Steve Conti
Steve Conti
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1540 Updates Archives for 2015-04

Third-graders campaign to give Rhode Island a state insect

A group of Rhode Island third-graders want to make the American burying beetle the official state insect.

The students from St. Michael's Country Day School in Newport decided to find a state insect after learning that Rhode Island is one of the few states without one.

Their top contenders were the honeybee, mosquito, ladybug and American burying beetle, since they're found locally.

They ruled out the honeybee — too many states already use it as their state insect.

A conservationist from the Roger Williams Park Zoo told them about his efforts to repopulate the endangered American burying beetle. They were sold.

The students contacted newspapers and politicians in a campaign to make the bug the official state insect.

A bill is now pending before the General Assembly.

Rhode Island State Police take kids on West Point field trip


 Rhode Island State Police troopers have taken a group of around 30 high school students on a field trip to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Wednesday's trip is part of an initiative put together by state police and community groups to form relationships between police and the community.

The students from communities including Woonsocket, Cranston, Providence, East Providence, Pawtucket and Johnston are touring the campus. They'll also meet West Point's superintendent and stop at the West Point Cemetery to visit graves of Rhode Island soldiers killed in combat since the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

State Police Col. Steven O'Donnell says it's an opportunity for young people to see the world beyond their neighborhoods.


FBI says man who fled RI child molestation charges arrested



 A man has been arrested in Washington state more than a decade after he fled Rhode Island charges accusing him of sexually molesting three young girls.

The FBI said agents arrested 61-year-old James William Bell in Spokane, Washington, on Wednesday after getting a tip. Bell is held pending extradition to Rhode Island.

Authorities said Bell is charged with molesting three girls, then 9 to 13 years old, in Middletown, while working as a gymnastics coach at a local YMCA.

He had been arrested in Allyn, Washington, in 2003 on the charges, and returned to Rhode Island. He fled after being released on bail.

The FBI said Bell was arrested on a 2006 federal warrant for fleeing state prosecution. He was one of the Rhode Island State Police top 10 fugitives.


Rhode Island Housing deputy director to leave agency

Rhode Island Housing says its deputy director is leaving to "pursue other professional opportunities."

The agency announced Wednesday that Gayle Corrigan's last day would be May 1. A Rhode Island Housing statement says Corrigan and the agency agreed on her departure.

The agency's former executive director, Richard H. Godfrey Jr., fired Corrigan in December 2013 after she voiced concerns about a Pawtucket homeless residence in disarray. She was later rehired.

Godfrey left the agency in January after 22 years. Its board chairman, Andrew L. Cortes, announced April 7 he was stepping down.

The agency has come under scrutiny recently after a federal audit revealed its HOME Investment Partnerships Program, an affordable housing program, had mishandled federal housing funds. The audit recommends the state repay more than $1.4 million.


Free Freshwater Fishing This Weekend

  This weekend people can freshwater fish in Rhode Island without a fishing license.  The initiative was established about 20 years ago.  The state Department of Environmental Management says the free freshwater weekend does not apply to saltwater fishing

Urgent Call Made For School Repairs

  Teachers, parents and students are urging the state to step in and repair Rhode Island's deteriorating public schools.  Members of the Providence Student Union led a State House event yesterday to bring attention to the issue.  Students spoke about ceiling pieces falling during class, and buckets for rainwater drips all over school buildings.  Teachers at the event say these issues pose obvious dangers while distracting students from learning.

RI woman returns home, finds wild turkey in her bathroom

 A Rhode Island woman thought a pipe burst when she returned home to find water pouring from her garage ceiling. But the culprit turned out to be an unusual houseguest that dropped in.  Nancy Page went upstairs to find the source of the running water and discovered a wild turkey had crashed through a bathroom window and somehow turned on the sink. Page says she immediately realized it was a turkey, which left behind its own mess.

Police and a Department of Environmental Management officer caught the turkey and released it.

Page was forced to throw out the bathroom sink. She says it had been running for two to three hours. Page estimates the turkey caused thousands of dollars in water damage to her Warwick home.

Richmond council wants equal school committee representation

 The town of Richmond has filed a complaint in federal court demanding equal representation on an area school committee.

The Westerly Sun reports the lawsuit was filed by members of the Richmond Town Council and three residents. It alleges that unequal representation on the Chariho School Committee violates the town's constitutional rights.

Charlestown and Hopkinton each have four members on the 11-member committee, while Richmond has three.

The 2010 census data showed Hopkinton had 8,188 residents, Charlestown 7,827, and Richmond 7,808. Richmond argues that based on its share of the total population, it's entitled to four committee members.

The defendants have 60 days to file their responses to Richmond's complaint.

Hopkinton Town Solicitor Patricia Buckley said the town was confident the court can come up with an equitable remedy.


New England grid operator predicts adequate summer supply

 The operator of New England's power grid says the region will have enough power to meet expected peak summer demands.

ISO-New England says existing power producers also have a little extra generating capability if the region experiences an extended heat wave.

They add that existing generators, efforts to reduce use and power imported from Canada and New York will help shore up the region's supply.


Survey Finds Providence Bad For New Businesses

  Providence is a bad place for starting a new business according to a "" survey. Providence is 135th among the 150 largest cities in the country.   The ranking is based on factors including the five-year survival rate, affordable office space, and educational background of the area labor force.

Hearing Today On Legal Pot Bill

 A Rhode Island legislative committee is holding a hearing today on a bill that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.  The bill is one of several pot related measures that will be heard by the House Judiciary Committee today.  The legalization bill would regulate and tax the sale of marijuana to people over the age of 21-years-old.  Another bill would add post traumatic stress disorder to the list of afflictions where medical marijuana can be prescribed.

Private company suggests alternative location for ballpark

The owners of a parcel of downtown Providence land are pitching the location as a suitable alternative for the Pawtucket Red Sox's new ballpark.

JAG Investment Realty suggested Tuesday that Victory Place near Davol Square would be an option should the PawSox owners' first pick fall through. Company spokesman Bill Fischer says it would be ideal because of its proximity to the highway and parking.

Fischer says JAG asked an international architectural firm to create renderings of a 10,000-seat stadium on the land.

Team spokeswoman Patti Doyle says the owners of the Boston Red Sox Triple-A affiliate are only interested in the former highway land along the Providence River currently owned by the state.

The owners announced Saturday they'd be willing to purchase the land rather than leasing it.


Fatal opioid overdose rate higher than US average in RI

Officials say nearly 240 people fatally overdosed last year in Rhode Island and more than 90 percent of those involved opioids.

Rhode Island's heroin and prescription opioids overdose rate projects to 20.4 deaths per 100,000 people. The newspaper says about 215 people died over fatal opioid overdoses last year.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Prevention and Control says the national average was 7.7 deaths per 100,000 people in 2013.

State health department data shows the state's overdose deaths have grown by more than 70 percent during the last five years.

Rhode Island health officials didn't respond to requests for comment Tuesday about why the state won't provide community-specific data on the overdoses.


Woonsocket man charged with raping 10-year-old

 A 52-year old Woonsocket man is accused of raping a 10-year-old girl and telling police it was his way of providing sex education.

Michael Powell is being held without bond after being arraigned in District Court Monday on charges of first-and second-degree child molestation.

The Woonsocket Call reports Powell was charged with two incidents that allegedly occurred on April 11. He was arrested after police took statements from the girl and her mother and then interviewed Powell.

According to the arrest report, Powell initially denied any wrongdoing but then acknowledged that he had inappropriate contact with while trying to teach her about sex. Police say he told them he stopped because the girl told him it hurt.

Powell is due back in court on May 6.


