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1540 WADK.com Updates Archives for 2018-03

Mendonca Wants RI To Reimburse Schools For Security Check

A state lawmaker says he'll introduce legislation to reimburse public schools that conduct student safety evaluations.
Rep. Kenneth Mendonca, R-Portsmouth, said the state should allocate $650,000 from its general fund to reimburse schools for security evaluations, which typically cost about $1,500.
He said this would help public schools make real changes to improve security for students and staff.

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Discussion Over RI Family Leave Program

Some state lawmakers want Rhode Island to expand its paid family leave program. They're gathering with advocates to bring attention to a bill that would increase the amount of time a worker can take off from four weeks to six weeks in 2019, and eight weeks in 2020. Rhode Island is one of the few states that guarantee paid time off to care for a child or a sick family member.

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Pawtucket Makes Plans For Area Near Proposed Ballpark

A proposed new ballpark for the Pawtucket Red Sox does not yet have the full approval of the Rhode Island legislature, but that's not stopping the city from moving forward with plans to develop the area.
The Pawtucket Redevelopment Agency has issued a request for proposals to develop the waterfront area surrounding the site of the proposed park.
New renderings show plans for restaurants, a bike path, riverfront loft spaces, and a pedestrian bridge.


 

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East Providence High School Evacuated

A threat that caused the evacuation of East Providence High School is under investigation.  Police describe the threat which was called in yesterday morning as vague. Authorities say the evacuation was a precaution, and that there was no consideration of an early dismissal.

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Little Compton Residents Being Warned About Coyotes

Residents of Little Compton are being warned about coyotes in the area.  The Little Compton Firefighter's Association  posted pictures online of a coyote that has been spotted.  The last sighting was behind the Public Safety Complex yesterday morning.

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Scituate Man Indicted By Federal Grand Jury

A Scituate resident is facing a federal grand jury indictment for tax evasion and other charges.  The indictment against Billie Schofield was handed up Tuesday in Providence.  If convicted Schofield could face up to five years for tax evasion and perjury, three years for obstructing the IRS, plus monetary penalties.

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Plans For Providence's Tallest Building Move Forward

Plans for the tallest building in Providence are moving forward.  The 195 Redevelopment Commission last night approved the sale of the land to the developer for the 46-story Hope Point Tower.  The developer will pay three-million dollars for the one-acre site.  The city has yet to approve the project.

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Dogs, Chickens Seized From Home

Authorities say the owner of a home in Woonsocket is facing multiple animal cruelty charges.  A number of animals were found to be living in squalid conditions at the home on Cottage Street last night.  Animal control officers seized 17 dogs, including newborn puppies, and chickens.  Several dead chickens and a piglet were also found in the home.

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Official Cites Need To Expand, Add Amenities To Cliff Walk

 Officials in Newport are looking to add more restrooms along the city's famed Cliff Walk, as long lines at current restrooms have become a common problem.        

Newport grounds supervisor Scott Wheeler says people are lined up all day during the weekends, and there is a need to plan for a new set of restrooms. He spoke to both the Cliff Walk Commission and the Tree and Open Space Commission on Tuesday night, citing the demand for more restrooms.        

The Cliff Walk is the most visited tourist attraction in Rhode Island with an estimated 750,000 visitors per year.

Wheeler says there is also a need for a new public entrance and exit somewhere on a long continuous stretch of coastal trail, but it would require cooperation with a willing private landowner.

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City Hires Law Firm Of Former Mayor

Former Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and his law firm have been hired to defend the city against a class-action lawsuit challenging multiple facets of the city’s new speed camera program. Greenberg Traurig LLP was hired as the city’s outside legal counsel because it has “a lot of experience with class-action lawsuits,” according to city solicitor Jeff Dana. He confirmed Taveras will be one of the attorneys working on the case.It was not immediately clear how much the firm will be paid.

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Applicants To Brown Set Record

Brown University is seeing record-breaking applications. Brown officials say the school had applications from 35,438 hopefuls - more than any other year. The school made offers to just 7 percent, or 2,566 students, for the Class of 2022. The previous year saw 32,724 applicants. Admitted students have until May 1 to accept the university's offer of admission. Brown anticipates an incoming class of approximately 1,665.

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School Students Ingest THC Laced Chocolate

Westerly Police are investigating a case of five school students ingesting chocolate laced with THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.  The incident happened yesterday at Westerly Middle School when a 13-year-old girl was examined by a school nurse and was showing signs of marijuana ingestion.  The girl admitted that she and four other girls had eaten the candy.  A few pieces of the chocolate found on one of the students were seized as evidence.

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Warwick Evicting Dog Breeder

Warwick officials are evicting a dog breeder after complaints and code violations.  Court documents show Clifford Dennis is to have all of the dogs removed from the site in the 400 block of Toll Gate Road by April 16th.  The city also says Dennis will have to give up his municipal breeder's permit.  The property's owner Edward Allen will also have an abandoned farmhouse torn down.

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Investigators Search East Providence Business

A maintenance shop is being accused of labor trafficking and wage violations. A Massachusetts-led investigator team executed a search warrant for Martins Maintenance in East Providence Wednesday. Labor trafficking is coercion of employees to work through violence and threats. The Attorney General's office of Massachusetts says the search was the result of alleged labor trafficking and criminal wage and hour violations.

 

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Officials Charge 8 People Who Allegedly Lied To Get Guns

A local investigation has led to criminal charges against eight individuals and the seizure of at least 44 firearms. The investigation by Project Safe Neighborhoods targeted individuals who were supposedly providing false information to federally licensed gun dealers in Rhode Island. U.S. District Attorney Stephen Dambruch says five individuals have been tried in U.S. District Court, and three more in state court. Project Safe Neighborhoods is a collaboration of federal, state and local law enforcement to reduce gun violence. Attorneys were not immediately available for comment.

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Aquidneck Island Christian Academy Closing

The Newport Daily News reports that Aquidneck Island Christian Academy in Portsmouth will not renew its lease with the town and close at the end of the school year. Low enrollment was a key factor that led the school's board of directors to shutter the school, according to headmaster Joshua White. About 30 students attend the kindergarten through 12th-grade classical Christian school.

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State Warns Of Hungry Bears

With the spring weather moving in across the Ocean State, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is asking the public to be “bear aware” as black bears begin to emerge from hibernation.“Given the scarcity of food in the spring, black bears may visit bird feeders, beehives, chicken coops, rabbit hutches, and compost piles in search of food. Black bears are generally shy and will avoid interactions with humans,” DEM noted in a press release. “However, they can become dependent on backyard food sources, if readily available, and quickly become a nuisance.

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Support Grows For Change In State Budget Crafting

Most state senators are supporting a proposal to change how the budget is enacted in Rhode Island. Democratic Sen. Ryan William Pearson introduced a bill to provide for a budget reconciliation process between the House and Senate. Currently, the House adopts a budget and sends it to the Senate. Any changes by the Senate go back to the full House for consideration. There isn't a conference committee to work out differences. Pearson wants each chamber to produce a budget.

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Providence Apartment Building Has Supporters And Opponents

Plans for a 46-floor apartment building are expected to hit a deadline tomorrow night.  The 195 Commission is likely to authorize the purchase and sale agreement for the property along the Providence River waterfront.  The developers hope to get a zoning variance by summer for the project to go ahead.  But there's some opposition from the Neighborhood Association, which claims the scale of the project doesn't fit into the nearby waterfront park. 

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Speed Camera Cases Delayed

Two court dates for motorists challenging speed camera tickets in Providence are being postponed.  Hearings set for tomorrow and April 5th will be continued.  Six residents and a car leasing company are challenging multiple parts of the city's speed camera program.  That lawsuit in Superior Court starts Monday.

