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Under the Hood

1540 Updates Archives for 2016-05

Ethics a thorn as RI lawmakers wrap up session

Democratic leaders are dropping hot-button social issues and trying to resolve the controversy surrounding legislative grants as the Rhode Island General Assembly winds down for the year.

A final state budget proposal is expected to hit lawmakers' desks this week.

Lawmakers are preparing to wrap up earlier than last year as their re-election campaign season begins.

One of the biggest debates is over a small portion of the $8.6 billion state budget: just under $14 million that legislators direct to community organizations, from parade committees to anti-poverty groups.

Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has dropped from consideration some of the season's most controversial legislation.

He says there'll be no votes in the House on bills to legalize recreational marijuana or give driver's licenses to immigrants in the country illegally.

RI bill would phase in school bus seat belts

Children in Rhode Island would have to wear seat belts on school buses under a bill being considered in the Rhode Island General Assembly.

The Rhode Island Senate approved the bill by a 37-0 vote last week.

It would require all new school buses bought or leased in the state to be equipped with seat belts for the driver and every passenger.

West Warwick Democratic Sen. Adam Satchell says he introduced the bill because Rhode Island has strict rules for safety in cars but no safety restraints in school buses.

It would also require school districts to plan bus evacuation drills.

Rep. Robert Nardolillo, a Coventry Republican, has sponsored companion legislation in the House.

State OKs transfer of hospital obstetrics unit

Rhode Island's health agency has given conditional approval to the transfer of obstetrics services from Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket to two affiliated hospitals.

The decision Friday from the Department of Health will take effect on Aug. 1 and follows a series of public meetings.

The obstetrics unit at Memorial Hospital will close and the services moved to Kent Hospital in Warwick and Women & Infants Hospital in Providence. All three hospitals are operated by Care New England, a health system which the state says has grown increasingly unstable financially in recent years.

Care New England must provide transportation for patients to other hospitals for at least nine month after the transfer, and must also try to replicate what state officials called Memorial Hospital's "unique, alternative birthing experience" at another facility.

Verizon union says pact protects American jobs

A union that represents about a quarter of some 40,000 striking Verizon workers says a tentative agreement ending the walkout is protecting American jobs amid concern about jobs moving overseas.

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers joined the Communication Workers of America union and Verizon in unveiling the pact Monday. They had reached an agreement in principle Friday but didn't release details or a return-to-work date until Monday. The agreement is subject to approval by union members.

It includes 1,300 new call center jobs and nearly 11 percent in raises over four years. It also makes health care plan changes to save the company money.

The IBEW says stemming outsourcing was a major issue, and the agreement "makes a lot of progress."

Strikers are due back at work Wednesday.

Denied licenses, immigrants plan march across RI

Immigrants who aren't allowed to drive are planning a long march across Rhode Island to protest political inaction on legislation that would have granted driver's licenses to people in the country illegally.

The planned rally comes after Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello said Wednesday that legislation proposing the licenses is dead for the year.

Mattiello says his opinion is the electorate across the state doesn't support the bill and so he's not letting it move forward before the legislative session ends in June.

March organizers say the event could happen in late summer or early fall.

The activists say it's partly an attempt to expose suburban Rhode Islanders and their legislators to the challenges facing the state's immigrant families who are concentrated mostly in Providence and nearby cities.

RI to get federal funding to prevent foreclosures

Rhode Island has been awarded an additional $630,000 in federal funding to help prevent foreclosures.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed says the funding from NeighborWorks America's National Foreclosure Mitigation Counseling program will be used to provide housing counseling for families at risk of foreclosure.

Rhode Island Housing will receive about $580,000. The rest of the money will be split between the West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation and ONE Neighborhood Builders.

The program was launched in late 2007 with funds appropriated by Congress to address the foreclosure crisis.

Rhode Island received $703,000 in NeighborWorks grants in March, bringing its total funding to more than $1.3 million this year.

Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, says the money will help people access the information and assistance they need to navigate the loan modification process.

RI awarded funding for food and shelter programs

Rhode Island has been awarded federal funding for its emergency food and shelter programs that serve the hungry and homeless.

The state's congressional delegation announced the award of about $475,000.

The funding is administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Emergency Food and Shelter Program.

The program supports local social service agencies that offer food, housing and utility assistance for those in need.

U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, a Rhode Island Democrat, says the funding will help families in crisis put food on the table and keep the lights on.

Local jurisdictions qualify for the funding based on unemployment and poverty levels and population.

Providence County is being awarded about $365,000.

The remaining funding will go to a committee that could award money to other communities throughout the state.

Fireworks spark weekend blaze in Pawtucket

Fire officials say fireworks are to blame for causing a three-alarm fire that broke out at a multi-family home in Pawtucket over Memorial Day Weekend.

Firefighters were called to the scene of the three-alarm blaze on Central Avenue shortly before midnight Sunday. Crews were able to quickly knock down the flames, but 11 residents were ultimately displaced. No injuries were reported.

Legislation in Rhode Island permits residents to use grand and hand-held sparkling devices. Aerial fireworks, firecrackers and sky or bottle rockets are illegal to use in the state.

Residents found to be in possession of illegal fireworks face a fine between $100 and $500.

US defense secretary calls for faster technology development

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says a naval facility in Rhode Island is doing what the entire Defense Department should do: develop technology more quickly.

Carter made the comments Wednesday about the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, where he saw the latest in unmanned vehicles and other undersea technologies.

He told students at the U.S. Naval War College the defense industry once had a stronger connection to the technology industry, and he’s spending a lot of time in Silicon Valley and Boston trying to restore it.

He also says he’s concerned about budget instability.

Carter visited Rhode Island as part of a three-day trip to New England to see Navy installations and meet service members.

RI GOP files complaint against state lawmaker

The Rhode Island Republican Party has filed an ethics complaint against a state representative for failing to disclose her employment with the city of Providence on mandatory fiscal disclosure forms.

Chairman Brandon Bell announced Wednesday he lodged a complaint with the state Ethics Commission against Democratic Rep. Anastasia Williams, of Providence, who works in the city's planning department.

Williams in 2012 and 2015 wrote "N/A" under the section of the annual Ethics Commission disclosure form where elected officials must list their sources of income. Williams has attributed the 2015 error to multitasking.

Meanwhile, Williams filed suit against the city last year after she was denied a grant to buy a home in 2012.

Electric Boat to partner with RI schools

U.S. Navy contractor Electric Boat is partnering with Rhode Island schools to help train about 350 students a year for marine industry careers.

Gov. Gina Raimondo is planning to announce the new partnership today.

Raimondo says the initiative will prepare students for ship-fitting and marine manufacturing jobs by building their skills in welding and electrical services.

Groton, Connecticut-based Electric Boat will partner with six of Rhode Island's career and technical schools. Electric Boat is a subsidiary of General Dynamics Corp., headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia.

Raimondo plans to make the announcement at Coventry High School.

Vice President Biden to deliver speech in East Providence

Gov. Gina Raimondo's office has released further details regarding Vice President Joe Biden's upcoming visit to Rhode Island later this week.

It was announced Wednesday that Biden will deliver a speech at the state Department of Transportation's highway maintenance facility in East Providence on Friday.

Gov. Raimondo spokeswoman Marie Aberger says Biden's speech on "investing in infrastructure" at the Warren Avenue facility is the only scheduled event on his trip to the state.

It's unknown whether the vice president plans to make any other stops in Rhode Island or if he will return directly to Washington.

A news release sent out by Gov. Raimondo's office says Biden "will deliver remarks on how Rhode Island is taking action to invest in the state's roads and bridges."

