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1540 WADK.com Updates

Roger Williams Expands In Old 38 Studios Space

Bristol-based Roger Williams University is significantly expanding its presence in Providence with a move to the building that once housed ex-Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling's 38 Studios.

The university is announcing today a 12-year, nearly $23-million lease for 77,000 square feet at One Empire Plaza downtown. The space will be used by the law school, the School of Continuing Studies, the Latino Policy Institute and HousingWorks RI and will nearly double Roger Williams' city footprint.

The space will replace the school's current Washington Street location. It's expected to open in spring 2016 after an $11 million renovation by Berkeley Investments, the building's owner. The lease begins in May of that year. bankruptcy in 2012.

Roger Williams will have the first four floors and a portion of the fifth floor — about three-quarters of the building.

Restraunt Owner Indicted For Tax Fraud

  A Narragansett restaurant owner is facing federal tax fraud charges.  Prosecutors say Anthony Delfarno filed fraudulent tax returns in order to collect more than three-million dollars in tax returns over the last several years.  He allegedly used personal information of family members to generate tax documents for himself.  Delfarno owns Soho Ristorante in Narragansett, and he was arrested yesterday at his East Greenwich home. 


Traffic Stop Leads To Big Pot Bust

  A California man is in custody after police say he was found with 60 pounds of marijuana during a traffic stop in West Greenwich.  State Police say 30-year-old Justin Renfrow of Grass Valley, California, was pulled over Wednesday on Route-102.  The arresting trooper says he also found more than 15-thousand-dollars in cash inside the vehicle.  Renfrow is facing multiple felony charges and is being held without bail.


No Decision On Labbadia Benefits

  North Providence officials are delaying a decision on whether former firefighter Paul Labbadia deserves his benefits.  Town officials believe Labbadia has collected over 180-thousand-dollars in pension and healthcare benefits he did not deserve.  The town is going to take more time to review the situation before making a decision.  Labbadia is suspended from his current job as Coventry fire chief over allegations of misconduct.

Study Shows Many In R.I. Struggling

  A new study indicates that many people in Rhode Island are struggling to make ends meet.  The study from the Economic Progress Institute says a family with two children needs to earn at least 60-thousand-dollars a year to meet their basic needs.  The report says that Rhode Island's cost of living is high and wages are low, with a quarter of all families not earning enough to get by.  Some relief is on the way January first, when the state minimum wage rises by a dollar to nine-dollars an hour.

Providence Development Official Leaving

Providence Economic Development Director James Bennett is leaving the position for the private sector.  Bennett has held the position since 2011, and is agreeing to stay on until Mayor-elect Jorge Elorza can find a replacement.  Bennett is credited with helping streamline office operations with online permitting, rewriting of the zoning code and freezing the commercial tax rate for three straight years.



Navy Discards Turbine Plans

The U.S. Navy is dropping plans to build a wind power station at Naval Station Newport.  The Navy instead is conducting a study into the installation of solar panels on the base that could generate ten megawatts of electricity.  The panels would be placed on rooftops and brownfields around the station.  Neighbors and public officials had opposed the plan for several large wind turbines at the station because of the impact they would have on views.

Newport City Council Approve Police Contracts

Newport's City Council has approved two labor contracts that will provide the city's police officers with pay raises of 10 percent over four years.

The Newport Daily News reports the council voted 5-1 in favor of the pacts, one retroactive from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014. The other runs until June 30, 2017.

The increase in salaries to active police officers will be $1.26 million over the contracts' four years.

City and union officials had said hurdles to reaching an agreement were the city's proposed changes to the police officers' contributions to their pension plan and health insurance costs.

The contracts require the city to maintain a force of at least 78 police officers, which is the current number.

State Ends Hedge Fund Investment

 The state Investment Commission is cutting ties with a New York-based hedge fund.  The panel invested more than 60-million-dollars with Mason Capital, and it has grown by one-percent in each of the last three years.  Governor-elect Gina Raimondo chairs the commission, and the move signifies a shift in investment strategy. 

Raimondo Turns To Connecticut To Fill Cabinet Post

Governor-elect Gina Raimondo is reaching into Connecticut for her new state Commerce secretary.  Raimondo says current Connecticut Education Secretary Stefan Pryor has accepted the cabinet position.  Pryor still works for the state of Connecticut, but had previously informed Governor Dan Malloy that he would not be returning to the post in January.  He will earn 195-thousand dollars a year in his new job.

Raimondo Economic Policy Summit Set For Tonight

Incoming Gov. Gina Raimondo is holding a summit to bring together dozens of business and other leaders ahead of her inauguration next month.

Raimondo's transition team says more than 80 participants have been invited to participate in this evening's 3-hour-long summit, mostly from the private sector.

Raimondo says the summit is a chance for her to get ideas and feedback from people who she says are "on the front lines of policy, business, labor, social service and innovation."

The meeting was initially planned to be mostly closed to the media, but Raimondo's transition team later decided to let the media attend.

Race Organizers To Pay For Dune Damage

Organizers of the Newport Marathon have agreed to pay for the damage done to the sand dunes at Easton Beach during the October race.

John Mattews, the president of Eident Sports Marketing, told the Newport Daily News on Monday that his organization will pay $4,803 that was needed to replace vegetation and restore the dunes. The Oct. 12 event featured the marathon and also included a half marathon and 5K.

Runners and spectators were asked to keep off the dunes.

But in a letter to Eident, the city says about 3,600 square feet of unprotected dunes were subjected to significant foot traffic near the Middletown line.

More than 5,000 people participated in the races.


R.I. Gasoline Prices See Double-Digit Drop

  Gasoline prices are continuing their free fall in Rhode Island and across the country.  Triple-A Southern New England says the average cost of a gallon of self serve regular gas fell eleven-cents in the last week to two-dollars and 75-cents.  That's 23-cents lower than a month ago, and is down 76-cents over last year.  Gas prices can vary from station to station, and Triple-A urges drivers to shop around and reward those with lower prices.


Accidental Overdose Deaths Soar

The number of deaths related to the accidental overdoses of heroin and other opioids is continuing to rise in Rhode Island.  State health officials say there have been 212 accidental overdose deaths since January 1st.  They say that ten of them have come this month.  Department of Health Director Michael Fine says if people know someone struggling with drug abuse, help them get into treatment today.

Man Aquitted In Providence Murder Case

A jury says Felix Olivares of Providence is not guilty of murder in connection with the killing of another man last summer.  The jury found Olivares not guilty on all charges related to the killing of a man in the Wiggin Village Housing Project in August of 2013.  Jurors heard testimony that placed Olivares at the scene of the killing, but that he did not fire any shots.  The man suspected of firing the deadly shots is identified as Ricky Maloney, who authorities say fled the state and has not been caught.

Pawtucket Man Hit By Stolen Pizza Delivery Vehicle

A Pawtucket man has a broken arm after being struck by a stolen pizza delivery car.

WPRI-TV reports  61-year-old Joe Korngor was struck by the car at about 5 p.m. Sunday while walking along Newell Street. The stolen vehicle then struck a parked car, knocking off its bumper.

The occupants of the stolen car fled the scene, but one was later arrested. Police say they expect to make more arrests.

The suspects' names have not been released.

R.I. Changes Rules For Judicial Nominees

Rhode Island residents will be given a chance to comment before the state interviews judicial candidates for the Family and District courts.

The Judicial Nominating Commission changed its rules last week.

Under the old system, the candidates would be interviewed before any public hearing. The change gives the panel an opportunity to hear any public concerns before they question the candidates.

The state plans to begin advertising Monday for the lifetime tenure District Court seat that was held by Judge Frank J. Cenerini before his retirement Oct. 31.

There also will be a vacancy on the Family Court after Judge Francis J. Murray Jr. steps down at the end of the year.

Congress Passes Whitehouse Foreclosure Bill

A bill introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse designed to protect military service members from foreclosure is becoming law.  The measure extends a provision that protects service members from losing their home for one-year after their field service is completed.  Whitehouse says that after fighting for their country, veterans should not have to fight to keep a roof over their heads.  He would like to see this protection made permanent, but is pleased that it now is extended until January of 2016.

Groundbreaking For Nursing Center Today

Ground is being broken today on a nursing education center at the former South Street Power Station on the Providence River.  The building that used to provide electricity to Providence and much of the state is being repurposed for nursing students at Rhode Island College and URI.  The 215-million-dollar project will be helped along with over 50-million dollars in state and federal tax credits.  The overall project will include classroom and administrative space, a 650-space parking garage and over 200 apartments.

Coventry Fire District May Face Bankruptcy

The troubled Coventry Fire District appears headed into financial turmoil.  Taxpayers last week voted to cut the district budget by 14-percent, replacing several board members in the process.  The district lawyer is also expected to quit, and officials say the new budget will not allow the district to cover its expenses.  The financial trouble comes following reports that suspended Fire Chief Paul Labbadia was seen playing golf and drinking alcohol while on duty.

Salve Plans Rehab,Additon To O'Hare Center

The Newport Daily News Reports that Salve Regina university is planning a $20 million renovation of the 67,000-square-foot O’Hare Academic Center  as well as a 23,000-square-foot addition. Construction is expected to begin in the spring and be completed by December 2016.

The Center houses 50% of the University’s classrooms and all of it’s laboratories, in addition to faculty offices, the Bazarsky Lecture Hall and the Jazzman’s Café.

The O’Hare Academic Center originally was dedicated in 1968. While there have been minor renovations to some interior spaces, there has not been a major upgrade since it was built.


Coventry Man Busted For Drugs,Guns

  A Coventry man is facing a long list of charges after police say he was found in possession of drugs and several assault weapons.  Police say Justin Graham had an AK-47, two AR-15 assault rifles and two pounds of the drug ecstasy, along with 18-hundred ecstasy pills.  The drugs and guns were discovered at Graham's home on Hill Farm Road in Coventry.  Graham was ordered held on a federal detainer on drug charges related to the large amount of ecstasy.


Non-Profit Legal Services Halts Work

  A non-profit legal services center serving Rhode Island residents is shutting down most of their operations.  The Rhode Island Center for Law and Public Policy was founded in 2008 to provide legal services for low income residents.  Officials with the center say they need more funding in order to continue operations.  Most of the programs at the facility will cease on December 23rd.


Raptakis Wants Towns Out Of RhodeMap R.I.

  Coventry Senator Leo Raptakis is introducing legislation that would exempt the three towns he represents from the RhodeMap RI plan.  Raptakis says the ruling councils of Coventry, East Greenwich and West Greenwich have all passed resolutions opposing the economic development plan.  He says the legislature must recognize the rights of a community to run their own affairs.  Raptakis will introduce the measure when the legislature reconvenes next month.


State Rep's Son Charged After Crash

 The son of Rhode Island state Representative Deborah Fellela is facing a felony charge in connection with a hit and run crash last month.  Police say Matthew Fellela was involved in a crash on Interstate-95 in North Greenwich November 22nd, and left his vehicle at the scene.  Fellela was located at his mother's house more than nine hours later.  The charges against Fellela have been upgraded to a felony because the victim's injuries escalated.

