Gun Safety Forum Turns Confrontational

 

The Citizens Who Care forum Tuesday night at Town Hall was advertised as an opportunity to talk about preventing gun violence but instead it showcased how difficult it is in the U.S. today to have a calm discussion about guns.

Representatives from the R.I. Coalition Against Gun Violence presented information about bills they hope to introduce in the General Assembly to limit the number of rounds a gun can hold to 10 and to prohibit ordinary citizens from bringing guns into schools.

For them, it’s about making schools safer.

For the large majority of those attending the Tuesday forum, however, it’s about locking up criminals.

For those from the coalition, it’s about common sense gun laws.

For those who like guns and consider it their right, it was about making sure prohibitions on guns were not passed into law.

The two sides may not be complete polar opposites, but it sure made for some heated exchanges Tuesday night. So much so that input from guest speaker Wendy Bowen, former Newtown, Conn., high school teacher, about steps that could be taken to help students with mental health issues was largely ignored.

“We have to take a real honest look at the role of guns in our society,” said East Greenwich drug counselor Bob Houghtaling afterwards. “There’s a lot of feelings, a lot of emotion. But for the average person, we want our schools to be safe and our families to be safe.”

 

EGHS Wall of Honor Ceremony to Induct 5 on April 15

wall of honorThe Class of 2015 for the East Greenwich High School Wall of Honor will be feted in a ceremony to be held at the high school on Wednesday evening, April 15, at 6 p.m. Five graduates will be inducted that night, including

  • Fred I. Brown, Class of 1894, from East Greenwich Academy, who was instrumental in making Bostitch a giant in the corporate world.
  • Otto Olson, East Greenwich Academy Class of 1941, who headed up Old Colony Bank locally and served in many town offices.
  • Priscilla Adams Rigg, East Greenwich High School Class of 1947, who achieved fame as an organist and choir director at St. Luke’s Church.
  • Suzanne Owren Carcieri, EGHS Class of 1960, former First Lady of State of Rhode Island, who implemented several new programs statewide while in that position.
  • Debra Sylvia McMullen, Class of 1983, East Greenwich HS, one of the most successful coaches in East Greenwich High athletic history.

You can read more about the honorees here.

Also, that night, Steve and Christine Bartlett, long-time volunteers in the town of East Greenwich, will be honored with Appreciation Awards.

After the awards ceremony, there will be a libation in the school cafeteria. The East Greenwich HS Wall of Honor is sponsored by  Prudential Gammons Realty.

Committee members for the organization are: Bob Houghtaling, chairman; Chris Cobain, EGHS athletic director; Carl I. Hoyer; Janet Johnson Joyce; Robert V. Lallo; and Elaine Mastracchio.

All former inductees of this award are encouraged to attend this evening along with relatives and friends of the honorees and and others who hold interest in small town happenings of this type.


 

Obituary: W. Barbara O’Hara, 93

W. Barbara O'Hara
W. Barbara O’Hara

W. Barbara O’Hara, 93, of East Greenwich, and Naples, Fla., passed away peacefully March 28, 2015. She was the wife of the late J. Louis O’ Hara. Born in West Warwick, she was a daughter of the late Charles H. Kernan, Esq. and Winifred M. (McCusker) Kernan.

An elementary school teacher for 25 years, Mrs. O’Hara retired from the former Providence Street School in West Warwick. She is survived by her sons Edward F. (Deborah A. Wikander) of Lafayette, N.J., James L. (Patricia) of East Greenwich, and John F. O’Hara (Dorenne) of Lincoln; eight grandchildren Erin, Kaitlin, Meghan, Michael, Bethany, Matthew, Lindsey and Maggie; five step grandchildren, three great grandchildren and four step great grandchildren. She was predeceased by her son Stephen P. O’Hara and four siblings.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Wednesday, April 1, at 10 a.m. at Our Lady of Mercy Church, 65 Third St., East Greenwich. Burial will be in St. Mary’s Cemetery, West Warwick. Calling hours are Tuesday, March 31, from 4 to 7 p.m. at Hill Funeral Home, 822 Main St., East Greenwich. In lieu of flowers donations may be made to the American Heart Association, P.O. Box 417005, Boston, Mass. 02241.

The online obituary and condolence page can be found here.

