1540 WADK.com Updates Archives for 2020-01

P-Bruins At Binghamton, Syracuse This Weekend

The Providence Bruins are on the road for two games this weekend. The Bruins play at the Binghamton Devils tonight and the Syracuse Crunch tomorrow night. Providence is in third place in the American Hockey League's Atlantic Division just behind Hartford and Hershey.

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Warwick Firefighter Contract Finalized

Firefighters officially have a new contract in Warwick. The Warwick City Council approved the new three-year deal. Warwick Mayor Joseph Solomon, in signing the contract on Thursday, said it guarantees the city's ongoing financial health plus superb fire protection services.

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Flu Causes Block Island School Closing Today

School is canceled on Block Island today because of a flu outbreak. The school is reportedly being disinfected while students stay home. The one school hosts K-to-12 students.

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Gabby Giffords, Others At Gun Discussion

Former Arizona Congresswoman Gabby Giffords was a participant in a round-table discussion about gun violence at the Rhode Island State House on Thursday. Giffords, who survived a shooting in 2011, discussed enacting tougher gun control measures with a group including law enforcement members and other survivors of gun violence. Governor Gina Raimondo signed a "red flag" gun law in 2018 and a bill banning bump stocks the same year.  This year, several gun bills are being considered by the General Assembly.

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IGT And Twin River Forming A Partnership

Two competing companies say they are partnering in hopes of providing terminals to the Rhode Island Lottery. IGT would control 60-percent of the venture and Twin River Holdings would own the other 40-percent. The companies say the partnership would allow the state to maintain 300-million-dollars in gambling revenue and protect jobs. IGT also says it will continue to seek legislation extending its contract through 2043.

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52nd Annual Newport Music Festival

The 52nd annual Newport Music Festival is planned for July 9th through the 26th. It's a series of classical music concerts at venues including The Elms, The Breakers and the Newport Art Museum. Tickets go on sale February 5th. More information is available at newportmusic.org.

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Westerly Committee Votes To Close A School

The State Street Elementary School in Westerly is going to permanently close at the end of the current school year, pending state approval. The school committee voted 4-2 in favor of the move. The deteriorating building has had a series of problems including a leaking roof, crumbling bricks, and a bothersome smell.

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Vape Shop Owners Want Ban Lifted

Vape shop owners are calling on legislators to help lift a ban on flavored vaping products claiming economic hardship. That ban is currently set to expire in March.

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Hazmat Response To School Administration Building

 A suspicious white powder in the school administration building in Bristol is under investigation. A hazmat team responded to the building on State Street early Wednesday afternoon. Police say the unknown substance was taken into the building by an employee who had received it at her home earlier in the week. Initial testing showed no danger but samples of the powder were sent to the state Department of Health for analysis.

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Restored Rare Diner Opened In Pawtucket

A restored 1941 Worcester Streamline Diner, one of only a few made, opened for business in Pawtucket on Wednesday. The Miss Lorraine Diner is on Mineral Spring Avenue in front of the Lorraine Mills complex. The developer of the complex said the diner was found in a field in Connecticut.

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RI College Workforce Development Hub Opened

Rhode Island College opened its Workforce Development Hub in Central Falls on Wednesday. College president Frank Sanchez, Central Falls Mayor James Diossa and state officials were on-hand for the opening of the facility put up at the former Dexter Credit Union building. Rhode Island College says the hub will offer education and job-training programs.

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URI Suspends Studying Abroad In China

The University of Rhode Island is suspending its study-abroad program in China because of the coronavirus outbreak. The school says seven students are impacted,  that URI is working to bring them back to the United States. and  none  were in or near the city of Wuhan, where the outbreak reportedly started.

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Scaled-Back Minimum Wage Increase Approved By Senate Labor Committee

The state Senate Labor Committee approved a minimum wage increase plan on Wednesday. The plan would raise the wage by one dollar on October 1st. This was a scaled-back version of what was originally considered, which was to increase the wage gradually up to 15 dollars an hour by the year 2024. The Providence Journal reports the Labor Committee removed that proposal from its agenda. Now the new minimum wage proposal will go to the full Senate for a vote.

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Rhode Island Senate Approves 3D-Printed Gun Ban

The Rhode Island Senate approved a ban on 3D-printed guns and other untraceable firearms on Wednesday. The bill now goes to the House, where there is companion legislation. A State House press release notes banning the weapons was one of the recommendations made by a task force assembled after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida in 2018. 

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Five State Reps Call For A Caucus

Five state representatives are calling for a caucus due to what is described as a dark cloud over the State House. State Police are investigating House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello's office for allegedly trying to minimize disciplinary action against the security director at the Rhode Island Convention Center, who is described as a close friend of Mattiello's. A spokesman for the House speaker says there are no plans for a caucus.

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Tiverton-Based Fishing Boat Collides With Tanker

There are no reported injuries as the result of a collision between a Tiverton-based fishing boat and a Providence-bound petroleum tanker. The Coast Guard says it happened Monday night about 25 miles south of Martha's Vineyard. The 70-foot fishing boat was escorted back to Tiverton with minor damage and the 605-foot tanker arrived in Providence and was undergoing an inspection. The cause of the crash is being investigated.

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RI Vets Rally At The State House

Rhode Island veterans are upset. They rallied at the State House to voice concern about budget deficits at the Veterans Home in Bristol that has caused service cuts. The vets are also against a proposal to change resident payments from 80-percent of their total income to 100-percent, with the state increasing stipends for spending money.

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RIDOH Coronavirus Task Force

The Rhode Island Department of Health is coordinating with health care providers statewide to evaluate any possible cases of coronavirus. It has also established a Coronavirus Task Force to coordinate preparedness within the department. DOH Director Dr. Nicole Alexander-Scott, says preparation and coordination are core functions of public health.

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DEM Closes Road Around Jamestown Lighthouse

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is announcing the closure of the perimeter loop around the Beavertail State Park lighthouse to vehicle traffic. This takes effect on Monday. The DEM says residual damage from Superstorm Sandy and erosion and storm surge intensified by climate-driven sea-level change have caused dangerous washouts to the road and surrounding pedestrian path to the Jamestown property. The department says the lighthouse and surrounding area will still be accessible to pedestrians.

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Proposed Two-Way Bike Lane Draws Crowd

Residents spoke out at a community meeting last night against a proposed two-way bike lane on Mount Pleasant Avenue in Providence. The two-way lane is part of a series of planned safety improvements for Mount Pleasant Avenue and serves as an addition to the city's urban trail network. Some people last night expressed concerns about the elimination of street parking. It was also pointed out that the city removed the first installed two-way bike lane in the city -- on Eaton Street -- after public outcry last year.

