonsocket Middle School was put on lockdown Friday afternoon after the discovery.

Woonsocket Police Chief Thomas F. Oates III says a custodian was checking the restroom shortly before school dismissal when she found small-caliber ammunition.  Police are continuing to investigate.

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Rogers High School Assistant Principal Dies

Rogers High School Assistant Principal Jaime Crowley has died after battling blood cancer for the past year.

Crowley was an award-winning educator and school administrator for many years. In 2015, he was named the statewide Middle School Principal of the Year by the Rhode Island Association of School Principals and awarded the prestigious Milken Educator Award in 2009. He was also the former principal of Thompson Middle School and assistant principal and director of guidance at Mount Hope High School in Bristol.

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RI governor orders flags lowered for school shooting victims

Gov. Gina Raimondo has ordered flags lowered to half-staff to honor the victims of the Florida school shooting. Raimondo has ordered that flags be lowered until sunset on Feb. 19. Thursday's order is in accordance with a presidential proclamation. The governor says that she is praying for the victims of Wednesday's shooting in Parkland, and is calling on the nation's leaders to take action on guns.

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Providence activists push for rent-control in city

Activists in Providence launched a campaign this week to put a rent-control initiative on the upcoming fall ballot. Members of Direct Action for Rights and Equality gathered Wednesday at the home of an elderly couple facing eviction to announce their effort. DARE activist Malchus Mills says the organization hopes to limit rent increases to once a year and make them subject to approval by a Providence rent control board.

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GOP Candidates For Governor Criticized

The two Republicans running for governor are being criticized by the Democratic Governors Association.  The association says Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan have not called for the resignation of the president of the Rhode Island Young Republicans, Rob Sullivan.  The web site GoLocalProv.com reports Sullivan has been accused of sexual harassment. 

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Legislator Voices Concern Over 911 Staffing

A state representative is calling for immediate action to address a staffing shortage at the state's 911 call center.  Cranston Representative Robert Lancia says he received a tip claiming overnight staffing has dropped below the previous minimum level of eight to as few as four dispatchers.  Lancia says thousands of calls have been put on hold because of a staff shortage and he calls it a potential disaster in the making.  He says the problem is early retirements and no money in the budget for new hires.

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Flu Continues Widespread In RI

Flu is still widespread in Rhode Island.  According to the state Department of Health, the number of people going to a doctor with flu symptoms has spiked in the last several weeks.  So far this season, 24 adults have died from flu-related illness in the state.  

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Man Sentenced For Impersonating Officer During Home Invasion

A Pawtucket man will spend the next 14 years behind bars for impersonating a police officer while breaking into a Providence home.  Jeffry Rosario was sentenced yesterday for the August 2016 robbery.  Court documents show Rosario, wearing a badge and bulletproof vest, knocked on the door of an Alverson Avenue home and told the residents he was an officer conducting a welfare check.  A man and a woman were tied up, but the woman escaped as Rosario and three other men robbed the home. 

 

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Schools Reviewing Safety Procedures

Some Rhode Island school districts are reviewing their safety procedures after the deadly school shooting in Florida on Wednesday.  School systems in the state are required by law to annually update their safety plans and submit them to the Department of Education.  The state law was updated after the Columbine High School shooting in Colorado in 1999 and again after the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut in 2012.  North Providence schools have a system that detects gunshots and immediately calls 911.

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State Lawmakers To Push For Assault-Weapon Ban

Rhode Island lawmakers will again try to introduce bills to ban assault rifles like the one used in Florida's school shooting.  Bills to do that have failed since the federal ban expired 14 years ago.  Another bill reintroduced yesterday would ban high-capacity magazines that have more than ten rounds of ammunition.

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Snow Expected Late Tomorrow Night Into Sunday

Snow is expected to move across most of the Ocean State late tomorrow night into Sunday.  The start of snowfall will be around 10 p.m. and end around 6 a.m. Sunday, when roads are expected to be slick.  Accumulation will range from three to six inches.  Skies will clear up by Sunday afternoon as temperatures get into the 40s.

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Newport Bank Held Up

People's Credit Union on Memorial Boulevard was robbed Thursday morning and Newport police arrested the suspected robber minutes later after an officer stopped a taxi cab.

Randy Joseph Demello, 53, of 15 Pond Ave., Apt. A, was charged with second-degree robbery, according to Newport police.

Police said that at about 11:40 a.m., a teller at the bank told them a man – later identified as Demello – walked into the bank and passed the teller a note demanding money. Police said the teller gave Demello money, and he left the bank and got into an Orange Cab taxi.

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Students, alumni challenge legacy preference at top colleges

A new coalition of students and alumni from 12 top U.S. colleges is asking their schools to rethink legacy admissions policies.

The group issued a letter Wednesday saying the practice of giving an admissions edge to relatives of alumni is rooted in discrimination and fuels cycles of inequity in the United States.

It's signed by campus groups representing first-generation and low-income students at Harvard, Columbia and most other Ivy League schools. Other schools targeted by the campaign include Amherst College and the University of Chicago.

