Fire Dept. Rescues Puppy After Fall Through Cove Ice

cove, ice, puppy, rescue
EGFD Capt. Tom Mears holds the rope attached to Lt. Mert Greene, who is in the water closing in on the puppy.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

The call came in just before 1 p.m. Friday – a puppy had fallen through the ice in Greenwich Cove off Scalloptown Park. By the time firefighters arrived, the dog had been in the water for maybe 20 minutes and a bystander said the dog had gone under, EGFD Capt. Tom Mears recounted.

“We had somebody in a suit and had the dog recovered within eight minutes,” said Mears.

The “somebody” in question was fire Lt. Mert Greene. Mears was in charge and handled the rope attached to Greene that was used to pull in the firefighter and the puppy (named Archie).

“After several minutes of warming, the dog seemed fine and went home with the owner,” said Mears.

Archie, the puppy rescue from Greenwich Cove after falling through the ice.

“Thank you to the EG Police and EG Fire departments for rescuing our pup in the frozen ice! Special thanks to Mert, our hero😊. Archie is feeling good –  exhausted, but doing fine,” wrote the owner on Facebook Friday afternoon.

 The firefighters practice ice rescues throughout the winter to be ready for instances just like this. Mears explained why the fire department rescues dogs after a practice earlier in January.
“When someone calls about an animal on the ice it’s only a matter of time before a citizen will try to go out to try to save it,” he said. “And then we end up with a disaster.”

 

 

How Come Town Manager Budget Line Is $82,000? … and Other Questions

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

When Finance Director Linda Dykeman presented her quarterly report to the Town Council Jan. 8 (2018.01.08_finance_report_YTD_expenditure_12.31.17), the budget line item for the town manager was $82,499, just as it had been in June, when the budget was passed and Tom Coyle was still town manager.

That number didn’t make sense in June 2017 (Coyle’s salary was $123,235) or in January 2018 (Town Manager Gayle Corrigan, hired June 19, makes $160,000). And, according to Dykeman’s second quarter report, the actual expenditure for the town manager was $80,000, just what you would expect halfway through the year for a town manager making $160,000.

So why is the budget line $82,499?

Town officials, including Dykeman, Corrigan and members of the Town Council, have failed to answer that question and others.

Other budget lines have been updated to reflect personnel (and subsequent salary) changes for, in particular, finance director. The 2018 budget released in May and passed in June showed a line item for finance director of $103,000 – exactly what then-Finance Director Kristen Benoit had been receiving. The budget that appeared on the town website in July, however, showed a budget line of $127,000, Dykeman’s salary. (Benoit was laid off June 30; Dykeman was named to the position that same day.) If the finance director line item could be updated, why not the town manager line item?

Other questions revolve around the budget line for legal services.

The total 2017 budget for legal was $172,500, with fees and services at $168,000 (the total of which was paid to the law firm of former Town Solicitor Peter Clarkin), $2,000 for claims reserve (money earmarked for an eventual claims payment) and $2,500 for functions and meetings.

The total 2018 budget is $322,500, with $145,000 going to fees and services (and at least $135,000 going to the law firm of current Town Solicitor David D’Agostino); $100,000 in claims reserve; $2,500 for incidentals; and $75,000 for professional/arbitration – a new line item.

According to Dykeman’s report, the actual expenditures halfway through fiscal year 2018 were $5,555 in claims reserves; $82,106 for fee and services; and $114,584 for professional/arbitration.

Dykeman said Jan. 8 that the overage in the professional/arbitration line (151 percent of a line item that did not exist before this year) was due to legal services for the Planning Department and collective bargaining-related expenses but town officials have failed to answer questions about how much of that $114,584 is for Planning legal services and how much is for CBA services and who exactly is getting paid for what. And, since the legal work for the Planning Department is being done by the assistant town solicitor, it’s unclear why that expense isn’t included in the budget line (fees and services) for the town solicitor.

Another question that has gone unanswered is about the fire chief budget line. The fire chief’s pay is budgeted at $102,642 but the town has spent $112,328 in the first half of the fiscal year. Former Fire Chief Russ McGillivray was fired in November, receiving six months wages because the town broke his contract. That could be part of the $102,642 number but former Town Manager Tom Coyle’s six-month payout does not appear to be included in the town manager actual budget number.