Award For Barrington Group Fighting Youth Drinking

 State officials say a drug prevention coalition in Barrington has been nationally recognized for its work to reduce underage drinking.

The state Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals announced Thursday that the BAY Team was honored with a "Coalition of Excellence" award from Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America.

Data show that past 30-day alcohol use fell 30 percent for high schoolers and 50 percent for middle schoolers in Barrington between 2007 and 2013. The team reported a 36 percent increase in youth reporting difficulty accessing alcohol from 2009 to 2013. The organization has worked with local liquor stores and restaurants on alcohol sales to minors.

The BAY Team competed with 44 other coalitions. It will accept the award in February in Washington.


Spreading Out Costs Mulled To Help Consumers

State regulators are looking at spreading out the cost of National Grid's request for a double-digit increase in electric rates.

Proposed new electric rates that could take effect Jan. 1 would raise rates by 23.6 percent for the typical residential customer. National Grid serves 486,000 customers in Rhode Island.

State regulators can do little to cut the rates, which are being pushed up by demand for natural gas in New England.

The Public Utilities Commission is considering spreading out the increase over as many as 12 months, rather than six months that are more typical.

The three members of the agency are scheduled to meet Tuesday and are set to make a final decision Dec. 23.

State Panel Backs Economic Development Plan

A state panel has backed an economic development plan that supporters say Rhode Island needs and that opponents call a form of socialism.

The State Planning Council voted unanimously Thursday in favor of the Rhode-Map RI plan.

The 18-month work project outlines six goals and offers hundreds more suggestions on how to make the most of the state's assets and include its diverse populations.

Criticis say the plan will force local residents to cede property rights to the federal government.

House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is not required to bring the plan to a vote or follow its suggestions. He says he prefers to focus on developing specific policies, strategies and legislation for job-creation and improving the state's economy.


R.I. State Police Step Up Holiday Patrols

Rhode Island State Police are stepping up patrols through New Year's Day in an effort to crack down on drunken driving.

The effort, called "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over," begins today. It will also target people who are driving aggressively, texting while driving, driving without a seat belt or transporting children in the car without a proper car seat or booster seat.

Police say that on average, 31 percent of crash fatalities involve drunken driving.

State Police Superintendent Steven O'Donnell asks people to stop anyone who chooses to drink and drive, and to remember to buckle up when driving to help create a safer environment.

Newport,Police Union Agree On 4-Year Contracts

Newport and the police union have reached agreement on two labor contracts that would provide pay raises of 10 percent over four years.

The Newport Daily News reports that the City Council postponed voting on the proposed contracts. One is retroactive from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014. The other pact is for July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2017.

The increase in salaries to active police officers will be $1.26 million over the contracts' four years.

City and union officials had said hurdles to reaching an agreement were the city's proposed changes to the police officers' contributions to their pension plan and health insurance costs.

The contracts require the city to maintain at least 78 police officers, the current number.

R.I. Receives Grant For Pre-K Programs

 Rhode Island is receiving more than two-million-dollars from the federal government to expand pre-kindergarten programs in low income communities. Rhode Island is one of 18 states to be awarded the competitive grant money.  The funding will increase the number of state funded pre-K sites from 17 to 60 over the next several years.  The sites will be in Providence, Ventral Falls, Pawtucket and several other locations around the state.


R.I. Is 15th Healthiest State

 A new report places Rhode Island as the 15th healthiest state in the country.  The report from the United Health Foundation says the state's strengths include a large number of primary care physicians and high immunization coverage.  The report also cites some challenges, including Rhode Island's high rate of drug deaths and binge drinking, along with a large number of preventable hospitalizations.

Sakonnet Bridge Toll Equipment For Sale

 Electronic toll collection equipment purchased for the Sakonnet River Bridge is for sale.  The two-million-dollars worth of equipment was bought by the Turnpike and Bridge Authority before the General Assembly voted to ban tolls from the bridge.  The authority is also trying to figure out how to collect around 250-thousand-dollars in tolls from people who crossed the bridge without an EZ-Pass transponder before tolls were banned.


Turnpike And Bridge Authority Approves Plan

  The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority is giving the go ahead to a ten year maintenance plan for the four bridges it controls.  The 225-million-dollar plan is the first one offered since the authority took over control of the Jamestown-Verrazano Bridge and the newly constructed Sakonnet Bridge.  The authority already was responsible for maintenance of the Pell Bridge and the Mount Hope Bridge.


Improved Kennedy Plaza Re-Opens Next Month

An overhauled Kennedy Plaza in downtown Providence is slated to reopen to transit passengers and pedestrians on Jan. 17.

The city's transit hub has been closed since the summer. Initial estimates had the plaza reopening in late fall, but the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority says work took longer than expected. Some design modifications were made along the way.

A RIPTA spokeswoman says she appreciates the public's patience, and believes passengers will feel it was worth the wait once they see the changes.

The plaza will have new lighting, improved signage and trees. The aim of the overhaul is to create a safer, pedestrian-friendly plaza with efficient transit connections.

Providence Bar Loses License

Another Federal Hill bar is losing its licenses to operate.  Providence regulators have shut down the Ice Lounge on Atwells Avenue.  The second story bar has a history of minor offenses including having unlicensed entertainment and hookah smoking.  However, a fight in October that left the bar damaged and at least one patron injured was the last straw for city officials.

Former R.I. Senator Sapinsley Dies

Former state Senator Lila Sapinsley is dead at the age of 92.  Sapinsley was found dead in her room at Laurelmead in Providence yesterday.  Sapinsley served five terms in the state Senate in the 1970s and 1980s, and was the first woman to hold the title of majority leader.  She was a one-time constitutional delegate who also had a lead role in forming the Community College of Rhode Island. 

Raimondo Announces Plan To Expand College Savings

Governor-elect Gina Raimondo is announcing a plan aimed at ensuring that thousands of children born in Rhode Island every year have savings for college.

She is looking to expand a program that since 2010 has provided a $100 contribution to a college savings account to any child born in the state. Only about 400 children are enrolled.

Under the plan being announced Wednesday by Raimondo, the current treasurer, babies will receive the savings if their parents check a box when they fill out a standard form at the hospital. Before, families had to fill out several pages of forms and open a special account.

Raimondo says the change is expected to benefit thousands of families and could help create a more skilled workforce.

Maine and Nevada have similar programs

Pension Records Of Suspended Coventry Chief Probed

State officials are reviewing pension records of Coventry Fire District Chief Paul Labbadia who's being investigated for possible misconduct.

WPRI reports that in a Nov. 21 letter it obtained, Frank Karpinski, executive director of the Employees Retirement System of Rhode Island, asked Chief Paul Labbadia for information showing he worked in North Providence for the 10 years required to receive a pension credit.

Karpinski said there may be a discrepancy between years Labbadia worked and what he was paid.

Labbadia's lawyer declined to comment.

Labbadia was suspended with pay Nov. 3 after a news video report showed him drinking alcohol during the workday, using a department-paid vehicle for golfing during work and driving the fire vehicle to a party. He denied wrongdoing and says he's on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Raimondo Economic Summit Opened To Media,Public

An entire three-hour economic summit called for by Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo will be open to the public after all.

Jonathan Duffy, a co-chairman of her transition team, said Tuesday that after speaking to Raimondo, the meeting scheduled for Dec. 16 to discuss ways to fix Rhode Island's economy will be open to the media.

He said Monday that the meeting among 80 participants would be closed after Raimondo's initial remarks.

The Providence Journal reports that the invited group is nearly all from the private sector and their areas of expertise are in manufacturing, work-force development, small-business and the tourism industry.

Portsmouth To Challenge Ruling On Sakonnet Tolls

The Portsmouth Town Council will appeal a federal court judge's dismissal of its challenge to tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge.

The Newport Daily News reports that the council voted 5-1 Monday to appeal last Wednesday's ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Ronald R. Lagueux in Providence.

The bridge opened in April 2013 and began collecting a 10-cent placeholder toll. The toll ended less than a year later in June when the General Assembly changed the law to prohibit tolls on the bridge.

The town said federal law prohibits a toll on bridges after they're open. It also wants the return of more than $1 million in tolls.

Town Solicitor Kevin P. Gavin says Lagueux did not deal with the main point of Portsmouth's challenge concerning federal rules prohibiting tolls on bridges that are open.

State Awards $3.85 Million To Protect Open Space

 The state has awarded $3.85 million in local open space matching grants to 15 communities, land trusts and conservation organizations to protect nearly 1,200 acres of open space and farmland throughout Rhode Island.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee and Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit distributed the grants Monday at the Statehouse. Voters approved bond measures for open space in 2008 and 2012.

The state grants will be matched by local bond funds and federal grants. State officials say that more than $11.6 million will be spent on land preservation throughout Rhode Island.

The lands that will be protected include a 50-acre parcel of undisturbed forested land in Lincoln, 34.8 acres of farmland in Little Compton and 22.7 acres of forest and open meadow in South Kingstown.


Officials Warn Of Rabid Raccoon In Newport

 Rhode Island health officials say a raccoon that may have had contact with several people in Newport has tested positive for rabies.

The state Department of Health said Monday the raccoon was captured Saturday near city hall, Thompson Middle School and a RIPTA stop.

Officials define contact as a bite, a scratch or the animal's saliva touching the eyes, nose, mouth or an open wound. Without proper treatment for exposure, rabies can develop and the resulting infection is almost always fatal. Anyone who may have come in contact with the raccoon should contact the D.O.H. immediately at (401) 222-2577.

In addition, anyone who has a pet that may have had contact with the raccoon near that location must contact the city's animal control officer at (401) 222-3070.


A.C.L.U. Sues Providence Police For Moving Protesters

The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the city of Providence for allegedly violating the free speech rights of protesters when police ordered them to move further and further away from a fundraiser for Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo during her gubernatorial campaign.

The lawsuit was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Providence over the department's actions during a September 2013 fundraiser held at the Casino at Roger Williams Park. The ACLU says the case is especially egregious because it happened six months after a judge found Providence police had violated a woman's free speech rights in a similar case.

A Providence police spokeswoman said Monday the department had no immediate comment.

The lawsuit says police repeatedly ordered protesters further away from the building, eventually to 285 feet from the entrance.

Gas Prices In R.I. Drop For 14th Straight Week

 Gas prices are continuing their decline in Rhode Island, falling another 7 cents in the last week.

Monday's price survey from AAA Southern New England found the average price for a gallon of self-serve regular in the state is $2.86. This week marks the 14th consecutive week of decline.

The price locally is down 15 cents in the last month. The current average in Rhode Island is still 19 cents more than the national per-gallon average of $2.67.

The average price in Rhode Island a year ago at this time was 63 cents higher, or $3.49 a gallon.

