1540 WADK.com Updates Archives for 2019-07

Defunct Rail Bridge Demolition On RIDOT List

The defunct Crook Point Bascule Bridge connecting Providence and East Providence over the Seekonk River is on the demolition clock. The railway bridge has become iconic since it was abandoned in 1976 and left in the "open" position. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation quietly included plans to demolish the bridge in 2026 or 2027 in its long-term project list last year. DOT officials cite public safety issues for wanting to remove the bridge.

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Prov. Teacher Union Lists Recommendations

The Providence Teachers Union issues public comments the week following state action to take control of the city's public school district. The union says it is committed to partnering with the state to improve schools and has released recommendations for reforms. The list includes developing behavioral norms, addressing cultural competency, bias and racism while also expanding partnerships for diversity, and addressing chronic teacher absenteeism.

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Aponte Submits Resignation; Special Election Will Be Called

Longtime Providence City Council member and former council president Luis Aponte officially resigned on Tuesday. A day before, the Rhode Island Attorney General's office said Aponte's resignation was part of a plea deal that was reached in an embezzlement case. The city council will have to declare a special election for the Ward 10 seat.

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Firefighters Suffer Heat Exhaustion After Pawtucket Blaze

Three firefighters were hospitalized for heat exhaustion after battling a blaze in Pawtucket on Tuesday. The intense fire, which crews responded to at around 3 p.m., decimated an auto and hair care business on Dexter Street. Fire officials said it was treated as a possible hazmat situation.

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Scarborough Beach In Narragansett Closed

One beach is currently lost for swimming in the state. The Rhode Island Department of Health is closing Scarborough Beach north and south in Narragansett because of high bacteria counts. The state Department of Environmental Management is working to determine the source of the high bacteria levels.

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McSally Defends Air Force General From Sex Assault Allegations

Rhode Island native and Arizona Senator Martha McSally made comments during a confirmation hearing yesterday for President Trump's Joint Chiefs of Staff vice chairman pick. McSally, who has previously disclosed that she was raped by a superior officer in the Air Force, defended Air Force general John Hyten from sex assault allegations made by U.S Army Colonel Kathryn Spletstoser. McSally said the claims were false and noted, "sexual assault happens in the military. It just didn't happen in this case."

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New Fire Chief Named For T.F. Green Airport

The Rhode Island Airport Corporation is announcing a new fire chief for T.F. Green Airport. William Greenwood, who is coming from the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport in New Hampshire, has been named to the position. Greenwood also served at the same time as a firefighter for the city of Keene, New Hampshire. The chief position has been vacant since December of 2017.

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Verizon Coverage An Issue On Block Island Currently

Verizon is getting complaints about no service on Block Island this week. Numerous tweets on Monday directed at the company claimed the interruption has lasted several days.  Verizon says a vendor fiber problem is causing the issue and said it is working to resolve it ASAP, with no restoration time given.

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Elections Board On Fraudulent Campaign Fund Activity

The state elections board says it may have had something to do with theft of campaign money from the accounts of two candidates. Multiple media reports have indicated that 15-thousand dollars was taken from both the accounts of Cranston Mayor Allan Fung, who ran for governor last year, and Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, who successfully ran for re-election. The board said yesterday that routing and account numbers of checks written by campaigns involved in the state's Matching Public Funds program were incorrectly disclosed. Officials apologized for the mistake.

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Aponte Resigning From Prov. City Council, Per Plea Deal

Longtime Providence City Council member Luis Aponte is resigning, according to the Rhode Island Attorney General's office. Aponte pleaded no contest yesterday to a felony count of embezzlement and was given a suspended four-and-a-half-year sentence with probation. The stepping-down from the council is part of the plea dea. 

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Latest Mosquito Test Results Negative In RI

The latest mosquito test results for West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis are negative. The results are based on 168 samples taken from 26 traps set on Monday, July 15th. To date there have been no findings of West Nile or Triple E in Rhode Island. However, there have been isolated findings of both mosquito-borne viruses in nearby Massachusetts communities.

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Clarification Sought On Topic Of Charging Students For Field Trips

Legislators representing Cumberland are asking for clarification from the state education commissioner about school departments charging students for field trips. The Cumberland School Committee has issued a warning that all field trips for the upcoming school year may be canceled after the state education department announced earlier this year that schools could not charge students. State Senator Ryan Pearson says canceling all field trips is a drastic move that will hurt students and their educations.

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Alex And Ani No Longer Sponsoring Prov Skating Rink

The city of Providence will be looking for a new sponsor for its downtown skating rink. Jewelry company Alex and Ani will not be renewing its naming rights deal after its contract expires in November. The Alex and Ani City Center has been the name of the rink for the last five years. A city official says the signage will be changed and that a naming rights request for proposals has been released.

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Newport Hospital Relocates Chapel Dedicated To Former Surgeon

Family members of a doctor who was honored with the naming of a chapel at Newport Hospital are dismayed to find out about the closing of the space. The family of Charles Serbst, a surgeon at the hospital who was a prisoner of war in World War Two, helped establish the chapel in his memory after he died in 1969. The hospital has moved the chapel into a smaller room and says it will install a plaque commemorating Serbst. Officials say the old chapel space was needed for a consolidation of women's health services.

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New Bills Cover Student Loan Protections, School Violence, OD's

Legislation backed by General Treasurer Seth Magaziner and the leaders of the House and Senate are among more new laws being announced this week. The treasurer backed a student loan bill of rights law which aims to prohibit predatory behavior by requiring student loan servicers to register with the state. House Speaker Nick Mattiello's one bill mandates that school districts adopt policies for threat assessment and intervention to prevent violence in schools. Another law sponsored by Mattiello and Senate President Dom Ruggerio expands the Good Samaritan Overdose Prevention Act by protecting law enforcement and emergency medical personnel from liability if they help someone they believe is overdosing.

