EG Golf Club Closes Abruptly

The restaurant and golf club closed abruptly April 14.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

East Greenwich, R.I. – Anyone interested in golfing at East Greenwich Golf Club Saturday found the parking lot gate closed and a security guard sitting in a car just inside the gate to keep people from gaining entry.

One year after the club and restaurant were taken over by lawyer and former state attorney general candidate Rob Rainville, they were abruptly closed.

The nine-hole golf course was public – golfers could pay by the day – but also had yearly memberships.

The security officer on duty Sunday said club members should contact New England Tech for more information. Rainville was leasing the property from New England Tech.

“It’s going to be closed a little while,” said the security officer, who said her information came from the school. “They don’t know exactly how long before they get that squared away.”

For Joe Bertrand, it was a blow. The East Greenwich resident said he golfs at the club multiple times a week, along with a group of retirees who’ve been coming to the club for years. He had golfed there last week.

Bertrand said Rainville had done a good job improving the course and the restaurant, which had been known as Bistro 9 but became The 4o1 under Rainville.

“The restaurant is gorgeous. The greens are fantastic. They gutted the whole place. He did a great job,” Bertrand said. He said Rainville had been there pretty much every day since taking over and that Rainville had had big plans.

“He was going to put a place where you could buy equipment, and something by the sixth hole where you could drink and eat,” he said.

“It was a shock to me,” he said of the closure.



EGHS Wall of Honor Celebrates Community

From left, Diane McDonald (with a granddaughter), Matt Plain, John Chandler, Bernice Pescosolido, and Guy Asadorian – the 2018 inductees of the EGHS Wall of Honor.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

EGHS Wall of Honor inductee Bernice Pescosolido had to leave East Greenwich before she could understand the its power.

“The most important thing that EG High School and the Town of East Greenwich and – I have to say – the state of Rhode Island provides for people … is a sense of community and a sense of belonging,” said Pescosolido.

“I’m so proud to be from East Greenwich because we really were this working class community,” she said. “I had no idea that what we were was so special and so different. I’ve come to understand and believe that.”

Pescosolido graduated from the high school in 1970 and is a distinguished professor of sociology at Indiana University. (You can read more about Pescosolido and the other four inductees here.)

John Chandler, Class of 1966, lived in East Greenwich a mere five years. He spent four of them at EGHS and it made its mark. He made his mark too, serving as class president for two years, among other distinctions.

Chandler, who had an illustrious career in information technology, almost didn’t finish high school in East Greenwich. His family, after moving to EG from California before his 8th grade year, moved to Oklahoma the summer before his senior year.

He ended up staying with the Forscht family for that final year of high school.

Chandler’s life has been elsewhere ever since 1966 but Chandler’s love of EGHS came through loud and clear Wednesday.

“I feel like I’ve come  home,” he said before launching into his prepared remarks.

“I’ve been the fortunate beneficiary of an enormous amount of support from this community and love from my family for my entire life,” said Matt Plain, the youngest of the night’s honorees. He graduated in 1994.

Plain, a member of the EG School Committee, made his love of the EG schools clear, recalling all those who taught or guided him in elementary school, including the school custodian.

“Who could forget Bobby Taylor, keeping our school clean and safe for everybody to enjoy,” Plain said.

Plain started out as a teacher himself. A lawyer now, he continues to work on education issues.

Diane McDonald spoke about how she got to live out her childhood dream, riding horses and then owning her own stable (Dapper Dan). For McDonald, the daughter of teachers (her father, Norman Monks, taught and coached in East Greenwich for decades), being a horsewoman was not a given. But it was something she always wanted to do, she said.

If she could tell young people anything, she said, it would be to “follow your passion. Don’t settle for a job that’s just a job.”

Guy Asadorian, Class of 1982, spoke lovingly of this town he’s never left.

“It’s that whole deep sense of community that, really, gave me the foundation to try and be successful as an adult,” he said. Asadorian works in financial services.

“I’ve done a lot of volunteer work in this town and I’m 100 percent certain that it’s that connection that I have to the community that’s really motivated me to want to give back.”

