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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Charlestown Tapas

Ten more tasty news bits
By Will Collette

Must Read: Good fellas take full control of quarries

Phil Armetta (photo by Stephen DeVoto,
The Westerly Sun’s ace investigative reporter Dale Faulkner had another important story in last Sunday’s Sun. Phil Armetta, the Connecticut trash tycoon who bankrolled Copar to take over the abandoned Westerly Granite quarry on the Bradford-Charlestown line on Route 216, has regained control of the company and made a truly amazing personnel decision.

That’s not good news for Westerly or Charlestown (which hosts the 2nd Copar quarry in the area on Route 91).

Armetta served time in federal prison for racketeering activities while he was running his flagship company, Dainty Waste of Middletown, CT. I’m not making this up. 

After his federal conviction, Armetta was forced to transfer control of Dainty Waste to his children, but he never gave up his ambition to be the biggest trash guy in the area.

He hooked up with Sam Cocopard and his crew and that’s how Copar got started as a business to acquire old quarries both for their stone and gravel and also as prospective locations for waste disposal sites. One such site, an old quarry in Lisbon, CT, is being developed for a waste site as the stone is being removed.

But Armetta is getting old and, by most accounts including his own, is losing it. His family took over the business when Armetta went into a conservatorship to protect him from exploitation. The family alleges that they discovered that Sam Cocopard had taken roughly $12 million from Armetta. 

Interestingly, the family sued Cocopard in civil court (and won a default judgment) but did not take their complaint to the cops. Maybe they're just not comfortable with the police.

According to Faulkner’s new revelations, now that Phil Armetta has resumed control, he has named a new CEO to replace Sam Cocopard. The new Armetta LLC (formerly Copar) CEO is Michael Sparfven. Here’s how Dale Faulkner described the new quarry boss: 
Sparfven has an extensive criminal history and has twice been sentenced to serve time in federal prison for wire fraud, bank fraud and embezzlement. He is currently on probation for Rhode Island charges of first-degree robbery and conspiracy.
While Sam Cocopard also had a long rap sheet, most of Cocopard’s crimes were relatively small, usually less than $25,000, while Sparven’s crimes were much bigger.

And once again, I swear to you I’m not making any of this up.

Yet another Millstone “oops”

Blast Bomb animated GIF
No cause for alarm
The Millstone Nuclear Power plant’s Unit 2 just 20 miles to the west of Charlestown has yet another unplanned emergency shut-down on Saturday, July 26 due to a faulty water pump. 

Properly functioning water pumps are a life-and-death issue at nuclear power stations, since they move water needed to cool the reactors to prevent catastrophic meltdowns and cool the pools of water where highly radioactive spent fuel rods are stored.

If you’re wondering why that radioactive waste doesn’t go to some permanent site, the answer is there is no permanent site and efforts to create such a site have not only run into political road-blocks but some serious health and safety problems as well. Click here and here.
Millstone is owned by Virginia-based Dominion Energy. No date for a reactor re-start has been announced at this time. 

Meanwhile, Millstone is building a new emergency response center in Norwich. The foundation has been poured and most of the frame for the structure is up. Norwich is far enough away as well as upwind from Millstone’s site just outside of New London to serve as the command post when the balloon goes up at Millstone.

Local heroes will do it again on August 9

Charlestown’s first official “Local Hero” will once again be hosting their annual “Dentistry with a Heart” day on Saturday, August 9. On that day, the staff at Arrowhead, plus volunteers (who usually include a couple of oral surgeons) will treat as many people as they can – usually well over one hundred – for free.

Cathy and I have been Arrowhead patients since we moved to Charlestown and it makes us proud to be so when they do such a wonderful and much needed thing for our community.
Dentistry from the Heart 2014

Local Job Opening

The Pettaquamscutt Historical Society in Kingston is looking for an Assistant Director, year-round, part-time. Click here for full details.

If you are looking for work in public service, activism, health care etc. in the non-profit sector, the best place to look for job postings is the Community Jobs listserve run by the Brown University Swearer Center. I only list jobs in southern RI, but their website and daily e-mail lists lots of jobs all over the area. Click here to sign up for their daily e-mail.

