September 26, 2017

News Briefs

Posted

Botelho, Faria Send Out Dueling Statements on Council Behavior:
During the last few days of August, East Providence councilmen Joe Botelho and Brian Faria traded press releases relating to a controversial Youtube audio which claimed to have Mayor Jim Briden making negative comments about local teachers and Ward One councilman Bob Britto. Briden has generally refrained from comment but said the tape was "manufactured."

“A treason against the taxpayers,” is what councilman Joe Botelho is calling the latest events surrounding the recent release of secret recordings of Mayor Jim Briden which appeared all over the internet on Thursday, August 24th. Botelho believes that another councilman may be responsible for taping council conversations. “It’s obvious the Mayor was having a conversation with another council member and didn’t know he was being secretly recorded,” Botelho said. “You can tell the recording was edited and was meant to cast the Mayor in the worst possible light.”

The audio recording was posted to Youtube and purports to show that Mayor Jim Briden was denegrating East Providence teachers as "crybabies" in their negotiations for contracts. A voice sounding like Briden was also casting derogatory comments toward fellow Ward One councilman Bob Britto. Briden allegedly questioned Britto's knowledge of law and municipal budgets and other things. "This council has been better under my leadership," claims the Briden tape.

Noting the content of the recording, Botelho went on to say, “that the release of this recording on the eve of the council voting on the teachers’ contract is deeply disturbing. It indicates there may have been an orchestrated attempt to influence the council’s vote through intimidation. That means a member of the council is secretly recording conversations and meetings, and colluding with special interests to influence votes, which in my mind, amounts to a treason against the taxpayers. This may call the validity of the contract into question.”

Botelho says that until the member of the council who is secretly recording meetings and conversations is uncovered, and removed or resigns, a moratorium should be placed on all city council executive session meetings, including claims, litigation and contract negotiations. “At this point we have to wonder if what is being discussed in executive session is being secretly recorded and finding its way across the table, or will be released all over the internet. Until the offending member is discovered and removed, I have no confidence in the process.”

Botelho said he will pursue options of investigation of this matter with the City Manager and City Solicitor. “ Every contract the city has with its employees expire on November 1st, which is unprecedented, and until we resolve this matter, the integrity of the city council is in question whenever we vote on any of them.”

Mayor Jim Briden has basically denied that he is the person on the audiotape. Briden has told area media that the "tape was manufactured" and that he will discuss this matter with an attorney. Of course, the youtube audio has been making its way around social media which has been abuzz since its disclosure. The audio on youtube has been recently removed.

During the City Council meeting of August 24th, the council unanimously approved a new contract for East Providence teachers. The new contract moves local teachers on the top payment step from about the lowest paid in Rhode Island to near middle of the pack. The teacher contract has been a sore spot for many educators after they were relegated to being one of the lowest paid in New England and had benefits slashed as well as retirees being cut back.

“This should help us compete for new teacher talent and hopefully help to keep our good teachers here instead of leaving our system,” said at-large school committee member Joel Monteiro. The contract also limits the ability of teachers to take personal leaves while seeking employment elsewhere. There appears to be more parameters for job bidding and other efforts to improve stability and proper teacher development.

Councilman Brian Faria: Ward Four councilman Brian Faria has released a response to Ward Three Joe Botelho's statements regarding a Youtube posting purporting to have Mayor JIm Briden making comments about EP teacher negotiations and Ward One councilman Bob Britto. “It’s obvious the Mayor was having a conversation with another council member and didn’t know he was being secretly recorded,” Botelho said recently. “You can tell the recording was edited and was meant to cast the Mayor in the worst possible light.”

Brian Faria's response: "If one wanted to insinuate, we could refer to Councilman Botehlo's latest press release as the ultimate attempt of a spin". It's dramatic and fantastical, which I'm not at all surprised by, but I've learned that's just Joe," writes Faria. "I would venture to say that all of us on the Council know each other's personalities at this point. Mayor Briden stated it that it was not him on that audio and I'm not going to comment on that for we need to work together. However, I am deeply concerned about the remarks made to the press by Councilman Botelho.