Avedisian resigns as RIPTA chairman

Warwick Mayor Scott Avedisian has resigned his post as chairman of the Rhode Island Public Transportation Authority.

RIPTA confirmed the news that Avedisian resigned at the beginning of their board meeting on Monday afternoon. The resignation was effective immediately.

The Warwick Mayor has held the position since 2012.

RIPTA has been plagued of late for numerous bus accidents and budget problems. It started this budget year $5.6 million short.

The mayor acknowledged the issues but insisted his resignation was just a matter of timing, and that things for RIPTA are looking up.

Governor Raimondo will now search for a new Chairman. Once a candidate is appointed, the board will then take a vote.

Ethics Commission: Ex-lawmaker erred in taking Raimondo job

The Rhode Island Ethics Commission has found probable cause that a former state lawmaker violated the ethics code by accepting a job with Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo.

The commission voted Tuesday to approve the probable cause findings against former Democratic Rep. Donald Lally, of Narragansett. It's a preliminary step and not a finding of violation.

The report alleges that Lally broke "revolving door" rules blocking legislators from accepting state employment for one year after leaving office.

Lally joined Raimondo's staff less than four months after giving up his House seat in March 2015. Investigators say neither Lally nor the governor's office sought the commission's advice on the hiring. Lally resigned in April.

His attorney declined comment Tuesday.

The commission could now hold an administrative trial, unless Lally settles.

Cranston plan that put all inmates in 1 city district tossed

A federal judge has thrown out a redistricting plan in Cranston that put all of the inmates at the state prison into one city ward.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Lagueux  on Tuesday found Cranston's plan was "constitutionally untenable" and ordered the city to come up with a new redistricting plan in 30 days.

The lawsuit was brought by the Rhode Island chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, which called the plan "prison gerrymandering."

Lagueux found that the plan, which put more than 3,000 inmates at the Adult Correctional Institutions into one of Cranston's six wards, had the effect of diluting the voting power of people in other wards.

He says the city must subtract the inmates from the city's total population in the new plan.


Ethics commission considers election-season blackout

The Rhode Island Ethics Commission is considering an election-season blackout on ethics complaints.

The commission voted unanimously Tuesday to begin the process of establishing the moratorium.

The move comes as a proposal working its way through the General Assembly would enshrine a similar moratorium in the state's Constitution.

Democratic leaders have called for a November ballot initiative asking voters to approve a constitutional amendment giving the commission power to investigate and punish lawmakers for conflicts of interest.

But the same lawmakers who advocate giving the commission more oversight don't want it to accept frivolous, politically motivated complaints in the months before elections.

Common Cause Rhode Island says lawmakers' concerns are valid, but it asked the commission to create its own rules rather than having it in the Constitution.

US defense secretary visits Newport during New England trip

U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is visiting Rhode Island as part of a multi-day trip to New England to see Navy installations and meet service members.

Carter plans to stop by the U.S. Naval War College and Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport on Wednesday.

He's scheduled to give an address and answer students' questions.

Scientists and engineers at the center plan to show Carter the latest in unmanned surface, undersea and air vehicles and other undersea technologies.

Carter previously visited Connecticut.

At Yale University in New Haven on Monday, Carter, a Yale alumnus, awarded commissions to the university's first ROTC graduating class in more than four decades.

On Tuesday in Groton, Carter thanked employees at General Dynamics Electric Boat for building submarines and toured the Naval Submarine Base.

State to consider new lottery game to fund history museum

A new proposal calls for creating a new state lottery game and using the proceeds from the first six months to help develop a $15-million Rhode Island history center in Bristol.

Democratic state Rep. Ken Marshall introduced a bill last week that would create a game called the "Heritage Hall of Fame Baseball Lottery Game."

The proposal would help fund the construction of a "Hall of Fame and Rhode Island History Center Building."

Hall of fame president Patrick Conley says the group is beginning a fundraising campaign next month to build a history museum next to Roger Williams University.

Conley says Rhode Island is one of only a few states without a state history museum.

A spokesman for House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says the bill isn't "on the speaker's radar."

Gas prices in RI jump 7 cents, up to $2.29

Gas prices in Rhode Island have jumped seven cents per gallon in a week.

AAA Northeast said Monday its weekly survey found the average price of a gallon of regular, self-serve gas climbed to an average $2.29.

Despite the increase, AAA says the price is still the lowest it's been in 11 years heading into the Memorial Day weekend.

Rhode Island's price is one cent higher than the national average. The average price in the state a year ago at this time was 40 cents higher, at an average $2.69 per gallon.

AAA found self-serve, regular selling for as low as $2.17 and as high as $2.49 per gallon.

Police officer among 2 dead in wrong-way crash on I-95

A police officer is among two people dead following a wrong-way crash on Interstate 95 in Rhode Island.

Rhode Island State Police say Jamestown patrolman Ryan J. Bourque was killed in the crash, which happened at approximately 12:07 a.m. Monday on I-95 South in East Greenwich.

Police say the 24-year-old patrolman was heading home to Coventry after finishing up his 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. shift when his Dodge Charger was hit head-on in the high-speed lane by a Toyota Camry being driven the wrong way by 23-year-old Dejae  Pizarro, of Bedford, Massachusetts.

Pizarro was also killed.

RI lawmakers moving quickly on ethics reform

The Rhode Island General Assembly is moving quickly on a reformist agenda that would put lawmakers under the watch of an ethics commission and strengthen lobbying rules.

Democratic leaders are urging passage of ethics legislation they recently introduced, with just weeks left in the session. It would ask voters in November to approve a constitutional amendment giving the state's Ethics Commission power to punish lawmakers for conflicts of interest.

Rep. Michael Marcello, a Scituate Democrat, has long pushed for ethics commission oversight without success. He says a new bill is finally getting attention because the House is under an ethical cloud following the resignation of its former finance chairman.

The House is also scheduled to vote on a lobbying reform bill today.

Providence gave over $65k to embattled councilman's program

City records show that over the past decade, several Providence agencies and city funds donated more than $65,000 to the youth track-and-field team that a city councilman allegedly stole from.

Councilman Kevin Jackson was arrested May 11 on charges that he used campaign contributions for personal expenses and embezzled more than $127,000 from the Providence Cobras, a program he founded.

Officials say the single biggest city source for the Cobras was City Council itself, which provided over $26,000 total to the program between July 2005 and July 2013.

Donations to the program also came from Providence's Recreation Department and the mayor's office, among other sources.

Most of the grants didn't require applications. It's unclear whether Jackson used his influence to direct funds to the program.

Taxpayer assistance approved for proposed Providence hotel

Construction on an extended-stay hotel in Providence is set to move forward after the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation voted to give the developer up to $4.8 million in taxpayer assistance over 20 years.

The agency's board of directors unanimously approved the tax incentive Monday to bring a Homewood Suites by Hilton to Providence's Capital Center Commission district.

First Bristol Corp.'s $24.5 million project is the first to take advantage of Rhode Island's new Tax Increment Financing program.

Under the program, the state will return tax revenue on each rented hotel room to the developer for up to 20 years. First Bristol Corp. will use that money to pay off the principal and interest on a loan from the state to close the project's financial gap.

Secretary of Defense to visit NUWC In Newport

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is scheduled to visit the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Newport on Wednesday, May 25 from 11:30 a.m. - 1:45 p.m.
During the visit, Secretary Carter will view a variety of cutting-edge technologies at NUWC, including waterfront demonstrations of unmanned surface, undersea, and air vehicles, as well as innovative undersea technologies such as biologically-inspired sensors and immersive virtual worlds. 
NUWC is a Navy shore command within the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA), which engineers, builds and supports America's fleet of ships and combat systems.