The AAA survey found a 28-cent range in prices, from a low of $2.72 to a high of $3 a gallon.


Report: 1 Of 4 Teacher Grads Find Jobs In R.I.

 A report by the state Department of Education says about one of four recent graduates from Rhode Island's teacher preparation programs are employed as teachers in the state.

In 2012-2013, 649 students received their Rhode Island teaching certification from one of nine teacher training programs in the state. But only 167 went on to teach in Rhode Island in the following school year.

The report says that in 2012-2013, of the 190 Rhode Island College students who received their Rhode Island teacher certification, only 54 found jobs here.

At the University of Rhode Island, 161 students were certified in Rhode Island in 2012-2013 but only 42 worked here.

Of 86 students certified at Providence College, 13 found employment in Rhode Island.

Quonset To Celebrate Job Growth

Rhode Island officials are preparing to celebrate jobs and business development at the Quonset Business Park and its Port of Davisville.

The former naval air station and construction battalion base has been a focus of effort to promote economic development in the area since 2005.

Today, the business park will recognize its 10,000th employee. Among the officials expected to attend are Gov. Lincoln Chafee, Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo, Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline, state House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed.

The business park operated by Quonset Development Corp. is home to almost 200 companies, and the Davisville port is a top auto importer.

Raimondo: Roberts For Health & Human Services

Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo announced Sunday she will nominate outgoing Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts to head the Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Roberts, a longtime advocate on health care issues, headed the state Health Care Reform Commission that set up Rhode Island's health insurance exchange, HealthSource RI, under the federal health care overhaul. She did not seek re-election as lieutenant governor because of term limits.

Raimondo said Roberts has the key combination of management skills and compassion for the job.

Roberts said she was ready to get to work.

Among the issues facing Raimondo and Roberts will be the future of HealthSource RI as it and other state exchanges set up with federal funds must begin paying for themselves. HealthSource has gotten high marks but some lawmakers say Rhode Island may be better off joining the federal exchange to avoid paying annual operating costs estimated to be at least $17 million.

Raimondo has said she wants to keep HealthSource local and has pledged to scrutinize its budget and get "creative."

State Commission Hears Complaint About Car Tax

A state commission has heard from people who want to change Rhode Island's system for valuing automobiles for taxation, saying the present method overestimates what vehicles really are worth.

It's an issue that both Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo and Providence Mayor-elect Jorge Elorza also said during their campaigns they would like to see some action on.

One witness, Rob Cote, told the Vehicle Value Commission on Friday that he would like to see cars assessed by their average trade-in value, not their clean retail value. Cote, a longtime advocate for changing the method, said there's a big difference in those numbers.

Commission members said action would have to come from the legislature and they would like to meet with Raimondo.

Christmas Tree Fire Safety Tips Offered

State Fire Officials say fires caused by Christmas trees are not common but can be extremely dangerous when they occur and have issued a series of safety tips to avoid fires during the holiday season.

They say Christmas trees should be watered daily, kept away from heat sources, and disposed of quickly after the holiday.

For those who haven't picked out a tree yet, they suggest buying a cut tree that's as fresh as possible. If needles break off before bending in half, the tree is probably too dry.

Consumers should also follow manufacturer's directions when installing electric holiday lights.

Final Hearing On Breakers Center Tonight

Newport Officials are set to hold their final hearing this evening on a proposal by the Newport Preservation Society  to build a welcome center on the grounds of the Breakers.  The Zoning Board Of Review has said it will issue its decision next month on the plan. Neighbors and some of the descendants of the Vanderbilt family, which built the Gilded Age mansion, are against the idea, saying it will detract from the national landmark.  Tonight’s hearing begins at 6:30 in the cafetorium of the Pell Elementary School on Dexter Street.

Economist: R.I. Needs Boost In Health,Education

An economist from the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has told Rhode Island planners that boosting the growth of education and health care might be the best bet for higher employment.

Senior economist Mary Burke told Rhode Island's new Council of Economic Advisors on Friday that she questions whether trying to bring in more high-tech manufacturing is the answer for Rhode Island.

Burke noted the health care and education sector is the largest non-farm employer in Rhode Island, but hasn't made the recent growth seen in other New England states.

Burke also said Rhode Island's severe unemployment during the recent recession may have been fallout from a concentration of jobs in hardest-hit industries, and that Rhode Island goods have been in more direct competition with cheaper Chinese exports for two decades.

Pair Sentenced For Identity Theft

Two Rhode Island men have been sentenced to prison for fraudulently obtaining federal tax refunds using the stolen personal information of more than 1,200 people.

The state attorney general's office says 23-year-old Julian Balbi of Providence was sentenced in federal court on Friday to 30 months in prison. A co-defendant, 23-year-old Richard Lara of Providence, received a 60-month prison sentence in the same court Thursday.

Prosecutors say the scheme involved using stolen personal information to file fraudulent tax returns totaling nearly $1.9 million. Rhode Island State Police arrested Balbi and Lara during a routine traffic stop in January 2012 and found 87 U.S. Treasury tax refund checks made out to other people.

Lara and Balbi previously pleaded guilty to aggravated identity theft, conspiracy and theft of government property.

Hundreds Rally, Block Streets In Providence

Several hundred people rallied in Providence and blocked downtown streets to protest a grand jury's decision to not indict a white police officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man in New York City.

City police also said they had to stop some protesters from walking onto Interstate 95 Friday night, but no arrests or violence were reported.

People marched and shouted "black lives matter" and other sayings to protest a grand jury's decision to not indict a white New York City officer in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner. They also protested a similar grand jury decision in the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.

Demonstrators stopped at several intersections and sat down. They also lay down outside the Providence Place mall.

Reed Calls Carter Strong Choice For Defense Chief

Sen. Jack Reed says President Barack Obama made a "strong choice" in choosing Ashton Carter to lead the Defense Department.

Obama on Friday nominated Carter, former deputy secretary of defense, to succeed Chuck Hagel, who resigned last week.

Reed, a Democrat, was mentioned as a possible successor to Hagel himself, but immediately dismissed the possibility, saying he was happy serving Rhode Island in the Senate.

Carter is an academic and physicist who has held several jobs at the Pentagon.

Reed says Carter is an effective leader who has demonstrated integrity and sound judgment throughout his career. He says Carter has a commitment to people who serve in the armed forces and a command of national security policy.

Nightclub Fire Memorial Gets Go-Ahead From State

 The group working to build a memorial at the site of a 2003 nightclub fire that killed 100 people says it has received the go-ahead from the state.

Gina Russo of the Station Fire Memorial Foundation says  that the Department of Environmental Management and the Department of Transportation have approved the project. She says calls it a big step, and says they'll start work in the spring.

Among their first steps will be bringing in gravel to smooth out the site, install wiring and put in a well system for irrigation.

They will not dig directly on the fire site.

Russo says they have about $200,000 in the bank and are still working to raise the $2 million they estimate they need to build and maintain the memorial.


Brothers Sentenced For Stealing Grease

 Two elderly brothers from Cranston are facing a sentence of home confinement for stealing used cooking oil from restaurants.  Prosecutors say Andrew and Bruce Jeremiah stole over 100-thousand-dollars worth of grease from dozens of restaurants over a two-year period.  The men were finally caught in November of 2012 during a sting investigation.  The judge sentenced the men to home confinement because of their age and health issues.


Providence Tree Lighting Is Tonight

  The Providence Christmas tree lighting has been moved up one day, and is now scheduled for tonight.  Mayor Angel Tavaras says inclement weather is forecast for tomorrow, and that was the reason for the switch.  The lighting will take place at 6 p.m. at the Alex and Ani City Center.  The event is free and open to the public.


U.R.I. Announces Staff Hirings

 The University of Rhode Island is adding 55 new faculty members over the next four years.  The initiative will cost more than five-million-dollars, with the positions spread out over different college programs.  This year the university reported record enrollment of more than 16-thousand students.  The 32-hundred-student freshman class this year is also the school's largest ever.

Raimondo Meets With Obama Today

Rhode Island Governor-elect Gina Raimondo is sitting down with President Obama at the White House today.  Raimondo is one of several newly-elected governors who will be meeting with the President today.  The President and Raimondo are expected to discuss job creation, expanding pre-kindergarten access and getting more people enrolled in health coverage.  In addition to the private meeting with the President, Raimondo will also participate in a group lunch with the other attending governors.

Judge Says Lawsuit Over Sakonnet Toll Now Moot

A federal judge has tossed out a lawsuit brought over the short-lived tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge, saying it was moot because the tolls are no longer being collected.

The Newport Daily News reports U.S. District Judge Ronald Lagueux on Wednesday dismissed the lawsuit filed by the town of Portsmouth.

The bridge opened in April 2013 and began collecting a 10-cent toll in August of that year.  That ended less than a year later when the General Assembly changed the law to prohibit tolls on the bridge.

The town had argued that federal law prohibits a toll being placed on any bridge after it is already open. It also asked that more than $1 million in tolls collected be reimbursed.

Lagueux also rejected that request.

R.I. Education Leaders At White House College Summit


Two education leaders from Rhode Island are participating in a White House summit on how to help more students prepare for college and get a degree.

Providence Schools Superintendent Susan Lusi and Rhode Island College President Nancy Carriuolo are among the hundreds of college presidents and others participating in Thursday's College Opportunity Day of Action. President Barack Obama , first lady Michelle Obama and Vice president Joe Biden are among those in the administration participating.

Lusi and Carriuolo have worked together with other groups to increase the number of Providence residents with a postsecondary degree, part of a larger effort across 55 cities. The goal is to increase by 52,000 the number of adults who have a degree in those cities by December 2016.


Pawtucket Mayor To Investigate Police Major's Work Schedule

Pawtucket Mayor Don Grebien says the city will investigate a news outlet's report that a police officer went golfing and did other personal activities while he was listed as working.

Grebien told the Hummel Report  "there's no excuse" for reports of Maj. Bruce Moreau's personal activities. The mayor says there's a pattern that officials need to examine.

Moreau, a nearly 30-year police veteran, denies golfing on a work day. He says he has an alternate work schedule when he sometimes leaves early and comes in late.

The Hummel Report says Moreau spent hours with his father at lunch and golfing one day in October and did some work, claiming overtime.

The report says his salary this year was $82,283 and he also was paid nearly $20,000 in overtime.

Legal Challenge Over 2 Pit Bulls Heads To Superior Court

 A legal challenge over two pit bulls in North Kingstown's pound because their owners live within a mile of a private school is headed to Superior Court in Providence.

Municipal Court Judge Joseph White ruled Wednesday that because the lawyer representing the family that owns the dogs facing euthanasia raised a state constitutional issue required him to refer the case to Superior Court.

The case involves two pit bulls owned by Kristy Miserendino, her mother, Kim, and her boyfriend. A woman filed a complaint in July that she was nipped or bitten by the dogs.

A town panel found the dogs to be vicious and later informed the family of a town law that forbids anyone from owning a dog considered vicious within a mile of a school.