Repeated requests for answers to these questions have failed to yield responses.

 

Worm ‘Condo’ Moves Into EGHS for the Winter

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

David Abell had a problem – he didn’t know what to do about his worms.

He and his wife, Ellen, were planning their annual 3-month winter escape to Georgia but David was worried about his worm factory, a contraption that holds thousands worms in multiple layers. The Abells take their dog with them to Georgia, but the worms, they are a different story altogether.

Rather, they are a way for David to compost.

“When we lived in Wickford, we had no sewers and no garbage disposal, so I began composting in my backyard, using a bin I purchased from RI Resource Recovery Corporation on their composting program, and spreading the compost on our vegetable garden every spring,” he explained. “We were able to recycle or compost almost all of  waste from our home that way, although I couldn’t compost outside in the winter when it would freeze and not decay.”

Then he learned about worms. A friend offered him some red wrigglers in a bin and he kept them in his basement. Using worms to compost is called vermicomposting. Abell liked it and bought a worm factory.

The Abells recently moved to East Greenwich and their new home does not have a basement, so the worms went out to the garage, where Abell kept them from freezing using a “trouble light.” But that system wouldn’t work while the Abells were away for months in the middle of the winter.

“I had asked some friends from the choir if they had any suggestions on how I could take care of my worms while I was away down South,” he said. (True confession: David and I both sing in the choir at St. Luke’s Church). “Someone suggested asking the Biology Department of the high school.”

Abell contacted Nick Rath, chair of the EGHS science department. Initially, Rath thought he would just do Abell a favor by taking the worms, but once Abell filled him in on the worm factory, Rath realized the worms could be a nice teaching tool, especially for his Advanced Placement Environmental Science class.

So, on Tuesday afternoon, the worms made their big move from Pine Glen to the high school and Abell got a chance to describe to the students how he got involved and introduce them to the worms.

Vermicomposter David Abell explains to EGHS students how to keep his worm “condo” going while he’s away.

“I demonstrated feeding the worms,” said Abell. “There are thousands of worms in the bins, and many babies near the food. I told the students they could harvest the bottom bin by putting it on top, driving the worms down and out with a light, and drying out the compost to use on their plants. Then that empty bin could be lined with shredded paper and some earth, and prepared as a new feeding tray on top.”

“The worms are a great example of how we can use composting as a way to reduce our footprint a little bit,” Rath said.

“I thought that creating compost fertilizer from food scraps that would normally just end up in a landfill was a great way to help keep the environment clean and reduce your carbon footprint on a personal level,” said EGHS senior Alex Candow, a member of the class. “In addition to keeping the environment clean, the worm factory produces an extremely nutrient rich fertilizer that makes this even more beneficial for anyone who has a garden at home.”

He added, “I thought it was interesting that this all worked so naturally and that it was possible for hundreds of worms to live in a fairly small box.”

For David Abell, it’s been fun to learn about worms and he was happy that the science department was willing to take the worms for the winter.

So was Ellen Abell, who has found it hard to love her husband’s pet project.

As she said simply, “They’re disgusting!”

If you want to learn more about worms and vermicomposting, check out Rhode Island’s own Worm Ladies here.

Latest OMA Violations: Town Solicitor Stands by Town Council’s Actions  

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Town Solicitor David D’Agostino said the latest two Open Meetings Act violations – issued Friday by the state Attorney General’s office – were surprising and that he’s seeking clarification on one of them.

The violations concerned the failure to include discussion of restructuring (which resulted in job terminations) on the agenda for a Town Council executive session June 26, and the failure to properly notice a report about collective bargaining agreements during a regular meeting Aug. 28.  

In an interview Tuesday, D’Agostino noted the AG’s office did not find the violations “willful and knowing.” That’s in contrast to Superior Court Judge Susan E. McGuirl’s rulings on five other OMA violations from last summer, which she did find willful and knowing.

D’Agostino said on the first violation, he was checking with the Attorney General’s office to see if they knew that one of the people who filed that complaint – former town manager assistant Pam Aveyard – had since filed suit against the town for wrongful termination.

“I’m not sure what impact the Aveyard civil action would have had on the Attorney General’s decision,” he said.  

Although D’Agostino knew about Aveyard’s lawsuit (and different media outlets – including this one – had written about it), he said it was not his responsibility to notify the AG about it because he did not want to presume how the AG would rule.

