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January 18, 2008
MLK Day a holiday for many on Monday
Slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. will be remembered officially this Monday, the holiday in his name.
It's a holiday on the federal and state government level, meaning those offices will be closed. Municipal offices and public schools in Rhode Island are also closed Monday, as well as banks.
On Monday morning, from 7:45 to 10 a.m., the Ministers Alliance of Rhode Island will hold its 24th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Breakfast at Rhodes on-the-Pawtuxet, 60 Rhodes Place, Cranston.
Here's a list of more events in the area marking the day.
The 7to7 news blog, and other projo.com blogs, will be up and running this Monday, with reports on MLK Day activities and, of course, the aftermath of the AFC Championship game on Sunday.
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 6:56 PM
Tonight: Real-estate intrigue in Newport
The Firehouse Theater in Newport tonight at 8 offers a performance of Glengarry Gen Ross. It's a David Mamet play, directed by Andrew Stigler, about the intrigue among characters in a real estate office.
Can't make it tonight? There's another performance at 8 p.m. tomorrow and at 4 p.m. on Sunday.
For other happenings this weekend -- which for many is a three-dayer that marks Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday -- check projo.com's Lifebeat section and calendar listings.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:55 PM
2 R.I. schools make the grade on Newsweek list
PROVIDENCE -- Classical High School has made Newsweek magazine's latest ranking of the nation's top public schools, placing 952 out of the 1,351 schools that made the magazine's cut, Schools Supt. Donnie Evans said in a news release today.
“We are excited to announce yet another nationally recognized accomplishment by Classical High School,” Evans said in the statement. “I applaud and thank the teachers, the school administrators, and especially the students and their families at Classical who have worked very hard to build and maintain Classical’s outstanding performance and national reputation.”
Public schools are ranked according to a ratio where the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and/or Cambridge tests taken by all students in the school in 2006 is divided by the number of graduating seniors.
Classical was one of two schools on the list from Rhode Island.
The Newsweek list, available online, shows the other Rhode Island school in the list: East Greenwich High School, which the magazine ranked 1,138th.
In the prior year's list, the two swapped spots: Classical was ranked 1,146th and East Greenwich placed 659th.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 6:35 PM
Update: Court vacates Urciuoli, Driscoll convictions
A federal appeals court has overturned the corruption convictions of two former top Roger Williams Medical Center executives accused of paying a state senator to push their agenda at the State House. The panel also ordered a new trial in its decision announced this afternoon.
Robert A. Urciuoli, the medical center's former president, and Frances Driscoll, a former senior vice president, had appealed their convictions tied to the theft of "honest services" from former state Sen. John Celona.
The two argued to the three-judge 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel in Boston that the jury had gotten faulty instructions from Judge Ernest C. Torres in U.S. District Court in Providence.
In October 2006 verdicts, Urciuoli was found guilty of conspiracy to commit "honest services" mail fraud and 35 counts of "honest services" mail fraud, or aiding and abetting such fraud. Driscoll was convicted of one count of "honest services" mail fraud. Execution of their sentences was stayed pending their appeals.
In their appeals, the defendants argued the judge's instructions "wrongly allowed for conviction" based on Celona lobbying mayors and in meeting with insurance companies, "conduct that they claim does not constitute a federal crime."
The appeals court ruled in a 25-page decision that Torres instructed, over the defense's objection, that pertinent law included not only exercises of power such as votes but also any actions done "under the cloak of office."
U.S. Attorney’s Office spokesman Thomas Connell said late this afternoon that his office had not yet decided whether to call for another trial for Urciuoli and Driscoll.
“We’re reviewing the decision, and we will make an appropriate decision as to a path of conduct once we have reviewed and analyzed the import of this decision,” he said.
Read the decision today by the appeals court.
Extra: Look back at coverage related to the Celona corruption case and the investigation known as Operation Dollar Bill.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney, with reports from Journal staff writer Dan Barbarisi, Journal archival reports and The Associated Press
Part of the appeals court's vacating of the convictions centers around Celona's lobbying town officials to get more ambulance runs to the hospitals.
The appeals court decision found the "ambulance run advocacy with the mayors cannot qualify as a deprivation of 'honest services' owed to the public." The court added that urging local officials to follow law "is not easily described as a deprivation of honest services, actually or potentially harmful to the citizens of Rhode Island."
