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1540 WADK.com Updates Archives for 2015-08

Tagger To Pay For Graffiti Damage

The so called lonely tagger is avoiding time behind bars for his vandalism spree in Providence.  Devin Costa admits that he painted messages about being lonely on roofs and walls around the city.  Costa agrees to pay over 12-thousand dollars in restitution for the damage he caused, and is ordered not to trespass in the future.

Men Shot At Providence McDonald's

Two men are injured after being shot in the parking lot of a McDonald's restaurant in Providence.  Police say one of the victims was shot three times at the Broad Street location, including once in the head.  The second victim was shot in the abdomen, and both were taken to the hospital.  No arrests have been made, and police are working to identify suspects in the case.

Hasbro Helping Pawtucket Fight Bullying

Toy maker Hasbro is looking to help Pawtucket deal with bullying.  Hasbro is set to provide the city with a 130-thousand-dollar grant to train teachers in all city schools in a system designed to prevent bullying.  The system was developed by a non-profit anti-bullying group in San Francisco to define a process for dealing with bullying and harassment.  Hasbro is hosting an event this morning at the Rhode Island Convention Center to further discuss the grant.

Coventry Fire District Misses Payroll

The financial problems continue at the Coventry Fire District.  The district was unable to make payroll for their 14 firefighters on Friday, and it appears likely they will be laid off.  The district is one of four in Coventry that provide independent fire services to town residents.  District Board Chairman Frank Palin says they asked residents to quickly submit their quarterly tax payments, but that effort did not provide enough revenue.

Council Wants Closed Door Meeting

The Providence City Council wants to hold a closed door meeting next week to talk about the work schedule lawsuit filed by city firefighters.  The suit seeks to block changes in work schedules that Mayor Jorge Elorza says will save Providence five-million dollars a year.  The City Council wants to hold an executive session September 8th to talk about their legal strategy in dealing with the lawsuit.  Discussions of pending lawsuits is one of the reasons the council is allowed to exclude the public from meetings and enter executive session.


Report: New England's Energy Infrastructure In Danger

A new study shows the New England region is in danger with its energy infrastructure.  Trade groups representing the oil and natural gas industries funded a study that predicts energy costs will go up and hundreds of thousands of jobs in the industry will be lost across the region if improvements aren't made by the end of the decade.  The New England Coalition for Affordable Energy released the 68-page report yesterday.


Pizza Driver's Welfare Check Of Customer Nets Drug Bust

A pizza delivery driver in Coventry inadvertently busted a marijuana growing operation when he had police check on the well-being of a regular customer who didn't answer the door.  Police arrested James Clement Van Pelt the Third when they arrived to find the operation.  Police found plants, seedlings and nine pounds of marijuana.

Health Officials Call For 4 Beach Closures For Bacteria Levels

Four Warwick beaches on Greenwich Bay are recommended for closure because of high bacteria levels.  The Department Health is calling for the closure of City Park Beach, Conimicut Point Beach, Goddard Memorial State Park Beach and Oakland Beach.  The storms that hit the earlier this week are to blame.  Officials say they are still monitoring water quality levels to see when they're safe again.

Governor Makes Pitch To Defense Industry

Governor Gina Raimondo is making a pitch to the defense industry.  She told industry executives yetserday she plans to move Rhode Island to an innovation-based economy.  She says the defense industry is critical to the local economy and the state is revamping workforce training.  "The Providence Journal" reports that during a conference in Newport the governor announced that today the state will unveil a program tailored to the needs of defense companies.

Multiple Arrests In Prostitution Sting

Police in Central Falls are reporting the arrests of 30 people in a prostitution sting.  Police say the arrests came over a three month long sting operation that used undercover female officers posing as prostitutes.  The areas targeted by the sting were high traffic areas where quality of life complaints have been recorded.  Most of the suspects in the case are due to answer prostitution related charges next month.

Cranston Little Leaguers Return Home

Members of the Cranston Western Little League team are back in Rhode Island after being eliminated from the World Series.  The team was eliminated by a squad from California on Monday.  They returned to Rhode Island last night, and were honored with a brief rally at Cranston Stadium.  Cranston Mayor Allan Fung and House Speaker Nick Mattiello were among the officials on hand to welcome the team home.

Schilling Urges Rejection Of Settlement

Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is urging the rejection of a 12-million-dollar settlement in the lawsuit over his failed video game company.  The lawsuit seeks to recoup some of the state's failed investment used to lure Schilling's 38 Studios to Rhode Island from Massachusetts.  The state contends that the taxpayer investment in the company was over 100-million-dollars, with 74-million still outstanding.  The state lost its investment when 38 Studios folded up operations in 2012.

Warwick Home Searched In MA Probe

A small home near TF Green Airport in Warwick is the target of an investigation in neighboring Massachusetts.  The Bristol County District Attorney's office requested a search of the home on Louisiana Avenue.  The State Police crime van was parked outside the home for several hours yesterday.  Police and prosecutors are not revealing the reason for the search.


PawSox Owner Tours New Location

The principal owner of the Pawtucket Red Sox is looking at new options for a new stadium location.  Larry Lucchino toured a eight acre site on Victory Place in the Jewelry District of Providence yesterday.  The tour came a day after a meeting where a large group of Providence residents spoke against the team's planned location for the ballpark along the Providence River.  The team has been looking to site their stadium on former Interstate-195 land that was originally planned for a park.