“Me letting the Attorney General know beforehand may not have made any difference,” said D’Agostino. Still, he said, he wanted to know if the Attorney General’s office knew about the lawsuit before it made its ruling.

He did not explain what difference that might have made.

He said he also wanted to confirm that the council had already remedied that complaint. The council did vote on the reorganization plan at its meeting Nov. 20, which the AG’s response noted but D’Agostino said he still wanted clarification.

The second complaint concerned a 25-minute presentation to the Town Council on Aug. 28 – complete with Powerpoint – by an independent consultant from Ohio on the last two firefighter collective bargaining agreements that was not mentioned in the agenda but rather put forward in place of the town manager’s report.

D’Agostino argued that the town manager’s report had in the past “included various information from other departments.” But, he said, the AG probably found a problem with this particular use of the town manager’s report because it “was so segregated and went on for so long.”

He said based on what he now knows about the report in question, if asked for his opinion now he would probably counsel that the report be listed as a separate agenda item.

“You always learned from these experiences,” said D’Agostino. “The difference is you have to make a call at the time.”

The last time the Town Council was cited for an OMA violation was in 2005 (Tanner v. Town Council of the Town of East Greenwich), but D’Agostino declined to comment on the unprecedented volume of violations – seven now –  between June 19 and Aug. 28.

“In all fairness, the last OMA violation took place Aug. 28,” he said, adding that a lot had happened – pretty much complaint free – since then. 

Police Log: Snowbank DUI, Identity Theft, Warrants

 

By Bethany Hashaway

Tuesday, Jan. 2

10 a.m. – The Rhode Island State Police had arrested a Wyoming woman, 53, on an EGPD warrant. EGPD picked her up; she was arraigned before a bail commissioner and held without bail. She was turned over to the ACI.

6 p.m. – A Cora street resident told police that in September 2017, he got a letter from Cash Central telling him he owed $11,777.50 from a loan. The original loan was for $3,000. He contacted the company to report the fraud, telling them he hadn’t taken out this loan and didn’t know who would have his personal information. The company told him to report this to the police for the misuse of his identify.

Wednesday, Jan. 3

9:48 a.m. – An East Greenwich man told police that on Jan. 2, he received a call at 2:30 p.m. from a man with what sounded like a Middle Eastern accent. The man, who didn’t identify himself, said he was with Visa credit card and they could offer him zero percent on his Visa credit card. The EG man told police he gave the caller the last four digits of his social security and the last four digits on his credit card. After he gave the caller those figures, he started thinking it was a scam and told the man he wasn’t interested. The Visa person was nice about it and told him he would delete his information. The EG man told police he cancelled his credit card and was worried his identity may have been stolen.

5:20 p.m. – Police were called to the McDonald’s parking lot at 1000 Division St., for the report an hit and run accident. When police arrived they found a blue Toyota 4 Runner in the parking lot. The driver told police she was traveling northbound in the parking lot when another car backed out of parking spot and hit the rear driver’s side of her car. She told police the other driver begged her not to call police because he would be in trouble, that he would just pay her. When he learned the police were called he told her that he had to go and left. Police did checks on the other driver involved and checks showed that the car’s registration was suspended. Police issued a warrant for the driver.

Saturday, Jan. 6

9:30 a.m. – Police arrested an East Greenwich man, 66, at his home on a Third District Court warrant. The man was taken into custody and transported to EGPD for processing. Later he was transported to the ACI.

Sunday, Jan.7

8:03 p.m. – Police arrested an Attleboro man, 66, for driving while intoxicated after police noticed a car stuck in the snow near Sanctuary Drive. The driver of the car was standing outside of the car. Police talked to the driver, whose speech was mumbled. The man was also having a hard time staying balanced. When police asked him what happened, he told police he’d lost control as he came out of Sanctuary Drive and ended up in the snow bank. The man smelled of alcohol and his eyes were bloodshot. After the man failed field sobriety tests, he was taken into custody and transported to EGPD for processing. While at the police station, the man refused to take a blood alcohol test so he was issued a District Court summons on the DUI charge and a state Traffic Tribunal summons for refusing to take a chemical blood alcohol test, as well a violation for driving on an expired license and a suspended registration, after he was released to a friend.