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Nearly A Dozen Beaches Closed For Swimming

Swimming restrictions due to high bacteria counts are currently in place at eleven beaches, according to the most recent listing from the Rhode Island Department of Health's beach closure hotline. They are Third Beach and Peabody's Beach in Middletown, Fort Adams and Gooseberry beaches in Newport, Dunes Park Beach in Westerly, Sandy Point Beach in Warwick, North Kingstown Town Beach, Saunderstown Yacht Club, Camp Grosvenor in Saunderstown, Bonnet Shores in Narragansett, and the Kent County YMCA Lower Pond in Warwick. The high total is due to heavy rain from earlier this week.

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Providence Train Stopped After Fire Seen Coming From Engine

Fire was seen coming out of a train on the MBTA Providence line on Thursday. The train coming from Boston stopped for a mechanical issue at Canton Junction in Massachusetts at around 7:30 p.m. The T says a suspected problem with the train engine's turbo charger caused smoke and flames to come out of its exhaust system. The passengers who were on board were moved to a new train.

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Providence Police Host Free BBall Camp

Providence police are sponsoring a free basketball camp. The Providence Police Sports Academy is accepting registrations for ages eight to 15 for the camp to be held August 19th through the 23rd at the Providence Career and Technical Academy. There is no fee to attend and breakfast and lunch will be provided. More information is posted on Twitter by Providence Police.

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U.S. House Passes Robocall Bill

Rhode Island Congressman James Langevin is co-sponsoring a House bill designed to reduce robocalls. The Stopping Bad Robocalls Act was passed by the House yesterday and now moves on to the Senate. It will implement a free nationwide caller authentication system to help crack down on annoying calls and scams. Americans received over 26 million robocalls last year which is a 46-percent increase from 2017.

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Unconventional Abe Lincoln Statue Revealed

Woonsocket's downtown district has a new, unconventional statue of former President Abraham Lincoln. The sculpture was created using a rectangular piece of steel and has been placed outside the city's old train depot where Lincoln arrived in the spring of 1860. 

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Cumberland Schools To Cancel All Upcoming Field Trips

Cumberland Schools are canceling several upcoming field trips scheduled for the new school year while they work to figure out how to pay for them. Education Commissioner Ken Wagner pointed out a state law in April preventing schools from charging students to attend school-organized trips. According to the law, the only way students can be charged is if the trip is organized and insured by a third party. School committee members will be meeting in two weeks to discuss ideas for funding.

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New Laws Affect Hospitals, Elderly And Disabled, Coventry Sewer System

New laws are being signed this week by Governor Raimondo. One bill, introduced as a response to the St. Joseph Health Services pension system crisis, mandates stronger oversight for hospitals being acquired by non-profit agencies. Two other bills help the elderly and disabled: even if they aren't patients themselves. And, a bill from Coventry Senator Leo Raptakis and Representative Patricia Serpa caps the interest rates charged by the town to ratepayers for the town's sewer project.

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Former RI Congressional Candidate Sentenced For Running Fraudulent PACs

A former Rhode Island congressional candidate is being sentenced for a conviction of fraud and campaign finance violation. The U.S. Justice Department says Harold Russell Taub of Cranston was sentenced to three years in prison yesterday and ordered to pay over a million dollars in restitution. Prosecutors say Taub used for personal expenses money that had been contributed to political action committees he had established. Taub challenged David Cicilline for his seat in 2016 and lost.

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Two Police Officers Face Separate Charges

Two Rhode Island police officers are facing charges for separate allegations. The Rhode Island State Police says William Munroe, an officer for the Tiverton Police Department, is accused of fraudulently producing the signature of the town's treasurer on forms submitted by him over a six-year period for an employee compensation plan. And, East Greenwich officer Humberto Montalban is accused of cyber-harassment of an ex-girlfriend. Munroe is on unpaid leave, according to the Tiverton police chief, while East Greenwich police say Montalban has been suspended with pay.

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Providence Social Service Agency Finds New Home

The Community Action Partnership of Providence says it has found a new location. The social service non-profit announced earlier this month it was moving out of the Elmwood Community Center because of health and safety concerns. The organization will now run out of the Rhode Island Indian Council's facility on Broad Street, starting next month.

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Rep. Cicilline Calls For Impeachment Inquiry

Congressman David Cicilline is calling for the House to begin an impeachment inquiry into President Trump. Cicilline was one of many Congressman to questioning Special Counsel Robert Mueller yerterday on the investigation into obstruction of justice and Russian interference in the 2016 election. Cicilline says Mueller outlined a series of high crimes committed by the president.

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Police Hunting For Violations Near Newport Pell Bridge

Police will be out in full force near the Newport Pell Bridge to crack down on the number of people speeding and driving while distracted. Officials say starting next Monday they will focus on Route 138, starting at the Route 1 intersection and ending on the east side of the Newport Bridge. The speed limit will drop from 40 miles-per-hour down to 25 as a way to help protect motorists and construction workers alike.

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New Acting Fire Chief Appointed In Cranston

 Cranston Mayor Allan Fung is appointing Assistant Fire Chief Steven MacIntosh to take over as Acting Fire Chief of Cranston. Effective Friday, MacIntosh will step in to fill the spot that was recently vacated by Paul Valletta, who stepped down just one day before the city council was set to confirm him for the permanent position. MacIntosh has been a member of the department for 35 years and is one of the names currently on the short list to take over as the permanent Fire Chief.

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State Gets Grant To Rebuild Route 95 North Through Prov.

 Rhode Island will receive a 60-million-dollar federal grant to help rebuild and widen Route 95 North through downtown Providence. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Transportations, INFRA program. The expansion is expected to cost 250-million-dollars, and lawmakers have already approved borrowing 200-million-dollars for the project.

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State's First "Adaptive Gym" Opened

Rhode Island's first "adaptive gym" is being opened in Cranston. A ribbon-cutting was held for the gym at the Park Avenue YMCA on Tuesday. Professional boxer Gary Balletto was injured in 2013 while training for American Ninja Warrior and was paralyzed from the chest down, and said he realized during his rehab effort that there is a significant need for gym facilities for people like him with spinal cord injuries. Specially-trained staff will be available to help people safely use the gym's equipment.

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Swimming Restrictions Lifted

The state health department is re-opening Harmony Hill School Beach in Chepachet and the Kent County YMCA Upper Pond in Warwick. Swimming is being allowed because bacteria levels have returned to acceptable measures. Officials say the only restricted area in the state currently is the Kent County YMCA Lower Pond in Warwick.