Narragansett Bay Commission approves $815 million project

 The Narragansett Bay Commission has voted to move ahead with an $815 million project that will become the third phase of a decades-long plan to contain and treat contaminated storm water that inundates century-old sewer systems throughout Rhode Island.

The Providence Journal reports the commission has already spent $360 million on phase one and another $187 million on phase two. Those will capture about 60 percent of the bacteria-laden storm water that passes through the systems.

The third phase is the largest portion of the plan, bringing the total cost of the work to $1.4 billion. It should take care of nearly all the remaining tainted water.

Ray Marshall, executive director of the commission, says the process has balanced affordability and water quality improvements.


Gas prices climb 6 cents in Rhode Island to $2.53 per gallon

 Gas prices are continuing to rise in Rhode Island.

AAA Northeast finds in its weekly survey released Monday that the price of a gallon of regular rose 6 cents from last week, to an average of $2.53.

That's a penny less than the national average of $2.54 per gallon.

Gas in Rhode Island still costs much less than it did a year ago at this time, when it cost nearly 47 percent more. At that time, a gallon of regular was averaging $3.71, or $1.18 higher.


State officials mark construction start for wind farm

 State officials said Monday that the beginning of construction of what could be the nation's first offshore wind farm will bring hundreds of jobs to Rhode Island and position the state as a leader for a growing industry.

Deepwater Wind plans to start construction off Block Island this summer, so the five-turbine wind farm can begin operating in the fall of 2016.

Gov. Gina Raimondo and the state's congressional delegation met with Deepwater Wind officials Monday at Specialty Diving Services, Inc., in North Kingstown. Welders are working on foundation components for the wind farm.

Deepwater Wind said the project will create about 300 construction jobs in Rhode Island and power about 17,000 homes. It's one of several offshore wind farm projects in the works along the Eastern seaboard.

PawSox owners pitch idea for ballpark to state commission

A ballpark in downtown Providence would be an economic catalyst for the city, according to the new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox, but members of a state commission cast doubt Monday on the benefits of a new stadium.

Principal owner James Skeffington and co-owner Larry Lucchino, president of the Boston Red Sox, accompanied by a team of consultants, pitched their formal proposal for a "multi-use" stadium to the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission, the state agency that owns the former highway land they want to build on.

The ballpark would generate $12.3 million annually for the city and state, according to the owners of the Triple-A franchise. But it would come at a cost to Rhode Islanders, who would pay approximately $120 million in taxes over 30 years in order for the state to lease the ballpark, according to the team's proposal.

Federal judge dismisses indictment in tribal lands stabbing

 A federal judge has agreed to dismiss an indictment charging a Narragansett Indian with stabbing another tribal member during last summer's powwow.

The Providence Journal reports Troy Lake Simonds was charged in federal court with assault with a dangerous weapon with intent to do bodily harm. He was accused of stabbing a fellow Narragansett member twice on the tribe's settlement lands in Charlestown.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office says it's in the best interest of all parties to voluntarily dismiss the case based on jurisdictional concerns raised by the defense.

Simonds' attorney, Scott Lutes, says he expects the state to bring charges against his client.


Education Board Oks rules to allow early college credits

 The Rhode Island Board of Education has approved new regulations sought by Gov. Gina Raimondo that would allow qualified students to do college-level coursework while they are still in high school.

Raimondo praised the Monday night vote, saying it is a step toward creating Prepare RI, a jobs plan initiative she has proposed to allow students to finish professional certifications or college degrees more quickly.

She has included $1.3 million in for the program in her budget proposal.

The new regulations allow students to enroll in college courses at public institutions and earn high school credits at the same time, or take courses for college credit that are taught by an approved teacher at their high schools.

History now blends with technology at Newport's Cliff Walk

 Officials say 16 new smartphone-friendly trail markers have been installed along the 3-mile long Cliff Walk in Newport.

The Newport Daily News reports the markers will provide information on the Gilded Age mansions and many geographic and geological features seen along the Cliff Walk.

Each point of interest features a quick response or QR code and a URL that can be scanned or entered on a smartphone. A free app is also available to download.

The information accessed at the trail markers for each site was researched and written by students in the Cultural and Historic Preservation Department of Salve Regina University.

The markers themselves were crafted and installed by a local Boy Scouts troop.


ACLU postpones lawsuit on behalf of medical marijuana user

 The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island has postponed a news conference about a lawsuit it says it plans to file against a major Rhode Island employer on behalf of a medical marijuana user.

The ACLU had planned to file a lawsuit Tuesday against an unnamed employer who it says has refused to hire anyone participating in the state's medical marijuana program.

But the group said it has postponed Tuesday's news conference due to an emergency in the plaintiff's family. It says it will file the lawsuit and hold a news conference at a later date.


State opens registration for summer-long game for families

 Rhode Island officials say registration is now open for a summer-long game aimed at getting children and parents outdoors and involved in more physical activity.

The state Department of Environmental Management says it's inviting families to join the "2015 Great Outdoors Pursuit."

Registration is free and teams are eligible to win prizes.

Teams of children and adults will select events and activities from a list provided by DEM and do them on their own time.

They earn points for each "pursuit" they attend.

There will be four guided pursuits led by DEM staff and their partners.

The final pursuit and grand finale will be held on Saturday, Aug. 8, at the Burlingame State Campground in Charlestown.

RI congressional delegation to meet with business leaders

The state's congressional delegation is meeting with business leaders for an annual forum on jobs and the economy.

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce says it is hosting its 2015 Congressional Breakfast Monday morning so the congressmen can answer questions about critical issues facing the business community.

The chamber says it expects about 500 business and civic leaders to attend.

The event will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick.

U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Reps. James Langevin and David Cicilline plan to participate.

Laurie White, the chamber president, and other business leaders will address the group. The chamber advocates for the state's business community.


Rhode Island housing market better last month than in 2014

 Statistics released by the Rhode Island Association of Realtors show that single-family house sales held steady in March despite the harsh weather.

Association President Bruce Lane says he expects the number of listings and closings in the state to increase further into spring.

The Providence Journal reports 609 homes were sold in March, up 2 percent from March 2014. The median monthly sales price rose slightly from $205,000 to $206,000. The number of multifamily homes sold jumped by nearly 37 percent from 84 to 115, with a new median price of $158,500.

Rhode Island's condominium market was not as fruitful, experiencing a 3 percent decline in total units sold and an 11 percent drop in median price.

The association's report only tracks realtor-assisted sales.


Cranston police to receive special autism training

Cranston police officers will soon receive special training for interacting with people who are autistic.

The training will be conducted by Officer Jason Head of the Newport Police Department on Monday.

According to a news release, every Cranston officer will receive the training, which will instruct them on how to recognize the symptoms of autism in addition to dealing with those affected by the developmental disorder.

Winquist says people suffering from autism have up to seven times more contact with law enforcement during their lifetimes, but only 20 percent of patrol responses related to autistic individuals involve criminal activity.

The training aims to prevent behavioral escalation and improve conflict resolution through better communication.


Car Crashes Into Supermarket

 The driver of a car is injured after the vehicle crashed through the front of an Aldi supermarket in Cranston.  The crash occurred after eleven a.m. yesterday at the supermarket on Cranston Street.  There were children in the vehicle when it crashed, although it does not appear any were injured.  The driver of the car was taken to the hospital for treatment, and the damage to the store is considered minor.