Rhode Island Among Safest States

A new report places Rhode Island among the safest states in the nation.  WalletHub's study takes into account factors that include the number of deadly crashes, occupational injuries and weather-related property loss.  Rhode Island is eighth on the list, led by having the safest workplaces in the nation, along with safe homes and communities.  Massachusetts is listed as the nation's safest state, with Mississippi the least safe.

RI Man Facing Trafficking Charges

A Providence man is facing new sex trafficking charges involving a teenage girl from Texas.  Dujuan Harris is charged in federal court with sex trafficking and transporting a minor for the purpose of sexual activity.  He was already being held without bail on related state charges.  He allegedly made friends with the underage girl over the Internet and convinced her to run away with him.


URI Rescinds Parking Fee

The University of Rhode island is rescinding a parking fee it planned to impose on graduate assistants.  The decision came just before around two-dozen graduate assistants held a protest to object to the 100-dollar fee.  They claim the fee would have been a violation of their collective bargaining agreement.  The union says graduate assistants only earn around 15-thousand-dollars a year, and the fee would be a pay cut.

Fung Calls Vote Political Theater

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung says the vote of no confidence in him by the City Council is nothing more than political theater.  The resolution passed by a narrow five-to-four vote, followed by Council President John Lanni calling for Fung's resignation.  Fung rejects that call, saying he will continue working towards earning back the confidence of residents.


Woman Charged In Middletown Killing

One woman is dead and another is charged with domestic murder following an incident in Middletown.  Police say Melissa Sue Ann Castle strangled her domestic partner after an argument yesterday morning.  Rachael Kilroy was pronounced dead by the medical examiner, who is working to determine the cause of death.  Castle is being held without bail.


Providence Seeks Cause Of Cloudy Pools

Providence officials are still trying to figure out what caused city swimming pools to become so cloudy that they had to be closed for the year.  The pools were shut down because of fears that lifeguards would not be able to see someone at the bottom because of the cloudy water.  Officials tried chemical treatments and even drained the pools, but that did not fix the problem.  All of the pools were painted over this past spring, and tests are being conducted to determine if the paint is causing the cloudy water.

Rhode Island To Host Governor's Meeting

The National Governor's Association is choosing Rhode Island to host its 2017 summer meeting.  The group's nine-governor executive committee has settled on Rhode Island for the event in July of 2017.  Rhode Island was brought under consideration after Governor Gina Raimondo extended the invitation.  The state last hosted the NGA summer meeting in 2001.


Cranston Western Eliminated From LLWS

The ride is over for the Cranston Western Little League team.  The New England representative in the Little League World Series was eliminated by the West regional champs from Bonita, California yesterday.  Cranston Western was no match for Bonita, which scored six runs in the third inning en route to a ten-to-three victory.  Bonita moves on to face the Great Lakes regional champion from Kentucky.

State Troopers Win Raises In Arbitration

Unionized Rhode Island state troopers are receiving ten-percent raises following a ruling from an arbitrator.  The raises cover the period between May of 2013 through next April.  The pay hike is well over the average increases for other state workers during the same period, which is around six-percent.  The decision also grants officers a one time 500-dollar electronic device stipend, and pays detectives overtime instead of comp time for working over 40 hours a week.


Council Issues No Confidence In Fung

The Cranston City Council has no confidence that Mayor Allan Fung can lead city government.  The council approved the resolution of no confidence last night by a five-to-four vote.  The resolution blames Fung's apparent mismanagement of the city police department as a key reason for the vote.  The council also says Fung failed to give clear and accurate reasons for his actions. 

Escaped ACI Inmate Surrenders

A state prisoner is back behind bars after failing to return to the Adult Correctional Institution from a work-release program.  Michael Russo was reported missing from the prison Saturday night after not coming back from a North Providence auto body shop.  After a few hours of freedom, Russo called the prison and surrendered.  Russo is serving five years for felony assault, and now faces a possible three more years in prison if convicted of escape.

Woman Hurt In Baseball Bat Attack

A woman is recovering after being hit in the head with a baseball bat in Providence.  The woman says she was walking with a friend on Plainfield Street early yesterday when they were attacked by four women.  The victim was able to identify the woman who hit her with the bat, but indicated that she doesn't want to press charges.  Police are continuing to investigate.

Softball Treasurer Charged In Thefts

The former treasurer of a softball coaches association is jailed on charges accusing him of theft from the organization.  Steven Zina of Bristol allegedly stole more than 12-thousand-dollars from the Rhode Island Softball Coaches Association.  Zina has two other similar cases pending with Bristol Police that involve thefts from nonprofit organizations.  He's charged with embezzlement and other offenses, and is scheduled to appear in court today.

Wrong-Way Driver Killed In Crash

A North Providence man is dead after driving his car the wrong way onto I-95 and crashing head-on into another vehicle.  Police say the incident occurred in Providence early Saturday morning.  Armondo Gomes apparently entered the highway at Providence Place Way and crashed into a minivan about 200 feet later.  The driver of the minivan was rushed to the hospital with serious injuries.

Council Plans Fung No-Confidence Vote

The Cranston City Council is planning to take a vote of no confidence in Mayor Allan Fung at tonight's meeting.  The measure against the Republican mayor is sponsored by three Democrats, including Council President John Lanni.  The resolution comes after a scathing State Police report into problems with the police department, which accused Fung of meddling in police business.  A Fung spokesman says the resolution is political grandstanding.