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Cumberland Fire Chief Placed On Leave

The fire chief of the Cumberland Fire District is being placed on paid administrative leave. The chairwoman of the district confirmed the action for Kenneth Finlay last night, citing an internal personnel matter. Finlay has been the fire chief in Cumberland since 2009.

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Sports Saved After Warwick City Council Approves More Funding

Following public outcry over a loss of interscholastic sports, the Warwick City Council is coming up with funding to let student-athletes take the field. The council approved an additional four-million dollars for the school district at a special meeting on Tuesday. The money covers items that were on a priority list from the Warwick School Committee, which made wide-ranging cuts including sports last month.

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Delays Caused By Debris Falling From Bridge Over I-95

No injuries nor damaged vehicles were reported when debris fell from a bridge over I-95 in Providence on Tuesday. RI Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti said concrete fell from the Broadway overpass at around 3 p.m. Emergency work on I-95 south was cleared at 8:00 last night. There were significant travel delays in the meantime.

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State Takeover Request Of Providence Schools Approved

Rhode Island Commissioner of Education Angelica Infante-Green's move to take over the Providence public school district is being approved. The state Council of Elementary and Secondary Education last night OK'd the request that Infante-Green made in response to a scathing report on the state of the capital city's school system. 

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Scituate Chief Placed On Administrative Leave

The Scituate deputy police chief is in charge of the department until further notice. Police Chief Donald Delaere has been temporarily placed on administrative leave. The chief's contract expires in July of next year and he says  that he's done nothing wrong and he's not going anywhere. He calls the issue a case of harassment by the Scituate town council.

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New Development Planned For Newport

A mixed-use development is being planned in Newport. The Carpionato Group announced plans yesterday to demolish the former Newport Grand and create an area called Newport North End. The site will have two hotels with about 250 rooms along with two, six story apartment buildings. There is also office space, restaurant and retail space to be developed. It's expected about 500 full-time jobs will be created once the 100-million-dollar project is complete.

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Participants Sought For URI Autism Study

The University of Rhode Island is partnering with Yale and the University of Connecticut-affiliated Haskins Laboratories to conduct a study on autism. The study will focus on children between the ages of ten and 18 who have been diagnosed with autism and will look at how they learn language. Experts believe that children with autism miss out on key information regarding language and communication because of their difficulty making eye contact and looking at peoples' faces. 

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Flags At Half-Staff To Honor John Paul Stevens

Governor Gina Raimondo is ordering state and U.S. flags at Rhode Island agencies and buildings to fly at half-staff today to honor the late Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens. Raimondo offered condolences to the family of Stevens and noted his past as a decorated World War Two codebreaker who spent 35 years on the U.S. Supreme Court bench. Stevens died last week at the age of 99, nearly a decade after he retired.

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Rhode Islander David Hedison, Star Of The Fly, Dies

Rhode Island native David Hedison, the star of the 1958 movie The Fly, has died. Hedison, who was born in Providence, passed away last week in Los Angeles at the age of 92. He also starred in the 1960s TV series Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea.

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Information On Equifax Settlement

Equifax is paying the state of Rhode Island one-million dollars as part of the settlement for a data breach. The Rhode Island Attorney General's office says about a half-million Rhode Island consumers were affected. Equifax is providing up to 425-million dollars in restitution to consumers across the country. The A.G.'s office says consumers will be able to file claims after the settlement has been approved in court.

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Man Charged After Going To Westerly To Meet Taylor Swift

A man from Des Moines, Iowa who police say came to Westerly with the intent of visiting Taylor Swift is facing charges. David Page Liddle was arraigned in South County court yesterday on charges of possession of burglary tools and possession of a prohibited weapon other than a firearm - an aluminum baseball bat -- after he was arrested on Friday. Police caught up with Liddle at the Watch Hill Boat Yard after he reportedly walked by the front gate of Swift's Westerly property earlier in the day. Liddle apparently claimed he knew Swift personally and that she agreed to help him with his singing career.

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Library Move Fundraiser Receives Matching Grant

The Save Our Library fundraising campaign in Narragansett is receiving a big financial boost. The Murray Family Charitable Foundation announced a 500-thousand-dollar matching grant to the library's fundraising goal of two-million-dollars. The grant will match all pledges from one-dollar up to 500-thousand-dollars to help the Maury Loontjens Memorial Library move to another building. That move to the Belmont building was approved by voters in a 2016 referendum.

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NOS4A2 Picked Up For Second Season

 AMC television series NOS4A2, a show produced in Rhode Island, is being picked up for a second season. The supernatural horror drama stars Zachary Quinto. Executive producer Steven Feinberg says production on the second season will begin in September.

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Scituate Police Chief Placed On Leave

Scituate Police Chief Donald Delaere is being placed on paid administrative leave. Town Council vice president Abbie Groves says the action is being taken to further review recently-received information. Delaere thanked community members for their support on the Scituate PD's Facebook page after a Saturday night town council meeting was canceled, apparently due to overcrowding concerns. He has told multiple media outlets that he has been harassed by town officials.

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Warwick School Funding Meeting Delayed

The Warwick City Council is still looking ahead to a meeting where a vote on funding for interscholastic sports is on the agenda. The emergency meeting was scheduled for Saturday but it is now set for tomorrow night. Officials cited concerns about a potential open meeting law violation. The council will vote on giving the school district four-million dollars in additional funding for a priority list that includes sports.

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Acting Fire Chief Of Cranston To Retire

The acting fire chief of Cranston is retiring on Friday. Mayor Allan Fung announced yesterday that Paul Valletta wanted to focus on his union leadership position at the State House instead of taking the permanent fire chief job. Concerns were raised by some about Valletta's nomination after he was accused of assaulting another member of the Cranston Fire Department in 2017.

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Woman Charged After Dogs Left In Hot Vehicle Die

A Jamestown woman is facing felony animal cruelty charges after three dogs who were found in a hot car yesterday died. Police say the dogs were transported to Newport Animal Hospital after they were found by officers and bystanders who tried to revive them in the parked vehicle outside of a market in Jamestown. Police said the vehicle was running, but the air conditioning was apparently not working and the windows were rolled up. Ann Garnett faces a potential sentence of five years in prison for each of the three animal cruelty counts.