Gill E. Thorpe, 86

Gill E. Thorpe, 86, of Wood River Junction, died Sunday, Jan. 14, at South County Hospital. Formerly of East Greenwich and Wickford, he was the beloved husband of Nancy (Aldrich) Thorpe.

Born in Providence, he was the son of the late Walter and Nora (Gill) Thorpe. Founded by his father, Gill was the pharmacist and owner of Thorpe’s Pharmacy in East Greenwich, with locations in Providence, Riverside and Warwick as well. He was also one of the founders of the East Greenwich Rotary Club in 1963. Gill was very active in various other community organizations throughout his life.

A true outdoorsman, Gill loved being on the water, especially racing sailboats, fishing, and cruising Narragansett Bay. Above all, Gill lived for time spent with his family.

Aside from his wife, he is survived by two daughters: Janet Thorpe and Susan T. Waterman, both of Wood River Junction; two grandsons: Richard R. Waterman, Jr. and Samuel T. Waterman; three granddaughters: Tyler A. Thorpe, Courtney E. Thorpe, and Allison G. Thorpe; and one sister: Nancy Widergren of Westerly. He is predeceased by his son: Richard E. Thorpe. He will be deeply missed by his loving family.

A private service will be held.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be sent to Hope Hospice & Palliative Care Rhode Island, 1085 North Main St., Providence, R.I. 02904; South County Hospital and Home Health Care, 100 Kenyon Avenue, Wakefield, R.I., 02879; or your favorite charity.

Visit the online obituary at the Carpenter-Jenks Funeral Home website here.

School Committee Considers Audit as First Step Against Council

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

At the School Committee meeting Tuesday (1/9/18), members dipped their toes into legal waters, deciding to draft a request for proposal (RFP) for a dual audit of both finances and program to prepare for what could be another tough budget year for the schools. The Town Council level-funded the schools this year, while providing some money to help pay for non-educational expenses.

The audit would be the first step toward invoking the Caruolo Act (R.I. General Law 16-2-21.4), in which a school committee brings suit against a town council (or whoever holds the budgetary purse strings) if it determines the approved budget appropriation – together with state education aid and federal aid – is not enough to carry out its contractual commitments, as well as basic mandates under state and federal law and regulations.

Schools lawyer Matt Oliverio suggested that the School Committee consider undertaking the audit.

“I’ve been having some discussions with Supt. Mercurio and Ms. Mark that really started after last year’s budget cycle closed, in light of what the School Committee had requested and the fact that the Town Council had for the most part level-funded the school department. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for any of us,” he said. “I’m not suggesting we get in an adversarial relationship with the council but I think we should be proactive and consider undertaking a programmatic and financial audit.”

He added, “I thought it would be prudent to at least open the discussion about undertaking what is contemplated under the Caruolo Act but is really a pre-Caruolo action.”

The audit would give the School Committee hard evidence to take to the Town Council, Oliverio said. But not just the Town Council.

“If you go through another budget cycle like you did last year, I’m assuming there’s going to be significant hurt to programs, to extracurriculars.”

“It gives the public an indication of what are we willing to pay to fund this level of curriculum and extracurricular activity,” he said. “If you go through another budget cycle like you did last year, I’m assuming there’s going to be significant hurt to programs, to extracurriculars.”

But the audit comes at a cost, both financially and time-wise. Oliverio estimated such an audit – which would involve both an accountant and an outside school administer or former administrator – would cost upwards of $50,000. And it would take a lot of Supt. Victor Mercurio’s time, he said.

“Even thought he’s not going to be doing the audit, he will be supporting it and it’s gonna be a time drain on him,” Oliverio said. “You should understand that. It is a pretty intense process. it’s a time consuming process.”

“What kills me is the prospect of spending a significant amount of money to figure out  what minimum looks like,” said Committee Chairwoman Carolyn Mark. “I feel like we shouldn’t even be having this conversation in this district. At the same time, I think we have to be realistic about the situation that we’re in. If we’re ultimately going to have to it anyway, I’d rather do it sooner than later.”

We don’t know if we will have to do this, Oliverio replied. “We’re just speculating…. But we can’t put our heads in the sand. That’s why I’m raising it now.”

Jeff Dronzek asked if it was necessary to do both a financial and a programmatic audit since so the school district’s financials had been explored extensively just last year (by Providence Analytics, made up of the two consultants who are now the town manager, Gayle Corrigan, and the finance director for the schools and town, Linda Dykeman).