Cranston Western begins LLWS Quest

Cranston Western is expected to play their first Little League World Series game today.  The New England regional champions will face off against a team from Taylor, South Carolina this afternoon in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Cranston Western is the eighth Rhode Island team to earn a trip to Williamsport, with the last being Cumberland American in 2014.

Old Cables Removed From Beach

Crews are removing any old cables that remain under Salty Brine State Beach in Narragansett.  The decision to remove the abandoned cables from under the beach was made after an unexplained explosion at the beach last month.  A Connecticut woman suffered injuries in the blast.  Officials believe hydrogen released into the sand by a corroding old cable caused that explosion.

Pair Arraigned In Boater Killing

Two men accused of killing a man who lived on his boat off Warwick are being held without bail.  Richard Baribault and Troy Gunderway are accused of killing 70-year-old Fernando Silva.  His decomposing body was found August 15th in Warwick Cove.  Police believe the suspects went to the boat with the intent on robbing Silva of money from a recent keno win.

Providence Schools Sued For Discrimination

The Providence school board is being sued by an assistant principal who claims members are discriminating against him.  Rodolfo Vargas says board members are blocking his career advancement because of his Hispanic origin.  Vargas filed his lawsuit this month in Providence federal court.  He claims that despite being qualified and certified, the school board repeatedly passed him over for promotions.

Rhode Island Gains Jobs In July

Rhode Island's unemployment rate is continuing to decline.  State labor officials say the jobless rate was five-point-eight-percent in July, which is almost two percent lower than July of last year.  The number of unemployed people in the state is a little over 32-thousand, which is the lowest level since September of 2007.  The state gained 33-hundred jobs in July, and has now regained two-thirds of the jobs lost to the recession. 

Skunk that attacked person had rabies

A skunk that attacked a person in South Kingstown last week has tested positive for rabies, state environmental officials said.

The animal was euthanized and tested at the State Health Laboratory.

The Department of Environmental Management and the Department of Health said the skunk was in the vicinity of Roy Carpenter’s Beach when it attacked a person Saturday.

People exposed to the skunk were evaluated and are undergoing treatment. Officials said they are concerned that other people or pets may have encountered the skunk and not come forward.

People who may have had contact with the skunk or any wild animal near the private beach are urged to contact the health department.

People whose pets may have had contact are asked to call South Kingstown Animal Control.

Governor vacations in New Hampshire

Gov. Gina Raimondo is taking a vacation in New Hampshire with her family before resuming a normal schedule sometime next week.

Raimondo spokeswoman Marie Aberger said on Wednesday that the Raimondo family will spend a few days in New Hampshire, where they have vacationed in previous summers.

Aberger said the rest of the time, the governor will be “enjoying Rhode Island’s worldfamous beaches.” Raimondo and her husband have two school-age children.

Federal grant to buy protective equipment for town firefighters

The Portsmouth Fire Department will receive a federal grant to purchase protective gear for its firefighters, members of the Rhode Island congressional delegation announced Wednesday.
The $14,767 grant comes from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program (AFG) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response (SAFER) program.
SAFER and AFG are competitive grant programs designed to aid fire departments and emergency medical service organizations in meeting their equipment, training and other needs.
Rhode Island fire departments and other first responders have won more than $26 million in AFG awards since 2001, and $14.5 million in SAFER awards since 2005.

One State Public High School Among Best

Only one Rhode Island high school is listed among the top 500 public high schools in the country.  The only state school on the Newsweek list is East Greenwich High School, which is 186th.  The report cites the school's 98-percent graduation rate and 93-percent of graduates heading to college as reasons for making the list.  Newsweek's report says Thomas Jefferson High School in Alexandria, Virginia is the nation's top public high school.

Elorza In Guatemala On Official Visit

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is in Guatemala on an official visit to the South American country.  The mayor reportedly has met with Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina to discuss a possible sister city arrangement.  Providence would become sister cities with Antigua, Guatemala, which is one of the country's most popular tourist destinations.  Elorza and President Perez Molina met at the presidential palace in Guatemala City on Tuesday.

State's First West Nile Mosquitoes Found

The first finding of West Nile Virus in Rhode Island is being confirmed by state officials.  The Department of Emergency Management says mosquitoes trapped in North Kingstown on August 12th have tested positive for West Nile.  Positive tests in mosquitoes are uncommon but are expected in this time of year, and no human cases have been reported.  People are urged to take steps to avoid mosquito bites until the season ends, which is usually after the first frost.


Serrano Sentenced For 1990 Murder

A man is heading to prison for decades for the 1990 killing of Michael Holliday in Providence.  The case went unsolved for more than two decades until Daniel Serrano confessed to police in December of 2013.  Holliday was found beaten to death in a vacant apartment on Somerset Street in Providence in February of 1990.  Serrano told investigators that his conscience caused him to confess to the killing.

No PawSox Stadium Vote Until Next Year

It appears unlikely that Rhode Island lawmakers will take up a possible deal for a minor league baseball stadium in a special session later this year.  House Speaker Nick Mattiello says he expects it will be January at the earliest before lawmakers address the stadium issue.  The Pawtucket Red Sox are seeking an agreement with the city and the state to relocate to former Interstate-195 land on the Providence waterfront.  Mattiello says the current terms of the proposal are significantly different than the initial one offered by the team.

No Infected Mosquitoes In Latest Tests

The latest mosquito test results are negative in Rhode Island for both West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis.  The results are from 105 mosquito pools from 37 traps set statewide the week of August 3rd.  However, the state Department of Environmental Management cautions that West Nile Virus has been detected in neighboring states.  The public is advised to take precautionary steps to avoid mosquito bites.  