Councilman Botelho now asserts that this recent audio was somehow an intimidation regarding the Teacher's contract, citing the timing on the ‘eve’ of the contract, raises questions regarding its validity, but yet, Councilman Botehlo voted in favor of the contract , after the said audio was released but did not raise any of these concerns at the meeting nor did he ask for any postponement of the matter. To make such an absolute dramatic accusation without any evidentiary support is absolutely reckless. These are all fabrications," continued Faria.

"Just previous to this Special Council Meeting, I had a long conference with the Finance director, Financial Adviser Paul Luba and City Manager and reviewed the Teacher's contract in length. I also held several meetings with the City's Finance director over the last two weeks. "I certainly was not intimidated nor did anyone else in that room appear to be". And I'm certainly not entertaining that foolishness. Perhaps this may entertain on Broadway, but not on Taunton ave.

"Furthermore, Councilman Botelho’s request for a moratorium on critical city business, including important contracts and reviews of claims against the city is not one that we should entertain or give any credence to without supporting evidence or a substantial preliminary showing that any executive sessions have been compromised. It's as if now he's just making up scenarios and stories and running with it." I choose to stay on the earthly plain.

We should put aside the manufactured drama in the city and move forward. The merits of these recordings are not a matter that we as Council members should weigh in on. The electors of this city are able to make effective judgements regarding their at-large council member without salacious comments from the other members of the Council. I will continue to concentrate on my constituency and the work we have ahead," finished the Faria statement.

During the City Council meeting of August 24th, the council unanimously approved a new contract for East Providence teachers. The new contract moves local teachers on the top payment step from about the lowest paid in Rhode Island to near middle of the pack. The teacher contract has been a sore spot for many educators after they were relegated to being one of the lowest paid in New England and had benefits slashed as well as retirees being cut back.

“This should help us compete for new teacher talent and hopefully help to keep our good teachers here instead of leaving our system,” said at-large school committee member Joel Monteiro. The contract also limits the ability of teachers to take personal leaves while seeking employment elsewhere. There appears to be more parameters for job bidding and other efforts to improve stability and proper teacher development.

EP Teachers Get Contract:
During the City Council meeting of August 24th, the council unanimously approved a new contract for East Providence teachers. The new contract moves local teachers on the top payment step from about the lowest paid in Rhode Island to near middle of the pack. The teacher contract has been a sore spot for many educators after they were relegated to being one of the lowest paid in New England and had benefits slashed as well as retirees being cut back.

“This should help us compete for new teacher talent and hopefully help to keep our good teachers here instead of leaving our system,” said at-large school committee member Joel Monteiro. The contract also limits the ability of teachers to take personal leaves while seeking employment elsewhere. There appears to be more parameters for job bidding and other efforts to improve stability and proper teacher development.

City manager Tim Chapman and state financial adviser Paul Luba recommended approval of the contract. “This contract requires City Council ratification as well as approval by the budget commission’s financial adviser,” Chapman told the council.

Ward 4 councilman Brian Faria asked Luba where teachers stood currently and with the proposed new contract. “Where are they now?” Faria asked.

“I was involved with a majority of the negotiating sessions,” said Luba. “My opinion is that this is a reasonable contract for all. It is 1.6% over the three years. More importantly, it puts teachers at higher pay levels. This gets them to within the top 10 or 12 scales in Rhode Island,” added Luba. They (teachers) were pretty much at the bottom of the state scale. Your teachers teach in a large urban population, not without some challenges. I think it is a fair and adequate contract,” said Luba.

Faria asked about the process to pay for any necessary contract improvements. “That is the question,” said Luba. “Every other ciy and town is facing this issue, in relation to state funding, etc.,” he said. “I’ve asked for forecasts going forward and its not just schools. There are 8 contracts on the municipal side coming due also. We’ll have to face that in the budget.