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Three Charged After Drug-Trafficking Investigation

Three people are facing charges after an investigation into drug trafficking.  Authorities on Monday raided five locations in Providence and Cranston including an auto body shop.  A quantity of cocaine, heroin and fentanyl was seized along with drug paraphernalia, cash and vehicles.  Charged with multiple offenses are Jose M. Hernandez, Steven Alix and Robert Arias.

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Child Hospitalized After Rescued From Burning Home

An 18-month-old child is being treated for injuries after being rescued from a house fire in Westerly.  The fire happened around 7 p.m. yesterday at a home on Nichols Lane.  Three residents safely jumped from a second-floor window.  The child was taken to Hasbro Children's Hospital, but the child's condition has not been released.

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Quahog Week Underway In RI

Rhode Island's beloved hard-shelled clam is getting some time in the spotlight for the third annual quahog week. The celebration intended to celebrate the local food economy and honor the state's fishing heritage kicked off Monday. Gov. Gina Raimondo said the week is an opportunity to commemorate the "vitality" of the shellfish industry. Last year, more than 22 million quahogs were harvested from Narragansett Bay and coastal waters.

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Magazine: T.F. Green One Nation's Best Airports

Money Magazine says T.F. Green Airport is one of the best airports in the country.  It's ranked sixth among the top 15 airports.  The ranking cites a more than 82-percent on-time arrival rate at T.F. Green.  Other factors considered include security delays and amenities including restaurants and shops.

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Gorbea On Federal Election Funding

The appropriations bill passed by Congress and signed by President Trump last week includes 380-million-dollars to help protect the integrity of elections. Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea says federal funding is necessary to increase ballot box cybersecurity protection.  Gorbea says she's looking forward to working with the U.S. Elections Assistance Commission on allocations of the funds.  

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Bishop Tobin Comments On Gun Control

Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin is weighing in on the issue of gun control.  In a weekend tweet as marches and rallies against gun violence were being held around the country, the bishop urged common sense.  Tobin says private citizens shouldn't be permitted to own assault rifles any more than they can own chemical weapons of mass destruction. 

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Report Faults National Grid For Storm Response

A report released yesterday  is critical of National Grid's response to an October storm that caused 144-thousand residential and business power outages in Rhode Island.  The Division of Public Utilities and Carriers says the company didn't respond as quickly as its counterparts in other states, and that the five days it took to fully restore power was 36-hours longer than it would have been if National Grid had been faster to respond to changing weather conditions.  The state agency says the utility failed to acquire additional resources in a timely manner and misrepresented the time it would take to restore service.

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More Loft Apartments In Providence

The revitalization of downtown Providence is taking another step forward with the transformation of a building into loft apartments.  The Case-Mead Lofts on Dorrance Street held a ribbon-cutting yesterday.  The five-story historic structure features 44 new units.  The developer, former Mayor Joseph Paolino, hopes to have them all leased by May.

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Juvenile Charged With Making Threats Targeting School

A twelve-year-old is facing charges for making threats targeting Ponaganset Middle School in Glocester.  Police say the school received two threatening calls yesterday that forced the lockdown of the middle and high schools.  Authorities traced the calls to a home in Foster where a twelve-year-old admitted to making the calls and was arrested.

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Tuition And Fees At State's Colleges Going Up

Tuition and fees are going up at the state's four-year public colleges.  State officials voted last week to hike the University of Rhode Island's tuition and fees two-point-five-percent.  Rhode Island College students will see an increase of just below two-percent.

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Elorza Vetoes Bag Ordinance

Providence Mayor Elorza says an ordinance approved by city council that would ban single-use plastic bags needs more community input.  The mayor vetoed the measure yesterday, saying he wants to avoid putting a burden on low-income residents.  The ordinance would fine retailers using single-use plastic bags.  Council can override Elorza's veto with ten of 15 council members.

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Gas Prices Up This Week In RI

Gasoline prices in Rhode Island are on the rise.

AAA Northeast says the average retail price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in the area is $2.56.

The state's average gas price is five cents below the national average of $2.61.

A year ago today, gas prices in Rhode Island were 33 cents lower at $2.23 per gallon.

AAA Northeast Vice President Lloyd Albert says the season change brings about higher gas prices.

Albert says the market is starting to "purge" winter-blend gasoline for more expensive summer blend.

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Plane lands safely at T.F. Green after reported nose gear problem

A plane landed safely at T.F. Green Airport in Warwick Sunday night. 53 people were on board the United Airlines flight from Chicago. It was scheduled to land in Rhode Island, but had a reported problem with nose gear, according to Rhode Island Airport Corporation spokesman Bill Fischer. The plane landed without incident, but there was a steering issue once on the ground and it had to be towed to the gate. The plane is now being inspected by mechanics.

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Ex-NBA star Chris Herren Opening Center To Combat Addiction

Former NBA star Chris Herren is launching a wellness center aimed at helping people prevent and break free of substance abuse. Herren says his new venture, Herren Wellness, will offer life skills coaching, educational workshops, and fitness and nutrition advice. Herren himself has been in recovery since 2008. He launched a nonprofit in 2011 to provide resources for substance abuse education and treatment.

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Drivers sue over speed cameras

Some of the thousands of drivers who received tickets from speed cameras in school zones in Rhode Island's capital city have filed a class-action lawsuit seeking to get the program thrown out. Around 12,000 tickets were issued from just six cameras in Providence in the first month of operation. The lawsuit filed Friday says the $95 tickets they received are unconstitutional.

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East Bay Bike Path To Be Resurfaced

The 12 mile East Bay Bike Path is going to be repaired and resurfaced this spring.  RIDOT says the 12 mile bike path between East Providence and Bristol is used by nearly 900-thousand people annually.   Some sections of the path will have single day closures during the project, which has a nearly one-and-a-half-million-dollar price tag.

 

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Governor Continues Lobbying For School Spending Bond

Governor Gina Raimondo is continuing to lobby for a school spending bond on the November ballot.  She's seeking voter approval of a 250-million bond to finance repairs or rebuilding old school buildings statewide.  The 250-million-dollars, combined with existing state and local funds, for a total of one-billion-dollars, would be invested over five years.  Raimondo testified in favor of the bond last week before the House Finance Committee.

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Troubled UHIP Program Showing Improvement

The lawyer assigned to oversee Rhode Island’s troubled benefits eligibility system said Friday he hopes it will be largely fixed in about three months. Attorney Deming Sherman said Friday, his goal is to get the Unified Health Infrastructure Project  in compliance by June 30. He also said wait times at the state’s call center are showing signs of improvement.

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Gov. Raimondo to represent alumni at Harvard's commencement

Gov. Gina Raimondo will serve as chief marshal of the alumni at Harvard University's commencement exercises. Harvard says the governor was elected by her classmates to represent alumni at the university's 367th commencement on May 24. Raimondo graduated from Harvard in 1993. The 25th reunion class has selected the chief marshal from among its ranks since 1899.

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RIDOT chief defends storm closure decision

The head of Rhode Island's Department of Transportation is defending a decision to shut down state government during a storm this week that was not as serious as first thought. Director Peter Alviti says the decision to close government Wednesday was made when the forecast called for a much more dangerous storm. Alviti says he is not second-guessing himself for standing by the advice he gave the governor because the decision was made "on the basis of people's lives."

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Business Community Optimistic About RI Economy

The business community is optimistic about Rhode Island's economy.  Based on a survey conducted yesterday morning at a breakfast hosted by the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and Santander Bank, about two-thirds say they believe the state's economy will be stronger a year from now.  The majority also thinks the national economy is better now than it was a year ago.

