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June 25, 2007
An act of courage: Try an open-mike night
If it's a warm Monday night in summer, maybe it's time for an open microphone and a lot of courage.
There are a few open-mike opportunities tonight in the area, including:
On every first and fourth Monday, there's one at The Providence Black Repertory Company, 131 Washington St. Suite 405 (4th Floor), Providence. Call 351-0353
It runs from 8 p.m. to midnight, with hip hop, jazz and spoken word all welcome.
In Johnston, there's one every Monday at The Coda Lounge Bar & Grille, 678 Killingly St., Johnston. Call 331-5291. It runs from 9:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. with "DJ Nova and Sense."
And there's the Custom House Tavern, 36 Weybosset St., Providence. Call 751-3630.
The night goes from 9 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. There is no cover charge.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 7:00 PM
Weather update: Ozone alert on for tomorrow
The state has delared an ozone alert for tomorrow. All RIPTA routes, excluding special services, will be free.
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is predicting that air quality will approach unhealthy levels, especially in southern Rhode Island in the mid- to late afternoon.
The forecast calls for sunny skies in the 80s for the south coastal section of the state, with mild southwest winds. In the Providence area, it's expected to be hot and humid, with temps into the 90s.
The DEM urges residents to help reduce air pollutant emissions by driving less and by limiting the use of small engines and charcoal lighter fuels.
The Department of Health warns that unhealthy levels of ozone can cause throat irritation, coughing, chest pain, shortness of breath and an increased susceptibility to respiratory infection and asthma. These symptoms are worsened by exercise and heavy activity.
The children, elderly and people who have underlying lung diseases, such as asthma, are at particular risk of suffering from these effects.
You can check daily ozone levels for Rhode Island here.
Get the latest weather conditions and forecasts at: http://projo.com/weather
Posted by Peter Phipps at 6:22 PM
Carcieri vetoes motor vehicle, health-care council bills
PROVIDENCE -- In the wake of the end of this year's General Assembly session early Saturday, Governor Carcieri's office this evening announced that he has vetoed several bills.
They include one to allow motorists one business day to provide proof of insurance after being stopped by a police officer.
Carcieri said in his veto message that the state police asked for a veto because the legislation would impose "a substantial burden on law enforcement agencies," including an "unnecessary and burdensome increase" in administrative paperwork.
The change would also impede the state police's efforts to modernize its citation-system technology, according to the governor, who vetoed similar legislation last year.
Read the bill here. Vetoes apply to both House and Senate versions of bills.
Carcieri also vetoed a bill that would create a Health Care Planning and Accountability Advisory Council, which would do studies, issue opinions and create a plan for the state's health-care delivery and financing system.
"In a time when the state should be streamlining its delivery of health services to consumers, this council adds yet another layer of bureacrqacy to an already crowded field," Carcieri said in his written veto message. He added that the legislature did not include any money for the council and that the council is "completely contingent on funding."
The council is "large and unwieldy" has an "ill-defined" mission and duplicates things already being done by agencies, Carcieri stated.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:46 PM
No West Nile, EEE in first R.I. mosquitoes tested
PROVIDENCE -- Good news, so far, for skeeter-wary Rhode Islanders: The season's first mosquitoes tested by the state Department of Environmental Management did not carry West Nile virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis.
The DEM collected mosquitoes from 38 traps set around the state on June 5 and June 13 and separated them into 64 mosquito pools for testing by the state Department of Health. DEM received the results Friday.
Results from more mosquitoes trapped last week are expected by week's end. DEM said it will normally report mosquito test results once a week, with additional reports when needed. If results find mosquitos carrying West Nile or EEE, that generally will trigger additional trapping to assess risk.
But there's still plenty of summer left.
At this time of year, the DEM urges people to to get rid of anything in their yards that holds standing water -- think old tires, buckets, junk, and more. People should also make sure gutters are clean so they drain properly. And swimming pools should be properly maintained.
