Police Log: Pig at Large, Oaks Graffiti, Missing Plow

By Bethany Hashaway

Wednesday, Jan. 31

2:26 p.m. – A resident from South County Trail told police that she had received a phone call from a male who identified himself as an attorney named “Steven Lewis.” He told her that her grandson was in trouble for a “DWI” in another state and needed $4000 to pay his attorney fee so that he could help her grandson. He told her to go to a “Best Buy” store and buy two $2000 gift cards and then call him back for more directions. She went to the Best Buy store where the clerk told her it was a scam, so she did not to buy the gift cards and called the police instead.

Thursday, Feb. 1

4:50 p.m. – Police got a report of a black pig wandering down the roadway and they went to a nearby house where they knew farm animals were kept. The owners of that home said the pig lived at another location on Carrs Pond Road. Police notified the residents of that address and the pig was returned home.

Friday, Feb. 2

1:59 p.m. – Police arrested a West Warwick man, 64, for driving with an expired license after the driver was involved in a car accident on the west bound Route 4 North off ramp. Routine checks showed the man had an expired license. He was issued a District Court summons and released at the scene; a licensed driver drove the car from the scene.

Saturday, Feb. 3

12:35 a.m. – Police arrested a North Kingstown man, 26, for driving on a suspended license after stopping him because of an expired inspection sticker. Routine checks showed his license and registration were suspended. He was issued a District Court summons for driving on a suspended license and a summons for violation of inspection sticker. The car was towed; plates were seized by police.

1:51 a.m. – Police arrested a Providence woman, 34, for driving on a suspended license after she was involved in an accident on Division Road near New England Tech. Routine checks were done, and they found the driver’s license had been suspended. She was issued a District Court summons for driving on a suspended license and released.

8:13 a.m.- Police were dispatched to 66 King St. for the report of structure fire. When police arrived on scene they found smoke coming from the wall on the east side of the building in a first floor apartment. A short time later East Greenwich Fire Department arrived scene and put out the fire. The investigation revealed that the fire had started around a gas-fired heater exhaust vent pipe. Residents of the building had to evacuate pending resumption of utilities.

Sunday, Feb. 4

8:30 a.m. – The owner of the Oaks Tavern, 63 Duke St., told police that an employee told him that the men’s bathroom was vandalized Friday night. In addition, someone had left graffiti on the ceiling in the bar area where someone had written with a black marker different words with a “tagging” design.

4:11 p.m. – A Frenchtown Road resident told police that his snow plow had gone missing from his backyard. He told police there were tire marks in the snow leading up to where the plow had been stored.

Donate to East Greenwich News during February and take part in a sustaining donor match! Show your love for local news – click here to learn more.

Town Ordered to Pay $41,905 In Legal Fees for 2017 Trial

Council President Cienki decries the ruling, says Town Council will consider appeal.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Superior Court Judge Susan McGuirl ordered the town to pay $41,905 in legal fees earlier this week for the six-day trial last fall after which McGuirl ruled the town had knowingly and willfully violated the Open Meetings Act in the appointment of Town Manager Gayle Corrigan among other actions.

When Judge McGuirl made that ruling, she ordered the town to pay legal fees to attorney Elizabeth Wiens, who tried the case on behalf of the East Greenwich firefighters. The other part of the case, in which the judge ruled firefighter James Perry had been fired illegally and needed to be reinstated, is not covered by the legal fees ruling.* 

McGuirl said Monday this was the first time she had had to rule on a legal fees motion, noting that the two sides have in the past worked it out between themselves.

Town Council President Sue Cienki responded to the judge’s ruling in an email to residents Thursday evening:

On Monday, Superior Court Judge McGuirl issued a decision to award nearly $42,000 in legal fees to the East Greenwich Firefighters’ Union for litigation involving the Town Council’s Open Meetings Act violations. We are deeply disappointed with this decision. The Union’s attorney, Liz Wiens, initially claimed that her services for just the OMA portion of the lawsuit were worth $55,000. We believed that number was drastically inflated, and argued that the time Ms. Wiens spent on the OMA portion of the suit was far less than she claimed. The Town and Ms. Wiens were unable to reach an agreement on appropriate fees and Judge McGuirl ultimately set the fee at $41,905. This demands further Council discussion and we intend to explore our options, including appeal, on Monday evening in executive session.

This follows the revelation earlier this month that the town paid $104,000 for legal services – including $15,000 for the James Perry litigation – to the law firm Whelan Corrente Flanders Kinder and Siket for work billed between August and November. Town Solicitor David D’Agostino tried the Perry–OMA case for the town.