Anti-Ballpark Bumper Stickers Surface

An anti-ballpark bumper sticker campaign has surfaced.  WPRI-TV reports it's part of a grass roots effort in opposition to a proposed taxpayer-subsidized stadium in Providence for the Pawtucket Red Sox.  The first proposal from the team's new owners is being reworked after it was rejected.  According to Channel 12, a spokeswoman for the Pawsox says if a ballpark isn't built in Providence, the team will leave Rhode Island. 

Release Of Longtime Prison Inmate On Hold

The release of a man who's served 23-years in prison is on hold.  It was expected that Raymond "Beaver" Tempest would be freed to home confinement yesterday pending his retrial.  But a state Supreme Court judge issued the hold order until the full court can consider the case.  Last month a Superior Court judge vacated Tempest's murder conviction in the 1982 death of Doreen Picard of Woonsocket.  His lawyer says DNA evidence that wasn't considered at trial proves that someone else killed Picard.

Police Investigating Deaths Of Brothers In Providence, Brockton

Police are investigating the deaths of two brothers in Rhode Island.  Chris Mann was found shot to death last Thursday in Brockton.  His brother, Kevin Mann, was killed three months ago outside a hookah bar in Providence.  Investigators are working to determine if the incidents are related.  Additional information hasn't been released.

Police Searching For Missing Man In Cranston

Police are searching for a missing man in Cranston.  Kerry Mello was last seen more than a week ago at his girlfriend's Silver Lake apartment.  His girlfriend told officers that when she returned from work late last week Mello had disappeared.  His family says it's unlike Mello to not contact his relatives, especially his mother.  Anyone with information about the 36-year-old man's whereabouts is urged to call police.

Ex-Police Chief To Serve Remaining Sentence On House Arrest

A judge is allowing a former North Providence police chief to serve the remainder of his prison sentence at home.  In 2012, John Whiting was sentenced to five years, with six months to be served in prison.  He was found guilty of stealing money from a dancer at a strip club and leading officers on a car chase during Tropical Storm Irene.  His lawyer has asked for home-confinement for the remaining sentence, citing medical and marital problems.

Homeless Man Sentenced For 1990 Murder Case

A homeless man is spending the next 30 years behind bars in connection to a deadly attack in Rhode Island more than two decades ago.  Daniel Serrano turned himself in to police in 2013.  He told investigators that he was responsible for the bludgeoning death of Michael Holliday in 1990.  Serrano was convicted of first-degree murder.  He has an extensive criminal history including drug arrests, breaking-and-entering and gun possession charges.


Providence Ranks As 91st Most Educated City

Providence is ranked 91st overall in a ranking of the most and least educated cities.  Providence's ranking is based on a survey of the 150 largest U.S. statistical metropolitan areas.  Factors considered include percentage of adults with a bachelor's degree or higher, average quality of universities and public school ranking.  Ann Arbor, Michigan, is ranked the most educated city and Brownsville, Texas, the least educated.  

Soldier Laid To Rest In Warren

Hundreds of people are mourning the loss of a soldier in Warren.  Friends and family attended the funeral for Sergeant Peter Andrew McKenna, Jr. yesterday morning at St. Mary of the Bay Church.  State flags were raised to half-staff yesterday and people lined Main Street waving American flags.  McKenna died earlier this month in Afghanistan at the NATO facility.  He was a 17-year veteran.

Driver Stranded After Fallen Power Line

A driver is expected to be okay after a power line fell onto their car in Warwick.  Emergency crews responded to the scene yesterday afternoon on West Shore Road.  Police say a tree brought down the electric lines, but no word as to what caused the fall.  At least one person was stranded.  An investigation is ongoing.

Second Man Charged In Death Of Army Veteran

A second arrest has been made stemming from the death of an Army veteran in Pawtucket.  Jose Rodriguez was arrested late last week in South Providence.  Colby Mendonca and his roommate, Russell Gleason, were in a parking lot last month when they got into an argument with strangers.  Mendonca was killed, and the second victim was badly injured.  Rodriguez and another suspect have been charged with murder.

Newport Man Hospitalized After ATV Crash

A  man is hospitalized after an ATV crash in Portsmouth.  Police say Samuel Harrington of Newport was driving the all-terrain vehicle Sunday night when he hit a guardrail and was thrown into the woods.  The 19-year-old was in critical condition as of yesterday afternoon.  An investigation into what caused the crash is underway. 

Police: Man Killed In Charleston Bike Rice

Police are releasing the name of an 80-year-old man who was killed in a Rhode Island bike race.  Peter Murphy of Connecticut was killed over the weekend after crashing into a parked car on South County Trail.  The victim suffered several head injuries and died later in the hospital.  He was participating in the North East Master Cycling Association race in Charleston at the time of his death.


Sepe Launches Run For Cranston Mayor

Democrat Michael Sepe is running for mayor of Cranston.  The election is 15 months away, but Sepe says he's ready to start knocking on doors and find out what residents are thinking.  Sepe is hoping to take on incumbent Republican Allan Fung in next year's election.  He has placed 25-thousand-dollars of his own money into a pair of campaign bank accounts to get things moving forward.

Poor Air Quality Expected Today

The air quality is expected to be poor in Rhode Island today.  State health officials say elevated levels of ground level ozone are expected today.  The condition can cause breathing problems for the elderly and people with underlying medical problems.  People who have respiratory issues are encouraged to limit outdoor activity and stay in air conditioning until the air quality improves.