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Health Dept. Makes Coronavirus-Related Announcement

The Rhode Island Department of Health says it is monitoring the current coronavirus situation and taking preparedness measures. The department says it is coordinating with healthcare providers to receive reports on any illnesses and has also formed a task force. No coronavirus cases have been confirmed in Rhode Island; there's only been a handful diagnosed in the United States.

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2020 Tennis Hall Of Fame Inductees

Goran Ivanisevic and Conchita Martínez are going to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Hall of Fame President Stan Smith says between their accomplishments on and off the court, Ivanisevic and Martinez are deserving of tennis' ultimate honor. The class of 2020 induction is set for July 18th in Newport.

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Billboard Honors Basketball Great Kobe Bryant

There's a billboard on I-195 in East Providence that honors the late Kobe Bryant. The retired basketball legend and his 13-year-old daughter were among nine people killed in a helicopter crash Sunday in California. The billboard includes the colors of the Los Angeles Lakers and the word "Legend" next to a photo of Bryant.

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Newport School Committee Member Resigns

A member of the Newport School Committee is leaving. Kathleen Silvia's resignation is effective immediately. School Committee Chair Raymond Gomes says Silvia gave her decision a great deal of thought. He says she is continuing to recuperate but did not say what she is recuperating from.

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State Hiring For Summer Beach, Park And Campground Jobs

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is launching a recruitment drive for key positions to staff state beaches, parks and campgrounds for this summer. Those positions include lifeguards and park rangers. A complete list of seasonal employment opportunities is available at RIParks.com/employment.

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Final Providence "Great Streets" Plan Unveiled

The city of Providence is unveiling its final "Great Streets" plan. The city says the plan aims to reduce household transportation costs by making it more convenient for people to use and access affordable transportation options. According to a press release, the initiative, which complements the work of a five-year capital improvement plan, will bring almost 100 percent of residents and workers within easy walking distance of an urban trail network.

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Hearing Scheduled For Balloon Ban Law

A hearing is scheduled for today by the Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee to consider banning the intentional release of balloons. The legislation, introduced by Representative Susan Donovan, attempts to protect the environment and wildlife. Proponents say stray balloons are also a nuisance to commercial fishermen and cause dangerous power outages.

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New Legislation For Dispensaries To Grow Medical Marijuana

A bill concerning Rhode Island's medical marijuana dispensaries is being amended. The amendment, filed by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, narrows the focus to removing the General Assembly from having the final say on marijuana regulations, keeping a proposed rule to have six new planned dispensaries be retail-only. Mattiello and Ruggerio have previously objected to that proposal. But last week, cannabis cultivators testified that allowing the new dispensaries to grow their own weed would put them out of business. 

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State Police Reportedly Inspect State House Dumpster

Rhode Island State Police were seen at a State House dumpster last night after receiving a tip about documents potentially being improperly discarded. Sources say that the Joint Committee on Legislative Services reported the discovery of mold in its office; a House spokesperson said no documents were destroyed or disposed of. But, state police have also been asked to investigate a controversial audit ordered by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello through that same committee.

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Food Truck Festival Planned In Newport

The Newport Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival is set for the weekend of May 16th and 17th. Organizers say more than 30 of New England's most popular food trucks will be there and more than 50 national, regional and local craft beers will be available. Festival hours will be from noon to five p.m. at Fort Adams. More information is available at foodtruckfestivalsofamerica.com

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Seven RI Legislators Endorse Warren

A group of Rhode Island legislators are endorsing Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren's bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. The seven women who announced their support for Warren Monday include two senators and five representatives. Rhode Island's presidential primary is on April 28th.

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New Prov. School Superintendent Introduced

The new school superintendent in Providence says he'll work diligently to transform the district. Harrison Peters was introduced Monday morning by Governor Gina Raimondo and state Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green. He has more than two decades of education experience as a teacher, principal and district leader. Peters comes to Providence from the Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida.

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Property Revaluation Planned In Newport

All commercial and residential properties in Newport are going to be reevaluated this year. Door-to-door interior and exterior inspections will be conducted. The appraiser will calculate the fair market value of properties as of December 31st, 2020. The city council will use the newly appraised values to set the fiscal year 2021 tax rate.

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Brown University: Coronavirus Rumor Unfounded

Brown University officials are dispelling rumors that a student on the Providence campus has the coronavirus  In a statement, the university says the rumor is unfounded. It says there is no suspected case of the virus or identified risk to the Brown community.

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State Lawmaker Proposes Exemption For Tinted Window Law

New legislation is being introduced to allow Rhode Island lawmakers and other officials to be exempt from the state ban on tinted windows on motor vehicles. Police officers, firefighters and judges would also be included. State Representative Anastasia Williams, who introduced the measure, says the proposal is for public safety reasons.

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Overnight Closures On Route 116 At Route 146 In Lincoln

he Rhode Island Department of Transportation says overnight closures are happening this week on Route 116 in Lincoln. This is at the intersection with Route 146, 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily. It's for the Louisquisset Pike Bridge demolition project. A detour map is available on the RIDOT website.

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Chinese Sister School Visit Off Amid Coronavirus Concerns

 A Rhode Island high school is announcing that a planned visit this week from Chinese students is being canceled because of concerns about the coronavirus. The visit to Chariho High School was supposed to involve students from the sister school in Liuyang, which is about a four-hour drive away from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus. Chariho says it is hoping the visit gets re-scheduled.

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Reports: New Prov. Schools Superintendent Picked

A selection is being made for the next superintendent of Providence Public Schools. Multiple media outlets report the Rhode Island Department of Education is going with Harrison Peters, an administrator for Hillsborough County Public Schools in the Tampa Bay, Florida area. An official announcement is expected today. The selection of a "turnaround" superintendent is part of the state's takeover process of the struggling Providence district.

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Fatal Crash Into Pell Bridge Toll Plaza

A Middletown woman is dead after a crash into a toll plaza on the Newport Pell Bridge on Sunday. Rhode Island State Police reports indicate the victim was Mary Clark, 72 years old. The crash, which is being investigated, reportedly happened at around 12:30 p.m.

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State Education Commissioner's Tires Stolen Again

State Education Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green is the victim of a crime, for a second time. The tires were stolen off her car yesterday in Central Falls. The same thing happened last month when thieves took the tires while the car was parked in the commissioner's garage in Central Falls.

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Legislation To Control Prescription Drug Prices

There's legislation to create a prescription drug affordability board in Rhode Island. It would investigate and evaluate drug prices in and possible ways to make prescription drugs more affordable. The bill's sponsor, Warwick Representative Joseph McNamara, says with prices at an all-time high, state government has to find innovative ways to rein in consumer spending.

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House Speaker Cancels Convention Center Audit

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello has withdrawn a request for an audit of the Rhode Island Convention Center. House Minority Leader Blake Filippi filed a lawsuit, accusing Mattiello of ordering the audit after a friend of the speakers was suspended from his job as the Convention Center's director of security. Filippi argued Mattiello ordered the audit when it should have been authorized by the Joint Committee on Legislative Services. Additionally, the Convention Center Authority's board voted unanimously to not comply with the audit until it was authorized by the committee.