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Mom released from immigration custody says system is broken

A Rhode Island mother of two young children who was released this week after a month in immigration detention says the system is broken and it's too easy for people like her to fall into the cracks.

Thirty-year-old Lilian Calderon, who was brought to the U.S. from Guatemala at age 3, was released Tuesday after Immigration and Customs Enforcement granted her a three-month stay of deportation. A federal judge barred her deportation last week after the American Civil Liberties Union sued.

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Legislation Introduced To Change Name Of T.F. Green Airport

The renaming of T.F. Green Airport in Warwick is moving forward.  Legislation was introduced yesterday changing the airport's name to Rhode Island International Airport.  The airport was named after former Governor and U.S. Senator Theodore Francis Green in 1938.  The legislation introduced also would rename the airport's train station, parking garage and skybridge after Green.

 

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Bill Proposed Making It Illegal For Minors To Use Tanning Beds

A bill that would prevent anyone under the age of 18 from using tanning booths is being proposed.  Mia Ackerman is sponsoring the bill and says it's important to protect children from the dangers of cancer.  She says teenagers don't realize the consequences of spending too much time using tanning beds.

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Woman Pleads Not Guilty To Illegally Breeding And Selling Pets

A woman charged with illegally breeding and selling dogs from her East Providence home is being ordered to have no pets while she's free on bond.  Rachel Duarte pled not guilty yesterday to 17 counts of animal cruelty and 365 counts of operating as a breeder and pet shop without a license.  Last month, animal control seized more than 40 cats and dogs with a number of puppies suffering from parvovirus.  Conditions were so bad that Duarte's home was condemned. 

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Elorza Aide May Be On The Move

Providence could be on the verge of losing another chief operating officer.

Melissa Malone, who has served as the city’s COO since July, is one of three finalists for the town administrator job in Natick, Massachusetts, according to a published report.

A spokesperson for Mayor Jorge Elorza confirmed Wednesday Malone is in the running for the job.

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Tainted Water Issue In East Providence

East Providence residents are notified the city's water system is in violation of drinking water standards. Required testing has found elevated level of DBP, a byproduct of disinfectants.  While long-term use can cause health problems for some people, officials say it's not an emergency and that the use of bottled water isn't necessary.  An aeration system is going to be installed in the city's holding tank, which experts say should resolve the problem by August. 

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RI Wins High Grade For Elections Security

Rhode Island is among ten states receiving the highest grades for election security from the Center for American Progress.  The state gets a "B," the highest score given to any state.  It's based on factors including security of voter registration, voter-verified paper ballots and voting machine certification. 

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Narragansett Changes Beach Pass Fees

It's going to cost more to go to the Narragansett Town Beach.  The daily entrance fee is going up two-bucks to ten-dollars a visit.  Residents can still buy a season pass for 25-dollars, but the non-resident 50-dollar passes are no more.  The town says it's an effort to cut down on crowds. 

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Westerly Residents Warned About Excess Chemicals In Water

State health officials are issuing a warning to Westerly residents about excess chemicals in the water supply.  The problem stems from a water treatment equipment failure.  Residents who haven't turned on their faucets since Friday should flush their system before drinking or using any water.  The health department says the increase in chemicals caused the pH level to rise, which can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, lips, mouth, nose and mucous membranes. 

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Portsmouth Fast-Tracking Safety Plan

The Portsmouth School Committee is moving forward with a safety plan after a teacher was assaulted by an intruder.  Authorities say the school system had the safety capital budget in place before 22-year-old Marcus Schlip entered the Portsmouth High School gym two weeks ago armed with a knife.  The incident has put the plan on a fast track.  The plan includes more safety personnel on site, training, and improving the school's entry system and cameras. 

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Woman Released From ICE Custody

A woman is back home in Providence after being held by immigration officials in Massachusetts.  Lilian Calderon was released from ICE custody yesterday.  The wife and mother came to the U.S. from Guatemala with her parents when she was three-years-old, got married to an American citizen who she's known since high school and had two children.  Calderon was released after a judge said she couldn't be removed from the country while her case is pending. 

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Fox Prison Release Today

The prison sentence for Former House Speaker Gordon Fox ends today.

Fox has spent over two years in federal prison in Pennsylvania and six months at a halfway house in Pawtucket for wire fraud and bribery.

Fox who was arguably once the most powerful politician in the state, was under strict surveillance at the halfway home. He worked a job at a factory in Warwick and subject to daily searches by halfway house staff.

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Gov. Raimondo travels to small business summit

Gov. Gina Raimondo is heading to Washington to serve as a keynote panelist at the 10,000 Small Businesses National Alumni Summit. Today's event is expected to be the largest convening of small business owners and aims to further policies to support small businesses. Topics to be discussed include charting a path to help small businesses grow and compete, accessing capital, hiring, and leadership.

