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1540 WADK.com Updates Archives for 2016-04

Proposal To Create A "DStrong" License Plate

There's a bill in the General Assembly to create a special license plate.  The "Dstrong" plate would benefit the Dorian Murray Foundation.  It was established in memory of the eight-year-old boy Westerly boy who succumbed to cancer last month.  Before Dorian died, the "Dstrong" movement made news nationally and around the world.

RI Drivers Advised To Use New Emergency Number

State officials are advising Rhode Island drivers to call 9-1-1 in an emergency rather than star-77.  That number was established in 1988 but it's difficult to determine the callers precise location.  Due to technological advances, the  9-1-1 system gives authorities the location of the vehicle.  State police say star-77 will remain operational for one-year during the transition to 9-1-1.  State officials are advising Rhode Island drivers to call 9-1-1 in an emergency rather than star-77.  That number was established in 1988 but it's difficult to determine the callers precise location.  Due to technological advances, the  9-1-1 system gives authorities the location of the vehicle.  State police say star-77 will remain operational for one-year during the transition to 9-1-1.

Two Charged For Altercation At Trump Rally

Two men are facing charges for an altercation after Donald Trump's rally in Warwick earlier this week.  State Police say Josh Sandin of Warwick and Alexander Carrion of Providence are charged with simple assault and disorderly conduct.  They're free on personal recognizance with a court appearance scheduled next month. 

Poll: Reed And Whitehouse Have Solid Approval

A new poll shows Rhode Island's U.S. Senators have solid job approval ratings.  The website Morning Consult gives Senator Jack Reed a 59-percent approval rating.  Senator Sheldon Whitehouse has a 52-percent approval rating.  The poll of 277 registered voters has a margin of error of six-percent.

Official Considering Removing PARCC As Graduation Requirement

Education officials in Rhode Island are considering making it no longer mandatory for graduating students to pass one of the state's standardized tests.  If approved, teenagers would no longer be required to pass the PARCC.  An education spokesperson says schools should take more responsibility for students' performance instead.  The council is expected to consider the proposal over the next few months.  A public hearing is slated for the fall.

Police Investigating Fight At Donald Trump Rally

Police in Rhode Island are trying to get to the bottom of a violent confrontation outside of a Donald Trump rally in Warwick.  A video was posted on YouTube earlier this week showing two men fighting.  Police say one man approached another man, and spit on him.  The second man then punched the first man in the face.  So far no arrests have been made.

Man Sentenced For Killing Seekonk Town Official In Car Crash

A man who is accused of killing a Seekonk town official during a hit-and-run car accident is spending the next three years in prison.  Jacob Lacourse was sentenced yesterday after changing his plea to guilty last month.  Lacourse is accused of striking and killing Seekonk's Assistant Town Clerk, Karen McHugh, last year.  Lacourse allegedly fled the scene but was arrested months later.

Child's Death Under Investigation In Burrillville

The unexpected death of a child in Burrillville is being investigated.  Police say a 15-month-old boy was found unresponsive Tuesday by his parents.  WPRI-TV reports investigators are awaiting the results of an autopsy.  

Common Cause RI Calls For Voting Improvements

Common Cause Rhode Island says too many voters showed up at the wrong polling place yesterday or waited a long time to cast their ballot.  The watchdog group is calling for improvements to the voting process such as a system of early voting that includes weekends.  Common Cause executive director John Marion says it became apparent yesterday that the process needs to be speeded up.

Primary Voter Turnout In RI

The Secretary of State's office says about 179-thousand people voted in Tuesday's primary.  That's about 25-percent of Rhode Island's registered voters.  Voter turnout was up significantly for Republicans and down for Democrats.  

Woonsocket Teacher Charged With Domestic Assault

A Woonsocket Middle School teacher is facing charges coming from an incident of domestic violence.  Corey Lamoureux was arrested at the school this morning.  The victim in the case identifies herself as his girlfriend.  She says he showed up drunk and forced his way into her apartment on Sunday.  Charges against Lamoureux include domestic assault, breaking and entering and disorderly conduct.

Middletown considers raising daily beach parking fees

It could soon cost more to park at Middletown's town beaches.

The Newport Daily News reports that the town's proposed budget for the next fiscal year suggests raising the daily parking fees at Sachuest and Third beaches by $5, bringing the rate for patrons without stickers to $15 on weekdays and $25 on weekends and holidays.

The proposal would have no impact on the cost of seasonal parking stickers.

The money generated by the increase would be placed into a dedicated account to pay for improvements and equipment at the beaches. Based on last year's figures, when the town brought in more than $1 million in beach parking fees, the proposed rate hikes would generate about $300,000 more per summer if approved by the Town Council.

Providence Place to convert vacant space into more parking

The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation has voted to approve a $20 million renovation project at the Providence Place mall that will bring additional parking and streetscape changes.

The mall's owner, General Growth Properties, decided to convert the first two floors of the former J.C. Penney store into 150 parking spaces after failing to find a tenant for the space. The store closed last summer, and officials say its third floor will remain available for smaller retail use.

The Commerce Corporation owns Providence Place's land and leases it to General Growth Properties under a long-term arrangement. Commerce President Darin Early says the renovations are being made to combat "stress in the mid-sized retail box marketplace" by hopefully attracting more visitors.

Additional upgrades include repairs and enhancements along Hayes and Francis streets.

Voter turnout about 25% in RI Primary

No records were broken in terms of turn out in Tuesday’s Rhode Island Primary.

Just under 25% of eligible voters cast ballots, which was much better than the presidential primary four years ago, in 2012, when less than 4% went to the polls.

But this year's 25% is still well under 32%, which was the turnout in the 2008 presidential primary. Many thought turnout would at least match that number considering the race is still up in the air.

William West, Acting Chair of the Board of Elections, says the long lines at polling locations across the state were a bit deceiving because the total number of polling locations were cut.

Sanders wins RI Democratic primary

Bernie Sanders has won the Democratic presidential primary in Rhode Island.

The victory was an upset over rival Hillary Clinton who historically has had strong support in the state.

Clinton won endorsements from the state's Democratic establishment and handily beat Barack Obama in the last contested Democratic primary in 2008, but Sanders drew thousands of supporters when he spoke at a Providence park Sunday, a day after Clinton held a more intimate event in Central Falls.

State-wide, election officials reported heavy turnout in several liberal strongholds.     

Democrat turnout was so high on Block Island that a ferry had to ship extra Democratic ballots to the remote community Tuesday evening.

Up for grabs were 24 of the state's 33 Democratic delegates. The other nine are super-delegates, all of whom have said they are supporting Clinton.

Voters urged to be prepared for RI primary

A nonpartisan good government group is encouraging voters to be prepared before heading to the polls for Rhode Island's presidential primary.

John Marion of Common Cause says many polling places have been consolidated for Tuesday's vote, so voters should make sure they know the location of their polling place, which may be different from where they voted in the past.

He reminds people that they must bring proper identification. Registered voters may cast a provisional ballot if they forget their ID. That ballot will be counted if their registration is verified.

Marion says high turnout is expected, and urges voters to avoid the early-morning and after-work rush if they can.

Missing South Kingstown woman's cause of death is released

The Rhode Island Medical Examiner's office has released the cause of death for the South Kingstown woman whose body was found late last week after she had been missing since April 15.

State Department of Health spokesman Joseph Wendelken says  that the cause of death for 21-year-old Alicia Storti was a gunshot wound to the head.