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Call For Review Of RI Veterans Home

There are calls for a House Oversight Committee hearing to review the trouble-plagued Rhode Island Veterans Home. The long-term care facility has financial problems that have caused a reduction or elimination of various benefits for residents.  West Warwick Representative Patricia Serpa, who chairs the Oversight Committee, says she's scheduled a meeting for early next month to look into the situation.

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Single-Game Tickets For 2020 PawSox Baseball Now On Sale

Single-game tickets for the final season of Pawtucket Red Sox baseball go on sale today. This season will be the 50th anniversary for the PawSox, and the team says throughout the season, it will celebrate all that is good about PawSox baseball. The team is planning to play in Worcester, Massachusetts in 2021.

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Brown University Official Tied To Epstein Controversy Resigns

Brown University fundraising director Peter Cohen is resigning after a controversy over Jeffrey Epstein during Cohen's time at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab. Media reports, plus an investigation commissioned by MIT, found that the Media Lab accepted donations from Epstein and listed them as anonymous to avoid public scrutiny, during a time when Cohen was the director of development for the lab. Cohen was put on leave from his Brown job last year after those allegations came to light. A university spokesperson said in an email to The Providence Journal that Cohen resigned on Tuesday.

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State Treasurer Announces Pension System Action

Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner is announcing that the state's pension fund will stop investing in assault weapon manufacturers and private prison operators. Magaziner said the State Investment Commission voted to approve his proposal to pull out the investments. Magaziner said assault weapons and for-profit prisons have caused too much pain for countless Americans, and that this allows the state to do the right thing without impacting the health of the pensions system.

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Gun Bills Heard Wednesday

The Rhode Island House Judiciary Committee took testimony on Wednesday on several pieces of legislation concerning firearms. The three bills heard by the committee would establish a statewide records management system, would mandate that applications for gun purchases be sent to the buyer's hometown police department, and another bill would ban the use of untraceable firearms, including 3D-printed ones. 

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Tiverton Obtains Defibrillators For Beaches

There are going to be automated external defibrillators at Tiverton's two beaches.  St. Anne's Hospital in Fall River,  responded to a request for help to obtain the expensive equipment. The AEDs will be available in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest at Fogland and Grinnell's beaches.

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Longtime Garden City Tenant Is Relocating

Cohoes is leaving the Garden City Center at the end of next month. The clothing store is reportedly relocating elsewhere in Cranston when its lease expires. Cohoes has been a Garden City tenant for many years.

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Guilty Plea In Scam Targeting Senior Citizens

A Boston man is scheduled for sentencing in April for his role in a scam targeting senior citizens. The U.S. Attorney's office says 32-year-old Julio Feliciano pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit mail fraud. Prosecutors say Feliciano and his accomplices contacted senior citizens in several states and falsely told them cash payments were required for bail to get a relative out of jail. The scam victims were told to mail cash to various locations in Rhode Island.

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Housing Construction Moratorium In Narragansett

There's a 60-day moratorium in Narragansett on building houses with more than four bedrooms. The Providence Journal reports it's to give the town needed time to update ordinances to control dormitory-style buildings and rooming houses. Narragansett is popular among college students for off-campus living. Town officials say houses being built with six or more bedrooms for the purpose of renting for profit is threatening to have an excessive impact on residential areas.

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New E.Providence Bus Worker Contract Agreement Announced

The threat of a bus worker strike in East Providence appears to be over. Multiple media outlets report Teamsters Local 251, which represents bus drivers, aides and monitors, has reached a deal with Ocean State Transit. The union had voted to authorize a strike last week. The contract needs to be ratified.

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Commuters Had No Heat On Train Early Tuesday

Commuters on the Providence-Stoughton MBTA train early yesterday morning reportedly had to travel without heat in freezing-cold temperatures. The T said the 4:45 a.m. Providence train from Wickford Junction was operating with minimum lighting and without heat due to a power issue. The T's commuter rail Twitter account apologized for the issue and said the train still had to run to avoid cancellations.

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RI Getting Federal Pre-K Grant Money

Governor Gina Raimondo announced a three-year, 27-million-dollar federal pre-school development grant on Tuesday. Some of the money will pay for Raimondo's budget proposal from last week to add hundreds of additional pre-K seats. Raimondo spoke about the grant at a press event at the Meeting Street School in Providence, where she also shared details about a new media campaign called the Rhode Island Way, which aims to raise awareness about the state's early childhood support programs.

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Committees Going Through Gun Bills

Firearm legislation is being taken up this week by the Rhode Island General Assembly. The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday unanimously passed legislation banning untraceable guns, including 3D-printed guns. The House Judiciary Committee will consider the companion bill for that one today, plus two others: legislation to establish a statewide public safety computer-aided dispatch records management system, and a bill that mandates sending firearm applications to the buyer's local police department.

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RIDOT To Resume Highway Renumbering Project

The state Department of Transportation is resuming the highway renumbering project next week. Exit numbers will be changed on I-195 from the I-95 Interchange in Providence to the Massachusetts border in East Providence. The new numbers are part of a federal program to update highway numbering for interstates and other limited-access highways.

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U.S. Postal Service Denies Rural Delivery

The U.S. Postal Service is denying a request for rural mail delivery in the Albion section of Lincoln. The Albion post office burned down three years ago and since then area residents have had to drive two miles to get their mail in Manville. The woman who spearheaded a petition drive seeking home delivery says it was denied due to the cost of adding the route. She says she'll appeal.

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RI National Guard Troops Deployed

The Rhode Island National Guard's 115th Military Police Company is headed to the Middle East. There was a send-off ceremony on Saturday and the soldiers left Monday. They will be away from home for eleven months as part of Operation Spartan Shield.

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State Medicaid Director Leaving

Rhode Island Medicaid director Patrick Tigue is leaving the post. Health and Human Services Secretary Womazetta Jones says Tigue's step-down is effective February 1st. Tigue is reportedly taking a private-sector job in Boston. Deputy Medicaid director Ben Shaffer is being named acting director.

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One-Year Anniversary Of Aquidneck Island Gas Outage

We have hit the one-year anniversary mark for the Aquidneck Island natural gas outage crisis. Thousands of customers lost gas service during a very cold stretch of weather; the outage lasted about a week. A report released from the state blamed the outage on the extreme cold leading to high demand, and also blamed, among others, National Grid. The company says it has taken steps to prepare for gas operations on the island for this winter season, including trucked liquid natural gas equipment that will be available for use at its property on Old Mill Lane in Portsmouth; that site was said to have become operational at the end of November.