RI single-family home sales up 35% in April

Sales of single-family homes in Rhode Island rose 35 percent in April from a year ago, and the median price rose 21 percent to $241,000.

The Rhode Island Association of Realtors on Friday says condo sales also rose 18.5 percent, and the median sales price rose nearly 9 percent to around $197,000.

Multifamily home sales, however, fell by nearly 14 percent, though the median price rose nearly 10 percent to $180,000.

The group says there are some signs of a slowdown. It says pending sales in April rose just 2.5 percent, an indicator of the market in the months to come.

The group's president, Arthur Yatsko, says the market has a five-month supply of homes for sale, which remains nearly balanced between supply and demand.

Bill would let Narragansett Indians grow hemp

The Narragansett Indian Tribe would be able to grow hemp in Rhode Island under a new bill proposed in the state's General Assembly.

Rep. Helio Melo, an East Providence Democrat, introduced the legislation on Thursday.

The bill says the tribe historically used hemp products for clothing and housing and wants to use it again as a business opportunity. The bill would also allow universities to grow hemp for research or educational purposes.

The National Conference of State Legislatures says at least 28 states have laws in place related to industrial hemp.

It's legal to import hemp from abroad, but federal law only allows cultivation of hemp as a research project by states and universities.

Industrial hemp is related to marijuana but has a lower concentration of the drug's mind-altering ingredient.

Sotomayor to graduates: Learn from your mistakes

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has advised the class of 2016 at the University of Rhode Island to hold onto the memories they've created and learn from their mistakes.

Sotomayor spoke at the Sunday commencement ceremony at the public university's campus in South Kingstown. She also received an honorary degree.

Sotomayor spoke of the importance of what she called "aha" and "uh-oh" moments. She said these moments provide life-long lessons in asking for help to reach important goals.

Sotomayor is the first Hispanic and third woman to serve on the Supreme Court.

More than 3,300 students received their degrees from the school on Sunday. URI says 57 percent of the 2016 graduates are women and 43 percent are men.

Top US toxicologist to visit RI to discuss lead

A top federal toxicologist is visiting Rhode Island to talk about lead poisoning prevention and reforming the nation's chemical laws.

Linda Birnbaum is the head of the National Institute for Environment Health Services and the National Toxicology Program.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Jack Reed says he invited Birnbaum to visit Providence on Monday to meet with community and state leaders.

Birnbaum is also visiting Brown University researchers who are looking at ways to improve health outcomes for Rhode Islanders exposed to environmental toxins.

The visit comes as Congress prepares to update a 40-year-old chemical safety law.

A bipartisan agreement reached Friday would set new safety standards for dangerous chemicals that have gone unregulated for decades.

Fire breaks out at abandoned mill

A fire broke out at a vacant mill over the weekend.

The fire started around 10:30 p.m. Saturday on the second floor of the mill at the corner of King and Salmon streets.

Providence Assistant Fire Chief Scott Mello says the fire was knocked down quickly.

No injuries were reported.

Mello says a fire in an abandoned building without utilities is usually deemed suspicious.

The cause of the fire remains under investigation.

Swastika found on sign outside Pawtucket synagogue

Police are investigating after a swastika was spray-painted on a welcome sign posted outside a synagogue in Pawtucket over the weekend.

The swastika, about 1-foot in diameter, was found Sunday morning on a sign for the Kollel Center for Jewish Studies at the Ohawe Sholam temple on East Avenue.

Irving Schild, a Holocaust survivor and member of the congregation, was among the first to discover the disturbing image. He called it a "heinous crime."

Police say the vandalism occurred between 9 p.m. Saturday, when Sabbath services concluded, and 7 a.m. Sunday. Officer John Brown says he will turn his report over to detectives, who may investigate the incident as a hate crime.

Rabbi Raphie Schochet has advised the congregation to continue to promote a strong message against "bullies and bigots."

Police investigating report of shots fired at Warwick Mall

Police are investigating after shots were fired at a vehicle in the parking lot of the Warwick Mall over the weekend.

Capt. Thomas Hannon says no one was injured in the incident, which was reported just before 1 p.m. Sunday.

Witnesses told police that a man was shooting at another man inside a vehicle in the parking lot. The suspected shooter and targeted vehicle left the scene before Warwick officers responded.

Police and mall security conducted a sweep of the mall area and cleared the scene in about an hour. Police officials have confirmed that a handgun and several shell casings were found.

Mall owner Aram Garabedian says he's cooperating with the investigation and police are reviewing surveillance video.

Police haven't released a description of the suspect or his vehicle.

New Pothole Repair Technology

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation says it has new technology called the "pothole killer" that can fix roads in ways crews previously couldn't.  The machine allows workers to repair potholes without getting out of the vehicle cab.  The "pothole killer" has already contributed to a drastic reduction in pothole complaints in the state after the winter of 2014-2015.

House Finance Sub-Committee Grant Hearings Under Way

A sub-committee of the House Finance Committee is in the midst of four days of hearings on more than 11-million-dollars in community service grants.  Several municipal officials and representatives from nonprofit agencies testified at day one of the hearings yesterday about the value of the grants.  House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is expected to propose revising the grant program after the hearings wrap up next week. 

Woonsocket DMV Temporarily Shut Down

Officials say Rhode Islanders who were trying to go to the Woonsocket DMV yesterday may have been surprised to find the doors locked.  According to media outlets, the Woonsocket branch was closed because of a computer service disruption.  The temporary closure only affected Woonsocket-and not Cranston, Wakefield, Warren and Middletown.  People were still able to use services online.

New Minimum Wage Bill To Be Voted On Next Week

There's a new version of the minimum wage bill being considered in Rhode Island.  Sometime next week, the Senate is expected to vote on the proposal that would increase the state's minimum wage to ten-dollars-and-ten-cents an hour.  Originally, the bill sought to bring up the hourly wage to ten-dollars-50-cents, and eventually eleven-dollars a year later.  If passed, it'll be the state's fifth consecutive year of wage hikes.  The legislation would go into effect starting next year, if okayed.

RI Senate passes wine biscuit bill

The Rhode Island Senate has passed a bill that would allow bakers to buy up to 2,000 gallons of wine a year from wholesalers if they're using it to make wine biscuits.

The Senate passed the bill unanimously on Wednesday.

Wine biscuits are commonly sold by Rhode Island's Italian-American bakeries. The bill would allow bakers to bypass the state's strict liquor purchasing rules.

Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio, a North Providence Democrat, introduced the bill on behalf of a baker, Kristen Catanzaro, who is also a town councilwoman running for mayor of North Providence.

The legislation now moves to the House of Representatives.

Newport man arrested in fatal stabbing in Providence

A Newport man has been arrested and charged in a fatal stabbing in the city's West End.

Jose Medina appeared in court Wednesday on a murder charge in the killing of 50-year-old Patrick Douglas.

Police say Douglas was found dying in the intersection of Elmwood Avenue and Westfield Street on May 9.

Witnesses told police they saw Medina flash a small blade and stab Douglas. Police say the men may have been arguing over a prostitute.

The 42-year-old Medina was arrested on a warrant Tuesday night.

Medina was released nine months ago from prison, where he was serving time for drug possession.

Medina is being held without bail.

Runway extension approved for T.F. Green Airport

After almost 15 years of debates, the state board in control of T.F. Green Airport has finally approved the extension of the Warwick airport's main runway.