Storti's body was found Thursday in a wooded area not far from her home. She was reportedly buried on Monday.

Wendelken says his office would not release the manner of her death, although he did say that foul play was not involved.

President Clinton makes two campaign stops in RI

President Bill Clinton made his second visit to Rhode Island this month to drum up more support for front-runner Hillary Clinton one day before the state’s primary election.

Both stops in the state on Monday were un-announced.

Clinton’s first stop was at the Woonsocket Senior Center where he gave a short speech to the crowd of around 100.

The President told the group that it all boils down to the question of who has the best ideas and who can actually implement them.

Clinton's second stop in the state was at the South Street Landing construction site in Providence.

Single-family home sales in RI soar 23 percent

The number of single-family homes sold in Rhode Island in March shot up by 23 percent when compared to the same month a year ago.

The Rhode Island Association of Realtors reported Monday that median prices rose by nearly 12 percent year over year to $230,000, while 750 transactions were completed, making it the busiest March in more than a decade.

Association President Arthur Yatsko says buyers are taking advantage of low mortgage rates and new lending programs, and even former homeowners hurt by the recession are qualifying.

The condominium market showed strong gains, with sales rising almost 10 percent in March, and the median sales price increasing nearly 17 percent to $201,500.

Sales of multi-family homes rose less than 2 percent, but median prices were up 10 percent.

Polls Give Trump The GOP Lead In RI

A Brown University poll gives Republican Donald Trump a lead 38-to-25 percent over John Kasich in Rhode Island with Ted Cruz at 14-percent.  However, a Public Policy Polling survey Monday gives Trump a much wider lead over Kasich at 61-to-23 percent, with 13-percent for Cruz.  

Conflicting Polls On Democratic Presidential Race In RI

There are conflicting polls about the Democratic presidential race in Rhode Island.  A Brown University poll released Sunday gives Hillary Clinton a 43-to-34 percent lead over Bernie Sanders.  But a survey released yesterday from Public Policy Polling shows Sanders with a 49-to-45 percent lead.

Rhode Islanders Vote Today

Rhode Island is one of five states holding primaries today.  It's the only state of the five that allows independents to select either a Democratic or Republican ballot.  At stake in the Ocean State, 19 Republican delegates and 33 Democratic delegates who’ll head to the party conventions this summer.   

Mass. weighs another casino for crowded southeast

Massachusetts regulators are set to decide whether to award the state's third and final gambling license.

The state Gaming Commission is beginning a multi-day review of a proposed resort casino for the Brockton Fairgrounds on Tuesday that will include scrutiny of the development's site plan, finances and other factors. The five-member panel is expected to vote as soon as Thursday.

But the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe broke ground last month on a projected $1 billion project in nearby Taunton, raising questions about whether Massachusetts' southeast corner is oversaturated with gambling.

The region is already home to Plainville's Plainridge Park slots parlor and Twin River Casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island.

The $677 million Brockton project by Rush Street Gaming calls for a full scale casino, 250-room hotel and restaurant, bar and entertainment options.

RI considers compulsory kindergarten attendance

Rhode Island could impose compulsory attendance for all kindergarteners under a bill scheduled for an upcoming state Senate vote.

The legislation would require any child enrolled in public kindergarten to attend school for all the days and hours it's in session.

Sen. Roger Picard introduced the bill. The Woonsocket Democrat is a school counselor and former truant officer.

The Senate Education Committee has recommended the bill's passage. It's scheduled for a Tuesday vote in the Senate.

Rhode Island already has compulsory school attendance for children ages 6 through 18.

Parents can be fined up to $50 for each day or part of the day the child isn't in school. Fines of up to six months in prison can be imposed if a child misses more than 30 days of school.

RI congressional delegation to speak at jobs forum

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 2016 Congressional Breakfast on Monday morning.

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

The chamber says the Democratic congressmen will answer questions about critical issues facing the business community.

Laurie White, the chamber president, and other business leaders will also speak.

The chamber says it expects about 500 business and civic leaders to attend the event at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick.

The chamber advocates for the state's business community.

Donald Trump Holding Event In Warwick This Afternoon

Donald Trump is in Rhode Island today.  The Republican presidential candidate is holding an event at Crowne Plaza in Warwick.  It starts at 1 p.m. but doors will open at 10 a.m.  People can register for up to two tickets on Trump's website.


Middletown Prep School Cancels 'Healing' Event Amid Allegations

A Middletown elite prep school under fire for allegations of sexual abuse is canceling a "healing" event after many victims spoke against it.  St. George's School announced last week that the event would have taken place in May.  However, school leaders opted to cancel the event after victims said it was inappropriate because of the ongoing investigation.  A half dozen former and current faculty members are accused of sexual assault.

Candidates Stump In Rhode Island

Candidates for the White House are working to earn votes in Rhode Island.  Republican presidential candidate John Kasich held a town hall event Saturday morning at Bryant University in Smithfield, while Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton held a rally at Central Falls High school over the weekend. The former secretary of state discussed her plans to raise income for families and to break down the barriers that hold people back.  Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders held a rally in Providence yesterday.  Rhode Island voters head to the polls for the primary tomorrow.

Missing Wakefield Woman Found Dead Near Home

More information is coming to light about a missing Wakefield woman.  Alicia Storti's body was found less than a week after her family reported her missing.  Police released a statement last Friday saying Storti was found dead in a wooded area near her home.  Her death doesn't appear to be suspicious, but the official cause hasn't been released.  Alicia and her two siblings graduated from the Prout School.  A counseling staff will be on hand today for any students who need support.


State Treasurer Seeks Diversity On Corporate Boards

State Treasurer Seth Magaziner wants more diversity on corporate boards of companies the state invests in.  Magaziner says Rhode Island will vote "no" this spring at investor meetings of publicly traded companies if less than 30 percent of corporate board nominees are women and racial minorities.  The treasurer says research shows diverse leadership helps companies improve financial performance.

Providence Lawmaker Hoping To Lower Parking Meter Charge

At least one Providence councilman is pushing to lower the minimum credit card charge on parking meters.  Sam Zurier is proposing to reduce the charge to one-dollar, which is one-dollar-and-50-cents less compared to now.  He says he worries that the fee is discouraging people from visiting shops in the area.  People who aren't paying with a credit card can continue paying 25-cents for 12 minutes with change.

Check Polling Place Before Tuesday's Presidential Primary

Rhode Islanders are urged to plan accordingly before heading out to the polling places next Tuesday.  The state's Board of Elections is opening 144 out of its 419 polling places because turnout is much lower than the November election.  However, since the election has been more controversial than usual this year, officials are expecting a surge in turnout for the presidential primary.  Visit sos.ri.gov to find a polling location.


Man Pulled Over In Warwick With 300 Pounds Of Weed

A Pennsylvania man is accused of bringing hundreds-of-pounds of pot through Warwick.  A police officer stopped Jian Zhi Li early yesterday morning on Route 95.  During the traffic stop the officer detected marijuana.  Afterwards, a search of the van turned up more than 300 pounds of weed.  The suspect is being held without bail and is slated for court next month.

Police Still Searching For Missing Wakefield Woman

Police are trying to get court approval to search a missing Wakefield woman's cellphone records.  Alicia Storti disappeared from her home last week.  A police spokesperson says they're examining Storti's computer and interviewing friends to see what she was up to before going missing.  Foul play isn't suspected, and police can't track her location through her cell phone because it's off.  An investigation is ongoing.