The appeals court concludes "... the [jury] instructions were over-broad insofar as they licensed the jury to consider the rescue run advocacy as a deprivation of honest services, but that the insurance episodes were properly considered as potentially criminal -- as, needless to say, were Celona's actions in promoting or blocking legislation to favor" Roger Williams Medical Center, the decision says.
Lawyers for Urciouli and Driscoll praised the decision.
“Fran Driscoll is a thoroughly decent person and consequently I couldn’t be happier because she is somebody who fully deserves the result that is reached here," John A. "Terry" MacFadyen, the lawyer for Driscoll, said.
"I'm absolutely excited to get the results, and I think it's a great thing for a decent man," said Martin Weinberg, a lawyer for Urciuoli.
Celona, a North Providence Democrat who had served as chairman of the powerful Senate Corporations Committee, admitted selling his office for personal gain to Roger Williams Medical Center, the drugstore chain CVS and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island. He pleaded guilty to three counts of mail fraud in August 2005 and was sentenced a year ago to 30 months in federal prison.
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:59 PM
Update: Missing W. Greenwich woman found alive
A missing West Greenwich woman was found alive this afternoon in woods about a quarter-mile from her address, according to the state police.
It is believed Lisa J. Doire, 41, a mother of two who lives on Fox Run, spent the night in the woods, according to state police Capt. Raymond White. It is not known why.
She was located by a helicopter as part of a search of the area. She had been missing since last night.
State police said she was found in relatively good shape. Her brother-in-law, Steve Diore, told reporters she had been taken to a hospital for observation.
Police said Doire’s husband told them she was home when he took their son and daughter to run some errands at about 4:30 p.m. yesterday. He said when the three returned to the house at about 6:30, she was gone.
Leo Doire said he searched the wooded area that surrounds the house, then called police.
West Greenwich Police Chief Ronald Lepre said earlier today that there were “no signs of a struggle or of a disturbance of any kind in the house,” adding later that the investigation was still "wide open."
More than 50 local and state authorities were searching the area with search dogs. Lepre said Doire has no history of mental illness.
"I'm interested," Lepre said about the circumstances, "to see why and where," Doire had gone.
-- projo.com staff writers Michael P. McKinney and Brandie Jefferson, with reports from Journal staff writer Lisa Vernon-Sparks
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:41 PM
Update: Explosion's cause tracked to truck's water tank
Journal photo / Gretchen Ertl
A Providence Fire Department investigator, second from right, looks at a piece of metal removed from the roof of 90 Royal Little Drive after the explosion.
PROVIDENCE -- Police have found the driver of the truck whose water tank caused a loud explosion that rattled employees of a nearby industrial park on Royal Little Drive today.
According to the Providence Fire Department, the truck belonged to JA Concrete Pumping in Cumberland. Around noon today, the truck’s high-pressure water tank exploded and one of the covers blew off, punching a hole in the roof of 90 Royal Little Drive, near the AAA Providence headquarters branch office.
No one was hurt in the explosion, which left an 18-inch gash in the roof of a building that houses VeriSign and Markland Technologies. One of the businesses was briefly evacuated.
The Fire Department’s hazardous materials team inspected the area and determined that no dangerous substances had been released.
Although the driver of the truck left the scene, the state police truck squad was able to track him down. Today, Providence police were unable to say what charges, if any, were filed against the driver.
The cause of the explosion remains under investigation.
-- Journal staff writer Linda Borg
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:38 PM
High court stays out of dispute over custody case blog
PROVIDENCE -- The state Supreme Court is refusing to review or halt a Family Court order that told a state agency to “advise” a retired minister to stop publishing a blog “as it pertains” to two children involved in a divorce and custody case.
The Rev. Anne Grant, who heads the Parenting Project based at the Mathewson Street United Methodist Church in Providence, had asked the high court to overrule Family Court Judge John A. Mutter, saying his order violated her constitutional rights to due process and freedom of speech.
But the state Department of Children Youth and Families urged the Supreme Court to reject Ms. Grant’s requests, saying that Mutter did not order Ms. Grant to do anything and that the case of “Sara Doe” and “Mary Doe” was “protected by several levels of confidentiality.”