Mosquitoes breed in standing water, and one cup of water alone can allow the births of hundreds of mosquitoes, the DEM said
Aerial or ground spraying will be recommended only when mosquito-control experts find the public is at "substantial risk" of contact by infected mosquitoes, the DEM said.
For more information, check the DEM Web site here.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
West Nile virus and Eastern Equine Encephalitis are both "firmly established throughout the state," so DEM said it won't be necessary to test birds for those viruses as an "early warning."
The DEM said there's no evidence birds can transmit West Nile Virus to humans; mosquitoes that bite infected birds and then bite humans are the transmitters. But people should still use gloves or an inverted bag to place it in the double bag for disposal.
Last year, 10 Rhode Island mosquito pools tested positive for West Nile virus, and three mosquito pools tested positive for EEE.
There were no reported human cases in Rhode Island. But in Massachusetts, there were five human cases of EEE, including two deaths. More than 150 mosquito pools tested positive for EEE in that state. Connecticut had nine human cases of West Nile virus, including one death.
EEE, a virus, is not as common as West Nile virus but has a higher death rate. It affects the brain with symptoms that appear 5 to 15 days after being bitten by an infected mosquito. Symptoms may include high fever, headache, stiff neck and decreased consciousness. Up to 50 percent of cases may result in death. People with symptoms suggestive of EEE should contact their doctor immediately.
West Nile virus causes encephalitis. The elderly and people with weakened immune systems are more prone to infections. Symptoms begin 3-15 days after the bite from an infected mosquito and may include fever, headache, nausea, rash, stiff neck, muscle weakness, and disorientation. In cases with serious symptoms, up to 15 percent may result in fatality.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:46 PM
Update: No verdict again in Richardson murder trial
WARWICK -- The jury weighing the fate of James Richardson, who is charged with murdering Margaret Duffy-Stephenson in 2005, deliberated for a second day without reaching a verdict.
The jury resumes deliberations tomorrow morning in Kent County Superior Court. It began deliberating on Friday afternoon.
This afternoon, the jury asked to have read to them a transcript of testimony about how DNA is transferred.
The court reporter read a transcript of a portion of testimony by Sharon E. Mallard, a state Health Department forensic scientist. Mallard's testimony included the varying likelihood of DNA being transferred from one person to another by different means.
According to Mallard's testimony last week, Mallard said that, even in controlled tests, many times scientists are not able to recover any DNA from beneath fingernails. DNA constantly transfers from surface to surface through blood, sweat, skin cells and semen, among other things, all of the time, she said. For DNA to embed itself beneath Duffy-Stephenson’s nails suggests she was involved in a struggle with her assailant, Mallard said.
“[It’s] not from a handshake,” she said in court. “It requires more than casual contact.”
Richardson was a friend of the family and an employee of the husband's landscaping business who had house-sat for the family in the past.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney, with reports from Journal staff writer Talia Buford
Duffy-Stephenson, 37, returned to her Warwick home early from a family wedding in Florida. Her husband, James O. Stephenson III, and then 3-year-old son, Robert, stayed behind to visit with relatives. A teacher’s aide for special-needs students, Duffy-Stephenson returned to work at Archie R. Cole Middle School in East Greenwich on Nov. 14. She was last seen alive on Nov. 16 at an appreciation dinner.
Sometime that night, Duffy-Stephenson descended the stairs from her second-floor bedroom and was met by her attacker. She was stabbed several times before dying at the bottom of the stairs. Her attacker ransacked the basement and stole $11,000 from a locked safe before fleeing through the basement bulkhead door.
Duffy-Stephenson’s body was discovered on Nov. 18 by her father, John Duffy, who’d come to check on her after no one had been able to contact her. Her death was ruled a homicide by the state medical examiner and an autopsy was performed. DNA was found beneath one of Duffy-Stephenson’s fingernails, and Richardson could not be excluded as the source.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:02 PM
Man, 61, accused of videotaping women at air show
NORTH KINGSTOWN -- Alert for suspicious behavior of a terrorist nature, authorities at the Rhode Island National Guard Open House and Air Show last weekend caught a suspected criminal of a different sort -- a retired New Bedford school teacher accused of surreptitiously videotaping up women’s skirts.