North Providence Mayor Faces Challenge

North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi is facing a challenge this year.  Town Councilwoman Kristen Catanzaro announced last night she's running for mayor.  She was first elected to the council in 2010 and has served two terms as council president. 

RI Ranked For Financial Savvy

Rhode Island is ranked as the 21st most financially savvy state in the nation.  The WalletHub.com survey is based on 20 factors ranging from total debt as a percentage of median income to average credit score.  Minnesota is ranked as the most financially savvy state.

Police Continue Search For Missing Wakefield Woman

More information is coming to light about a missing Wakefield woman.  Police told the "Providence Journal" that Alicia Storti "might have been not in a good state of mind," when she left home last week.  Search crews have been scouring the area around the family home on Bittersweet Farm Way in Narragansett since the woman's disappearance.  Investigators are still following-up on multiple leads.

Man Arrested For Threatening Son With Rifle

A Providence man is facing charges for threatening his son with a rifle.  Police were called to a home in the city's Elmwood neighborhood on Monday night.  The son told officers that the pair had gotten into a fight over money and he was afraid.  The father, Yang Khang, was arrested because of a strong language barrier and police couldn't get his side of the story.  After Khang was arrested, the son refused to give more information and became uncooperative.  An investigation is ongoing.

First Zika Case Reported In Rhode Island

The first case of the Zika virus is being reported in Rhode Island.  Health officials confirmed yesterday that a man in his 60s recently traveled to Haiti and was diagnosed with Zika.  The illness is spread through bites from infected mosquitoes.  It can also be spread sexually.  Symptoms include: fever, rash, headache, joint and muscle pains.  Zika can cause birth defects in newborns.

Officials look to revive Providence-Newport ferry service

Rhode Island Department of Transportation officials are interested in bringing back a daily ferry service that would link Providence to Newport.

Transportation officials are searching for a company to run the proposed seven-day-a-week ferries that would run from a site on India Point to Newport's Perotti Park beginning July 1.

The proposed ferry would be the first to run from Providence to Newport since 2009, when the Rhode Island Public Transit Agency canceled its seasonal route due to the lack of federal funding.

DOT spokesman Charles St. Martin says the new ferry service would cater to both casual summer visitors and commuters.

The DOT's request for proposals stipulates that the ferry would have to run between 10 a.m. and midnight at minimum.

Presidential candidate plans RI event, others consider it

Republican  is planning an event in Rhode Island ahead of the state's presidential primary, and other candidates are considering doing the same.

The Ohio governor is the first presidential candidate this primary season to book a Rhode Island event. Kasich is scheduled to speak at Bryant University in Smithfield on Saturday, ahead of the April 26 primary.

The Rhode Island Republican Party will send 19 delegates to the convention, and the Rhode Island Democratic Party will send 33 delegates to the convention.

The campaigns for  and said on Monday it's possible that their candidates will visit, too.

Volunteers join search for missing South Kingstown woman

Officials say at least two volunteer search parties have joined police in investigating the disappearance of a 21-year-old woman who was last seen in South Kingstown late last week.

Police say Alicia Storti was last seen just after midnight Friday in the southern Rhode Island town.

Capt. Joel Ewing-Chow reported Monday that both South Kingstown and Narragansett officers have been investigating places that Storti was known to frequent, but no "credible information or evidence" has led police to search any specific locations.

Groups of volunteers assembled Monday in South Kingstown and Exeter to comb the area for clues regarding Storti's whereabouts.

Police say Storti is 5 feet, 2 inches, and weighs about 105 pounds. She has fair skin, shoulder-length brown hair and brown eyes.

RI gas prices jump 11 cents, to $2.15 a gallon

Gas prices in Rhode Island have jumped again, up 11 cents per gallon in a week.

AAA Northeast said Monday its weekly survey found the average price of a gallon of regular had climbed to $2.15.

The Rhode Island price is now above the national average of $2.11.

The price of gas in Rhode Island last year at this time was $2.47 per gallon, or 32 cents higher.

AAA says high fuel demand, declining refinery production and rising oil costs have pushed prices higher.

Sting targeting Providence drug dealers nets 15 arrests

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza's Office has announced that 15 people were arrested this month in a sting operation targeting drug dealers working in the city's Kennedy Plaza.

Officials say among those taken in as a result of the bust include 52-year-old Steven Mondon, who died after collapsing in police custody on April 4. Police say Mondon was the 15th suspect arrested in the sting.

The investigation found that many of those arrested were involved in the sale of Klonopin, Xanax, amphetamines and cocaine in and around the area of the plaza.

Police say officers conducted a number of "controlled purchases" from dealers operating in the downtown park with the help of confidential informants.

Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré says police are looking for other culprits and more arrests are expected.

Cranston cop at center of ticketing scandal off the payroll

The Cranston police officer at the center of the city's ticketing scandal has left the force after more than two years' paid leave.

Capt. Stephen Antonucci's last day on the payroll was Friday under a disputed retirement deal arranged by Mayor Allan Fung.

According to a state police review, in November 2013 Antonucci ordered a ticketing blitz in which citations were issued in the wards of two city councilors who voted against a police union contract. He was president of the union at the time. Antonucci said the timing was coincidental and done at the request of the mayor and the council, who wanted the city's overnight parking ban enforced.

Democratic members of the council denounced the Republican mayor for making the Antonucci deal.

Lawmaker seeks input on education needs of dyslexic children

  • A Rhode Island lawmaker is asking for input on how well the state teaches children with dyslexia.
  • Rep. Eileen Naughton, a Warwick Democrat, leads a special legislative commission charged with making recommendations about the educational needs of children with dyslexia and reading disabilities.
  • She's asking Rhode Island residents affected by dyslexia to speak at a public hearing scheduled for 10 a.m. Wednesday at the Warwick Public Library.
  • The legislative commission includes members of the Rhode Island Department of Education, elected officials and parents.
  • The commission is also accepting written testimony.


RI launches mobile voter tool ahead of primary

Rhode Island has introduced a new mobile website tool to help smartphone-carrying voters on Election Day.

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea says the tool will allow voters to check their registration status and find a polling location using a mobile device.

They can also view a sample ballot, check election hours and get a map to their polling place.

The tool has been launched in time for the state's presidential primary on April 26.

Both the mobile and desktop versions of the tool can be accessed at sos.ri.gov/vic.

Fire breaks out underneath Rt. 10 overpass in Providence

A fire that broke out over the weekend below the state Route 10 overpass is under investigation by the Providence Fire Department.

Fire officials say that trash on Cranston Street caught fire around 7:30 p.m. Sunday and spread to tents nearby. The blaze was under control after about 10 minutes and no injuries were reported.

Investigators are looking into the possibility that cooking at a homeless camp was the source of the fire.

Flames also made contact with the overpass itself. Department of Transportation officials were called to the scene to assess any potential damage.

Fire officials confirmed that there was no structural damage to the overpass, just minor soot staining.

The cause of the fire has not yet been determined.

DEM to host fly-fishing clinics for the public

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management will host a series of fly-fishing clinics throughout the spring and early summer.

The agency says the series begins Saturday in Carolina with a fly-fishing workshop for families.

Workshops will range from introductory classes for children to advanced instruction for experienced anglers. They'll be held April 23, in Burrillville, June 4, in Newport, June 25, in Burrillville, and July 9, in Carolina. Some of the events are free and include lunch.