Rhode Island Airport Corporation board members unanimously voted Wednesday night to award a $37.9 million contract for the extension to Rhode Island-based Cardi Corporation.

Board vice chairman Russell Hahn called the vote "historic."

Airport chief executive Peter Frazier says a notice to begin construction will be issued immediately, although work on the extension likely won't be started until early June. The extended runway is expected to open in December 2017.

Talks of the potential new runway became public in an April 2002 consultant's report. An amended plan was approved by the Federal Aviation Administration in 2011.

Warwick unveils monument honoring city's fallen officers

Officials in Warwick dedicated a monument outside the Rhode Island city's police headquarters that memorializes the department's five officers who died in the line of duty.

A statue of an officer and a stone engraved with the names of the five fallen men were unveiled at a dedication ceremony on Wednesday.

The memorial honors the deaths of John Gendron in 1902, Walter McQuarry in 1911, Kenneth Fratus in 1971, Christopher Feeney in 1917 and Donald Casasanta in 1981.

Chief Stephen McCarthy says the statue is a living embodiment of the fallen officers that also represents the "public service and dedication" of all police.

The monument was the brainchild of police investigator Chris Mathiesen. The dedication ceremony took place during National Law Enforcement Officers' Week.

Gov. signs bill inspired by marathon bombing survivor

Rhode Island's governor has signed into law a bill inspired by a resident injured in the Boston Marathon bombings who had trouble applying for the state's crime victim compensation fund because the attack happened in Massachusetts.

The state will now be able to compensate Rhode Island residents injured in terrorist attacks outside the state. Newport resident Heather Abbott, who lost part of her leg in the 2013 bombings, joined Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo for a signing ceremony Tuesday.

General Treasurer Seth Magaziner administers the fund and says the new law clarifies conflicting language that had caused Abbott's original claim to be denied.

Raimondo also signed another bill to increase the compensation a crime victim or victim's family can get for relocation or burial costs.

Ethics reform bill moves forward in RI House

Top Rhode Island lawmakers are moving quickly to get an ethics reform initiative on the November ballot.

Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello made a rare appearance Tuesday to testify before the House Judiciary Committee.

His legislation seeks voter approval of a constitutional amendment that would allow the state's Ethics Commission to investigate lawmakers for potential conflicts of interest.

It would restore powers taken from the commission by a 2009 court ruling.

Mattiello and Democratic Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed jointly introduced the legislation last week.

It has the backing of open government advocates, but the state's Republican Party says it falls short by imposing a moratorium on ethics complaints before elections.

Rep. Michael Marcello, a Scituate Democrat, has sponsored a similar, competing bill without the campaign season blackout.

Top federal prosecutor pushes employers to hire ex-cons

Rhode Island's top federal prosecutor is pushing employers to hire ex-cons.

U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha's re-entry program aims to find more jobs for convicted felons who struggle to find work once they've done their time.

The program is holding a summit May 25 to bring together employers, government officials, and others with a goal of expanding the pool of employers willing to place ex-inmates in jobs.

It's part of a broader effort by the Obama administration to help felons resume life out of prison.

Every year, 600,000 inmates are released nationwide, and 3,000 are released in Rhode Island. Around half reoffend and end up back behind bars.

Neronha says if people are not working soon after getting out, it can mean trouble and a tremendous cost for society.

Reed: High court nominee Garland 'supremely well-qualified'

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed says Supreme Court nominee Merrick B. Garland is "supremely well-qualified" and deserves a fair hearing.

The Rhode Island Democrat met with President Obama's pick for the high court in his Washington office on Tuesday.

Senate Republicans have refused to hold hearings on Garland, saying that filling the seat should be left to the next president.

Reed said after the meeting that Garland and the American people "deserve a fair, public hearing and a fully functioning government." He says Republicans' refusal to consider the nomination does a disservice to the judicial system.

Garland is chief judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Obama nominated him in March to replace Justice Antonin Scalia after his death.


Retired detective files pension lawsuit against Cranston

A retired police detective has filed suit against the city of Cranston in federal court, alleging that he was discriminated against based on his disability and was forced to retire.

Ronald Jacob claims in the lawsuit that city officials violated the police labor contract, the Rhode Island Civil Rights Act of 1990 and the U.S. and Rhode Island constitutions.

Jacob says he suffers from coronary artery disease as well as extreme anxiety and depression. He's alleged that the misrepresentation of physicians' findings regarding his disability prompted his March 2005 retirement and cost him financially.

Jacob retired with a service pension and not the more lucrative disability pension. He's seeking compensatory and punitive damages.

City attorney Tim Bliss says Jacob never applied for a disability pension.

Man sent photos of himself in lingerie to girls, women

Police say a Rhode Island man sent photos of himself wearing girls' school uniforms and lingerie to more than 40 women.

Providence resident Dennis Ciaramello was arrested Monday on seven counts of cyberstalking and one count of felony stalking.

Police say the 61-year-old Ciaramello sent unwanted voice messages and electronic messages containing photos and videos to 45 females, including four girls. Police say the contact between Ciaramello and some of the victims goes back as far as 45 years.

Police say Ciaramello knew some of the victims, but others were strangers. Police believe he obtained the women's phone numbers through his work as a house painter.

Gas prices in RI drop to $2.22 per gallon

Gas prices in Rhode Island have dropped to an average $2.22 per gallon.

AAA Northeast said Monday that its weekly survey showed the price of self-serve, regular gas is a penny lower than last week.

The price is also 43 cents lower than in-state prices this time last year.

Rhode Island's price is the same as the national average.

Ex-Democrat MacBeth ends short-lived run for Congress

Rhode Island state Rep. Karen MacBeth says she's ending her bid for Congress, less than two months after announcing her campaign.

MacBeth said Monday that running for Congress was different than she expected, saying she wasn't prepared for the fundraising commitment required.

The elementary school principal from Cumberland also says she's newly engaged and worried about the impact being in Washington would have on her marriage.

MacBeth abruptly quit the Democratic party in late March and announced a week later she was running for Congress as a Republican against incumbent Democrat David Cicilline in the 1st Congressional district. H. Russell Taub is now the only Republican in the race.

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

RIPTA closes $2 million funding gap projected last winter

The Rhode Island Public Transit Agency says the transit authority has filled the estimated $2 million funding gap officials projected this past winter.

RIPTA's current budget estimates for the year ending June 30 would leave the agency with a small $80,000 surplus, leaving little room for equipment investments or infrastructure repairs.

The expiration of the Fleet Revolving Loan Fund next year means RIPTA will be without funding for much-needed bus purchases in 2018.

RIPTA officials say their revenue stream will drop even further if the recent elimination of free bus passes for low-income disabled and senior passengers is nixed by lawmakers. Bills endorsing the return of the free passes for eligible riders will be discussed by the Rhode Island General Assembly on Tuesday and Thursday.

Tribe's bid to delay B.I. wind farm project denied

A federal judge in Providence has denied a motion from the Narragansett Indian Tribe to delay the construction of a transmission cable as part of Deepwater Wind's forthcoming offshore wind farm on Block Island.

Judge John McConnell Jr. ruled against the tribe's request for a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction on Monday.

The Narragansett had filed a complaint against National Grid and other defendants alleging the tribe wasn't properly notified after artifacts were unearthed during construction on the cable. Deepwater Wind contracted National Grid to build part of the transmission system for what will be the country's first offshore wind farm.

National Grid argued the company followed its memorandum of understanding with the tribe.

The Narragansett plan to appeal McConnell's decision.