In a one-sentence order released today, the Supreme Court said, “The petition for writ of certiorari and petitioner’s motion to stay are denied.”
Andrew J. Johnson, DCYF’s deputy chief legal counsel, said the agency is glad the Supreme Court ruled the way they did, and he expects similar issues to be litigated in the future.
“We felt all along we had acted in an appropriate manner at the direction of the Rhode Island Family Court,” Johnson said. “As we move forward in technology and the Internet is used more and more, these issues will undoubtedly go before courts more and more, and we in society and the courts will have to balance the privacy rights of the children versus the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech.”
Grant referred questions to Thomas R. Bender, a Providence lawyer representing her in the case.
Bender noted that in saying it wouldn’t hear the matter at this time, the Supreme Court did not address the merits of the case. “We can only speculate as to why they did not want to hear it,” he said. “The most reasonable explanation is that because DCYF acknowledged the order wasn’t specifically addressed to her, it didn’t have any impact on her, and therefore it wasn’t necessary for the court to address it.”
-- Journal staff writer Edward Fitzpatrick
Bender said he filed the petition in hopes of clarifying the situation and ensuring no one would try to use Mutter’s order to hold Ms. Grant in contempt of court if she continued to publish the blog. “All the court needed to do was add a paragraph to the effect that ‘We are not taking this up at this time because the order doesn’t require Anne Grant to do anything,’ but they declined to do that,” he said.
So now, Bender said, he will probably advise Ms. Grant to continue to publish the blog and to comment on the case while avoiding photographs or information that would identify the children. “If another party asks to hold her in contempt for that, we’ll have to go to court and argue that the order was not specifically addressed to her and the court did not have any jurisdiction over her,” he said.
Ms. Grant had used the blog — www.custodyscam.blogspot.com — to criticize DCYF and others involved in the case, saying they’d used a “bogus theory” to take a mother’s two daughters from her and to send one of the sisters to live with the father — after the father had been accused of sexually abusing the girl. The blog had decried reliance on parental alienation syndrome, a theory which the child psychologist Richard A. Gardner developed “to describe his clinical impressions of cases he believed involved false allegations of child abuse,” Bender has said.
DCYF has said that while the blog used pseudonyms for the girls, it included the children’s photographs, diary entries and medical information, and it repeated the sexual abuse claim that a DCYF hearing officer had deemed “unfounded.”
At DCYF’s request, Mutter issued a decree on Aug. 17, saying: “DCYF, as the temporary custodian of the children, is to advise Anne Grant, author of www.custodyscam.blogspot.com, to remove any and all written and pictorial information pertaining to the children in the above matter, from the inception of publication to the present and henceforth, and to cease publication of the blog as it pertains to these children.”
Posted by Mike McKinney at 5:17 PM
Grand jury: Fatal shooting by Pawtucket police justified
A Providence County grand jury has found that the actions of Pawtucket police officers in the shooting death of a man last July were "lawful and legally justified."
A press release from the state Attorney General's Office today said the grand jury had finished its investigation into the circumstances surrounding the death of Jason Audette, on July 27.
Audette, 34, of 544 Central Ave. in Pawtucket, was killed at a tenement house at 62-64 Coyle Ave.
Officers called to the scene shot Audette, a burglary suspect there who police said had a gun in his hand.
All together, Officers David Holden, 26, Mark Ramos, 31, and Christopher LeFort, 37, fired about a dozen shots at Audette with .40-caliber Glock service weapons, killing him.
In its press release, a spokesman for the Attorney General's Office said the grand jury made its finding because Audette had been armed with a loaded .32-caliber pistol, had refused to comply with three separate orders to drop his gun, and was pointing his gun directly at one of the officers.
As a result, "the officers felt that their lives were in imminent danger and, therefore, were justified in shooting" Audette.
-- With projo.com archival reports
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 3:00 PM
Officials: Woman killed self, kin on purpose on highway
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. -- A woman with a history of mental illness purposely walked her young niece and nephew into oncoming traffic on Interstate 495 in Lowell last week, in a double-murder suicide, the Middlesex District Attorney's Office said today.