There was a sixth person honored Wednesday night, if not officially. That was Dominic Iannazzi, who died in 2017. Iannazzi was a teacher, school administrator and coach in East Greenwich from the 1950s into the late 1970s. He wanted no fanfare upon his death but Wall of Honor organizer Bruce Mastracchio recounted a couple Iannazzi stories and that seemed to prompt others.

John Chandler said before he was able to find a permanent home for his senior year (his family had moved out of state), Iannazzi actually took him in for six weeks.

Bernice Pescosolido recounted how she’d tried hard to stay off Iannazzi’s radar since her brothers were definitely ON his radar.

“I just thought if Mr. Iannazzi knew my name I would automatically be given detention,” she said.

Diane McDonald DID get detention.

She’d asked if she could take a day off school to compete in a horse show. Iannazzi said no, but she went anyway. When McDonald turned up at school the next day with a note, Iannazzi held up the newspaper announcing that she’d won a trophy at the horse show. He gave her two days detention.

If you know of someone from EGHS you think should be put on the Wall of Honor, contact Bruce Mastracchio at thebrooker23@yahoo.com.


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This Week in EG: Planning Board, Electronics Recycling

It may feel like winter, but the daffodils make it look like spring.

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, April 16

Boston Marathon – Here are the people from East Greenwich who will be running: Brooke Andreozzi, Ross MacAndrew, Robert Bentsen, Jason Reilly, Dino Caparco, Tom Sheeran, and John Thomas, and Lisa Meehan. Good luck, everyone!

Exploring Mindfulness Meditation – Meditation at East Greenwich Free Library on first and third Mondays. No experience necessary; all are welcome. Free. 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the library. For more information about this program or the Friends of the Library, contact: friendseglibrary@gmail.com.

Wednesday, April 18

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 – The only project on the agenda is final plan review of an 11-lot cluster subdivision called “Frenchtown Place,” on Frenchtown Road (not surprisingly). The project gained preliminary plan approval back in 2016. They meet in Council Chambers in Town Hall at 7 p.m.

Thursday, April 19

Paper Shredding & Electronics Recycling – You will be able to recycle all sorts of electronics, including computers, TVs, keyboards, monitors, printers, window air conditioners, routers, microwaves, cables, wires, cell phones and more. And there will be a mobile paper shredded on hand too. At Office Recycling Solutions, 65 Rocky Hollow Road. Shredding costs .25 cents per pound; recycling costs $5 per item with a $20 maximum per resident, $50 maximum for businesses. From 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Presented in part by the EG Chamber of Commerce. For more information contact Brent at 401-580-5132 or info@officerecyclingsolutions.com.

Saturday, April 21

Earth Day

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE

Recycling is ON this week.

Volunteers Needed for After Prom! This is as much fun as you will have all year. You get to meet new people, be surrounded by amazing creativity, and help a bunch of teenagers have a terrific After Prom. Click here to learn more.

EG Police Union Is Fundraising – This is an “all points bulletin,” if you will, to let you know the EG Police Union is soliciting sponsorships to its 2018 Yearbook and Business Directory, so don’t be surprised if you get a phone call. This is in advance of their Comedy Night at Quidnessett Country Club June 28 – the directories will be available then.

EGHS Class of 1960 Reunion – The East Greenwich High School Class of 1960 will be holding their 58th Reunion on Sunday, July 22, from 1 to 5 p.m. at the East Greenwich Veterans’ Firemen’s Hall on Queen Street in East Greenwich. People from EGHS classes before and after the Class of ’60 are welcome. For more information and detail contact Dan Shea (401-821-4521 or dsheajr@cox.net). To reserve your spot, send a check for $30 (per person) to Judy Briggs, 146 Sisson Road, Greene, R.I. 02827.

LOOKING AHEAD

Thursday, April 26

Collecting Original Art – The Friends of the East Greenwich Free Library will present a panel discussion will offer several perspectives on collecting art, with an emphasis on the How, Why and What of buying art today. Panelists include Cade Tompkins, contemporary art dealer and gallery owner Cade Tompkins Projects, Providence; Richard Whitten, artist and Professor of Painting and Art Department Chairperson at Rhode Island College; Catherine A. Sammartino, Partner at the law firm Sammartino & Berg LLP in Providence; and moderator Michael Rose, art historian, gallerist, appraiser, and gallery manager at the historic Providence Art Club. From 6 to 8 p.m. East Greenwich Free Library, 82 Peirce Street, East Greenwich. Designed for all levels of the collecting experience. Seating is on a first come, first served basis and subject to capacity. For more info, contact: friendseglibrary@gmail.com or visit www.eastgreenwichlibrary.org.

