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September 6, 2006
DOT to open new lanes on Washington Bridge
PROVIDENCE -- In a milestone in a major bridge replacement project, traffic will be shifted to the new eastbound spans of the Washington Bridge tomorrow night, according to the state Department of Transportation.
The $42-million replacement was forced by the discovery of deteriorated concrete scattered through the 75-year-old bridge. The DOT has avoided closing the bridge by building the new structure as the old one is being demolished.
The DOT said it will keep four lanes open on the bridge to carry the 90,000 vehicles that cross it each day.
However, Exit 4 eastbound will be closed for 22 days while the DOT builds a temporary ramp connecting the new bridge to the existing Exit 4 ramp, leading to Taunton Avenue and Veterans Parkway in East Providence.
The DOT has planned detours to adjust for the closed ramp, and the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority said it will reroute one bus, the 33 (Riverside) line, for the same reason.
Read more about the project in tomorrow's Journal and on projo.com.
-- Journal staff writer Bruce Landis
Posted by Steve Peoples at 7:00 PM
Station trial update: Fire victim kin threatens Derderian
WARWICK -- Michael Derderian was threatened by a man this morning as he left the Kent County Courthouse on the second day of jury selection in his trial stemming from The Station nightclub fire.
"I’ll get him later, I’ll get him," said Joseph DiBona Sr. as Derderian entered the parking garage elevator.
DiBona was identified by a sheriff on the scene as the father of one of the many people badly burned in the disastrous fire that killed 100 people at the club. (He was incorrectly described earlier by the sheriff as the father of one of the victims who died.)
Club co-owner Derderian has been accompanied by a sheriff and capitol police officer since the jury selection process in his high-profile manslaughter trial began yesterday.
DiBona attended a brief hearing inside the court house and followed Derderian and his wife as they left the building at about 11 a.m. DiBona later said that he thought Derderian "smirked" at him during the proceeding.
DiBona first confronted Derderian outside the court house, yelling obscenities at him while Derderian, his wife, and two officers walked to the adjacent parking garage.
The officers kept DiBona from touching Derderian, but did not physically restrain the man or move to arrest him.
-- With reports from Journal staff writer Paul Edward Parker
Potential jurors' occupations detailed
Posted 2:58 p.m.
WARWICK -- Court officials said that 104 potential jurors showed up for the final jury selection hearing this afternoon; 101 attended this morning's session.
That brings the two-day total to 421 people who were introduced to Michael Derderian and Superior Court Judge Francis J. Darigan over the past two days. Each of the people also filled out extensive questionnaires that attorneys from both sides would use to further narrow the jury pool.
The people represented a wide range of ages and occupations. According to court documents, those occupations include the following:
- Restaurant chef
- Current and retired postal employees
- Farm worker
- School counselor
- Federal Bureau of Prisons employee
- Electric Boat employee
- Technician at a fitness center
- Environmental consultant
- Kent Hospital employee
- Bank loan officer
- Retired draftsman
- Customer service representative at Blue Cross
- Pharmacy technician
- Automotive service manager
- Textile mill worker
- State prison guard
- Bradford Soap Works employee, where fire victim Tom Medeiros worked
- Cable television field technician
- Providence Journal pressman
- With reports from Journal staff writers Tracy Breton and Paul Edward Parker
Posted by Steve Peoples at 6:50 PM
R.I. Guard members to return to Mideast
CRANSTON -- Another 31 members of the Rhode Island National Guard will be deployed to the Middle East, according to an announcement today by Maj. Gen. Robert T. Bray.
Most of the troops, members of the 143rd Airlift Wing, have already served in the region before. Bray said they will perform a variety of duties, including operations, maintenance and fire fighting.
The group of 31 soldiers is scheduled to deploy tomorrow at 6 a.m. from the Quonset Air National Guard Base in North Kingstown.
"Many of our Air Guard members are returning to the theatre of operations for a second, third or fourth rotation," Bray said in a statement. "We recognize the strains this places on their families and employers and are mindful of the sacrifices they also make."
