Stage Two Planning for New EPHS Moves Forward
On Tuesday, January 16th the East Providence School Committee voted to formally ask the City Council to approve its request to submit an application to the Rhode Island Department of Education ( RIDE) for help with constructing a new high school. This has been referred to as "Stage Two" of the proposal. The city council must approve this stage for the planning to continue. Council approval on Tuesday does not mean final approval is given for a new high school. It simply allows the high school building committee to "continue an application process which will allow us to continue the discussion with RIDE in a back and forth that will refine the design," said Building Committee Chairman and Ward 3 School Committee member, Nate Cahoon. "This will also determine the amount that the state will reimburse us for the effort which will be somewhere between 58% and 74% of the cost," Cahoon added.
"This Stage II application before the council is the culmination of thousands of hours of toil by the East Providence Building Committee, a volunteer panel of experts in education, architecture, finance, procurement and capital planning seeking nothing in return but a chance to serve the City they love," said Cahoon. This effort is the result of a School Committee that has worked hard with a clear vision to breathe new life into an aging school infrastructure, and to give our kids the future they deserve. Their (city council) approval is required by regulation."
School Committee-at-Large member Joel Monteiro also commented on the process. "With unanimous consent to approve the Stage II application to RIDE, the School Committee is optimistic about this plan. Without council approval on Tuesday (January 23rd), the project will cease. I am optimistic that the council will approve," said Monteiro.
School Committee Chairman Charles Tsonos is also very supportive of the plan to build a new high school. "We have an opportunity to provide our community with a state of the art, comprehensive high school. This is a positive step ahead for education in East Providence," said Tsonos. "The reimbursement rate from the state will make this very affordable," Tsonos continued.
The estimated range of the project is from $170-190 million. This is a total for new construction and demolition. Committee members point out that expected reimbursement rates will make new construction cheaper than trying to repair the current 65 year old school. "The other option for the city will be to pay $100 million plus to renovate the existing building, with little, if any reimbursement on small pieces of the cost. A renovation will cost us more than a new school and we will then build a new one in 7-10 years for much more, with still less State funding," said Monteiro.
Jessica Beauchaine, School Committeewoman from Ward 4 is also a strong supporter of a new high school proposal. "I hope concerned residents come to the council meeting and support this. Leaders listen to their constituents," added Beauchaine.
School Superintendent Katherine Crowley has strongly recommended the construction of a new high school. "East Providence is number one in the (state) pipeline for approvals and reimbursement funding. We've done our homework early and we are the only community in the state requesting to build a high school. If we aren't approved at this stage, I think we will miss our window of opportunity to get this done," Crowley told the last meeting of the Building Committee.
"In short we've assembled a panel of experts in public education, municipal finance, procurement, architecture, capital improvements and school administration to help usher in the next great American high school," said Cahoon. "We've been meeting since last March to complete the early stages of RIDE requirements, contract a professional Architectural and Engineering firm, and to develop a detailed schematic design and cost estimate to meet a February 1, 2018 deadline. Thousands of volunteer hours have brought us to this point, and we want everyone to understand the process, and to get an early look into the future of East Providence. We will always work to ensure that Townie Pride never sleeps, but lives through all time," added Cahoon.
Estimated Range of New School Project is from $170 million to $190 million.
74% reimbursement of $170M means actual cost to city of $44.2M.
74% reimbursement of $190M means actual cost to city of $49.4M.
58% reimbursement of $190M means actual cost to city of $79.8M.
58% reimbursement of $170M means actual cost to city of $71.4M.
The cost to try and repair and upgrade the current high school is estimated in the $100M range. Estimates predict the city would most likely have to replace the complex anyway in future years
During its January 23rd meeting the City Council received a video and oral presentation from the School Department outlining the new high school proposal. With the council chambers filled with supporters of the plan, Mayor Jim Briden asked if anyone wished to speak against the proposal. When no one stepped forward he said it would be best and save time if "the council just votes on this. Does that make sense?" Briden asked. The audience applauded and the council voted unanimously to proceed with stage two planning.
The council vote does not make the new school a done deal. It doesn't even allow for a bond issue public vote yet. The affirmation of stage two "just allows the school department to continue its request to the RI Department of Education for further assistance and permissions." The deadline to continue with RIDE participation was February 1, 2018. "We are number one in line with RIDE to have our house in order for high school construction reimbursement," said Superintendent Kathryn Crowley.
Rumford Chiropractic Specialist Murdered in Home
A sports medicine doctor with a practice in Barrington, RI was found dead in his Rumford home last month. Lt. Raymond Blinn, Jr. of the East Providence Police Department, Detective Division, released an initial statement which said; "The East Providence Police Department is investigating a suspicious death that occurred at a residence on Pleasant Street, in the Rumford section of the City.