Saturday, April 28

Touch a Truck – The Greenwich Bay Woman’s Club is sponsoring Family Open House Touch-a-Truck at the Warwick Fire Station at 225 Potowomut Road from 9 to 11 a.m. They will be collecting canned goods for a local food pantry, so donations are encouraged!

Sunday, April 29

Race to the Stage – Performers competing for a spot on the program for Summer’s End – as well cash prizes – take the stage at the Odeum at 4 p.m. Live judges will ultimately select the winners, but audience response may help decide their fate. Tickets are $10 in Advance, and $15 at the Door.

Tuesday, May 1

EG Athletic Hall of Fame Dinner – More details soon.

Together RI Community Supper – The Rhode Island Foundation is holding a series of community dinners around the state. The idea is to share a meal with other members of your community and get creative about the challenges and possibilities facing Rhode Island. It’s free. At the Varnum Armory, 6 Main Street, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Registration is encouraged but not mandatory. Click here for more information and to register.

Friday, May 4

Into the Woods, Jr. – The award-winning Cole Drama Club will perform this musical based on fairy tales with a twist at East Greenwich High School at 7 p.m. (and again on Saturday at 4 p.m.). Tickets are $10 per person and will be available at the door and online at https://bit.ly/2pTjkSD. Find more information on the show on the Cole Drama Club’s Facebook page here.

Saturday, May 5

Into the Woods, Jr. – The award-winning Cole Drama Club will perform this musical based on fairy tales with a twist at East Greenwich High School at 4 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person and will be available at the door and online at https://bit.ly/2pTjkSD. Find more information on the show on the Cole Drama Club’s Facebook page here.

Sunday, May 6

May Fair 2018 – ”County Fair” is the theme of this year’s May Fair. The Barbara Tufts Co-op Preschool’s annual event features pony rides, bunnies, games, food, silent auction and lots and lots of fun. As always, at Academy Field from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Sunday, May 13

The Gianna Cirella Memorial 5K Walk/Run

And …

Interested in Running for Office? Here’s a pamphlet from the Secretary of State’s office with everything you need to know. While the period to file to run for office isn’t until June 25-27, there are earlier deadlines, say if you want to change party affiliation before filing to run (that’s March 27-29) or if you plan to run for office but are not yet registered to vote (May 26-28). If you are planning to run and are ready to go public, contact egreenwichnews@gmail.com.

Police Log: Arguing, Magic Mushrooms & a Deer

By Bethany J. Hashway

Monday, March 19

8:52 p.m. – A man driving west on Kent Drive hit a deer after it ran out in front of him. He was not hurt but the deer had to be put down by police after they arrived. The front of the man’s car was damaged.

Tuesday, March. 20

3:28 a.m. – Police arrested a Warwick man, 27, on a District Court bench warrant and possession of hallucinogenic mushrooms after receiving a call about a suspicious person on Queen Street. Police located the man, who said he believed there was a warrant out for him. He was right so he was taken into custody. At the police station, police found he had some marijuana on him (less than an ounce) along with the mushrooms. In addition to the arrest charges, the man was cited for the marijuana and, later, taken to the ACI in Cranston.

5 p.m. – The manager of the McDonald’s on New London Turnpike told police that the restaurant received a counterfeit $20 bill for a food order. The manager tested the bill by using a counterfeit bill detector marker, and it revealed that the $20 bill was fake. The manager said she’d approached the customer about the bill and the customer, a woman, seemed surprised and ran out. The manager reported to police that the woman drove off in a silver car with Connecticut license plates.

9:43 p.m. – Police arrested an East Greenwich man, 32, for a Superior Court bench warrant after police were called to the man’s home on a report of a disturbance. When police arrived, they heard two people arguing loudly. The man answered the door; routine checks turned up the warrant. He was taken into custody and taken to the station for processing. Unable to come up with cash bill, he was transported to the ACI in Cranston.