In an interview Thursday, Wiens said she went through her hourly entries and separated out the OMA work from the Perry work as much as she thought fair. The judge then reviewed the same entries and further reduced the time for the OMA violations, according to Wiens. For instance, if Wiens listed one day as six hours total on the East Greenwich trial with four on OMA and two on Perry, McGuirl split the six in half, three on OMA and three on Perry.

According to Wiens, McGuirl also questioned her initial $350/hour fee, and asked both lawyers to research the going rate for OMA legal work. In response, Wiens offered to cut her fee to $250/hour. D’Agostino took that offer to the Town Council and they refused. McGuirl then stepped in and ruled the town needed to reimburse Wiens at a rate of $300/hour, for a total of $41,905.

Read an email from Wiens to D’Agostino here outlining her $250/hour proposal: Wiens email on legal fees.

* The default rule is that parties have to pay their own legal fees. But the OMA has a section saying that the municipality has to pay the legal fees if it is in violation of the act. Because there are no real damages awarded under the OMA (others than a $1,000 penalty), boards may have little incentive to comply.

Donate to East Greenwich News during February and take part in a sustaining donor match! Show your love for local news – click here to learn more. Or click on the Donate button below.

EG Love Stories: Two Guys – One from Italy, One from Guatemala – And Pizza

Victor Vargas and John Illiano, pizza maker and owner respectively, of Frank and John’s Pizza on Main Street.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

It is “Old EG” heresy to suggest that there is any pizza as good as Frank and John’s From Italy pizza. It’s a thin-crust pie that glistens with oil and sometimes cooks a shade beyond brown. The occasional bubbles in the crust are the stuff of legend – even a lucky charm for some.

Quite simply, it’s delicious.

The Main Street mainstay started with two guys from Italy. That was the name originally – Two Guys from Italy – until the national Two Guys pizza chain threatened legal action. Frank Illiano and his nephew John Illiano – who came to the U.S. from Naples – changed the name to Frank and John’s From Italy. In 1972, John took over the restaurant. He may have aged over the decades but it’s awfully hard to tell. He remains the white-shirted, white-aproned, wise-cracking head of the kitchen.

The other guy behind the magic today at Frank and John’s is Victor Vargas, from Zacapa, Guatemala. Victor’s been working at the restaurant since 1995, when he got a job there washing dishes. Today, he’s the one usually working the pizza dough and making the pies. He waits tables too, if the need arises.

They have a playful, easy relationship born of years working side by side and, undoubtably, a little bit of luck when it comes to chemistry.

Victor’s wife, Carla, who often handles the front of the restaurant, says Victor doesn’t want to leave John alone.

Which means the old Two Guys still has two guys. It works.

This is one in a series of East Greenwich love stories we will be featuring during February in conjunction with our February matching donation drive. Find out more about the drive here. Or click on the Donate button below. And, if you have a love story you’d like to share – anything from a story about best friends or a child and their pet to love of a special place or business in East Greenwich – email egreenwichnews@gmail.com.


Former HR Director Sues Town Over Lost Job

Third Former Employee to File Suit For June 30th Action

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Sharon Kitchin, who served as the town’s director of human resources, filed suit against the town last week, citing wrongful termination. She is the third out of three employees who were fired by Town Manager Gayle Corrigan June 30 to sue.

This is the sixth lawsuit filed against the town since August. The town has also filed suit against the firefighters union.

In her complaint, Kitchin accuses the Town Council of violating the Open Meetings Act and the Town Charter, now-familiar accusations following the lawsuits filed by the two other former employees as well an earlier lawsuit already ruled upon by Superior Court Judge Susan McGuirl in which she described the town’s failure to comply with the Open Meetings Act as “willful and knowing” and issued a fine. McGuirl also found the town violated the Town Charter but deferred to town residents of the town to handle that wrongdoing. (Find the complaint here: Kitchin v Town of EG.)

In addition to those charges, Kitchin accuses the town of failing to pay “comp time” back wages.

Corrigan fired Kitchin, former assistant to the town manager Pam Aveyard, and former Finance Director Kristen Benoit shortly after being appointed Town Manager June 30, in letters that told the employees they were being “separated” from the town for “budget restructuring and fiscal consolidations” called for under the so-called “One Town” consolidation plan Corrigan was implementing.