Man fatally shot in Portsmouth, woman arrested

A 69-year-old man has been fatally shot in Portsmouth, and a woman has been arrested.

It happened Monday evening at an East Main Road  apartment in the town.        

Police say when officers arrived on the scene they found the victim and a woman. They arrested the woman, 57-year-old Lisa Almeida-Laureanno, on a domestic murder charge. It's unclear if she has an attorney.        

RI Criminal Justice Hall of Fame inductees chosen

The board of trustees for the Rhode Island Criminal Justice Hall of Fame has announced the names of the 2016 inductees.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin says the hall honors outstanding professionals who have worked to improve and uphold the principles of the criminal justice system in Rhode Island.

The 2016 class includes retired Rhode Island State Police Col. Brendan Doherty; Johnston police Capt. Thomas Dolan; Superior Court Presiding Justice Alice B. Gibney; State Crime Laboratory Director Dennis Hilliard; retired Superior Court Presiding Justice Joseph Rodgers; and retired Rhode Island Assistant Attorney General Randall White.

Inductees are nominated and selected by the board.

An induction ceremony is planned for June.

Providence College to permanently close street on campus

Providence College will permanently close to traffic the portion of a street that runs through its campus.

The school says it will close Huxley Avenue between Eaton Street and Ventura Street starting on Wednesday.

The college purchased that portion of the street from the city of Providence in 2012 with the goal of unifying its campus. Crossing Huxley Avenue has been a safety issue over the years. Several people have been struck by cars while crossing from one side of campus to the other.

Providence College says entries to campus will be at Admiral Street, lower Eaton Street and the main gate at Cunningham Square.

Less snow, milder temperatures eased states' winter budgets

In pure dollars and cents, the past winter in southern New England packed roughly half the punch as the previous winter.

Milder temperatures and considerably less snow than a year ago allowed state transportation agencies to save on costs associated with plowing and salting highways.

Boston received less than 40 inches of snow this year, compared to over 110 inches in the record-setting winter of 2015.

State figures show the Department of Transportation spent $88.7 million clearing roadways of snow and ice in fiscal 2016, compared to $167 million in fiscal 2015.

The Rhode Island Department of Transportation spent $10.9 million on winter operations, compared to $19.5 million a year ago.

Preliminary figures show Connecticut spent $31 million in fiscal 2016, after a record $50.2 million in fiscal 2015.

Raimondo to hold summit on early learning

Gov. Gina Raimondo is hosting a conversation about her priorities for preschool and kindergarten in the state.

The Democrat is holding a Monday morning summit in Providence.

She says she wants to keep the momentum going after the state last year made all-day kindergarten universal. She says her focus is on getting kids reading at their grade levels.

Her education spending proposal this year includes $1.2 million to expand pre-kindergarten options for young learners.

She's scheduled to be joined at the summit by educators, other elected officials and a former director of early learning programs in the state of Washington.

Bryant University opens new $9M indoor athletic facility

A new indoor practice facility opened on Bryant University's campus in Smithfield over the weekend, eight months after the structure collapsed during construction.

Although its opening was four months behind schedule, the Conaty Indoor Athletic Center was finally dedicated on Saturday.

The $9 million project was in serious jeopardy after most of the building's steel shell collapsed in September 2015. Six A/Z Corp construction workers were hospitalized as a result of the incident, but the project continued.

A/Z Corp CEO Perry Lorenz says it's been a great experience to see the team effort it took to overcome the collapse.

Bryant officials believe the 80,000-square-foot facility will help attract better athletes to the school. It's designed to provide all sports teams with the ability to practice year-round and avoid harsh winters.

Abbot suddenly resigns from Portsmouth Abbey

The Portsmouth Abbey School has announced their abbot has suddenly resigned after admitting misconduct.

A letter was sent to the parents and staff from the school’s board regarding Rev. Dom Caedmon Holmes’ resignation.

According to the letter, Holmes’ resignation is followed by his “acknowledgment of personal struggles involving conduct inconsistent with our expectations and with the Benedictine ideals.”

The school officials also say they are not aware that Holmes’ conduct affected any students.

Additionally, the letter indicates that an independent law firm has been assigned to follow up with any further issues or concerns

This abrupt resignation comes in the midst of a sex abuse scandal from another near by school that has stirred up controversy; the St. George's School in Middletown, a private boarding school, where dozens of former students were raped and molested by several former staff members.

Smithfield man pleads no contest to benefits fraud

A Smithfield man has pleaded no contest to charges of collecting more than $24,000 in unemployment benefits while he was working.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin says 49-year-old John Linehan entered his plea Tuesday to one count of obtaining money under false pretenses.

Under the terms of a plea agreement, the state amended the initial charge from a felony to a misdemeanor because Linehan has paid full restitution. The case was filed for one year.

Prosecutors say at various times between January 1, 2009 and February 28, 2012, Linehan failed to accurately report his weekly earnings to the Rhode Island Department of Labor and. While Linehan was collecting unemployment benefits, he was working for a Cranston-based demolition and environmental remediation contractor.

Raimondo unveils plan to combat opioid overdose deaths

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo has introduced what she calls a comprehensive plan to combat drug overdose deaths in the state.

The Democrat held a conference Wednesday to unveil the action plan and call on the General Assembly to approve $4 million in the state budget to prevent overdoses and treat addiction.

State health officials say as many as 257 people died because of overdoses last year and 46 so far this year. They're particularly concerned about a rise in opioid overdoses caused by a mix of illicit drugs and fentanyl, a prescription painkiller.

Raimondo's plan includes stricter enforcement of prescription opioid regulations and expands the number of certified peer recovery specialists.

It also increases the use of anti-overdosing treatment naloxone and gets medication-assisted help for inmates while they're incarcerated.

Providence city councilman arrested for embezzlement

A Providence city councilman has been arraigned on charges he misused campaign funds and embezzled more than $127,000 from a youth organization he founded.

Kevin Jackson was released on personal recognizance at his arraignment Wednesday.

The 57-year-old Jackson is charged with felony embezzlement, unlawful appropriation over $1,000 and related crimes.

Investigators say Jackson misappropriated $12,074 in campaign contributions for his personal use and has embezzled $127,153 from the Providence Cobras, a youth track and field organization, since 2009.

The embezzlement and unlawful appropriation charges each carry a prison sentence of up to 20 years.

Jackson's attorney, Artin Coloian, says Jackson will get a vigorous defense.

The Democrat is majority leader and was first elected to the Providence City Council in 1995.

He represents the city's Hope and Mount Hope neighborhoods.

Lawmakers look to ban GPS tracking of cars without consent

The Rhode Island Senate has passed a bill that would make it a crime to electronically track a vehicle without the owner's consent.

The Senate passed it unanimously on Wednesday.

Sen. Maryellen Goodwin, the Providence Democrat who sponsored the bill, says it's aimed at protecting stalking and domestic violence victims.

She says people can too easily be tracked using smartphones hidden in their cars. At least 11 states have laws against secretly installing GPS devices in vehicles.

The House passed a companion bill last month sponsored by Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello. Both chambers must now pass the other's bill before the legislation is sent to Democratic Gov. Gina Raimondo.

The bill exempts parents monitoring the whereabouts and driving habits of their children and businesses tracking employees at work.

Warwick Teachers' Union protests forthcoming layoffs

The Warwick Teachers' Union is protesting the forthcoming termination of 65 public school teachers in the eastern Rhode Island city, which it claims is a contract violation.

The names of the laid off educators were read aloud during the School Committee's Tuesday night meeting.