Saturday, March. 24

7:30 a.m. – Police cited a North Kingstown man, 40, for driving a car with a suspended registration after they noticed his expired inspection sticker. The car was towed; police seized the plates.




 

Stagger Lee and Dicky Cee

By Bruce Mastracchio

We came of age in the 1950s. Most of our crowd were either 13 or 14 when a dark-haired, swivel-hipped, guitar-playing young man from Tupelo, Mississippi, came before us in all his gyrating, soul-singing glory. Elvis had arrived just in the nick of time. For music, and for us.

A movie came out called Rock Around the Clock, with Bill Haley and the Comets.

Rock n’ roll was born. It was revolutionary and exciting, but disgusting to adults. We were there for its birth. For us, it was a wonderful time.

The girls got into it first. My two sisters, Karen and Gail, and their two “sisters” Elaine and Linda, were the best at the new dance steps and, as they used to practice at our house, I was often brought in as a “partner.”

It was thus I started to learn the intricate steps of the new rock n’ roll dance, the jitterbug.

I actually practiced a lot, with a broom, and basically became the first boy in our crowd to do the fancy steps and moves of this new dance craze that was sweeping the country.

Father Joe, with help from some of the parish men, had already built a teen center in place at a renovated horse barn just behind the old Our Lady of Mercy Church on Main Street. It had a big, shiny, new dance floor and a jukebox. We were in like Flynn! We would get the jukebox going and practice our moves all over the floor.

Soon, Benny, Joey, Vinny and the other guys were coming to our sessions and learning how to dance the new dances.

Besides the jitterbug, we soon had the Stroll, the Mashed Potato, the Pony and the Twist added to our repertoire.

We also found it was a good way to pick up girls. Guys who could dance were in demand. They were also in short supply, so they had their pick of the “chicks.”

Not long after that there came a show on television that would change our teenage lives forever. A young disc jockey by the name of Dick Clark started a show in Philadelphia called American Bandstand.

Shortly after we would know it on a more intimate basis, and for a lot of teens, especially the girls, it would become a daily religious experience. For some of us, we would meet it up close and personal. We would never be the same again.

The night was clear
And the moon was yellow
And the leaves came tumbling down
I was standing on the corner
When I heard my bulldog bark
He was barkin’ at the two men who were gamblin’
In the dark
It was Stagger Lee and Billy
Two men who gambled late
Stagger Lee threw seven
Billy swore that he threw eight

I will remember that song forever. Good old Stagger Lee set up another life-changing experience for me. Here is why.

A couple of years after we had started in with that new rock n’ roll dance craze, Father Joe decided to have a money-raising dance for the CYO at the fairly new Our Lady of Mercy School auditorium. He also announced that he would hold some dance contests, and that the winners would get a week in Philadelphia and appear on Dick Clark’s American Bandstand television show.

It was exciting just thinking about it.

I could see no way that my sister Karen wouldn’t win. She was paired up with Joey M., Linda paired up with Benny, and Elaine was my partner.

The song we got to dance to was “Stagger Lee,” sung by Lloyd Price. Elaine and I had practiced a routine that we could do with our eyes closed. Fifty years later, we could still do that dance. We wowed the judges that night, and at the end, Karen and Joe, Linda and Benny, and Elaine and I had all won our way for the trip to American Bandstand!

The trip came the next spring. We all piled into Father Joe’s station wagon for the trip to Philly.

It was exciting. We got there on a weekend and did the obligatory sightseeing. We saw the Liberty Bell, crack and all; Freedom Hall; a statue of Ben Franklin; the Main Line, and a host of other sights. There was no Rocky statue back then, so naturally we didn’t see that.

Monday morning came fast. We got down to the studio and there were three lines of kids already in place. One was for guests to the show, like us. One for kids who were just trying to get in for that day, and one for the “regulars,” the semi-stars of the show who were there day in and day out and who had become national celebrities in their own right.

As we looked over, though, we were startled by an unbelievable sight. The “regulars” were putting on lipstick and powder! Not just the girls, but the boys, also! We boys were shocked! We had never seen such a thing. Though we later learned that the makeup made them look better for the TV cameras, it made little difference. It would color our perception of American Bandstand forever.

We also found out you didn’t need all that makeup to stand out.