“It really is different,” responded Dykeman. “They’re looking at it through a different lens, they really are. You’re not going to be served if you do half the project. If you’re going to do it, you need both in my opinion.”

School Committeewoman Lori McEwen agreed.

“That different lens would be looking at alignment between the programmatic and the fiscal, looking at return on investment, at waste. . . . ”

Committeewoman Mary Ellen Winters said she thought the district should ask the Town Council to pay for the audit.

“I don’t see why they wouldn’t,” she said, since it would be “for the schools, which is for the town.”

Committeeman Jeff Dronzek agreed that the committee should push the council to pay for the audit, but he said, “if we think this is important, then we should do it.”

He added, “It sure would be nice for all of us if we had [this] information at our fingertips. If we need more and it’s proven by this … then we really have something.”

Chairwoman Mark asked Supt. Mercurio to have a draft RFP for the audit at the committee’s next meeting, Jan. 23.

To watch video of this part of the meeting, click here. This story was amended since it was first posted.

AG Finds Council Violated Open Meetings Act in June, August

The latest violations bring to 7 the number of times the Town Council violated the OMA in a 60-day span last summer.

The state Attorney General office ruled Friday that the Town Council violated the Open Meetings Act in June and again in August, which brings the count to seven OMA violations since June.

One violation was for insufficient notice for the June 26 Town Council meeting, and another for a insufficient agenda item for their Aug. 28 meeting. 

Former town employees Pam Aveyard and Sharon Kitchin brought the complaint about the June 26 meeting. The agenda for the June 26 executive session included discussion of “collective bargaining or litigation,” but according to minutes from that session (not made public), the council discussed a restructuring plan that included layoffs of municipal employees which was not on the agenda. Four days after the meeting, on June 30, Aveyard, Kitchin and a third employee, then-Finance Director Kristen Benoit, were laid off. Aveyard and Benoit have since filed suit for wrongful termination.

Michael Walker of Berkshire Advisors at the Town Council meeting Aug. 28 where he gave a report that was not included on the agenda.

East Greenwich News and resident David Caldwell brought the second complaint, after the Town Council failed to include mention of a report on the agenda for its meeting Aug. 28. The report was on the past two firefighter collective bargaining agreements and was presented by an out-of-state consultant.

“The decisions by the Attorney General’s office are very concerning. I raised those concerns at the meeting back in June,” said Councilman Mark Schwager, the only Democrat on the council and the lone voice of dissent over how the council has been conducting business this term. “It’s not just good government to do those changes correctly – it’s also the law.”

Council President Sue Cienki did not respond to requests for comment.

The latest violations follow five violations found by Superior Court Judge Susan McGuirl in her ruling in November. In her ruling, McGuirl said those violations were “willful and knowing.” The Attorney General’s office did not find either of the most recent violations willful and knowing.

“It’s surprising that the Attorney General’s office did not find a knowing and willful violation of the Open Meetings Act when the Superior Court, facing almost identical allegations, did find the violations to meet that standard,”said John Marion of Common Cause.

Complainant Caldwell agreed.

“Given the Town Council’s brazen conduct, Judge McGuirl found five ‘willful and knowing’ violations – including two alleged in my complaint,” he said in a statement released Saturday.

The Attorney General’s office did not find violations with four other OMA complaints – all involving accusations of illegal meetings.

Three revolved around the Town Council meeting June 5. Aveyard alleged three council members met at the end of the June 5 meeting and that the members met again in the parking lot that same night. Kitchin also accused the council of meeting behind closed doors “well after” the June 5 meeting.

In response to those complaints, the Attorney General’s office said it found no violation because “the evidence fails to establish that a quorum of Town Council members collectively discussed or acted upon any matter within their supervision, jurisdiction, control, or advisory power.”

In other words, members can meet but it’s only a violation if it can be proved that they discussed official council matters.

The Attorney General’s also rejected a second complaint from David Caldwell, in which he alleged an illegal rolling quorum on Aug. 23, when three Town Council members – President Cienki, Vice President Sean Todd, and Councilman Andy Deutsch – met at Town Hall after recently-laid off employee Laurie Perry of the finance department had come in to collect her belongings, upsetting Finance Director Linda Dykeman, who accused her of taking more than her personal belongings and called police, who issued Perry a No Trespass order for the non-public area of the finance department.