Instead of taping the antics of planes, 61-year-old Philip Riviere was allegedly seen filming the underwear of unsuspecting women strolling around the air show at Quonset State Airport.
Riviere caught the attention of two National Guardsmen when they saw him at first filming the planes and then holding the camera down and tilting it low as he followed different women and tried not to be noticed, according to state police Lt. David Neill.
The two Guardsmen followed Riviere for two hours and then contacted the state police, who arrested him, Neill said. Riviere told state police investigators that he was embarrassed and had “never done anything like this before,” but had gotten the idea from Internet pornography sites, said Neill.
The state police seized the 8mm camera and the video showing the underwear of three women, which Riviere told them he’d intended to watch for himself, Neill said.
Riviere, of 64 Katherine St., was charged with video voyeurism, which makes it a felony for anyone to use cameras or other “imaging devices” to take pictures or video another person’s “intimate areas” without the other person’s knowledge or consent, and when the other person would have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
The retired Parker Elementary School sixth-grade teacher was charged under a three-year-old law that had been backed by the Attorney General’s Office, law enforcement and women who’d been the victims of voyeurs.
-- Journal staff writer Amanda Milkovits
The crime caught attention in Rhode Island in 2003, after a Warwick man was arrested for trying to shoot pictures up a teenage girl’s skirt as she shopped at a store, and a North Providence man was arrested for videotaping his then-girlfriend’s daughter with a camera hidden behind her bedroom mirror.
Other women came forward and told their stories to the General Assembly of landlords and former friends who set up hidden cameras in their bedrooms and showers. The women said they felt violated and were worried their images were being sold on the Internet.
The problem the police discovered at the time was that the state law did not cover this type of crime. State Rep. Donald J. Lally Jr., D-South Kingstown, and Sen. Daniel Daponte, D-East Providence, sponsored the legislation that made it a felony, punishable by three years in jail and/or fines of up to $5,000. The bill became law in 2004.
Riviere was arraigned at the Wickford barracks by a justice of the peace and released on $5,000 bail with surety, Neill said.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:57 PM
Watch Hill mansion draws $4.5M bid at auction
GROTON, Conn. -- A Connecticut couple has offered $4.5 million at auction for the Watch Hill mansion belonging to the owner of the defunct Bess Eaton coffee-shop chain.
The couple’s winning bid is short of the mansion’s assessed value and could be rejected by Louis A. Gencarelli Sr. and his wife, Karen E. Gencarelli, who have been trying to sell the property -- known as Treasure Hill -- for more than three years.
The 17-room, 10,500-square-foot house at 2 Kidds Way in Watch Hill has an assessed value of close to $7 million, according to records from the Westerly tax office.
The Westerly-based Bess Eaton chain was sold in a 2004 bankruptcy court auction to Tim Hortons Inc, the Canadian coffee-shop chain that was seeking expand in the United States.
The Kidds Way house has been on the market since Louis Gencarelli pushed the coffee-shop chain founded by his family into bankruptcy. The original asking price for Treasure Hill was $7.75 million. The house was built in 1988 to replace a house that burned to the ground in 1987.
Gencarelli bought the property in 2002 for $3.15 million from Anthony Fonda. Treasure Hill stands on the second-highest elevation in Watch Hill and comes with little more than one acre of land. It overlooks the Atlantic Ocean.
-- Journal staff writer Paul Grimaldi
The Westerly estate was offered in an open auction yesterday, with New York-based Sheldon Good & Co. handling the event at the Mystic Marriott Hotel in Groton. About 15 people attended the auction, including at least two people relaying bids via cell phone.