STD hits Dunn’s Corner Fire District

While so much of Charlestown is buzzing over the new and totally imaginary threat raised by the Charlestown Citizens Alliance of the STD or “single taxing district,” the Dunn’s Corner Fire District membership unanimously approved adopting a single taxing district approach at its July 16 annual meeting.

The Bradford Fire District has stopped providing fire services and is now contracting with Dunn’s Corner for coverage. 

The Dunn’s Corner members decided that rather than take in a whole new district and charge them the slighter lower rate paid by Dunn’s Corner households in Westerly than the rate charged to Charlestown Dunn’s Corner members, the whole district would go to a single rate. I.e. the much dreaded STD.

How you feel about getting an STD has a lot to do with whether you feel like you’re getting screwed. In Charlestown, Dunn’s Corner charged 44 cents per $1000 of property valuation, while only charging its Westerly subscribers 38 cents. I will probably pay a lower tax to Dunn’s Corner this year as a result of the STD. So far, I haven’t heard of any complaints or whining in Westerly among those Dunn’s Corner folks who may get a tax increase.

No really bad bugs spotted yet

For more cartoons by Dave Granlund, click here
As of its July 28 update, DEM hasn’t found any mosquitoes yet that are infected with West Nile Virus or Eastern Equine Encephalitis. However, this is just about the time during the summer when that changes and we start hearing the reports about bad bugs in the waterways and humans coming down with one of the illnesses.

There is no prize awarded for being the first person to get infected with West Nile or EEE this summer so take precautions.

Go to the DEM website for practical advice.

Dan Slattery’s next gig?

Dan Slattery, the CCA Party’s enforcer on the Town Council, surprised Charlestown by his decision not to run for re-election. That has left a lot of us wondering what he’s going to do next. Is he going to challenge Ruth Platner to regain top leadership of the Charlestown Citizens Alliance? 

Is he going back to being a “federal agent,” as he described himself recently and join one of our clandestine services? 

Is he going into partnership with Ron Areglado to start up a K-through-12 CCA Charter School on the assumption that Charlestown will withdraw from Chariho?

Or does he have something else in mind? Knowing that Slattery has an enquiring mind, he may have spotted this interesting article that warns that the United States is facing a dire national clown shortage.

According to Clowns of America President Glenn Kohlberger, “what’s happening is attrition. The older clowns are passing away.” And being a clown is not on most young people’s list of things they want to do when they grow up.

But with four solid years on the Charlestown Town Council, plus his time as a “federal agent,” this looks to me like a great new career for Deputy Dan.

Truly tasteless gun nuts

The Rhode Island Gun Lobby, big backers of the failed attempt to oust Exeter’s Town Council members, have a new target. 


At least they didn't use
a bulls-eye
In a real high-class move, the RIGL posted the headline “Ready, Aim, Fire Rep. Finn” on their website, and I’m sure they meant it in good clean fun.

The gun lobby is out to get first-term state Representative Linda Finn (D) of Portsmouth because she has been unafraid to sponsor a number of common sense gun control measures, which of course makes her a target. The gun lobby wants gun owners to instead support the return of former Rep. Dan Reilly. Finn beat Reilly in 2012. Reilly, who is barely out of his teens, is best known mainly for his parents who are at the top of the list of Rhode Island’s Top Tax Cheats.

Speaking of idiots

I have a backlog of great articles that look at how people think and what they believe. Rather than continue to hoard them, I’d like to share the following links with you. For example, the National Science Foundation conducted a survey and discovered that 1 out of 4 Americans seem to be unaware that the Earth orbits the Sun.
The Pew Research Center reports that among Republicans, the belief in evolution has declined to only 43%, an eleven point drop from the 54% of Republicans who told the 2009 survey that they believed in evolution.

Animals animated GIFI’d like to think this is related – Czech researchers at the University of Life Sciences in Prague found that dogs are sensitive to the Earth’s magnetic alignment and that when they take a dump, their bodies are usually aligned on a north-south axis.