In her complaint, Kitchin notes that the Attorney General and Judge McGuirl have ruled that the Town Council’s hiring of Corrigan June 19 was illegal since it was done without proper notice and the vote was not taken in public. The complaint notes the Town Council again violated the Open Meetings Act, as found by both the AG’s office and McGuirl, when it discussed the June 26 the consolidation plan without notifying Kitchin that her job was being discussed, as was her right as a department head. Also, the council did not vote to approve the firing of Kitchin in public session.

The complaint notes Kitchin was not terminated because of a lack of funds since the HR position remains funded in the town’s current budget.

The complaint says the council violated the Town Charter by not discussing the “One Town” plan – which it characterized as “a major policy initiative with enormous potential impact on the public and governmental operations” – in open session.

Kitchin also argues the town failed to pay her for 10 hours of compensatory time she had earned by working beyond normal her normal workday.

Town Solicitor David D’Agostino said Wednesday via email that the town would issue a response by the end of the month.

In the meantime, I am not inclined to comment on pending litigation, other than to indicate that the matter (as with all claims against the Town) have been submitted to the Town’s insurer for appropriate action,” he said.

D’Agostino noted, however, that some of the actions cited in Kitchin’s complaint and found as violations by both Judge McGuirl and the Attorney General’s office were remedied Nov. 20, when the Town Council voted to re-appoint Corrigan and reaffirm decisions made by her, including the June 30th firings, during a properly noticed public meeting.

Judge McGuirl ruled earlier this week that the town owed $41,905 in legal fees to the lawyer representing the EG firefighters in the November lawsuit where the judge found in the firefighters’ favor on Open Meetings Act violations. The town also paid $104,000 in legal fees between August and November to the law firm Whelan, Corrente, Flanders, Kinder and Siket, in addition to the monthly $11,500 paid to D’Agostino.

Donate to East Greenwich News during February and take part in a sustaining donor match! Show your love for local news – click here to learn more.

Letter to the Editor: Dear Students of East Greenwich

I am reaching out to express my deepest remorse and apologies for the senseless gun violence you and your friends and classmates have relentlessly witnessed during the innocent years of your youth because of the misguided judgment and fathomless corruption of our leadership at every level.

It is unavoidably evident that we have profoundly failed to protect you because of our complacency, our greed, and the malignancy that power can bring. In the face of this most difficult time, your voices are the antidote. It is your time to organize and join with your brother and sisters in Florida and around the nation and demand common sense gun laws and safe schools. Don’t wait for another election cycle only to have money and corruption stymie change while your friends and dedicated teachers are dying on the front lines.

Organize a walkout, for just twenty minutes, or for a day, or more boldly, tell all your friends and allies next door and across the nation: no students in schools anywhere until military style assault weapons are banned everywhere. Hold closely in your heart, that you, your brothers and sisters are the future and safe passage is your right. Go forth, be kind and do well by each other. We then may have a new day. 

Respectfully yours,
Lindsay Daskalopoulos

P.S. There is a discussion about gun violence this weekend (2/25) in our community – What We Can Do About Gun Violence, at 11 a.m. at Temple Torat Yisrael, 1251 Middle Road. Open to all.

EG Love Stories: Mike and Laura Bottaro – Making It Work, Together

Mike and Laura Bottaro with their children, Dustin and Mia.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Mike and Laura Bottaro make it look easy. They are a good looking couple with two beautiful children and a thriving business. You kind of want to hate them. But when you talk to them, they make it clear: marriage can be great but it’s also tough.

They met in law school at the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Mike was in the library one day during third year – NOT his usual haunt, he emphasized – when he spied Laura.

“My scheme was to ask her to be my partner on the moot court team. I thought that was a pretty good way to get an in with her. She flatly rejected me,” Mike said.

But he kept asking. Finally, Mike called early one morning and asked Laura to lunch.

“I thought, well, if someone is persistent enough to call me first thing in the morning … I thought, yeah, I’ll give this a shot,” said Laura.

That first date led to another and another. Soon they were a couple.

“She liked to play pool and she liked to drink beer,” Mike said, smiling.

After graduation in 2000, they moved to Denver and started working.

“We’d meet for lunch downtown in our lawyer clothes, feeling grownup,” said Mike.

“It felt like we were playing dress up,” Laura said.

They were enjoying the young and unencumbered life. But after 9/11 and, later, when Mike’s mother began ill, they began to think seriously about moving closer to family. They ended up in Rhode Island but it took them a few more years to find East Greenwich. That happened in 2009. And suddenly they felt settled for the first time in Rhode Island.

“We bought a house, we had a child and we became part of the community,” said Laura.