Arrest Made In Casino Robbery Case

A Woonsocket man is facing charges accusing him of following a woman who won money at Twin River Casino and stealing her purse.  Police say Abdulaye Fall was caught on video following the woman from the casino to her home in Providence.  He allegedly then grabbed 72-year-old La Yang's purse with her three-thousand-dollars in winnings as she got out of her car.  Fall is charged with first degree robbery and is being held without bail. 

Kilmartin Challenges Electric Rate Hike

  Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin is challenging National Grid's effort to deal the state a large electric rate increase.  National Grid's proposed hike would increase the average state resident's power bill by 22-dollars a month.  Kilmartin says families and businesses will be hurt by this increase if it's allowed to stand.  The AG says that he doesn't know how many families would consider a 26-percent rate increase to be in their best interests.


Raimondo To Reappoint Prisons Chief

Governor-elect Gina Raimondo is planning to reappoint AT Wall to his position as director of the Department of Corrections.  Wall has a law degree from Yale University, and has worked in corrections since 1976.  Raimondo says Wall is a national leader in corrections and the state is fortunate that he calls Rhode Island home.  Raimondo yesterday also reappointed Janet Coit as director of the Department of Environmental Management.

Raimondo: Coit To Stay Top Enviromental Official

 Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo says she wants the state's top environmental to stay on when she takes office next year.

Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit was first appointed by outgoing Gov. Lincoln Chafee in 2011.

Raimondo said on Wednesday that Coit has been a strong advocate for the environment and a skilled manager of a complex department. She says Coit has a passion for conserving our natural resources.

Coit says she is honored to have the opportunity to continue serving the people of the state, and she says she is inspired by the prospect of being part of the Raimondo administration.

Raimondo says she'll submit Coit's name to the Senate in January for re-confirmation.


Board O.K.'s Tuition Hikes At R.I. Public Colleges



Students at Rhode Island's three public colleges would pay more for tuition and fees under a plan approved by the state Board of Education.

The Rhode Island Board of Education approved the hikes as part of a budget request during a meeting on Monday. They are forwarding the request to incoming Gov. Gina Raimondo.

The increases would affect both in-state and out-of-state students at the University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island College and the Community College of Rhode Island.

URI students would pay 2.8 percent more annually. Tuition at RIC and CCRI would rise between 7.8 percent and 8.6 percent.

In-state tuition at URI would jump $356 per year to $12,862; at RIC by $595 to $8,197; and at CCRI by $316 to $4,266.



Raimondo Names Chief Of Staff

 Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo has appointed a chief of staff who has worked for governors in three other states.

Raimondo, a Democrat, on Tuesday named Stephen Neuman as her top staffer.

Neuman is currently the director of public affairs for Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley. He has also worked for governors in North Carolina and Missouri and was chief of staff for Barack Obama's winning North Carolina campaign in 2008.

A spokeswoman for Raimondo says she has followed O'Malley's work for years, and Neuman's experience with him and elsewhere will be invaluable in Rhode Island.

Neuman is 38 years old and is a graduate of Washington University School of Law and the University of Missouri-Columbia. He previously was an attorney for the law firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and Flom.


Reed Plan To Establish Historical Park In Blackstone Valley Goes To Congress

A plan to establish a national historical park in the Blackstone Valley is going before Congress.

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed has been pushing the plan for a Blackstone River Valley National Historical Park for years. The Rhode Island Democrat's office said Wednesday the plan was due for votes in the House and Senate by next week as part of the National Defense Authorization Act.

The plan would put a new national historical park along the river, which includes several old mill towns and buildings including the Old Slater Mill in Pawtucket, the first successful cotton-spinning factory in the United States.

The area is already home to the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor, which links 24 communities along the Blackstone River from Worcester, Massachusetts, to Providence.

Builder Sentenced For False Claims

  A Cranston builder is avoiding prison following a federal conviction for filing false claims and false documents.  Prosecutors say Donald Ihlefeld [[ ILL-uh-feld ]] owned the Alhambra Building Company in Warwick when the crimes took place.  Ihlefeld admits that he filed false claims in order to collect close to two-million-dollars in federal funds during the renovation of a former West Warwick textile mill.  His sentence calls for two years probation and 200 hours of community service.


Firefighter In Trouble Over Gesture

  A Providence firefighter is in hot water after making a gesture of support to protesters outside the Public Safety Complex last week.  The crowd was protesting the decision by a Missouri grand jury not to prosecute a white police officer who killed an unarmed black teen.  The firefighter is not being publicly identified by the department.  Officials say he will be facing a disciplinary hearing in the near future.


Raimondo Doubled Fung's Campaign Spending

  Governor-elect Gina Raimondo outspent her Republican opponent Allan Fung by more than a two to one margin in the campaign this fall.  Raimondo spent well over five-million-dollars on her campaign through October 27th, while Fung spent over two-million-dollars between the beginning of the year and this week.  Moderate candidate Bob Healey spent a total of 36-dollars on his campaign and received 22-percent of the vote.


Middletown Officials Study Bringing Broadband Service To Aquidneck Island

 Middletown economic development officials have called for a meeting early next year to learn how to bring broadband service to Aquidneck Island.

The Newport Daily News reports that Town Planner Ronald M. Wolanski says officials don't want to lose businesses and broadband would make the area more attractive to those that might relocate.

Municipalities nationwide have installed fiber broadband to increase businesses, reduce buffering of video conferencing and movie streaming and speed up other Internet activities. Broadband operates as much as 60 times faster than Internet connections now offered on Aquidneck Island.

Local Internet providers have indicated they do not have plans to bring fiber broadband to the island.

The meeting is tentatively set for Jan. 13 at Middletown Town Hall.

U.S. To Defend America's Cup Outside Of The Country

The America’s Cup is going offshore, to a British territory that sits at the northern tip of the Bermuda Triangle.

In a shake-up to the tradition of the oldest trophy in international sports, organizers announced Tuesday that Bermuda beat San Diego for the right to host the next America’s Cup in June 2017.

The decision was made two weeks ago by software billionaire Larry Ellison, who owns two-time defending champion Oracle Team USA, after consulting with team CEO Russell Coutts, a New Zealander.

This will be the first time a U.S. defender holds the America’s Cup outside the United States. It also will be the first time in the regatta’s 163-year history that a defender sails the races in foreign waters by choice rather than necessity.

Ruling On Breakers Center Not Expected Until Jan.

Hearings continue in the battle over whether to build a visitors center at The Breakers in Newport, but a decision is not expected until January.

The Newport Daily News reports that the city's Zoning Board of Review plans to issue a decision Jan. 5. Testimony began Monday and is expected to continue Tuesday. A third hearing date is tentatively set for Dec. 8.

The Breakers is the city's most famous mansion and is a national historic landmark.

The Preservation Society of Newport County wants a welcome center on the grounds as a more comfortable place for tourists to buy tickets, use the restroom and buy sandwiches. Critics have argued it will detract from the estate's character. Some have suggested it be built in a parking lot across the street.

Airline Industry Changes Hurting T.F. Green


With fewer nonstop flights, airline seats and take-offs, the number of passengers at T.F. Green Airport has declined by 40 percent in nine years.

Experts say there's nothing wrong with the airport, but it's been hurt by changes in the airline business.

An aviation analyst says airlines that focused on connecting hub airports are instead making money serving primary airports. That has led to fewer direct flights between secondary airports, such as Providence.

Travelers must instead fly from one secondary airport to a connecting hub and catch a connecting flight to a destination at a secondary airport.

Also, 11 airlines that used Green are now down to five.

Kelly Fredericks, president of the Rhode Island Airport Corp., said he'll try to win back flyers who use Logan International Airport.

Plans For 2015 Indy Race In Downtown Providence Now A No-Go

Indy cars won't be zooming through the streets of Providence anytime soon.

A company that had been planning a race through downtown streets for August 2015 now says it has "moved on."

Mark Perrone, president of New England Grand Prix, says the economics of a deal with the city did not work.

Ann Gooding, a spokeswoman for Mayor Angel Taveras, says the city could not reach agreement with the organizers about which routes the cars would use and measures to ensure the safety of pedestrians and vehicles.

Perrone says he might still be open to doing an event in Providence at another time.

He says they are planning an Indy car event in Boston in 2016.

R.I. Gas Prices Continue To Fall

Gas prices are down in Rhode Island again.

AAA Southern New England says its weekly survey released on Monday found regular unleaded gasoline was averaging $2.93 per gallon, a drop of two cents from last week.

Prices have fallen 17 cents per gallon in the last month. A year ago, the price of a gallon of gas in Rhode Island was 19 percent higher, or $3.48.

The last time gas prices were this low in Rhode Island was in 2010.

Nationally, AAA says the average price of a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.77, or 16 cents less per gallon.

200 Demonstrate At State House Over Ferguson Shooting

About 200 demonstrators have marched on the State House during a second protest of the Missouri grand jury decision to not indict a police officer who fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager.

The demonstration began Monday night as protesters marched to the State House escorted by police.

State Police also were at the State House to keep an eye on the protest.

The event ended at about 9:30 p.m. with protesters thanking the State Police.

It was the second protest that took place nearly a week after demonstrators shut down I-95 for 15 minutes. That demonstration drew criticism from many, including the local NAACP

Amos House Breaks Ground

A nonprofit agency that works with the homeless and those who have struggled with substance abuse has officially kicked off a project to build a $6 million community center in South Providence.

Amos House held a groundbreaking on Monday for the 29,000-square-foot building, which will house a dining hall, classrooms, community rooms, training centers and offices.

President and CEO Eileen Hayes says the group has outgrown its headquarters, which currently hosts programs including a soup kitchen that serves 800 meals a day.

The group helps around 15,000 people per year. It also provides transitional and permanent supportive housing, runs job training and literacy programs and offers other social services.

North Kingstown Bank Robbed

 Police are investigating the robbery of a Webster Bank branch in North Kingstown.  The masked suspect did not display a weapon but demanded cash from the teller.  The man escaped in an older Jeep Cherokee with an undisclosed amount of money.  North Kingstown Police have posted pictures of the suspect on their social media pages, and are urging anyone who recognizes the man to contact them immediately.


Tax Breaks Key To I-195 Deal

 A developer seeking to build student housing on former Interstate-195 land in Providence has a clause that would allow them to back out on the deal.  Texas-based Friendship and Clifford can withdraw from the project if they are unable to reach a deal with the city on tax breaks.  The developer is seeking a 12-year tax abatement agreement, which is the standard term for this type of project.  The sides have until March 1st to finalize the deal.

House Panel To Review Deficit Plan

 The Rhode Island House Finance Committee is meeting this week to review plans to address a projected budget deficit in the current fiscal year.  The panel will hear testimony on corrective action plans for agencies where spending is higher than budgeted amounts.  Office of Management and Budget officials will be on hand for the hearing, which is Thursday at the State House.