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Senate President Files Appointment Legislation

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio is pushing for the Senate to have a role in some of the governor's appointments. He wants Senate advice and consent for appointments to the offices of Elementary & Secondary Education Commissioner and Postsecondary Education Commissioner. Ruggerio says his legislation is a matter of good public policy.

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Committee Hearing On Medical Marijuana Bill

The House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing this week on a medical marijuana bill regarding compassion center licensing regulations. The bill, sponsored by House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, would amend the law passed last year to allow licensing six new compassion centers and increase the licensing fee to 500-thousand-dollars each. 

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Survey: Raimondo Among Least Popular Governors

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo is one of the least popular governors in the country. She is third from the bottom in the latest survey from the website Morning Consult. Raimondo's approval rating is 35-percent while her disapproval rating is 55-percent. The only two more unpopular governors are Democrat David Ige of Hawaii and Kentucky Republican Matt Bevin.

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RIPTA Bus In Downtown Providence Collision

The cause of a crash between a RIPTA bus and an SUV in Providence is under investigation. It happened around noon yesterday on South Main Street near Power Street. Police say about a dozen people were treated for minor injuries.

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Local Chef Returning To Food Network Competition

The owner of a restaurant in Warren is returning to the Food Network's show Chopped. Eli Dunn, of Eli's Kitchen, won the competition in 2018. His latest appearance on the hit show is at nine p.m. on Tuesday, February 11th.

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Sen. Reed Making Impeachment Trial Tickets Available

Senator Jack Reed's office is making three tickets available each day to attend the impeachment trial of President Trump. Tickets for seating in the 596-seat Gallery of the Senate are non-transferable and expire daily. Only one ticket per person is allowed. Those selected will be notified and they must have a valid form of identification to pick up and use a ticket.

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Man Charged With Twin River Casino Robbery Incident

A suspect has been arrested in an armed robbery case at Twin River Casino. The Lincoln Police Department says Anthony McClain was arrested by police in Pawtucket for an incident that allegedly happened Saturday night. McClain is accused of following a man in the casino and robbing him at knifepoint in the parking lot.

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Providence Diocese Reacts To Priest's Suspension

The Providence Catholic Diocese says it is removing a retired priest from participating from further activities after a suspension for an investigation of alleged sexual abuse. The Providence Diocese says it was notified by the Diocese of Fall River last Thursday about the action being taken against Father Edward Byington. The Providence Diocese says Byington assisted at Masses in parishes including St. Augustine in Providence, St. Joan of Arc in Cumberland, and St. Joseph in West Warwick, where he also taught at the parish school part-time. At this time, the Providence Diocese says there are no known allegations against him while he was here.

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State Veterans Home Administrator Stepping Down

The administrator of the Rhode Island Veterans Home is retiring. Former Army general Rick Baccus submitted a letter to the state Office of Veterans Affairs last week with notice of his plan to step down in a couple of months. The Bristol-based facility wrapped up a reconstruction project in 2017, but more recently, there has been criticism over operational changes that have been made due to financial issues. Baccus said in his letter that he has always done his best for the veterans who are residents of the home.

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Raimondo Signs Renewable Energy Executive Order

Governor Gina Raimondo on Friday signed an executive order committing Rhode Island to be completely powered by renewable electricity by the end of the decade. The executive order directs the state's Office of Energy Resources to conduct analysis and develop policies and programs to reach the goal, according to Raimondo's office. The governor says Rhode Island is already leading the fight against climate change, but needs to take increasingly aggressive action to avoid a catastrophe.

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Arizona Senator Calls CNN Report A 'Liberal Hack'

Arizona Senator and Warwick native Martha McSally refused to answer questions from a CNN reporter on Thursday, calling him a liberal hack. The network's Manu Raju tried to ask McSally if new evidence revealed this week would be part of the impeachment of President Trump. McSally refused to answer. After Raju tweeted about it, McSally also tweeted it, including posting a video from her staff that showed the incident.

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Middletown Council President Calls For Firefighter Union President's Ouster

Middletown Town Council President Robert Sylvia is calling for town firefighters to remove their union president. This comes while there is public scrutiny of the Middletown Fire Department's staffing levels for its response to a New Year's Eve fire, and the town is in the middle of arbitration hearings with the union. Sylvia, in a statement, accuses John Jordan, who was off-duty from his firefighter position, of responding to the scene of the fire on Woolsey Road not to help suppress the fire, but to apparently hold a press conference, and that Jordan took advantage of a close tragedy. Jordan disputed that allegation and said his firefighters are behind him.

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Budget Includes Another Attempt To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

Governor Gina Raimondo's proposed 2020 budget plan released on Thursday would go past the ten-billion-dollar mark for the first time in state history, at ten-point-two-billion. The budget includes another attempt to legalize adult-use cannabis featuring state-run stores, modeled after liquor stores in New Hampshire.

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State Police Raid Illegal Marijuana Operation

 Four people have been arrested as the result of a State Police raid on a suspected illegal marijuana operation in West Warwick. Troopers also seized about 50 pot plants from a space rented in a building on Industrial Lane. The building is owned by the family of former State Representative Jared Nunes. Nunes says he didn't know anything about the raid or his tenant's activities.

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Rabid Bat Found In Portsmouth

The state Department of Health is warning that a bat in Portsmouth tested positive for rabies. It was found Saturday morning in the vicinity of Massachusetts Boulevard and Anthony Road. Rabies is a fatal disease and any person or pet that may have had contact with the bat is advised to immediately call the Center for Acute Infectious Disease Epidemiology for treatment guidance.

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Tree Cutting Mystery In Tiverton

There's an unsolved mystery in Tiverton. About two dozen trees on town-owned waterfront property have been cut down to a height of about four feet. Charges could include vandalism and destruction of town property. Anyone with information is asked to contact Tiverton police.

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Plowable Snow Likely This Weekend

Snow is expected to overspread Rhode Island late Saturday afternoon. Forecasters say it's likely there will be a plowable amount of accumulation especially inland. The snow is likely to change to rain late Saturday night.

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Orsted Announces New Innovation Hub In Providence

Offshore wind company Orsted is announcing plans for a new innovation hub in Providence. Orsted said yesterday the plan is to open at the Cambridge Innovation Center on Dyer Street this spring. Orsted owns the Block Island Wind Farm and got approval from state regulators last year for a power purchase agreement for the four-hundred-megawatt Revolution Wind project.

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New Civil Division Chief Announced By Rhode Island A.G.

Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha is appointing his office's new Civil Division leader. That will be Miriam Weizenbaum, who is taking over for the retiring Rebecca Partington. Weizenbaum, a founding member of the Rhode Island Center for Justice, has been a trial attorney in private practice, with work in civil litigation concentrated in medical negligence and products liability. The A.G.'s office says she has litigated dozens of cases to settlement and verdict and argued before the state Supreme Court and in federal appeals court.