Fire Departments Land Federal Grants

 Rhode Island firefighters will benefit from more than 600-thousand-dollars in federal grant money.  Firefighters in Johnston are getting more than 400-thousand-dollars to upgrade their communications systems.  Also, the Rhode Island Fire Academy is collecting almost 200-thousand-dollars for new breathing apparatus and roadside emergency equipment.  The grants were awarded to the state by the Federal Emergency Management Agency through their assistance to firefighters program.


Arrest Made In UPS Store Robbery

 A suspect is in custody in connection with a robbery at the UPS Store on Victory Highway in North Smithfield.  Police say Massachusetts resident Matthew Grenier was arrested over the weekend in Worcester and charged with first degree robbery.  Grenier is accused of entering the store on Saturday and displaying a handgun and demanding money.  He was quickly identified as a suspect and was arrested a few hours after the robbery.  Grenier is being held in Massachusetts as extradition proceedings take place.


Councilman Blasts PawSox Stadium Plan

 Providence city Councilor Samuel Zurier says the proposal by the Pawtucket Red Sox to move to the city is a squeeze play by the team.  The PawSox owners are seeking 120-million-dollars in subsidies from the state over the next 30 years as part of a sublease on the property.  Zurier says the team is bypassing the city in negotiations with the state over the stadium issue.  He plans to submit a resolution calling for team executives meet with the City Council and field questions about the project.

PawSox Owners Willing To Buy Land

 The owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox say they are now willing to purchase state owned land in Providence where they want to build a new ballpark for the team.  The ownership group wanted to lease the former I-195 land in the city for one-dollar a year for their planned 85-million-dollar stadium.  Principal owner James Skeffington wrote to Governor Gina Raimondo over the weekend to begin discussions on a possible sale of the land to the team.  The owners will be appearing before the I-195 Redevelopment District Commission to discuss the plan today.

$650 million casino proposal put to referendum

The  New Bedford City Council has voted to order a referendum on a $650 million casino, hotel and conference center development proposed for the city's waterfront.

Following the announcement of the council vote Thursday night, councilors urged residents to come out to the polls.

Councilor Linda Morad says she hopes "the apathy" the city has seen in previous elections doesn't occur June 23, the date of New Bedford's special election.

New York-based developer KG Urban Enterprises faces a May 4 deadline to secure sufficient equity investment in the project, as part of its application to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission. If voters reject the proposal, KG Urban would be unable to ask the city for a new election for six months.


Governor signs legislation clearing way for Twin River hotel

Gov. Gina Raimondo has approved legislation clearing the way for Twin River Casino to build a hotel on its Lincoln property.

Raimondo signed the House bill and its companion Senate bill Thursday, saying the state needs to examine ways to create more economic opportunities in Rhode Island.

State Rep. Jeremiah O'Grady introduced the legislation in March to lift a ban on building a hotel at the casino. The restriction was originally put in place to satisfy Providence hotel owners concerned about competition.

But Twin River now faces competition of its own as future gambling facilities in neighboring Massachusetts threaten to take away the casino's clientele.

The president and CEO of Twin River Management Group, George Papanier, says the hotel would create approximately 200 temporary construction jobs and 100 full-time jobs.


Ringling Bros. agrees to safety steps after circus accident

 Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus has agreed to take several steps to improve safety following an accident that severely injured several acrobats during a hair-hanging stunt in Rhode Island last year.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the settlement agreement Thursday. It says the circus has agreed to have all its aerial acts reviewed by a registered professional engineer and take other steps.

Eight acrobats plunged to the ground during a performance in Providence in May 2014, when a clip that was suspending them in the air snapped. A ninth worker on the ground was also hurt.

Circus spokesman Stephen Payne says Ringling Bros. wants to do whatever it can to make the circus safe, and has already taken many of the steps covered in the agreement.


RI House speaker wants to ax proposed 'Taylor Swift tax'

 Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says he wants to kill a proposed tax on luxury vacation homes, the so-called "Taylor Swift Tax."

Mattiello told Rhode Island Public Radio Thursday  he hopes the state will have the money to eliminate the tax proposed by Gov. Gina Raimondo on vacation homes worth more than $1 million.

The tax was named for the pop singer who owns a beachfront mansion in Westerly.

Critics of the tax say it would send a bad message about Rhode Island's tax climate.

The Raimondo administration says the tax is projected to generate about $12 million to help alleviate the state's budget deficit, which currently stands at $190 million.

Raimondo's press secretary wasn't available for the radio station's request for comment.


Governor signs 4 campaign finance reform bills

 Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed four bills aimed at strengthening Rhode Island's campaign finance reporting laws.

Raimondo approved the new laws Thursday, saying elected officials must uphold the highest ethical standards and Rhode Islanders deserve honest government.

Lawmakers reviewed the campaign finance system after ex-House Speaker Gordon Fox pleaded guilty last month to exploiting weaknesses in it. Fox acknowledged taking a $52,500 bribe and making dozens of interbank transfers totaling $108,000, using money from his campaign account for personal expenses.

Candidates and political action committees will be required to create separate bank accounts for campaign funds and file statements for those accounts with the elections board.

Candidates also will be prohibited from serving as their own campaign treasurers if their accounts reach or expend $10,000 or more annually.


Harp seal rescued in Maine released back into Atlantic

 A young male harp seal is back in the Atlantic more than a month after being found dehydrated in Cape Elizabeth, Maine.

The 1 to 2-year-old seal, named "Dill" by his rescuers, underwent treatment at Mystic Aquarium's Animal Rescue Clinic in Connecticut for dehydration and stomach parasites.

Workers there were able to get his weight up from 62 pounds to 75 pounds, allowing him to wobble back into the sea Thursday in front of a crowd at Blue Shutters Beach in Charleston.

Former medical examiner testifies in Pantino murder trial

 A former state medical examiner told jurors that 6-year-old Marco Nieves would have endured excruciating pain in the hours leading up to his death, caused by a "substantial" blow that ruptured his intestine.

The Providence Journal reports Dr. Thomas Gilson was the state's final witness in the murder trial of Michael Patino. Prosecutors say the 33-year-old Patino beat his girlfriend's son so badly that his intestines tore, leading to the child's death.

The key evidence in the case is a series of cell phone messages containing messages sent by Patino and Oliver indicating Patino had hit the boy. The state Supreme Court ruled last summer they could be used as evidence in the case.

Nieves' lawyer says his client accidentally hurt the boy.


Johnson & Wales breaks ground for new academic center

 Johnson & Wales University has broken ground for a new academic center on land opened up by the relocation of Interstate 195 in downtown Providence.

The university held a ceremony for the $40 million engineering and science center Wednesday. The school says it put the "first shovel in the ground" on the land freed up for redevelopment.

University Chancellor John Bowen says school officials hope their plans for the land will serve as a catalyst for other private development.

Twenty acres of land on the edge of downtown Providence were freed up for redevelopment by the interstate's relocation. The ribbon of land can support 3 million square feet of mixed-use space.

The university purchased a parcel in 2012. The academic center is scheduled to be complete in July 2016.


Local Soldiers Return Home

  Several local soldiers are back home. WPRI-TV reports five soldiers returned home to Rhode Island after serving a ten month deployment in Kuwait. The report says the soldiers were greeted by friends and family yesterday afternoon at T.F. Green Airport.

Rhode Island Department Of Corrections Officer In Trouble With The Law

 A Rhode Island Department of Corrections officer is in trouble with the law. Authorities say Captain Paul Bartholomy was arrested for DUI following an incident on Route 102 in West Greenwich, Sunday morning. Authorities say Bartholomy hit the back of a car, sending four people to the hospital with minor injuries. Authorities say Bartholomy failed a field sobriety test and later refused a chemical test.