Elderly Biker Dies In Crash

An elderly man is dead after riding his bicycle into the back of a stopped pickup truck in Charlestown.  The unidentified 80-year-old man was participating in a North East Master Cycling Association race when the crash occurred.  The man was riding on South County Trail when he hit the back of a pickup truck that had stopped on the shoulder.  The man was wearing a helmet, but officials say he suffered a severe head injury in the crash.


Cranston Western Heads To LLWS

The Cranston Western Little League team is heading to Williamsport.  Cranston Western defeated a team from New Hampshire yesterday to advance to the Little League World Series in Pennsylvania.  This is the second time Cranston Western has headed to Williamsport, the first time being in 1996.  In that series, Cranston Western finished second behind a team from Chinese Taipei. 

Special Forces Soldier Remembered

Friends and family are devastated by the loss of a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier from Bristol.  A funeral was held yesterday in Warren for First Sergeant Peter Andrew McKenna, who was killed in Afghanistan August seventh.  McKenna was remembered as a local hero who selflessly served his country.  He's the first Rhode Island resident to be killed in overseas fighting since April of 2012.

Pair Charged After Marijuana Raids

Two men are facing federal charges after law enforcement officials discovered 14-hundred marijuana plants growing in a Providence building.  The discovery was made at a converted mill building on Branch Avenue during a raid on Wednesday.  Officials also confiscated 14-thousand-dollars in cash and a handgun.  Richard Yang is facing marijuana charges and William Ricci weapons offenses.

Young Man Found Dead In Exeter

Police are investigating the death of a 20-year-old man in Exeter.  The unidentified man apparently fell from a cell phone tower off Yawgoo Valley Road yesterday afternoon.  Firefighters were called to the scene after the young man apparently fell, and the medical examiner was called in a short time later. 

State Receiving Brownfields Grants

Rhode Island is receiving more than one-million-dollars from the federal government to help clean up contaminated sites.  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Brownfields grant will also be used to train workers for environmental jobs.  The state's congressional delegation joined EPA officials to announce the grants yesterday in Central Falls.  A 200-thousand-dollar grant will be used to clean up the waterfront site, a former factory and auto shop that is polluted with arsenic and other dangerous items.

Rhode Island State Poet Leaving

Rhode Island's poet laureate is leaving for a new job in California.  Rick Benjamin has informed Governor Gina Raimondo that he is resigning his post as state poet laureate January 15th.  He's leaving in order to take a teaching and administrative position at the University of California-Santa Barbara.  The state Arts Council will now begin the process of finding Benjamin's replacement.

Groups Protest Proposed LNG Facility

National Grid's plans for a 100-million-dollar liquefied natural gas system in Providence is being met by some local resistance.  National Grid wants to install a system that would cool natural gas from a nearby pipeline and store it in liquid form at Fields Point.  The existing tank would be used, but the liquefied gas would not have to be trucked in from the Boston area any more.  Opponents say the system would pose a danger to surrounding communities because of emissions and the possibility of an accident.

Man Seriously Hurt In Fall

A 50-year-old man is seriously hurt after apparently suffering a 25 foot fall from a brick wall in Providence.  Police say the man was discovered yesterday by children near the bicycle path off Aleppo Street.  The man had been on the ground for an unknown period of time, and was conscious when rescuers arrived.  He was rushed to Rhode Island Hospital for treatment. 

Driver Killed In House Crash Identified

The man who died after crashing his car into a house in Pawtucket is being identified as Zezito Andrade.  The city resident was driving at a high rate of speed when his car left Sayles Avenue and hit the house on Tuesday.  The 22-year-old city resident had to be cut from the vehicle, and was later pronounced dead at the hospital. 

Lawmaker Addressing Storm Damage

West Warwick State Representative Patricia Serpa is looking to help towns impacted by last week's damaging storms.  Serpa plans to pre-file legislation to help homeowners and businesses who suffered damage.  Serpa represents Warwick and West Warwick, two towns hardest hit by the August 4th storm.  Her bill offers tax credits and interest free loans to those who suffered damage.

Citizens Bank Fined Over Deposit Slip Errors

Citizens Bank is being fined 20-million-dollars over mistakes on deposit slips that cost their customers millions.  The Providence based bank is also being ordered to repay customers eleven-million-dollars for keeping the money when customers made errors on the slips.  The bank says the problem stems from the use of outdated technology, which has since been upgraded.

Cranston Council May Launch Own Probe

Cranston's city council may be launching their own investigation into problems within the city police department.  Council President John Lanni Jr. says they are considering whether to invoke special investigative powers to dig deeper than a recent State Police report.  Issues of concern include whether police conducted unjustified surveillance, and how much Mayor Allan Fung knew about problems in the department.  Fung answered questions from the council for over three hours Tuesday, but some members are unsatisfied with his answers and want more details.


Presidential Candidate Chafee Polling Poorly In NH

Former Governor Lincoln Chafee apparently is not attracting much support in New Hampshire.  A Franklin Pierce University/Boston Herald poll shows support for Chafee is around one-percent among likely voters in the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.  The poll also finds Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has surged ahead of Hilary Clinton in New Hampshire by a margin of 44-to-37 percent. 

Ceremonial Signing Of Several Bills

Governor Gina Raimondo  was busy Wednesday  morning with the ceremonial signing of several bills at the State House.  "The Providence Journal" reports the legislation includes increased penalties for convicted sex traffickers, raising the minimum wage for tipped workers, and giving hospital patients the right to choose a designated caregiver.  The bills were all passed by the General Assembly earlier this year. 