“It was a very amicable negotiation and fair to all sides,” said Joel Monteiro after the meeting.

Charter Action:
In other action the council basically approved recommendations from the charter commission setting up a November 2017 special election on language. The vote to elect East Providence’s first ever Mayor will be in November, 2018. The objective was to correct ambiguous language regarding the Fund Balance calculation, increase the total fund balance requirement (rainy day fund) from ten percent (10%) to twelve percent (12%) and decrease the restricted fund balance from ten percent (10%) to seven percent (7%). The action will also create a new five percent (5%) unrestricted fund balance and create a one point seventy-five percent (1.75%) capital projects fund. Capital projects shall not include debt reduction, principal or interest payments on debt, or for any other type of financing arrangement, but shall only be used for payment of direct actual expenses incurred for capital projects.

City Council Acts on Charter Amendments:
The city council began the process of approving charter amendments last month by voting to approve many of the proposed amendments as recommended by the charter commission. Most of the near 30 proposals were approved. The council approved setting a four-year term for Mayor, who will now be elected by voters and will replace the city manager form of government.

The council also approved a recall measure for all city elected officials. Also city department heads will now answer directly to the new full time Mayor and will be "at-will" employees as such. (Recently veteran Planning Director, Jeanne Boyle left the city to take a similar role in Pawtucket). This provision will only apply to new department head appointees as current directors are covered by contracts and laws. New hires, however, will be subject to support of the Mayor.

The council did reject a few recommendations including the always important position of City Clerk. The clerk's position has been considered a coveted patronage appointment for years. Its appointment has often been tied to who gets the Mayor's seat and other council appointments after an election. In the seventies, the council awarded Jim Beeley a "lifetime contract" to be City Clerk. Beeley was then appointed as a City Manager. The council accepted member Brian Faria's (Ward 4) suggestion that the City Clerk remain a council appointee, apart from the new Mayor's overview. Faria liked keeping the clerk as a better balance for government as most other cities with a Mayor maintain.

The council also held off on a commission proposal supported by state budget watchdog Paul Luba, to increase the city annual contribution to its "rainy day fund" from 10% to 12%. This fund would divide monies to the rainy day fund and an unrestricted fund, for capital projects.

Further, the council rejected a commission recommendation to have the city's tax policy match that of the state's. Currently the city relies on Tax Anticipation Notes (TANS) to fully operate government. Mayor Jim Briden released a statement in preparation for yet another meeting scheduled to address the city charter changes. "This year, the City Council examined the continued allocation of funds for the eventual synchronization of our tax year. To recap, EP's tax year ends on October 31st. As a result, our City has a perpetual cash flow problem from January through June and has to "cash flow borrow" via Tax Anticipation Notes which are paid off prior to the end of our fiscal year.

In order to properly evaluate this topic, one must review the presentation by our Fiscal Advisor concerning the events of past decade. In sum, even economic factors outside of East Providence can impact our future ability to procure TANS. The "perfect storm" scenario covered in the Report which occurred in the past included the aftermath of the Great Recession, banks pulling back on lending, and our bond rating being reduced. This all occurred prior to when the Budget Commission entered in 2011 and basically no bank wanted to lend EP TANS.

Another consideration is that our city's overall debt level also impacts our ability to obtain TANS. So our continued dependency on TANS may in the future indirectly impact our ability to engage in other necessary borrowing to address our city's needs.

So the question now is whether we stay the course and rid ourselves of the need for TANS or are the nominal and opportunity costs too great given our limited resources and other capital and infrastructure demands. This topic will arise again during Budget season and I believe that it is important for us to fully understand the complexity of this important issue," writes Briden.