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Judge Rules On Student House Rentals

A state judge has ruled in favor of a Providence ordinance that limits the number of college students who can rent a house at once. Superior Court Judge Maureen Keough sided with Providence in her decision on Monday but also said that the ordinance probably won't work. The Rhode Island chapter of the ACLU previously challenged the constitutionality of the ordinance.

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State attorneys general: No citizenship question on Census

A coalition of state attorneys general is urging the U.S. Department of Commerce to not add a question about citizenship to the 2020 census, saying it could lower participation among immigrants and cause a population undercount. The group sent a letter on Monday to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, saying that adding the question "would fatally undermine the accuracy" of the 2020 count. There was no immediate comment from the Commerce Department.

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RI GOP files ethics complaint against Raimondo

The chairman of the Rhode Island Republican Party has filed an ethics complaint against  Gov. Gina Raimondo for striking a fundraising deal with a local Democratic group, the head of which was a state employee.  Brandon Bell on Monday asked the ethics commission to investigate.  Raimondo says such an agreement is "totally standard."

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Bill Would Allow Early Voting

There's a House bill to establish early voting.  Warwick Representative Joseph Solomon's legislation would allow in-person voting at a designated location from the 20th day before a general or primary election until four p.m. the day before the election.  Solomon says it's tragic when people arrive at a polling place only to leave because they don't have time to wait in long lines. 

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Reed Announces Federal Railroad Safety Grant

Senator Jack Reed says the Federal Railroad Administration is awarding nearly two-million-dollars to improve safety on short-line railroads.  Reed says short-line carriers provide a vital connection to bigger railroads, ports and manufacturers in Rhode Island and elsewhere.

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Legislative Push For Energy Rate Relief

There's a push at the State House for rate relief on energy bills.  Legislators are asking the Public Utilities Commission to re-examine and reduce current energy rates because of the recent federal corporate tax reduction.  A Senate resolution will be submitted this week as a companion to a resolution already submitted in the House.

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Authorities Warn About Latest Phone Scam

Authorities are warning Rhode Islanders about the latest phone scam.  The Division of Sheriffs in East Providence says the caller posing as a deputy sheriff tells the intended victim they owe money for failure to pay a fine or appear for jury duty.  They are asked to meet at the sheriff's office parking lot or another location.  Authorities say deputies don't make calls to collect fines and those that receive them should contact their local sheriff’s office.

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New Plan For Providence Apartment Tower Presented

A new plan is being presented for the second phase of an apartment project in Providence.  Developers of the Edge College Hill apartment tower on Canal Street unveiled plans last night before the  Downtown Design Review Committee calling for shorter sections of the L-shaped building to be closer the nearby historic buildings.  Commercial space will be on the first floor. 

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Kiwis Being Tested After Students Had Allergic Reaction

Health officials are investigating the cause of an allergic reaction in dozens of school children.  More than 30 children at 14 schools across the state had a reaction after eating kiwis on Friday with two of them being treated at the hospital.  The kiwis came from Roch's Produce in West Greenwich and investigators are testing to see if the kiwis were sprayed with a sanitizer that may have caused the reaction.

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Senators Call For Train Collision Prevention Technology

U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Susan Collins are urging the country’s Transportation Secretary to ensure that technology designed to prevent train crashes is in place on the nation's rails.

The Rhode Island Democrat and Maine Republican pointed to a series of recent deadly accidents to call for the swift implementation of positive train control.

The technology uses sensors and GPS to prevent trains from colliding or derailing.

Congress mandated the use of positive train control in 2008, but its implementation has been delayed. Rail companies have until the end of this year to put it in place.

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BBB Warns About Online Dating Scams

The Better Business Bureau is warning people about online dating scams.  The BBB says con artists will lure a person into falling for someone who doesn't exist and claim they're working overseas and can't meet in person.  Once they've built up trust, they request money and after a while don't make contact.  The BBB says never send money to anyone you've never met in person or if they start asking for personal information. 

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Man Charged With Crank Texting Raimondo

Police say a Rhode Island man faces criminal charges over text messages he sent to Gov. Gina Raimondo. 38-year-old Scott Greene, of Warwick, was charged in December with two counts of sending "crank or obscene" text messages to the governor. He is accused of sending texts on Christmas Eve and again three days later. Details about the nature of the texts have not been released.

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Post Office Honoring Late Bristol Soldier Proposed

Rhode Island's congressional delegation wants to name a U.S. Post Office after an Army Green Beret who was killed in Afghanistan. U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Reps. David Cicilline and Jim Langevin introduced legislation to name the Bristol post office in honor of 1st Sgt. P. Andrew McKenna. The 35-year-old Bristol native was with the U.S. Army Special Forces when he died during an attack in Kabul in 2015.

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Officials Investigate Reports Of Students Reacting To Kiwi

Public health officials in Rhode Island are investigating reports of 34 students experiencing allergic reactions after eating kiwifruit.

The Department of Health says the students on Friday experienced the symptoms.. They had eaten the fresh fruit shortly beforehand.

Health officials say the cause of the reaction hasn't been determined.