The agency says the workshops are led by experienced fly-fishing instructors as part of DEM's Aquatic Resource Education program, a federally funded outreach program designed to provide fishing training to the public.

Registration is now open and is required for all clinics.

Researchers awarded funds to find new ways to care for vets

Researchers at the Providence VA Medical Center have been awarded funding to look for new ways to provide long-term care for veterans.

The medical center says the VA Center of Innovation in Long-Term Services and Supports for Vulnerable Veterans will receive $550,000 per year for five years to continue its research.

Dr. James Rudolph, the research center's director, says there's a critical need for innovative ways to provide long-term care that meets veterans' needs and promotes their independence.

He says researchers are focused on keeping veterans in their homes as long as possible because it's cost-effective and what the veterans prefer.

The goal of the research is to improve the access, quality and value of long-term care programs.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs awarded the funding.

$300,000 innovation grant goes to multicultural tourism plan

A Providence man with a plan to expand multicultural tourism in Rhode Island is the recipient of a $300,000 innovation fellowship awarded by the Rhode Island Foundation.

Raymond Two Hawks Watson is the 2016 winner of the three-year grant, funded by philanthropists Letitia and John Carter.

Watson is the executive director of the Mount Hope Neighborhood Association.

He also created the Providence Cultural Equity Initiative, which recently held the International Indigenous Peoples Cultural Conference at Roger Williams Park.

Watson says Rhode Island's cultural heritage, history and diversity are untapped resources for drawing more tourists to the state. Along with Providence's artistic reputation, he says they can help drive economic development.

This is the fifth year of the fellowship program.

Sale of beer at Roger Williams Park Zoo is being considered

The company that provides food and beverage services for Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence has asked the city's Board of Licenses to permit them to sell beer at the zoo.

The proposal from Centerplate states that the company would like to set up a tent next to the zoo's Wilderness Cafe and begin charging $6 for 16-ounce cans of Miller Lite and Corona as well as $7 for draft beer from the Union Station Brewery year-round.

Under the proposal, the tent would also sell bottled water in addition to hot dogs, pretzels and other snack options.

Centerplate will limit customers to purchasing one beer each and has projected $19,000 in annual beer sales.

A spokesman for Mayor Jorge Elorza says the city is considering the request.

Clean energy jobs on the rise in RI

A state report released this week shows that clean energy jobs in Rhode Island have increased 40 percent since last year.

The report released Wednesday by the Office of Energy Resources and the Executive Office of Commerce found that 84 percent of Rhode Island's nearly 14,000 clean energy jobs are in energy efficiency.

Gov. Gina Raimondo said the state has made "extraordinary strides in promoting renewable energy."

Officials say the growth can be attributed to the state's programs providing incentives for conserving energy and the steady growth of solar power in Rhode Island.

Energy Commissioner Marion Gold says the state's commitment to clean energy not only produces jobs, but also helps to "shrink our carbon footprint and lead private industry into new, exciting territory."

RI won't replace derided 'Cooler & Warmer' slogan

Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor says the state's moving forward with a multimillion-dollar tourism campaign to attract summertime vacationers but has no plans to replace its poorly received "Cooler & Warmer" marketing slogan.

He told reporters today he took responsibility for last month's botched campaign rollout that included a video with a scene from Iceland and an error-filled website. The mistakes led the state's chief marketing officer Betsy Wall to resign on April 1st.

Pryor also testified today before a House Finance Committee seeking another $4.5 million for the tourism campaign next year.

He says about half of this year's budget is still to be spent but much of that will be spent just before the summer season to attract what he called "near-cationers" from other Northeast states.

CCRI prepares to host Bill Clinton

The sign at the bottom of the hill at CCRI’s Warwick location reads: Welcome President Clinton. He'll be on the schools Knights Campus Thursday to campaign for his wife, Hillary Clinton. The visit comes 2 weeks ahead of the state's primary, but was announced last minute.

The President will speak to voters in the Great Hall.

Republican front runner Donald Drumpf was also considering coming to the ocean state this week, but has since decided against the Friday visit it citing security concerns. Still, CCRI officials say if he does come in the future they have a space for him to speak.

The event is free and open to the public. Great hall holds 1,500 people. Seating is first come first serve. Doors open at 11:30 am and the speaking portion is set to start at 12:30.

NOAA research vessel to make Newport permanent home

A $54 million National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association fisheries research vessel will make its permanent home in Newport.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed made the announcement Tuesday about the state-of-the-art research ship the Henry B. Bigelow.

The 209-foot ship is used to study New England's Northeast Marine Fisheries. It uses high-tech sonar and can drop nets to trawl as deep as 6,000 feet. It is also used to observe weather, survey mammal and bird populations, among other tasks.

Reed says homeporting the ship in Newport will help NOAA to coordinate with agencies like the U.S. Navy and U.S. Coast Guard.

NOAA's deep sea exploration ship Okeanos Explorer is currently homeported across the bay at Quonset Point.

Officials have recommended moving it so both vessels would be homeported at Naval Station Newport.

Whole Foods recalls mislabeled salad sold at 14 stores

Salads made at a Whole Foods Market facility in Massachusetts and distributed to more than a dozen stores around the Northeast have been recalled because they were mislabeled and contain an egg allergen.

The company says 10-ounce packages of asparagus, pea and ricotta salad actually contained miniature asparagus, sun-dried tomato and Swiss frittatas.

People with egg allergies run the risk of serious or life-threatening reaction if they eat the salad. No illnesses have been reported. The salads were sold on April 10.

They were sold in Darien and West Hartford, Connecticut; Millburn, Middletown, Montclair, and Ridgewood, New Jersey; the Upper West Side in New York City; University Heights in Providence, Rhode Island; and Wellesley, Dedham, Hingham, Wayland and the Prospect Street and Fresh Pond stores in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Consumers who purchased the salads can return them for a refund.

Providence fire caused by discarded cigarette

Providence fire officials say a blaze that injured eight firefighters and left more than 20 people displaced was accidental.

The fire department said Tuesday that the March 31 fire that burned two houses, three cars and a boat in the city's Silver Lake neighborhood was caused by a cigarette that was discarded in some leaves.

Investigators determined that the cigarette caused the leaves to catch fire, which then spread to a wooden fence between the two Laurel Hill Avenue homes. Winds gusting to more than 50 miles per hour helped fan the flames.

One of the homes was destroyed. The other sustained damages estimated at $250,000.

17 arrested in RI in Internet gambling ring bust

Seventeen people have been arrested in what Rhode Island State Police say is an Internet-based gambling ring.

Colonel Steven O'Donnell says on Tuesday that the arrests are the result of an 8-month-long investigation by state, federal and local officials.

The men were arrested Tuesday morning in Cranston, Warwick, Scituate, North Providence, Narragansett and South Kingstown.

They're facing charges including bookmaking, organized criminal gambling, conspiracy and drug charges.

All were set to be arraigned in district court in Warwick Tuesday afternoon.

Exclusive boarding schools rocked by sex scandals

A series of sexual abuse scandals is forcing a reckoning at some of New England's most exclusive boarding schools and sending a shudder through similar institutions around the country.

At St. George's School in Middletown, scores of alumni have come forward to complain of being sexually violated by teachers or schoolmates.

At St. Paul's in New Hampshire, a rape trial revealed a tradition in which senior boys competed to have sex with younger girls.