Superintendent Philip Thornton says the affected teachers, which mostly work at the middle- and high-school levels, will finish the school year and leave in June.

George Landrie, president of the teachers' union, called the layoffs the darkest moment in Warwick Public Schools history.

Under the union's expired contract, which it is currently working under, just 20 educators can be laid off in a given year. With this in mind, Landrie says he's taken his dispute to the state's labor relations board.

Largest shipment of wind turbines to RI arrives

The largest shipment of wind turbines sent to Rhode Island arrived from Germany at the Port of Davisville earlier this week.

A ship carrying 10 turbines docked at the Quonset Business Park port on Tuesday and its haul was in the process of being unloaded on Wednesday.

The turbines came in pieces - three tower sections for each turbine and a nacelle that holds the generator. North Kingstown-based Wind Energy Development has been tasked with installing the turbines at various locations across the state.

Each of the direct-drive turbines were made by Vensys, a German company that says it has over 12,000 of its turbines installed around the world. They are all rated at 1.5 megawatts and stand 414 feet tall.

Health warning issued after rise in fentanyl-related deaths

Rhode Island health officials have warned the state's residents of a "significant increase" in accidental overdose deaths tied to the use of a synthetic opioid during the past few months.

It was announced Tuesday that up to two-thirds of all overdose deaths in the state in March, April and early May are believed to have involved fentanyl.

Health officials say 28 of the state's overdose deaths in 2016 are linked to the drug.

A Health Department spokesman says fentanyl is especially dangerous because of its strength and how it is abused. The drug is about 100 times more potent than morphine.

Gov. Gina Raimondo is expected to release a plan of action to address Rhode Island's overdose crisis today.

RI lawmakers aim to strengthen ethics oversight

Rhode Island's top lawmakers are pushing for a constitutional amendment to enable an ethics commission to investigate lawmakers for conflicts of interest.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, both Democrats, on Tuesday introduced legislation to put an ethics question on the November ballot.

The proposal would restore powers that were removed from the Rhode Island Ethics Commission by the state's highest court in 2009.

If approved, lawmakers would no longer be immune from the commission's oversight over conflicts of interest. The commission's chairman has said the commission never should have lost its jurisdiction.

Mattiello says the bill was in the works before Democratic Rep. Raymond Gallison resigned last week amid a federal investigation.

Former House Speaker Gordon Fox was sentenced in June to three years in prison for corruption.

Grand jury finds officer justified in fatal shooting

A Providence County grand jury has determined that a city police officer was justified when she shot and killed a Pawtucket man brandishing a BB gun.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin announced Tuesday the grand jury had completed its investigation into the shooting death of Dominique Silva by Officer Julianne Borsari.

Authorities say Borsari fatally shot the 24-year-old Silva on March 24 after Silva pointed a gun at her during a chase. Silva's weapon turned out to be a BB gun. It's unclear whether Silva fired the weapon.

A police report shows officers were responding to a report of an armed drug robbery.

Silva's family members held a peaceful demonstration last month in front of City Hall, saying they were seeking more information about the night Silva was shot.

RI offers $1.9 million to pen maker A.T. Cross

Rhode Island is offering $1.9 million in incentives to pen maker A.T. Cross Co. to help the 170-year-old company move its headquarters from Lincoln to Providence.

The Rhode Island Commerce Corporation board of directors approved the package on Monday evening.

Commerce Managing Director Jesse Saglio says the company was also weighing a larger $2.9 million counter offer from Connecticut but is committed to staying in Rhode Island if it gets the local incentives.

The company plans to move out of its Lincoln manufacturing plant to a smaller office at Providence's Foundry complex. It expects to add about 35 new jobs over three years.

Most of its pens are now manufactured in China.

It's owned by New York private equity firm Clarion Capital Partners.

Bus driver in crash tells police brakes might have failed

The driver behind the wheel of a RIPTA bus that crashed into a shelter outside a bus tunnel in Providence told police the brakes might have failed.

Nine people ended up in the hospital after Monday's crash, including the driver and eight passengers. None of the injuries was life-threatening.

Providence police Lt. John Ryan says that investigators are checking the brakes.

A  spokeswoman for RIPTA, says a preliminary review of the bus found it was in working order, and no mechanical problems were found with the brakes. The bus driver has been placed on paid leave.

RIPTA buses have been involved in five serious incidents in the last year, sending 18 people to the hospital. One woman eventually died of her injuries.

Analysts boost revenue estimates for RI budget

Rhode Island budget analysts have added nearly $39 million to their state revenue estimates for the current fiscal year.

Better-than-expected receipts from lottery and gambling operations contributed to the boost.

The General Assembly's twice-annual Revenue and Caseload Estimating Conference also added $8 million to their projections for next year, giving a total of $47.5 million more revenue for budget writers to work with on next year's spending plan.

The spring estimates also showed that personal income tax collections were strong.

Democratic House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello says he's happy there's additional revenue to close the budget gap, but says it's small in the context of the entire budget.

Lawmakers are working to finalize the state budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Dean Foods buys Friendly's ice cream-making business

The Friendly's restaurant chain has sold its ice cream manufacturing and retail business to Dean Foods Co. for $155 million.

Dallas-based Dean announced Monday that it will continue to manufacture ice cream and novelty ice cream products in Wilbraham, Massachusetts.

There are more than 260 Friendly's restaurants. They will continue to be owned by an affiliate of Sun Capital Partners Inc. with no management changes.

Friendly's ice cream is distributed to more than 8,000 supermarkets and retailers across the U.S. and has seen 105 percent growth in retail business in the past five years.

The transaction is expected to close late in the second quarter, subject to regulatory approvals.

Friendly's was founded in 1935 in Springfield, Massachusetts. Dean Foods is the nation's largest direct-to-store distributor of milk and other dairy products.

RIPTA bus crashes near tunnel in Providence

A Rhode Island Public Transit Authority bus has crashed into a bus shelter in Providence.

The crash happened around 6 p.m. Monday in front of the tunnel on Waterman Street.

Providence police Lt. Roger Aspinall says the driver and eight passengers were injured, including one child. He says none of the injuries is serious. The passengers were taken to the hospital for evaluation.

There's no word on the cause of the crash.

Gas prices up a penny per gallon in RI

Gas prices are up a penny per gallon in Rhode Island.

AAA Northeast says its weekly survey released on Monday found the average price of self-serve, regular gas was $2.23 per gallon, up one cent from last week.

AAA says the price is two cents higher than the national average of $2.21 per gallon.

The average price of gas in Rhode Island at this time last year was 41 cents higher, at $2.64 per gallon.

AAA's survey found self-serve, regular gas in Rhode Island selling for as low as $2.13 per gallon and as high as $2.45.

Elite school working to settle with alumni over sexual abuse

An email obtained by The Associated Press shows that an elite Rhode Island boarding school where dozens of alumni say they were sexually abused is negotiating possible settlements with lawyers for more than 30 people.

Carmen Durso, an attorney representing people who say they were abused, wrote in the email to clients on Friday that St. George's School in Middletown wants to start individual settlement discussions in June. If agreements can be reached, he said he expects most claims could be resolved by the end of the month.

Durso would not comment in more detail Monday. A school spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

State police are wrapping up an investigation into the allegations, which stretch as far back as decades and as recently as the 2000s. An independent investigator is expected to finish his work next month.

RI Ranked For Nursing Careers

It's National Nurses Week and Rhode Island is ranked as the 17th best state for nurses.  The survey considered 14 factors including starting and annual salary, nursing job openings, and mandatory overtime restrictions.  Washington State is ranked number one, Washington, D.C. is last. 

