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Monday, April 14, 2014

VIDEOS: Charlestown Tapas

More bite-sized bites of news
By Will Collette
Renowned Narragansett elder passes away

Our sincere condolences to the family of Dr. Ella Wilcox-Thomas Sekatau who was laid to rest with full tribal honors at the Narragansett Indian Cemetery in Charlestown on April 11. She died at age 85 on April 7. Her Narragansett name Sekatau means “Firefly Song of the Wind.”

She was a medicine woman and historian whose research was vital to the Tribe’s success in regaining federal recognition in 1983. 

She also labored hard to keep the Narragansett language alive and spread its use and the tribe’s history among generations of tribal members. Her son John Brown carries on her tradition.

Please click here for her obituary.
What’s missing from this list?
Give up?

Keep reading to find the answer....

The answer is Charlestown. None of Charlestown's neighborhoods made the list while Central Falls, Pawtucket, Woonsocket, etc. did.

Normally, this would be a good idea, but…

Such a meeting will only work if someone can keep Councilor Dan
Slattery under control
Following the success of winning voter approval for a new Chariho School District budget, Superintendent Barry Ricci proposed the idea of holding a moderated meeting of all three town councils to try to hash out their differences and maybe reach some accord.

Normally, this would be a smart thing to do, but the hotheads on those town councils will probably need a lot more than “moderating” if they are to come to a joint meeting and behave themselves. I’m talking about Charlestown’s resident hothead, CCA Party Councilor Dan Slattery and Richmond’s back-stabbing Councilor Paul Michaud. Until these guys show some positive reaction to their new meds, I’m not sure they’re ready to sit in a circle and sing Kumbaya.

Speaking of Chariho….

Gives new meaning to "Candy Man"
At least one Chariho student needed medical attention after eating homemade candy that was laced with still-unknown drugs. That led to a police investigation and search at Chariho that resulted in three arrests, one of a middle-schooler and two high school students.

The candy was referred to as marijuana candy, but Richmond Police Chief Elwood Johnson said there could have been other substances in the candy besides marijuana derivative THC.

Meanwhile, the Rhode Island death toll from drug overdoses hit 78 as of April 11. These deaths are attributed to a spike in the use of heroin and fentanyl across a number of age groups. Several police departments, including Charlestown’s, are equipping police officers and EMTs with doses of Narcan which can prevent death from opioid overdoses.

I got paid for my busted mailbox

Our brutal winter seemed to take an especially brutal toll on Charlestown mailboxes. It seems like half the mailboxes along my stretch of Route One are duct-taped or otherwise jerry-rigged to stay upright. I wrote that the state will compensate you for damage done by snowplows on state roads in town either by installing a replacement box or giving you $50 toward your own replacement.

If it was Charlestown DPW that did the damage, you should contact Town Administrator Mark Stankiewicz to find out what the town will do for you.

I followed the procedure I described in my article, got an acknowledgement of my claim and a form to fill out to get the check cut. I filled out the form and our Town Clerk's office notarized it for free. Then after just a couple of weeks, this arrived in the mail:

Note that the state check is drawn on the Santander Bank. That's a Spanish bank that bought a number of US banks, including Sovereign. They have had their share of problems related to Spain's economic disarray and Fortune Magazine says the bank is in trouble. 

Why is the State of Rhode Island putting state money into a troubled Spanish bank? I guess that's a question for State Treasurer and Governor-hopeful Gina Raimondo along with all of the other questions about her questionable investments of public money.

RI Gun lobby decides it likes Donna Walsh bill after all

mindwa animated GIFAfter originally listing Rep. Donna Walsh’s (D-Charlestown) bill to ban firing weapons from aircraft among legislation they opposed, the RI Gun Blog apparently thought twice about the issue and have come out in favor of the Senate version (S-2642).

They explained that even though they “have taken some flak [interesting choice of words] from local shooters for supporting this bill…[i]f a single accident occurs lawmakers will not strictly go after the right to shoot from aircraft they will make a push to attack our rights as a whole, yet again.”

They noted the legislation was clearly intended to prohibit incidents like last summer’s helicopter target shooting incident at a Charlestown quarry.

Republican bill would allow hunting and trapping of river otters
cute animated GIF
Marked for death?
Ya gotta hand it to state Republicans – they sure have their priorities straight. New legislation filed by state Representative Michael Chippendale (R-Foster) would permit the hunting and trapping of river otters, overturning a 40-year ban in Rhode Island. 
According to DEM, otters are plentiful in Rhode Island but do not pose a threat to other species. DEM does not oppose the Chippendale bill, as disgusting as it sounds to any animal lover, because it would allow DEM to “manage” the otter population.
The Associated Press picked up the story and it ran nationwide as an example of abhorrent legislative proposals, yet another feather in Rhode Island’s cap. The bill is “being held for further study,” but under the new pro-gun Speaker of the House Nick Mattiello, I wouldn’t count it dead just yet.
From Dave's LinkedIn page
Sun loses another veteran journalist

David Smith of the Westerly Sun, their long-time editor of the Charlestown Press, took his retirement from the Sun after 30-plus years of service as the Sun continues to cut away at its reporting staff. Dave is still writing, though, and you can read some very nice work he has done for our friends at EcoRI. Click here and here for a couple recent examples.