Newport Fifth Grader Gets To Be Governor For A Day

  A girl from Newport is living out her dream. Yesterday Khatima Bulmer got to be Rhode Island's Governor for a day. The fifth grader at Thompson Middle School was sworn into temporary office by Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg. Bulmer won the honor by beating out around 600 people in an essay contest. She got to spend the day with Governor Gina Raimondo.

RI governor awards $3.3M for pollution reduction projects

 Rhode Island's governor is awarding $3.3 million in state and federal grants to projects around the state that aim to reduce storm water pollution.

For one of the projects, the State Department of Transportation will create wetlands and carry out other work to capture and treat storm water contaminating Roosevelt Lake.

Other projects that will receive funding include work in Newport to build roadside drainage areas that, if successful, could be duplicated elsewhere, and a project to plant trees to absorb runoff in the Pleasant Valley Stream watershed.

Raimondo says the projects will preserve not only rivers and bays but will help create jobs.

She made the announcement Wednesday at Roger Williams Park.


Treasurer calls for more disclosure for public corporations

 Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner is joining with other state treasurers to petition the Securities and Exchange Commission to adopt a rule to require all publicly-traded corporations to disclose their political contributions.

The treasurers say they're responsible for making sure public funds are invested responsibly and accountably, and that secret political spending continues to be a top issue in the investment world.

Along with the Rhode Island treasurer, the treasurers of North Carolina, Washington, Vermont and Oregon signed a letter to the SEC.

Magaziner says requiring publicly-traded corporations to disclose political giving will help provide investors with the information they need to make informed decisions, and increase transparency.

Treasurer Ted Wheeler of Oregon says they can't do their job effectively as treasurers without knowing how corporations spend their clients' money.


Working group proposes to cut state Medicaid costs by $85.5M

The working group created to cut down on unnecessary regulations and attract businesses to Rhode Island revealed potential cuts to Medicaid costs to help eliminate Rhode Island's deficit.

The Reinventing Medicaid Working Group proposed Wednesday to cut $85.5 million in state expenditures, close to Gov. Gina Raimondo's goal of $90 million.

According to briefing documents, reductions would be worth a total of $158.6 million.

Medicaid reimbursements for hospitals would see a 5 percent rate cut and nursing homes would see a 3 percent cut.

The group also proposed to allow medical providers to make up some of the losses by awarding bonuses to organizations that become more efficient and offer higher quality care.

City of Providence revokes firefighter's disability pension

Fifteen years after the city of Providence released firefighter John Sauro (saw-ROW)  with a job-related disability pension, the retirement board says he no longer qualifies for it.

The city board terminated Sauro's $3,900 tax-free monthly accidental-disability pension on Wednesday. Sauro had been collecting the pension for a dislocated shoulder and torn rotator cuff injury he suffered when he helped carry a large person down a flight of stairs in 1998.

Sauro came under fire when a TV news report utilized an undercover video camera to show him lifting heavy weights at a fitness center, despite his injuries.

He says the workout was to improve his physical and mental well-being. Mayor Jorge Elorza says the video clearly shows Sauro abusing Providence's public disability pension system.

RI Unemployment Rate Tied At 10th Highest

Rhode Island's six-point-three percent unemployment rate in March is the 10th highest in the country.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says Rhode Island is tied with Georgia and Tennessee. Connecticut has the highest jobless rate in New England at six-point-four percent.  Nationally the unemployment rate last month was five-and-a-half percent.


Twin River management proposes new casino in Tiverton

 A new casino in Tiverton with table games and easy access to state highways would allow Rhode Island to compete with neighboring Massachusetts for gambling revenue, state casino operators said Tuesday.

Twin River Management Group has secured the rights to acquire 45 acres of land off of Route 181, along the Massachusetts state border, and the operators of the Twin River Casino in Lincoln plan to build a new casino there with about 1,000 slot machines and 30 to 40 table games, said John Taylor, the group's chairman.

The existing gambling license at Newport Grand, which Twin River acquired last month, would be transferred to the new casino, but voters must approve the plan first, Taylor said. He said he hopes to see the question on the ballot in November 2016.

Police arrest URI frat member on marijuana charges

 A University of Rhode Island fraternity member has been arrested after police say they found marijuana at his fraternity house.

South Kingstown Police said they arrested 21-year-old Dan Coburn on Monday after they were tipped off that a Sigma Pi fraternity brother was selling large amounts of marijuana from the frat house.

Police said detectives seized about two pounds of marijuana, hash oil, and $604 in cash.

Coburn was charged with a felony count of possession of marijuana with intent to deliver. He was freed on $10,000 bail.

About 281 taxpayers' debit cards charged twice

 The Rhode Island tax division says about 281 taxpayers using direct debit to pay their 2014 state income tax have been overcharged because of a computer problem.

State tax administrator David Sullivan said in an email Tuesday that taxes were taken out of some accounts twice. He said those taxpayers will get automatic refunds and the state will also cover any overdraft fees or other charges they incurred.

Sullivan said the double-billing totaled about $450,000, and most of that was to one taxpayer billed $290,000.

Officials said the problem surfaced after the April 15 filing deadline and is believed to have been caused by a high volume of last-minute returns forwarded by the Internal Revenue Service.

The state is notifying the people who were overcharged.


Coventry plant closes after gaming company merger

A plant that makes lottery ticket vending machines will be closing its doors and plans to lay off up to 44 employees following the merger of two gaming companies.

Rhode Island-based GTECH and International Game Technology completed a $6.4-billion merger earlier this month.

Workers were notified Tuesday that the Coventry plant would be closing by the end of the year.

The company says manufacturing operations will now be consolidated at a facility in Reno, Nevada. Angela Wiczek, a company spokeswoman, says some employees will be offered transfers to Nevada, but the majority will lose their jobs.

About three dozen other workers at the closing plant will remain with the company and be relocated to an existing manufacturing center in West Greenwich.

Rhode Island College to offer new degree programs

 Rhode Island College is expanding its undergraduate degree offerings.

The school  has announced it is adding new undergraduate degree programs in environmental studies and global studies for the fall 2015 semester.

Ron Pitt, RIC's vice president for academic affairs, says  the programs will help the school meet its mission by providing the state with highly qualified workers in two of the nation's fastest growing areas of study.

The environmental studies program will include the opportunity for field study and the global studies program will include the opportunity to study overseas.

The school says students also will be able to minor in both concentrations.

Man injured in gas explosion at East Providence bakery

A gas explosion has severely damaged a Portuguese bakery in East Providence and left a worker seriously injured.

Fire officials say several people escaped the bakery on Taunton Avenue when the blast occurred just after 10 p.m. on Tuesday.

East Providence Fire Chief Oscar Elmasian says one man was hospitalized with burns over about 20 percent of his body.

Officials had to shut off the gas to the building before fighting the fire, which destroyed much of the building.

No other buildings were damaged.

Fire marshals are investigating the explosion, but officials say it appears to have been accidental.


Tree Falls On House In Tiverton

No injuries are reported after a tree fell on a home in Tiverton. WLNE-TV reports that a tree crashed into a home on Riverview Drive last night. The report says the home suffered heavy damage.

Shooting Reported In Providence

Two people are recovering after being shot in Providence. Authorities say a vehicle with five people in it was shot at near Union Avenue, Sunday night. Authorities say a person wearing a mask pulled up in another car, got out and started shooting. The two victims were taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. No arrests have been made at this point.