We were representing the Our Lady of Mercy CYO and we were scheduled to give Dick Clark an award right there on national television! Imagine that. Regular kids from little old EG, the greatest little town in the center of the greatest little state, in the greatest country in the world, right up there on the national stage for the whole country to see! It was going to be “outstanding” as they used to say in the Corps.

But, we hadn’t counted on Elaine – forever to be known as the infatuated swooner and traitor – but I rush myself.

We had watched American Bandstand religiously, especially the girls. The guys didn’t watch it as much because it came on in the afternoon when we were at practice. But, we did get to see it occasionally, and we were impressed.

However, once we entered this American shrine, things were not what they had seemed.

Basketball bleachers were on the left. The dance floor, which looked huge on TV, was quite small. The records, on the wall, behind Dick Clark’s podium, had writing and scratches on them. There were three cameras to the right side by side with a red line in front of them. On the fourth side was a curtain.

On top of that, the Philly kids were not friendly and, once the music started, there was an all-out rush to get in front of the cameras. Pushing, shoving, kicking were all part of it. We guys almost got into a couple of fights and Benny was even trying to get a rumble started with some of the regulars after the show. Unreal!

But, there is a sidebar to this story. My mother, God rest her soul, wanted to see her kids on TV. She worked in Providence as a telephone operator. Somehow, she got her boss to let her off a bit early so she could see her kids on national TV, but the only place with a TV was a nearby bar. My mother didn’t smoke or drink.

So here she goes. A 47-year-old woman, into a bar. She orders a soda and sweetly asks the bartender if he would put American Bandstand on the TV so she could watch her kids dancing up a storm in front of a national audience.

She repeated that action all week.

She later told us that we could be seen no matter where we were because we were taller than most of the kids on the show. We didn’t know that as we kicked and clawed to get ourselves seen by America.

Now back to the “swooner.” On the third day we were scheduled to present our CYO Award to Dick Clark. We got to the lines with the plaque and were excited for a lot of reasons. It was Elaine’s birthday, so besides getting the spotlight as we presented Dick Clark with our award, Elaine and I would be in the “Spotlight Dance.” Just she and her partner, alone on the stage in front of the whole world.

Guess who her partner was? Me! I was excited!

But as someone once said, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

“The best laid plans of mice and men, do oft go astray.” Either way, I didn’t know it, but I was doomed.

Elaine was so overcome with excitement and emotion that she passed out in the line. They had to call the rescue squad and cart her off to the hospital.

In the excitement, the plaque was put down as we tended to Elaine. In the confusion, it got lost.

The remaining five of us entered the show, but, besides concern, we were also uncertain as to what was going to happen. We did manage to get word to Dick Clark about Elaine and the plaque. Then we settled down to have as good a time as possible, under the circumstances.

Lo and behold, midway through the show, Elaine returned from the hospital. She had just been overcome by excitement, was calmed down and was fine.

Then Dick Clark announced that he had received a plaque from a CYO group in Rhode Island and he held up “our” plaque and thanked the group that had brought it.

Apparently, one of the AB crew had picked the plaque up outside and brought it to Mr. Clark. The cameras were supposed to have panned us, seeing as we didn’t get “our moment in the sun,” but apparently they missed us on the pan.

Then Dick announced that one of the Rhode Island group had a birthday and he called Elaine down. He gave her a brief interview and then asked her who she would like to dance with in the “Birthday Spotlight.” I was starting to make my way down to the floor when she said, “I want to dance with Dennis.”

I was stunned! We had worked so hard to be here. It was going to be our moment to shine in the national spotlight – two kids from EG – and she picked one of the “regulars,” her secret heartthrob, one of those rouge-wearing, lip-stick smacking, midget dweebs from the show! We were all stunned.

The music started and she got her spot on national TV. She and Dennis. I will never forgive her for that.

But, like all things, this too passed. All in all we had a good time. I think it was the first time any of us had ever stayed in a hotel. Though the AB studio was a bit of a letdown, it taught us a lesson that things are not always what they seem. Dick Clark was, though. He was every bit as advertised, witty and funny with personal charisma. We thought he would go far and he did, though he fell victim to his stardom and had a facelift that didn’t fit.