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New Laws Cover Narcan At Schools, Craft Breweries, Helping Seniors

Narcan, beer and seniors were the focuses of three bills signed into law on Thursday in Rhode Island. One law requires private schools to join public schools in having anti-overdose medication available on school property. Another bill increases the amount of beer that can be sold directly to customers by breweries, being raised to a full 24-beer case. And, the third will mandate more reporting of financial exploitation of people 60 or older and adults with disabilities between 18 and 59.

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Warwick Special Meeting On School Funding

The Warwick City Council is scheduling a special meeting on Saturday to vote on additional funding for its public schools. The council met earlier this week and approved a resolution to fund a priority list from the district, which included sports, and the school committee then agreed to spend the money upon receiving it. The city council meeting tomorrow is to authorize that extra spending, four-million dollars in total.

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State Could Take Over Providence School District

Big changes could be on the way for the Providence School District following an extremely critical review of one-dozen schools. Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green is seeking to take control of the school district's budget, hiring and firing and programs. The Council on Elementary and Secondary Education is expected to hear the request on Tuesday. Mayor Jorge Elorza plans on holding a press conference this morning calling for state intervention.

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Heat Indexes Will Be High This Weekend

It's gone from a watch to an Excessive Heat Warning from the National Weather Service for Rhode Island this weekend. Heat index values today are expected to get up to 100. On Saturday and Sunday, values are expected to range from 107 to 112 degrees. The weather service says the level of heat and humidity will be very dangerous for any extended exposure.

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Pawtucket To Open Cooling Centers

 As Rhode Island braces for a heat wave, Pawtucket has announced it will provide residents with cooling centers. Temperature could approach 100-degrees by Saturday. Mayor Donald Grebien says the intent is to make sure everyone has a free place to go to stay safe and cool.

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Group Sues Over Police Gang Database

 A Providence group is filing a federal lawsuit over the city police department's policy of storing information on suspected gang members. The Providence Youth Student Movement says the so-called gang database violates parts of the Providence Community-Police Relations Act, which covers police misconduct, and the group has concern that it further enables racial profiling. 

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Major Project Opens In I-195 District

The first big project on former I-195 land in downtown Providence is opening its doors. A ribbon-cutting was held for the Wexford Innovation Center on Wednesday. The tenants include the Cambridge Innovation Center, Brown University and Johnson and Johnson.

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Pawtucket Converting Street Lights To LED

Pawtucket is going to convert all its street lights to energy efficient LED lighting. Installation begins next month and should be completed by mid-January. Mayor Donald Grebien says the transition will save money and make the city more environmentally friendly. He says the goal is to make Pawtucket cleaner and greener.

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Airport Air Quality Monitoring Program Is Extended

A bill extending air quality monitoring at T.F. Green Airport for two years is now law. The legislation was signed yesterday by Governor Gina Raimondo. In addition to quarterly reports, the Airport Corporation is required to complete twenty-months of air quality monitoring data for submission to the state Department of Health. Airport monitoring for pollutants started in 2008.

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Brown's President Disappointed By Failed Hospital Talks

Brown University President Christina Paxson is disappointed that merger talks between Care New England and Lifespan have ended. She says the university continues to believe that a merger, in close partnership with Brown, would provide enormous benefits to Rhode Island in terms of health care and job growth. Paxson says Care New England and Lifespan are valued partners to Brown's medical school and will continue to be so in the future.

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CT, MA And RI Governors Meet

The governors of Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island are talking and say they will continue to so. They met this week in Willimantic, Connecticut, to discuss issues including energy. infrastructure and transportation. The governors say that as bordering states, it's important to discuss regional issues. The next meeting is in Rhode Island in October.

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Viola Davis Again Nominated For Emmy

Central Falls native Viola Davis is once again being nominated for an Emmy for her work on the show How to Get Away With Murder. Davis is nominated for Lead Actress in a Drama Series, which she previously won in 2015, becoming the first black woman to do so.

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DCYF Names Police Captain To Lead Child Protective Services

 A Providence police veteran is taking a position with the Department of Children, Youth and Families. Captain Dean Isabella will oversee the Child Protective Services unit, which investigates child abuse allegations. Isabella is scheduled to begin next month. 

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Former Central Falls Superintendent Named New Interim Superintendent In Providence

Former Central Falls schools superintendent Frances Gallo is being nominated to become the interim superintendent of Providence schools. Gallo was at Central Falls for eight years until her retirement in 2015 and is expected to start on September 1st.

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Blue Cross Replacing United As Medical Plan Administrator

The Rhode Island Department of Administration says Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island is being selected to administer the state's medical plans for employees and retirees. Blue Cross Blue Shield is replacing United Health Care, which started administering the plans in 2005. A contract is expected to be finalized later this year. 

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Barry Remnants Pose Threat Of Damaging Storms, Heavy Rain

The remains of Barry are moving through Southern New England this week. The National Weather Service says Barry will bring some strong-to-severe thunderstorms with damaging wind gusts, especially from noon today through this evening. Heavy downpours can also be expected with one-to-two-inch-per-hour rainfall rates.

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Warwick School Committee Approves Additional Funds

The Warwick School Committee is approving more spending for the school district's sports teams and other items. The school committee approved a resolution at a meeting last night that corresponded to the Warwick City Council's approval of four-million dollars in additional funding to address a priority funding list, which included sports. The committee's approved resolution now bounces back to the council. Fall sports programs get underway next month.

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Thousands-Of-Dollars Stolen From Campaign Fund

There's a criminal investigation into the theft of 15-thousand-dollars from Cranston Mayor Allan Fung's campaign account. The money was noticed missing last month and investigators determined the theft happened in New York. Fung is at a conference in Washington, D.C. and has been unavailable for comment.

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No Deal: Hospital Merger Talks End

There's no deal as Lifespan and Care New England merger talks have ended. Care New England announced yesterday that it was withdrawing for a number of reasons. The merger talks had been initiated at the request of Governor Gina Raimondo after she pushed Care New England to drop its proposed takeover by Boston-based Partners HealthCare. 