Marcelle Thibault, her 5-year-old niece, Kaleigh Lambert, and her 4-year-old nephew, Shane Lambert, both of Brentwood, N.H., were killed on Jan. 11 when they were struck by two cars.
Thibault, 39, of Bellingham, was driving her 2003 Lincoln sedan south on the interstate when she turned the vehicle car sharply, drove across the median, crossed the northbound lanes and then began driving against traffic in the breakdown lane, authorities said.
She then stopped on the right side of the road, got out of the car and removed all her clothes and undressed the children.
She then took both children into her arms and walked onto the highway.
"We believe that Ms. Thibault took her niece and nephew and walked with them into oncoming traffic on Route 495, tragically resulting in the deaths of the two young children while taking her own life in the process," District Attorney Gerry Leone said in a statement.
-- Associated Press
Posted by Andrea Panciera at 2:40 PM
Trying to do better: December storm follow-up
The state’s Emergency Management Advisory Council is meeting next week and will present some suggestions on how to better manage the state during inclement weather.
Lt. Gov. Elizabeth Roberts and Major General Robert T. Bray -- acting director of the state Emergency Management Agency -- will join other State Emergency Management officials to discuss the results of the Council’s review of emergency response during the Dec. 13 snow storm.
According to a statement released by Roberts, the review covers some newly implemented and proposed solutions for the “failures of emergency response.”
The meeting is set for 2 p.m. Tuesday at East Providence City Hall.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 2:36 PM
Traffic Alert: Scituate accident
Police and rescue crews are at an accident on Rockland Road in Scituate.
The Scituate police say the accident, near Danielson Pike, involved two vehicles. None of the injuries appeared to be very serious, but three people may be transported to nearby hospitals.
Traffic has been disrupted on Rockland Road, about 1 mile from the state police building, but not Danielson Pike.
-- projo.com staff writer Brandie M. Jefferson
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 2:26 PM
Harp seal rescued by Mystic team; public can view it
A Mystic Aquarium rescue team on Wednesday helped a harp seal found stranded at Napatree Point in Westerly's Watch Hill section, the aquarium and research institute announced today.
The male seal, thought to be a yearling, was seen on the beach by aquarium staff eating sand, "which probably indicates the animal was dealing with some sort of stress-related issue," Mystic Aquarium and Institute for Exploration said in a news release today.
“Harp seals are usually found further north, following the ice flows,” said Janelle Schuh, a stranding coordinator for the aquarium's Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Program. “However, it’s not totally uncommon this time of year to see them off the southern New England coast as well, but it’s not their natural habitat.”
Aquarium staff took the seal to the Seal Rescue Clinic at Mystic Aquarium, where it is receiving antibiotics to fight off infections.
“He’s doing well right now,” Schuh said in the statement. “We’re trying to get him to eat fish again and once he’s off the antibiotics, he’ll be re-released. There is a 14-day waiting period when an animal like this is given medication; if everything is OK after that, he’ll then be returned to the ocean.”
The public is welcome to see the seal at the aquarium on a television monitor that tracks his movements.
-- projo.com staff writer Michael P. McKinney
Posted by Mike McKinney at 2:14 PM
Bakst: How I'll prevent hypothermia at Pats' game
Journal photo / Bob Breidenbach
At practice today in Foxboro, the New England Patriots linebacking crew donned matching knit hats with the label "Bruschi Bros." From left, Tedy Bruschi, Mike Vrabel and Larry Izzo stretch during warmup. They may need those hats this weekend, as a blast of cold air heads into the region before the AFC Championship game Sunday against San Diego.
With the high temperature in Foxboro Sunday forecast to reach just 22 degrees before dropping to 7 degrees Sunday night, the 70,000 fans at Gillette Stadium will face dangerously cold conditions during the game, which starts at 3 p.m.
Journal political columnist M. Charles Bakst, a season ticket holder, has been working on his strategy for beating the cold all week. And, unlike tight-lipped Patriots coach Bill Belichick, Bakst is willing to share his game plan.
Well, I’ve been there before, and so has my heavy moth-eaten blanket, purchased years ago at an Army-Navy store. In fact, I’m thinking of some day donating it to the new Patriots hall of fame/museum that is taking shape at Gillette Stadium. I used this blanket at the final game in the old stadium — you know, the legendary Snow Bowl playoff.