Newport Man One Of Two Facing Child Porn Charges

A Providence man is due in district court on charges he shared images and video of child pornography, and a Newport man faces similar charges.

State police say 30-year-old Harry Hernandez is scheduled for arraignment Monday after being arrested by members of the Rhode Island Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

He is charged with possession and transfer of child pornography. Police say they traced someone sharing the images and video to Hernandez's Internet connection and found the material during a search of his house Monday.

It was not immediately clear whether Hernandez had a lawyer.

Thirty-two-year-old Stephen-Lawrence Ellis of Newport was charged last week with possessing and transferring child pornography. He did not enter a plea during his arraignment and was released on $25,000 surety bail or $2,500 cash.

Fire Damages Popular Glocester Eatery

 An investigation is underway to determine the cause of a fire that inflicted heavy damage to a popular Glocester eatery.  The fire broke out early yesterday morning in the bar room at Snow's Clam Box on Putnam Pike.  The fire was reported to authorities by a woman who lived upstairs with her son, and both escaped safely.  It took around an hour for several responding fire departments to bring the blaze under control.  The investigation is being handled by the state Fire Marshal's Office.


North Providence Buys Snow Equipment

 North Providence is ready for winter with a new fleet of used snow plows.  Mayor Charles Lombardi says the city paid 23-thousand-dollars for two dozen pieces of heavy equipment at a state DOT auction.  Nineteen of the vehicles are old dump trucks fitted with snow plows, and another is a street sweeper.  Lombardi refers to himself as a motorhead, and says he plans to use some of the plows for parts.  He says at least eight of the plows will be put into immediate use this winter. 

Court Hearing Set Into 38 Studios Lobbying

A court hearing is set for arguments to determine if Secretary of State A. Ralph Mollis abused the judiciary system when he involved the Superior Court in his administrative examination of possible unregistered 38 Studios lobbying.

A hearing officer determined in September that attorney Michael Corso engaged in unregistered lobbying in 2010, resulting in a bill that included a $75 million state-backed loan guarantee to 38 Studios.

The determination was made in a hearing process and an effort by Mollis to involve the Superior Court.

Corso's attorneys, Anthony M. Traini and Michael J. Lepizzera Jr., have argued that Mollis tried to improperly use the judicial system.

Mollis' lawyers say he filed a dismissal to speed up the proceedings.

A court hearing is scheduled for oral arguments on Tuesday.


R.I. Dam Seen As Impediment To Fish Passage Set For Removal

A dam that environmentalists say is a major impediment to fish passing in the Pawcatuck River in South Kingstown is set to be removed.

The project received $2.3 million in federal money following Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

Scott Comings, associate state director for the Nature Conservancy, said removing the concrete dam will restore the river's connection from Little Narragansett Bay to Worden's Pond, improving fish passage and reducing the risk of flooding.

At one time, 10 dams operated. Three were removed and three washed out.

The dam being removed was built to direct water to a man-made sluiceway. Water flowing through the sluiceway was used to power the mill, which is no longer used.



R.I. To Mark World AIDS Day

Rhode Island residents will be marking World AIDS Day with events around the state.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee will be joined at the Statehouse on Monday by health care workers and advocates who work on issues related to HIV and AIDS.

The Rhode Island HIV Prevention Coalition says 74 people were newly diagnosed with HIV in Rhode Island last year.

Kristen Pfeiffer of the HIV Prevention Coalition says rates of other sexually transmitted diseases such as gonorrhea and syphilis are on the rise, and that can increase the likelihood of HIV infection.

Other events happening Monday include a display of four panels from the National AIDS Quilts at the Rhode Island School of Design

Lawmakers To Meet To Review R.I. Ebola Plans

Lawmakers are meeting to continue reviewing the state's plans for dealing with Ebola.

Rep. Joseph McNamara has called a second hearing of the House Committee on Health, Education and Welfare on Tuesday afternoon at the State House to discuss health care preparations and prevention planning.

The committee invited medical professionals from the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Health Center Association, Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care and Rhode Island Medical Society to testify.

Health care workers have expressed concerns over the state's readiness.         

Rhode Island's health director met with lawmakers Nov. 12 to answer questions about the state's response plan. Dr. Michael Fine says his department is redirecting personnel to work on Ebola planning and monitoring people who traveled to affected areas of West Africa.

Newport Teen Clocked at 127 m.p.h. On New Hampshire Highway

New Hampshire State Police say an airborne patrol unit clocked a man driving 127 miles per hour on Interstate 93 in the town of Northfield.

The State Police Special Enforcement Unit was using an airplane to monitor traffic Saturday morning when the trooper in the aircraft saw a northbound vehicle traveling quickly.

Police say the tactical flight officer twice clocked the vehicle traveling in excess of 100 mph, the fastest at 127 mph.

The driver, stopped by troopers on the ground, was identified as 19-year-old Ryan Quinn of Newport.

Quinn was charged with reckless driving and two counts of possession of a controlled drug. He's due to appear in Franklin District Court in January.

RIPTA To Honor Rosa Parks

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority is paying tribute to the late activist Rosa Parks with a re-enactment of her refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama, bus on Dec. 1, 1955.

Monday is Rosa Parks Day, named for the civil rights pioneer.

RIPTA plans to mark it with a re-enactment of Parks' historic refusal to move from her seat 59 years ago. It's being run by the Rosa Parks Human Rights Day Committee. The event is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. at 280 Broad Street in Providence, near Central High School.

RIPTA also plans to place an ad and digital display on board buses during the month of December that will highlight Parks' role in the civil rights movement.

Parks died in 2005.

State Leaders May Try Again To Settle R.I. Pension Lawsuit

State leaders seem to be on a path to try again to reach an out-of-court settlement in a lawsuit over Rhode Island's landmark pension overhaul, citing continuing fiscal uncertainty, the legal costs and the near success of the last attempt.

Democratic Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo, who crafted the 2011 pension law, has called the agreement that fell apart this year a "good deal" for Rhode Island. She has said she'd love to see it back on the table, even though she maintains the state would prevail in court.

The incoming treasurer, Seth Magaziner, also favors a negotiated settlement, and a spokesman for Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed said last week that it would be in the state's best interest.

Larry Berman, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello's spokesman, said the speaker will work with all parties to help facilitate an acceptable settlement.

The next status conference in the case before Superior Court Judge Sarah Taft-Carter is scheduled for Tuesday. She is expected to rule on the state's request for a jury trial. A trial date hasn't been set.

Coventery Fire Chief Not Discussed At Special Meeting

 Members of a board that oversees the Coventry Fire District say an ongoing investigation of possible misconduct by the fire chief was not discussed during a special meeting.

The board met for three-and-a-half hours behind closed doors on Saturday. No specific reason was given in advance for the meeting, and it wasn't part of the board's regular meeting schedule.

Chief Paul Labbadia was suspended with pay Nov. 3 after a news video report showed him drinking alcohol during the workday, using a department-paid vehicle to go golfing during work and driving the fire vehicle to a party.

Labbadia has denied wrongdoing and says he's on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Board chairman James Beckham says financial matters and the firefighters' contract were discussed at Saturday's meeting.

Red Cross Assisting 5 Familes After Pawtucket Fire

 The American Red Cross says it is assisting 17 people from five families after a fire in Pawtucket.

 The blaze started Friday afternoon in a third floor apartment of the building on Woodbine Street. Firefighters were able to put out the blaze and no injuries were reported.

The Red Cross says it providing emergency housing along with food, clothing and other items for four families temporarily displaced by the fire. Two members of a fifth family are receiving food and clothing assistance.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.


R.I. General Assembly To Hold Orientation For18 New Members

The Rhode Island General Assembly is holding an orientation for 15 newly elected members of the House and three incoming lawmakers in the Senate.

The all-day session is scheduled for Tuesday at the Statehouse. It will include welcomes and addresses from House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello and Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed. It will also include a budget presentation, introductions to the House and Senate chiefs of staff and a focus on the legislative process and legislative duties.

The House majority and minority leaders, John DeSimone and Brian Newberry, will also welcome the new members. Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio and Minority Leader Dennis Algiere are also expected to be on hand.

The new members will be sworn in Jan. 6, the first day of the 2015 session.

Coventry Fire District Calls Special Weekend Meeting Amid Chief Controversy

 The board that oversees the Coventry Fire District is holding a special meeting that comes amid an investigation of possible misconduct by the fire chief.

No reason was officially given for the meeting on Saturday.

Chief Paul Labbadia was suspended with pay Nov. 3 after a news video report showed him drinking alcohol during the workday, using a department-paid vehicle to go golfing during work and driving the fire vehicle to a party.

Labbadia has denied wrongdoing and says he was on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The district's board hired attorney J. William W. Harsch to investigate the matter. Harsch is a former member of the state Ethics Commission and a one-time Republican candidate for attorney general.

Correctional Officer Dies After North Kingstown Crash

A correctional officer involved in a three-car accident in North Kingstown on Thanksgiving has died.

Rhode Island Hospital says Jeffrey Golding died Friday at the hospital. The Rhode Island Department of Corrections says Golding worked at the intake service center at the Adult Correctional Institutions in Cranston after entering the training academy in 1991.

The 41-year-old Narragansett resident struck two other cars in the southbound lane of Route 1 and rolled over Thursday night. No one else was seriously injured.

The accident is under investigation.

Cranston Ratifies Labor Contracts

 The Cranston City Council has ratified labor contracts costing about $470,000 over three years for school bus drivers and mechanics and for tradespeople such as plumbers.

The final cost is unclear because the two contracts allow the union-represented employees to seek additional wage increases for the 2016-2017 school year.

Bus drivers and mechanics will get pay raises from 6.5 percent to 7.7 percent in the first year and 2 percent in the second.

Plumbers, electricians and heating and cooling workers and others will receive pay raises of 4 percent in the first year and 2 percent in the second.

The agreements were endorsed by the administration of Mayor Allan W. Fung and ratified by unanimous council votes.

Providence Hosting Huge Bridge Championship

  Thousands of card players are in Providence this weekend for a championship event in the game of bridge.  The eleven day North American Bridge Championship is being held at the Rhode Island Convention Center.  Players from 15 different countries will play over 300-thousand hands of bridge before the event wraps up next week.  The winners receive cash prizes.

D.U.I. Taskforce Makes Several Arrests

The Southern Rhode Island DUI Task force is reporting a busy start to the Thanksgiving weekend.  Between Wednesday night and early yesterday, task force officers made 14 drunk driving arrests.  The task force is made up of officers from several cities and towns in the state, along with officials from the Department of Transportation and the attorney general's office.  The crackdown will continue through the rest of the holiday weekend.

Fire Displaces 3 Providence Families

An electrical malfunction is being blamed for a fire that displaced eight residents of a Providence apartment building early on Thanksgiving day.

Officials say the fire in the Calla Street home was contained to electrical wires in the basement, but the power had to be shut off and be turned back on until the wires are repaired.

Three families were displaced and three of the residents are children.

The Red Cross has provided the families with emergency housing and food.