 

Frenchtown Students Donate Cans, Cash to Food Cupboard

Frenchtown second graders with Alan Shawn Feinstein during his visit to the school.
Frenchtown second graders with Alan Shawn Feinstein during his visit to the school.

Frenchtown Elementary School students recently collected 236 cans of food, which were donated recently to the East Greenwich Interfaith Food Cupboard directors Steve and Christine Bartlett.

After the food drive was announced, the school was contacted by the Alan Shawn Feinstein Foundation, a non-profit organization based on Cranston that works to promote community service in education and is dedicated to the alleviation of hunger.

The Foundation offered to donate $1 per canned good collected to the school, and after the drive was completed, Alan Feinstein paid a visit to Frenchtown to present a check for $236. The school chose to donate those funds to the East Greenwich Interfaith Food Cupboard. Mr. Feinstein also gave each Frenchtown student a Feinstein Junior Scholar card, which provides them with free admission to many local venues, including Battleship Cove, The Providence Children’s Museum and Mystic Aquarium.

Frenchtown Principal Cheryl Vaughn presents a check to Interfaith Food Pantry directors Chris and Steve Bartlett.
Frenchtown Principal Cheryl Vaughn presents a check to Interfaith Food Pantry directors Chris and Steve Bartlett.

“It is so heartwarming to see the generosity of our families extend to their children who are focused on sharing acts of kindness with others,” said Frenchtown Principal Cheryl Vaughn. “This drive inspired many of our students to present, plan and prepare various other outreach initiatives.”

The Interfaith Food Cupboard is located inside St. Luke’s Parish house on Pierce Street and is open from 10:30 a.m. – 12 noon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Any East Greenwich resident or member of an East Greenwich congregation in need of emergency food is welcome. Food and monetary donations are always needed.

‘String Fling’ Showcases Music Students From 4th through 12th Grade

DSC_1486On Wednesday, March 25, Brendan Carnieaux, Megan Catelli and Leslie Lee hosted the fourth annual Spring String Fling at East Greenwich High School. Over 200 orchestra students gathered to rehearse and perform together.

“It was truly a great night of camaraderie for our string orchestras, teachers, and students,” said Lee. “The annual Spring String Fling is a wonderful way to showcase our ever-growing string program here in East Greenwich!”

IMG_5098Each ensemble performed before a grand finale showcased all students (grade 4 – 12) playing fiddle tunes together.

“The Spring String Fling allows our beginning string players a chance to play with the older, more advanced string students. It gives our new musicians something to look forward too!” said Lee.

 

Sequino Sees Agency Grow Under Raimondo

Bill Sequino
Bill Sequino

Bill Sequino left the town manager position in East Greenwich for the top job at an organization most people had never heard of – the Rhode Island Clean Water Finance Agency. Sequino knew it well because, as EG’s town manager, he’d tapped it several times over the years to get low interest loans for water-related projects.

It was a quieter job with a smaller staff. One could think it Sequino’s way of taking it easy after more than 25 years of municipal governance.

But last year, the RICWFA was expanded to include a municipal road and bridge revolving fund – thanks to the actions of then-Treasurer Gina Raimondo.

Now, of course, Raimondo is governor. And earlier this month, she and Seth Magaziner, the new state treasurer, unveiled yet another expansion and a name change for Sequino’s agency, pending approval by the General Assembly.

The goal is to provide public and private loans for such things as energy retrofits, brownfield cleanups and storm water lending, which would not only help the entities getting the low-interest loans but would also provide needed construction jobs.

The new entity will be known as the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank.

“Rhode Island Clean Water has successfully and efficiently used the revolving loan fund for years to do wastewater treatment,” said Raimondo during a recent stop in East Greenwich. “Now we just want to expand it.”

She said they wanted to make the agency business friendly.

“Let’s say you’re a small business. You want to put solar panels on your roof. You don’t really know how to do that or where to go, you can go to this one-stop place and they’ll arrange the capital, the financing and help you figure out how to do it,” she explained.

Sequino said even businesses like a single Dunkin Donuts could benefit.

“You could be a Dunkin Donuts in Exeter, serving 25 people a day, 365 days a year, off a well. You’re a water supplier so you could come to us” to get a loan to fix the well. “We give grants to mobile home parks to fix up their water supply.”