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Former Warwick Sears Store Seeing New Life

The former Sears store in Warwick is undergoing a transformation.  The old Sears Auto Center at the Rhode Island Mall is now BJ's Brewhouse, known for its handcrafted beer and deep dish pizza.  The main part of the store is being converted into a Raymour and Flanigan furniture store and an At Home store.

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Jobless Rate Holds Steady As Number Of Jobs Grows

The state's jobless rate is holding steady.  The Department of Labor and Training released the latest numbers yesterday and the unemployment rate is four-point-five percent, four-tenths of a percent higher than the national average last month.  While the rate held steady, the number of jobs grew by 12-hundred in February and 63-hundred from the same month a year ago. 

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Providence Nightclub Allowed To Reopen

Club Ultra in Providence is being allowed to reopen after a double stabbing last weekend.  The Providence Board of Licenses is requiring the nightclub on Pine Street to have a police detail at the club.  The investigation into the stabbings is ongoing.

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Bill Proposed To Protect DACA Immigrants

State lawmakers are proposing legislation that would protect immigrants under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.  Representative Shelby Maldonado says the bill is a bridge until Congress takes action.  About 33-hundred people in the state are eligible for DACA, but only 12-hundred signed up before it was terminated. 

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Turnpike & Bridge Authority Issues Advisory

Motorists are being advised on weekend delays as a result of a resurfacing and roadway improvement project on Route 138 between the Jamestown Verrazzano and Newport Pell bridges.
According to the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, one lane of the road will be closed in both the eastbound and westbound directions from Friday evening until Monday morning. Similar work is planned for the weekends of March 31 and April 7. All of the work is weather dependent.

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Fung Campaign Dumps Chairman

Rhode Island Republican gubernatorial candidate Allan Fung has dropped his Providence campaign chairman a day after announcing the position. Fung's campaign manager tells says they were unaware of Hamlet Lopez' past arrest for domestic violence when they announced he would serve as the city's campaign chairman Monday. Lopez says he didn't think he needed to disclose the charge with the campaign because it was dismissed.

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State ordered to hire help for food assistance applications

A special official appointed to oversee Rhode Island's troubled benefits system has ordered the state Department of Human Services to hire more call center workers to handle food assistance applications. Special Master Deming Sherman says the Pawtucket call center has "unacceptable" wait times that frustrates applicants with questions and hinders the timely processing of applications.

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FBI Searches Woonsocket Doc's Home And Clinic

The FBI confirms it executed warrants on Saturday to search the home and clinical office of a Woonsocket physician.  The Woonsocket "Call" reports that an FBI spokeswoman says that because it's an ongoing investigation, she could not comment on what agents were looking for or whether Doctor Stuart Gitlow is a target of the investigation.  Gitlow, who is a psychiatrist with a national reputation in addiction medicine, says he doesn't know what the agents were looking for.

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Lt. Governor Criticizes Providence Mayor

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is under fire from Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee.  Elorza has endorsed McKee's Democratic primary opponent, Providence state Representative Aaron Regunberg.  McKee says he has a good working relationship with mayors and municipal officials statewide.  He says Elorza's endorsement of Regunberg further isolates Providence from other communities at a time when the city is using speed cameras to generate revenue in its struggle to stay solvent.

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Bill Requiring Speed Limit Beacons In Providence

There's a bill in the House to require speed limit sign beacons be installed 100 feet from a school zone and any automated speed cameras in Providence.  State Representative Anastasia Williams says protecting pedestrians is an undisputed necessity, but she calls the city's use of speed cameras a cash grab.  She says people who have been ticketed were not properly notified about the cameras in their neighborhoods.  Williams says her bill protects pedestrians without reaching into the wallets of people who can't afford a 95-dollar ticket.

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Providence Woman Arrested For Theft, Fraud

A Providence woman is facing theft and fraud charges in Arizona.  Police arrested 40-year-old Berkley Vallone yesterday morning at her home.  Authorities say Vallone was an interior designer in Maricopa County, Arizona, when she spent more than 122-thousand dollars from a project for personal use and left the project uncompleted.  Authorities say Vallone has waived extradition. 

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Westerly Catholic School Closing

Saint Pius Regional Academy in Westerly will close its doors at the end of the school year.  The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence's school office cites declining enrollment as the reason.  The school currently has 118 students enrolled in pre-kindergarten through eighth grades.  Students will be placed in other Catholic schools.

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Winter Storm Warning Issued

A winter storm warning has been issued for the state until 8 a.m. tomorrow.  A light snow mixed with sleet will begin to fall this morning, then change to a heavy, wet snow this afternoon and evening.  Winds will be gusting up to 45 miles-per-hour creating hazardous driving conditions.  Snow accumulation is expected to be between four and eight inches inland and two to five-inches along the coast.

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Report: James L. Maher Center To Close

The Newport Daily News reports that The James L. Maher Center announced Tuesday that it is permanently closing the Maher Garden Center on Aquidneck Avenue in Middletown after a more than 40-year run.
According to Rose Morton, executive director and CEO, the Center incurred financial losses over the past several years, which made keeping the Maher Garden Center open no longer sustainable.

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HealthSourceRI Sees Growth In State

Rhode Island’s health insurance exchange saw a nearly 5 percent increase in enrollment this year.

HealthSource RI says on Monday that 30,637 people enrolled and paid for 2018 coverage, up from 29,224 last year.

More than 8,000 of those customers were new to the exchange, and 35 percent of those were ages 18 to 34, the age range that includes typically healthier people who use less medical services. HealthSource RI Director Zachary Sherman says that helps the stability of the market.

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FCC Official Critical Of RI

A representative with the Federal Communications Commission levied heavy criticism on Rhode Island for diverting 911 fees, calling it an "enormous deception." FCC Commissioner Michael O'Rielly said Monday the state has diverted more than $8 million, or 60 percent, of the 911 fees it collected last year. Gov. Gina Raimondo says her administration would support legislation creating a restricted account for 911 fees.

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Jump Bikes Coming To Providence

Jump Bikes is figuring out where it will station 400 electric-assisted "Smartbikes," in neighborhoods around Providence. The network of bicycles will use new designs that include electric motors that activate when sensors detect riders need certain amounts of pedal power. They will also feature a GPS tracker that allows riders to "park" at public bike racks instead of returning to a station. Forty stations are planned.

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DUI Arrest Turns Into Marijuana Bust

Portsmouth Police say a man is facing multiple charges after a DUI arrest turns into a marijuana bust.  Officers arrested David Myrick just after midnight Saturday on Route 24.  A search of Myrick's vehicle turned up more than 700 pieces of marijuana candies labeled with names such as Tangerine Mango and Tootie Fruity.  Authorities also seized a quantity of marijuana and cash. 

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Three People Charged With Kidnapping Panhandler

Two men and a woman are facing kidnapping charges after keeping a panhandler captive in Pawtucket.  Police say the 42-year-old victim had been held in an apartment on Union Street for about ten days.  The man claimed drug dealers locked him in a closet and threatened to kill him and his family if he didn't panhandle and do as he was told.  The three were arrested Friday.

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New Security Measure Implemented At Westerly High School

Students at Westerly High School are now required to use identification tags to gain access.  The badges are activated only during passing periods and if a student is late or on campus after hours they can't get into the two main buildings.  Yesterday was the first day the badges became operational as a new security measure.

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Winter Storm Watch For Tomorrow

A winter storm watch is in effect for tomorrow.  Snow is expected to fall in the afternoon and evening affecting the ride home from work.  Accumulation will be between three and five inches and winds will be between 35 and 55 miles-per-hour.  The snow will taper off early Thursday. 