After a brief investigation, East Providence Police announced the arrest of Warren Morris, 21, of Warren, RI. Morris, a graduate of Wheeler School in Providence, was charged with killing Dr. Clive Bridgham by stabbing. Officials say that Warren knew Bridgham personally and professionally.
The East Providence Police Department had responded to Pleasant Street, in the Rumford section of the City, for a well-being check. Upon arrival, officers located an unresponsive male on the floor of one of the rooms. The male was determined to be deceased and has been identified as Clive Bridgham, age 67, of that residence," said the police statement.
Dr. Clive Bridgham, was a Chiropractic specialist with an office in Barrington, Rhode Island. He graduated from medical school in 1986. He practiced on County Road in Barrington.
According to the Chiropractic Society of Rhode Island (CSRI), he was recently named “Chiropractic Physician of the Year” at its board of directors meeting. Dr. Bridgham is a licensed chiropractic physician and the owner of Barrington Chiropractic and Sports Medicine Clinic, 282 County Road, Barrington, Rhode Island.
Dr. Bridgham is a very deserving winner of Chiropractic Physician of the Year honors,” said Dr. Michael Gottfried, current president of CSRI and a chiropractor at Aquidneck Chiropractic of Middletown. He has been a tireless advocate of chiropractic both at his practice and in the community. We’re proud to have him amongst our ranks as a member of CSRI.
A former president of CSRI, Dr. Bridgham has given testimony and met with elected officials at the Rhode Island state house to advocate chiropractic awareness and improve the health and wellness of the citizens of Rhode Island."
On March 20, 2003, Bridgham was suspended for three years due to inappropriate contact with a patient, according to a consent order from the Board of Chiropractic Physicians. He was selected as Chiropractic Physician of the Year in 2015.
Bridgham and Morris had begun a therapeutic relationship in 2016. Morris had filed a complaint against Bridgham for "violating the boundaries of a patient-physician relationship." After Morris' complaint, Bridgham surrendered his license and hadn't practiced since.
Officials have not released a motive for the murder yet. Morris, charged with first degree murder, is being held without bail pending more hearings
Local Home Raided - Minors and Animals Removed
The East Providence Police and local animal shelter are seeking donations after the recent raid of a home in Riverside, RI. On Friday, January 12th, the East Providence Police and East Providence Animal Control responded to 26 Floyd Avenue, resulting in 46 animals being removed. "All of the dogs, cats and a bearded dragon were transported to the East Providence Animal Control Center, located at 62 Commercial Way. The animals received prompt veterinary care. Unfortunately, two of the dogs have been diagnosed with canine parvovirus, a highly contagious viral illness", said a police department statement.
Due to the parvovirus, the animal control center is currently under quarantine. They are unable to accept any animals or adopt out any animals that were already in the facility. "Arrangements have been made with neighboring facilities to meet the future animal control needs of the city. Unfortunately, as a result of the parvovirus, all of the current animal control center supplies must be discarded," East Providence police stated. "We are looking for donations of blankets, towels, cleaning supplies and hot water bottles. Staff members will be available to accept these donations in the animal control center parking lot."
The house was home to more than 40 dogs and cats. Conditions inside the home were called "more than deplorable," by long time Building Inspector, Al Quattrucci. "It's the worst I've ever seen." Quattrucci immediately condemned the house, which was also home to two children and two adults. Animal Control Officer William Muggle said that the authorities are investigating a possible illegal breeding and illegal operation in the home. Muggle said the police continue to investigate.
In addition to the problem with the amount of animals in this home, the Rhode Island Department for Children and Families (DCYF) has removed two minors living there. The homeowner, Rachel Duarte, was arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer and building inspector. Duarte was also charged with resisting arrest. After a District Court arraignment, she was released pending trial. Duarte had been previously approved as a foster parent from 2014 to 2015. Duarte and her home had passed prior inspections by the DCYF.
Duarte told officials that she had been approved to have foster children and the two teenagers were found living in the homes' dank basement which had mattresses on the floor and no safe exits or smoke detectors. The two teenagers were found on the mattresses. However the DCYF stated that both girls were not foster children. Ironically the DCYF was in the home on the day before the incident. A worker was investigating the placement of one of the girls who was evidently staying with Duarte in a private family arrangement. A DCYF spokesperson said that a caseworker report was being readied and would not have recommended foster parent approval. The DCYF worker has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of an investigation. An anonymous complaint brought officials to the Floyd Avenue home the next day. The complaint was made after a van was seen dropping off a number of puppies at the home.