Man Dies After Car Strikes Pawtucket Home

A man is dead after crashing a car into a home in Pawtucket.  Police say the incident happened yesterday afternoon at a home on Sayles Avenue.  The unidentified 22-year-old male victim lost control of his car, and it became airborne before slamming into the home.  It took an extended period of time to free the man from the crushed vehicle, and he was pronounced dead at the hospital a short time later.  Police are investigating reports that the car was speeding moments before the crash.

Services Set For Bristol Soldier

Funeral services are set for a special forces soldier from Bristol who was killed in Afghanistan.  Calling hours will be held Sunday afternoon for Master Sergeant Andrew McKenna at St. Mary's of the Bay in Warren.  Funeral services will be held later in the day at the same location.  McKenna will be laid to rest at a Bristol cemetery in a plot next to his brother Patrick, who died in a 2005 motorcycle crash.

School Building Authority Formed

Governor Gina Raimondo is forming a panel to handle school construction in the state.  The Rhode Island School Building Authority will work to repair and rebuild the state's crumbling educational facilities.  The program will also administer a 20-million dollar revolving loan fund designed to get new projects moving forward.  A full time employee is being added to the state Department of Education to help the authority with their work.

State Chief Medical Examiner Resigns

Christina Stanley is no longer Rhode Island's chief medical examiner.  Stanley submitted her resignation August 5th, several weeks after she was placed on administrative leave for undisclosed reasons.  Problems in the state medical examiner's office came to a head in June, when the office learned that its full accreditation is not being renewed.  Stanley was earning 236-thousand dollars a year as chief medical examiner.

Fung Faces Questions Before Council

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung says he may have made mistakes, but he has always acted with the best interests of city residents in mind.  Fung appeared before the City Council last night, fielding questions for hours about the scathing State Police report into city police.  The report indicates that the Cranston Police Department was being torn apart by power struggles, arbitrary disciplinary action and corruption of power. 

East Providence Plans Shore Cleanup

East Providence officials are working to clean up the city shoreline for swimmers.  Swimming has not been allowed for years at Sabin Point Park because of unhealthy water quality.  A project is expected to get underway next year to reduce storm runoff from the shoreline.  The city is beginning the process with a 100-thousand-dollar project to identify solutions to the pollution problem. 

Bacteria Levels Down In Narragansett Bay

A new report indicates that bacteria levels are down by 50-percent in the upper Narragansett Bay over the last seven years.  The Narragansett Bay Commission says the reduced levels of fecal coliform bacteria is partly because from a massive project to collect and treat stormwater.  The decreased bacteria exceeds the 40-percent reduction projected when the sewer overflow project was planned decades ago. 

Tax Revenue Rising From Medical Marijuana

Rhode Island's growing medical marijuana program is generating higher tax revenues for the state.  Marijuana taxes collected in the last fiscal year were close to 400-thousand-dollars, which is a 43-percent increase over the previous year.  Rhode Island imposes a four-percent surcharge on all medical marijuana sales.  There are currently three dispensaries where patients can obtain smokable marijuana, along with food and oils.

Group Seeks To Keep Sox In Pawtucket

A new group is seeking to derail plans to move the Pawtucket Red Sox to a new stadium in Providence.  The group "Organizing for Pawtucket" are urging people to vote out any state lawmaker who supports the plan to move the team to Providence.  The group has launched a petition drive seeking to show the PawSox that many state residents would rather see the team remain in Pawtucket.  The team is in negotiations with the city and state for a waterfront ballpark on former I-195 land in Providence.

Body Of Bristol Soldier Back In U.S.

The body of a Bristol soldier who was killed in Afghanistan is back on U.S. soil.  Army Special Forces First Sergeant Andrew McKenna was killed in a bombing last Friday, and his body arrived at an Air Force base in Delaware yesterday.  Governor Gina Raimondo has ordered all U.S. and state flags to be flown at half staff beginning today.  Funeral services for McKenna have not yet been announced.

Man Shot Outside Providence Courthouse

A man is injured after being shot outside a Providence courthouse.  Police say the 27-year-old male victim was shot as nightclubs were closing near the Garrahy Judicial Complex early yesterday.  The victim was taken to the hospital, and is expected to survive.  Police took six people in for questioning after they were seen trying to flee the shooting scene in a sport utility vehicle, but none are charged at this time.

Three Injured In Boating Crash

Three people are injured following a boat crash police believe was caused by a drunk operator.  Police say a 19 foot powerboat crashed into a moored sailboat in Bristol Harbor Saturday night.  Three people were injured in the crash, which caused significant damage to both vessels.  The operator of the powerboat has not been identified, although state officials say alcohol related charges will be filed against the person.

Fung To Face Council Over Ticketgate

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung today will face the City Council and answer questions about a State Police report criticizing his handling of city police.  The report says Fung and his administration meddled in police business in some cases and neglected problems in others.  Fung himself called for the report after police allegedly ordered a ticket writing blitz in two wards represented by councilmen who voted against a police contract the previous day.  Fung's appearance will take place at seven p.m. in the council chambers at City Hall.

Warwick Assessing Storm Damage

Warwick officials are hoping to obtain federal assistance to help clean up after last week's damaging storm.  Mayor Scott Avedisian [[ ava-DEE-see-un ]] says it's important that residents document their damage and provide information to the state Department of Emergency Management.  The agency will compile all of the reports and seek a federal disaster declaration.  The designation would make low interest loans and grants available to those who suffered eligible damage.