Water Rates Increase and Billing Woes Continue. Councilman Delinquent:
The saga of water and sewer rates along with infrastructure problems continues to cause a stir throughout East Providence. The City Council learned last February that some 2,000 customers of city water owe close to $2Million in unpaid bills. The City was told by Acting City Manager Tim Chapman at that time that a "shut off policy may be implemented by July 1st," if the delinquent bills are not paid. City Water Superintendent, James Marvel said that he knew of "only about 10 hardships if that. We've handled hardship emergencies in the past. These are about 2,000 seriously delinquent cases," Marvel said. "Why haven't these people paid," asked Ward 4 Councilman Brian Faria. "Are there financial or medical hardships," Faria asked back in February.

Well that question is still being asked and has also included the Ward 4 councilman as one of those owing the city back payments on his water bill. Faria has owed the city close to $2,000, in unpaid water bills. City Water Superintendent, James Marvel previously said that he knew of "only about 10 hardships if that. We've handled hardship emergencies in the past. There are about 2,000 seriously delinquent cases," Marvel said at the time.

East Providence Deputy Treasurer Betty Rynda recently stated that although the city had not previously put homes "up for tax sale," the city has been "doing so since 2015." Responding to an NBC 10 I-Team investigative report with Patricia Resende, Rynda said that Councilman Faria has not been scheduled for a tax sale because Faria agreed to a payment plan and has paid some of his balance. But NBC 10 news also reported that Faria has not kept up with an agreed upon payment schedule.

Although the city had said they would begin enforcing water shut-offs for delinquent accounts, shut-offs have not been enforced. Also, the city has raised water rates and switched to a monthly billing schedule for all customers. The city is hoping to pay off water bonds and help with infrastructure. Since the NBC 10 inquiries, the city has begun shutting off water to some delinquent accounts and has received several past-due payments. There is still about $1 million dollars owed to the city by delinquent account holders.

Councilman Faria, the only council member to vote against a water rate increase, released a general statement in which he said in part, "When a water shut off happens to a family it is a devastating event with possible catastrophic results. Without water, a resident can be evicted from their home by the same City that shut their water off to begin with. In current city policy, if a resident has a legitimate argument or if they can't satisfy a payment plan that does not completely satisfy the current terms, even if they are being completely forthcoming and humbly asking for assistance, the chances are, that resident will be turned away and their water will be immediately shut off," maintained Faria.

Businesses as well as homeowners owe the city money for unpaid water bills. The recently disclosed bankrupt Agawam Hunt owes the city $65,000 for water. However as Agawam is protected under Chapter 11 laws, the city is prevented from collecting anything.

"The City Administrations policy is too aggressive and provides no avenue for relief of faulty equipment failures. This is wrong and why I voted against any increase in water rates and will not support any unnecessary water increases. The residents need to see tangible results," continued Faria in his statement.

Faria said that he has drafted a resolution to deal with the problem. "I am calling for a moratorium on water shut offs and requesting the passage by my fellow council members of an ordinance changing this policy," Faria said. Faria wants to establish a policy to "grant a stay if a legitimate claim is filed until such time that there is a further and complete investigation, study, and/or discussion. (This would) allow for more attainable payment plans and allow a period of three days from the first of the month to make the monthly water payment without added penalty."

Faria's plan would establish a Water Utilities Commission which would hear disability and individual hardship case appeals "in order to pass fair and equitable decisions. There are residents whom are truly and legitimately struggling, they are in hardships, some have had sudden unemployment or loss of income, some even due to death that ask their representatives to please consider other options. Shutting off their water, a vital necessity to live, should not be the first and only option without proper discussion, an adequate investigation, or claim process.
I also believe certain well established businesses and country clubs whom are still operating in the City should not be allowed to rake up bills totaling tens of thousands of dollars. The policy should be equitable to all. I contend this assistance can be done without negatively affecting the collections process. This Council's intention is not to collect these fee's without showing any mercy to our residents and their families," added Faria.

Faria told NBC 10 I-Team that he got behind with his water payments due to a serious accident he had and several related hospitalizations. I have a plan to pay it back," said Faria. NBC 10 reports that since early August, 55 accounts have paid in full and 45 accounts are under payment plans. 15 accounts have been shut off as some continue to pay in full or enter into a payment plan.