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Jump Bike Fees Going Up In Providence

Jump bike rental fees in Providence are going up. The Uber-owned company's cost for a 30-minute rental will be nine-dollars, up from two-dollars. An hour-long ride will cost 18-dollars instead of four-dollars-ten-cents. City officials say they've contacted Uber about reconsidering the price changes.

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Real Jobs RI Program Adding Commercial Construction

The Real Jobs Rhode Island worker training initiative is being expanded. Governor Gina Raimondo said on Monday that it will now cover commercial construction employers. Real Jobs RI has developed partnerships in multiple fields, including in the defense sector, and with companies including Electric Boat. 

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Officials Trying To Find Reviewer Of DCYF

The process of reviewing the Department of Children, Youth and Families is still being worked out. DCYF Director Trista Piccola announced last Wednesday she was leaving and said the agency would undergo an independent review in partnership with the Rhode Island Coalition for Children and Families. But, The Providence Journal reports the coalition said the next day that it doesn't think anyone working currently with the DCYF should conduct the review.

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Wing Chau Sworn In As U.S. Marshal

New U.S. Marshal for Rhode Island Wing Chau was ceremonially sworn in at the federal court building in Providence on Monday after having started the job back in May. Chau was nominated by President Trump, and the nomination was supported by Rhode Island Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse. It's believed that Chau is the first Chinese American to hold the position.

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Warwick City Council Meets To Discuss Funding School Sports, Clubs

People in Warwick who are upset about cuts to high school sports programs are holding out hope they'll be restored for the upcoming school year. The Warwick City Council met Monday to discuss adding funding to sports and also some club activities which got the ax from the school committee earlier this year. 

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Langevin Bill To Curtail Drug Trafficking

Congressman Jim Langevin is co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill to establish a task force to stop the flow of fentanyl and other opioids in the U.S. He says Rhode Island continues to be among the hardest hit by the opioid epidemic. Langevin says a multi-pronged approach is needed to solve the ongoing public health crisis.

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Federal Funding For Emergency Preparedness

Rhode Island is getting five-and-a-half-million-dollars in federal funding for emergency preparedness. Most of the funds will go to hospitals and health care systems to prepare for and be able to respond to health emergencies ranging from terrorism to epidemics. Senator Jack Reed says it's a smart investment to bolster public safety and public health.

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Commissioner: School System Worse Than Report Suggests

Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green discussed her impressions of the system at the eighth and final forum about the Johns Hopkins Institute for Education Policy report. She says the big takeaway is, "things are actually worse than the report indicates." She says she heard about a child who had 11 English teachers in one year. About 200 people attended the forum Saturday in Providence.

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Festival Producers Announce Commitment To Music Education

The producers of the Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festival are helping pay for music education in three local schools. Newport Festivals Foundation Executive Producer Jay Sweet says as long as the festivals call Newport home, they'll work to ensure every public school student has access to outstanding music education. The foundation asked music teachers from the Claiborne Pell Elementary School, Thompson Middle School and Rogers High School about their needs.

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Second Lottery For Pre-K Seats

The Rhode Island Department of Education is announcing several-hundred new seats will be open in state-funded pre-Kindergarten programs this fall. While many of the new seats will be filled by families that have already been selected from a previous lottery, a second lottery is now open for families in Coventry, Warren, and Woonsocket. Parents and families must submit their applications by the end of this month to be considered.

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Twin River Makes Noise About Proposed IGT Contract

The operator of Rhode Island's two casinos is fighting Governor Gina Raimondo's plan to award a contract extension with IGT, which regulates the state lottery and provides most of the video-slot machines at the casinos. Twin River Worldwide Holdings took out a full-page ad in The Providence Journal last week blasting the one-billion-dollar, 20-year, no-bid contract, which will be considered by state lawmakers later this year. The Journal reports Twin River has made an unsolicited proposal to the state to drop IGT at the end of its contract and instead bring on Twin River for all lottery and gaming services. Meanwhile, the chairman of IGT tells WPRI-TV that Twin River approached the gaming giant and asked for a cut of business in exchange for support of the extension.

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Once-Popular Banquet Hall To Be Demolished

The buildings on the West Valley Inn property in West Warwick are reportedly going to be torn down. The online auction house S.J. Corio Company, says everything is being sold from a variety of restaurant equipment, freezers, walk-in coolers, pots, pans and thousands of dishes, to office equipment, chairs, tables and even the plumbing. Over eight-hundred lots will be auctioned off between Monday at ten a.m. and Wednesday at noon. The banquet hall closed in 2016.

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Test Results Negative For WNV And Triple-E

The latest testing in Rhode Island is negative for both West Nile Virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis. The results are based on samples taken from mosquito traps set on June 24th and July first. To date this year, there have been no findings for either WNV or Triple-E in the state. Nevertheless, experts advise that personal protection is the first line of defense against mosquito bites.

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Power Outage Closes RI DMV Headquarters Early

 A partial power outage was the cause of an early closing Friday at the main office of the state Division of Motor Vehicles. The outage at the Pastore Complex in Cranston reportedly affected the air conditioning system. The DMV stopped taking customers at 10:45 a.m. People with business at the DMV were advised to go to a branch office.

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Three-Time Tennis Champ Returns To Newport

John Isner, ranked 12th in the world on the American Tennis Professionals tour is in Newport for the International Tennis Hall of Fame Open. Fresh off his appearance last week at Wimbledon, Isner has been awarded a wild card into the tournament. He's been the winner in Newport three times, 2011, 2012 and 2017. The tournament begins this today and continues to July 21st.

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Advisory To Avoid Georgiaville Pond In Smithfield

The public is being advised to avoid contact with Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield. The problem is a blue-green algae bloom than can harm people and animals. All recreation should be avoided and fish from the pond should not be eaten. Pets should also be kept from drinking or swimming in the pond.

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Two Charlestown Swimming Areas Re-Opened

The Rhode Island Department of Health is re-opening the Camp Watchaug and Burlingame Picnic area in Charlestown for swimming. RIDOH says bacteria counts there have returned to acceptable levels. No other beaches are closed due to water quality problems at this time.