Posted by Steve Peoples at 3:00 PM
Carjacking suspect ordered held without bail
The man charged with robbing a Cranston clothing store and stealing a Buick at gunpoint Sunday has been ordered held without bail at the Adult Correctional Institutions.
The police charged Stanley Palmer, 25, of 235 Gentian St., Providence, with 11 misdemeanor and felony counts, including resisting arrest and robbery. He was arraigned in District Court, Providence, on Tuesday and ordered held without bail by District Court Judge Michael A. Higgins.
The case has been transferred to Superior Court.
-- Journal staff writer Benjamin N. Gedan
Posted by Steve Peoples at 2:34 PM
Update: Seekonk mother recalls 'kind, loving' son / Photo
Journal photo/ Bob Thayer
A pair of military boots and a fatigue jacket were among the items displayed by the family today outside their home.
SEEKONK, Mass. -- A deeply religious Catholic family stood in their back yard today by tables they had set up as a memorial to their son Eric Valdepeñas, a 21-year-old Marine lance corporal who was killed by a roadside bomb Monday in Iraq.
Valdepeñas was on patrol in Fallujah when his vehicle was struck by the bomb, known as an "improvised explosive device," the Marines said.
Valdepeñas, the son of Dr. Jesus B. Valdepeñas, an East Providence family practice doctor, and Anne-Marie Valdepeñas, was the youngest of eight children.
His parents and several of his siblings talked to reporters late this morning. A sister walked out with her hand on her father's arm as if to support him. Dr. Valdepeñas had trouble speaking.
"I miss my son," he said.
He told me, " 'Dad, you're going to be proud of me,' " his father said.
Then the father added, "He's not coming back any more."
The Marine's mother called her son "a loving, kind, loyal friend."
One sister was overcome with emotion and had another sister read her prepared statement.
Valdepeñas was a 2003 graduate of Bishop Hendricken High School, where he was a star athlete and an honors student. The family has started a scholarship in his honor.
The family is still praying about the details of the award, but the recognition of a student with outstanding character would probably go to a lacrosse player, perhaps from the region, Taillon said.
Anyone wishing to make a donation toward that award, Taillon said, can send contributions to the school: The Eric Valdepeñas Memorial Scholarship Fund, Bishop Hendricken High School, 2615 Warwick Ave., Warwick, RI, 02889.
-- Read today's Journal story.
-- With reports from Journal staff writer Alex Kuffner and projo.com staff writer Kate Bramson
Posted by Jack Perry at 1:47 PM
Potential jurors gather for Urciuoli fraud trial / Photo
Journal photo / Andrew Dickerman
Robert A. Urciuoli leaves U.S. District Court, on lunch break, during the first day of jury selection.
PROVIDENCE -- Jury selection began today in the trial of Robert A. Urciuoli, Frances P. Driscoll and Peter J. Sangermano Jr. The three are charged with stealing the honest services of John A. Celona, the longtime state senator from North Providence.
About 100 prospective jurors gathered before Chief U.S. District Judge Ernest C. Torres in federal court this morning. After the judge addressed the group, he moved to a smaller courtroom to begin the tedious process of winnowing the jury pool to a dozen jurors who will hear the case.
Jury selection is expected to continue through the end of the week, with opening arguments next Monday.
Urciuoli, former president of Roger Williams Medical Center, former Roger Williams vice president Driscoll and Sangermano face charges of conspiracy and honest services mail fraud for allegedly hiring Celona to do their bidding at the State House.
For more background on the trial, read today's Journal story.
-- Journal staff writer Mike Stanton
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 1:12 PM
Rhode Island Marine injured in Iraq
NORTH KINGSTOWN -- A 23-year-old Marine reservist from Rhode Island was injured in an attack in Iraq Monday and is being transported back to the United States, according to his father, North Kingstown Fire Chief David Murray.
Murray wouldn't comment on the extent of his son's injuries, but said that Patrick Murray, who was studying business at the University of Rhode Island when he was called up, would be transferred to a rehabilitation hospital later this week, though he wasn't sure where.