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RI Awards $3.75 Million To Protect Green Space

More than $3.75 million is being awarded to help Rhode Island communities and local organizations protect green space throughout the state.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management announced Friday that 17 projects will receive matching grants to protect 889 acres of open space and farmland. The grants include almost $152-thousand dollars to acquire 15.6 acres at the headwaters of Little Creek in Portsmouth

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House Speaker To Meet With PawSox Officials

According to a spokeswoman for Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is going to meet in the coming weeks with Pawtucket Red Sox officials to discuss the stalemate over a proposed stadium.  Mattiello has raised concerns about using taxpayer money to help finance the 83-million-dollar project.  A bill has passed the Senate, but has stalled in the House.  Without a new ballpark, PawSox officials have threatened to move the team out of Rhode Island.

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Thousands Waiting For Benefits As Computer Woes Continue

Rhode Island's Health and Human Services secretary has told lawmakers that delays continue for thousands of applicants for state benefits because of problems with its computer system.

Eric Beane told the House Oversight Committee that around 4,000 applications remained backlogged at the end of January. Around half of those are for long-term elder care.

Beane says it could take months, perhaps past June , before the $491 million system stabilizes.

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Data Shows Increase In Highway Deaths

Traffic-related deaths in Rhode Island are up according to new data.  There were 84 deaths last year, a 60 percent increase over the previous year.  The state Department of Transportation has launched a public awareness campaign called the "Ripple Effect" which cautions against drinking and driving.

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Governor Supports Proposed Green Economy Bond

Governor Gina Raimondo is backing a proposed 2018 Green Economy Bond.  The 48-and-a-half-million-dollar bond would provide funding to improve parks, bike paths, recreational areas, preserve open space and clean up contaminated land.  The governor says the projects funded will make valuable real estate available for development, attract jobs and promote public health.

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Legislators Submit A "Fair Shot Agenda"

A large group of state representatives is proposing a legislative package called the 2018 "Fair Shot Agenda."  They say the goal is to address the growing gap between the wealthy and the middle class.  The agenda includes investing in school building upgrades, raising the minimum wage to 15-dollars and ensuring affordable long-term care and prescription drugs for seniors.  It also includes passing a state budget that advocates say "protects our neighbors."

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Cause Of Portsmouth Fire Still In Question

The cause of a fire that destroyed or damaged several waterfront homes in Portsmouth and left one person dead is still unknown. Chief Deputy State Fire Marshal John Dean says that the investigation into the fire early Wednesday is complete, but the damage was so bad they have been unable to determine what caused it.

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Former Pal Denies Stealing From Vinny Paz

A former friend of retired boxer Vinny Paz denies stealing from the former champion before getting into an altercation with him in January. Thirty-four year old Nathaneal Lavoie of Providence says he has borrowed money from Paz and paid it back, but didn't take the $16,000 Paz accuses him of stealing.

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Legislators Praise Withdrawal Of Proposed Gun Range

A couple of state legislators are pleased with the withdrawal of a proposed gun range in Coventry.  Senator Leonidas Raptakis says he's grateful to all the residents who voiced opposition to the proposal.  Representative Patricia Serpa says the proposed site of the gun range near an elementary school was not the right location. 

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Providence Teachers Union Plans More Protests

The president of the Providence Teachers Union says Tuesday night's protest during Mayor Jorge Elorza's State of the City address is just the beginning.  Marybeth Calabro says it was the first of many planned protests until contract talks resume.  However, the mayor's chief of staff says Elorza remains at the bargaining table to resolve the matter.  The teachers have been without a contract since the end of August.

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Frontier Airlines Adding More Routes

Frontier Airlines is adding two low-fare routes from T.F. Green Airport starting in April.  One is to Atlanta and the other is to Austin, Texas. Governor Gina Raimondo says it's the latest example of why T.F. Green is one of the best airport's in America.  Frontier already offers service from Warwick to Orlando and Tampa, as well as seasonal flights to Charlotte, Denver, Fort Meyers, Miami, Raleigh-Durham and New Orleans.

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Security Breach Notification Bill Is Introduced

There's a bill in the House requiring companies to notify a person of any security breaches related to personal information.  House Minority Whip Blake Filippi from New Shoreham, says for the most part people currently have no say in how extremely sensitive personal information is handled.  Noting stolen data from companies like Equifax and Target, Filippi says if there's a problem, people have a right to know so they can protect themselves.   The bill calls for companies failing to provide notification to face fines of up to 150-thousand-dollars per data breach.

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Partial-Fill Prescription Option For Opioids

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is proposing legislation that gives patients or prescribers the option to only partially fill a painkiller prescription.  There are provisions in the bill to carefully monitor subsequent fills of the prescription.  Matiello says it encourages prescribers, patients and pharmacists to work together to limit the number of unused pills left in medicine cabinets, which is where he says, opioid addiction begins.