Today they have two children, fourth grader Mia and second grader Dustin.

And they both work for the personal injury firm Mike founded in 2010, Bottaro Law Firm.

It’s a busy life so making time for each other has been key.

“I think what has worked in the last few years is being intentional about trying to spend time to talk,” said Mike. A little over a year ago, they started a Wednesday morning coffee hour just for them. At 5:30 a.m.

“We know midweek that we have space and the kids aren’t awake and it’s quiet,” Mike said.

They both make it clear, though: they are not perfect.

“We’re totally different people. When things are going well in our relationship, it’s pretty cool that we’re different people. But when things are not going very well, it’s also because we’re different people,” said Mike.

He said the book “The 5 Love Languages” has helped them to understand  how people give and receive love. What works for Mike, for instance, hearing, “You look great today!” doesn’t really work for Laura, who would much rather have Mike express his love by cleaning up after dinner.

They’ve found mentors in family but also through church. They are active members of Christ Church.

“I think one of the reasons we’ve endured so well is we’re both so determined,” said Laura. “Neither of us give up on anything. We just keep saying, we’re not going to give up.… When things aren’t perfect, you have to think about the long game. You can’t get caught up in the daily swings of when things are high or really low.”

She added, “You have to think about getting through and what the real ultimate goal is, which is our family and our love for each other and being together for the long term.”

This is one in a series of East Greenwich love stories we will be featuring during February in conjunction with our February matching donation drive. Find out more about the drive here. Or click on the Donate button below. And, if you have a love story you’d like to share – anything from a story about best friends or a child and their pet to love of a special place or business in East Greenwich – email egreenwichnews@gmail.com.


This Week in EG: Cove Commission, Gun Violence Discussion

A weekly article that lists happenings in East Greenwich and nearby. If you have something you’d like to add, send your information to egreenwichnews@gmail.com.

Tuesday, Feb. 20

Cove Management Advisory Commission – The panel meets at Town Hall at 5 p.m. Here’s the agenda.

Wednesday, Feb. 21

Lunch on the Hill – If you are looking for some good food and company, stop by the dining room at St. Luke’s Church on Peirce Street where you will find both. A free lunch is offered every week, sponsored by various local churches and restaurants – a different church-restaurant combination each week.From 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Town Manager Search Advisory Committee meeting – The panel will meet in executive session at Town Hall at 7 p.m. Find the agenda here.


Sunday, Feb. 25

Community Gun Violence Discussion – A local discussion on the dangers of gun violence – what’s being done and what can be done. Speakers include Jennifer Boylan of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, and Linda Finn, president of the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence. All are welcome. 11 a.m. at Temple Torat Yisrael, 1251 Middle Road. For more information, call Joy Weisbord 617-694-6437.


Recycling is ON this week.


Tuesday, Feb. 27

MLK Jr.’s ‘Letter From Birmingham City Jail’Mixed Magic Theatre will present a dramatic reading of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “Letter From Birmingham City Jail,” at the First Baptist Church, Sponsored by the EG Academy Foundation and First Baptist Church of East Greenwich. 7 p.m.

EG Chamber’s Business After Hours – Performance Physical Therapy is hosting this month’s  EG Chamber of Commerce networking event. 5750 Post Road (across from Felicia’s). 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Members $5; non-members $10.

Town Boards Need You! – Here’s the list of town boards with vacancies.

  • Affordable Housing Commission
  • Board of Assessment Review
  • Cove Management Commission
  • Historic Cemetery Advisory Commission
  • Historic District Commission
  • Housing Authority
  • Juvenile Hearing Board
  • Municipal Land Trust
  • Planning Board
  • Senior and Community Center Advisory Council

In you are interested, go to www.eastgreenwichri.com/TownGovernment/BoardsCommissions for more information and an application or come to the Town Clerk’s Office at 125 Main Street. Submit applications and resumes to the same address or via email to lcarney@eastgreenwichri.com.

Register for email updates from the town – Sign up through the town’s Notify Me system and you can receive anything from a weekly email listing meetings and events to targeted emails about specific boards and commissions you are interested in. In addition, you will be notified in case of emergencies (i.e. parking bans, other important information). Click here to get started. And, for those who signed up before August, revisit the link if you have specific topics about which you’d like more information.

Dear Parents: Much Can Be Done

By Bob Houghtaling

Dear Parents and Caregivers,

This is not about politics. This is not about blame. This is not about taking away people’s rights. Gun violence is something that needs to be confronted. For a two-week period I’ve been answering calls pertaining to whether or not our schools are safe. Parents are scared. Their children are scared. I’m scared for them.