I learned a lot on that trip. It was a good time and a good learning experience. Though I knew that I would always remember that trip, once I got back to EG, I never watched American Bandstand again. Not once. Not ever.

Of course, life goes on. I am older and right now can barely walk, nevermind dance. If I can’t get back to it, it will be something I will miss. Music and dance have always been a big part of my life. Music is my life, not my livelihood, and sometimes I have to dance to keep from crying.

But, as I always have, I will adjust, like I always have – no matter what – and the tunes will continue to reverberate through my head.

Stagger Lee told Billy, “I can’t let you go with that. You have won all my money and my brand new Stetson hat.”

Stagger Lee went home, and he got his .44 …

He said, “I am going to the barroom just to pay that debt I owe.”

Go Stagger Lee!

“Stagger Lee,” said Billy, “Oh, please don’t take my life. I’ve got three hungry children and a very sickly wife.”

Stagger Lee shot Billy, oh he shot that poor boy so hard, ‘til the bullet went through Billy and it broke the bartender’s glass.

And now I dance into the sunset, with love. Hope you enjoyed this story. As I typed it out I had Channel 924 on the TV, the Solid Gold Oldies channel.

The tunes were all there while I typed to keep from crying. And the last song they played was “Stagger Lee.”


Bruce Mastracchio weaves experiences of his youth into gold and EG News is privileged to run his pieces on an occasional basis. If you like what you read, search Bruce’s name using the magnifying glass search icon in the top right corner of the website. You will find plenty of amazing tales from “the greatest little town in the center of the greatest little state, in the greatest country in the world.”

Letter to the Editor: I’ll Get You My Pretty … and Your 6 Lateral Transfers Too

It sure feels like Ms. Corrigan is trying to get rid of the six lateral transfers hired by the fire department in 2016, one way or another.

Ms. Corrigan is now using a 3-platoon, 56-hour work-week system as a way to get rid of the six firefighters.

Let’s look at the history of her actions:

It just so happens that she is trying to remove the same six firefighters that she complained about while testifying in the James Perry case.

Ms. Corrigan said she felt a lateral hiring process was “discriminatory” because “generally the number of firefighters that are currently employed are predominately white males” and that the CBA, charter language, the active hiring list were all “thrown away” in the lateral hiring process used. Ms. Corrigan testified that she “took it very seriously and spent a lot of time and energy trying to understand what had happened, how the laterals had come in, how the whole CBA had been — it was almost like a tip of the iceberg is this firing” and why she thought “relying on solely lateral hires is a bad idea” and “not a best practice in employment.”

When questioned further and asked about being discriminatory and if that bothered her, Ms. Corrigan replied, “It’s a fact, it’s a discriminatory practice. As you know, with employment law, there’s a lot, EEOC [Equal Employment Opportunity Commission], the Town has an affirmative action program, all of these things when you are hiring laterals, it’s a fact that you are not — you are reducing the subset. It’s a fact. It doesn’t bother me. It’s a fact you are reducing the people that can apply.”

Perhaps the tip of the iceberg stopped with Jim Perry because Justice McGuirl ruled, “This Court finds without question based on the credible evidence before it that Corrigan did not engage in ‘careful and factual consideration,’ as required by §45-1 of the CBA before terminating FF Perry for ‘just cause.'”

And, “There was no valid basis to terminate FF Perry.”

Gall-lee said Gomer Pyke, I’m sure glad Ms. Corrigan didn’t reduce the subset and followed employment law, the EEOC and the Town’s affirmative action program when hiring Ms. Dykeman and Ms. Antunes.

Also noted in the decision of that case is where the judge wrote, “Corrigan stated that her analysis revealed a structural deficit and, in her professional opinion, the lateral transfer procedures were a major contributing factor.” The only other familiar statement from Ms. Corrigan that appears to be missing was about that being “unsustainable” as well.

OK. That didn’t work, let’s try this . . . .

Ms. Corrigan now comes along with a plan to have the firefighters work more hours per week on average (56 rather than 42), while saying it is being done “due to the recognized fiscal and, more importantly, health, safety and wellness concerns from such extensive overtime hours.” So I guess if a firefighter has a bad night and works the 24-hour shift continuously and then has to work overtime, that is now somehow safer than a firefighter who works a 10 or 14 hour shift and has to work overtime.