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Raimondo Calls For Line Item Veto

Governor Gina Raimondo in her State of the State speech on Tuesday asked to be given the power of line-item veto. Raimondo said nearly every other state uses the executive office power to reduce waste in government spending and corruption and to ensure fair use of tax dollars. She asked for the General Assembly to put the measure on the ballot. But House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, who has opposed the line-item veto, indicated to reporters after Tuesday's speech that he remains opposed.

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New Nonstop Service From T.F. Green Airport

Allegiant Airlines is going to offer new nonstop service between T.F, Green Airport and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The seasonal route will operate twice weekly on Monday and Friday starting June fifth. A spokesman for the Rhode Island Airport Corporation says the new route will provide travelers with another popular destination.

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Cranston City Council President Running For Mayor

Cranston City Council President Michael Farina is running for mayor. He says his goal is to work for every resident regardless of political affiliation to ensure that no neighborhood is left behind. Farina is the first formally announced candidate. Incumbent Mayor Allan Fung is leaving due to term limits.

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State Police Veteran Under Investigation

 A 25 year veteran of the Rhode Island State Police is the subject of an internal investigation. Patrol Commander Jay Gibbs is the co-owner of Ocean State Scale and Balance. State troopers are not allowed to operate outside businesses without the approval of the superintendent. The investigation is reportedly focused on Gibbs' outside business activities and the use of state equipment.

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Thousands File For Unclaimed Money

Thousands of Rhode Islanders are filing claims for over one-million-dollars in missing money. It follows Monday's announcement from Treasurer Seth Magaziner that the Unclaimed Property division received an additional 23-million-dollars in 2019. Unclaimed property can include money left in old bank accounts and safe deposit boxes, uncashed paychecks, unused balances on gift certificates, uncollected insurance payments and forgotten stocks and dividends.

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Middletown Native Flynn Seeks To Withdraw Guilty Plea

Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn is asking to withdraw his guilty plea. The Middletown native's lawyers filed a motion earlier this week, claiming the government breached a plea agreement. Flynn pleaded guilty for lying to the FBI about his contacts with the Russian ambassador during President Trump's transition period. He's scheduled for sentencing later this month.

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Governor Names Energy Leadership Team

Governor Gina Raimondo is expected to submit three names to the Senate for confirmation to leadership positions on the state energy team. She says the leadership nominees will help fulfill Rhode Island's vision for an energy system that is cleaner, more affordable and more reliable.

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Cicilline Endorses Kennedy In MA Senate Race

Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline is supporting Massachusetts Congressman Joe Kennedy's campaign for the U.S. Senate. Kennedy is challenging incumbent Senator Ed Markey for the Democratic Party nomination. Cicilline says Kennedy will be an outstanding U.S. senator. Rhode Island Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse have endorsed Markey's bid for reelection.

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Woman Goes After E. Providence For Live PD Filming

A woman from East Providence is seeking one-million dollars in damages from the city for being filmed by the reality TV show Live PD at home wearing only a towel. A complaint filed on behalf of Desiree Spitaleri says she was at home one night last July when police came to ask about a 911 call that was apparently made by a child asking for help with his homework. Spitaleri said in the complaint that the officers did not inform her that she was being recorded or ask for permission to put her on TV. The East Providence Police Department announced last month it was taking a break from the show, one month after the claim was filed.

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Former State Emergency Management Director Confirmed To Lead FEMA

Former Rhode Island Emergency Management Agency director Pete Gaynor is the new administrator of FEMA. The U.S. Senate has confirmed Gaynor for the position, removing the "acting" part of his title. He had been acting administrator since March.

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Highlights From Gov. Raimondo's State Of The State Address

Governor Gina Raimondo delivered her sixth State of the State Address on Tuesday night. Raimondo proposed expanding the Real Jobs RI initiative and making permanent the Promise Scholarship, which allows high school graduates to attend Community College of Rhode Island tuition-free. Raimondo said she'll sign an executive order this week to make Rhode Island the first U.S. state to be powered by 100-percent renewable energy by the end of the decade. The governor said she wants the car tax cut again for every driver in the state this year, plus small business tax cuts, and said there is going to be another cut in unemployment insurance taxes.

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Alex Cora Is Out As Manager Of Red Sox

The Boston Red Sox and manager Alex Cora are mutually agreeing to part ways, according to a joint statement from Cora and the team. Cora was the bench coach for the Houston Astros in 2017 when they stole signs and won the World Series, and Major League Baseball's commissioner is naming him as a key person in planning the scheme. The Red Sox won the World Series with Cora as the manager in 2018. Cora says he does not want to be a distraction to the team.

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Gov. Raimondo's 2020 State Of The State Tonight

Governor Gina Raimondo is delivering her annual State of the State Address tonight. It is scheduled for 7:00 in the House chamber of the State House. It will be broadcast live on Capitol TV and on the Rhode Island Legislature's website.

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E. Providence School Bus Worker Union Takes Strike Authorization Vote

he union representing East Providence school bus workers is approving a strike authorization, according to a report from WLNE-TV. Teamsters Local 251 overwhelmingly approved the vote last night, according to a union representative, who tells the news station a strike would be a last resort. The union is looking for a new contract with Ocean State Transit.

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Report: Middletown Fire Chief Plans To Retire

 An update on the affairs of the Middletown Fire Department. A statement provided to WPRI-TV from Fire Chief Peter Faerber indicates he plans to retire next month. Faeber was the subject of union criticism at a recent Town Council meeting where claims of inadequate staffing were made following a New Year's Day fire which was first responded to by firefighters from Newport. environment for him and town employees.

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Providence City Official Terminated

The director of inspections and standards for the city of Providence is fired. Jeffrey Lykins, who has held the position since 2009, tells The Boston Globe he was let go last Thursday but wasn't given a reason. A spokesperson for Mayor Jorge Elorza's office tells the Globe there is a review of permitting records underway, but did not comment further on Lykins' departure.

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DMV Says Services Restored

The Rhode Island DMV says license and ID transaction services have been restored. The disruption on Monday was said to have been caused by a vendor problem. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators says there was a significant outage in its IT network services and that a full analysis will be conducted to determine the root cause.

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Change Coming To RI Supreme Court

There's a change coming to the Rhode Island Supreme Court. Seventy-eight-year-old Justice Gilbert Indeglia will retire on June 30th after ten years on the high court bench. His retirement opens up a vacancy for the first time in decades. Governor Gina Raimondo says Indeglia has been a thoughtful advocate for the people of Rhode Island and she's grateful for his years of public service.

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Costs Increasing For Worcester's Baseball Stadium

Construction costs for the minor league ballpark in Worcester have increased by nearly nine-and-a-half-million-dollars. MassLive.com reports other costs associated with the redevelopment of the area around Polar Park have increased more than 20-million-dollars from the initial estimates. The Boston Red Sox Triple-A affiliate, the Pawtucket Red Sox, will leave Rhode Island and relocate to Worcester after the upcoming 2020 season.

