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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Charlestown chunks

Shorter news tidbits for Charlestown area

By Will Collette

In election years especially, there are lots of news items that often go unnoticed. This year, there are the elections, plus Russia’s war on the Ukraine, COVID’s fifth surge, corporate greed and price hikes competing for our attention. So here is a collection of local stories that you may or may not have seen. Here we go.

What happened to Charlestown’s children?

The statewide child advocacy organization Kids Count issued its annual Fact Book which produced one startling fact: Charlestown is one of only four RI municipalities to lose 20% or more of it’s under 18 population. Using the new 2020 census data, Kids Count reports a 22.9% drop - 345 children - in Charlestown’s population under 18.

This abnormal drop can be laid at the feet of the concerted effort by Ruth Platner and the Charlestown Citizens Alliance to eliminate housing for families with children. The CCA/Platner even developed a bogus mathematical formula to “prove” its theory that children are simply parasites sucking up tax dollars. Don’t believe me? CLICK HERE.

Instead, the CCA’s vision is that only a small number of older, well-to-do adults surrounded by open space in what would essentially be one great big happy gated community. The 2020 census shows significant progress toward that vision.

One person who seems unlikely to stick around for this grim future is one of the CCA’s founders, Tom Gentz, who has listed his house on Sea Breeze Drive with Randall Realtors. Boss Gentz ran the Town Council for several years, presiding over some of the most bizarre of the CCA’s excesses. He’s only asking $1.25 million.

Westerly Dem kicked to the curb

After a state grand jury handed down indictments on two counts of first-degree sexual assault (rape) against long-time Westerly Democratic Town Committee chair Bob Ritacco, Ritacco was voted out of that position by the Committee. Under RI law, these charges are considered “capital crimes” meaning they can bring a life sentence.

Ritacco ran the Westerly Dems like a stereotype of an old-time political boss for about 23 years. Thanks to great reporting by Dale Faulkner at the Westerly Sun, we learned about the major role Ritacco played in the infamous COPAR quarry scandal. The crime-riddled quarry was issued a cease-and-desist order by a town inspector, but appealed that decision to the Town Zoning Board, chaired by Ritacco.

COPAR was allowed to continue operations until their hearing was held – a hearing Ritacco refused to schedule. Meanwhile, Faulkner learned, Ritacco was negotiating for a new job as head of the Westerly Housing Authority with the Chair of the Housing Board, George Comolli, whose family owned and leased the land where the COPAR quarry was located.

If you don’t know the COPAR story, you can get the gist of it HERE, the story I wrote on the day it closed.

Despite new COVID wave, Charlestown Memorial Day Parade will take place

After a two-year hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the Charlestown Memorial Day Parade is back. That’s despite a fifth surge of infections in Rhode Island with community transmission rates now topping 500 per 100,000 – compared to only 12 per 100,000 on the Fourth of July last year. Out of less than 8,000 people, 2,107 Charlestown residents have suffered COVID.

It’s unlikely that you’ll see much masking and social distancing despite the alarming COVID numbers which also include a sharp increase in hospitalizations as the current COVID variant is causing breakthrough infections among the vaccinated and repeat infections among the unvaccinated.

The Parade will start at 1 PM on Sunday, May 29 at Compass Hardware and will head down Old Post Road to the end point at Charlestown Liquors.


Location of earthquake cluster. US Geological Survey.
Last weekend, southern Rhode Island experienced a cluster of earthquakes centered just off our coast. You probably didn’t feel them but they did happen.

They started early Saturday morning and the third was early Sunday morning. They ranged in magnitude from 2.0 to 2.5 on the Richter scale. Damage to buildings usually required a force of 5.0 or higher on the Richter scale. The strongest recent earthquake was a 4.6 quake on June 10, 1951 just offshore from Westerly.

URI geologist Brian Savage told WPRI these and similar quakes seem likely to due to very old faults left over from eons ago when Rhode Island was attached to Africa:

“There were two existing faults that existed hundreds of millions of years ago that likely slipped along the surface and that caused energy to be radiated out into the ground of the Earth….I don’t think this is something to be concerned about. We have 300 years of [white] people living here in the New England area and we’ve had minimal earthquakes.”

Wood River Health Services adds a family nurse practitioner

Wood River Health Services (WRHS) announces that it has added Taryn Bishop, FNP to its dedicated team of Family Nurse Practitioners. 

Taryn is a board-certified Family Nurse Practitioner who previously worked at Ocean State Healthcare in Westerly. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from University of Rhode Island in 2006 and worked in an emergency department and critical care setting as a Registered Nurse for several years in Connecticut. 

After earning her Master’s degree from Sacred Heart University in 2017 as a Clinical Nurse Leader, she transitioned into nursing management prior to obtaining a Post Master’s Certificate from University of Rhode Island as a Family Nurse Provider. For the past five years, she has worked diligently to develop a large panel of primary care patients.  

Taryn Bishop works out of our Westerly facility at 17 Wells Street Wednesdays through Fridays. Beginning in the fall, she will also be available at our Hope Valley location at 823 Main Street. She is currently accepting new patients. 

For more information about WRHS, call (401) 539-2461 or visit

New General Stanton Inn owners hope to recruit staff

Janice Falcone finally found suitable buyers for the iconic General Stanton Inn (founded in 1740), the gateway to Charlestown’s historic village district. The new owners hope to revive the Inn’s restaurant and are actively recruiting servers and kitchen staff.

They told WPRI that experienced servers can earn up to $20,000 this summer and that they will pay dishwashers who stay the whole summer a $500 bonus.

Those who are interested can apply online or connect with a recruiter over the phone by calling (401) 680-5960.