Initial Approval For Voters to Decide Road Bond:
The Council approved having a Special Election on this November 7th to vote on certain proposed Charter Amendments. This will likely include the question of whether or not to have a four year term for Mayor. Also is a proposal to approve a bond issue for $15 million to rebuild many of the city's ravaged streets.

City Manager Tim Chapman told the council that if approved, the monies would go to fixing city roads over a 3 to 4 year span. The city would also use local monies to repair some of the state streets in East Providence. The city would do the work and the state has agreed to a plan which would have them repay East Providence for this work. Under the state plan, state roads in East Providence aren't scheduled for repair until 2026, at least. The local plan would fix these roads much earlier.

Ward three councilman Joe Botelho has been somewhat of a critic of Chapman, but was very pleased with Chapman's plan to expedite this problem. "These streets are terrible," said Chapman. "Streets and sidewalks are in horrible shape," he added. Chapman said the interest rates for borrowing the money to take this on are very low now, ranging from 2.3% to 3.6%.

Botelho, who has been pushing for a road repair project, commended Chapman. "Tim, this is an ingenious idea. We challenged you to get this done and by God you did," said Botelho.

"The bond will give people a chance now to decide if we should fix the roads or not," said Botelho. "This plan could be a model for the state." Chapman worked on a funding plan with DPW Director Steve Coutu and City Engineer Erik Skadberg. The loan would come from low interest loans against monies already set aside for this and processed by the state operated Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank.

City Man Sentenced by Federal Judge for Stealing to Gamble:
Charles F. Denno, 66, of East Providence, a former finance director for the Providence Plan, was sentenced to to 33 months in prison for skimming $742,000 from the education nonprofit to feed his gambling at Twin River casino. Denno pleaded guilty in federal court to fraud, admitting to the court that he "devised and executed a scheme in which he fraudulently converted $742,190.69 of Providence Plan funds for his own use," said a Department of Justice press release. The Providence Plan is a non-profit educational entity which receives federal, state and private grant funds, including funds from the United States Department of Education and the Bloomberg Family Foundation. These grant funds are to be used to support educational and other programs for adults and children in Rhode Island. Annually, the federal grant funds awarded to the Providence Plan totaled in excess of four million dollars.

The release further stated that "Denno’s guilty plea to one count of wire fraud is announced by Acting United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch; Colonel Ann C. Assumpico, Superintendent of the Rhode Island State Police; Brian Hickey, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Department of Education Office of Inspector General; and Harold H. Shaw, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division.

Appearing before U.S. District Court Chief William E. Smith, Denno admitted to the court that from November 2012 through July 2016, that he used his authority to cause the U.S. Department of Education and the Bloomberg Family foundation to deposit funds into Providence Plan bank accounts, and then fraudulently converted funds to his own accounts and personal use. Denno admitted to the court that he fraudulently prepared and issued Providence Plan checks made payable to CMG Enterprises, an entity he owned. The payments issued to CMG and deposited into a CMG bank account were not authorized and contained a forgery of the authorized check signing official at the Providence Plan. Denno subsequently made multiple withdrawals from the CMG bank account in various forms, including credit card payments, check payments and ATM cash withdrawals at Twin River Casino. Denno will report to prison on September 11th.

Commissioner of Education Budget Message:
Rhode Island Commissioner of Education, Ken Wagner, has responded to teachers throughout the state regarding the recent budget agreement at the State House. His statement to teachers:

"I am pleased to report that, as you may have heard, the Rhode Island Senate reconvened yesterday and passed the FY18 budget. The budget went to the desk of Governor Raimondo, who promptly signed it, bringing to an end an impasse that I know has been challenging for our partners in the field. We can now move forward, together, and focus on preparing for a successful school year.