So, the blanket is definitely coming with me. Speaking of coming, or going, I see that the MBTA train to the stadium will leave Providence at 1:10 p.m., which means there won’t be a lot of time to kill before settling into my Section 238 (no alcohol) seat before game time, which, given the temperature forecast (a high of 22 degrees dropping to 7 Sunday night), is probably a lucky break, no?
Now, for my ensemble:
-- A pair of thin socks, plus toe warmers or foot warmers or both – this will be, as the coaches say, a gametime decision - and heavy socks and whatever shoes best accommodate same.
-- Long underwear, heavy 100 percent wool slacks, and, on the outside, a pair of nylon rain pants. (I’m also considering putting some pajama bottoms or sweat pants in there somewhere.)
-- The top to the long underwear, a T-shirt, a collared shirt, then a regular sweatshirt and/or windbreaker pullover, then a heavy hooded sweatshirt and zip up windbreaker, then a hooded winter parka.
-- Mittens and hand warmers, probably two pairs.
-- A knit hat, a scarf, and a face mask. (Yes, I said a face mask, with a Patriots logo. It’s the kind of thing you’d use if you were robbing a milk store. No, you’ve probably never seen me in it. For one thing, I don’t rob milk stores. I wear it only at Pats games and then only when the weather is brutal.)
-- Several snacks including All-Bran oatmeal raisin bar and Fiber One oats and peanut butter bar. Definitely intend to get a hot chocolate – probably two – at the concession stands. Maybe also chicken breast sandwich, turkey leg, or chicken/rice/beans/salsa burrito (light on the cheese and hold the sour cream.) If Patriots are winning, may celebrate and splurge on a kosher hot dog. Come to think of it, if they’re losing, I’ll be so distraught I may have to get one to ease my pain. Frankly, any time is a good time for a kosher hot dog, and, on a health kick, I’ve been depriving myself for too long.
You may be thinking, “Good luck to you, fella. You go right ahead and go to Foxboro and freeze. I’ll watch on TV.’’
And you may be smart. What can I say? I do this because it’s what I do, it’s who I am, and I love it.
-- M. Charles Bakst, Journal political columnist and diehard Pats fan
Posted by Mike McKinney at 1:57 PM
Update: Container bursts, damages Providence building
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A loud, explosive-type noise that caused occupants along Royal Little Drive near Silver Spring Street in Providence to call police came from a pressurized container on a truck that had burst, shooting pieces at a nearby building.
According to Providence Fire Department Deputy Assistant Chief Curtis Varone, part of the container shot at the building at 90 Royal Little Drive -- near the AAA Providence headquarters branch office -- leaving a 1.5-foot gash on the roof.
One business was briefly evacuated, Varone said, but no one was hurt and people are returning to their buildings.
A hazardous materials crew inspected the area and determined no dangerous materials had been released.
The state police are looking for the truck that had been carrying the container, according to Varone, because it is no longer on the scene.
Varone said the truck has the letters "Cumberland Piping" on the side.
-- projo.com staff writer Brandie M. Jefferson with, reports from Journal staff writer Linda Borg
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 1:13 PM
Update: Amtrak, unions reach agreement
WASHINGTON -- Amtrak reached a deal with nine labor unions, averting a possible strike at the end of this month, the passenger railroad announced today.
The deal averts not only passenger rail disruptions but commuter chaos in many East Coast suburbs where short-distance trains run on Amtrak infrastructure.
"Investing in the railroad comes in many forms, and one of the best ways is to invest in its people, which we've done with this tentative agreement," Amtrak president and CEO Alex Kummant said in a statement. "We have averted a possible strike that could have had a crippling effect on the lives of millions of Americans."
Details of the tentative agreement will not be released until it is ratified by affected union members in the next several weeks, according to a statement from Amtrak.
But people familiar with the labor agreement, speaking on condition of anonymity because the details had not been formally announced, said it adopts the recommendations of a presidential emergency board report issued Dec. 30. The board recommended Amtrak grant back wages to its workers, and the report triggered a 30-day countdown until a strike became legal.
There has never been a strike in Amtrak's 36-year history.