Let’s be very clear – our local school leaders and police department take safety concerns very seriously. When incidents do occur they are addressed with care. I see this every day. Oftentimes I am a part of it. We are not perfect, but care and the best solutions of the moment are provided. With this said, more needs to be done. Our nation’s leaders have to take measures that curtail access to assault weapons. They also have to institute viable background checks. These things need to be done.

Schools are now being asked to increase security. Many already have resource officers (we have two excellent ones) and now active shooter trainings are being carried out in a number of districts. Tragically, today’s climate has presented us with the need to prepare for the worst. That is why school trainings and protocols pertaining to shootings are essential. While we cannot control all of the variables, there is much that can be done.

Something else can be done as well. Social and emotional learning is an area that is often forgotten when discussing school safety. Building community, enhancing resiliency skills, promoting empathy and understanding, are at the core of how human beings treat each other. These need to be taught and valued. These also need to be extolled by each community as part of our value system. Many of the shooters that we read about were alienated, mentally ill, and angry. Their despair, along with easy access to outrageous weaponry, is often a tragic mix.

East Greenwich is a wonderful community. We have many advantages. We have many talented citizens. We have children who deserve feeling that they are safe as they head toward success in school. I love this place and I know you do as well. With this said there is work to do.

“We need to demand that local and national leaders stop their acrimonious pettiness and develop viable solutions regarding gun violence.”

Parents, continue to tell your kids you love them. Continue to encourage, set limits, and model behavior. Also, make sure you explain (depending upon age) that the adults are doing things to keep them safe. After all of this is factored in, make sure that you continue to help them embrace the world and others. Playing ball, climbing trees, joining teams, meeting friends, and engaging family are all vital components that lead to creating capable people.

While it is essential that we come together to protect our young people, something else must be done. We need to demand that local and national leaders stop their acrimonious pettiness and develop viable solutions regarding gun violence. We can’t accept that nothing can be done. We also can’t accept that it’s the other guy’s fault. America has established a culture which embraces over-the-top weaponry with minimal restrictions. Most people can accept guns being used for hunting, home protection, and shooting at a range. Having assault weapons begs the question, “why?”. Does the average person need an AR-15? At the very least we have to examine a bunch of how’s and why’s. In addition, common sense and fairness have to play a role in what’s best for society.

Already there has been plenty of posturing by those supporting entrenched attitudes regarding guns and how they might be controlled. As each side argues, ineptitude prevails. Luckily, there is a hint of sanity being exhibited by some individuals involved. Students from the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida, who witnessed the trauma of our nation’s latest school shooting, have been passionately speaking out. They have called on leaders to lead. They also have eloquently expressed their fears. Amazingly, many spoke of creating hopeful action. Perhaps it is time to look to our young people for some of the answers. I am sure we have many local students who might have much to say.

Adults often claim that children are our future. If that’s so, creating measures to protect them should be essential. Gun violence, much like the carnage we’ve seen at far too many schools, cannot become an accepted norm. We all should be outraged by these disasters. We also should be outraged by the epic failure of our leaders to address the many horrors brought on by mass shootings.

Finally, we all need to communicate better. Fear can often cause us to retreat, lash out, or make rash responses. That’s why we need to talk to each other. Sharing information, creating strategies, and offering support can go a long way towards making us feel safe. Let’s pull together to support each other. Let’s pull together to support our kids. We are being challenged in new and frightening ways. Working together we can find solutions. Let’s make sure this gets done. See you soon.

Bob Houghtaling is the director of the East Greenwich Drug Program. He also served on the Exeter-West Greenwich School Committee, taught at Providence College Graduate School of Education and was a consultant at the Rhode Island Training School.

Donate to East Greenwich News during February and take part in a sustaining donor match! Show your love for local news – click here to learn more.

EG Love Stories: The Healing Power of Nature

Nature has always been magical for Wendy Fachon – sending messages just for her.

After her father died a few years ago, Fachon wrote a children’s book, “The Angel Heart,” about the flower more commonly known as bleeding heart. For Fachon, it’s an angel heart flower, not a bleeding heart. In the book, she strips the flower down to its basic heart shape, with petals that become fairy slippers. When all the petals are gone, what remains is a single “candle” that offers a redemptive holy light.

Nature is like that for Fachon.

“I feel closest to God – a higher power – when I am in nature,” she says. “That is my church in a way.” 

She sees things in nature that most of us walk right past. And she’s sure that if children’s eyes are open to the wonders of nature, they will be better off.