We have also been informed that LEAs (local school districts) will receive the total funding appropriated in the FY18 budget, including funds to offset the initial reduction in July payments. We will send out updated information next week that reflects this retroactive payment schedule, but if you have any questions in the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out," said Wagner.

The Senate today approved and the governor signed into law a $9.2 billion 2018 state budget bill that includes excise tax relief, along with a separate bill protecting taxpayers in case the economy sours.

The Senate vote was a reconsideration of the chamber’s vote on the bill on June 30. Today’s vote removed an amendment the Senate placed on the budget in June concerning the six-year excise tax relief plan introduced by House Speaker Nicholas A. Mattiello, ending a month-long impasse and sending the budget to the governor, who signed it moments after its passage.

“We have come to an agreement that allows us to move forward with the business of the state, allowing the excise tax phaseout while still providing protections that will monitor its economic feasibility for the state,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman William J. Conley Jr. (D-Dist. 18, East Providence, Pawtucket). “While the excise tax has been the focus for several weeks, it’s important to remember that it’s just one part of the budget that does much more. In a difficult year where we faced lower-than-anticipated revenues, I’m pleased that we were able to maintain the progress we’ve made at reducing taxes while restoring no-fare bus passes for low-income elderly and disabled Rhode Islanders, and increasing funds to hospitals and nursing homes. This is a budget that bridges the shortfall without hurting those who can least afford it and without any broad-based tax hikes. It helps maintain and restore services to Rhode Islanders to the greatest extent possible with the resources we have, and I’m glad that we were able to push it over the finish line today,” said a Conley press statement.

The plan fully funds the seventh year of the state education funding formula, increasing education aid by $46 million. The Assembly plan makes permanent a pilot effort in the current year to provide a total of $2.5 million in extra funding for schools with high numbers of English-language learners, as well as permanently funding recovery high schools, which were previously funded only for this year. It also includes an additional $1.1 million for early childhood learning programs.

Lawmakers concurred with the governor’s proposal to enhance efforts to have online retailers collect sales tax. Amazon.com began doing so voluntarily this year.

The bill (2017-H 5175Aaa), which passed the Senate 30-5 and passed the House June 22 on a 64-11 vote, eliminates the $134 million shortfall that opened up in May, raises the minimum wage, restores no-fare bus passes for low-income elderly and disabled people, includes a pilot program to provide two years of free tuition at CCRI and once again does not include any broad-based tax increases.

The plan includes a 90-cent increase in the minimum wage over two years, raising the wage to $10.10 on Jan. 1, 2018, and to $10.50 on Jan. 1, 2019. If enacted, it would make 2019 the sixth year out of seven that that the Assembly raised the minimum wage.

City Resident Dies in Bicycle Accident:
Ethan Simpson, 21, of Riverside died late last month after being struck by an SUV at night. According to an East Providence police report, Simpson was "was traveling north on Willett Avenue, approaching Arrowhead Avenue. The vehicle turned left on to Arrowhead Avenue and the bicyclist and vehicle came into collision. It does not appear speed or alcohol was a factor in the accident at this time. No charges have been filed against the operator of the vehicle at his time and the investigation continues." Also stated in the report: "According to his parents, he was an avid bike rider who tragically lost his life doing what he loved. Simpson was a dean’s list student at Rhode Island College and was adored by his family and will be greatly missed by them."

Two City Men Perish in Pond Tragedy:
Laurence Ryan, 54 and Steven Duarte, 47, of East Providence both died after a late night boat ride on Johnson's Pond in Coventry, RI. Their bodies were found after a 12 hour search involving Coast Guard and other local officials. The two were boating with another friend when a West Warwick woman fell off the pontoon style deck boat. The two men jumped in to the dark night time water and managed to save her and get her back aboard. However, they began to drift away in distress and the woman was unable to operate the boat to reach them.