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Former MIT Official, Now At Brown, Speaks Out About Epstein Scandal

 A fundraising official at Brown University is breaking his public silence about involvement in a scandal related to Jeffrey Epstein. Peter Cohen was placed on leave last year after it was reported that the MIT Media Lab, where he previously worked, had concealed donations from Epstein after Epstein had pleaded guilty to soliciting sex from a minor. In an email to The Providence Journal, Cohen points to a new MIT-commissioned investigation and says it demonstrates that he and others were following instructions of senior university administrators in dealing with Epstein's donations from before he started working there.

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Governor Raimondo Nominates Three For Energy Posts

Governor Gina Raimondo is naming three people to leadership positions on her state energy team. Nicholas Ucci is tagged to be the new State Energy Commissioner, Linda George for Administrator of the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, and Ronald Gerwatowski as chair of the Public Utilities Commission. Ucci is currently the Deputy Commissioner of the state Office of Energy Resources, George is the interim DPUC administrator, and Gerwatowski also holds a DPUC position: senior regulatory advisor. The names are being sent to the Senate for approval, according to Raimondo's office.

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P- Bruins Battle Springfield Thunderbirds Twice This Weekend

The Providence Bruins have two games this weekend. The Bruins go to Springfield to take on the Thunderbirds tomorrow night. Then Providence hosts Springfield on Sunday afternoon at the Dunk at 3:05 p.m. The P-Bruins and Thunderbirds are neck-and-neck in third and fourth place in the American Hockey League's Atlantic Division.

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Providence Mayor Signs Capital Improvement Plan

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza signed a capital improvement plan on Thursday. The 222-million-dollar plan goes up to Fiscal Year 2024. According to a statement, the plan covers a comprehensive list of projects, investing in roads, sidewalks, parks, recreation centers and publicly-owned facilities with a focus on the long-term resiliency of the city.

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Ruggerio Introduces Plastic Bag Bill

Senate President Dominick Ruggerio is introducing a bill to reduce the use of plastic bags in retail establishments. Ruggerio notes 14 communities in Rhode Island have already enacted policies to promote and encourage the use of recyclable bags, and he thinks it's appropriate to be consistent throughout the state. He says everyone knows how dangerous plastic pollution is to oceans and marine life and how it contributes to climate change.

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Legislation Would Ban 3D-Printed Guns In RI

A bill to ban 3D-printed guns is being re-introduced in Rhode Island. State Senator Cynthia Coyne has re-introduced the bill and state Representative Patricia Serpa is preparing to submit identical legislation in the House. This bill passed the Senate last year.

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Apologies For Facebook Post Alleging Racism At Basketball Game

Maribeth Calabro, the president of the Providence teachers' union, is apologizing over a Facebook post alleging racism at a basketball game in Warwick. Calabro said she was copying from someone else's page who had alleged racist language directed at Mount Pleasant High School students during a girls' game at Pilgrim High School earlier this week. A joint investigation by the superintendents of both schools found no evidence of any race-related remarks or comments from the game. In a letter directed to Warwick Public Schools Superintendent Phil Thornton, Calabro apologized for re-posting something without having evidence.

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Attorney Accused Of Fraudulently Collecting A Pension

The son of a deceased Central Falls police officer is accused of collecting his father's pension after both of his parents died. Police say that attorney Raymond Haskell fraudulently collected over 63-thousand-dollars from the city since June of 2014. He turned himself in Thursday morning and faces charges including obtaining money under false pretenses and identity fraud. Investigators say Haskell's father died in 1997 and when his mother died in May of 2014, the pension should have stopped the following month.

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DEM's Trees For Trout Program

The state Department of Environmental Management is running a program called Trees for Trout. Real Christmas trees that haven't been sprayed with flame retardant and are tinsel-free, will be accepted today from nine a.m. to two p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to two p.m. at DEM's Fish and Wildlife Education Office in Exeter. The trees are used to make creeks and streams better habitat specifically for native brook trout.

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E. Providence School Bus Drivers Labor Unrest

There's labor unrest among school bus drivers in East Providence. A union spokesman says a strike would be the last resort if Ocean State Transit continues to ignore requests for industry standards. A Teamsters union negotiator says East Providence drivers are paid less than drivers in other school districts that contract with Ocean State Transit. The union is planning an informational picket at the next school committee meeting to alert East Providence officials about the situation.

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North Providence Mayor Anticipates Running Again

North Providence Mayor Charles Lombardi says he expects to run for re-election this year. Lombardi says he thinks he'd like to do one more term. He has held the position since 2007.

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State Energy Commissioner Retiring

Rhode Island Energy Commissioner Carol Grant is set to retire tomorrow. Grant took the position as the commissioner of the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources in 2016. The state's renewable energy portfolio has increased from one-hundred megawatts to over eight-hundred during Grant's time, including the not-yet-built Revolution Wind offshore facility. Governor Raimondo's administration, in making the announcement last week, said a replacement announcement is expected within a few weeks.

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Health Department Accepts Testimony On Flavored Vaping Product Ban

Dozens testified on Tuesday at a Rhode Island Department of Health meeting to talk about vaping as the state considers a permanent ban on flavored vape products. Rhode Island is currently in the middle of a temporary ban enacted by Governor Raimondo last year. There were plenty of different perspectives aired Tuesday, including from those who said vaping helped them kick cigarettes, adults who argued they should have the right to enjoy flavored vapes, and on the other side, those who worried about young people getting hooked on a new bad habit and medical professionals who warned about adverse health effects. The Department of Health is accepting written testimony about the proposed ban through the end of this month.

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Legislation Addresses Medical Marijuana Power Struggle

New legislation concerning medical marijuana was introduced Wednesday by Senate President Dominick Ruggerio and House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello. The bill repeals language from the budget which required legislator approval over rules and regulations related to the expansion of compassion center licenses, which had been the subject of a separation of powers lawsuit filed by Governor Gina Raimondo's administration. 

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Brady Says He Has More To Prove

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, who is now an unrestricted free agent, says he still has more to prove. In a post on Facebook and Instagram yesterday he says he'll be in the arena again. What is unclear is if Brady will be back with the Pats or sign with another team. He also thanked his fans and says he's humbled by their support over the last 20 years.

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A RI Restaurant On Best Places List

 A Rhode Island restaurant is on Yelp's annual list of the "Top 100 Places to Eat in the U.S." The Hometown Cafe & Poke Bar in Providence is 40th. The Yelp list ranges from fine dining to very casual eateries nationwide.

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Newport Folk Festival Starts Rolling Out Lineup

Big Thief, described as an iconic group will perform at this year's Newport Folk Festival. Festival organizers traditionally role out the lineup over several months. The sold-out 2020 festival is scheduled for Friday, July 31st through Sunday, August 2nd, at Fort Adams State Park.