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Gov. Visits Portsmouth Middle School

Gov. Gina Raimondo toured Portsmouth Middle School on Monday, touting how a $1 billion investment in school infrastructure would address its deficiencies or, perhaps, build a replacement.
She went from room to room with General Treasurer Seth Magaziner, school officials, local politicians and building and trades officials, asking students and faculty for the building's most pressing needs.

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Gas Prices Remain Steady In RI

Gasoline prices in Rhode Island have remained the same this week.AAA Northeast says the average retail price of a gallon of regular unleaded gas in the area is $2.53.

A gallon of gas in Rhode Island is 31 cents more expensive than a year ago, when it was $2.22. The state's average gas price is two cents below the national average of $2.55.

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Fire Damagaes South County Home

Firefighters in South Kingstown responded to a call for a fire at a home on Blueberry Lane Sunday evening.

The initial call came in just after 5 p.m. When crews arrived, fire and smoke were seen coming from the top of the home.

Two residents were home at the time of the fire. One of them was transported to an area hospital. It is unclear the extent of the injuries.

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Westerly High School Implements Badge Entry System

Students at Westerly High School will encounter new security measures when they get to class Monday.

The Westerly Sun reported that Westerly High School students will need badges to get inside the building. The badges are part of a swipe system recently installed. Each badge has a code that's read by keypad devices.

School leaders said the system won't work for students who are late or trying to use it at times other than in between classes. They would have to contact someone in the main office to get it.

The move to increase security comes amid concerns about school safety, most recently after the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida.

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Two RISD Employees Arrested

Two Rhode Island School of Design employees were put on administrative leave after being tied to a party with underage drinking.

The incident took place off-campus over the weekend. One of the individuals is a staff member and the other is an adjunct faculty member.

The college says they expect employees to abide by a code of ethics and provide a safe and supportive environment for students.

In addition to a police investigation RISD is also looking into the matter.

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Tiverton Council To Hold Casino Issue Haering

The Tiverton Town Council will hold a public hearing Wednesday night at the high school to hear from both sides on a proposal by Twin River-Tiverton to keep its “convenience” casino open 24 hours a day, unlike Newport Grand slots parlor that currently closes at 1 a.m. on weekdays and 2 a.m. on weekends and the nights before holidays.

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CCRI Offers Aid Program For Students/Families

The Community College of Rhode Island is helping graduating high school seniors and their families apply for federal student aid. CCRI is hosting events at its four campuses to help people complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. The events will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.  today in Warwick, tomorrow in Lincoln, Wednesday in Providence and Thursday, here in Newport.

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Gov. To Host Breakfast Business Gathering

Gov. Gina Raimondo is meeting with business and community leaders to discuss the state's economy and ways to develop it. Santander Bank and the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce will host their 18th annual Economic Outlook Breakfast for the business community on Wednesday morning at the Omni Providence Hotel. Raimondo plans to give welcoming remarks. A panel of local business and community leaders will discuss issues and challenges facing the state.

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New bill targets fake service dogs in RI

A  state lawmaker is trying to stop people from pretending their pet is a service dog. Democratic Rep. Thomas Winfield said pet owners are increasingly putting vests on their dogs to bring them into restaurants and other places service dogs can go. Winfield said Friday he has introduced a bill to prohibit dressing pets as service dogs to attain privileges provided to disabled people by federal law. He introduced the legislation at the request of the restaurant and hospitality industry.

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RI Lawmaker Withdraws Proposed Outhouse Ban Bill

A Rhode Island lawmaker who introduced a bill that would ban outhouses in the state says he is withdrawing the legislation.

Republican Rep. Justin Price said Wednesday he is pulling the measure ahead of a scheduled State house hearing. Price says the issue should be addressed by local municipalities, not the state.

The bill would have required any outhouse existing as of Jan. 1, 2019, to be "abandoned, filled up and destroyed" within one year.

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Construction On RI Wind Farm Begins

A Rhode Island renewable energy company has started construction on an $84 million wind farm. North Kingstown-based company Green Development recently started preparing the Johnston site where seven wind turbines will be erected. Green Development has contracts with both the Rhode Island Convention Center Authority and the National Grid.

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Play About Late Providence Mayor Cianci

Trinity Repertory Company is commissioning a stage version of the Book "The Prince of Providence."  The 2004 book chronicles the life of late Providence Mayor Vincent "Buddy" Cianci.  He was forced from office twice and served prison time following his conviction on federal corruption charges in 2002.  Cianci died in 2016. 

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Hundreds Face Layoffs At A Food Company

More than two-hundred people are losing their jobs at a food company plant in North Kingstown.  Greencore, based in Dublin Ireland, makes sandwiches and other prepared foods for clients including major retailers and convenience stores.  The company says its production plant at the Quonset Business Park has been losing money and will cease operations on March 25th.  The state Department of Labor and Training will deploy a Rapid Response team to try to help laid off employees find work.

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Vinny Paz Given Probation On Assault Charge

Former boxer Vinny Paz is on probation for a year after pleading no contest yesterday to a charge for assaulting his girlfriend.  Paz was arrested around 4 a.m. yesterday at his Warwick home.  He is also ordered not to have any contact with the victim.

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Plastic Bag Ban Approved By Providence

Providence shoppers are being encouraged to use reusable bags.  City council approved an ordinance last night that requires shoppers to pay a fee for reusable plastic bags available at stores.  It's estimated that the city will save about one-million dollars annually while it removes 95-million single use plastic bags from the landfill. 

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Providence To Review New Speed Camera Program

Some Providence residents want city council to scrap its new speed camera program.  More than 17-thousand drivers have received tickets since the program started in January.  At last night's meeting city council voted to review the program after Municipal Court Chief Judge Frank Caprio dismissed a number of tickets citing errors with the process. 

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Toys R Us Closing To Have Short-Term Impact On Hasbro

A company official at Pawtucket-based Hasbro says the Toys R Us closing will have a short-term impact on the company's business.  Spokeswoman Julie Duffy says over the long term the company will prosper.  Kohl's and JC Penney have indicated that with Toys R Us closing they plan to expand their toy lineup.  Currently the top toy retailers are Walmart and Target.  

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Company Buys RI Bank For $125.6 Million

A Massachusetts company has announced it will buy the parent company of a former Rhode Island credit union.

In an announcement Wednesday, Coastway Community Bank says it has been sold to HarborOne Bankcorp Inc., of Brockton, Massachusetts, for $125.6 million cash.

The companies say the deal is expected to close later this year. It needs the approval of Coastway stockholders, who would receive $28.25 for each share they own.

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Former Boxer Vinny Paz Arrested

Former boxer Vinny Paz was arrested Thursday morning for assault, according to Warwick police.

Police say that Paz was arrested at approximately 4 a.m. at his Tivoli Court house.

Captain Michael Gilbert says that they received a call from a third-party who told police that Paz’s girlfriend was possibly assaulted.

When officers arrived at Paz’s Warwick home, he allegedly refused to answer the door and turned off all of the lights in the house.

Captain Gilbert says police had to force their way into the home through the garage door and took Paz into custody without incident.

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Bill to allow sunscreen at school advances in RI

The state House of Representatives has passed a bill to allow children in Rhode Island public schools to bring in sunscreen without a doctor's note. The House passed the measure unanimously Wednesday. The Senate is considering identical legislation. Many school systems categorize sunscreen as an over-the-counter medication requiring special paperwork.

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URI responds to demand for active shooter training

The University Of Rhode Island is responding to an increased demand for active shooter trainings after the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida. The University’s  Department of Public Safety has provided its officers with such training for a number of years, and is adding community trainings. They're scheduling additional 90-minute sessions to accommodate interest.