The dispute, which had continued despite years of unsuccessful mediation, involved about 10,000 employees whose last contract ended Dec. 31, 1999.
Amtrak, which depends heavily on federal subsidies, was concerned about how it would afford the back wages, which would average nearly $13,000 per employee. The railroad had offered to give each worker a lump signing bonus of $4,500 instead of back pay.
An Amtrak spokesman had said the back pay would cost Amtrak about $150 million more than what the company had offered.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Jack Perry at 12:51 PM
Search on for missing W. Greenwich woman, 41
Authorities are searching for a 41-year-old mother of two who was last seen in her Fox Run home in West Greenwich yesterday evening.
According to police, Lisa J. Doire’s husband said she was home when he took their son and daughter to run some errands at about 4:30 p.m. yesterday. He said when the three returned to the house at about 6:30, she was gone.
Leo Doire said he searched the wooded area that surrounds the house, then called police.
According to West Greenwich Police Chief Ronald Lepre, there were “no signs of a struggle or of a disturbance of any kind in the house.”
Doire is described as 5’5”, 105 pounds, with blonde-brown hair.
More than 50 local and state authorities are searching the area with search dogs. Lepre said Doire has no history of mental illness.
He said police intend to keep searching: “Hopefully everything will work out.”
-- projo.com staff writer Brandie M. Jefferson, with reports from Journal staff writer Lisa Vernon-Sparks
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 12:16 PM
RIPTA changes some schedules, routes
Buses and trolleys change to their winter schedules tomorrow so be aware of a few different arrival and departure times and slightly different routes.
The changes are temporary; the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority makes schedule changes three times a year.
Route 51/Charles Street will begin running all day, and will be consolidated with Route 79/Columbus.
Route 80/Armstice Boulevard will be rerouted to Memorial Hospital and Columbus Avenue on a new schedule. It will also be consolidated with the old Route 73 bus, which has been renamed Fairlawn/CCRI, and will have a continuous route between Pawtucket and Lincoln.
Some trips on the Smithfield, Dexter/Lincoln Mall, Elmwood/Auburn/Airport, Dyer/Pocasset and North Scituate lines are being discontinued.
Services are being expanded on the Admiral/RIC, Providence/Newport, Branch Avenue and Broad Street lines.
Changes re being made to other routes, as well.
Download a .PDF file outlining the schedule changes, or visit the RIPTA Web site for more information
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 11:19 AM
Cape Cod robber can keep $1M lottery prize
BARNSTABLE, Mass. — The luck keeps rolling for a convicted bank robber who won a $1 million lottery prize.
Timothy Elliott will be able to keep his winnings, even though he violated his probation when he bought the scratch ticket, according to an agreement reached with the Massachusetts Probation Department and approved today by Barnstable Superior Court Judge Richard Connon.
Elliott, 55, will be required to pay only a monthly $65 probation supervisory fee that had been previously waived because he was indigent.
Elliott was placed on five years probation after pleading guilty in October 2006 to unarmed robbery for a heist at a bank on Cape Cod. Under terms of his probation, Elliott was not to “gamble, purchase lottery tickets or visit an establishment where gaming is conducted, including restaurants where Keno may be played.”
Elliott’s attorney, J. Drew Segadelli, acknowledged his client violated his probation when he bought the $10 ticket for the “$800 Million Spectacular” game at a Hyannis supermarket. But he called the violation minor.
“On the scale, that he scratched a ticket, while wrong, is not such a harm,” Segadelli said.
Elliott, who is currently living in Bourne under the supervision of the Department of Mental Health, declined to comment.
Segadelli said there was never any indication that Elliott, who already has received the first of his 20 annual $50,000 checks from Massachusetts’ lottery commission, would have to return the money. The lottery had previously said Elliott should be able to keep the prize.
“That was a media hype,” he said. “There was no foundation or support for that ever occurring.”
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 11:12 AM
Today's front page
Today's front page features coverage of Governor Carcieri's plan for closing a $151-million budget deficit.
Download a copy of today's front page in .pdf format.
Posted by Jack Perry at 10:12 AM
Cranston's sixth graders to return to elementary school
The Cranston School Committee voted 5-2 last night to send the town's sixth graders back to elementary school.