Inspector Quattrucci told Channel 12 News that Duarte attacked him and a police officer after she was told that her house was being condemned. Quattrucci told Channel 12 News that when the woman assaulted him and an officer, "an officer picked her up and threw her like a missile in the snow bank."
The house was boarded up by city officials. City councilman Brian Faria was on the scene during the incident and took pictures from inside the home which were supplied to news media. Faria told area media that what he saw was "deplorable." Faria further stated that upon entering the home he found the conditions to be obvious and it was "very disconcerting that a DCYF official didn't notice" this in a visit one day before the incident.
EP Police Assist with Drug Arrest
In a mid- January press release, the Department of Justice, U.S. Attorney’s Office, said that A Johnston, R.I., rapper whose songs include “Sell Drugz,” “Feds Watching” and “All White,” was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Providence to 36 months in federal prison for trafficking heroin and fentanyl.
Michael Persaud, aka “Montana Millz,” 30, also faces sentencing in Lebanon County, Pa., having been convicted at trial in August 2017 on 16 of 23 heroin trafficking, conspiracy and other drug trafficking related charges brought as a result of an investigation into his drug trafficking activities in Pennsylvania.
Persaud’s sentence, imposed by U.S. District Court Judge John J. McConnell, Jr., was announced by United States Attorney Stephen G. Dambruch; East Providence Police Chief Christopher Parella; and Michael J. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New England Field Division.
The East Providence Police played a major part in this arrest and conviction. According to information presented to the Court, during a 4 ½ month period of time beginning in October 2016, an East Providence undercover detective arranged for several purchases of heroin and fentanyl from Persaud. In total, nearly 22 grams of fentanyl and 2 grams of heroin were delivered to the detective. In several instances, Persaud used other individuals to assist in the delivery of the drugs. According to the press release, in at least two such instances, Persaud was driven by his girlfriend and mother of three of his children to deliver fentanyl to the undercover detective.
On March 30, 2017, members of the East Providence Police Department, with the assistance of the RI DEA Drug Task Force, executed a court-authorized search of the Providence residence of the mother of one of Michael Persaud’s children. Law enforcement seized 44 grams of fentanyl hidden in the residence by Persaud.
The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines range of imprisonment in this matter is 78-97 months. The government recommended the Court impose a sentence of 78 months in prison. Persaud pleaded guilty on October 23, 2017, to five counts of distribution of fentanyl, and one count each of possession with the intent to distribute fentanyl and distribution of heroin.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Ly T. Chin and Ronald R. Gendron
A Drug and Weapons Arrest in City
The East Providence Police have reported the arrest of a 19 year old city resident in late January. The police statement read: "On Wednesday, 1/24/18, at approximately 1:00 AM, Officer Jay Rainville conducted a motor vehicle stop on Bullocks Point Avenue. During the course of the motor vehicle stop, the back seat passenger, later identified as 19 year old East Providence resident, Matthew J. Torres, exited the vehicle and fled on foot. Officer Rainville, with the assistance of Sgt. Robinson, chased Torres on foot for a short distance. Officers caught up to Torres, but he resisted and struggled. As the officers were attempting to take Torres into custody, they realized he had a hand gun in his pocket. The officers were able to gain control of Torres and remove the hand gun from his pocket.
The gun was a loaded .380 Ruger, with an obliterated serial number. Torres was also found to be in possession of over 100 Xanax pills, a commonly abused controlled substance. Torres was charged with the following:
- License Required to Carry a Firearm
- Altering Identification on a Firearm
- Possession with Intent to Deliver Schedule IV (Xanax)
- Resisting Arrest
- Obstructing an Officer in Execution of Duty
- Possession of Marijuana
Aftermath of HR Director Settlement Leads to Tension
The side effects from City Human Resource Director Kathleen Waterbury's resignation and her $575,000 harassment insurance settlement against East Providence was evident at Wednesday's January 3rd city council meeting.
The council and City Manager Tim Chapman agreed to look into restructuring the Human Resource department. In a meeting which featured several acrimonious moments between some council members, the council and a small group of meeting attendees sat in rapt silence as City Manager Chapman chastised his City Finance Director Malcolm Moore.
Moore was called to the council podium by Ward 4 Councilman Brian Faria to discuss the history of events leading to changes in payroll and other functions as it pertained to the HR department. "I thought this would be a good time to look at the HR department," said Faria. "The HR Director and the number two person (in HR) is also out for awhile. This is a great concern to us. The Trust (insurance) settled this (Waterbury complaint) and it didn't cost the taxpayer anything," Faria said. Faria opined that the HR department could possibly do with less staff when compared to other similar-sized cities.