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AG Seeking Okay To Name New Building

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is seeking General Assembly approval to name a new building after one of his predecessors. He wants to name a building that will house the Consumer Protection Unit and other divisions of the AG's office after former Attorney General Julius Michaelson.  Michaelson served in the office from 1974-to-1979 and is considered the architect of many of Rhode Island's customer service protection laws.  The new building on Howard Avenue in Cranston is expected to be completed this summer.

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Warwick Police Offering Free Saint Patrick's Day Rides

Warwick Police are offering free rides to those that may have been partying too much on Saint Patrick's Day.  The department is taking part in the "Safe Rides Program" to cut down on DUI crashes and drunk driving.  The rides are available Saturday from 6 p.m. until midnight.

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Speed Camera Bill Would Ease Penalty

State lawmakers are trying to ease up on penalties handed out through Providence's school zone traffic cameras.  A House bill would let first offenders off with a warning and require flashing lights on camera warning signs.  Currently first time offenders are fined 95-dollars.  More than 17-thousand tickets have been given in the first two months that five new speed cameras became operational.  

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RIDOT Close Structurally Deficient Bridge

Transportation officials are closing the Bath Street East Bridge in Providence.  RIDOT says after an inspection the bridge is structurally deficient.  The bridge spans the Woonasquatucket River between Kinsley Avenue and Promenade Street.  Traffic is being detoured to the Pleasant Valley Parkway and Park Street bridges.

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Thousands Of Area Students Take Part In National Walkout Day

High school students across Rhode Island say by raising their voices when it comes to gun control they will be heard.  Thousands of students participated in yesterday's National Walkout Day honoring the 17 victims of last month's deadly shootings in Florida.  Students say unless there's change students won't feel safe.

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Two Residents Displaced By Fire

The Red Cross is assisting two residents after a fire destroyed their home in Seekonk.  The fire occurred around 10 a.m. yesterday in a barn converted to apartments on County Street.  The residents were not at home when the fire broke out, but two dogs and two ferrets were killed in the blaze.  The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

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Crews Working To Restore Power

Hundreds of crews have been working through the night to restore power to Rhode Islanders.  National Grid reports more than six-thousand customers are without service this morning due to downed tree limbs and wires from the nor'easter that swept the region.  National Grid says it expects to have power fully restored by 11 p.m.

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Woman Arrested In "Fake" Money Incident

Providence police arrested 48-year-old Iris Rodriguez-Jones after they say she tried to use a fake bill for pay a cover charge at a Providence nightclub.  When a security officer asked her to use "real money," Jones became argumentative, and said to call the police. They called her bluff. Rodriguez-Jones, a 27-year corrections official, was charged in District Court for passing a counterfeit bill, and disorderly conduct.

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ProJo At Odds With State

The Providence Journal is challenging the state's refusal to release its pitch for Amazon's new headquarters even though Rhode Island didn't make the cut for potential sites. The newspaper reports it filed a complaint with Rhode Island's attorney general, arguing the decision violates state law allowing access to public records. The governor has said the state didn't release its pitch for competitive reasons,

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EB Quonset Hosting Job Fair

Electric Boat Quonset is holding a job fair next week, as it continues to expand its workforce.  The job fair is being held on Thursday, March 22 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the New England Institute of Technology on Post Road in Warwick. For those unable to attend, information about job opportunities is available on the company’s website.

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RIDEM Opposes Offshore Drilling

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is voicing opposition to offshore drilling.  DEM says the Trump administration's proposal to lift the ban on drilling would endanger the health of the state's environment and marine resources.  In comments submitted to the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, DEM Director Janet Coit says oil and gas drilling pose major, direct and adverse impacts to marine resources relied on for food, jobs and recreation.

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Weapon Scare At Providence School

St. Patrick Academy on Smith Street in Providence was placed on a temporary lockdown Monday afternoon.

Principal Bruce Daigle says the school is on the same property as a soup kitchen, where a patron told an employee there was a weapon in his backpack.

The school was placed on lockdown and police searched the building. Authorities gave it the all-clear about 20 minutes later.

Nothing was found, and the patron had left by the time police arrived.

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Donor in Rosa Parks Project Mulls Legal Options

A foundation that's backing an art project built around a Detroit house where Rosa Parks once lived says it's considering legal options now that Brown University has said the project was canceled. The Wisconsin-based Nash Family Foundation says it paid Brown $45,000 and the university agreed to use the money for artist Ryan Mendoza to reconstruct the house in Providence. Brown says it did not breach any agreements.

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Movie Filming Scheduled This Week In Newport

There's a movie crew in Newport.  Shooting was scheduled to start yesterday on a feature film entitled "Anastasia."  It's described as a family movie that follows the adventures of Anastasia Romanov as she travels in time, escaping the 1917 Russian Revolution.  TheRhode  Island Film and Television Office says production actually started last summer in Lexington, Kentucky.

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Temporary Sakonnet River Channel Restriction

A temporary marine traffic restriction was scheduled to start Monday through the Sakonnet River Channel, weather permitting.  The state Department of Transportation says the restriction, which is expected to last for approximately a month, is needed as the removal of the old Sakonnet River Bridge continues.  Demolition work started last year.

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Legislators Want Resurfacing Route 146 Prioritized

Northern Rhode Island legislators are asking that the resurfacing of Route 146 between I-295 and the Massachusetts border be made a priority.  They say the highway isn't scheduled for maintenance until 2022, but that the road surface has deteriorated to the point where four years is too long to wait.  Twenty representatives and senators have sent a letter to RIDOT noting that Route 146 is one of five main highway entry points to the state.  They argue the poor condition of the road gives visitors and residents alike the wrong impression about the state.

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Nor'easter To Drop A Foot Or More Of Snow

A winter storm warning is in effect as a nor'easter begins to hammer the state.  Heavy snow and strong winds will create blizzard conditions.  Governor Raimondo has issued a travel ban for tractor-trailers and urges residents to stay home so roads can be plowed.  Providence and the eastern part of the state can expect up to 18 inches of snow, while the western part will get about a foot of accumulation.

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Gas Prices Down 3 Cents Per Gallon

Rhode Island residents are paying less to keep their vehicles running this week. AAA Northeast reported Monday that self-serve, regular gasoline is selling for an average of $2.53 per gallon, 3 cents lower than last week.

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URI In Need Of Volunteers

The University of Rhode Island is looking for volunteers to help monitor the water quality in local waterways. Volunteers in URI's Watershed Watch program check the water clarity, temperature, algae concentrations and dissolved oxygen in 220 lakes, ponds, streams and bays weekly or biweekly, from May through October. They also collect water samples. The program is beginning its 31st year of monitoring.

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Providence Looks To Ban Plastic Bags

Providence City Council will consider an ordinance that will go further than just banning the use of plastic shopping bags.  The ordinance would also require retailers to charge ten-cents for replacement paper bags or more durable plastic bags.  The ordinance, if approved, would be an effort to change shoppers' habits and get them to use more durable reusable bags.  The ordinance goes before council Thursday. 

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Former Police Officer Arrested

A former Providence police officer is in trouble with the law.  Authorities arrested 41-year-old Jesse Farrell at the Mobil gas station on Atwells Avenue on Saturday for illegally using a city of Providence gas card.  Authorities say they also seized an illegal firearm from his apartment.  Farrell was fired from the police department in 2016 for his involvement in a coupon scam for which he was later convicted.

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Winter Storm Watch In Effect

A winter storm watch is in effect for tonight into tomorrow.  The third nor'easter to hit the state in ten days is expected to dump a foot or more of snow at the rate of one to three inches an hour.  Strong winds causing poor visibility and some coastal flooding can also be expected.