Wanted Man Surrenders To Central Falls Police

A man considered a person of interest in a Central Falls shooting is in custody.  There was an arrest warrant for Moses Cabral who police say surrendered Monday morning.  He was wanted in connection with the shooting of Felix Cepeda a few days ago.  Cepeda suffered a non-life-threatening wound.

Ethics Commission Legislation To Be Filed

Ethics legislation sponsored by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello [[ mat-e-ELL-oh ]] is expected to be introduced tomorrow.  The ethics bill became public last month, prior to the recent and abrupt resignation of Bristol Representative Ray Gallison, who's the target of an investigation.  Details haven't been released but the intent of the bill is reportedly to restore full Ethics Commission oversight over members of the General Assembly.  

Governor Announces Judicial Nominations

Governor Gina Raimondo is sending eight judicial nominations to the Senate for confirmation.  If confirmed, the nominees will fill vacancies in Superior Court, Family Court, District Court and Workers' Compensation Court. The governor says her nominees are highly qualified and possess standards of excellence and integrity. 

Police Find Missing Little Compton Man's Body

Police are releasing more information about the body of a missing Little Compton man.  Police say Michael Godles was reported missing late last month.  After a week of searching for his body, volunteers found him in Little Compton on Saturday afternoon.  There's no word as to how he died, but the state Medical Examiner's Office is doing an autopsy.  Anyone with information about the days leading up to his death should call police.

Man's Body Found On Portsmouth Beach

Police are investigating after an elderly man's body washed up on a Portsmouth Beach.  Police say the 78-year-old man was found dead wearing a wetsuit at Sandy Point Beach.  The man was reported missing late last week in Middletown.  His death doesn't appear to be suspicious, but an investigation is ongoing.  The victim's name hasn't been released.

Health centers earn a combined $3 million

Three health centers in Rhode Island have been awarded a combined $3 million to expand.
Rhode Island’s congressional delegation says the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded the funding for facility renovation and expansion. The funds will increase access to health care for a projected 11,250 additional patients. Comprehensive Community Action in Cranston and Blackstone Valley Community Health Care in Pawtucket are slated to get $1 million each. The Providence Community Health Centers will receive nearly $1 million.
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse says these centers are a vital source of health care for many families and the funding will expand high-quality primary and preventive care options for thousands of people. The funding comes from the Affordable Care Act’s Community Health Center Fund.

Bill would require testing water for lead

A state lawmaker has introduced a bill that would require all Rhode Island preschools to test their tap water each year for lead.
Rep. Eileen Naughton, a Warwick Democrat, says the lead contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, motivated her to sponsor the bill.
The legislation would affect any school, daycare, playground or foster home that has children under 6 years old.
Federal rules only require schools to test tap water for lead if they rely on their own water supply, usually from a well.
New Jersey Republican Gov. Chris Christie said this month he’ll require all of New Jersey’s schools to test for lead in water starting next school year.
Massachusetts Republican Gov. Charlie Baker last month announced a $2 million initiative to help schools test for lead.

State to get $3M for affordable rentals

Rhode Island is receiving $3 million in federal money to help create affordable rental housing.
The money comes from $174 million awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development through the nation’s Housing Trust Fund.
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, created the fund to address the shortage of affordable housing. He says the money will help Rhode Island increase the number of affordable homes and strengthen communities.
Advocates for low-income residents say Rhode island has thousands fewer rental units than it needs for low-income people.
States can use the money for things such as buying and developing real estate, demolition, financing and relocation help.

Raimondo to host meeting about jobs

Gov. Gina Raimondo is hosting another community meeting to discuss proposals to strengthen schools and help Rhode Islanders develop skills to compete in today’s job market.
The Democratic governor has planned a series of what she’s calling “skills that matter for jobs that pay” community conversations.
The next one is scheduled for tonight at 6 at the Warwick Veterans Memorial High School.
The meeting is open to the public and will feature a question- and-answer session with Raimondo.
State lawmakers, education officials and Warwick’s mayor plan to attend.
Raimondo says she looks forward to hearing from residents and she’s eager to discuss efforts to move the state forward.
Gov. Gina Raimondo is hosting another community meeting to discuss proposals to strengthen schools and help Rhode Islanders develop skills to compete in today’s job market.
The Democratic governor has planned a series of what she’s calling “skills that matter for jobs that pay” community conversations.
The next one is scheduled for tonight at 6 at the Warwick Veterans Memorial High School.
The meeting is open to the public and will feature a question- and-answer session with Raimondo.
State lawmakers, education officials and Warwick’s mayor plan to attend.
Raimondo says she looks forward to hearing from residents and she’s eager to discuss efforts to move the state forward.

RI Group Finds Historical Sunken Ship

A group in Rhode Island is saying that they may have found a centuries-old shipwreck.  The British ship named, "Endeavour," was led by Captain James Cook and sunk in Newport Harbor in 1778.  The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project believes the vessel is one of 12 other sunken ships in the area.  On the "Endeavour," Captain Cook achieved the first European contact with Australia and provided the first map of the Pacific.

White-Nose Syndrome Reported 1st Time In RI

The first case of White-Nose Syndrome is being reported in Rhode Island.  The fungal disease is carried by hibernating bats on their muzzles and wings throughout the eastern U.S. and Canada.  The Department of Environmental Management announced yesterday that a tri-colored bat in Newport County tested positive for the disease.  White-Nose is not a threat to humans or animals.

Wrong-Way Driver Detection A Proven Success

Technology put in place to protect wrong-way drivers is getting praises from the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.  Since the system was installed last year, the technology has prevented nearly 50 dangerous, wrong-way incidents.  A RIDOT spokesperson says the system has proven itself to be a, quote, "wise investment."  The detectors were planted in two dozen high risk locations.  If a person is driving the wrong way, LED lights flash and police are notified.

$150K Grant Suspended For Nonprofit With Raymond Gallison Ties

Rhode Island officials are suspending two workforce training grants to a nonprofit just days after Representative Raymond E. Gallison resigned as chairman of the House Finance Committee.  Man Up Inc. was given more than 150-thousand dollars in grants but payment has since been stopped.  A spokesperson for the Department of Labor and Training says they don't believe the money went towards Alternative Educational Programming as expected.  An investigation is ongoing.

RI Trooper OK After Accident

A Rhode Island trooper is expected to be okay after a three-car accident.  A police spokesperson says the trooper was stopped along Route 99 yesterday morning when a car rear-ended him.  A woman was attempting to pass a person and she lost control and slammed into a second car, sending that car into the back of the police cruiser.  The officer was hospitalized for minor injuries.

President Obama Grants Early Prison Release For Providence Man

President Obama is granting early release for nearly 60 prisoners, including a Providence man.  The White House announced yesterday 58 non-violent drug offenders were granted commutation.  Among the prisoners is Charles Brown.  Brown was sentenced to life in prison for conspiracy to distribute and drug possession.  He's now slated to be released in September.  The President has now commuted the sentences of over 300 prisoners.

More Information About Robert Watson's Arrest

Ex-House Minority Leader Robert Watson was arrested in East Greenwich Wednesday on vandalism and disorderly conduct charges.  A bank manager called police after Watson became angry during a discussion about his account.  While leaving the building, Watson allegedly kicked the door causing it shatter.  In 2011, Watson was arrested for pot possession and DUI.  A year later he went to rehab after being charged with alcohol and drug violations.