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Airport Passengers Lost Almost A Million Dollars In Loose Change

Nearly a million dollars are going to the U.S. Treasury, thanks to passengers at Warwick's T.F. Green Airport.  The Transportation Security Administration says the money is loose change left behind by travelers in 2017.  The TSA yesterday displayed a stun gun, brass knuckles among the confiscated items this past year.  The 13-hundred pounds of items will be auctioned off at a future date.

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CVS Raising Its Minimum Wage

CVS Health is increasing its minimum wage.  The nation's largest pharmacy chain announced yesterday that it will start hourly employees at eleven-dollars an hour.  The Woonsocket-based company says it would also hand out pay raises to many workers who make more than the minimum.  The move comes as a number of companies are passing on tax savings.

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Secretary Of State Wants To Move Primary Day

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea is proposing to move the state primary election.  Gorbea has filed a bill that would move the primary from the second Tuesday in September to the third Tuesday in August.  She says it allows time for those serving in the military to receive ballots.  it also would eliminate the need to close schools that are polling places.

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Supreme Court Justice Speaks At Brown

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor says the pay gap between women and men for the same work is one of the biggest issues the nation faces. Sotomayor spoke Wednesday at Brown University . She said when she started her career in 1979, she was told women would reach equality over time. But she pointed out that women make up just one-third of the federal judiciary today.

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Deadline Approaches For Innovation Campus RFP

The request for proposals deadline for an innovation campus in Rhode Island is March 2nd.  The Commerce Corporation says its an opportunity for industry, academic and/or research organizations to form a partnership with URI.  The ultimate goal is job creation at a variety of skill levels.  Creation of an innovation campus or campuses is supported by a 20-million-dollar bond approved by voters in 2016.

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AG Kilmartin Opposes Minimum Wage Proposal

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is opposed to a U.S. Department of Labor proposal to let employers control the tips of  employees who are paid the federal minimum wage.  He says tens of thousands of RhodeIslanders work in the hospitality industry and they rely on tips.  A coalition of 17 attorneys general filed comments yesterday against the proposal.  

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RI Is Suing The Federal EPA

Rhode Island and ten other states are suing the Environmental Protection Agency for suspending the 2015 Clean Water Rule.   The rule defines exactly what streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands are protected by the Clean Water Act.  The lawsuit argues the EPA and Army Corp of Engineers don't have the authority to suspend the rule, ignored scientific data and did not provide adequate public notice. 

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Providence's Safe Stations Program Slow To Take Off

Only one person has taken advantage of Providence's Safe Stations program since it was launched January 2nd.  But supporters of the program says it needs time to catch on like it has in other cities.  Under the program, anyone seeking recovery from addictions can show up at any of the city's twelve fire stations at any time and get connected to treatment and recovery programs within 15 minutes. 

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Plane Returns To Airport After Hitting Flock Of Birds

Passengers on a flight from T.F. Green Airport in Warwick were put on another plane after an emergency landing yesterday.  American Eagle flight 5396 headed for Reagan National Airport in Arlington, Virginia, struck a flock of horned larks as it was taking off at 12:45 p.m.  The flight returned and safely landed as a precaution. 

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School Official Addresses Bed Bug Concern

The superintendent of Woonsocket schools is addressing a concern over bed bugs.  Dr. Patrick J. McGee says there's nothing to be concerned about.  He says one case was reported January 29th and the maintenance staff at the school treated the rooms associated with the case that same evening.  McGee says there have been no reports or cases of the pesky critters since.

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Deadly Portsmouth Fire Under Investigation

The Newport Daily News reports that human remains were found in the charred debris from a destructive fire Wednesday morning that destroyed two waterfront homes and severely damaged another in the Common Fence Point neighborhood.
Portsmouth police reported the discovery in a statement Wednesday afternoon and are working with the state Medical Examiner's Office to identify the victim.

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Child Abuse Prevention Bill's Submitted

There are now two bills pending that are designed to help prevent child abuse.  One gives legal authority to the Child Advocate to obtain all pertinent documents of third party caregivers.  The second bill requires the state to adopt a mandatory child abuse/domestic violence and animal abuse cross-reporting system.  House Republican Leader Patricia Morgan says her legislation is in response to deaths and near-deaths of children in the protection of the DCYF.

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Glitch In Tsunami Test Causes Concern

A glitch in a monthly tsunami warning caused concern around 8:30 Tuesday morning.  The warning, which was only meant for state agencies along the east coast, went to users of certain mobile app's and some websites.  The National Weather Service sent out a tweet within minutes saying it was a test and there was no tsunami threat.  The cause of the glitch is being investigated. 

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NWS: All RI Communities Are Storm Ready

Rhode Island is the first state in the nation to have every community declared as Storm Ready.  The state Emergency Management Agency says every city and town has completed a six point plan created by the National Weather Service to manage severe weather.  Governor Gina Raimondo says all 39 communities have shown their dedication in preparing to keep RhodeIslanders safe and setting a national standard.   