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Non-Profit That Runs Food Pantry Looking For New Home

 A non-profit group in Providence is looking for a new home. The Community Action Partnership of Providence, or CAPP, says it is moving out of the Elmwood Community Center due to serious health and safety concerns with the city-owned building. CAPP says this will force the closure of the city's largest food pantry. The organization says it is actively looking for a new location.

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Prov. Official Resigns After Tweet At Cranston Mayor

The communications director for the city of Providence's planning department is resigning over a controversial tweet. Cranston Mayor Allan Fung posted a screen shot of the tweet from Kevin Aherne, who said Cranston police were criminalizing poverty, with a picture of police interacting with people standing in a median, followed by a four-letter word phrase that replaced the word with Fung's name. Fung shot back that it wasn't a Cranston police car; it was apparently from Warwick. Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza called the tweet inexcusable and issued an apology on behalf of his city.

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Ground Broken On Future PawSox Home In Worcester

Ground was broken on Thursday for the future home of the Pawtucket Red Sox in Worcester, Mass. Polar Park is expected to be completed by the spring of 2021. The PawSox last year announced the plan to leave Pawtucket, despite efforts from the city and the state of Rhode Island to keep them.

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Charges Dropped Against Wyatt Facility Demonstrators

Charges are being dropped against the dozen-plus people who were arrested for disorderly conduct when they participated in a demonstration at Wyatt Detention Facility last week. They agreed in Providence District Court on Thursday to make donations to a nonprofit group in Central Falls or perform community service work. The protests were part of a national movement against the Trump administration's immigration policies.

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Ex-Red Sox Star Undergoes Third Surgery

Retired Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz underwent a third surgery earlier this week for complications from a gunshot wound. His wife says Ortiz is recovering well and in good spirits at Massachusetts General Hospital. He was shot on June 9th at a bar in Santo Domingo, in the Dominican Republic. Authorities say the friend Ortiz was sitting with was the intended target of the shooting.

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International Sailing Event In Newport

 An international sailing event is underway in the waters of Rhode Island Sound off Newport. Sailors from six countries are competing in the 12 Metre World Championship. Today is day three of the five day, nine race series.

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Lincoln Mall Is Sold To Investment Firm

A New York-based investment company is the new owner of the Lincoln Mall. The Valley Breeze reports the sale price is nearly 56-million-dollars. According to its website, Acadia Realty Trust owns one other property in Rhode Island, a shopping plaza on Bald Hill Road in Warwick.

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WJAR-TV's Frank Coletta Is Retiring

 A decades-long fixture of morning television in the Providence area is retiring. WJAR-TV's Frank Coletta is leaving the anchor chair at the end of this month after 41 years. Coletta has been on the Sunrise news program since its debut in 1985. He is known for his prominently-displayed coffee mug and saluting with it on-air.

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Charlestown Beaches Closed For Swimming, Smithfield Pond Has Algae Bloom

The Rhode Island Department of Health is recommending closing two beaches for swimming in Charlestown. They are the YMCA Camp Watchaug beach and the nearby Burlingame Picnic Area, both because of high bacteria levels. RIDOH is also warning people not to go into the Georgiaville Pond in Smithfield because of a blue-green algae bloom.

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Pawtucket Tax Revenue Bill Signed

A bill affecting tax revenues in the city of Pawtucket is being signed into law. The legislation from state Representative Carlos Tobon and Senator Sandra Cano, both of Pawtucket, authorizes state and local revenues generated in certain economic districts to be used to fund improvements. Tobon says with the loss of the Pawtucket Red Sox, it's more crucial than ever to redevelop the city. Cano says the bill allows for the action without tax or fee increases.

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Gov Signs Executive Order On Heating Systems

Governor Gina Raimondo says she signed an executive order on Wednesday that moves the state toward developing more-affordable and efficient heating systems. The order calls for the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers and the Office of Energy Resources to work with other public and private sector partners to identify economic, energy and environmental opportunities and challenges posed by the state's heating sector. The agencies are expected to have a finalized report next spring.

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Twin River Accused Of Withholding Crime Info

The National Labor Relations Board is scheduling a hearing in October for a case against Twin River Casino. The NLRB says it has received an unfair labor complaint that the casino withheld records of crimes committed against patrons, vendors and other guests. A Twin River spokesperson says the casino isn't surprised by the timing of the accusation since it is in the middle of union negotiations, but that it will fully cooperate with any investigation.

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DCYF Director Stepping Down Amid Controversy

Rhode Island Department of Children, Youth and Families Director Trista Piccola is stepping down. One month ago, a report was released that assessed blame to the department for the death of a nine-year-old Warwick girl earlier this year. Piccola, who was appointed to the post by Governor Gina Raimondo in 2017, is planning to move to Arizona, where her husband recently got a job.

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Caution Advised At Pond In South Kingstown

The public is advised to be cautious at Potter Pond in South Kingstown. Several people have been treated recently for jellyfish stings. The state Department of Health says that anyone wading in the pond should wear boots or waders and protective clothing. The threat is believed to be from clinging jellyfish which are hard to spot and have a very powerful sting.

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Reps Seek Removal Of Barrier To Inlet

The state Department of Transportation is being asked to remove a barrier on Nanaquaket Road in Tiverton. State Representatives John Edwards and Dennis Canario say it blocks access to an inlet of Narragansett Bay. They say they've received numerous complaints from constituents who used to access the water from there. Edwards says it's shameful to close off a long-time parking area and Canario argues Rhode Islanders have a constitutional right to access the shoreline.

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WSJ Calls Providence An Education Horror Show

The Wall Street Journal calls Providence an education horror show of government and union neglect. Citing a scathing report of the city's public school system from Johns Hopkins University, an editorial says it's a case study in public school failure and lack of accountability. It criticizes passage of legislation that it says gives the teachers union more leverage in negotiations with school districts. It also says student results are an afterthought

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New RI Law Targets Toll Scofflaws

There's a new law that allows the state Turnpike and Bridge Authority to quickly go after scofflaws. The bill signed by Governor Gina Raimondo targets drivers who repeatedly fail to pay the toll on the Newport Pell Bridge. Violators may face a freeze on license and registration renewals, license suspension, and/or stiff fines.