Providence firefighters also dealt with a fire in a home on View Street on Thursday morning. Although the home suffered heavy damage, no one was home at the time.

The cause is under investigation.

Providence Non-Profit To Open New Facility

A nonprofit agency that works with the homeless and those who have struggled with substance abuse is beginning construction on a new facility in Providence.

The Amos House will hold a groundbreaking ceremony Monday for the 29,000-square-foot community center that will be built behind its soup kitchen.

The $6 million building will house a new soup kitchen with a larger dining hall, classrooms, community rooms, training centers and staff offices.

In addition to the soup kitchen, the agency provides transitional and permanent supportive housing, runs job training and literacy programs and offers other social services.

U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse helped secure federal funding for the project and are expected to speak at the ceremony. Gov. Lincoln Chafee and other local officials also plan to attend.

Providence P.D. Recognized Nationally

 The Providence Police Department has earned national accreditation from the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies.

The department says it is the largest municipal police department in New England to be nationally accredited. It met 188 standards to show it is working within the best practices of law enforcement.

Police Chief Hugh Clements Jr. says earning the accreditation is a remarkable accomplishment and will be an invaluable asset in the future.

The commission also awarded an "accreditation with excellence" under the most stringent assessment model to the Rhode Island State Police. It was the seventh accreditation award for the agency.

About 5 percent of U.S. law enforcement agencies are accredited nationally by the commission.

The awards were presented last week in Albuquerque, New Mexico.


Downtown Providence Traffic Alterations On Way This Weekend

 Holiday shoppers and others driving through downtown Providence will see some traffic changes around the Providence Place mall after Thanksgiving.

The city of Providence is rerouting some traffic around the mall on Friday and Saturday to accommodate an anticipated increase in vehicle and pedestrian traffic around the center of the city's retail activity. Friday is traditionally the busiest shopping day of the year.

The changes will be in effect between 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. both days.

Several streets around the mall that normally have two-way traffic will instead be one way, including parts of Francis and Hayes streets. Other detours will also be in place.


Joy Ride On Boat Leads To Arrests

 Authorities say two men were rescued and taken into custody by Rhode Island environmental police after a boat they took for a Thanksgiving joy ride ran aground.

Charlestown police were contacted by the Coast Guard for a vessel in distress in the Charlestown Breachway early Wednesday. Charlestown Rescue marine units found a 22-foot sport fishing boat that had run aground in Charlestown Pond. It had lost its hydraulic system and steering.

The men were uninjured but had mild hypothermia because they had been out since about 3 a.m.

Authorities learned the boat was taken without the consent of owner Robert Dickau of South Glastonbury, Connecticut. Rescue personnel said the men were out for a joy ride.

Environmental police couldn't immediately be reached about any pending charges. The men weren't identified.


R.I. Awarded Traffic Safety Funding

Rhode Island has been awarded nearly $341,000 for traffic and vehicle safety programs.

The state's congressional delegation announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration awarded the funding to the Rhode Island Department of Transportation.

The federal grant funds can be used to improve prevention efforts in traffic safety priority areas such as seat belt use, impaired driving, motorcycle safety and educating young drivers.

U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Reps. Jim Langevin and David Cicilline say the funds will support critical traffic safety programs and make roads safer.

RIDOT Director Michael Lewis says traffic safety campaigns help reduce fatalities and serious injuries on the road.

A.G. Says Portsmouth School Board Violated Open Meetings Act

  Attorney General Peter Kilmartin says the Portsmouth School Committee violated the state Open Meeting Act twice this year.  Kilmartin says gatherings referred to as meet and greet events for superintendent candidates had a quorum of members.  The legal opinion also says that business was discussed outside the view of the public.  The attorney general will not be filing suit in the matter, but says Councilor Fredrick Faerber who filed the complaint can if he wishes.


Providence Woman Dies In Foster Crash

 A 45-year-old woman was killed in a two-car crash in Foster that authorities suspect was caused by bad weather.

Rhode Island State Police said the accident that killed Siobhan Ross-Humphries of Providence happened on Route 101 early Wednesday afternoon.

An initial investigation found Ross-Humphries was headed westbound near the Connecticut border when she lost control of her Honda Fit because of poor road conditions. Her car crossed into the eastbound lane and was hit by a Toyota Corolla driven by 77-year-old George Loiselle of Warwick.

Authorities said he was taken to Day Kimble Hospital in Connecticut. The hospital said Wednesday evening it had no record of a patient by that name. 

Rhode Island and Connecticut State Police and the Foster Police Department are investigating.


Raimondo Names Team To Head Inauguration Plans

Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo has announced the members of her inaugural committee and says she's planning an event that will celebrate Rhode Island's strengths.

Committee co-chairs are GTech Chairman Donald Sweitzer and Democratic fundraisers Johnnie Chace and Mark Weiner. The mayors of Central Falls, Pawtucket and North Providence are also on the committee along with several state lawmakers and community, business and labor leaders.

Raimondo, who has served the last four years as state treasurer, said Wednesday committee members will give her input on the best ways to champion Rhode Island and ensure an inauguration that's open and inclusive.

Raimondo will be sworn in on Jan. 6. She is replacing Lincoln Chafee, who didn't

Longtime Director Of Providence Children's Museum Stepping Down

The longtime executive director of the Providence Children's Museum is stepping down.

The museum says Janice O'Donnell will leave the museum on Friday.

O'Donnell was named executive director in 1985, and has been with the museum since 1979, two years after it opened in its original location in Pawtucket.

Under her leadership, the museum relocated to Providence's Jewelry District in 1997 and underwent a major building restoration and exhibit expansion in 2010.

O'Donnell says it has been a privilege to lead the museum, and says her next ventures will focus on kids' free choice learning and play.

The museum's board is launching a search for a replacement.

R.I. Hospital Takes Precautions Against Spread of Legionella

 Rhode Island Hospital is taking precautionary measures to stop the spread of the water-borne bacterial disease legionella after two patients came down with it.

The hospital is investigating the source of the disease, and is using bottled water for drinking, instead of tap water, for hospitalized patients in potentially-affected areas. The hospital will also "superheat" and flush the water supply in those areas.

Legionella is a bacterial disease found in the natural environment, usually in warm water, and is a risk mainly to patients with compromised immune systems. It can cause a type of pneumonia commonly known as Legionnaires disease.

It is not transmitted person-to-person.

State Recieves Funds For Traffic Safety

  Rhode Island is receiving more than 300-thousand dollars from the federal government to help make state roads safer.  The U.S. Department of Transportation grant is designed to support traffic and vehicle safety programs.  Senator Jack Reed says the money will enhance safety conditions for drivers and pedestrians in the state.  The money can be used for things that include the promotion of seat belt use, motorcycle safety or to educate young drivers.


Providence Marks End Of Major Repaving Project

 It's the end of the road for a two-year, $40 million project that resurfaced 56 miles of roads in Providence. Mayor Angel Taveras marked the milestone Tuesday morning. Taveras called a news conference to mark the conclusion of what he says is a significant accomplishment of his administration.

The effort was supported by paving work by the state, Providence Water Supply Board and National Grid. The utility is replacing natural gas line replacement program and was particularly active on the city's northeast side.

Taveras said the work so far has used about $37 million, with about 5 miles remaining early next year. The city estimates that when it is over, about 16 percent of the 370 miles of city-maintained streets will have been repaved.

Five I-95 Protesters To Appear In Court

 Five people who helped shut down Interstate 95 through Providence during a protest sparked by the events in Ferguson, Missouri, are scheduled to appear in court.

State Police Col. Steven O'Donnell says that the protesters had marched peacefully from Central High School to the Providence police station on Tuesday when a group of about 100 to 150 people broke off and decided to go on the highway.

He says they jumped a 5-foot fence and streamed onto I-95 South and North. He said a "mob mentality" took over.

Protests erupted across the country following Monday's announcement that a grand jury declined to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown in Ferguson.

Raimondo To Hold Transition Policy Summit

 The incoming governor plans to hold a transition policy summit next month to talk about strategies for boosting Rhode Island's long struggling economy.

Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo says the summit will be held on Dec. 16 at her transition headquarters. The Democrat said Tuesday that more than 80 leaders from a variety of sectors will be invited to participate.

Raimondo's top issue during the campaign was the economy, and she pledged to be the "jobs governor." She outlined plans to oversee a resurgence of manufacturing in Rhode Island. She also wants to invest in areas where the state already has competitive advantages.

She says the summit will help her get ideas and feedback from those "on the front lines of policy, business, labor, social service and innovation."


Protesters Briefly Shut Down I-95

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Traffic is moving again on Interstate 95 after protesters briefly shutdown part of it in response to a grand jury's decision not to indict a white police officer in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager in Ferguson, Missouri. About 150 people were sitting on the highway across from the Providence police station Tuesday night

Protests have erupted throughout the country following Monday's announcement that a grand jury declined to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

A.C.L.U. Challenges North Kingstown Vicious Dog Law

 The Rhode Island Affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union has launched a legal challenge to the enforcement of a North Kingstown ordinance prohibiting families from owning a vicious dog and living near a school or daycare facility. The law allows the town to seize a dog if officials determine it's vicious.

Mark Morse, a lawyer for the ACLU, says the town ordinance conflicts with state law that has established procedures and penalties.

Police told a North Kingstown family they could not own a vicious dog within a mile of a school or daycare center. The police ordered two dogs removed and were seized last month and placed in a town shelter.

If the ordinance is upheld next week, the dogs could be euthanized

Newport County Jury Finds Murder Suspect Not Guilty

A one-time homeless man has been acquitted of murder charges in the stabbing death of his cousin.

After deliberating for about 10 hours over three days, a Newport County jury found Joseph J. Perryman not guilty Tuesday in the death of Anthony Simmons after the two got into an argument in December 2012.

Minutes after leaving the court, the 43-year-old Perryman said he's "about to combust."

During his testimony, Perryman said Simmons pushed him and he pushed his cousin back, knocking him over a chair. He says Simmons had a knife in his hand and was stabbed as the two men fought.

Amy S. Kempe, spokeswoman for Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin, said authorities did not believe Perryman acted in self-defense according to the law, but respect the jury's decision.

Chafee Sets Statehouse Christmas Tree Lighting

 The annual lighting of the Christmas tree in the Statehouse rotunda has been scheduled for next week.

Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced Tuesday that Secretary of State Ralph Mollis will preside over the tree lighting ceremony on Dec. 3. The 15-foot Fraser fir was donated by a farm in South Kingstown.

The conifer generated controversy in past years when Chafee referred to it as a holiday tree in a nod to Rhode Island's religious diversity. One lawmaker called the Democrat a Grinch, though previous governors had used the same term. Last year, Chafee abandoned the moniker, saying it generated too much anger.

The Heroes' Tree will be lit the same evening in the State Room. It honors those who are in or have served in the military.