And at New Hampshire's Phillips Exeter Academy, several graduates have accused faculty members of sexual abuse and other wrongdoing.

Those schools and ones that have yet to be touched by scandal are now rushing to adopt safeguards and reassure parents. They are also asking former students and others to come forward if they know of any misconduct.

Verizon workers go on strike amid contract dispute

Tens of thousands of Verizon landline and cable workers on the East Coast have walked off the job after working without a contract since August.

The strike Wednesday morning involves about 39,000 members of the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers in nine eastern states and Washington, D.C.

The unions say they're striking because Verizon wants to freeze pensions, make layoffs easier and rely more on contract workers.        

The telecom giant has said there are health care issues that need to be addressed for both retirees and workers as medical costs have grown.

Verizon Communications Inc. says it has trained thousands of non-union employees to fill in during the strike.

The last Verizon strike was in 2011 and lasted for two weeks.

RI gas prices hold steady

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

The price had increased over the last five weeks. AAA Northeast found in its weekly survey that self-serve, regular gasoline is selling for an average of $2.04 per gallon, the same as last week.

That price is 32 cents lower than the same time a year ago, when a gallon sold for $2.36. Rhode Island's price is the same as the national average.

AAA found self-serve, regular gas selling for as low as $1.95 per gallon and as high as $2.10 in Rhode Island.

Bombing survivor will speak to Providence College graduates

A survivor of the Boston Marathon bombings has been invited to deliver the commencement address at Providence College.

Newport resident Heather Abbott will also receive an honorary degree at the May 15 ceremony.

She created The Heather Abbott Foundation last year to help amputees obtain prostheses.

Abbott's lower leg was amputated in 2013 after she was struck by bomb shrapnel at the finish line and thrown through a doorway by the explosion.

She received her MBA from Providence College in 2003.

Others getting honorary degrees include George Wein (ween), who founded Newport's jazz and folk festivals; actor and singer Rose Weaver; retired Phoenix Life Insurance CEO Robert Fiondella; and physician Timothy Flanigan, a Brown University professor of medicine who treated Ebola patients in Liberia.

Fire damages 2-family home in Woonsocket

Investigators are searching for the cause of a fire that ripped through a two-family home in Woonsocket.

Fire Chief Brian Gould tells The Providence Journal that the fire broke out around 7 p.m. on Monday. He says firefighters only saw a small amount of smoke when they arrived but found fire on the first floor extending into the second floor when they entered the building.

It took firefighters about 45 minutes to control the fire.

No injuries were reported during the blaze.

The fire is under investigation.

RI high court rules privacy outweighs access in Chafee case

The Rhode Island Supreme Court says the right to privacy outweighs the public's right to know details of a state police investigation into the son of former Gov. Lincoln Chafee, who pleaded no contest to giving alcohol to underage people at a party on the governor's property in 2012.

The Providence Journal sued to get the records from state police.

In Monday's ruling, the court said that the newspaper had not pointed to any evidence that state police or others acted improperly during the investigation. It said that when the release of sensitive personal information is at stake, the person seeking the information must provide some evidence of government negligence or impropriety.

The ACLU said it was very disappointed and called for a change in the open records law.

Verizon landline phone, cable workers threaten strike

Unions representing more than 36,000 Verizon landline phone and cable workers are threatening a strike starting Wednesday morning if the company doesn't agree to a new contract.

The unions, the Communications Workers of America and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, say Verizon wants to freeze pensions, make layoffs easier and rely more on contract workers. Verizon says there are health care issues that need to be addressed for both retirees and workers as medical costs have grown.

The latest contract had expired last August. Both sides say negotiations have been unsuccessful.

Verizon Communications Inc. says it has trained thousands of non-union employees to fill in if the strike takes place in nine Eastern states and Washington, D.C.

The last Verizon strike was in 2011 and lasted for two weeks.

Providence's budget woes will worsen without action

Providence's budget woes are continuing to widen.

Mayor Jorge Elorza released key findings Monday from a forthcoming study suggesting the capital city's annual deficits will only continue to grow in the coming decade. It projects a $176-million shortfall by 2026 if no action taken.

The study says Providence continues to struggle with an underfunded pension system, growing healthcare and benefit costs, cuts to state aid and deferred maintenance on city roads, bridges and schools.

Elorza says city budgeting "rewards short-term thinking" that results in "one time fixes," making it nearly impossible to budget long term.

The study is part of a project Providence launched using a White House grant to explore new budgeting options. The mayor's office says the full report with recommendations will be released in the coming weeks.

Bill Clinton to stump for Hillary Clinton before RI primary

Former President Bill Clinton is campaigning in Rhode Island on behalf of his wife, Hillary Clinton.

The Clinton campaign announced Monday that Bill Clinton will visit Rhode Island on Thursday ahead of the state's April 26 presidential primary.

The campaign says Bill Clinton will speak at a public event at a location to be announced later. He'll talk about why Hillary Clinton is the best candidate to raise wages and help families.

Hillary Clinton is battling Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders for the Democratic presidential nomination. Both candidates recently opened campaign offices in Providence.

The Clinton campaign didn't say whether Hillary Clinton would come to Rhode Island before the primary. Bill Clinton raised money for the campaign in December in Rhode Island.

Middletown Police ID man killed in pedestrian accident

Police are investigating after a man was struck and killed by a car on West Main Road Friday.

According to police, Corey Houle of Bristol, 37, was struck around 9:40 p.m. near Prescott Farm. He was transported to Newport Hospital and later succumbed to his injuries.

Police say the driver has not been charged and their investigation has not found any evidence of criminal intent.


Lawmakers oppose Burrillville power plant project

State lawmakers who represent the town of Burrillville are opposing a plan to build a gas-fired power plant there.

Sen. Paul Fogarty and Rep. Cale Keable sent a letter to the state Energy Facility Siting Board opposing the $700 million project.

Both Democrats represent the northwest corner of the state where Chicago-based Invenergy wants to build a 900-megawatt plant in the village of Pascoag.

The lawmakers say Burrillville has already done more than its share because of other energy facilities located in the town. They say they decided to speak up after hearing from many constituents.

Invenergy has said its proposed Clear River Energy Center on Wallum Lake Road will benefit the region by displacing dirtier power plants and reducing energy costs. Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo has supported the proposal.

Stop & Shop reaches tentative agreement with workers' union

Stop & Shop has reached a tentative agreement with unionized workers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.

The Massachusetts-based supermarket chain says it reached the agreements for new contracts with the five local chapters of the United Food and Commercial Workers union that represent workers in those three states this weekend. Details of the accords were not immediately released.

The union, which represents some 35,000 Stop and Shop workers, said in a statement that the agreement represents a "victory" for "working people in New England." The agreements still require approval by union members. Local meetings are being scheduled, union officials say.

The two sides have been negotiating since January. The previous contract expired in February. Union workers had authorized a strike in the event of an impasse.

Professor disciplined over headscarf visiting Wheaton

A professor who was disciplined by Wheaton College in Illinois after showing solidarity with Muslims is visiting Wheaton College in Massachusetts to talk about the experience.

Larycia Hawkins was set to be fired last year by the Wheaton in Illinois, an evangelical Christian school, after she posed in a photo wearing a headscarf in support of Muslims. It sparked a national debate and caused headaches at the Wheaton in Massachusetts, which is unrelated but often confused with the Illinois Wheaton.

Hawkins is speaking at the Massachusetts Wheaton, which is near the Rhode Island state line, at 7 p.m. on April 13. She left the Illinois college in February.