Another aspect of the expansion would be a property assessed clean energy (PACE) program, where loans are repaid like sewer assessments, as a line on your property tax bill. And, like sewer assessments, the clean energy loan would stay with the property. Several states have implemented PACE programs, including Connecticut, California and New York.

The money won’t come out of state coffers, so Sequino is optimistic the changes will pass the GA. Rather, the money comes from existing federal government programs and some artful restructuring.

The expanded duties don’t daunt Sequino, who after nearly two years has settled into his position. His agency remains small – just six people total – and that’s ok for now, he said.

“I don’t think we’re going to be inundated from day one so we’ll have a chance to grow into what we’ve got,” Sequino said. It’s been a good process.

“Out of all the things I’ve ever done in local government, this is probably the most collaborative thing because it’s been my agency, the office of energy resources, DEM, Commerce RI and the governor’s office,” he said. “So everybody’s been working on the same thing.”

He added, “I’m having fun.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

EG Police Reports: Weapon at EGHS, and Potholes

eg police car : sideThese reports come from the East Greenwich Police Department and are public information. An arrest does not mean the individual has been convicted of a crime. EG News does not identify those arrested for misdemeanor charges.

Monday, March 16

11:27 a.m. – Police noticed new graffiti on the walls of the walls of “the Maze,” the pedestrian underpass from London Street to Crompton Avenue. Among the graffiti were two instances of profanity directed against “cops.”

1:18 p.m. – A Cranston woman reported damage to her car from a pothole on Division Street west of Howland Drive. The woman’s car got a flat tire and the tire rim was damaged. She wanted documentation to be able to seek reimbursement from the state Department of Transportation (Division Street is a state-owned road).

1:52 p.m. – Police arrested a Coventry man, 24, for failing to stop after being involved in a car accident Sunday night after the man he hit followed him and gave police his license plate number and details about the car. The Coventry man allegedly hit the other man’s car on Crompton Road and continued driving. Police contacted Coventry police, who were able to reach the Coventry man’s parents. They, in turn, reached their son and told him to report to EGPD, which he did Monday afternoon. The Coventry man said he didn’t stop after the car accident Sunday evening because he didn’t want to get any more tickets. He was processed then released with a district court summons.

Tuesday, March 17

8:54 a.m. – Police arrested an East Greenwich youth, 17, at East Greenwich High School for possessing a weapon other than a firearm. No additional information was made available.

10:03 a.m. – An East Greenwich woman told police her car struck a large pothole on Division Street just east of Route 95, causing a flat tire.

12:14 p.m. – An EG man told police he’d damaged the passenger side front tire rim when he hit a pothole on Division Street near New England Tech. The Dept. of Transportation was notified so the pothole could be marked.

Wednesday, March 18

6:22 a.m. – A Boston man asked police to check on his boat at EG marina Dock A. Police found the rear zipper on the cover was open and the boat’s boarding light was on, but the internal cabin was locked. Besides one Yuengling beer bottle on the floor near the helm, nothing appeared to be out of place or missing. Police secured the boat and spoke again with the boat’s owner in Boston, who said he would have someone check on the boat later. He said he had not been on the boat since New Year’s Eve.

9:45 a.m. – An EG man told police his car was damaged when he hit a pothole on Division Street west of Howland Drive. He wanted documentation to be able to seek reimbursement from the state DOT since Division Street is a state-owned road.

12:59 p.m. – Officials from New England Tech notified police after a student was found in his car refusing to speak to security. Police spoke with the man, 19, of Swansea, Mass., who said he’d just learned his brother was in a car accident and the victim of the accident was demanding money. Police told the student he was a subject of a phone scam. That was confirmed after a phone call to the brother’s high school. Police spoke with the allegedly scammer, who threatened to kill the officer and rape his children.

4:37 p.m. – The manager of the McDonald’s on New London Turnpike told police about damage done to one of the restaurant’s exterior walls. The impact looked as if a car could have caused it. The manager said they would review the video surveillance tape and contact police if there was something conclusive.