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Legislators Seek To Amend Traffic Camera Law

There's movement in the General Assembly to amend a state law that let Providence put speed cameras near schools.  Controversy has recently erupted because of thousands of violations at 95-dollars per violation.  House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello reportedly says he's working with other legislators to change the law to provide warnings before tickets are issued, and to reduce the amount of the fines.

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Officials tracking devices flushed from wastewater plant

Rhode Island officials say some state residents may see plastic pinwheel-shaped objects washing ashore, but say they come from a wastewater treatment facility and aren't contaminated. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management says Friday the objects, known as "media," were flushed out of East Providence's wastewater treatment facility during a March 2 storm. They're used to help the wastewater system remove nutrients before the treated water is disinfected and discharged.

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Brown Men's Swim Team Suspended For Hazing, Alcohol Violations

Brown University suspended its men's swimming and diving team after investigation finds alcohol and hazing violations. In a statement released Friday, Brown said the team will be suspended through May 27 and any team activity is prohibited. Brown also issued the team a deferred suspension through Dec. 21. During that period, the team can practice but not represent the university.

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RI Lawmakers Suggest Changes To Speed Camera Bill

 Rhode Island lawmakers are pursuing changes to a state law that allowed Providence to install speed cameras that have generated more than 17,000 violations and $600,000 in fines.

The House voted 54-16 in 2016 to pass the bill allowing municipalities to install speed cameras within a quarter-mile of any school. Providence City Council voted to allow cameras be installed in the city last year, and they started monitoring drivers Jan. 16.

Democratic Rep. Robert Craven, who introduced the bill, says the city is abusing the bill's intent. Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said Thursday he is working with Craven on a bill to reduce the $95 fine and turn more tickets into warnings.

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Brown University cancels Rosa Parks house show in dispute

Brown University has canceled plans to display the house where Rosa Parks lived for a time after she left the south and moved to Detroit. The house had been on a demolition list until it was saved by Parks' niece and an artist who moved it to Berlin. Brown cited an unspecified dispute involving the Rosa and Raymond Parks Institute for Self Development. Park's niece, Rhea McCauley, called it a missed opportunity.

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RI's unemployment rate keeps steady at 4.5 percent

 Rhode Island's unemployment rate has kept steady at 4.5 percent. The state Department of Labor and Training said Thursday the jobless rate for January was the same as in December. The state's unemployment rate was higher than the national rate of 4.1 percent in January, which is also the same as December.

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Senate Committee Meeting On Health-Related Bills

A state Senate committee was scheduled to deal with health-related bills on Thursday.  A late afternoon vote was expected by the Health and Human Services Committee on legislation regarding the development of incentives to lower staff turnover at nursing homes.  The committee was also to hold a hearing on a bill to ban minors from using tanning beds.

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Call For Federal Child Porn Legislation

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is among 54 state and territorial attorneys general calling for passage of federal legislation pending in the U.S. House making it easier for child pornography victims to receive timely restitution.  Kilmartin says the faster victims can get the restitution they deserve, the faster they can move forward with their lives.   A similar bill was passed by the Senate in 2015 but failed in the House.

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Teen Caught Shooting BB Gun At Bus, Security Officer

A 16-year-old boy is facing charges after police say he was shooting his BB gun at a passing bus in Providence.  Police say the boy was shooting from his apartment at Dexter Manor and, at one point, fired at a security officer.  Police went to the boy's apartment, where they seized a BB rifle and pistol. 

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Block Island Resident Detained By ICE

Residents of Block Island want to see a man being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement released.  ICE took 29-year-old Mariton Gurguri into custody last week as he was working at the grocery store he manages.  A native of Kosovo, Gurguri has been living on Block Island for seven years and residents have been raising money to assist with his legal bills.  Gurguri came to the island in 2010 on a student visa.

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Foster-Glocester Schools Closed, Storm Cleanup Continues

Foster-Glocester schools in North Scituate will be closed today as cleanup from the nor'easter continues.  Crews are working to restore power in the area after the weight of wet snow downed trees and wires.  Around two-thousand Rhode Islanders were without power overnight. 

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Police Search For Stolen Gun In Portsmouth

The Portsmouth Police Department is investigating the theft of an AK-47 semiautomatic rifle from a North Drive home in the Sunny Acres complex and  is asking the public for any tips regarding the incident.
Nine empty magazines for the firearm also were taken, along with a television and video game console.

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Bill To Keep Guns From Schools

There's a House bill to keep guns out of schools in Rhode Island except for law enforcement and approved persons for educational purposes.  The Safe Schools Act has been reintroduced by East Providence state Representative Katherine Kazarian.  The bill would ban firearms from any public or private school and school buses.  Violators would face prison time and fines.  The bill has been sent to the House Judiciary Committee.

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Lt. Governor Seeks Storm Response Legislation

Lieutenant Governor Dan McKee is calling for passage of House and Senate bills to hold National Grid responsible for its storm response.  He says it's not about crews who have worked around-the-clock since last week's nor'easter to restore power.  McKee says it's about a company based overseas that is not responsive to the needs of its Rhode Island customers.  He says there must be strict performance and preparedness standards for utility companies and improved communications between the utilities and communities.

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Man Drinking Wine Shoots Self In Foot

Decocking a revolver and drinking wine result in a Providence man being shot in the foot.  Police say Michael Leonardo was doing that around midnight Tuesday in his Radcliffe Street apartment when the revolver fired.  Leonardo was taken to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment, and police seized the revolver and another pistol for safekeeping. 

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Drug Contamination Forces Recall Of Dog Food

The state Department of Health says the J.M. Smucker Company is recalling several of its canned dog food brands.  The Gravy Train, Kibbles 'N Bits, Ol' Roy and Skippy brands may be contaminated with pentobarbital.  The drug is used as a sedative and anesthetic, and sometimes for euthanasia in animals.  FDA tests show the low level of the drug detected is unlikely to pose a health risk. 

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Providence Schools Plan Disciplinary Action For Students Who Walk Out

Providence schools appear to be the exception when it comes to officials working with students on a national walkout next Wednesday.  School Superintendent Christopher Maher says students who leave the school grounds face disciplinary action.  The American Civil Liberties Union says any punishment that is greater than that for any other departure from campus is unconstitutional.  Other Rhode Island schools are working with students planning to walk out and not against them. 

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RI Republicans Keep Heat On Raimondo

Rhode Island Republicans aren’t giving up their quest to prove Gov. Gina Raimondo’s re-election campaign acted nefariously when it entered into a fundraising agreement with the Providence Democratic City Committee. State GOP Chairman Brandon Bell said Wednesday he has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission  arguing that the mutual support agreement between Raimondo and the local party does not comply with federal campaign laws.

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Former Secretary Of State Files For Governor

Former Rhode Island Secretary of State Matt Brown is running for governor after filing paperwork earlier this week with the state Board of Elections.  It's unclear if he plans to run as a Democrat or an independent as he's currently listed as unaffiliated.  Brown was elected secretary of state in 2002, but disappeared from politics after dropping out of the U.S. Senate race in 2006.

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CVS Installing Medication Disposal Sites In RI

Woonsocket-based CVS says it's installing safe medication disposal systems in its Rhode Island stores.  The disposal sites give people a place to get rid of prescription painkillers that are no longer needed or have expired.  The goal is to help fight the opioid epidemic.  The first location for the safe disposal system in the state is the CVS pharmacy on Newport Avenue in Pawtucket. 

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Poll Shows Close RI Race For Governor

Governor Gina Raimondo is in a tight race in her bid for a second-term, according to a WPRI-TV/Roger Williams University poll.  Raimondo is ahead of Republican Cranston Mayor Alan Fung 38- to 36-percent with 17-percent undecided.  The governor has much bigger leads over another Republican contender, House Minority Leader Patricia Morgan and independent candidate Joe Trillo.  The poll of 419 registered voters has a margin of error of four-point-eight percent. 