Ms. Corrigan recognizes the changes as structural changes that will take legal opinions and potentially additional complaints for summary judgement, i.e. a softer way of saying additional lawsuits. Apparently, we haven’t spent enough yet on legal fees.

Ms. Corrigan said she will supply the council with her progress reports at the meeting on June 11. So much for the town manager search, maybe Santa will bring us a new one.

– William Higgins

William Higgins, retired EG police officer and former EMA director for the town, lives in East Greenwich.

Inspectors Deem Eldredge Safe; School to Reopen

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

East Greenwich, R.I. – After spending most of the day at Eldredge Elementary, structural engineers told school officials Wednesday the main part of the building was safe following a partial ceiling collapse in the school gym Tuesday.

“The engineering group came back and said we were cleared to be in the building,” said Supt. Victor Mercurio Wednesday evening. “We’re still looking at the root causes of the actual ceiling collapse itself.”

“The gym is off-limits, potentially through the rest of the school year,” he said. The classrooms above the gym have been deemed safe, he said.

Mercurio said he also submitted a waiver to the state Department of Education to ask if Eldredge could end the school year with the rest of the schools on June 22. He said he should have an answer in a couple of weeks.

Tests of air quality came back negative for any problems, Mercurio said. 

“We dodged what could have been a very catastrophic event,” he said. “Now it’s just a question what the extent is what the repair is for that facility, but it’s going to be extensive. There’s no question about that.”

Here are a couple of pictures of Eldredge from the year it was built, in 1927, courtesy of Alan Clarke.

Painting the third floor hallway at Eldredge School in 1927.
A classroom at Eldredge School before it opened in 1927.


 

Corrigan Argues for 56-Hour Work Week; Interim Chief Says He’s ‘Not a Fan’

Town Manager Gayle Corrigan presents her report to the Town Council April 9, 2018.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Interim Fire Chief Kevin Robinson said during the Town Council meeting – after being asked by a resident during public comment – that he was “not a fan” of the 24-hour shifts required under Town Manager Gayle Corrigan’s proposed restructuring plan.

Corrigan presented her plan of action to reduce fire department overtime expenses to the Town Council Monday night, arguing that changing the shift structure from 4 platoons to 3 could allow the department to go from 36 to 30 employees while building in staff to cover for illness or injury.

That 56-hour work week plan is even now before Superior Court Judge Susan McGuirl. The town sued the firefighters in December asking that the court make a declaration that the town has the right to change the structure of the department unilaterally (i.e. without negotiating the change with the firefighters union).

Corrigan wants the council to approve the 56-hour work week but put it on hold until after McGuirl issues a ruling. A hearing is set on the town’s suit Monday, April 23.

Councilman Mark Schwager asked what to expect at that hearing.

Town Solicitor David D’Agostino said the town has asked Judge McGuirl to make a “judgment on the pleadings” – in other words, make a decision using just what is in front of her, with no additional discovery and no addition testimony. The judge could rule on April 23, he said, or she could ask for additional evidence.

“I don’t know if the court is going to be prepared to rule at that time,” D’Agostino said.

Under Corrigan’s proposed three-platoon system, firefighters would work 24 hours on, 48 hours off. The plan calls for 30 firefighters – 8 plus 2 floaters per shift – down from the current 36 firefighters. She recommends laying off the extra 6 firefighters based on seniority. In a four-platoon system, firefighters typically work 10 hours on, 14 hours off, 10 hours on, 24 hours off, 14 hours on, 96 hours off.

She argued that with seven firefighters on “injured on duty” status, it’s like the fire department is already working with only three platoons and she called the proposed reorganization even more of a safety issue than a fiscal one.

After admitting he was not a fan of 24-hour shifts, Chief Robinson said the important thing was to cut down on the number of hours firefighters were working, regardless of the shift structure. In his budget for fiscal year 2019, Robinson has a $1.2 million line item for overtime. Three quarters of a year into fiscal year 2018, $573,000 has been spent on EGFD overtime. Finance Director Linda Dykeman projects the final number to be just under $800,000. Meanwhile, the number of firefighters has remained constant at 36 since 2006, while calls have gone up nearly a third.