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Plan To Build Gun Range Withdrawn

A landowner is withdrawing a plan for a gun range in Coventry.  Residents had opposed Thomas Miozzi's plan for the range on Town Farm Road.  A public hearing scheduled for February 13th has been canceled.

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Judge: Woman Can't Be Deported With Case Pending

A judge is ruling that a Guatemalan mother can't be deported while her case is pending.  Lillian Calderon, who came to the U.S. when she was three, was taken into custody by immigration officials in Johnston when she had an interview for lawful status on January 17th.  ICE has had an order of removal since 2002, but Calderon wasn't detained until she went to the Homeland Security office last month.

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Teachers Disrupt Mayor's Speech

Providence teachers are making their voices heard loud and clear.  Members of the Providence Teachers Union disrupted Mayor Elorza's State of the City address yesterday, shouting "shame on you" several times.  The teachers are upset over the mayor's handling of contract negotiations.  In his address, the mayor called for a transformational contract that he's willing to discuss.

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Cranston Firefighters Remain Ill From Chemical Fire

The Cranston Fire Department says it is monitoring the health of 20 firefighters who battled a chemical fire.  The fire last week at ProSys Finishing Technologies on Elmwood Avenue became a Hazmat incident.  The chemical fire started to melt the firefighters' gear as they entered the building and they are now dealing with respiratory issues.  Seven firefighters remain out of work as a result.

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Early Morning Fire In Portsmouth

WPRI News reports that an early-morning fire in a home on Narragansett Boulevard in Portsmouth, spread to multiple homes, creating a massive inferno that could be seen from Tiverton.

Flames broke out at 183 Narragansett Avenue just after 2 a.m. Wednesday, and spread to two other houses.

According to Portsmouth Fire Chief Michael Cranston, two of the three fires were under control as of 6 a.m. and crews were working to contain the third.

Multiple crews responded to the fire, including Bristol, Tiverton, Swansea, Newport, and Middletown.

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Raimondo says state is making progress on clean energy goal

Gov. Gina Raimondo says the state is making progress toward the goal of increasing the amount of clean energy in Rhode Island tenfold by the end of 2020. The state's goal is to secure 1,000 megawatts of renewable energy resources, including wind, solar and hydropower.

Raimondo said Monday that the state has more than doubled the amount of renewable energy in Rhode Island, from roughly 100 megawatts to 230 megawatts, so far.

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City officials denounce racist flyers papered around stadium

Several hundred people gathered in Providence as Mayor Jorge Elorza and other officials denounced racist flyers distributed throughout Pawtucket over the weekend.

The flyers were left in doorways and placed on signs around McCoy Stadium. The covers read, "Negro Crime in Mayor Jorge O. Elorza's Sanctuary City," and the interior listed African American residents who have been charged with a crime.

The flyers also had an image of the head of the city's NAACP chapter, Jim Vincent, on the cover.

Elorza says the city will not allow hate to become normalized.

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RI Gas Prices Up Again This Week

The price of gasoline in Rhode Island is up four cents this week. AAA Northeast said Monday in its weekly survey that self-serve regular is averaging $2.61 per gallon. That's the same as the national average.The average price of gasoline in Rhode Island is 38 cents higher than it was at this time last year, when it sold for $2.23 per gallon,  an increase of 17 percent. AAA found gas selling for as low as $2.55 per gallon and as high as $2.74 in Rhode Island.

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Bill Would Require Use Of Motorcycle Helmets

A bill requiring drivers of motorcycles, scooters and motor-driven bikes to wear a helmet is pending in the House.  Providence state Representative Ramon Perez says his bill will save lives.  Violators, including non-complying passengers, would be fined 100-dollars.  If passed, the measure would take effect on July first.

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CVS Health Losing Top Executive

One of Rhode Island’s most high-profile business leaders is leaving the state’s largest company.Longtime CVS Health executive Helena Foulkes, a Providence native who is currently president of the company’s retail division, is leaving the Woonsocket drugstore giant to become CEO of Hudson’s Bay Co., the Toronto-based owner of the Saks Fifth Avenue and Lord & Taylor department stores.

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Middletown To Keep Campsites

The Newport Daily News reports that the Middletown Town Council has decided to forgo the idea of creating a parking lot in favor of keeping the Second Beach Family Campground.
Last night at a packed meeting in Town Hall, the council backed off plans to turn the area into a “resident only” parking lot, opting to keep the 50 campsites instead.

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Bill introduced to change state's official tall ship

A bill has been introduced to change Rhode Island's official tall ship.
A group of state senators propose designating the SSV Oliver Hazard Perry as the official flagship and Tall Ship ambassador of Rhode Island. A hearing is scheduled for Wednesday.
Rhode Island's official Tall Ship, the 110-foot sloop-of-war Providence, is moving to Virginia.
The Oliver Hazard Perry is a civilian sail training vessel that docks in Newport. It resembles an American naval vessel of the early 1800s.
It's named after Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, the War of 1812 hero and Rhode Island native.
 