President Dennis Hanno of the Wheaton in Massachusetts says Hawkins' display of solidarity exemplifies the school's commitment to diversity.

Woonsocket residents on edge after killing of city official

Woonsocket residents are on edge as last month's stabbing death of an 81-year old city official remains unsolved.

Police and city leaders held a community meeting Saturday at St. Agatha's Church to assure residents they're working to solve the crime. The church is located not far from where Connie Gauthier was found dead on March 23 in her home.

Officials say she died from multiple stab wounds.

Gauthier was chair of the city personnel board that oversees hiring, hears employee grievances, among other duties.

Officials Saturday provided little details about the progress of the investigation. There have been no arrests and police have not named a suspect.

Acting Police Chief Michael Lemoine said investigators do not believe it was a random act and that there's no broader threat to residents.

Family seeks answers after man with BB gun killed by police

The family of a man killed by Pawtucket police is seeking more answers about the night he was shot after brandishing a BB gun.

The family of 24-year-old Dominique Silva told WPRI-TV that no public official reached out to the family after his death.

Members of the family held a peaceful demonstration Saturday in front of City Hall. Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien told the station he'll personally call Silva's family to apologize and offer his condolences this week.

Silva was shot March 24 after police responded to reports of a man making threats with a handgun.

Silva fled when approached by Officer Julianne Borsari. She shot him after he pointed the gun at her at least twice. The state Attorney General's office is reviewing the shooting.

Federal criminal trial over Wynn casino land set to begin

 A federal criminal trial over the land Wynn Resorts wants to develop into a nearly $2 billion casino in Massachusetts is set to begin.

Jury selection is expected Monday in the wire fraud trial of three men accused of trying to hide a convicted felon's ownership stake in 33 acres of waterfront land in Everett. Massachusetts' casino law explicitly bars felons from profiting from gambling operations.

Prosecutors allege property owners Dustin DeNunzio, Anthony Gattineri and Charles Lightbody forged property and bank records to make it appear as if Lightbody, a reputed mob associate and felon, was no longer a co-owner.

Wynn ultimately renegotiated the land sale from $75 million to $35 million after Lightbody's role was revealed. Company CEO Steve Wynn is among the potential witnesses for the prosecution.

Providence councilman: Start enforcing anti-panhandling law

A Providence city councilman is urging Mayor Jorge Elorza to reinstate the enforcement of an ordinance targeting panhandlers in the city.

The anti-panhandling ordinance passed in 2001 prohibits anyone from approaching others for money in a way that causes "a reasonable person" to fear bodily harm or loss of property.

Councilman Nicholas Narducci released a statement on the City Council website calling for Elorza to change his position on the issue.

Narducci says panhandling creates a number of unsafe situations and that the city isn't protecting the public by ignoring such laws against the practice.

Elorza spokesman Evan England says the mayor's stance remains that the decision to stop enforcing the ordinance was a legal issue.

Advocates say anti-panhandling ordinances violate First Amendment rights.

Tennis Hall of Fame expels Bob Hewitt, convicted of rape

In an unprecedented step, the International Tennis Hall of Fame has expelled Grand Slam doubles champion Bob Hewitt, who was convicted in South Africa last year of rape and sexual assault.

The Hall of Fame announced its decision Wednesday. Hewitt, who was inducted in 1992, is the first member expelled.

His plaque and all references to him were removed in 2012, when he was suspended from the Hall.

In March 2015, a South African judge found Hewitt guilty of offenses committed in the 1980s and '90s, when Hewitt's three accusers were minors.

As a player in the 1960s and '70s, Hewitt won men's doubles and mixed doubles titles at each of the four Grand Slam tournaments.

Prep school in abuse scandal says administrator put on leave

An elite Rhode Island boarding school embroiled in a sexual-abuse scandal says an administrator has been placed on leave over allegations concerning his conduct as a dorm parent in the 1990s.

St. George's School says in a letter sent to alumni Wednesday associate head for external affairs Bob Weston was placed on leave in January pending the outcome of an independent investigation. The Middletown school says it received "secondhand allegations" regarding Weston's "boundaries with students."

Weston's lawyer Paul Kelly says his client did nothing wrong and that that the allegations stem from a disgruntled former employee. He says no student ever accused Weston of wrongdoing.

A school spokesman contacted Wednesday evening said due to the late hour there'd be no further comment.

Dozens of former students have come forward alleging abuse dating to the 1970s.

Raimondo says she'd veto bill to restrict charter schools

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo says she would veto a bill proposed by state lawmakers that would restrict the growth of charter schools.

The Democrat told reporters Wednesday that the bill requiring a new charter school to be approved by every city or town that sends students to it would effectively kill charters.

The House passed the bill on a 60-11 vote in January but the Senate hasn't voted on it. The governor has never vetoed a bill.

Raimondo says she wants to change the funding formula so charters aren't pulling as much money from traditional school districts.

She also says she hopes a new plan that would give traditional public schools more say in their operations will boost the state's lowest-performing schools. Teacher unions have opposed the plan.

Raimondo says she won't ban travel to North Carolina

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo says she won't ban state employees from traveling to North Carolina in protest of a new law that critics say is discriminatory.

Raimondo said Wednesday there are other ways to show support for members of the LGBT community.

Raimondo says she'll reach out to PayPal and other businesses upset by the North Carolina law to ask them to expand in Rhode Island. PayPal has canceled a planned operations center in Charlotte.

Republican North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed a law March 23 preventing local governments from protecting people on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity when they use public accommodations.

Governors in other states have banned state-funded travel to North Carolina in response.

Whitehouse praises Supreme Court nominee Garland, urges vote

Rhode Island Democratic U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse says Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland is a qualified jurist who should receive a hearing and a vote.

Whitehouse made the comments Wednesday after meeting with Garland on Capitol Hill.

Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin, of Illinois, and Dianne Feinstein (FYN'-styn), of California, also were scheduled to meet with Garland. All three lawmakers are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Garland is a federal appeals court judge.

Whitehouse says they've known each other since they worked in Democratic President Bill Clinton's administration. He says the meeting reminded him of Garland's "strong judgment, first-rate intellect and good nature."

Democratic President Barack Obama nominated Garland last month. Most Republican senators have refused to meet with him, saying the next president should decide on a nominee to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia.  

Providence man collapses, dies while in police custody

Officials say a 52-year-old Providence man arrested on drug charges collapsed at the Public Safety Complex and died while in police custody.

Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare says Steven Mondon's death will be investigated by Providence police's Office of Professional Responsibility, state police and the state Attorney General's Office.

Police say Mondon was arrested without incident at his Cathedral Square apartment by officers with the department's Narcotics and Organized Crime Bureau around 8 a.m. Monday. He was charged with delivering illegal prescription drugs.

After being escorted to his cell block, police say Mondon suffered a "medical emergency." Firefighters attempted to revive him, but Mondon was later pronounced dead at Rhode Island Hospital.

A state Department of Health spokesman said Tuesday that a cause of death has yet to be determined.

Minimum wage increase for Cranston city workers is approved

City councilors in Cranston have voted to establish a minimum wage rate of $12.50 per hour for city employees.

The hourly minimum wage will increase in two phases, first to $12 on July 1 and then it will rise to $12.50 on July 1, 2017.

Officials say temporary summer workers and high school students working for the city will not receive the benefit.