Bidding opened at the $3 million suggested by the auctioneer and moved quickly above $4 million, but offers never threatened to approach the mansion’s assessed value during the auction’s roughly 15 minutes.
Mike and Diane McLean, of Simsbury, Conn., came out the winners at $4.5 million. A 7.5-percent buyer’s premium -- $337,500 in this case -- was added to the winning offer. A property closing will be scheduled within 45 days of the bid being accepted by the Gencarellis.
After the auction, the McLeans said they will use Treasure Hill as a vacation home. They plan only “cosmetic” changes.
In February of this year, Karen Gencarelli sold a house at 8 Cedar Rock Meadows in East Greenwich for $2.2 million, according to information from The Warren Group of Boston, a real-estate information service.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 4:27 PM
Photo: Kids sell cool drinks for a good cause
Journal photo / Bill Murphy
Jessica Marabian, left, age 8, and Ryan Goff, right, age 10, both of Narragansett, sell drinks on Boston Neck Road in Narragansett, this morning. The kids say any money they collect will be donated to Boston's Childrens Hospital. It's good weather for cool drinks throughout Rhode Island, including Narragansett, where the temperature has reached 78 degrees this afternoon.
Posted by Jack Perry at 2:54 PM
State trooper still in serious condition
More than a week after state trooper Brendan R. Doyle was critically injured – allegedly by a reckless driver he tried to stop in downtown Providence while off-duty – he remains in serious condition today at Rhode Island Hospital, according to spokeswoman Nancy Cawley.
The son of Rhode Island running legend Robert Doyle, trooper Doyle has been fighting for his life.
The man accused of punching Doyle to the pavement in downtown Providence was arraigned last week in District Court. James Proulx had allegedly called an ex-girlfriend as he sped away, leaving her an obscenity-laced message in which he bragged about giving “the beating of their [expletive] life.”
Visitors to Doyle's hospital roomhave included state troopers, firefighters, family, friends and Bishop Thomas J. Tobin of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence.
-- with reports from Journal staff writer Amanda Milkovits
Posted by Kate Bramson at 2:46 PM
Procaccianti Group backs out of Newport Grand deal
The Procaccianti Group is backing out of its plan to purchase Newport Grand for $155 million.
The family that owns Newport Grand issued a statement that it "has received notice of termination from the Procaccianti Group to purchase Newport Grand and the 24-acre adjacent property."
"I want to reassure the state, the city of Newport, and our employees of our commitment to develop Newport Grand into a world class gaming facility," Newport Grand CEO, Diane Hurley, said.
Procaccianti had put down a $5 million deposit and signed a contract with Newport Grand earlier in the year. Within the sales contract was language that allowed Procaccianti to back out of the deal before July 15 and recover its deposit if a proposal to extend a five-year extension on the freeze on the video slot tax rate was unlikely.
House Speaker William J. Murphy said last week that legislation introduced to that effect would not be voted on this year.
Procaccianti spokesman Ralph Izzi issued a brief statement earlier today. "We had to make a business decision because of the result of the legislation," he said. "It was our decision."
Newport Mayor Stephen Waluk said today that he was not surprised the deal fell through. "As long as Newport Grand operates and is a good community partner, I don’t know how much it matters to the city who operates it," he said.
Procaccianti announced in April that it would continue the expansion of Newport Grand, which is under contract with the state to make $20 million in improvements, including building a hotel and adding 800 video slot terminals, bringing the total to 2,101.
The expansion is part of larger plans announced last month by Procaccianti, calling for constructing hotels, restaurants, recreational and entertainment venues, in Newport and elsewhere in the state, for total spending in Rhode Island of $1.4 billion.
-- Steve Peoples, Journal State House Bureau
Posted by Steve Peoples at 1:25 PM
Update: Teen's condition serious, driver arraigned
The police this morning identified the 17-year-old girl who was critically injured when she was struck by an alleged drunk driver on Route 1 in South Kingstown as Sylvia Bogusz.