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Busy Holiday Period For RI State Troopers

Nine people are charged with driving under the influence during the long Fourth of July weekend. Rhode Island State Police say the nine were arrested between July 3rd and 7th. In addition, troopers responded to 953 calls, made 486 vehicle stops, issued over 500 citations, and investigated 61 motor vehicle crashes.

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Lottery To Be Held For Cheap Hamilton Tickets

If you want to see the hit Broadway show Hamilton on the cheap in Providence, you'll need to win the lottery. The Providence Performing Arts Center is holding a digital lottery for a chance to win ten-dollar tickets. There will be lotteries for each show two days before the performances, which run from July 23rd to August 11th.

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State Made Over 7-Million In First Year Of Tolling Trucks

Numbers are being shared for Rhode Island's first year collecting tolls from trucks. The two tolls on I-95 in the southern part of the Ocean State have brought in seven-point-two-million dollars, according to RIDOT. Workers this week are installing a third toll gantry for trucks on Route 6 over the Woonasquatucket River in Providence, with an anticipated start date of August 13th.

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Fiscal Year 2020 Providence Budget Signed

The 2020 fiscal year budget for the city of Providence is signed after final approval on Tuesday from the City Council and Mayor Jorge Elorza. The 770-million-dollar plan is about three-million less than Elorza's original budget proposal. The mayor initially threatened a veto, but said that the budget balances the interests of residents fairly and continues to make critical investments in communities to move the city forward. 

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Blackstone Valley Neighborhood Health Station Opens

A new health care center is open in Central Falls. Blackstone Valley Community Health Care says the Blackstone Valley Neighborhood Health Station includes family doctors, pediatricians, emergency medicine specialists, and much more. BVCHC says the health station is a unique clinical enterprise in that it is dedicated to enrolling 90-percent of Central Falls residents.

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Gov. Raimondo Vetoes Bill Dealing With Auto Insurers

Governor Gina Raimondo is vetoing a bill dealing with auto insurance. The legislation would have allowed for an insurer who declares a vehicle a total loss instead of paying for repairs to be found liable for three times the amount of damages. The bill had support from the auto-body industry, but opposition from the insurance industry,

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Legislative Response To Governor's Budget Comments

Legislative leaders are responding to Governor Gina Raimondo's comments about the nearly ten-billion-dollar 2020 fiscal year state budget that she signed on Friday. The governor says the budget passed by the General Assembly restricts the ability to grow the economy and puts the state's progress at risk. Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello say it's a pro-business, pro-education budget. They say it properly funds essential services while respecting how much can be asked of taxpayers.

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Providence Restaurant Weeks Underway

Providence Restaurant Weeks began yesterday and runs through July 20th. Nearly one-hundred restaurants in Providence, its suburbs and in nearby Massachusetts are taking part. Fixed price lunches, dinners and two-for-one specials are being offered. Details are available online at goprovidence.com.

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Longtime Providence Retailer Is Closing

 A longtime women's clothing store in Providence is closing. Dorothy Williams has been located in Wayland Square on the East Side for more than 50 years. The web site GoLocalProv.com reports that "Store closing, everything must go" posters were placed in the boutique's windows over the weekend.

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Rolling Stones Play At Gillette Stadium

The Rolling Stones played a show at Gillette Stadium last night. It was originally scheduled for last month. Singer Mick Jagger had emergency heart surgery, causing many dates of the No Filter Tour to be rescheduled.

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State House Preservation Project Begins

 A historic preservation project is beginning in the House and Senate chambers of the State House. The two-and-a-half-million-dollar project, which is to be finished by the beginning of the next legislative session in January, is intended to restore the chambers as closely as possible to their original appearance at the beginning of the 20th century. It also aims to improve handicap access and bring the chambers up to code.

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Protest Held Over Beach Access

A protest was held this weekend at the South County beach where a man was recently arrested for trespassing. Scott Keeley and others pointed out that the state constitution guarantees access to the shore when they demonstrated at Charlestown Beach on Saturday, where Keeley, a resident of the town, was arrested for gathering seaweed last month. The charge against him was dropped.

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Plane Makes Emergency Landing In S. Kingstown

A small plane made an emergency landing in South Kingstown on Saturday. The aircraft, which was towing advertising banners, took some damage but landed safely on the front lawn of a residence. There were no injuries. The pilot, Willord Burke of Springfield, Massachusetts, was trying to fly to Westerly State Airport but apparently ran into dense fog. The Federal Aviation Administration is investigating.

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Gov. Raimondo Signs 2020 State Budget

Despite some of her priorities being cut, Governor Gina Raimondo signed the nearly ten-billion-dollar 2020 fiscal year state budget on Friday. She says several of her priorities were included in the budget and will help keep Rhode Island on the path to economic recovery. However, Raimondo says in other important ways, the budget passed by the General Assembly restricts the ability to grow the economy and puts the state's progress at risk.

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Air Guardsman Returning Home

There are celebrations in North Kingstown which have nothing to do with traditional Fourth of July festivities. The Rhode Island National Guard announced over 100 members of the 143rd Airlift Wing are returning to Quonset Air National Guard base today and tomorrow. The airmen have been a part of Operation Freedom's Sentinel and the ongoing war against terrorism.

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Two Men Rescued After Boat Sinks Off Warwick

Two East Providence men are safe after being rescued from a sinking boat. Authorities say the men were in a 17-foot-boat headed from Riverside to Newport when it started to take on water around 1:30 this morning. The boat sank off Conimicut Point and the two men were picked up by a Marine Rescue Unit. 

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State DEM Watching For Impaired Boaters Over Next 3 Days

The Rhode Island Environmental Police are participating in annual high-visibility boating enforcement patrols for the Fourth of July weekend. From July 5th to the 7th, the DEM says its law enforcement division will be looking for boaters under the influence in Narragansett Bay and other waterways. According to state law, the limits and penalties are the same for driving and boating under the influence; the blood-alcohol content limit is point-zero-eight.