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Fall River Voters Approve Construction Of New School

Fall River taxpayers are giving their approval to going forward with building a new high school.  Nearly five-thousand residents voted yes yesterday to spending more than 98-million dollars for the new school.  The state will kick in the remaining 165-million dollars.  Durfee High School has had to deal with structural issues in recent years. 

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State Agency Canceling Group Home Contract

The Department of Children Youth and Families is cutting ties with a Pawtucket group home.  The move comes after a report that detailed drug use and sex trafficking.  The announcement by DCYF that it was canceling its contract with Blackstone Valley Youth and Family Collaborative came yesterday.

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Hundreds Gather To Speak On Gun Control Bills

Hundreds of Rhode Islanders are expressing their thoughts on gun-related bills.  The state House and Senate are considering ten bills and it appeared those opposed to the measures outweighed the supporters during yesterday's hearings.  Jennifer Boylan of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense of Rhode Island says so many opposed to the bills showed up because they're afraid they'll lose their guns.

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2 Candidates For RI Governor Sling Insults

Two candidates for Rhode Island governor are slinging insults at each other. Independent candidate Joe Trillo, a former Republican lawmaker, said Tuesday that Republican Cranston Mayor Allan Fung is a chameleon and "stands for nothing." Trillo's comments came after Fung earlier dubbed him "Good Old Trader Joe," saying Trillo "loves to cut deals with his pals up at the Statehouse."

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Doctor, drug firm sued over alleged opioid kickback scheme

A Rhode Island couple has filed suit over a drug company's alleged kickback scheme encouraging doctors to push a highly addictive opioid spray. Woonsocket residents Lisa and Angelo Mencucci are suing Arizona-based Insys Therapeutics Inc. and Jerrold Rosenberg, a North Providence doctor. Rosenberg is awaiting sentencing for taking money to unnecessarily prescribe the fentanyl spray Subsys. The company's former CEO has pleaded not guilty.

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RI to get $20M to improve conditions on Route 37

Rhode Island is receiving a $20 million grant to improve conditions along Route 37, which connects Cranston and Warwick. Democratic U.S. Sen. Jack Reed joined with the state's congressional delegation and Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo to announce the funding Tuesday. The money will help pay for the Route 37 Bridge and Roadway Improvement Project, estimated to cost $76 million.

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Snow falling as new nor'easter hits East Coast

A wintry mix of snow and rain is falling along the East Coast as another nor'easter takes aim at the region.

The new storm is expected to drop more than a foot of snow in some interior areas on Wednesday. Pennsylvania's Poconos Mountains and parts of Massachusetts could see up to 18 inches.

This comes just days after another storm knocked out power to millions, some of whom are still waiting to have their service restored.

A slight consolation is that the storm is not expected to bring the coastal flooding like the one last week. Some coastal New England and New Jersey communities are still feeling the effects of that storm.

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RI Lottery Building Catches Fire

A fire at The Rhode Island Lottery building is under investigation. 

Cranston Fire officials say that crews responded to the building on Pontiac Ave just after 6 Tuesday evening.

Upon arrival, it was discovered that a bird nest under a light had caught fire, sending smoke inside and tripping alarms. 

The State Fire Marshal was called to the scene, officials said, and although it was a minor fire an investigation was initiated. 

The business sustained minor smoke and fire damage.

No injuries were reported. 

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Lawmaker Pushes Bill To End Speed Cameras

A Rhode Island lawmaker says he has introduced legislation to end the use of traffic cameras, as thousands of people in Providence were contesting tickets they received from a new school zone speed camera program that issued 12,000 citations in its first month. Republican Rep. Anthony Giarrusso, of East Greenwich, says his legislation would eliminate all red-light and speed cameras. Hundreds of people flooded municipal court Monday to contest their tickets.

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Tax Amnesty Program Brings In $21M $8M More Than Expected

Rhode Island officials say a tax amnesty program brought in $21 million, $8.7 million more than expected. The Rhode Island Division of Taxation on Monday says it processed more than 10,000 applications for the amnesty when the program ran from December to February. The program waived penalties and cut interest 25 percent for people who paid what they owned in back taxes.

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Gas prices in RI hold steady this week

Gas prices are holding steady this week in Rhode Island. AAA Northeast said Monday in its weekly survey that self-serve, regular unleaded is averaging $2.56 per gallon. That's unchanged from last week. The average price is three cents above the national average of $2.53. It's also 33 cents higher than the price in Rhode Island was a year ago.

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RI Scores Well For Gun Laws

Rhode Island is being given a "B-plus" in a 2017 ranking of each state's gun laws.  The ranking from the Gifford Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence notes the state has strengthened its laws to keep guns away from domestic abusers.  It also says the General Assembly should pass more gun safety laws.

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Bill To Bury Power Lines Introduced

Warwick state Representative Joseph Solomon is proposing that power lines be buried in areas plagued by long-lasting outages.  Noting the widespread service disruptions from the latest nor'easter, he says losing electricity is more than an inconvenience, it can become a public safety and public health issue.  Under the bill, utility companies would have to create and carry out a plan to bury transmission lines serving residential customers within two years of a service disruption.

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Former Lawmaker Pleads Guilty

A former state lawmaker is being ordered to make restitution of more than 31-thousand-dollars.  Peter Palumbo pled guilty yesterday to an illegal appropriation of more than one-thousand-dollars after an embezzlement investigation into campaign funds.  Palumbo was also sentenced to three years suspended sentence and three years probation. 

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Speed-Camera Violations Overwhelming Court

Providence's speed cameras are overwhelming the city's municipal court.  The court had nearly 27-hundred speed-camera violations on yesterday's docket on a day it would normally have 300.  Chief Judge Frank Caprio dismissed numerous cases due to people receiving multiple notices for the same offense, dark pictures where the vehicle was unidentifiable and some notices with contradictory information.  Caprio noted that the purpose of the violations should be public safety and not to increase revenue. 

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Power To Be Restored Today

Crews are working to restore power to thousands of homes across Rhode Island and southern Massachusetts.  National Grid says it hopes to have everyone back online today.  A few thousand customers in Rhode Island and about 20-thousand in Massachusetts are still without  electricity.

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Middletown Council Mulls Over Campground Fees

The seasonal fee for the Second Beach Family Campground in Middletown will increase $4,000 over four years instead of two.
The Newport Daily News reports that during a well-attended meeting last night at Town Hall, Town Council President Robert Sylvia rolled out a new plan to increase the fee by $1,000 for this season and $1,000 each summer through 2022, when the fees would be subject to an annual review by local leaders.
The council voted 6-1 to approve the new rates . The council still needs to formally approve an ordinance finalizing the fee, including holding a public hearing over the next two meetings.

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Newport Seeks To Up Hospitality Taxes

According to the Newport Daily News, the city of Newport is contemplating asking for a 1 percent increase in the state meals and beverage and lodging taxes.
City Council members and the state legislative delegation met in City Hall on Saturday morning to go over the proposal, which was pitched as a way to raise new money for needed capital projects.

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One Of RI's Last Dairy Farms May Give Up Cows

One of the last remaining dairy farms in Rhode Island may be forced to sell its cows after more than a century in business because of crushing debt. The Cottrell family’s farm in South Kingstown is one of only nine in the state. In the 1950s, there were nearly 400. Matt Cottrell says he recently bought enough grain for three weeks. When that runs out, the Cottrells will need to get rid of their cows and lease their fields to a turf farm.