Police Looking For Suspect Responsible For Painting Graffiti On Several Providence Buildings

Police are looking for the person who is responsible for painting graffiti on several buildings in Providence. Yesterday Providence Police released a picture of the suspect, who was caught on surveillance video in a stairwell of a building, wearing a maroon backpack and carrying a paint tray filled with pink paint and paint roller. Authorities say the suspect somehow gains access to rooftops, then hangs over the roof to paint messages on the sides of buildings. Anyone with information is asked to call police.

Fire Destroys Several Vacation Homes In Burrillville

A fire is to blame for destroying several vacation homes in Burrillville. Authorities say the fire started early yesterday morning on Bethany Lane. Authorities say three homes were destroyed and a couple others were damaged. No injuries were reported.

Authorities Identify Woman Hit And Killed By Train

Police are identifying the woman who was killed in a train crash over the weekend. Police say 21-year-old Deanna Bates of Kingston was killed when an Amtrak train collided with her vehicle that was sitting on the tracks near Waites Corner Road late Saturday night. She was pronounced dead at the scene. No one on the train was injured. The incident remains under investigation.


Man Facing Drunk Driving Charges In Connection With Motorcycle Crash

An East Providence man is facing charges after authorities say he was driving drunk when he collided with a motorcyclist. Authorities say the crash happened Saturday evening near the intersection of Veterans Memorial Parkway and Pawtucket Avenue, seriously injuring the motorcyclist. Police say Luis Alicea was charged with driving under the influence resulting in serious bodily injury, and driving while intoxicated.

Man Found Dead In Woonsocket Fire Pit

Authorities are investigating after a man was found dead in a fire pit in Woonsocket. Authorities say the body was discovered yesterday morning behind a home near Mason Street. The man has not been identified, and the cause of death is still under investigation. More information is expected to be released today.

Fatal Collision Between Car And Train In West Kingston

One person is dead after an Amtrak train collided with a vehicle on the tracks in West Kingston.  Authorities say the crash happened late Saturday night near Waites Corner Road. The driver of the vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. No one on the train was injured.

Man Weighing 1200 Pounds Moved By Crane

A Providence man weighing more than 1,000 lbs. was moved by crane to a flatbed truck in order to make the trek down Interstate 95 to his new home.

A coalition consisting of the Providence and Cranston Fire Departments, Lifespan, the Hospital Association of Rhode Island and Bay Crane Northeast helped move the man from his closing nursing home room to a new facility in Cranston on Sunday.

Michael Raia of the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health & Human Services says planning for the move began weeks ago.

The transport took nearly seven hours.

Raimondo Backs Clinton For President

Rhode Island's first female governor says it's time for the nation to have its first female president.

Gov. Gina Raimondo says she's supporting Democratic favorite Hillary Rodham Clinton, who launched her 2016 presidential campaign this week.

The Democratic governor says she'll support Clinton even if former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee, her predecessor as governor, decides to run.

Chafee has formed an exploratory committee to consider a Democratic presidential campaign.

Raimondo says she's a longtime Clinton supporter and intends to fully support the former secretary of state. Clinton campaigned for Raimondo during the governor's race.

Raimondo says Clinton has the skills and experience to do the job, and the right values.

She says it's time for a woman, and time to "put a mom in the White House."

R.I. Jobless Rate Drops

The unemployment rate in Rhode Island is continuing to decline.  State labor officials say the jobless rate fell to six-point-three-percent in March, a slight decrease from February.  That's still well above the national jobless rate of five-and-a half-percent.  However, the rate is nearly two-percent lower than March of 2014, when over eight-percent of the state workforce was without a job. 

Casino Bill Heads To Governor

A bill that would allow Twin River Casino to build a hotel on their property is headed to the governor's desk.  The measure would undo a long standing law that prohibits hotels on or near the Twin River property in Lincoln.  However, casino officials say that with resort casinos coming to Massachusetts in the next few years, Twin River needs a hotel to remain competitive.  Twin River officials say they plan to build a four story hotel with around 200 rooms in the style of a Hampton Inn or Courtyard by Marriott.

Gun Control Activists Want Limits

Gun control activists are urging the Rhode  Island Legislature to impose limits on where guns can be carried in the state.  Around 200 people rallied outside the State House yesterday, calling for support of several key measures.  One would ban people convicted of domestic violence from owning or buying guns, while another would limit ammunition clips to a maximum of ten bullets.  Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and a retired Newtown, Connecticut teacher were among those at the rally.

Lawmaker Opposes New PawSox Stadium

Not all Rhode Island officials are endorsing the proposal for the state to pay 120-million dollars towards a Providence baseball stadium.  Narragansett state Representative James Sheehan says the plan may be a bad dream instead of a field of dreams.  Sheehan says the proposal is incredibly one sided, and should be a non-starter for state and local officials involved in the direct negotiations.

Raimondo To Review Stadium Request

Governor Gina Raimondo says she will review the proposal for a downtown stadium in Providence.  The owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox are looking for 120-million dollars in state assistance to relocate the team to Providence.  The owners would pay for stadium construction under the plan.  Raimondo says she is committed to working with Mayor Jorge Elorza and legislative leaders to determine if the project is in the best interests of the state.

Actress Messing To Receive Pell Award

Actress Debra Messing is this year's recipient of the Pell Award for Distinguished Achievement in the Arts.  Messing is an East Greenwich native who's best known for her role in the sitcom "Will and Grace."  She currently stars in the NBC series "The Mysteries of Laura."  Messing and three other award winners will be honored at a ceremony in June at Trinity Rep.   

RIPTA Holds Community Meeting

A RIPTA spokeswoman says she can't rule out a fare hike.  "The Providence Journal" reports the transit agency's planning director made the comment yesterday during a community meeting in Providence.  RIPTA is planning a series of community meetings as part of a study about fares. 

Providence Police K-9 Unit To Be At Boston Marathon

A Providence police K-9 unit is helping to provide security at next week's Boston Marathon.  The bomb-sniffing dog and her handler will be one of hundreds of bomb-sniffing teams working at the marathon.  This is the second year the Providence team has been assigned to the security operation following the deadly 2013 bombings near the finish line. 

Motel 6 Corporates Visit Warwick

Corporate executives with Motel Six are trying to help deal with high crime rates at their facility in Warwick.  There have been 75 arrests at the Jefferson Boulevard motel in the last year, and the city is trying to work with the company to address the problem.  Police say they are increasing patrols at the motel, and management is sending a list of hotel guests to police each day.  Warwick Police Chief Stephen McCartney says Motel Six management is fully cooperating and are doing their best to resolve the issues.

Police Save Overdose Victim With Narcan

Providence Police say a 24-year-old woman's life was saved by officers after she suffered an overdose of narcotics.  Officers administered the drug Narcan to the woman when they responded to a home in the city Monday.  The victim was found unresponsive on a bathroom floor with a spoon and needle nearby, and she quickly came to and sat up once Narcan was given to her.  She was taken to the hospital for further treatment.

Tiverton Woman Charged With Felony Assault

A Tiverton woman is facing charges after she allegedly assaulted her husband and threatened to stab him with a knife.  Police say 24-year-old Whitney Correia attacked her husband earlier this month at a home on Fish Road.  She's charged with felony domestic assault and possession of a dangerous weapon.  Correia is free without bail on the condition that she stay away from her husband.

Shark Bar Fights To Save Licenses

The restaurant at the center of the Gordon Fox bribery scandal is fighting to keep its licenses to operate.  The city sought to nullify the Shark Sushi Bar and Grill's licenses because of the bribes paid to help obtain them.  A judge has issued a temporary order that allows the restaurant to continue operations as the case moves forward.  The restaurant is currently being run by a court ordered receiver.