Bogusz graduated from South Kingstown High School last Monday night, Police Capt. Jeffrey Allen said this morning. Her condition at Rhode Island Hospital has been upgraded from critical to serious, spokeswoman Andrea Barbosa said around 10 a.m. today.
When her car broke down early Saturday morning, Bogusz did everything right, Allen said. She pulled well off the road, she called for help and then she got out of her vehicle and stood off to the right of the passenger side – because she thought it would be safer to stand outside the car, he said.
The driver, Heidi L. Harrall, 45, of South Kingstown, was arraigned this morning in Washington County Court, Wakefield, on charges of driving under the influence resulting in serious bodily injury, driving to endanger resulting in serious bodily injury and refusing to submit to a chemical test.
Harrall was held without bail as a violator on a conviction from last year.
-- projo.com staff writer Kate Bramson, with reports from photographer Mary Murphy
The police say Harrall was driving southbound in the left lane of the two-lane road, the same direction Bogusz had been driving when her car broke down near the Charlestown line. Harrall apparently lost control of her vehicle, drove onto the median to the left of the southbound lanes, struck a guardrail and crossed back over the two lanes of traffic, Allen said. Her car then apparently drove around Bogusz’s stopped car and struck the girl, Allen said.
“The poor girl was doing what she felt was the safest thing to do, and it ended up being, unfortunately, the wrong thing,” Allen said.
Bogusz was thrown “quite a distance,” probably at least a couple hundred feet, before she struck the pavement, Allen said.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 1:20 PM
Update: Police ID body pulled from Pawtuxet River
COVENTRY -- The police this afternoon identified the body pulled from the Pawtuxet River yesterday as Richard G. Abramson.
Abramson, 45, had a last known address of 10 Doris Drive, Coventry, the Coventry police announced in a statement.
The investigation continues, while authorities await autopsy results from the medical examiner's office. A preliminary examination of the body when it was found "no sign of major trauma," the police said.
At about 10:40 a.m. yesterday, the police responded to an access to the river, near Pilgrim Avenue, to speak to two Coventry residents who called the police and said they had found a body in the river. The residents said they were fishing from a canoe when they located the body floating, face down.
The residents described the body as that of an older male with long hair.
Police and fire personnel brought the body to shore and turned it over to the medical examiner's office, which will do an autopsy "at a later date," the news release states.
-- projo.com staff writers Michael P. McKinney and Kate Bramson
Posted by Mike McKinney at 12:43 PM
Marriage-ad campaign includes spot from Providence
A new ad campaign by a committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, titled "What did you do for your marriage today?" features spots shot in Providence, among several cities.
That's according to a news release on PRNewswire today, which says the bishops' Committee on Marriage and Family will introduce the campaign "to highlight the value of marriage and to provide supports for engaged and married couples."
The ads, described as public service announcements for television and radio airing, "stand as a creative response to concerns for marriage in U.S. Society." There will also be a Web component.
The release does not specify what those concerns are.
Spots for the ads were also shot in Washington, New York, Los Angeles, and Austin, Texas.
The formal unveiling of the ads is scheduled for Wednesday in Denver.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 12:39 PM
Fireworks over Providence announced for July 3
PROVIDENCE -- City officials today announced the fireworks display over Providence will be held July 3 at 9:30 p.m.
This year's Independence Day celebration is sponsored by the City of Providence and the Providence Tourism Council.
In a news release today, Mayor David N. Cicilline and the City’s Department of Art, Culture and Tourism promise a "spectacular fireworks display."
Posted by Mike McKinney at 11:57 AM
Gas prices down for 4th week in a row
Gasoline prices have dropped in Rhode Island for the fourth consecutive week – for a total of 15 cents per gallon during that period, according to AAA Southern New England.
Self-serve, regular unleaded gasoline is averaging $2.93 per gallon. That’s three cents less than last week and four cents below this week’s national average.