Grant opportunity for handicapped accessibility

The Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities at Rhode Island College is soliciting applications for “Access for All Abilities” (AAA) mini-grants, so that organizations and businesses may improve the accessibility of social, leisure, recreational and cultural activities in Rhode Island. 

An organization may apply for up to $2,500 in funding for activities such as purchasing specialized equipment to enhance accessibility, offering sensitivity training for employees, modifying an existing activity to accommodate people with disabilities and other innovative approaches. 

The Sherlock Center will award up to four grants in 2014 to businesses or organizations currently offering social, leisure, recreational and/or cultural activities to the general public in Rhode Island. Nonprofit organizations, businesses, city and town government agencies are encouraged to apply.

For more information, or to obtain an online application, visit or call (401) 456-8072. The deadline for applications is May 15.

I’d love to see the town of Charlestown apply for funding to make needed changes to the Town Council chambers to make it more accessible for the elderly and people with disabilities. Worst problem: having to stand at the podium, or stand in line to speak during town meetings in that room.

Given Charlestown’s demographics, I’m surprised this hasn’t drawn an Americans with Disabilities Act complaint or lawsuit already.

Vintage video with old footage of Westerly quarries

Linda Felaco told me about this piece of great 1947 video on YouTube that actually shows us that the supposedly simpler times weren’t so simple. Plus, the contrast between then and now is almost shocking. Lots of great South County footage, too.  

Bob Yarnall flagged another vintage video, this one from the old cartoon series “Super Chicken” from the folks who did the Rocky & Bullwinkle show on the biggest robbery in Rhode Island history. 

Ocean House forms “joint endeavor” of luxury beach hotels

Since its 2010 reopening, the completely rebuilt Ocean House in Westerly has made quite a splash as a five-star attraction, bringing lots of visitors (and money) to this area. In 2012, they repeated the formula of taking an old establishment, the Weekapaug Inn, and turning it into luxury lodging to attract high-roller tourists. 

They are now working that same magic with the Watch Hill Inn which they plan to renovate and turn into an “all-suite boutique property.” The three hotels will substantially share management and guests will be able to use facilities at all three hotels. All of this has created a lot of area jobs and boosted economic activity.

More new clean tech jobs at new business in Hopkinton
While Charlestown’s unemployment rate languishes in the double digits, our neighboring towns have not been bashful about attracting new businesses and jobs.
The A/Z Corporation has developed a new combined heat and power unit that not only burns natural gas efficiently, but captures the waste energy to run a turbine that creates electricity, rather than let that heat just go up the stack. These new units cost about $1 million each and are usually bought by hospitals, universities and other larger facilities open 24 hours a day. The captured energy allows buyers to recoup their investment in 2-3 years.
Around 80 Rhode Islanders currently work for A/Z.
By contrast, a non-green company
physics animated GIFOur local nuke, the Millstone nuclear power plant 20 miles west of Charlestown in Waterford, CT, shut down its Unit 2 reactor again. This time it was a planned shut-down, and not a SCRAMM like their other recent incidents.
Every 18 months, they shut down one of their two operating reactors to replace one-third of their fuel rods with new ones. And what happens to the old, highly-radioactive fuel rods? The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission has given Millstone permission to store 3.6 million pounds of this high-level waste on site.
They stay on site, indefinitely, first in cold-water storage ponds to cool them off and later into dry cask storage where, at least theoretically, they will stay for the hundreds of thousands of years it will take for the radiation to fade.
Speaking of radioactive…
Former Governor Donald Carcieri and his wife Sue are about to have one of their several pieces of property put up for a tax sale by the town of East Greenwich for unpaid property taxes. 

The property is the Olney house on Church Street which was supposed to be the site of a non-profit educational group controlled by the Carcieris called Academy of Science Center.
That group was supposed to begin operations in 1999 shortly after the town granted the Carcieris a tax exemption for the property. But, as it happened, the education center never opened and it either never received tax exempt recognition from the IRS or the IRS revoked it (that part of the story is unclear).
The Carcieris also pledged to do renovations and maintenance on the building which were apparently never done. The town now wants to recoup almost $25,000 in back taxes either from the Carcieris or through the tax sale.
Maybe the Donald figured why not get into the business of bilking the taxpayers like his buddy Curt Schilling and 38 Studio.