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Judge Dismisses Henrikson Lawsuit

EG fire truckFederal District Judge John McConnell, Jr., has dismissed all claims in a lawsuit filed by Kristen Henrikson against the Town of East Greenwich and EG Fire Fighters Local 3328. Henrikson, chief clerk at the fire department and a member of the union, sued after being denied a transfer to firefighter status.

“We are pleased with the outcome of this case,” said Town Council President Michael Isaacs. “We believed that the claim was without merit and are pleased with the judge’s decision.”

Henrikson did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Henrikson filed the suit in August 2011, while her husband, Peter Henrikson, was serving as chief of the then-EG Fire District (the separate fire district became a town department in 2013). Peter Henrikson resigned as chief in 2013.

In her lawsuit, Kristen Henrikson said she was improperly denied placement on the firefighter “eligibility list” in 2009, even though she had all the requirements of the position as a transferring employee.

The EGFD, however, refused to allow her name to be put on the eligibility list because it said she must meet additional, firefighter-specific qualifications. Those requirements included a physical performance assessment test, a written exam, a swim test, a ladder test and an oral interview.

Henrikson argued the refusal was a breach of contract and sex discrimination by the town and a failure by the union to represent her in good faith, as well as a conspiracy by the town and the union to deprive her of her civil rights. Judge McConnell rejected all those arguments.

Henrikson’s decision to seek a firefighter position came after more than 10 years as an office worker for the EGFD. In 2008, EGFD needed a new fire marshal. Henrikson sought that position and was told the position was hers upon successfully completing requisite courses. While she was taking the courses, however, Henrikson decided she did not want the fire marshal position, preferring to become a firefighter but she was never placed on the firefighter eligibility list because of her failure to successfully pass the firefighter-specific requirements.

She filed a complaint with the state Commission of Human Rights in March 2010. One year later, the commission determined no probable cause existed to believe that the Fire District had violated state and federal antidiscrimination laws.

Judge McConnell’s March 23 decision stated,

“… the Court finds that (a) the Town and Union did not breach the collective bargaining agreement because the agreement allowed the Town to impose additional qualifications for becoming a firefighter and Ms. Henrikson did not meet them; (b) the Union did not breach its fiduciary duty to Ms. Henrikson because it correctly interpreted the agreement and therefore had no duty to further pursue Ms. Henrikson’s grievance and (c) there is insufficient evidence of gender-based discrimination in the record to support any of the civil rights claims.”

O’Connell acknowledged that some municipalities and firefighters have gone to great lengths to keep women out of firefighter positions, but added, “This case however stands out for its lack of evidence of express or implied expressions of animus between the parties and, indeed, Ms. Henrikson has acknowledged that she believes the union took the position it did because of a sincere belief in the correctness of its interpretation.”

He continued, “There is simply a paucity of evidence to suggest that the Town’s and Union’s reliance on the contractual language …  was a mere pretext for a more insidious attitude, or a sham rationale to hide unlawful discrimination.”


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Obituary: Angelina ‘Lena’ (Cerini) Alfano, 96

lena alfanoAngelina “Lena” (Cerini) Alfano, 96, of East Greenwich, died peacefully on March 26, surrounded by her loving family. Born in Providence, Lena was the daughter of the late Vincenzo and Giuseppina (Amore) Cerini, beloved wife of the late Antonio Alfano and the sister of the late Olga Napolitano.

A graduate of Bryant College, she was the office manager for the former Blacher Bros. She was the Rhode Island state president and past national president of the Ladies Auxiliary of the Italian American War Veterans.

She is survived by her loving children, David and his wife Milly of Cranston, Raymond and his wife Carol of East Greenwich, and Steven and his wife Jackie of North Kingstown. Lena also leaves eight grandchildren, Bethany, Allyson, Scott, Jenna, Stephanie, Danielle, Amanda, and Christopher and ten great-grandchildren.

Funeral from the Nardolillo Funeral Home & Crematory, 1278 Park Ave., Cranston, on Monday at 9 a.m. followed by a Mass of Christian Burial at 10 a.m. in St. Mark Church, Cranston. Burial will take place in St. Ann Cemetery, Cranston. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, P.O. Box 1000, Dept. 142 Memphis, Tenn. 38101-9908.

The online obituary and condolence page can be found here.