Councilman Steven Stycos, who sponsored the ordinance, called it "pathetic" that some Cranston employees are paid $10.10 per hour. Gov. Gina Raimondo recently proposed in her annual state budget to raise the state's minimum wage for public- and private-sector workers to $10.10.

The ordinance, which passed 5-4, is still susceptible to a veto by Mayor Allan Fung.

Diane Lipscombe to lead Brown's brain science center

Neuroscientist Diane Lipscombe has been chosen to lead the brain science center at Brown University.

The Ivy League school announced Lipscombe's appointment on Tuesday.

Lipscombe has served as interim director of the Brown Institute for Brain Science since January 2015. The school says she has helped in the development of a strategic plan and the raising of $6 million in philanthropic giving.

Lipscombe studied as a postdoctoral associate at Yale School of Medicine and Stanford University's medical school before joining Brown. She earned her doctorate in pharmacology from University College London.

Lipscombe says there's "no better place to be a brain scientist" than at Brown.

BIBS is a multidisciplinary research center comprised of more than 100 scholars from Brown and its affiliated hospitals.

Legal pot proponents urge CT. lawmakers to act fast

Proponents of legalizing marijuana in Connecticut are urging state lawmakers to capitalize on the "novelty factor" of becoming the first New England state to allow recreational use of the drug.

Seamus Kelly, a Waterbury resident, said at an informational hearing Tuesday that lawmakers might be "squandering this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" if they allow other states in the region to legalize pot first.

Two bills legalizing marijuana failed this session. It's expected to come up again next year.

Some proponents estimate Connecticut could reap about $50 million in additional annual taxes if it legalizes marijuana.

Recreational marijuana is already legal in four states and the District of Columbia. Rhode Island, Vermont and Massachusetts are considering legalization.

Democratic Gov. Dannel P. Malloy supports medical marijuana and decriminalizing small amounts but opposes full legalization.

Ex-RI lawmaker gets prison for tax refund scheme

A former Rhode Island state representative who admitted to running a scheme at his tax preparation business is headed to prison.

A federal judge on Tuesday sentenced 51-year-old Leon Tejada to a year and a day behind bars.

The Providence resident pleaded guilty last year to charges he falsified tax returns without his clients' knowledge to get them larger refunds. Authorities say he also skimmed money from clients' refunds into his own bank accounts.

Federal prosecutors say the scheme cost the government more than $54,000. His lawyer says he's paid nearly $25,000 in restitution.

Tejada served as a Democrat in the Rhode Island legislature from 2001 to 2006 and was a member of the Providence City Council from 2009 to 2010.

Officials: Elderly woman found in home was stabbed to death

Officials say an 81-year-old woman who was found dead in her Woonsocket home died from multiple stab wounds.

Officers responded to Constance Gauthier's home March 23 for a welfare check. When they arrived they found her dead inside.

The state medical examiner's office says Gauthier died of multiple stab wounds. Police have said her death is considered a homicide.

Gauthier served as chair of the city's personnel board.

No one has been charged in her death. The investigation is ongoing.

Bill inspired by bombing survivor moves forward

Legislation inspired by a Boston Marathon bombing survivor to compensate Rhode Island victims of terrorist attacks that happen outside the state is moving on to the full Senate after passing out of committee.

The Senate Finance Committee unanimously voted Tuesday to move the bill forward after testimony from Democratic Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed.

Paiva Weed, of Newport, says she sponsored the bill because of the challenges faced by Boston Marathon bombing survivor and fellow Newport resident Heather Abbott.

Abbott applied for the state's compensation fund after losing her leg in the April 2013 attack but was initially denied her claim because of the ambiguity of the law.

RI gas prices rise above $2 for first time since January

The average price of a gallon of regular gas in Rhode Island has risen above $2 for the first time since January.

AAA Northeast says its weekly survey on Monday found that the price rose to $2.04 on average, up five cents from last week.

In the last five weeks, AAA says prices have risen 30 cents per gallon.

Still, gas is one cent cheaper per gallon than the national average of $2.06.

It's also 32 cents less than last year at this time, when gas was $2.36 per gallon.

Keel laying held in RI for new Navy submarine

The keel has been laid for the future USS South Dakota, the nation's 17th Virginia-class attack submarine.

The milestone was marked in a ceremony Monday at the Rhode Island manufacturing plant for General Dynamics' Electric Boat.

The submarine's sponsor is Deanie Dempsey, wife of former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Martin Dempsey. She says she's thrilled to start a relationship with the submarine and crew.

In a Navy tradition, Dempsey wrote her initials on a metal plate to be mounted on the submarine, which is being built in modules. It doesn't have a traditional keel running the length of the vessel.

Martin Dempsey says the "merging of men and machines" is remarkable.

Groton, Connecticut-based Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia are building the South Dakota.

Ex-Democrat MacBeth declares run for Congress as Republican

A week after quitting the Democratic Party, Rhode Island state Rep. Karen MacBeth says she's running for Congress as a Republican against incumbent Democrat David Cicilline in the 1st Congressional district.

The elementary school principal from Cumberland says she believes people want an independent voice in Congress.

MacBeth was first elected to the House in 2008. She was chair of the House Oversight Committee and was running hearings on the state's disastrous $75 million deal with video game company 38 Studios.

Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello removed her as chair after she switched parties.

She becomes the second Republican to declare a run for the seat, joining H. Russell Taub.

Cicilline is running for his fourth term. Rhode Island's first district covers the easternmost part of the state.

RI Governor signs online voter registration bill

Gov. Gina Raimondo has signed into law a bill that makes Rhode Island the 35th state to offer online voter registration.

The law requires Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea to create a website letting voters register or update their information.

It passed both chambers of the General Assembly last week.

Gorbea says it's a convenience for voters and improves the accuracy of voter rolls.

It was introduced with her backing by Sen. Gayle Goldin and Rep. Aaron Regunberg, both Providence Democrats.

Republican senators voted against it, citing concerns about voter fraud.

Raimondo, a Democrat, signed the bill Wednesday.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says 31 states now have online voter registration. Rhode Island joins three others that have passed legislation but where electronic voter registration is not yet active.

Tribe breaking ground on Mass. casino project

Another casino project is joining the fray in New England's increasingly crowded gambling scene.

The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe officially breaks ground Tuesday on a resort casino in Taunton, about 30 miles south of Boston.

The casino, hotel and entertainment complex is expected to open in phases by 2017, making it Massachusetts' first Las Vegas-style resort. MGM and Wynn are developing casinos that aren't slated to open until 2018.

At an estimated $1 billion cost, the project is the splashiest entry yet in the stretch of New England between Boston and Providence.

Plainridge Park, a slots parlor in Plainville, Massachusetts, and Twin River, a full scale casino in Lincoln, Rhode Island, already are in operation.

Chicago-based casino developer Neil Bluhm is also seeking Massachusetts approval for a resort in nearby Brockton.

Lawsuit claims state police violated man's civil rights

A Central Falls man has filed a lawsuit against the Rhode Island State Police alleging that his civil rights were violated when he was assaulted by a trooper during a February 2014 traffic stop.

Lionel Monsato's federal lawsuit claims that Trooper James Donnelly-Taylor used excessive force by repeatedly punching him during his arrest in Pawtucket on charges that were later dismissed.

Donnelly-Taylor was indicted on simple assault charges and pleaded no contest in June 2014. He was sentenced to perform 25 hours of community service.

The suit names the state, state police, Col. Steven O'Donnell and the two troopers involved in his arrest as defendants.