Pre-Teen Girls Charged With Kidnapping

A pair of 12-year-old girls are facing charges accusing them of assaulting and kidnapping a teenager.  Police say the two juveniles lured the 15-year-old female victim into one of their homes, hitting and choking her.  They also allegedly made the victim remove her clothes and continued to bully her.  The alleged incident occurred last week, and the two juvenile suspects appeared in family court on Monday.

Kilmartin Files Open Government Suits

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is filing open government lawsuits against two fire departments. Kilmartin says the Western Coventry Fire District failed to post minutes of their meeting last October in a timely manner.  The Manville Fire Department is accused of failing to respond to document requests made through the state Access to Public Records Act.  Kilmartin says both districts have violated the law in the past and are still failing to comply.

Pawtucket Man Rearrested For Child Porn

A Pawtucket man on probation for sex crimes is being held without bail on a new child pornography charge.  Police say Christopher Calabro was found with a cell phone containing child porn during a sex offender compliance check.  Calabro received a five year suspended sentence for a child porn possession conviction in 2012.  Police say there is no evidence of any inappropriate conduct between Calabro and minor children.

Cranston Board To Select Superitendent

Cranston School Committee is expected to name the district's new superintendent tonight.  It appears the hire is coming from within, as the agenda lists the appointment of assistant superintendent Jeannine Nota-Masse to the position.  She will replace Judith Lundsten, who is retiring at the end of June and is moving to Cape Cod.  The School Committee meeting is at six p.m. at Western Hills Middle School.

PawSox Owners To Discuss Stadium

The new owners of the Pawtucket Red Sox are planning to update the public on their ballpark plans tomorrow.  The team is hoping to build a new stadium on I-195 redevelopment land in Providence.  The owners will provide an update on that effort, and will also discuss how much financial assistance they plan to seek from state taxpayers.  Governor Gina Raimondo says she has not seen any proposals from the team and is not aware what state assistance they are looking for.


Police Pledge To Find Bottle Thrower

Providence Police say they are going to hunt down and catch the person who injured one of their officers with a thrown bottle.  The vodka bottle struck Officer Michael Clary in the head, causing a concussion and serious cut in his forehead.  The incident occurred during the wild celebration that followed Providence College winning the NCAA hockey national championship.  The college says they are investigating as well, and are working with police to determine who threw the bottle.

R.I Gas Prices Unchanged

The cost of a gallon of gasoline in Rhode Island is holding steady.

AAA Northeast says its weekly survey found self-serve, regular selling for an average of $2.36 per gallon, the same as last week.

The in-state price is 3 cents lower than the national per-gallon average, 9 cents lower than a month ago and $1.24 lower than the Rhode Island price a year ago.

AAA found self-serve, regular selling for as low as $2.23 per gallon and as high as $2.52.

Providence,RI Foundation Wrap Up Campaign For Park

Providence and Rhode Island Foundation officials are establishing a campaign to help finance improvements at the 141-year-old Roger Williams Park and also leave it with a multimillion-dollar endowment.

Foundation President Neil Steinberg told the commission that the goal is to raise about $10 million. Half will be used for improvements to the park and half will be an endowment.

The Rhode Island Foundation started in 1916 with a $10,000 donation from industrialist and U.S. Sen. Jesse H. Metcalf and has grown to an organization with assets of nearly $800 million in 2013 and gave out more than $31 million in grants.

The city has already allocated about $3 million from bonds to repair the park's roads.

Raimondo Seeks Satewide Tourism Campaign

Governor Gina Raimondo is calling for a unified statewide campaign to promote tourism in Rhode Island.  Raimondo says the previous strategy of promoting tourism through regional districts has proven to be a failure.  She says Rhode Island continues to lose out on tourism dollars to neighboring states, and now is the time to develop a statewide approach targeting people in other states.  The governor says the failure to properly promote state tourism is costing Rhode island thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in economic activity.

Judges Collect Largest State Pensions

A new report indicates that Rhode Island's retired judges are the biggest earners in the state's retirement system.  The average annual salary of a retired Rhode Island state judge is more than 140-thousand-dollars a year.  That's way above the 15-thousand-dollar average pension paid to a retired municipal worker each year, and the 31-thousand-dollar pension earned by state employees.  The highest paid state pension is 191-thousand-dollars paid each year to retired Superior Court Presiding Judge Joseph Rodgers.

Babies Born To Drug Abusers Rising

The number of babies born addicted to alcohol and prescription painkillers is rising in Rhode Island.  The nonprofit Rhode Island Kids Count says 76 babies were born with signs of prescription painkiller or alcohol addiction in 2013.  The group says that's nearly double the number of babies born addicted in 2006.  Rhode Island regularly scores in the top five states in the country in the percentage of people over the age of 12 using illegal drugs.

Pedestrian Hit By Accused Drunk Driver

A pedestrian is injured after being struck by an accused drunk driver outside a Cranston nightclub.  Police say Lorna Grassel of West Greenwich was driving in the parking lot at the Mardi Gras Club on Oaklawn Avenue when she struck the pedestrian.  The man struck his head on the vehicle and was thrown between two parked cars, suffering minor injuries.  Grassel is charged with driving under the influence and is free on bond.


Providence Officer Injured By Thrown Bottle

A Providence police officer is injured after being struck by a thrown vodka bottle during the Providence College hockey championship celebration.  Officer Michael Clary was one of around 60 who were called in to deal with a large disturbance near the college Saturday night.  Clary needed emergency surgery because of the head wound.  Police have not located the person who threw the bottle, and say it remains under investigation.

Providence City Employee Recognized

A Providence city employee is being recognized for being selected as an on court official for the NCAA championship game this week.  Deputy Director of Recreation Michael Stephens has also been an NCAA referee since 1997.  Stephens received a key to the city from Mayor Jorge Elorza during a City Hall ceremony yesterday.  He had officiated Final Four games in the past but this was his first NCAA title game.

Foreclosures Rise In R.I.

The number of foreclosures in Rhode Island was higher last year than in 2013.  The research group HousingWorks RI says the more than 16-hundred foreclosure filings in 2014 was a ten-percent increase over the previous year.  The statistics show a 30-percent increase in the number of filings over the last three months of the year.  Rhode Island is among the top five states in the country in the percent of homeowners who owe more on their properties than they are worth.

Critics Blast Proposed Cigarette Tax Hike

Convenience store owners are not happy with Governor Gina Raimondo's proposal to raise the cigarette tax.  The store owners say cigarette sales make up a large part of their sales, and are urging lawmakers to reject the increase.  The additional revenue would be used to spare state residents from paying income taxes on Social Security benefits.  Rhode Island's cigarette tax is already among the nation's highest at three-dollars and 50-cents a pack.

Providence Club Closed After Stabbing

A Providence music club is currently closed after a double stabbing.  Rap artist Lil Bibby was performing at Simon 677 on Valley Street Wednesday night when a fight broke out.  The stabbing happened when the fight moved outside, leaving two people with serious injuries.  The city Board of Licenses is ordering the club to remain closed at least until a hearing that is scheduled for Monday.

Chafee Considers Run For White House

Former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee is considering a run for president next year.  Chafee made the announcement on his web site yesterday, saying he's forming an exploratory committee to consider a run for the Democratic nomination.  Chafee left office in January after serving one term as governor and deciding not to seek reelection.  Prior to serving as governor, Chafee was a U.S. Senator and the mayor of Warwick.

Support Grows For Energy Tax Cut

Support is growing for Governor Gina Raimondo's plan to cut the commercial energy tax rate.  State officials say the most recent federal statistics show that only Hawaii has higher commercial electric rates.  Raimondo is proposing that the sales tax businesses pay for electricity, natural gas or heating be phased out over the next five years.  The state will lose around 26-million-dollars in annual revenue when the tax is completely phased out in 2020.