A.C.L.U. Asking Chafee To Change Immigration Policy

The American Civil Liberties Union is asking Gov. Lincoln Chafee to change state immigration policy before leaving office, following President Barack Obama's action to defer deportation for millions of people in the country illegally.

The ACLU says it's sending a letter asking Chafee to change immigration detainer policy.

A U.S. citizen held on an immigration detainer is suing the state in federal court. A judge found her constitutional rights were violated.

Chafee for a brief period this year directed the Department of Corrections to require a warrant for detainers. A month later the Democrat pulled back, requiring only that detainers be accompanied by a judicial deportation or removal order.

Chafee's spokeswoman says he'll review the letter.

Democratic Gov.-elect Gina Raimondo's office says she plans to review immigration policies when she takes office.


R.I. Unemployment Stiil 3rd Worst In U.S.

 Rhode Island's unemployment rate of 7.4 percent remains the third highest rate in the country despite a drop in October.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says Georgia had the highest rate, 7.7 percent, and Mississippi had the second highest, 7.6 percent. The District of Columbia also had a 7.6 percent rate.

The Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training reported last week that the state's rate had fallen two-tenths of 1 percentage point from September. But the new labor report also showed the state shed 2,600 jobs.

Rhode Island has suffered one of the highest jobless rates in the country for years.

The U.S. unemployment rate in October was 5.8 percent.


Tickets Now On Sale For Friday Of Jazz Festival

 Tickets for the “Friday at the Fort” portion of the 2015 Newport Jazz Festival, scheduled for July 31, went on sale today.

The Friday event, which was initiated last year, will return this year to showcase emerging artists as part of the annual festival at Fort Adams State Park. The lineup will include Kneebody, a sophomore appearance of Snarky Puppy and other artists who are emerging and maintaining the tradition of jazz.

Tickets for the Friday at the Fort event cost $40 for general admission and $20 for students and can be purchased online
at www.newportjazzfest.org or www.ticketmaster.com.

Tickets also can be purchased at the Gateway Visitors Center, 23 America’s Cup Ave. Reserved seating is not available on Friday and no service charges will apply if tickets are purchased at the Visitors Center.

Flex tickets, which can be used for general admission on any day at Fort Adams, giving attendees the option of which day they wish to attend, also will be on sale online and at the Visitors Center. Flex tickets cost $55 for adults, $20 for students and $15 for children. They are not valid for reserved seats or the Friday evening concert at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Regular tickets for Saturday, Aug. 1, and Sunday, Aug. 2, will cost $74.

The complete lineup for the Newport Jazz Festival will be announced at a later date. For more information, visit www. newportfestivalfoundation.org.

Providence Marks Final Phase Of Citywide Road Project

Providence is marking the final phase of a citywide project under which more than 60 miles of roads are being repaved.

Mayor Angel Taveras plans to mark the last phase of the project at an event today on Warren Street. He is expected to be joined by members of the city council, the Department of Public Works and others.

Voters approved a $40 million road bond in 2012.

Residents consistently complain about the condition of streets in Providence and elsewhere in Rhode Island. Officials have said the project is addressing some 15 percent of the capital's roads.

The work began last year.

Extension Cord Blamed In House Fire

 The fire marshal says a fire that drove a family of five from their home and destroyed it was caused by a malfunction in an extension cord on the home's back porch.

The family survived the early Monday morning fire and was taken to South County Hospital for evaluation, then released.

Their home, near the University of Rhode Island campus, burned to the ground.

Homeowners Kim and Michael Jones say they lost nearly everything they owned. Kim Jones says she was only able to recover a few photos.

She says the family's chickens, which were housed on the porch, somehow survived.

The family had lived there for more than 20 years.

The closest fire hydrant was 1,500 feet from the home, and tanker trucks had to be used.


R.I. Gas Prices Drop Again

 Gasoline prices are continuing to drop in Rhode Island.  Triple-A Southern New England says a gallon of self serve regular is selling for an average of two-dollars-95-cents.  That's down three-cents over the last week and 20-cents lower than a month ago.  However, the current price is still 14-cents higher than the national average of two-dollars-81-cents a gallon.

Woman Robbed After Casino Win

  A Providence woman is out three-thousand-dollars after returning to her home from a casino trip and being robbed outside.  La Yang says she won the money during a successful trip to Twin River Casino Sunday night.  She parked behind her home on Waverly Street in Providence and says a man snatched her purse and ran off.  Yang was left with minor injuries after falling during the incident, and the suspect was able to escape in a waiting car.


Reed Not Interested In Top Defense Post

  The name of Rhode Island Senator Jack Reed can be crossed off the list of possible candidates for U.S. defense secretary.  A spokesman for Reed quickly ended any speculation yesterday, saying the senator loves his job and wants to continue doing it.  Reed is a former Army officer and serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, which has led to his name being mentioned whenever the position opens. Current U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced he was stepping down yesterday.


Police Investigagte Allegation Of Sexual Assault On Bryant Campus

 Smithfield police are investigating allegations of a sexual assault on the Bryant University campus.

A campus-wide email sent to students says the alleged incident occurred Sunday morning.

The school's Department of Public Safety and Smithfield police were called to remove a male suspect from campus. The student has been suspended, pending a hearing, and will not be allowed to attend the university in the meantime.

School officials did not identify the suspect.

Another man was arrested at the school in late September after he allegedly broke into a student's dorm room and sexually assaulted her.


Family Of 5 Taken To Hospital After South Kingstown Fire

Three children were among the five people taken to a hospital after a fire destroyed their South Kingstown home.

The family managed to escape the Monday morning fire and were taken to South County Hospital for evaluation.

The home near the University of Rhode Island campus burned to the ground.

Deputy Fire Chief Rich Collinson says  that a propane tank behind the home fueled the fire.

The closest fire hydrant was 1,500 feet from the home, and tanker trucks had to be used.

Fire officials said the fire does not appear to be suspicious.

Seat Belt Use Rises In R.I.

(Providence, RI)  --  A new study indicates that the use of seat belts is increasing in Rhode Island.  The state Department of Transportation says the new report shows that 87-percent of state drivers are wearing seat belts.  That's up 15 points since 2008, when only 72-percent of Rhode Islanders were buckling up.  The highest percentage locally is in Providence County, where 91-percent are wearing seat belts.


College Hill Tunnel Re-Opens Today

  Buses are back moving in the College Hill Tunnel after it was forced to close last week because of flooding.  The bus tunnel was closed Thursday night after a water main break caused the flooding.  The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority says inspections have been conducted and the tunnel is structurally sound.  All affected bus routes have returned to a regular schedule.


Passenger Numbers Down At T.F. Green

  Passenger numbers are down at TF Green Airport.  The Rhode Island Airport Corporation says 20-thousand fewer passengers flew into and out of the Warwick airport in October compared to the same month last year.  The drop is directly in passengers who fly the airport's two largest carriers, Southwest and United.  The other three major carriers posted gains for the month, identified as JetBlue, Delta and U.S. Airways.


First Week Busy At Healthsource R.I.

 The state's health insurance exchange is off to a good start of this year's enrollment period.  HealthSource RI says more than 18-hundred people renewed their insurance in the first six days, with over 300 new customers signing up as well.  The state is offering 40 different plans for consumers to choose from, up from 28 last year.  The program is currently facing a projected operating loss of more than 14-million-dollars in next year's budget.


Brown Student Among 32 New Rhodes Scholars

BOSTON — Two people from Massachusetts are among the 32 new Rhodes scholars named this weekend, and 11 others have ties to universities in New England.

Noam Angrist of Brookline and Kate Nussenbaum of Newton are among the scholars who will attend the University of Oxford in England beginning in October 2015.

Angrist graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge in 2013 with majors in economics and mathematics. He did economic research for the World Bank, the White House and the Affordable Care Act while at MIT.

Nussenbaum is a senior at Brown University in Providence, majoring in cognitive neuroscience and science and society. Her academic work has focused on how social factors distort learning capacity.

The other new Rhodes scholars include students at Yale, Harvard and Dartmouth.


Providence Mayor-Elect Elorza Schedules Public Forums

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Providence Mayor-elect Jorge Elorza and members of his transition team are hosting public forums to get input from city residents.

The meetings are called "One Providence listening forums" and are planned through Dec. 1.

A forum will be held from 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday at the Esek Hopkins Middle School and from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Juanita Sanchez Educational Complex.

The final forum will be held from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 1, at the Nathan Bishop Middle School.

Elorza says he looks forward to hearing from Providence residents and incorporating their ideas into his administration.


HealthSource R.I. Opens New Warwick Walk-In Center

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Rhode Island's health benefits exchange has opened a new walk-in center and holding a series of events to help individuals sign up for health coverage during the second open enrollment period.

The HealthSource RI center at 1923 Post Road in Warwick opened Sunday. There is an existing center at 70 Royal Little Drive in Providence where people can get help signing up for insurance.

HealthSource is also holding information sessions across the state to present health plan options, explain federal tax credit eligibility and assist with enrollment. Sessions are planned at the public libraries in Westerly and Cumberland on Monday. Others will follow.

Open enrollment runs through Feb. 15. Rhode Islanders must enroll and pay by Dec. 23 for coverage to take effect on Jan. 1.

R.I. Transportation Officials Launch New Winter Weather Website

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Rhode Island officials have launched a new website with winter driving tips, statistics and links to travel planning resources.

The state Department of Transportation created the site to help Rhode Islanders prepare for winter weather.

DOT Director Michael Lewis says it's a good time to remind everyone about safe driving practices and steps to take to prepare their vehicles, such as checking tires, fluids and brakes.

The site features links to traffic cameras, travel advisories and detour and construction maps.

More information can be found on the site, http://www.dot.ri.gov/about/winter .


Worcester-Providence Commuter Rail Under Study

WORCESTER, Massachusetts — A newly formed company says it's studying the feasibility of creating a commuter rail service between Worcester and Providence.

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reports Boston Surface Railroad Co. hopes to eventually introduce three trains a day between the cities, with a stop in Woonsocket.

General Manager Vincent Bono says an engineering study will determine what improvements would need to be made on the existing line for a 70-minute trip time. The study is expected to take six months.

The paper reports the project still has hurdles to overcome, including an agreement with Providence and Worcester Railroad. Railroad officials joined Bono Friday for a symbolic rail ride to Providence to launch the project.

The service is projected to cost about $3 million to set up and operate.

New Narragansett Brew To Honor H.P. Lovecraft

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Providence native son and horror writer H.P. Lovecraft is getting his own beer.

Narragansett Beer President Mark Hellendrung said  Saturday  the company is launching a Lovecraft Honey Ale to celebrate the late writer's literary work. It's being launched on Jan. 19, the birthday of Edgar Allan Poe whom Lovecraft admired.

Narragansett has launched several other locally-inspired brews, including a Del's Shandy and an Autocrat Coffee Milk Stout.

Lovecraft lived for years on Angell Street near Brown University, and local landmarks were used in some of his works. There was a big convention of his fans in Providence last year. The capital also has an intersection named in honor of Lovecraft, and the historical society has held Lovecraft walking tours.