Teen Dies After Hit-And-Run Car Accident

A teen is dead stemming from a hit-and-run car crash in Cumberland.  Eighteen-year-old Carl John was struck on Monday and died yesterday afternoon.  Police say Carl was walking along Shirley Road early in the morning when an SUV hit him and sped off without stopping.  Laura Belhumeur turned herself in hours after hearing reports about the accident.  She is charged with leaving the scene and causing serious bodily harm.

Police Investigating Car Burglaries In Warwick

Police in Warwick are investigating a string of car break-ins.  A police spokesperson says from Sunday night into Monday, more than 30 cars were broken into after they were left unlocked in the Cowesett area.  An investigation into the crimes is ongoing.   As a result of the burglaries, people are urged to take valuable items out of their cars and lock their doors at all times.

Providence Teen Sentenced For Armed Robberies

A Providence teen is spending the next decade in prison in connection to five armed robberies.  Jonathan Morales recently pled no contest and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.  Morales robbed five people at gunpoint since last August.  The 17-year-old will have another hearing in two years to decide whether his sentence will change.

Colleagues Speak Out Against Representative Gallison

A handful of Rhode Island lawmakers are calling out Representative Raymond Gallison.  The now former House Finance chairman stepped down yesterday, citing "personal reasons."  However, Representative Thomas Winfield says the scandal could portray all state lawmaker in a negative light.  He also called Gallison, a quote, "real jerk," for not telling his colleagues what was happening.

House Finance Chair Steps Down

House Finance Committee Chairman Raymond Gallison is officially stepping down from his post.  A handful of Rhode Island lawmakers are calling out Representative Raymond Gallison.  No word as to why Gallison resigned mid-session, but Representative Marvin Abney is expected to take on the role.  Gallison read his resignation letter yesterday, citing "personal reasons."  Police say the former leader is under investigation for possible prostitution allegations, however he hasn't been charged.

Bank robbery in Coventry

Coventry Police are searching for a suspect in a bank robbery Monday afternoon at the Bank RI, located at 3 Coventry Shoppers Park.  The suspect entered the bank at approximately 4:28 pm armed with a large machete and demanded money from the teller.  The suspect fled on foot with an undetermined amount of money.

Remains of Captain Cook's ship likely off RI coast

Researchers are set to announce that they believe the famed ship used by the legendary explorer Captain James Cook to sail around the world is submerged somewhere in Rhode Island's Newport Harbor.

The Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project will announce on Wednesday that it's 80 to 100 percent sure that the remains of the HMS Endeavour - later renamed the Lord Sandwich - is among sunken wrecks off the state's coast.

The group used documents in London to map and then analyze sites where the ship may be found in the harbor.

The Endeavour was used by Captain James Cook to claim Australia for the British. It was one of 13 vessels sunk by British soldiers when Newport was under siege in 1778.

Police investigating death of Johnson & Wales freshman

Police in Providence are investigating the death of a Johnson & Wales University freshman who was found unresponsive in a dormitory over the weekend.

Maj. David Lapatin says 24-year-old Andrew Loofbourow was found dead in a bathroom at South Hall at approximately 4:30 a.m. Saturday.

University spokeswoman Miriam Weinstein says Loofbourow was a Rapid City, South Dakota native who had recently enrolled for the spring term in the college of culinary arts.

A statement released by Johnson & Wales over the weekend said Loofbourow's impact on campus was "both positive and memorable among his roommates and classmates."

Lapatin says police are waiting for the medical examiner to determine Loofbourow's cause of death, but no foul play is suspected at this time.

Gas prices up 7 cents per gallon in RI

Gas prices are up an average of seven cents per gallon in Rhode Island.

AAA Northeast says its weekly survey released on Monday found the average price of self-serve, regular gas was $2.22 per gallon, up from $2.15 last week. It's the highest price since the fall.

AAA says the national average also stands at $2.22 per gallon.

Prices are still significantly lower than at this time last year, when the average price of gas in Rhode Island was 38 cents higher, at $2.60 per gallon.

Portsmouth/Bristol Rep. Ray Gallison To Step Down

All three Providence TV outlets are now reporting that they’ve learned from multiple credible sources that House Finance Commitee Chairman Raymond Gallison Jr. will resign today.

They're told his resignation has to do with a federal probe and is related with prostitution.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has called a special caucus for this afternoon at 3:45.

Gallison represents Bristol and Portsmouth. He was first elected to the House of Representatives in 2000.

AG to host shred-a-thons to stop identity theft

Rhode Island's attorney general is working with a shredding service to host free shred-a-thons.

Attorney General Peter Kilmartin says one of the easiest ways to prevent identity theft is by shredding documents that contain personal information, such as bank statements, bills and credit card offers.

His office is partnering with Doc Shredding Corp. to host 11 shred-a-thon events.

The first will be held Monday morning in Providence, followed by an afternoon event in Lincoln.

Additional events will be held during the week throughout the state, including one at the Middletown Police Station on Valley Road Thursday from noon to 3.

There will also be a collection for non-perishable food items for the Rhode Island Community Food Bank at the events.

There is a limit of two boxes or two large shopping bags of documents.

May kicks off fundraising for Station Fire Memorial Park

May begins a month-long effort by faith communities across Rhode Island to help raise the funds needed to complete Station Fire Memorial Park in West Warwick.

The Station Fire Memorial Foundation is approximately $300,000 short of the $2 million required to open the park honoring the victims of a 2003 fire at The Station nightclub.

If the foundation reaches its fundraising goal by the end of the month, the park will be opened in the fall. Officials say more than 500 congregations of varying religious denominations are participating in the May fundraising campaign.

Organizations will take up second collections, host events and sponsor raffles to support the foundation. Campaign director Dan Barry says the unity among the various faith communities is "historic."

RI Foundation awards community-building grants

The Rhode Island Foundation has awarded $500,000 in grants for local community-building projects.

The foundation says 43 projects received grants.

The recipients include nonprofit organizations, municipal governments and public agencies.

Among the uses, the grants can pay for building bikes lanes, creating neighborhood libraries, designing walking tours, planting community gardens and installing historical markers and monuments.

The city of Woonsocket received $8,500 to install public art, Aquidneck Community Table received $12,000 to create a community garden in Newport and the Pawtucket Central Falls Development Corporation received $12,000 to add bike lanes around school buildings in Central Falls, for example. The work is expected to be completed this year.

The maximum grant award was $15,000.

RI awarded $1.25 million to help the unemployed

Rhode Island has been awarded nearly $1.25 million to provide re-employment and eligibility assessments to people who are unemployed.

The state's congressional delegation announced the funding from theU.S. Department of Labor.

It will be used to expand unemployment services so the state can conduct in-person assessments to help people identify their strengths and opportunities in the workforce and to refer them for job training and services.

The delegation says the reviews will also help ensure that only those eligible for unemployment insurance payments receive assistance.

U.S. Sen. , a Democrat, says the funding will help job seekers and modernize the unemployment insurance system.

U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, also a Democrat, says reemployment programs can close the gap between job seekers and employers that are hiring.

Police ask for public's help in finding Little Compton man

Police in Little Compton are asking for the public's help in locating a missing 39-year-old man who was last seen in the coastal Rhode Island town on Tuesday morning.

The search for Michael Godles came up empty over the weekend. Police say Godles' family believes he is without medication that he needs to take for an undisclosed medical condition.

Godles was reportedly last seen by his mother Tuesday in a wooded area behind the West Main Road home that they share. He was reported missing on Friday.

Members of Rhode Island State Police's K-9 units scoured the surrounding area on Saturday along with Little Compton police and fire. A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter was also called to assist in searching approximately 500 acres of woodland for Godles.


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