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Pawtucket Finds Lifeguards For Pool

The city of Pawtucket is opening a community pool after finally finding certified lifeguards. Mayor Donald Grebien is thanking the city's Parks and Recreation Department for filling the positions in less than a week after the prior lifeguards backed out. The opening date for the Veteran's Memorial Park Pool will be Saturday. There are several upcoming dates when the lifeguards apparently won't be available, but the city is working on alternative arrangements.

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Elorza Warms Up To City Budget

An agreement is being reached between the Providence City Council and Mayor Jorge Elorza's administration on a new budget. The city council voted eleven-to-four last night to give first passage to the 770-million-dollar plan. Elorza earlier this week threatened a veto of the budget, but he now says it maintains critical services and reflects sound budgeting practices.  

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Avoid Contact With Melville Pond In Portsmouth

The public is advised to avoid contact with Melville Pond in Portsmouth due to a blue-green algae bloom. The bloom can produce toxins harmful to people and animals. Health and environmental officials say all recreational activities including fishing, boating and kayaking should be avoided. Pets should be kept from drinking or swimming in the water.

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Central Falls School Superintendent Leaving

The school superintendent in Central Falls is stepping down.  Victor Capellan will be a senior adviser to state Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green. He's been the superintendent in Central Falls since 2015.

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Groundbreaking Planned For Worcester Ballpark

The groundbreaking for a baseball stadium in Worcester is set for next week. A ceremony is planned for 3:30 p.m. on July 11th. Polar Park will be the new home of the Boston Red Sox Triple-A affiliate. The team is leaving its longtime home at McCoy Stadium in Pawtucket at the end of next season.

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Man Plans To Swim Around Jamestown

The executive director of the nonprofit Clean Ocean Access is planning a 22-mile swim around Jamestown. Dave McLaughlin's goal is to raise awareness and funds to improve coastal water quality and protect shoreline access.  McLaughin's swim is planned for August 5th.

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RI Gas Prices Are Climbing

As the Fourth of July holiday approaches the price of gas in Rhode Island is trending up. GasBuddy.com reports the current average is two-dollars-72-cents per gallon. That's four-cents higher than a week ago. The national average is two-dollars-73-cents a gallon.

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Free Sunscreen At State Beaches, Parks

Rhode Island is launching a new initiative that will provide free, natural and environmentally friendly sunscreen at all state beaches and parks. State leaders hope by setting up dispensers of free sunscreen, it will help encourage people to take preventative measures and help reduce the risk of skin cancer. 

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Portion Of Street In Providence Renamed

The oldest black fraternal organization is being honored in Providence. A portion of Eddy Street between Thurbers Avenue and Public Street will now be known as Prince Hall Masons Way. The change was made after the Providence City Council Urban Affairs Committee voted in favor of honoring the organization. Prince Hall is known for its large amount of charitable work.

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Providence Police Review Board Member Stepping Down

A chairwoman on the Providence External Review Authority, which oversees the police department, is stepping down. Alison Eichler wrote in an email Monday that she would be leaving the nine-member civilian board due to time restraints and says it deserves someone who can dedicate the necessary time. 

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Parents Attend Forum On Report Of Providence Schools

Parents of Providence Public School students are listening to the district's response to a critical, independent review of the district. According to a recent study,  the district is failing students in nearly every area. A series of forums have been held to address what some are calling a "broken" school system. 

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Proposed Prov. Budget Cuts Fire Chief Funding

The budget that has been moved to the full Providence City Council is cutting the salary of the vacant position of city fire chief. The Providence Fire Department hasn't had a permanent chief since July of 2015. Finance Committee chair John Igliozzi says that the council funded the position for four years, but the city has refused to hire somebody. 

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Providence Mayor Threatens Budget Veto

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is saying he will issue a veto if the City Council passes a budget that made it out of the Finance Committee this past weekend. Elorza said on Monday that he was very disappointed with the budget the committee passed. He said the changes that were approved on the budget were unilateral after there were negotiations involving the mayor's office, and he said many decisions made by the City Council were out of spite. Monday was the start of the new fiscal year for the city.

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Mock Crime Scene In Providence

Production of a public service announcement is the reason for a mock crime scene in Providence. The mock scene was set up yesterday in the parking lot of the city's Public Works Department on Ernest Street. The goal of the public service spot is to highlight the U.S. Department of Justice's Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative in Rhode Island.

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So Far Mosquito Tests Negative For Disease

There is currently no evidence of West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis in Rhode Island. The Department of Environmental Management says mosquito samples from traps set on June 10th and June 17th have tested negative. Nevertheless, experts advise that personal protection is the first line of defense against infection from mosquitoes carrying diseases.

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Westerly Restaurants Closes For Good

After 13 years a restaurant on Canal Street in Westerly is now permanently closed. The Aleworks Brewing & Tavern closed it doors for the last time Monday night. The owner of the business cites a drop in revenue and increased competition downtown.

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Newport Is Now A Safe Station Community

Newport is now a "safe stations" community. Anyone in need of help for an opioid addiction can go to any of the city's three fire stations for assistance. Newport officials say the fire department has been training for nearly a year. The program was launched last Friday

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R.I. State Beaches And Parks To Offer Free Sunscreen

Rhode Island is once again participating in a program to offer free sunscreen at all state-run beaches and most state parks this summer. The state is teaming up with sunscreen company Raw Elements USA to offer free sunscreen dispenser stations. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management plans to launch the program this morning at Scarborough State Beach in Narragansett.

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Storm Drops Hail, Brings Trees Down

Stormy weather from Saturday was followed by more of the same yesterday in Rhode Island, dropping hail and causing some tree issues. The storms came in during the afternoon hours. The biggest-recorded hail measurement shared by the National Weather Service was one-and-a-quarter inches in diameter in Warwick; significant hail was also reported in Burrillville and Cranston. Trees and wires were reported down on Route 1 in South Kingstown.

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Providence City Council Committee Cuts Mayor's Budget

The Providence City Council Finance Committee approved a 770-million-dollar budget on Saturday. The full council is expected to vote this week as today starts the new fiscal year. The budget is about three-million dollars less than the one Mayor Jorge Elorza had presented in May, and Elorza released a statement that was critical of the new spending plan following the finance committee vote. The FinCom budget brings back a 40-percent homestead exemption for people who live in their homes.

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