Brown University Appoints Vice Provost For The Arts

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Brown University is adding a vice provost for the arts as part of an effort to expand the school's focus in the area.

The school announced Friday Michael Steinberg has been appointed to the newly created position and will begin in January. He will remain in his current role as director of the Cogut Center for the Humanities at Brown through June 30. The vice provost for arts will serve as a member of the president's cabinet.

Brown says its arts initiative will expand and enhance existing programs and bring new creative and performing arts projects to campus.

A group of faculty and staff working last year with an independent consultant recommended expanding Brown's performing arts facilities, including building a new performance and production facility for music and dance.


8 Winter Farmer's Markets Open In R.I.

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Eight indoor winter farmers' markets are now open throughout Rhode Island.

The Department of Environmental Management's agriculture division and its partners are helping sponsor the markets as part of a statewide campaign to promote buying locally-grown specialty crops.

The markets that are open Saturdays include the South Kingstown Indoor Winter Farmers' Market, the Coastal Growers' Winter Market in North Kingstown, the Mount Hope Market in Bristol, the Farm Fresh RI Wintertime Farmers' Market in Pawtucket, the Hope Valley Indoor Winter Farmers' Market in Wyoming and the Aquidneck Growers' Market in Middletown.

In East Greenwich, the St. Luke's "Arts And Farms" Indoor Winter Farmers' Market is open on Mondays. The Woonsocket Indoor Winter Farmers' Market is open on Tuesdays.


Mass. Regulators Set Deadline For Final Bay State Casino License

BOSTON — Gambling regulators have set new application deadlines for Massachusetts' third and final resort casino license.

The Massachusetts Gaming Commission announced Friday that initial applications for the southeastern region, which is centered on Fall River and New Bedford, will be due Jan. 30. The second part of the application is due May 26.

The commission, which hopes to award the license by next fall, has pushed back the deadlines a number of times already and eased other application requirements to help drum up interest.

The southeast region is generally seen as the least lucrative of the state's three designated casino regions (east, west and southeast). Gambling companies have also been watching to see if the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe receives federal land-in trust approval as they seek to develop a resort on an industrial park in Taunton.

To date, the commission has received just one initial application in the southeastern region: KG Urban, which hopes to develop a casino at a former power plant on the New Bedford waterfront. Foxwoods has floated the idea of a casino for Fall River while other operators have suggested casinos elsewhere. None have formally filed applications with the state, which also require a $400,000 fee.

Massachusetts' casino law authorizes up to three regional resort casinos and one slots parlor. Already licensed are an $800 million MGM project in Springfield, a $1.6 billion Wynn casino in Everett and a $225 million Penn National Gaming slots parlor in Plainville

Animal Rights Group Objects To Tiverton Coyote Kill Plan

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — An animal rights group is criticizing a plan by some residents in Tiverton to hunt down a pack of coyotes blamed for attacking and killing several pets.

Defenders of Animals calls the plan inhumane, and it's criticizing the state Department of Environmental Management for signing off on it.

Dennis Tabella of the group says the best way of getting rid of coyotes is to make sure they have no food sources. That means properly disposing of trash, keeping dogs on leashes and not letting cats roam.

He says if that's not done, new coyotes will move in.

The state approved the plan as long as the professional hunter the residents hired doesn't hunt at night and only baits the coyotes on private property.


Following Alleged Threat,Westerly Teachers Demand Officials Provide More Information

WESTERLY, Rhode Island — Scores of angry teachers have demanded that Westerly school officials do a better job informing them of threats such as one that's alleged to have been made against a Westerly High School teacher.

The Westerly Sun reports that teachers said at a recent School Committee meeting they learned of the allegations in media reports, not from school officials.

A physical threat policy approved by the School Committee in 2009 requires that any confirmed written or oral threat against the health, safety and well-being of any member of the school community will immediate prompt notification to police, students, faculty and staff.

A Superior Court judge continued a restraining order Wednesday for Maryjane Utley, head of the high school's science department. A student allegedly threatened to snap her neck.

Welcome Center Hearings Set

Two special meetings of the Newport Zoning Board of Review have been scheduled to consider the Preservation Society’s application for a special use permit to construct a welcome center at The Breakers.

The back-to-back hearings are set for Monday and Tuesday, Dec. 1 and 2. They were originally set for late September, but were canceled after recusals by Zoning Board Chair Rebecca McSweeney and Vice Chair Lynn Ceglie presented quorum issues.

There is considerable public interest in the proceedings, with proponents and opponents disagreeing as to the merits and necessity of the much-debated project.

College Hill Tunnel In Providence Floods;Busses Detoured

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — A tunnel that buses use to travel up and down College Hill in Providence has been temporarily closed due to flooding.

The Rhode Island Public Transit Authority says Friday it closed the 100-year-old tunnel because water was discovered late Thursday coming through the ceiling and walls.

Providence Water says there is a leak in a water main near Benefit and Waterman Streets, and it's working to fix it.

A RIPTA spokeswoman says they're working to get the water out of the tunnel, and that structural engineers will look for damage.

In the meantime, buses that normally use the tunnel are being re-routed around the East Side of the city.


R.I. Jobless Rate Falls To 7.4 Percent

PROVIDENCE, Rhode Island — Rhode Island's unemployment rate fell to 7.4 percent in October, but the state shed 2,600 jobs.

The state Department of Labor and Training reported Thursday that the rate had fallen two-tenths of 1 percentage point from September.

The number of unemployed residents was down 1,400, to 40,900. The figure has declined for 15 straight months to the lowest unemployment level since April 2008. The number of unemployed dropped 11,200 over the year.

But the state lost 2,600 jobs from the revised September estimate. The number of nonfarm jobs in Rhode Island was 476,500.

The size of the labor force was also down 400, to 555,400. But that's up 3,400 from a year ago.

The U.S. unemployment rate is 5.8 percent.

A year

Newport Cop Charged With Making False 911 Call

NEWPORT, Rhode Island — A Newport police officer has been arrested and accused of making a fake 911 call.

The Newport Daily News reports that Sgt. Adam Conheeny was arrested Thursday for allegedly making false statements during a call he made on Halloween. Police released few details about the call, but said it resulted in the dispatch of emergency services.

Conheeny pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge in District Court and was released on $1,000 personal recognizance.

He has been with the department for 16 years.

Lt. William T. Fitzgerald Jr. says he has been suspended with pay while the court case is pending and once that's done, an internal affairs investigation will be launched.

New Details Emerge In Brown Sex Assault

(Providence, RI)  --  New details are coming to light about an incident at Brown University last year where a young woman claims she was drugged and raped.  The woman says she did not have much alcohol to drink but everything became foggy while at a Providence bar in November of last year.  The woman later took a taxi to Brown, where she claims the sexual assault took place.  A grand jury declined to file charges against the two Brown football players accused by the Providence College student.


Cop Suing City Set For Promotion

(Cranston, RI)  --  A Cranston police captain who is suing the city and its mayor is getting a promotion.  Captain Todd Patalano has been provisionally appointed major, despite his accusations that former Chief Marco Palumbo engaged in a personal vendetta against him.  His suit names Palumbo, Mayor Allan Fung and other officers.  Patalano spent 18 months on paid administrative leave over accusations that he violated department rules, and was later cleared by a state police investigation.


No Ballot Tampering By Cianci Helpers

(Providence, RI)  --  State Police say they have found no evidence that volunteers with Buddy Cianci's campaign tampered with ballots.  The investigation began when residents at the Fox Point Manor senior housing complex reported that campaign workers were helping residents with their ballots.  Police determined that there were some discrepancies in the story, there were no violations of law.  Cianci lost to Democrat Jorge Elorza on Election Day.


Mattiello Raises Concerns About Rate Hike

(Providence, RI)  --  Rhode Island House Speaker Mattiello is expressing concerns about National Grid's proposed 23-percent electric rate hike.  Mattiello says he sat down with National Grid officials a few months ago and told them that double digit increases would not be acceptable.  The speaker says he will be meeting with officials from National Grid and the state Office of Energy Resources on Tuesday to further discuss the matter.  

URI Receives $24 Million To Rebuild Ghana Fisheries

KINGSTON, Rhode Island — The Coastal Resources Center at the University of Rhode Island has received a $24 million grant to lead a five-year project to rebuild depleted fisheries in Ghana.

The Providence Journal reports (http://bit.ly/1z2k4S4 ) that the grant from the U.S. Agency for International Development is part of a federal effort to boost food resources in developing countries. Brian Crawford, interim director of the Coastal Resources Center, says Ghana is seen as a good fit for the program because of its stable government and growing economy.

The Coastal Resources Center is part of URI's Graduate School of Oceanography. It has worked on fisheries and coastal resilience projects in other parts of west Africa.

The grant is the largest in the university's history and represents nearly one-fourth of total grants of $100 million to URI each year.


Man Says Bank Robbery Was For Church

Police are looking for a man who robbed a Providence bank and declared that the stolen money was for the church.  The white man believed to be in his 50s entered the Citizen's Bank Tuesday and handed the teller a note demanding money.  After politely thanking the teller, the man escaped with around three-thousand-dollars.  Police have released a clear picture of the suspect,who was wearing sunglasses but otherwise made no effort to hide his face. 

Tuition Increase Approved At RI Colleges

It is probably going to cost a little more for students to attend classes at Rhode Island's three public colleges.  The Council on Postsecondary Education voted yesterday to approve a rate hike of just under three-percent at the University of Rhode Island.  They also approved an eight-percent increase for Rhode Island College and Community College of Rhode Island.  The Board of Education will vote on the proposal next week.

Reputed RI Mobster Sentenced

A reputed high ranking mobster is avoiding additional prison time in his sentence related to a Rhode Island gambling ring.  Edward Lato pleaded no contest to a felony charge of conspiracy to commit racketeering.  The conviction was related to an investigation into a large scale sports betting ring that led to 22 arrests.  After Lato received a ten year suspended sentence yesterday, he began the trip back to a federal prison in South Carolina to continue his sentence for extorting Providence strip clubs. 

National Grid Seeks Huge Rate Hike

National Grid is asking state regulators to approve a 23-percent electric generation rate increase.  The company says natural gas prices are expected to remain high this winter, making the increase necessary.  Under the proposed rate, the average residential customer will see their bill go from 88-dollars to 109-dollars a month.  The price of electricity is largely linked to the cost of natural gas, which is the fuel used in most New England power plants. 

Planning Council Delays RhodeMap RI Vote

The Rhode Island Planning Council will not be voting on the RhodeMap RI development plan today.  The council yesterday agreed to delay the vote on the controversial plan that has been in the works for more than three years.  Officials say the delay came at the request of House Speaker Nick Mattiello and was approved by Governor Lincoln Chafee.  Mattiello says the delay was requested in order to give some lawmakers a chance to become more familiar with the plan. 


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