The three members acknowledged they were all at Town Hall at the same time but said they did not meet together and that they were each, individually, discussing the situation with Town Manager Corrigan.

“Based on the evidence presented, we cannot find that a collective discussion between or among Town Council members occurred and, accordingly, do not find a rolling or walking quorum.

Caldwell said he was disappointed with that ruling.

“That’s a pretty impossible standard – how can a complainant have evidence about a secret meeting only attended by government officials?” he said.

Of the four complaints that were not found to be violations, Common Cause’s Marion said,  “Those can be difficult to prove without a record of what was discussed, such as an email chain. They come down to weighing the word of the complainant versus the word of the public body.”

 

This Week in EG: MLK Day Holiday, Planning Board, Poetry Slam

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.

Monday, Jan. 15

Martin Luther King Jr. Day – A national holiday so schools, government offices and many banks are closed. Trash pickup is delayed one day this week.

Want to Help EG Schools Raise Money? The School Committee is establishing an ad hoc committee to “create, review, and implement revenue generating opportunities” for EG schools. They are looking for up to eight parents or guardians to volunteer for the panel. Read the committee’s charge here. If you are interested, contact Supt. Victor Mercurio (vmercurio@egsd.net) by Jan 17.

Tuesday, Jan. 16

Municipal Land Trust meetingOn the agenda is discussion of a ground-mounted solar panel project at Boesch Farm. The panel meets in Council Chambers at Town Hall. 7 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 17

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.

Planning Board meeting – On the agenda, the panel will again review the Coggeshall Preserve condo development proposed for 52 So. Pierce Road. The board meets in Council Chambers at Town Hall at 7 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 18

Poetry Slam! – A new group known as the Library Lions is holding this poetry event, where people who attend may read their own poetry or a favorite poem written by someone else, or just listen. The Library Lions formed in response to the lack of a librarian and subsequent closing of the library at EGHS. The event is free, open to all, and will be held at the Westminster Unitarian Church, 119 Kenyon Avenue, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 20

Community Pancake Breakfast – The EG Democratic Town Committee is hosting a pancake breakfast in the dining room at St. Luke’s Church, 9 to 11 a.m. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Sec. of State Nellie Gorbea are scheduled to attend. Click here for more information.

First Ladies’ Fashions – From Martha Washington to Melania Trump, the styles worn by our presidents’ wives have fascinated Americans. Join us on Saturday, Jan. 20, when the Friends of the East Greenwich Library present “First Ladies’ Fashions.” Clothing historian Karen Antonowitz will examine the fashions worn by our first ladies, from Martha to Melania – those who changed contemporary fashion, followed it or had no effect on it at all. In this illustrated program she will explain how the fashions worn by first ladies reflected our society and the history of the time. The program begins at 1 p.m. at the East Greenwich Free Library at 87 Peirce Street. Light refreshments will be served.

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE

Recycling is OFF this week.

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.

Photo: Skating in front of Eldredge Field circa 1970s. The EGFD used to flood the field in the winter to create an ice rink. Photo courtesy of Bruce Mastracchio. Photographer unknown.

Celebrating Martin

By Bob Houghtaling

As we take a moment to reflect upon the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I think it is imperative to recognize that his work is not done. Let us hope that America will continue to pursue fairness for all. Sometimes such things get lost when our fear takes over.

Rise Again

Verdant sprouts arise again
Despite all attempts to mow
Selma’s bridge is beneath the blade
Despite being crossed years ago
Rise up, let’s rise again
We need to hear a voice
Claiming love for fellow men
That Heaven will rejoice

Change has come so slowly
There is much left to do
Memphis handed us the baton
Our Reverend cared for me and you
March on, let’s march again
Joined all arm in arm
God bless this land of ours
It’s time to be alarmed

With love for our neighbors
We understand their fears
There is no need for hatred
Let’s share each other’s tears
For ignorance is our enemy
Along with exclusion and greed
A call goes to rise again
With hope our constant seed

Bob Houghtaling is the East Greenwich substance abuse counselor.

Photo: In 1965, John Lewis with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., leads a march in Alabama from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama to protest the denial of voting rights to African Americans. (Steve Schapiro)