Monsato is seeking $2.25 million in damages.

The attorney general's office and O'Donnell declined to comment on the lawsuit.

Providence School Board appoints new superintendent

The Providence School Board has voted unanimously to appoint Christopher Maher as the Rhode Island capital's new superintendent of schools.

Maher, who has been serving as the district's interim superintendent for nearly nine months, beat out four other finalists who were not disclosed by the board due to confidentiality agreements.

The 41-year-old joked that only a crazy person would want the superintendent job after hearing its responsibilities, but said he wakes up every day "with the greatest sense of purpose."

Officials were pleased with Maher's progress on chronic absenteeism and suspensions, which he called critical to closing achievement gaps between white and minority students.

Maher says Rhode Islanders need to recognize that demographic shifts are changing the face of Providence.

RI Infrastructure Bank has new executive director

The state's hub for green infrastructure financing initiatives has a new executive director.

The board of directors at the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank picked Jeffrey R. Diehl for the job, citing his experience in global banking, capital market strategy and public sector finance.

Diehl most recently served as the managing partner of a financial consulting firm and previously held leadership positions at a global bank.

The infrastructure bank is a quasi-public entity and financial administrator of the state's clean water and drinking water revolving funds.

The bank issues bonds and the proceeds are used to provide low-cost financing to Rhode Island municipalities and sewer and water utilities for infrastructure projects.

Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo says Diehl is "perfectly poised" for the position.

Man pleads no contest to wrongly collecting unemployment

A Pawtucket man has pleaded no contest to collecting more than $7,000 in unemployment benefits even though he had a job.

The attorney general's office says 42-year-old Frank Haworth pleaded no contest on Friday to obtaining money under false pretenses. He was sentenced to four years of probation and ordered to pay restitution.

Prosecutors say that Haworth was working at a woodworking company at the same time he was collecting unemployment benefits for more than two years, from March 2009 to October 2011.

The attorney general's office says the office has charged more than 30 people with unemployment insurance benefit fraud in the last year.

RI pub owner accused of burning down his business

A Massachusetts man has pleaded not guilty to charges that he set his Rhode Island restaurant on fire to collect the insurance money.

The U.S. Attorney's office in Providence says 50-year-old Daniel Saad, of Spencer, Massachusetts, set fire to Snow's Clam Box Restaurant and Pub in Glocester in November 2014. Prosecutors say Saad was facing significant debt at the time of the fire.

Saad was indicted by a federal grand jury on Tuesday and faces arson and wire fraud charges.

His lawyer, William Dimitri, says Saad denies any involvement and has every intention of fighting the charges.

He pleaded not guilty on Thursday.

Report: Many kids in unlicensed foster homes too long

A new report shows that several children in state care have been in unlicensed foster homes for longer than is allowed by state law.

Child advocate Regina  Costa issued the report Friday.

Costa recently convened a team to investigate the deaths of four children last year in state custody. Two of the children who died were living in unlicensed foster homes. Their deaths remain under investigation.

The report says there are more than 320 unlicensed foster homes. In more than 100 cases, they've been unlicensed for more than six months.

State law allows a child to be in an unlicensed foster home of a relative for only six months.

Jamia McDonald, who leads DCYF, acknowledged children are left there longer in many cases.

Schumer: Feds must work faster to test explosive detectors

Sen. Charles Schumer of New York says the Department of Homeland Security must work faster to begin testing explosive detectors that can sense compounds that have been used in recent extremist attacks.

Otto Gregory, a chemical engineer at the University of Rhode Island, developed the electronic trace detection system to sense vapor from explosives, including the bomb-making material TATP.

The government has funded the project for the last eight years, and Gregory says Homeland Security plans to field test the system this fall.

But Schumer says the agency should begin testing sooner and determine if the devices can be installed in airports and train stations.

TATP was used by Islamic State extremists in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks and was found in an apartment where the Brussels attackers had stayed.

Mass. woman pleads guilty to identity theft charges

A former Blackstone woman has pleaded guilty to her role in a scheme to steal the personal information of clients of the human resources consulting firm where she worked.

Federal prosecutors say 29-year-old Jasmine Banks pleaded guilty Wednesday to conspiracy to commit identity theft and access device fraud.

Sentencing was scheduled for June 22. She faces a maximum of five years in prison.

Prosecutors say while Banks worked as a customer service employee for Mercer Inc., in Norwood, she had access to the personal information of clients. Authorities say she provided names, addresses, and bank account information of about 270 people to a co-conspirator. In many cases, she also provided birth dates and Social Security numbers. In one case, more than $23,000 was fraudulently withdrawn from a 401(k) account.

Federal grand jury indicts former tax preparer

A federal grand jury in Providence has returned an indictment against a former tax preparer, alleging she prepared false income tax returns and deposited refunds of about $685,000 into her personal bank account.

The indictment announced Thursday charges 47-year-old Belkis Guzman, of Cranston, with 33 counts of preparing false income tax returns, 23 counts of forgery, eight counts of wire fraud, four counts of aggravated identity theft and one count of theft of government funds.

U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha says Guzman participated in schemes at El Centro Multiservices in Providence to prepare returns claiming deductions taxpayers weren't entitled to, and to file fraudulent returns using their personal information without authorization.

She's scheduled to be arraigned Monday.

The public defender representing Guzman couldn't immediately be reached to comment.

FBI recover human remains behind Providence building

The FBI has recovered human remains behind a mill building in Providence.

Investigators say the remains were buried in the back of the property at 715 Branch Avenue.

Special Agent in Charge Harold Shaw said the remains were turned over to the Rhode Island Office of the State Medical Examiners for testing and DNA analysis.

He said the FBI has been in contact with regional law enforcement partners about unresolved cases and disappearances.

Federal investigators said they will remain on the scene until they've completed processing the location where the remains were found.

The digging was going on behind a building that was raided by federal investigators for an illegal pot growing operation. Agents recovered about 1,400 pot plants, cash and a gun during the August raid.

It's not clear if the cases are related.

Man with 13 dead chickens in trees draws neighbor's ire

A Rhode Island man who has 13 dead chickens hanging from trees outside his home is drawing complaints from a neighbor and a police inquiry.

The Newport Daily News reports that the Tiverton man told police Wednesday that he is simply drying the chickens out before properly disposing of them.

Chief Thomas Blakey says the man hasn't been charged with a crime, but police are continuing to investigate whether there are any potential health risks or if the homeowner is violating any town ordinances.

The man keeps live chickens. Town Administrator Matthew Wojcik says animal control workers inspected the property and found that those animals are healthy.

Tiverton officials became aware of the hanging dead chickens Monday after a neighbor called to complain.

Elite NH prep school says teacher admitted sexual misconduct

An elite New Hampshire boarding school has alerted alumni that a longtime teacher has admitted to sexual misconduct with students in the 1970s and 1980s.

Phillips Exeter Academy sent an email to alumni Wednesday that Rick Schubart acknowledged the misconduct after the school received reports in 2011 and 2015. It said he was forced to retire and leave campus housing in 2011. He was stripped of his emeritus status and banned from campus in 2015.

School Principal Lisa MacFarlane told The Boston Globe the school's response was insufficient, and apologized.

Thomas Hassan, husband of New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, was principal in 2011. He says he sought to balance the victim's privacy with the need to protect the community.

Schubart taught history for 38 years. He didn't answer calls Thursday.



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