Hit and Run Local Death:
Another accident lead to a local death as a Rumford woman was struck and killed in a hit and run accident at Newport and Roger Williams Avenues late last month. On 8/21/17 at approximately 7:53pm, the East Providence Police Department began to receive 911 calls regarding a pedestrian struck on Newport Avenue, near the intersection of Roger Williams Avenue. Witnesses told dispatch personnel that the striking vehicle, a red colored SUV, had fled the scene after striking the pedestrian.

The victim was identified as Maria Raposo, age 46, of Clyde Avenue East Providence, RI.

Responding officers and fire personnel located a female victim on the ground, unconscious, at the intersection of Newport Avenue and Roger Williams Avenue. Emergency personnel began administering first aid to the female and she was transported to RI Hospital. A short time after arriving at RI Hospital, the female was pronounced deceased.

Members of the East Providence Police Traffic Reconstruction Team and the Detective Division responded to process the scene and begin a search for the suspect vehicle. One of the witnesses to the hit & run was able to get the registration number off of the fleeing suspect vehicle. The registration showed the vehicle to be a rental.

Further investigation revealed that the suspect vehicle had already been returned to the rental agency and another vehicle obtained by the suspect. Contact was made with the suspect and a short time later he turned himself in to the East Providence Police. The suspect vehicle, was located at a rental agency in Warwick.

The suspect is identified as Paul Newman, age 53, of Jacksonville, FLA and he will be arraigned in 6th District Court at 9:00 am on the charge of Leaving the Scene of an Accident Death Resulting.

Bold Point Beach Boys Concert A Hit:
The much awaited first concert to be held at Bold Point Park in East Providence was held last month to mostly rave reviews. Bold Point Park, located on the East Providence waterfront has views of Upper Narragansett Bay and the Seekonk River, and overlooks the Providence skyline. The performance by Beach Boys, fronted by Mike Love along with Bruce Johnston, Scott Totten, Jeffrey Foskett, Brian Eichenberger, Tim Bonhomme, and John Cowsill was met by an enthusiastic crowd. "Dancing and cheering fans packed the park. Out on the water, boaters slid their vessels as close to the land as possible to get a glimpse of the concert. This new boutique event venue offers a casual, relaxed setting with open air waterfront areas and stunning views," said event promoters.

The police reported no problems with crowd control or parking. "We would like to thank our community for a wonderful first concert down at Bold Point Park last night. The crowd was fantastic and well mannered, with really no problems. The EPPD was very appreciative of the spectators obeying parking restrictions, which resulted in no major parking issues. As for the departure, within 28 minutes of the concert ending, all roadways in the area were at normal traffic flow," said police Lt. Ray Blinn.

"The success of last night was a direct result of the event promoters, multiple City departments and former and present City officials, as well as numerous other public and private entities working together to bring such a great venue to our waterfront. In personally speaking with hundreds of people last night, all stated that they had an amazing time and the venue was fantastic. So, again, thank you all," added Blinn.

New School Year Letter from Schools Boss Crowley:
"We are proud and excited to open our 2017-2018 school year. There are many wonderful things happening this year. Here are some highlights:

  • We have a new mathematics curriculum for grades K-12 aligned to Common Core.
  • Waddington, Hennessey and Oldham Schools have been painted this summer.
  • Martin and Riverside Middle Schools will have refurbished auditoriums with new seats, carpets, curtains, fresh paint and are handicap accessible. 
  • Martin will have new windows around the courtyard and will be creating an outdoor classroom which will be handicap accessible.
  • Myron Francis has a new roof.
  • Riverside has a refurbished library, fresh paint and a new carpet.
  • A Science Curriculum Committee has been working on a new science curriculum aligned to the NGSS Standards. The Committee will continue the work during the 2017-2018 school year.
  • All students will have one-to-one devices this year in all of our schools to enhance their learning. A Technology Committee was formed to develop policies and incorporate the technology skills into the curriculum.

Congratulations to Mr. Richard Martin, Social Studies Teacher at East Providence High School, elected East Providence Teacher of the Year.