Bristol Soldier Dies In Afghanistan

A U.S. Army sergeant from Rhode Island is dead following an attack in Afghanistan.  U.S. Army Special Forces Sergeant Andrew McKenna died during a bombing in Kabul Friday night.  McKenna was presented with an award from Senator Jack Reed last month for traveling the farthest to attend Bristol's Independence Day Parade.  Reed says McKenna was an extraordinary young man and a dedicated, distinguished soldier.

State To Modernize Voting Equipment

Governor Raimondo says the time is now to modernize Rhode Island's voting equipment.  Raimondo used yesterday's 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act to sign a bill that seeks to bring voting technology into the 21st century.  Rhode Island's voting equipment is almost two-decades old.  The new law authorizes Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea to research and purchase new voting equipment.

Fire Work Schedule Heads To Court

Providence officials are defending the reorganization of the fire department and changes made to the work week.  Mayor Jorge Elorza changed the fire department staffing from four to three platoons last month, and the fire union sued to stop the move.  The change increases the base work week of a firefighter to between 42 and 56 hours a week.  City officials say the changes were made in accordance with state law.


Firefighter Charged In Child Sex Case

A Providence firefighter is facing charges after allegedly soliciting nude photos from an underage boy.  Prosecutors say Jason August used the Internet to make contact with the teen, and sent nude photos of himself to the boy.  August was arrested yesterday and charged with solicitation of a minor and sending indecent material to a child.  He is also charged with possession of marijuana that was found in his South Kingstown home during a search yesterday.


Speaker Says Stadium Deal Improving

Rhode Island House Speaker Nick Mattiello says the modified proposal for a minor league stadium in Providence is a much improved deal for taxpayers.  Mattiello says he expects that the final product will not cost taxpayers any money.  Also, he believes the stadium will ultimately have a significant positive financial impact on Providence and the state.  The Pawtucket Red Sox hope to move to a new ballpark that would be built on former I-195 land on the Providence waterfront.

Whitehouse Supports Bill Banning Credit History Disclosure

Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is co-sponsoring a bill introduced by Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren.  It prohibits employers from requiring job applicants to disclose their credit history.  Supporters say research finds no connection between a person's credit rating and the ability to be successful in the workplace.  The Equal Employment for All Act has been endorsed by more than 40 organizations.


RI Leads In Unemployment Rate Drop

Rhode  Island's employment situation is improving.  The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the state's almost two-percent drop in the unemployment rate in the last year is the biggest in the nation.  Overall, the New England unemployment rate for June of this year was almost five-percent, that's down from almost six-percent in June of 2014. 


No Service At Exchange Walk In Center

In person assistance is no longer among the services offered at the HealthSource RI walk in center in Providence.  Customers can make payments and submit documents at the facility on Royal Little Drive.  However, they will not be able to receive in person assistance that was available during the enrollment period.  The state has cut the health insurance exchange's budget by 20-million-dollars this year.

New National Guard Leader Sworn In

Rhode Island's National Guard has a new leader.  Colonel Christopher Callahan is being promoted to the rank of brigadier general, and was sworn in yesterday as adjutant general of the National Guard.  Governor Gina Raimondo says Callahan will use his 25 years of National Guard experience to strengthen the service in Rhode Island.

State To Begin Storm Assessment

Rhode Island continues to clean up after powerful storms early Tuesday knocked out power to over 120-thousand National Grid customers.  As of early this morning, around 12-thousand customers remained without electricity.  Raimondo yesterday toured storm damage in Cranston and Warwick, saying the powerful storms took the state by surprise.  Raimondo is forming a team to determine whether the state sustained enough damage to receive federal aid.


PawSox Delegation Visits Durham Ballpark

The Pawtucket Red Sox say the Providence stadium deal with legislative leaders and Governor Gina Raimondo is being dramatically renegotiated.  PawSox managing partner Larry Lucchino made the revelation yesterday as he led a delegation to Durham, North Carolina.  The group of more than 40 people traveled to Durham to view a successful stadium development in a downtown area.  Lucchino hopes to announce a new stadium deal in the coming weeks.

Fung Addresses Police Report

Cranston Mayor Allan Fung is apologizing for problems in his handling of the city police department.  Fung yesterday addressed the release of a State Police report into problems within the city police department.  Fung accepts responsibility for his actions, and says the report has given him new insight into his own management practices.  Fung says he will also comply with a request for a question and answer session before the City Council.

PawSox Delegation Heads To Durham NC

More than 40 people are traveling with Pawtucket Red Sox officials to Durham, North Carolina today.  The group will be visiting the minor league baseball stadium of the Durham Bulls, a fellow Triple-A team.  The trip is designed to highlight the positive impact a minor league ballpark can have on a community.  Governor Gina Raimondo was invited to join the delegation on the trip, but declined to attend.

Raimondo Forms Opioid Task Force

Governor Gina Raimondo is using an executive order to help deal with Rhode Island's growing number of drug overdose deaths.  The executive order forms a task force that will set goals and objectives to combat the addiction and overdose crisis.  Raimondo says heroin addiction and drug abuse impact the community and families, and a statewide strategy is needed to address the problem.  More than 200 people died from accidental drug overdoses last year in Rhode Island, with 94 such deaths already reported in the state this year.