EG Week: Land Trust-Council Meeting, Preventing Gun Violence

early crocusesRecycling is OFF, but the exciting news is that yard waste is being picked up this week. Think of it, Yard Waste! That means warm weather really is coming. Appliance pickup third Saturday of the month but you must call DPW first (886-8620). For the full 2015 pickup schedule, click here.

Monday, March 30

CCK Supper: Christ Community Kitchen is a monthly community dinner open to all. In the Dining Room at St. Luke’s church. 5 to 6:30 p.m.

AfterPromEG Community Outreach meeting: All are welcome. At Wild Harvest, South County Trail. 6 p.m.

EG Historic Preservation Society meeting: The next meeting will be on March 30th, Erica Luke, executive director of the Pettaquamscutt Historical Society, will be the speaker. The meeting starts with a potluck supper at 6:30, with the regular meeting at 7:30 p.m. It’s free and open to the public. At the Fireman’s Hall, 80 Queen St. (note change!). Call or email Sue Curado to let her know you’re coming – 884-4643, lencu@cox.net. For more information, check out eghistoricpreservation.org.

Joint Town Council–Land Trust meeting: The Land Trust will give an overview of its mission and projects, followed by an executive session. The full Land Trust agenda is here. You’ll find the Town Council agenda here (they are similar but not exactly the same). 7 p.m. at Swift Community Center.

Tuesday, March 31

Ad Hoc Senior Center Advisory Committee meeting: The panel meets at Swift Community Center at 1 p.m. Here’s the agenda.

EG Tree Committee meeting: The group will be planning upcoming events and talking about the RI Tree Council Tree Steward course happening in May. Tree lovers welcome! SITE CHANGE: Felicia’s Coffee. Want to know more? Contact emac6660@gmail.com. 6 p.m.

Preventing Gun Violence: The CWC and the Rhode Island Coalition Against Gun Violence are holding a roundtable discussion about legislative strategies and school initiatives for safer communities. All are welcome. 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Town Hall. For further information, please contact Lindsay Daskalopoulos, LICSW, Co-Chair, CWC, (401) 286-8508.

Wednesday, April 1

Lunch on the Hill: Every Wednesday in the dining room at St. Luke’s, 99 Peirce St., lunch is served for all in need, from 11:15 to 12:15. In addition to St. Luke’s, Our Lady of Mercy, Christ Church and Westminister Unitarian churches have all taken on a Wednesday to serve the meal and local restaurants Jiggers, Wild Harvest, Crosby’s Cafe, and T’s take turns providing the food. If you are interested in helping, contact Steve McCloughlin (smccloughlin2@aol.com or 225-5540) or Steve Bartlett (dufferdog@aol.com 885-5889).

Cove Commission meeting: The panel meets in the conference room across from Council Chambers at Town Hall. 4:30 p.m. Find the agenda here.

Thursday, April 2

Strategic Planning Committee Meeting:  The committee in the library at Cole Middle School at 5:30 p.m.

Friday, April 3

Good Friday: The darkest day in the Christian calendar includes a multi-denominational Walk of the Cross that starts at the Lutheran Church on Division Street at noon, and a Taize service at St. Luke’s at 7 p.m.

Teen Center: Sponsored by the Town of East Greenwich and the Town Substance Abuse Program, the Teen Center is a weekly drop-in location for teens to gather and “hang out” with other teens. At the gymnasium at Eldredge Elementary. For more information, contact Bob Houghtaling at 401-230-2246.

And …

Vote for Matt Wegrzyn! Hood.com sponsors a $5,000 sportsmanship scholarship each year where New England high school seniors write an essay and try to get votes to move onto the interview round. Matt Wegrzyn is the only EGHS student in the running. Let’s help get him an interview! You can vote once a day until April 24th, here: http://hood.com/scholarship.

Kindergarten Registration for 2015-16: Here’s information on registering for kindergarten next year. Registration begins mid-April.

Donations sought for Carrie Mac Memorial Garden: The Carrie Mac Memorial Garden donations are still being accepted.  Organizers said they are getting close to their goal but are looking for a few more donations to put them over the top. You can read more about the effort here. If you would like to donate, please stop by the Guidance Office & see Barb or Sherry or mail your donation to the East Greenwich High School, 300 Avenger Drive, East Greenwich, RI 02818  ATTN: Guidance Department, Sherry or Barb.


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