Arrest Made In Sword Attack

A suspect is facing charges in connection with a samurai sword attack in Pawtucket that left three people injured.  Leicy Osorio of Central Falls surrendered to Pawtucket Police yesterday after learning of the warrant for his arrest.  Osorio is charged with felony assault and is being held on 25-thousand-dollars bond.  The stabbing came March 28th at Dexter and Barton streets in Pawtucket following a dispute at a nearby nightclub.

Men Arraigned In Justice Brother Killing

Two Massachusetts men accused of killing the brother of a Rhode Island Supreme Court justice are continuing to be held without bail.  Matthew Marcotte and Rolando Brooks are accused of killing William McKenna in February, and they were arraigned yesterday.  The men apparently ran into McKenna outside a Pawtucket store, and Marcotte was apparently upset with McKenna over a previous incident.  The victim was the younger brother of Supreme Court Justice Maureen McKenna-Goldberg.


Twin River Hotel Gets Another Approval

  A bill that would allow the construction of a hotel at Twin River Casino is another step closer to becoming law.  A state Senate committee yesterday passed the measure that matches the one approved by the House last month.  Current state law prohibits a hotel near the casino, a rule put in place to protect the hotel industry in Providence.  Twin River says they need a hotel in order to keep up with new competition and to retain jobs.


Hearing Today On Private School Funding

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing today on Governor Gina Raimondo's proposal to cut more than two-million-dollars in state funding for private school transportation and private school textbooks.  Bristol Representative Ray Gallison says House leaders plan to restore out-of-district transportation funding for private and parochial school students.  Currently the state reimburses public school districts for the cost of English and history-social studies textbooks.

Driver In Fatal Crash Posts Bail

The man accused in a drunk driving crash that killed a young couple in Providence is free on bail.  Joel Norman of Massachusetts posted ten-thousand-dollars bail yesterday and was released with conditions.  Norman is accused of driving the wrong way on Route-Six while drunk on Sunday, killing Tiffany Sical and Brayan Rodriguez-Solis.  The couple was returning home from a night out at the movies when the head on crash occurred.

Commerce Secretary Defends Tax Proposals

Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor is defending a pair of tax increase proposals that are drawing criticism.  Pryor last night told the legislature's House Finance Committee that the new property tax on luxury second homes would raise 12-million-dollars a year to help close a budget deficit.  He also says a private home rental tax would help fund an aggressive new marketing initiative aimed at generating more tourism in the state. 

Moffit Lauds R.I. Former First Ladies

Rhode Island First Gentleman Andy Moffit is recognizing the important roles of the state's former first ladies.  Moffit yesterday met with former first ladies Marilyn Almond, Suzanne Carcieri, Margherite Garrahy, Dorothy Licht and Marjorie Sundlun.  The first ladies shared their experience with the first gentleman during the visit.  He also presented each former first lady with a citation to acknowledge their contributions to Rhode Island.

Warwick Man Busted For Embezzlement

A Warwick man is accused of stealing more than 140-thousand-dollars from a Providence manufacturing company.  State Police say Paul Roderick is accused of stealing and reselling merchandise from United States Associates.  The company specializes in the production of metals, insignias, tools and badges.  Roderick allegedly deposited 88 checks into his account from a single client who had begun ordering directly from him.

Committee Weighs Body Spa Regulations

A Rhode Island legislative committee is considering a measure that would strictly regulate body works spas in the state.  The goal of the bill before the House Corporations Committee is to combat sex trafficking and shut down spas that are actually brothels.  The committee held a hearing on the measure yesterday and voted to hold the bill for further study.

Motel 6 Execs To Meet In Warwick About Problem Lodging

Mayor Scott Avedisian says Motel 6 executives have agreed to appear before the Warwick Board of Public Safety next week to discuss what they are doing to stop criminal activity at the chain's Warwick site.

Motel 6 agreed to changes after Warwick police began investigating last month. New measures include police details, filing a daily guest list with the city, raising the minimum check-in age to 21 from 18 and training staff on safety procedures.

The executives are set to meet with Avedisian and Police Chief Col. Stephen McCartney on Tuesday.

McCartney said there have been 75 arrests at the motel over the past year, including drug and prostitution offenses.

Motel 6 did not immediately respond to an early morning email Wednesday.

Former Tax Prep Provider Headed To Jail

A former owner of a Cranston tax preparation service is heading to prison for stealing and selling the identities of more than 300 minors.  The stolen identities were sold by Tashia Bodden for the purpose of using them on fraudulent tax returns.  Bodden pleaded guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to defraud the government and aggravated identity theft.  Her sentence is three years of prison, two years of supervised released and over a million-dollars in restitution.

Back To Work At RISD

The strike is over at the Rhode Island School of Design.  The 44 unionized technicians walked off the job last week amid a dispute over contributions to retirement benefits.  The agreement came yesterday as a rally was about to begin outside the school where around 900 students came out to support the striking workers.  The technicians returned to the job yesterday afternoon.

5 Warwick Garbage Trucks Destroyed In Blaze

Five garbage trucks are destroyed following a fire at the Warwick public works garage.  The fire broke out yesterday afternoon and spread to the five trucks, which were parked in a line outside the garage.  Investigators are working to determine what caused the fire.  A similar fire destroyed three garbage trucks at the same garage in 2013, with the cause determined to be electrical problems in one of the trucks.

Kwan To Give Salve Commencement Address

Two-time Olympic medalist Michelle Kwan will present this year's commencement address at Salve Regina University.

The school announced Monday that Kwan will also receive an honorary doctorate in humane letters at the May 17 commencement.

The award-winning figure skater and Rhode Island resident was recently nominated by Gov. Gina Raimondo to serve on the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.

University President Sister Jane Gerety says Kwan was chosen because of her work as a public diplomacy envoy with the State Department and her work on the board of directors for Special Olympics International.

Kwan is a five-time World Figure Skating champion and nine-time U.S. Figure Skating champion. She retired from the sport in 2006.

She has been married to former Rhode Island gubernatorial candidate Clay Pell since 2013.

Pair Arrested In Warwick ATM Skimming

Two New York men are facing charges accusing them of placing a skimming device on an ATM machine in Warwick.  Police say Moises Morales Cano and Carlos Cineros stole around 65-thousand-dollars from more than 100 customers at the Greenwood Credit Union.  The men are also suspects in ATM skimming cases being investigated in several other Rhode Island towns.


Suspect Named In Cranston Carjacking

Cranston Police are identifying a suspect in a robbery and carjacking last month.  Police say Jerry Cintron of Pawtucket carjacked a vehicle that was occupied by a woman and her one-year-old child.  The carjacking occurred at the Shear Dimensions Hair Salon on Reservoir Avenue March 29th.  The suspect left the vehicle a short distance away, with the woman and child inside and unharmed.

Social Service Providers Sued By Workers

Two Rhode Island social services providers are being sued by employees who say they have not been paid for all their work.  A pair of lawsuits are filed by mental health and family therapy workers at the Providence Center and Family Service of Rhode Island.  They receive 40-dollars for a 45 minute therapy session, but claim they are not paid for additional time they are expected to perform work.  Attorneys for the plaintiffs say they are looking for more victims and say it could become a class action suit.

Two Killed In Wrong-Way Crash

A young couple is dead following a wrong way crash in Providence.  Police say a vehicle entered Route-Six in the wrong direction at Dean Street early yesterday and crashed head on into another vehicle.  The victims are identified as Tiffany Sical of Providence and Bryan Rodriguez-Solis of Central Falls.  Joel Norman of Webster, Massachusetts is charged with driving under the influence resulting in death and driving to endanger.