Plans For Burrillville Power Plant Criticized

Plans for a 700-million-dollar power plant in Burrillville are drawing opposition from environmental activists.  Illinois based Invenergy is planning a 900 megawatt, natural gas fired power plant on land near the Algonquin natural gas pipeline.  Governor Gina Raimondo was on hand when the plant was announced yesterday, and says the clean energy facility will help bring down Rhode Island's electric rates.  Opponents say the plant will be fired by natural gas, increasing the state's dependence on fossil fuels.


State Cleans Up After Damaging Storm

Rhode Island is continuing to clean up from damaging storms that left more than 120-thousand customers without electricity.  The powerful storms ripped through the state at around six a.m. yesterday, with a wind gust of 67 miles per hour recorded at TF Green Airport.  State officials say the damage is similar to hurricanes they have seen strike the state in the past.  No deaths are being reported from the storm.  National Grid says the 121-thousand customers who lost power are more than the number reported after Storm Sandy.

Cranston Council Wants Fung Forum

Cranston's City Council wants Mayor Allan Fung to appear in a public forum and discuss the recent State Police report into the city police department.  The report criticizes Fung directly, saying he meddles in police business and fails to act on critical issues.  The report was requested by Fung himself after the department's Ticketgate scandal.  Ticketgate involved police writing a flurry of overnight parking tickets in two city wards over their councilors voting against a police contract.

Hernandez Fiance Seeks Name Change

The fiance of former NFL star turned killer Aaron Hernandez wants to take on his last name.  Shayanna Jenkins is looking to change her last name to Jenkins-Hernandez to match her daughter's last name.  She made the filing in Rhode Island, as she now lives in North Providence.  A judge says she needs more time to review the request before making a decision.

State Leaders Praise Obama Power Plan

President Obama's Clean Power Plan is earning a thumbs up from top Rhode Island elected officials. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse says cutting carbon emissions is important to Rhode Island because it faces multiple climate change threats.  Senator Jack Reed says the state is well positioned to meet the targets laid out by the Clean Power Plan. 


Still No Sign Of West Nile Virus


Rhode Island remains West Nile virus free for the moment.  The state is moving into the height of mosquito season, but all tests conducted for West Nile and Eastern Equine Encephalitis have been negative.  Despite the lack of a positive test, state health officials are urging people to take steps to avoid mosquito bites.  They say personal protection is the best defense against West Nile virus and Triple-E.

Judge Rejects Fire Restraining Order

A judge is refusing to issue a restraining order to stop Providence from imposing a new fire department work schedule.  The judge hearing the case says there is no emergency reason to stop the city from imposing the new work rules.  However, the judge also says the union will likely win the argument that the financial benefits of the changes should be reviewed by an arbitrator.  City officials say eliminating one of the four fire platoons will save five-million-dollars a year in overtime costs.

State Police Release Cranston Report

The State Police report into Cranston police blames political interference and poor leadership for problems at the department.  The report indicates that Cranston Mayor Allan Fung was aware of problems with police but took no action.  Fung requested the report be conducted by State Police and received a copy over a week ago.  However, he refused to release it until the state attorney general issued an opinion on whether it's a public record.

Thousands without power after thunderstorms

A line of powerful thunderstorms with strong winds has moved through portions of southern New England and utilities are reporting tens of thousands of power outages.

The National Weather Service posted a severe thunderstorm warning Tuesday morning for Rhode Island and for Barnstable, Plymouth and Bristol Counties in southeastern Massachusetts.

The weather service warned of severe lightning and the potential of destructive wind gusts in excess of 70 mph.

At 7:30 a.m., National Grid was reporting nearly 68,000 customers without power in Rhode Island and more than 10,000 in Bristol and Plymouth Counties in Massachusetts.

The storms were expected to move offshore later Tuesday morning.

Narragansett Receiving Port Safety Grant

Narragansett is receiving close to 400-thousand dollars in federal grants for improving maritime security.  The money comes from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's program designed to keep the nation's ports safer.  Much of the grant will be used to purchase a fire and rescue boat with specialized equipment that allows it to respond to chemical, biological and nuclear incidents.  The town is also receiving a 24-thousand-dollar boating training grant.

Three Arrested For Exploitation

Three suspects are being held on bail in connection with an elder exploitation case in East Providence.  The suspects are identified as Sally Davis, Anthony Williams ans David Johnson of Providence.  The three are accused of charging an elderly East Providence resident over 30-thousand dollars for minor home repairs.  All three were arraigned yesterday and ordered held on surety bail.

Senator Wants Police Report Released

Cranston State Senator Frank Lombardi is calling for the immediate release of a State Police assessment of city police.  Cranston Mayor Allen Fung has withheld the release of the report until the attorney general can decide what information can be released.  Fung ordered the review after a scandal where city councilors who voted against a new police contract saw their districts blanketed with parking tickets.


Consultant Takes Over Warwick Schools

Consultant William Holland is now at the helm of the struggling Warwick public school district.  Holland is earning 600-dollars a day under the temporary superintendent deal, which is expected to last until at least January.  He takes over for Richard D'Agostino, who retired amid controversy over a teacher's behavior.  A key item on Holland's early agenda is to reach a collective bargaining agreement with the teachers union.

Firefighters Begin Longer Work Week

Providence firefighters are officially working a longer work week.  Mayor Jorge Elorza's restructuring of the fire department began yesterday, with the city reporting no problems.  The new system was created to reduce firefighter overtime, and comes outside of a negotiated agreement with the firefighters union.  Firefighters say the changes increase their work week by 33-percent.


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