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Middletown Fire Department Staffing Discussed

Town Hall in Middletown was packed on Monday night with people concerned about alleged understaffing of the local fire department. The Rhode Island Association of Firefighters claimed the Middletown FD has grossly inadequate staffing after a New Year's Eve fire destroyed a home on Woolsey Street, leaving several injured. Town Administrator Shawn Brown said it's being investigated why the first call to that fire was made to Newport when Middletown firefighters were involved in a nearby non-emergency transport at the time. Council President Robert Sylvia said ensuring the right number of public safety personnel is something that is annually reviewed.

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Former State Rep 'Terminated' From Lobbyist Gig

Former Rhode Island state Representative John Carnevale  has apparently lost his new job as a State House lobbyist. Carnevale had registered as a lobbyist for Quaker Lane Bait and Tackle in North Kingstown, but yesterday, the shop's owner sent an email to the news station's investigative bureau saying he had been terminated as a lobbyist. A reason was not given. Carnevale last year finished a home confinement sentence for perjury after prosecutors said he lied to the Providence Board of Canvassers about where he lived.

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Mattiello Signals Willingness For New Gun Control Measures

Rhode Island House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello talked about gun control on the first day of the 2020 legislative session. Mattiello acknowledged during opening remarks to House colleagues on Tuesday that while he strongly supports Second Amendment rights, guns need to be removed from the possession of people with mental illness and non-law-abiding citizens. Mattiello specified that consideration will be given to enhancing state background check laws and banning 3D-printed guns, issues which are related to recent shootings in Westerly and Pawtucket.

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Reaction To Reported Iranian Missile Strikes

Rhode Island's Congressional delegation is reacting to reported missile strikes from Iran on bases in Iraq where U.S. forces are stationed. Senator Jack Reed, the ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, said on MSNBC that there is a question of whether the strikes present an escalatory spiral. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse said in a statement that he was thinking of the men and women serving overseas and urged President Trump and his advisers to choose a course of action that serves U.S. interests, safeguards American lives and reduces the risk of further conflict.

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NY Giants Reportedly Hiring Pats Assistant Coach

The New York Giants are reportedly finalizing a deal to hire New England Patriots assistant coach Joe Judge. ESPN reports Judge will be the Giant's new head coach replacing Pat Shurmur who was fired after a 4-12 season. Judge has spent eight years with the Patriots as a special teams coach and more recently as the wide receiver coach.

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Cleaning Project To Address Pascoag Water Woes

Two-million-dollars from federal funding and a loan will be used to deep-clean hundred-year-old water pipes in the Burrillville village of Pacoag.  Rust and sediment from the old cast-iron pipes have discolored the water. The cleaning project will begin in April and take about six months to complete.

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Secretary Of State Leads Women's Suffrage Celebration

Women's suffrage in Rhode Island was celebrated on Monday. Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea hosted a State House ceremony to recognize the 100th anniversary of the state's ratification of the 19th Amendment, granting American women the right to vote. Gorbea announced a related new initiative during the event called Shall Not Be Denied, a collaboration between the RI Department of State and Council for the Humanities, which will include programs and events throughout the year celebrating the historic moment.

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State Police Lieutenant Back After Lengthy Paid Leave

A Rhode Island State Police lieutenant who sued the department is returning to duty. Colonel James Manni, RISP superintendent, says Michael Casey is back on full-time. Casey accused his superiors of pressuring him to change a background report of a potential recruit who was the son of a retired state police captain. Casey had been on paid leave for over a year.

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Coventry Police Department Relocates

The Coventry Police Department has a new headquarters. The department moved into its new HQ on Wood Street yesterday afternoon. The main phone number and other numbers for the department will stay the same.

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Warwick City Council Approves New Firefighter Contract

The Warwick City Council is approving a new contract for firefighters. It was a close, 5-to-4 vote on Monday to approve the three-year deal which reduces sick days, personal days and holidays. Mayor Joseph Solomon has said the city would save more than six-hundred-thousand dollars in the first year of the deal, which is retroactive to last July.

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Former Attorney Admits To Collecting Pension Payments From Deceased Individual

 A former Rhode Island attorney is pleading guilty to fraud and pension theft charges. The U.S. Justice Department says Oleg Nikolyszyn, who was an attorney in Providence, admitted to fraudulently collecting about a quarter-million dollars in pension funds in the name of a former client for nearly twelve years after the former city of Providence employee's death. Nikolyszyn was suspended from practicing law in the state in 2016. The DOJ says he is set for sentencing in April.

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Barrington Police Issue A Warning

Barrington police are warning residents about two men trying to break into vehicles. There have been multiple reports of attempted break-ins the last couple of nights. Anyone who sees someone acting suspiciously at night is urged to contact the police.

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Federal Funding For Public Housing

A one-million-dollar-federal grant is going to be shared by several housing authorities in Rhode Island. The intent of the funding is to help public housing residents find work and provide job training. Senator Jack Reed calls it a smart investment.

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Former RI Congressman's Wife Running In NJ

Former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy's wife is running for Congress in New Jersey's 2nd District. Amy Kennedy will challenge Congressman Jeff Van Drew who left the Democratic Party and became a Republican last month. Kennedy says she's running because Van Drew has become what she describes as a shameless apologist for President Trump.

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General Assembly 2020 Session Begins Today

The 2020 session of the General Assembly begins today . Among big issues to be dealt with is about a two-hundred-million-dollar budget deficit. Governor Gina Raimondo will deliver the annual State of the State address on January 14th.

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Friars Get Commitment From High School Standout

A high school basketball standout from Delaware is headed to Providence College in the fall. Jyare Davis is a six-foot-seven forward who has made a verbal commitment to the Friars men's basketball team. He was named Delaware's Gatorade Player of the Year as a junior.

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Safe Drinking Water Act To Be Introduced

Two state representatives are planning to introduce legislation to protect drinking water from known toxins. The bill would provide for state-level standards. It's sponsored by Bristol-Warren Representative June Speakman and Middletown-Portsmouth Representative Terri Cortvriend.

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Nonprofits Awarded Funding For Census Outreach

Three-hundred-thousand-dollars in funding is going to more than two dozen Rhode Island nonprofit organizations for outreach to encourage participation in the 2020 census. A spokeswoman for Rhode Island's Complete Count Committee says it's part of the effort to ensure that every community in every zip code is accurately represented. The goal is to protect the nearly four-billion-dollars a year that the state receives in federal funding for education, health care, housing and other programs.

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State National Guard Promotes Return Of Air Show

The Rhode Island National Guard is announcing the return of its air show at Quonset State Airport. The RI National Guard says deployment caused the cancellation of the show last year and says its airmen have returned home. This year's show, which marks the 27th year for the event, is scheduled for June 27th and 28th. Not included in the lineup: the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and U.S. Navy Blue Angels, but the lineup does include the U.S. Air Force Academy Jump Team and the Geico Skytypers.