Child Porn Suspect Is A Navy Professor

A Portsmouth man arrested for distributing child pornography is a professor at the Naval War College in Newport.  Adam Cobb is a warfare expert at the college, where he began working last summer.  Cobb was arrested Friday at his home after a two month investigation into the distribution of child porn on the Internet.  He appeared in federal court Friday and was ordered held without bail.

Most Cranston Schools Open Good Friday

School officials in Cranston decided to hold classes despite dealing with the absences of more than 250 teachers and aides.

Classes were cancelled at Western Hills Middle School, but all other Cranston schools remained open today.

Janice Ruggieri, chair of the Cranston School Committee, says working the holiday was part of a negotiated deal that led to raises for teacher assistants, bus aides and behavioral technical assistants.

Teachers filed a lawsuit in March  after their requests to observe Good Friday were denied. An agreement in Superior Court last week allowed teachers to take the day off if they submitted a request by April 1.

This year is the first in at least 25 years that Cranston schools have had class on the holiday.

East Providence Pet Sale Ban Upheld

A federal judge is upholding the ban on the commercial sale of cats and dogs in the city of East Providence.  A federal judge's ruling says the ordinance does not run afoul of the federal or state laws.  The ban was enacted last year, not long after the Perfect Puppy store opened on Wampanoag Trail.  Perfect Puppy sued and the city agreed not to enforce the ordinance until the matter is settled in court.

R.I. Launching Tourism Campaign

Rhode Island is taking the wraps off the new state tourism campaign today.  The campaign will be titled "Recommend Rhode Island" and will be designed to attract conventions and conferences to the state.  The tourism effort is launching with an event today at the Rhode island Convention Center in Providence.  The goal is to encourage state residents to help bring conferences and conventions to Rhode Island.


State Police Make Huge Pot Bust

Rhode Island State Police are reporting a huge marijuana bust.  Police say a taxi was pulled over for speeding on Interstate-95 in Richmond.  Troopers say 85 pounds of marijuana was found in FedEx boxes that were inside the vehicle.  Passenger Bing Zhou Liu of Brooklyn, New York is facing serious drug charges.  He will remain in custody at least until a bail hearing next week.

PawSox President Outlines Future Plans

The new president and principal owner of the Pawtucket Red Sox says Providence is the perfect location for their new stadium.  James Skeffington says an eight acre tract of former Interstate-195 land off Dyer Street in Providence is ideal for a ballpark.  Skeffington and the rest of the ownership group is expected to produce a more detailed stadium proposal later this month. 

Pension Lawsuit Settlement Reached

 A settlement agreement is in place that would end the lawsuit filed over Rhode Island's 2011 pension reforms.  Unions and retired state employees have been voting for weeks on a proposed settlement agreement.  The deal still must be approved by the legislature, which enacted the cost saving reforms that led to the lawsuit.  Governor Gina Raimondo says the settlement preserves around 90-percent of the pension savings created by the challenged law.

Cranston Says No Decision On School Holiday Until The Day Of

School officials in Cranston say they won't decide whether to close schools on Good Friday until after 6 a.m. Friday morning.

Close to 200 teachers and 45 assistants have asked for the holiday off.

Janice Ruggieri, chair of the Cranston School Committee, says the teacher's union negotiated a raise for teacher assistants, bus aides and behavioral technical assistants in exchange for conceding some holidays including Good Friday.

About 200 teachers filed a lawsuit March 16 after their requests to observe Good Friday were denied. An agreement in Superior Court last week allowed teachers to take the day off if they submitted a request by April 1.

This year is the first in at least 25 years that Cranston schools have had class on the holiday.

College Strips Fox Of Honorary Degree

Former House Speaker Gordon Fox is being stripped of his honorary doctoral degree by Rhode Island College.  The state Council on Postsecondary Education voted last night to strip Fox of the degree he was given in 2010.  Fox pleaded guilty to several corruption related charges last month and awaits sentencing.  This is the first time Rhode Island College has ever rescinded an honorary degree since the practice began in the 1920s.

New Effort To Create State Bank

A new effort is underway to create a Rhode Island state bank.  Deputy House Speaker Charlene Lima says the creating bank would help state residents to obtain credit.  She says an added bonus would be that money earned by the bank would be used to support the functions of state government.  Lima has reintroduced a bill in the state legislature that would create the state bank.

Pension Settlement May Come Today

The settlement of the state pension lawsuit could come as early as today.  A spokesman for House Speaker Nick Mattiello tells the "Providence Journal" that it's possible that an announcement on the settlement could come today.  Thousands of current and former state workers have been voting on the proposed settlement for the last few weeks.  The lawsuit was filed against the state over the 2011 pension reforms that ended cost of living increases for retirees and moved workers into 401K style retirement plans.


R.I. Transit May Consolidate

The state of Rhode Island may seek to consolidate its various transportation agencies.  Governor Gina Raimondo is seeking bids for someone to provide her administration with transportation management and asset review services.  The goal is for someone to review the effectiveness of the state's network of transportation services.  Rhode Island currently has multiple state agencies that each manage part of the transportation puzzle, including for ports, airports, bus service and road construction.

Woman Shot Dead Outside School

A woman is dead following a shooting that took place outside a school in Providence.  Police say the woman was inside a car on Webster Avenue when the shooting occurred last night.  The vehicle came to rest after smashing into an iron fence outside Webster Elementary School.  The woman has not been publicly identified by police, who have not made any arrests in the case.

Teacher's Good Friday Requests May Close Schools

School officials in Cranston, Rhode Island, say classes might be canceled on Good Friday because more than 200 employees have requested the day off.

School superintendent Judith Lundsten announced Tuesday that she had warned parents that school might be closed. Lundsten says 194 teachers and 41 assistants had asked for the holiday off as of that afternoon.

A court order issued Friday says teachers may take the day off if they submit a request no later than April 1. About 200 teachers filed a lawsuit March 16 after their requests to observe Good Friday were denied.

Trio Busted In Gambling Probe

Three men are facing charges accusing them of running an illegal gambling operation in Providence's Federal Hill.  State Police say the suspects are Edward Perrotta, his son John and Gregory Fleury.  The men allegedly ran illegal gambling out of the Toscan Social Club on Federal Hill and at Avalon Entertainment in Smithfield.  The suspects are all free on ten-thousand-dollars bond.

Restaurant Chain Ordered To Pay Up

The Rhode Island-based restaurant chain Cilantro Mexican Grill is being ordered to pay 100-thousand dollars in back wages.  The U.S. Department of Labor says Cilantro routinely underpaid workers at several locations in the state.  The company is also being hit with a fine for employing minors and letting them use their own vehicles to make deliveries.

Teen Gets Life For Killing Rapper

A Providence teenager is sentenced to life in prison for the killing of an aspiring young rapper last May.  Joseph Taylor pleaded guilty yesterday for the killing of 20-year-old Davon Taylor and wounding his 15-year-old sister.  The suspect and victims are not related, but knew each other after growing up in neighboring communities.  Davon Taylor died after being shot once in the lower back on Wendall Street.

Paiva Weed Says Pension Settlement May Be Close

State Senate President Teresa Pavia Weed is optimistic that the pension lawsuit settlement will be approved.  Pavia Weed says the sides are close to resolving all of the remaining issues.  State employee unions and retirees sued to block the 2011 pension reforms put into place by the state to save money.  Officials are trying to determine if the global settlement will be allowed to go through if a few small union groups are the only ones who oppose the deal.


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