Proponents say the move will save the financially struggling school department about $1 million a year.
Chariman Michael A. Traficante, Andrea M. Ianazzi, Steven A. Stycos, Frank Lombardi and Donna Tocco-Greenaway voted in favor of the move. Paul H. Archetto and Deborah C. Greifer voted against.
The decision reverses a 13-year-old policy of sending sixth-graders to the middle schools.
The next step, according to Chairman Michael A. Traficante, is to work through the four different proposed scenarios in workshop meetings.
He said planning should be complete within 3 to 4 months and hopefully, the physical act of setting up space for sixth graders in the elementary schools will take place this summer.
-- projo.com staff writer Brandie M. Jefferson
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 8:54 AM
Cranston kicks off coat drive
Cranston’s Mayor will be on hand at Whole Foods today, not to consume, but to kick off a winter coat drive.
Mayor Michael T. Napolitano will be on hand at the grocery store at Sockanosset Crossroads today from noon until 1 p.m. to help collect new and used men’s, women’s and children’s coats.
The clothes will be donated to the Comprehensive Community Action Program, St. Vincent DePaul Society, and other churches and charities.
The coat drive will continue tomorrow, and collection boxes will be placed at the Cranston Senior Center and Cranston City Hall.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 7:54 AM
Funeral for Roomful's Enos today
Bob Enos, a trumpeter for the Grammy-nominated band Roomful of Blues, plays during a performance at The Douglas Golf and Country Club in Douglas, Ga., Thursday, Jan. 10, 2008. Enos died at a hotel in Douglas, hours after the performance.
The funeral for Bob Enos, the trumpeter from Roomful of Blues who died last week, is set for today at 9 a.m.
Enos had played trumpeter for Roomful, a long-time Rhode Island blues band, since 1981.
The service will be followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Patrick's Church, 82 High St., Wareham at 10 a.m. Interment will be in St. Patrick's Cemetery, Wareham.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 7:30 AM
Conn. woman seeks probation in Santa groping case
DANBURY, Conn. -- A woman accused of groping a mall Santa Claus has applied for special probation that could wipe any criminal charges from her record.
Thirty-three-year-old Sandrama Lamy was charged with fourth-degree sexual assault on Dec. 15, for allegedly touching the Santa at the Danbury Fair mall inappropriately while sitting on his lap.
In court yesterday, Lamy's lawyer applied for accelerated rehabilitation, which is made available to first-time offenders.
If she is granted the special probation, her criminal record could be totally erased after completing a term of unsupervised probation.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:02 AM
Carcieri to discuss furloughs with union leaders
PROVIDENCE -- Governor Carcieri plans to meet with union leaders today and discuss his proposal to furlough state workers so Carcieri can close a 151 million dollar budget deficit.
It's one of many cuts the governor has proposed to fix a shortfall in the current fiscal year, which ends in June.
Under the proposal, state workers would have to take six days off without pay to save an estimated $15 million. Carcieri says no state agencies will shut down because workers would not take their furlough days simultaneously.
He's scheduled to meet this morning with union leaders to discuss the plan.
Carcieri made a similar proposal last year, but he dropped it amid intense opposition from state employee unions and Democratic lawmakers.
-- The Associated Press
Posted by Jack Perry at 7:01 AM
Rain should taper off
At least it's not snow, right?
This morning is starting off with heavy rain, but it should taper off later in the day. The National Weather Service is forecasting a high temperature near 45 degrees with east winds gusting as high as 32 mph.
Skies should clear up tonight, when the temperature should drop to about 21 degrees.
Tomorrow we may see snow in the afternoon as clouds gather and the temperature reaches 37 degrees. Mild west winds will reach a bout 9 mph.
Saturday night more snow is possible with a low temperature near 19.
There's a slight chance of even more snow Sunday, with cloudy skies and a daytime high temperature of just 24 degrees. Adding to the cold will be high winds from the west, gusting as high as 31 mph.
Watch for ice Sunday morning, when the temperature drops down to just 9 degrees.
For Martin Luther King Day, expect sunny skies, but low temperatures, reaching the low 20s.
For weather updates through the weekend, check projo.com's weather page.
Posted by Brandie Jefferson at 7:00 AM