Corrigan also outlined possible changes in fire service delivery in the event Judge McGuirl rules against the town, including allowing the chief reduce the number of firefighters on duty overnight, making the department a volunteer service or privatizing the emergency medical rescue service.

Corrigan said she will present a candidate to fill the deputy chief position on an interim basis at the Town Council meeting May 14. No vote on the plan was taken Monday night.

For more information about Corrigan’s presentation, see our earlier story. Watch the entire meeting here.




Part of Eldredge Gym Ceiling Collapses During PE Class; No Injuries

The portion of ceiling that fell onto the gym floor at Eldredge Tuesday.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

There will be no school at Eldredge Wednesday so the whole building can be inspected. 

East Greenwich, R.I. – A section of plaster ceiling in the gymnasium at Eldredge Elementary School, including a light fixture, fell Tuesday morning during a third grade gym class. No one was injured.

School officials said the incident happened at approximately 10:55 a.m.  Students and two faculty members were in a different area of the gym at the time. Principal Dan Seger sent an email to parents on Tuesday.

Here’s a portion of that email:

Fortunately, no one was hurt.  Both Ms. Peduto and her students were quite obviously shaken by this event, and we have called in student service supports for anyone requiring them.  The Director of Facilities is on the scene, has locked off the gymnasium, and has contacted the building inspector to review the entire area.  The portion of the facility is closed until further notice.   We are taking all necessary steps to ensure student safety.

“We avoided what could have been very catastrophic,” said Supt. Victor Mercurio Tuesday evening.

He said one student said the collapse looked as if the ceiling came “unzipped.”

According to Mercurio, the ceiling over the gym is a different type than ceilings in the rest of the building but that, as a precautionary measure, ceilings in the entire school will inspected by Halliwell Engineering Associates Wednesday. There will be no school.

“As a precaution, we said, let’s get an engineering firm here and look at the whole building structurally,” said Mercurio. “I want to err on the side of caution.”

In an email sent out to Eldredge families, Mercurio said he would follow up with Wednesday afternoon, “upon completion of this structural engineering review.”

He said the initial inspection showed no sign of asbestos.



 

 

Homeowner Fights Batting Cage At Cole

The batting cage planned for Cole Middle School would sit on the west side of the school.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

It seemed like a nice idea – the EG Little League wanted to donate batting cages to the high school and Cole Middle School that could be used by school teams as well as Little League teams. The School Committee approved the offer last spring and equipment appeared at Cole to install the batting cage last Memorial Day weekend.

Except that placement of the proposed batting cage at Cole was on the west side of the school, the side closest to Sarah’s Trace, the street on which homeowners had sued the town over construction of the school in 2011 and which resulted in a settlement in 2015. When construction of the batting cage began, a Sarah’s Trace homeowner called police, citing a breach of the settlement. Police stopped the construction.

Now, nearly a year later, Little League representatives are hoping to get the construction back on track. The double batting cage at the high school was erected without incident after the failed attempt at Cole.

The challenge at Cole is there aren’t very many place to put the batting cages, Athletics Director Chris Cobain told the School Committee Tuesday night. He said there were only two sites at the school that don’t have anything to do with drainage, sewage, or electrical lines. One is near the tennis courts, close to houses on Wanton Shippee Road. The other is the side that abuts properties on Sarah’s Trace. Cobain said they chose the area closer to Sarah’s Trace because of the generous landscape buffer there. There is no such buffer on the Wanton Shippee side.

Cobain said he spoke with the homeowners who’d called the police.

“I talked to the family and heard, “We will fight, we will fight tooth and nail,” he said.

School Committee members said they needed to know just want was included in the settlement. If it was about equipment, could EGLL use hand tools to install the batting cage, they asked.

Committeeman Matt Plain said there was a difference between whether or not the settlement contained language about construction of something like a batting cage at Cole and the batting cage itself.

EGLL representative Russ Marcantonio agreed.

“If you let the threats of lawsuits dictate how you operate, that’s a bad precedent,” he said.

The School Committee decided to have their lawyer talk to the town about the issue, since it is the town that has the settlement with the homeowners.

School and Little League officials said they hoped the issue could be ironed out before spring baseball begins in earnest.