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Sox Truck Heads South Today, Stopn in RI

The equipment truck for the Boston Red Sox will stop in Rhode Island on its way to Florida for spring training.

The truck plans to stop today at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket..

PawSox fans will welcome the truck for “Truck Day” around 1 p.m., then send it on its way to Fort Myers, Florida.

The team’s mascots and club officials are taking part in the festivities.

The Rhode Island Food Bank will be collecting non-perishable donations. Fans who bring a donation will receive a general admission ticket to opening night at McCoy on April 6.

The truck carries an assortment of baseball equipment and supplies, including more than 20,000 baseballs.

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AG Kilmartin Opposes Offshore Drilling

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is asking the U.S. Department of the Interior to drop plans to expand offshore drilling for oil and gas.  Kilmartin and several other attorneys general warn that offshore drilling is a threat to the economy and ecology of states along the eastern seaboard.   Kilmartin is also urging Rhode Islanders opposed to the plan to voice their concerns at a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management hearing February 28th at the Providence Marriott.

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Students say colleges must use 100 percent renewable energy

Students and faculty members in Massachusetts are planning to converge on the Statehouse tomorrow to pressure colleges and universities to switch to 100 percent renewable energy.

Rhode Island aims to increase the amount of clean energy tenfold by the end of 2020. Gov. Gina Raimondo plans to discuss progress sometime later today.

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Lawmaker proposes change in youth sports due to concussions

A state senator has introduced a bill that would require an adult trained in recognizing a concussion to be present at youth sporting events in Rhode Island.

Currently state law encourages school districts to have an athletic trainer at these events. Sen. Frank Lombardi wants to change it to specifically require the presence of a trainer, nurse, or someone else similarly trained to recognize the symptoms of a concussion and evaluate.

The bill was referred to the Senate Education Committee.

Lombardi, of Cranston, says it's imperative that the state take appropriate steps to ensure the safety of children playing sports.

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Justice Sotomayor to speak at Brown University

Brown University says U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor will speak at the Ivy League school next week in an event that's open to the public.

The university announced that the justice will speak Wednesday in a free but ticketed event on its Providence campus.

Sotomayor's talk comes 18 months after the Class of 2020 read her memoir, "My Beloved World." She will speak in conversation with Brown President Christina Paxson.

Sotomayor became the first Hispanic and third woman on the nation's highest court when she was appointed in 2009 by President Barack Obama.

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Newport Armory Sale Facing Opposition

A petition is being circulated to stop the sale of the historic Armory building on Thames Street.  The city is planning to sell the building to the National Sailing Hall of Fame for nearly two-million-dollars.  The Friends of the Waterfront says in its petition that the sale needs to be discussed and debated.  The group claims the sale is in conflict with the city’s Comprehensive Plan. 

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Raimondo campaign cash continues rise

Gov. Gina Raimondo's campaign continues to raise substantially more money than her challengers' campaigns in this year's gubernatorial election. Raimondo brought in about $567,000 in campaign contributions in the quarter ending Dec. 31. That brought her cash on hand to $3.3 million. Cranston Mayor Allan Fung took in about $175,000 during the quarter and ended with $241,000 cash on hand. Fellow Republican Patricia Morgan raised $30,000 and ended with $117,000.

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Campaign launched for regional carbon fee

Rhode Island lawmakers are working with environmental advocates to pass legislation that would charge fossil fuel companies for carbon pollution. Democratic Rep. Aaron Regunberg said Thursday he has introduced legislation to set a fee in Rhode Island of $15 per ton of greenhouse gas emissions. The money would be invested in renewable energy. Regunberg says lawmakers and advocates in nine states have formed the "Carbon Costs Coalition" to create a regional carbon pricing system.

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Poll: Governor Raimondo's Approval Rating Remains Low

Governor Gina Raimondo's job approval rating remains low as she prepares for a re-election campaign. A poll conducted by the website Morning Consult finds the her approval rating is 40-percent, 47-percent disapprove and 12-percent are undecided.  The survey was done last October through December and its margin of error is plus or minus three-percent  

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RI Tourism Ad Campaign Is Launched

There's a new advertising campaign promoting tourism in Rhode Island,  Sixteen brief videos highlight the state's appeal and end with the tagline "Fun-Sized."  The digital ads are running on travel and trip planning websites.  Tourism is Rhode Island's fifth largest industry providing tens-of-thousands of jobs.

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Students Upset Over Tardiness Policy

A policy meant to crack down on tardiness at Barrington High School is making students late to class.  Students are being forced to line up at the school's only unlocked door for as long as 25 minutes so they can sign in at the office and then go to class.  School officials say the other doors are locked for security reasons, so students are left standing outside.  School officials say 149 students were tardy yesterday, amounting to 13-percent of the students.

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Restaurant Apologizes For Norovirus Outbreak

A Warwick restaurant is apologizing over a recent outbreak of norovirus.  Sam's Inn on West Shore Road announced on social media yesterday that on the weekend of January 20th, the salad bar was exposed to the norovirus.  Owner Sam Khouri says he didn't learn of the problem until customers contacted the restaurant several days later.  Health officials are working with the eatery and staff is being retrained. 