Patrick Murray serves in the 1st Battalion, 25th Marines, weapons company, which was deployed to Iraq in March. Another soldier from the unit, 21-year-old Lance Cpl. Eric Valdepenas, was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq's Al Anbar province the same day that Patrick Murray was injured.
David Murray said he wasn't sure if his son was injured in the same attack, but that he was sure that the two young men weren't travelling in the same vehicle.
Both soldiers graduated from Bishop Hendricken High School -- Murray in 2001 and Valdepenas in 2003. Patrick Murray is the middle child of David Murray's three children.
"We spoke to him frequently – he would call or e-mail once every week or 10 days," David Murray said of his son, who was scheduled to return to Rhode Island next month. "He's still alive...Hopefully he's back in the States by the weekend."
-- projo.com staff writer Steve Peoples
Posted by Steve Peoples at 12:43 PM
Station Trial: Derderian threatened leaving court
WARWICK -- Michael Derderian was threatened by a man this morning as he left the Kent County Court House.
"I’ll get him later, I’ll get him," the man -- the father of one of the many people badly burned in the 2003 nightclub fire, according to a sheriff on the scene -- said as Derderian entered the parking garage elevator.
Derderian has been accompanied by a sheriff and capitol police officer since the jury-selection process began yesterday.
The man attended a brief hearing inside the court house and followed Derderian and his wife as they left the building at about 11 a.m.
The man, who would not give his name, first confronted Derderian outside the court house, yelling various obscenities at him while Derderian, his wife, and two officers walked to the adjacent parking garage.
The officers kept the man from touching Derderian, but did not physically restrain the man, or move to arrest him.
Derderian is set to return to the courthouse this afternoon as jury selection continues.
-- With reports from Journal staff writer Paul Edward Parker
Posted by Steve Peoples at 11:20 AM
15-year-old hit by hit-and-run driver in Woonsocket
The Woonsocket Police are investigating a hit-and-run accident after a 15-year-old was hit walking her dog.
Jessica Ferreira was struck at 10:26 last night on Front Street by a dark-colored vehicle. She was taken to Hasbro Children’s Hospital with severe head injuries. She is in the pediatric intensive care unit, according to the hospital.
The police said her pet was also injured.
Posted by Peter Phipps at 11:06 AM
The rain last weekend was good for one thing
The State Police wrote far fewer speeding tickets this Labor Day weekend -- 320 instead of 600 last year.
Major Steven O'Donnell today said the main reason for the sharp decline was that it rained so much last weekend.
"Traffic naturally slows down in wet weather,'' O'Donnell said.
Likewise, accidents increased this year to 51 from 23 for Labor Day weekend last year.
The transfer of 15 troopers to the detective division may also have been a factor in the decline in speeding tickets written, O'Donnell said.
Posted by Peter Phipps at 8:42 AM
Top GTECH exec moves to Providence law firm
A top GTECH executive has left the company to join a Providence law firm after the company's sale to an Italian lottery company.
Marc A. Crisafulli, former senior vice president of gaming solutions at GTECH Corp., will join Hinckley, Allen & Snyder LLP in October, the firm announced.
Crisafulli was one of the GTECH executives who helped complete the deal that kept the company in Rhode Island and resulted in the West Greenwich company's plans to move into new corporate headquarters in Providence. Its new headquarters is under construction and should be open by the end of this year.
Italian lottery operator Lottomatica SpA competed its purchase of GTECH on Aug. 29 for 44.8 billion.
Posted by Jack Perry at 8:30 AM
Gray is the word to describe today
PROVIDENCE – It’s pretty cloudy and likely to remain so today, but we should see a comfortable high near 73.
Don’t forget your umbrella today, as there’s a chance of showers, mainly before noon. We shouldn’t get much precipitation, though – less than a tenth of an inch.
Tonight’s low should dip around 57, with a 30 percent chance of showers, mostly before midnight.
Looking forward to the rest of this week, the high should be near the lower 80s for the next three days. So summer’s not over yet. Enjoy it while you can.
And check back with us later today for the latest conditions and forecasts.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 7:00 AM