Finance Director Moore told the council that former Manager Richard Kirby had discussions with him on cutting the HR staff through attrition due to department automation in payroll. "Unfortunately it never happened as Kirby was let go," further explained Moore. Moore then said that city payroll functions have moved "back to tax collection within the last year." Moore said he had also had these HR and payroll functions in his area.
"Let's talk about the fact that payroll was in treasury (department) for about 30 years," Chapman replied to a Faria request for the Manager to comment. In a move that seemed to catch everyone off guard, Chapman then sternly addressed his City Finance Director. "I know, Malcolm, that you disagree with me on just about everything that we try to move forward with this city and that you were very happy with the last situation because that got another person out of your office. Unfortunately we were trying to combine jobs, make things easier, and give your office more support," said Chapman. "As we continue down this road, of you continuing to undermine me, I'd appreciate it if you could talk to me when you have conversations with others about how we should run the city," finished Chapman.
Several long seconds of silence followed the Chapman reprimand as Moore stood stoically at the podium and didn't comment. Chapman then told Faria that he would be comfortable in "going back to an HR Director instead of me being the Director. I would say that HR may be overstaffed but I would prefer to have a new HR Director make a recommendation. I think we could cut back and I think the prior HR Director (Waterbury) had that opinion as well," said Chapman. "There are some things that need to be looked at in the HR Department," Chapman added.
The HR Department has been the focal point of controversy for City Hall in recent years. In addition to former Director Waterbury's harassment claim, city employee Lita Garrett has filed a three-count lawsuit with the Rhode Island Superior Court. The 15 page complaint alleged that Garrett has sustained "injuries and losses due to the unlawful conduct of the City of East Providence and its agents and employees." Veteran attorney, Thomas J. McAndrew filed the lawsuit demanding that East Providence "adequately compensate her for her losses, both economic and non-economic, including but not limited to her loss of earnings, out-of-pocket expenses, and reasonable attorneys fees..."
Garrett and McAndrew allege that her "losses" occurred as a result of actions within the Department of Human Resources in City Hall. The complaint states that Garrett is suing the City of East Providence and Kathleen Waterbury "individually, and in her official capacity as the Director of Human Resources of the City of East Providence."
Garrett cites three legal counts for her lawsuit, the RI Fair Employment Act; RI Civil Rights Act & Whistleblower Protection Act. The lawsuit alleges that "The City of East Providence is liable for the acts of Waterbury..." The complaint is for actions between diverse dates of February 1, 2013 through July 2, 2015.
The lawsuit states that "Garrett was demoted and transferred from the Human Resource Department to the Highway Department. Her place of work was changed, her duties and responsibilities were downgraded, the number of hours she worked each week were increased, she was subjected to a reduction in pay, and other terms and conditions against Ms. Garrett were adversely affected." The Garrett complaint is believed to be pending.
After the meeting, Director Moore declined to comment about Manager Chapman's comments.
Bay View Academy Awarded Science Grant
St. Mary Academy - Bay View, on Pawtucket Avenue in East Providence, announced plans for an advanced science laboratory. The school recently received a near $50,000 Champlin Foundation grant. "Made possible by the generous support of the Champlin Foundation, St. Mary Academy - Bay View is enhancing its science curriculum with state of the art equipment and introducing calculus-based physics to the program of study," said Erin Hanna, Director of Institutional Advancement for Bay View. "AP Physics-C (Mechanics) and AP Physics-C (Electricity and Magnetism) will be added to an AP program that already includes algebra-based physics. Each of the new courses is equivalent to a one-semester, calculus-based physics course typically taken by students pursuing a degree in engineering or physics at the undergraduate level," added Hanna.
"This $49,790 investment in state-of-the-art laboratory equipment will enrich the laboratory component of the AP physics program at Bay View while concurrently enhancing all levels of physics and chemistry instruction. This technology will include valuable equipment to assist student investigations in mechanics, wave theory, sound, light and optics, electricity and magnetism, and modern physics," continued Hanna.
"Wireless technology and high-speed video recording will support advanced data collection and analysis. The acquisition of a 3-D printer will provide opportunities for integrating science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics into a creative, hands-on experience that promotes student thinking, problem-solving, and expression," Hanna added.
Bay View graduate and Associate Professor of Engineering at Worcester Polytechnic Institute Kathy Notarianni Ph.D., stated in a school press release that “The addition of these AP physics classes will give Bay View young women the confidence and experience to apply to and excel in competitive college science and engineering programs. All too often, even with the same high school science background, boys tend to apply but girls do not because they feel they are not prepared enough. Bay View is already a leader in educating young women in higher levels of math and science, and the addition of these classes will greatly strengthen their foundation and ability to compete."