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Legislator Introduces Bill Allowing Social Sports Betting

A bill is being introduced that would allow sports betting in a residence, tavern or private club.  State Representative William O'Brien's bill stipulates that the betting be only between the participants and only they receive anything of value.  The legislation says no profits from the betting are paid to the house or any fees are charged.  O'Brien says the bill would let people fill out a Super Bowl pool without getting arrested.

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Plans For Tower In Providence Moving Forward

Plans for a 46-story tower in Providence are moving forward.  The I-195 Redevelopment District Commission reached a preliminary agreement yesterday to sell the site on Dyer Street to a New York developer.  Jason Fane will pay more than three-million-dollars for an acre to build Hope Point Tower.

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RI governor appoints new state fire marshal

Gov. Gina Raimondo has appointed a new fire marshal.

Johnston Fire Chief Timothy McLaughlin confirmed the governor approached him about the job last week. He says he has notified the town's mayor, and his appointment needs to be confirmed by the state Senate.

McLaughlin has served as the town's fire chief for the past seven years. He previously served as the chief of Pawtucket, and he worked in the city's fire department for 29 years.

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Net Neutrality Bill To Be Introduced

A bill to protect net neutrality in Rhode Island is going to be introduced.  Providence state Representative Aaron Regunberg says his legislation would require that all Internet access purchased or funded by the state be provided consistent with net neutrality principles.  He calls it a consumer protection bill ensuring open and fair access to the Internet.  The Federal Communications Commission recently overturned net neutrality regulations which means providers can charge more for certain content, block content and limit customers to slower Internet speed.

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Teachers Plan To Pick Mayor Elorza's Address

Members of the Providence Teachers Union are planning to picket at Mayor Jorge Elorza's State of the City address.  The last teachers contract expired on August 31st and the union's president says negotiations have stalled.  The mayor's address is set for next Tuesday.

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Providence City Councilor Criticizes The School Committee

Providence City Councilor John Igliozzi  says the school committee often submits a budget that he calls a work of fiction.  At a committee meeting last night, the city's finance director says the school department will propose a balanced budget for the fiscal year that starts July first.  Igliozzi, who chairs the Finance Committee, says school officials always claims they're submitting a balanced budget, and then routinely return seeking more money.  

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Legislators Launch A Minimum Wage Campaign

Backed by a coalition of community organizations, a group of legislators are launching a "Fight for 15" campaign.  The goal is to get the hourly minimum wage from ten-dollars-ten-cents up to 15-dollars by 2023.   According to the nonpartisan Economic Policy Institute, 165-thousand Rhode Islanders would be affected by the increase.

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State Rep Proposes Online Lottery Tickets

State Representative Charlene Lima is proposing online scratch and lottery tickets.  The Cranston Democrat says the bill she's filing is a way to address the state's budget deficit and unfunded pension liability.  She says online lottery tickets would be in addition to the in-store purchasing option.  Lima also says online sales would be attractive to Rhode Island's growing Millennials population.   

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Raimondo's budget proposes rate hikes for childcare workers

Gov. Gina Raimondo is proposing that the state spend $1.5 million on rate hikes for child care workers. She discussed her fiscal 2019 budget proposal for state-subsidized day care operators, many of whom work at home, Wednesday in Providence. Raimondo wants a tiered reimbursement model that allocates higher rates for higher-quality programs. Less than 10 percent of providers have high ratings.

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National Grid seeks increase in natural gas rates

National Grid is looking to increase its natural gas rates to help recover spending on high costs of fuel during the recent cold snap. The company filed a request Monday to increase the average household heating bill by 15.6 percent from March 1 to Oct. 31. National Grid says the rate hike would help recover $22.8 million out of the $34.4 million it spent on fuel during the extreme cold between the end of December and early January.

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Raimondo Leads In Fundraising

Gov. Gina Raimondo's campaign continues to raise substantially more money that her challengers' in this year's gubernatorial election. Raimondo brought in about $567,000 in campaign contributions in the quarter ending Dec. 31. That brought her cash on hand to $3.35 million. Cranston Mayor Allan Fung took in about $175,000 during the quarter and ended with $241,000 cash on hand. Fellow Republican Patricia Morgan raised $30,000 and ended with $117,000.

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Single-family home prices rose 8 percent in RI in December

The median price of a single-family home in Rhode Island rose 8 percent in December from the same month the previous year, to $255,000.

The Rhode Island Association of Realtors announced Wednesday the number of sales fell less than 1 percent, down slightly from December 2016.

Association President Joseph Luca says sales could slow down this year, amid rising prices and low inventory. The group says December had the lowest inventory of single-family homes on the market in nearly 13 years.

The median sales price of condominiums rose 12 percent, to $231,000, while sales fell 6 percent.

Sales of multifamily homes rose 39 percent, and the median price climbed 11 percent, to $225,000.

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