As she starts out in her tiny book called “The Resilient Butterfly,”

“Did you know that every creature
wants to be your favorite teacher?
They add drama and some mystery
to science and to natural history.”

Fachon started leading nature walks and teaching nature courses for children a few years back. When her son Neil was diagnosed with a deadly brain tumor in 2016, she brought her holistic approach to his illness, bringing the outside in – including moving lots of plants indoors – when he became too ill to go out and looking for healthful, healing nutrition.

Dean, Evie, Neil and Wendy Fachon in 2016.

Neil died a year ago Monday, at age 20, after living months longer than doctors originally said he would.

Wendy Fachon has spent the last many months writing, including that book about the resilient butterfly. It’s not hard to see echoes of Neil’s resilience in that little book, or his family’s for that matter.

Turn the last page of the booklet and Fachon’s message is clear. It reads, “Not The End.” 

Wendy said some East Greenwich children and their parents helped her plant daffodil bulbs behind the high school tennis court memorial bench last fall. Neil was an avid tennis player and a beloved member of the EGHS tennis team during his years as a student there. The bench was put there in Neil’s honor last summer.

“I look forward to seeing the flowers pop up as the tennis season gets underway,” she said.

You can learn more about Wendy Fachon here.  You can find out where to get “The Angel Heart” here.  

This is one in a series of East Greenwich love stories we will be featuring during February in conjunction with our February matching donation drive. Find out more about the drive here. Or click on the Donate button below. And, if you have a love story you’d like to share – anything from a story about best friends or a child and their pet to love of a special place or business in East Greenwich – email egreenwichnews@gmail.com.


Schools React to Florida Shooting, Offering Support, Urging Vigilance

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Editor’s Note: This story has been amended since it first posted.

Following the deadly mass shooting at a Florida high school Wednesday, Supt. Victor Mercurio and EGHS Principal Michael Podraza sent out emails to the school community outlining just what is being done in East Greenwich schools to protect against such an incident here.

… Our first priority is to create and maintain a safe and supportive environment at all of the East Greenwich Public Schools,” Mercurio wrote in his email, which went out to all families in the district. (Read the full letter here: Parent Support Letter.)

Principal Podraza’s letter (which was signed by other high school administrators) was more of a call to action.

“We ask that all members of the EGHS community take time to reflect and reaffirm our commitment to take all actions necessary to keep everyone at EGHS both safe and supported,” it read. (Read the full letter here: Letter to EGHS 2/15/2018.)

The email asks students if they are worried about any other students and tells them, for instance, to not let people into the high school without going through the main entrance. It tells parents who to contact if they are worried about their child’s wellbeing or that of another student.

“We know that taking some of the actions listed above might be uncomfortable. However, we believe that the feelings of being uncomfortable pale in comparison to the weight of emotion one would feel if tragedy strikes and one could have taken action, yet didn’t,” the email reads.

These emails come one week after rumors of potential violence at EGHS prompted a wave of anxiety to sweep through the Facebook page, East Greenwich Parents for Excellence.

Eventually, Principal Podraza issued an email to families to address the issue:

We have been made aware of rumors circulating around various social media platforms about the existence of a video alleging a threat to East Greenwich High School. Upon receiving word of the post, the East Greenwich Police Department was immediately notified. We take any and all information given to us by concerned members of our school community very seriously and turn any information over to the East Greenwich Police Department for investigation. While the East Greenwich Police Department’s initial review did not conclude any threat to the high school, the East Greenwich Police continue to conduct a complete and thorough investigation of this matter. Please know that the safety of our students and staff here at East Greenwich High School is our top priority, and all threats are taken seriously. If through the course of the investigation any information is brought to light were violations of the EGPS behavior code or RI State laws have occurred we will all appropriate and required actions.   

School Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Mark said Thursday said she wanted the community to know the district has been working hard to make EG schools safer.

“The work didn’t start in the last couple of weeks. it’s been going on for several years now,” she said. She acknowledged that the community deserved more information about what the district is doing and said some of that work can be seen in the changes to the fronts of schools across the district. Hanaford was the last school to get a renovated entrance with a buzzer system and visibility to see who is at the entrance – that work was finished just this past fall.

“There is a lot of work going on behind the scenes too,” said Mark, work that won’t be made public for safety reasons.

She said new safety measures (including new drills) should be in place by the end of the school year and that the district would be working harder to communicate with families.

Show your love for local news – donate to East Greenwich News during February and take part in a sustaining donor match. Click here to learn more.