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Chafee Running For President As Libertarian

Another run for president is being made by former senator and governor of Rhode Island Lincoln Chafee. Reports indicate Chafee, who now lives in Wyoming, has registered with the Federal Elections Commission and a fundraising website indicates he is running as a Libertarian. Chafee ran for president as a Democrat in 2016, won the governorship as an independent before switching to the Democratic Party, and had served as a Republican senator.

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General Assembly Opening Session In Renovated Chambers

Rhode Island's General Assembly is set to open its 2020 session tomorrow. Both legislative bodies will meet in chambers that have been renovated, including with paint colors and other details that have restored the way they were originally designed when the building was constructed at the dawn of the 20th century, according to a press release from the State House. The sound systems of both chambers have also been improved with new speakers and microphones, and Rhode Island is said to have become the first state capitol to have both its chambers and public galleries equipped with permanent large-area hearing loops for people with hearing aids and cochlear implants.

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Anti-War Protests After Airstrike Kills General

A crowd assembled at the Rhode Island State House on Saturday with an anti-war message. The demonstration came after President Trump ordered an airstrike on Friday killing Iranian top general Qasem Soleimani  in Iraq. Some at the State House were concerned about the United States being involved in an endless war. Congressman David Cicilline, who is on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a statement that Soleimani was a terrorist and a murderer and that the world is better without him, but that the responsibility to declare war rests with Congress and that President Trump took unilateral action that could result in wide-scale conflict.

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Patriots Bounced Out Of Playoffs; Focus Is On Brady's Future

The New England Patriots' season ended on Saturday with a first-round playoff loss to the Tennessee Titans at home. The final from Gillette Stadium was 20-to-13. This is the first time the Pats lost in the NFL Wild Card round since 2009. The focus is now on quarterback Tom Brady, whose future with the team is uncertain; he's a free agent and said after this weekend's game that retirement is unlikely.

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Fire At Westerly's Babcock Village Apartments

Crews responded to a fire at Babcock Village in Westerly on Thursday night. You'll recall that the apartment complex was the site of a deadly shooting last month. Firefighters responding at around 6 p.m. reportedly quickly extinguished the fire which was said to have started from a candle. No human injuries were reported; a cat reportedly had to be resuscitated.

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Providence City Councilman Seth Yurdin Stepping Down

Providence City Council member Seth Yurdin is resigning, ending a 13-year run. The Ward 1 councilman representing the Fox Point, College Hill, Wayland, and downtown areas made the announcement at the council's first meeting of the new year last night. Yurdin said he needs more time to cover his law practice. A special election will be held.

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Patriots Get Set For Wild Card Game Versus Tennessee

The New England Patriots are set for a playoff game at home tomorrow versus the Tennessee Titans. The Pats are in unfamiliar territory by playing in the NFL Wild Card playoff round for the first time in over a decade after a 12-win-and-4-loss regular season. Kickoff at Gillette Stadium is scheduled for 8:15 p.m.

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USA Today: RI Has Impressive Beer Scene

With 22 breweries, USA Today says Rhode Island has an active beer scene. It's been recognized on the newspaper's list of "ten beer scenes you should experience in 2020." USA Today says to experience the best beers, the Rhode Island Brewers Guild created a brewery passport to help guide travelers on their journey.

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Vandals Hit North Kingstown High School

Police are investigating vandalism at North Kingstown High School. The building was spray-painted with graffiti. The damage wasn't discovered until around six o'clock yesterday morning. Official say it happened Wednesday night and that three people are seen on surveillance video.

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Plastic Bag Ban Enacted In Westerly

A ban on single-use plastic bags is now in effect in Westerly. There are some exceptions such as newspaper, pet waste, garbage, yard waste, and laundry dry cleaning bags. Violators will have 14 days from notification by the town to be in compliance or face fines of up to 300-dollars a day for noncompliance. Westerly joins more than a dozen other Rhode Island communities that have instituted a plastic bag ban.

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Baby Girl, First Of Decade, Born At Women And Infants

he first baby born in the new decade in Rhode Island has been recorded. Katerin Oviedo Orellana and Luis Escobar of Providence celebrated the birth of baby Stephania at Women and Infants Hospital overnight Wednesday. The time of the birth was 1:14 a.m.

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Sports-Betting: November 2019 Best Month For State So Far

Sports-betting profits for the state of Rhode Island increased in the month of November. The Rhode Island Lottery's released numbers indicate gamblers lost two-point-seven-million dollars at Twin River casinos and online. That's the most since legal sports-betting was launched in 2018. Bettors wagered 31-and-a-half-million dollars and won back 28-point-7-million.

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State Firefighter Assoc. Reacts To Middletown Fire Response

The Rhode Island State Association of Fire Fighters is calling the staffing of the Middletown Fire Department "totally inadequate" after a fire on Tuesday. The duplex blaze on Woolsey Road injured three people, including a Newport firefighter. According to several media reports, it was actually Newport firefighters that were there first as Middletown first responders were on another call, and Portsmouth was also called in for the Woolsey Road fire. The state association says Tuesday's fire could have easily been fatal. The fire department and town have yet to reach a new labor deal.

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Bristol Man Inducted Into Santa Hall Of Fame

Michael Rielly of Bristol is a 2019 inductee into the International Santa Claus Hall of Fame. Nominees are judged on criteria including appearance, length of service, originality and charity. The Hall of Fame says Rielly has been recognized as Rhode Island's premier Santa and an expert on Santa and Christmas.

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MA History Museum To Operate Bristol Farm

Old Sturbridge Village, an outdoor history museum in Massachusetts, is going to manage Coggeshall Farm Museum in Bristol. It will handle accounting, fundraising, and marketing for what is described as a small management fee. An OSV spokesman says the partnership will provide Coggeshall Farm with greater financial stability.

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Shellfishing Restriction At Point Judith Pond

Two areas of Point Judith Pond in Narragansett are off-limits for shellfishing due to high levels of bacteria. The state Department of Environmental Management says recent heavy rains are the cause. The restriction will remain in effect until next Tuesday, January 7th. 

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Three People Injured In Middletown Fire

The cause of a fire that injured three people in Middletown is under investigation. Flames erupted in a duplex on Woolsey Road late Tuesday morning. A man and his daughter were treated for smoke inhalation and minor burns. A Newport firefighter was also treated for smoke inhalation.

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New Laws Taking Effect In RI In 2020

The new year means new laws taking effect in the state of Rhode Island. Included in the new laws is one that replicates the individual health insurance mandate from Obamacare. Other laws include one that triggers an earlier primary election date, an "education accountability act", new cryptocurrency regulations, increasing the damages threshold for auto insurance policies, and one that will change the language in state job titles concerning disabilities. 

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