Dr. Forand, Dr. Bowler and I would like to thank all of our parents for their support last year and we look forward to you becoming an active participant this year in our learning community. Next year, East Providence will be developing a five year Strategic Plan for the district. We will be asking for volunteers to take part in this very important committee.

The East Providence School Department, in partnership with families and the community, is committed to provide a comprehensive, inclusive program of academic excellence in a safe, nurturing environment preparing all students to become responsible, life-long learners able to meet the challenges of the 21st century.

Our Building Committee is meeting regularly to develop plans for a new high school. Mr. Nathan Cahoon, a member of our School Committee, is the Chair. Please look for updates as we move through this process. A letter of intent was sent to Rhode Island Department of Education on August 8, 2017. A Phase I application must be submitted by October 16, 2017. This will be an exciting and wonderful journey for our families in the City of East Providence and especially for our students.

The time schedule for our schools is as follows: 7:25 a.m. - 1:45 p.m. East Providence High School 7:55 a.m. - 2:15 p.m. Middle Schools 8:40 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Elementary Schools.

Elementary school day is 15 minutes longer this year.

Once again, it is a pleasure to serve you as your Superintendent. Townie Pride is alive and well! Best wishes for a great year." - Kathryn M. Crowley Superintendent of Schools.

RIPTA New Fall Schedule:
The city of East Providence has announced the new changes for the state's bus service, RIPTA. Moderate changes include reduced frequency, route redesign, and trip time changes. RIPTA will implement fall service changes effective September, 2017. RIPTA makes regular service adjustments three times a year in response to seasonal changes and/or passenger use. These fall changes include improved service between South County (including the University of Rhode Island’s South Kingstown campus) and Providence due to the redesign of Route 66 plus the introduction of a new Route 62. Both routes will include stops at URI, Wickford Junction, TF Green Airport, Kennedy Plaza and the Providence train station. Route 62 will provide a direct connection to the new Rhode Island Nursing Education Center at South Street Landing in Providence.

The fall service changes will also bring the elimination of some early morning and late evening trips on a number of routes due to lower ridership at those times. All passengers are urged to check new route schedules. The new schedules will be available online at www.ripta.com, at the Ticket Window in Kennedy Plaza, and at RIPTA Headquarters at 705 Elmwood Avenue.

These annual changes are moderate and include reduced frequency, trip time changes, route redesign, and the launch of a new route. Route 1 (Eddy/Hope) weekday service will now operate every 20 minutes instead of every 16-17 minutes.

Route 66 (URI/Galilee) has been completely redesigned and will be split into two services to create the new Route 62 (URI/CCRI). Route 62 will serve URI, Wickford Junction, CCRI Warwick, Providence Jewelry District, Rhode Island Nursing Education Center, Kennedy Plaza and the Providence Amtrak Train Station. Route 66 will serve Galilee, Narragansett, Wakefield, URI, Wickford Junction, Rte. 2 & 4 Park N’ Ride, CCRI-Warwick,TF Green Airport, Kennedy Plaza and the Providence Amtrak Train Station. All trips will terminate at Providence Train Station.
Both Routes 62 and 66 will serve Kennedy Plaza using Bus Stop X on the Outbound and Bus Stop Y on the Inbound. Between Routes 62 and 66, RIPTA will offer 30-minute service all day between URI and Providence Train Station, and 15-minute peak hour service during the URI academic year.

Route 92 (East Side/Federal Hill/RI College) weekday service after 7:30pm will now operate every 30 minutes instead of every 20 minutes. Passengers are strongly encouraged to check new schedules for how service changes may affect them.

EPHS Class of 1952 Reunion:
The East Providence HIgh School Class of 1952 is planning a "Reunion Brunch" on September 12, 2017 at the Old Grist Mill in Seekonk, Massachusetts. Registration: 11:30 am, Brunch: 12:30 pm. Cost: $28 per person. For more information, please call Millie Sousa Morris at 401-434-4654 home or 401-829-8649 cell.

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