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Lawmakers urge creation of inspector general's office

Republican and Democratic lawmakers in Rhode Island are pressing for the creation of an Office of Inspector General to root out government abuse, fraud and waste. Republican Rep. Robert Lancia says that the state’s budget shortfall makes the need for the watchdog role more urgent. He is the lead sponsor of a bill to create the office.

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Lawmaker: Troubled group homes should be 'burnt down'

A Rhode Island lawmaker says two troubled group homes should be immediately shut down or “even burnt down” after a scathing report from the state’s child advocate.

Democratic Rep. Anastasia Williams made the statement during an impassioned speech at a House oversight committee meeting.

Child Advocate Jennifer Griffith detailed for the committee the findings of a report released in January. She said two group homes operated by Blackstone Valley Youth and Family Collaborative are not supervising the youth in their care and added they are beyond rehabilitation.

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Bryant University extends president's term through 2022

Bryant University has extended its president’s term through 2022,  stretching his tenure to 26 years. Board of Trustees Chairman Bill Conaty announced Friday that the university extended the employment of President Ronald Machtley through June 30, 2022. Machtley has been Bryant’s president since 1996. Conaty says the continuity of Machtley’s leadership will position Bryant for continued success as it embarks on new initiatives. Bryant plans to invest more than $30 million in the next three years to modernize its campus.

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Driver Injured After Car Crashes Into House

The driver of a car is recovering from injuries after he drove into a home in Providence.  The crash happened yesterday on Manton Avenue when the vehicle went off the road and straight into the home.  No one inside was injured, but the driver was taken to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment. 

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Police Investigate Knife-Point Robbery

Providence Police are investigating an armed robbery.  Authorities say the 40-year-old victim was robbed at knife-point while walking along Cranston Street around 9 p.m. Saturday.  The victim says two men got out of a car and one of them held a knife to his stomach as the other took his wallet and cell phone.  The victim was not injured.

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Many Residents Still Without Power

Crews are working to restore power to thousands of Rhode Island customers.  National Grid says at one time 150-thousand customers were without power, but that number is down to less then 20-thousand.  In some areas broken utility poles had to be replaced.  Crews have been brought in from around the country and Canada to assist with repairing power lines. 

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Vacant Warwick House Damaged In Blaze

Crews are trying to determine the cause of a fire that broke out inside of a vacant house Thursday evening.

The fire broke out just after 8 p.m. at a home on Sandy lane in Warwick. Neighbors say the home has been vacant for a while and it has been an eyesore for years.

Warwick Battalion Fire Chief Thomas Sugrue said there was no one inside the building when the fire broke out, but there is extensive damage to the interior of the home.

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RI Foundation Schedules Statewide Meetings

The Rhode Island Foundation is launching a program called “Together RI,” a series of 20 community meetings across the state.

The meetings will be free of charge with a meal provided for anyone who attends. Citizens will gather to discuss what’s going well around the state and what remains a challenge. Locally, there’s a meeting scheduled for Wednesday, March 28th at 6 P.M. at Rogers High School.

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City Issues More Than 12,000 Speeding Tickets In 33 Days

Driving in Providence has gotten a lot more expensive thanks to a new school-zone speed camera program that has resulted in more than 12,000 speeding tickets in the first 33 days it has been implemented.
A new report shows 12,193 tickets were issued in Providence between Jan. 16 and Feb. 22 from five speed cameras.
The tickets cost $95 each, which comes to a total charge for violators of $1.15 million. The city plans to install six more cameras next week.

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Eight Named To Police Oversight Panel

Eight people are being named to the Providence External Review Authority.  The civilian panel appointed at a special city council meeting last night is charged with oversight of the city police department.  A ninth board member was appointed by Mayor Elorza in December.

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Taunton High School Student Ordered Held Without Bail

A Taunton High School student charged with threatening school resource officers will remain behind bars for now.   Police say 18-year-old Kane Jefferson returned to school Monday after serving a suspension and started an argument with two resource officers who told him he needed to be searched.  He allegedly then told the officers he would kill them and shoot up the school, but no weapons were found in his possession.  Jefferson was ordered held without bail at yesterday's hearing.

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Group Home Still Open After Critical Report

The Department of Children, Youth and Families is coming under fire for its handling of two group homes run in Pawtucket.  The chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee, Representative Patricia Serpa, says crime operates from the homes.  DCYF's January report recommended severing ties with the home's owner, but nothing has happened.  Serpa says the young men are to be under DCYF's supervision, but there appears to be none with drugs and prostitution happening there.

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Nor'easter To Bring Strong Winds, Rain, Flooding

A powerful nor'easter is expected to deliver a hefty punch of rain, winds, coastal flooding and even snow.  A high wind warning is in effect for the entire state through tomorrow morning.  There's a concern about flooding and a flood warning is in effect for the Pawtuxet River in Cranston, while some areas could receive up to five inches of snow.  Winds as strong as 65 miles per hour could bring down trees and power lines.

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Governor Raimondo Opposes Offshore Drilling

Governor Gina Raimondo is opposed to the Trump administration's proposal for offshore oil drilling.  She says drilling is a threat to Rhode Island's economy and marine ecosystem.  Over 100-million pounds of seafood arrived in Rhode Island ports last year, with an export value of one-billion-dollars.  The governor is urging people to voice their opposition to the proposal at a public meeting of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management from three p.m. to seven p.m. tomorrow at the Providence Marriott.

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RI Ranked 28th On Best States List

Rhode Island is ranked as the 28th best state to live in by U.S. News & World Report.  The survey is based on factors including health care, education, the economy, infrastructure and quality of life.  Iowa is now ranked as the best state to live in.

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Frontier Airlines Adding Service To Myrtle Beach

Frontier Airlines is adding nonstop service between T.F. Green Airport and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The new flights will be scheduled three times a week starting on May 20th.  With the announcement, Frontier will now offer nonstop service between T.F. Green and ten destinations.

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AG Kilmartin Moves To Tighten Gun Laws

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin says he'll file legislation to make the requirement to buy assault rifles in Rhode Island the same as for the purchase of a hand gun.  He notes a person must be 21-years-old and show proof of completing a state-administered training course to purchase a handgun.  But he says, currently, the age is 18 to buy an assault rifle or other high capacity firearm with no requirement to complete a safety training course. 

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Number Of Passengers Significantly Increase At T.F. Green

Passenger traffic is up at Warwick's T.F. Green Airport.  The Rhode Island Airport Commission reports there was nearly an eight-percent increase in 2017.  Officials say the increase is the result of five new airlines operating from the airport and nearly doubling the number of cities that passengers can fly to directly from T.F. Green.

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Proposed Legislation Calls For Life Sentence For Drug-Induced Homicide

Proposed legislation could lead to a life sentence for those convicted of a drug-induced homicide.  Current state law applies only to a minor who dies from an overdose.  If enacted, the legislation would be dubbed "Kristen's Law," honoring Kristen Coutu, who died from an overdose of pure fentanyl in 2015. 

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Woonsocket To Conduct School Safety Audits

A special security subcommittee will conduct building audits to determine security measures that need to be taken at Woonsocket schools.  The move came during last night's school committee meeting after the incident in Florida and one on February 16th at Hamlet Middle School.  Three students have been arrested after a janitor found bullets in a boy's bathroom and a girl yelled there was going to be a school shooting.  A new secure entrance is to be built at Woonsocket High School.

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Storm Prompting Flight Changes

Several major airlines are waiving their usual flight changes fees ahead of this weekend’s expected nor’easter.

Southwest, JetBlue, Delta, and American Airlines are all allowing travelers to change their flights ahead of time to avoid delays and cancellations.

The changed policies are only in place for Friday and Saturday, when the worst of the storm is expected to hit.

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