Prices around Rhode Island are ranging 31 cents for self-serve, regular unleaded gasoline – from $2.83 to $3.14. The priciest gasoline is full-serve premium unleaded, which is averaging $3.30 in today’s AAA survey of prices.
On AAA’s Gas Savings Tips & Tools Web page, find the most up-to-date local gas prices.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 11:41 AM
Bishop Tobin still making news over Giuliani criticism
Bishop Thomas J. Tobin is in the news again today for his harsh criticism of Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani's stand on abortion.
The bishop, head of the Diocese of Providence, is quoted in a story in today’s New York Times examining the Catholic Church’s position on Catholic politicians, including Giuliani, who support abortion rights while personally opposing the procedure.
In a recent column in the Rhode Island Catholic, Bishop Tobin compared Giuliani to Pontius Pilate, who sentenced Christ to death – and called the former New York City mayor’s stance ``pathetic’’ and ``hypocritical.’’
When Giuliani was asked about Bishop Tobin’s criticism during a Republican presidential debate, a lightning strike knocked out the sound system – and Giuliani’s initial response. A video of the moment went on to be a popular clip on YouTube.
Today’s story is teased on the Times’ front page.
-- Journal staff writer G. Wayne Miller
Posted by Kate Bramson at 10:01 AM
Coventry police pull body out of Pawtuxet River
COVENTRY – The Medical Examiner is reportedly examining the body of a man that was pulled out of the Pawtuxet River yesterday by the Coventry police.
Sgt. Michael Flanagan said this morning that more details should be available later today. He’s uncertain if the body has been identified.
Channel 12 is reporting that the police say two fishermen spotted the body and called 911. The medical examiner’s office is reportedly conducting an autopsy.
-- projo.com staff writer Kate Bramson
Posted by Kate Bramson at 7:31 AM
Today brings good beach and boating conditions
Not working today? Lucky you. Head to the beach. It should be a gorgeous beach day, and it looks as if all of Rhode Island’s beaches are open and ready for sunbathers, surfers and swimmers like you.
If you’re looking for marine weather information, check out the National Weather Service’s interactive coastal marine map for this region.
Also, for all your nautical needs, boaters love the Maine Harbors site, which is packed with tide charts, marine weather news, information on fishing tournaments and links to local boat builders, charter operators, lighthouses and publications. The tide charts on this site are so well done that boaters rave about them. Check out Rhode Island’s chart.
To check the status of any beach for swimming, go to the state Department of Health’s beach-monitoring siteor call (401) 222-2751 for recorded information.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 7:12 AM
Summer's really here -- expect highs in 80s
PROVIDENCE – It’s still cool and comfortable this morning – at 63 degrees – but it’s going to be hot today and even hotter later this week.
Expect a high of 86 today and then into the low 90s for the next two days. Rain on Thursday should cool temps back down – to a high of 78 on Friday.
Get the latest conditions and forecasts from projo.com.
Posted by Kate Bramson at 7:07 AM
R.I. watching ruling on Ca. global warming emissions
WASHINGTON -- Rhode Island is among the states watching for the Environmental Protection Agency's ruling on California's petition to implement greenhouse gas reductions on automobiles.
The EPA plans to rule by the end of the year.
The law can't take effect unless California gets a federal waiver. While the federal government has authority to make air pollution rules, California has unique status under the Clean Air Act to enact its own regulations as long as it receives permission from the EPA.
Other states can then follow either the federal or California standards.
At least eleven other states, including Rhode Island, are ready to implement California's emissions standards if it gets the waiver.
At issue is a 2002 California law that requires automakers to cut emissions by 25 percent from cars and light trucks and 18 percent from sport utility vehicles starting with the 2009 model year.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:01 AM
Today's front page
Today's front page features photographs and a story on how development in the resort community of Westerly has generated a parking crisis.
There's also a story about an East Greenwich man who is embedded with an Army Civil Affairs Unit in Iraq. He will be sending periodic reports to The Journal.
Download a copy of today's front page in .pdf format.
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:00 AM