Bay View is an independent Catholic School for girls open to all faiths, Pre-kindergarten through Grade 12, located in East Providence, Rhode Island and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy. The school has been in existence since 1874. Bay View is a college preparatory school accredited by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges.
Local Middle Schools Compete in Robotics Tournament
On Saturday, January 13, 2018, members of the Bay View, Gordon and Martin Middle School (MMS) Robotics Clubs took part in the RI First Lego League Robotics Championship at Roger Williams University. "Hundreds of Students and their Robots will compete for a Champion’s Award and Scholarships at the Tournament," said state organizers in a January press release. The teams are vying for an opportunity to win the Champion’s Award, and to compete alongside teams from around the globe at the FIRST WORLD FESTIVAL in Detroit, Michigan, in April. Each student on the Rhode Island League Champion’s Award-winning team will also receive a $20,000 ($5K, renewable 4 years) scholarship from Roger Williams University. The FIRST LEGO League season in Rhode Island is managed by Rhode Island Students of the Future, and sponsored by National Grid, Textron Charitable Trust and the Verizon Foundation.
Forty teams from across the state have advanced from the qualifying tournament system to the FIRST LEGO League state championship. Five of those teams are from East Providence, including Edward R. Martin Middle School’s the Marvelous Manatees, Gordon School’s Gatorbots and 3 teams from St. Mary Academy Bay View, S.M.A.R.T., S.M.A.R.T. 2.0 and the Intellibots.
FIRST LEGO League is a robotics program for students aged 9 - 14. Teams use the LEGO Mindstorms kit to build a robot that can score points on a game field that includes missions and obstacles related to an annual theme. The 2017-2018 theme is HYDRODYNAMICS. But the FIRST LEGO League program is about more than robots. "The teams spent weeks exploring how to improve the human water cycle, and developing a range of innovative solutions to the problems they discovered. They also designed, built and programmed a robot to complete missions on a pre-built game table where the missions represent concepts from the water cycle. FIRST LEGO League, a popular hands-on science, technology, engineering and math enrichment program, combine the excitement of robotics with a research project that encourages scientific literacy," said Thomas Hargreaves, Martin Middle School teacher and coach of the MMS Marvelous Manatees.
"The robot and the building with LEGO is a hook to introduce students to science and engineering skills and careers" said Rebekah Gendron, the President of Rhode Island Students of the Future, the non-profit organization that manages FIRST LEGO League in Rhode Island. In addition to building a robot that scores points for completing water related missions on the game table, teams learned about water and how communities find, transport, use and dispose of it. They identify a part of the process that can be improved on, and create an innovation solution to solve that problem.
"Teams focus on real world problems, and they are encouraged to meet with professionals to learn about current practice and solutions. The teams are learning to conduct interviews, do research, create innovative solutions, and present their findings in public. These are all skills that are important to creating strong communities.” said Gendron, an East Providence School Administrator.
Teams began the day presenting for judges who evaluate their project, robot design and core values, and practicing with their robot on the competition boards.
“We give the kids structure to show us what they did,” said Dick Taylor, of Tiverton, a volunteer who serves as the Rhode Island FIRST LEGO League judge advisor. While the projects are all related to the water theme, Taylor said that what the kids focus on will vary widely. “FLL gives them a chance to follow their interests, and to learn more about the community around them,” said Taylor.
The East Providence teams are entering the state championship with a strong record of success. At the December 2, 2017 qualifying tournament, the CyborGators from the Gordon School won the robot design award, S.M.A.R.T. 2.0, from St. Mary Academy Bay View, won the project award, and S.M.A.R.T., also from St. Mary Academy Bay View, won the second place robot performance award and the core values (teamwork) award.
Gordon has been participating in the Lego League for over ten years. The team's successes have included a trip to the international championships in Atlanta as well as awards from Save the Bay, and the experience has paid off for alumni in their high school careers as well.
Hargreaves of the Marvelous Manatees from Martin Middle School said his favorite part of FIRST LEGO League is the opportunity to create a team that’s inclusive of kids of all grades and many different interests. “Every year I am amazed by the number and types of students that join the Robotics Club. They get to know each other and work together to accomplish their final goal, to find a solution to a problem, build and program a robot and have fun doing it! Proof of the success of Hargreaves program at Martin is the number of students who stay involved after they move up to the high school. I am lucky to have students return to Martin, once they get to the High School, to mentor the new teams and teach them what they learned while they were competing,” he said.
Winning an award at the conclusion of the event was Bay View for "Core Values/Teamwork: S.M.A.R.T."