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.

 

This Week in EG: Town Council, Land Trust & EGHS Wall of Honor

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

Monday, April 9

Town Council meetingOn the agenda, Town Manager Gayle Corrigan will present her restructuring plan for the EG Fire Department and the council will vote on adding a Class C liquor license (the town only has one Class C license, which is held by Regency Cigar Bar on Main Street). Click here to see the town’s liquor license holders: Liquor Licenses 4/9/18.  The meeting takes place at Town Hall at 7 p.m.

Tuesday, April 10

Municipal Land Trust meeting – The panel meets in Council Chambers at Town Hall. 7 p.m. Find the agenda here.

East Greenwich Tree Council meeting – This all-volunteer group will be discussing spring tree planting plans. New members are always welcome. Conference room across from Town Hall. 7 p.m.

Wednesday, April 11

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.

EGHS Wall of Honor Ceremony – East Greenwich High School Wall of Honor will take place at 6 p.m. in the high school auditorium. The ceremony will be followed by a collation in the cafeteria. Being inducted this year are John Chandler, Dr. Bernice Pescosolido, Diane M. McDonald, Guy Asadorian and Matt Plain. Click here to read about the inductees. For further information and details contact Chairman Robert Houghtaling as 230-2246 or rhoughtaling2@verizon.net, or, Chris Cobain at 398-1562 or ccobain@egsd.net.

Historic District Commission meeting – The panel meets at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers at Town Hall. Here’s the agenda.

Thursday, April 12

“Wonderful Women” – The EG Chamber of Commerce presents an event for women focused on “wisdom, wellness, and beauty” at Quidnessett Country Club. There will be workshops, food, entertainment, and expo tables. From 6 to 9 p.m. Tickets are $35 ($40 after April 9) For more information, call (401) 885-0020 or go to eastgreenwichchamber.com.

EG Town Democratic Committee Open House – Learn about the EG Town Democratic Committee, what they do and how to get involved in the 2018 campaign. Chat with local candidates and meet other residents working for new leadership in November. At Pal’s Restaurant, 43 Division St., from 7 to 9 p.m. For more information, click here.

Saturday, April 14

Historic Cemetery Cleanup – It just so happens Saturday, April 14, is “Historic Cemetery Restoration and Awareness Day.” What better way to celebrate than to join members of the EG Historic Cemetery Commission at Cemeteries 23, 24, and 25, on the north side of Cedar Avenue from 9 a.m. to noon. This is the first cleanup of the year and there will be others. If you are interested in learning more or signing up to volunteer, contact egcemeteryvolunteer@gmail.com or call Assistant Town Planner Lea Anthony Hitchen at 886-8643.

Sunday, April 15

History at the Varnum Armory Memorial MuseumPresented by docent Patrick Donovan and presented by the EG Historic Preservation Society, return to Revolutionary War days, when then-General Washington visited, and experience the historical militia scene of that period. Refreshments will be served. At the Varnum Armory, 2 p.m.

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE

Recycling is OFF this week.

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 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.

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 Whatof 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 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

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.





Corrigan Presents Plan for 56-Hour Firefighter Work Week

Station One on Main Street.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Among other ideas, the town manager suggests returning to a volunteer fire service and/or contracting out EMS service.

East Greenwich, R.I. – Town Manager Gayle Corrigan will present her plan to restructure the fire department from the current four platoons to three at the Town Council meeting Monday (EGFD Restructuring Proposal 4/2018).

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.

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.

Corrigan recommends the Town Council adopt the reorganization but hold off implementation until after Superior Court Judge Susan McGuirl rules on the town’s pending lawsuit against the firefighters on whether or not it has the right to reorganize the platoons without consent of the union. The town and the firefighters are in the middle of a three-year contract, from 2016 to 2019.

In her proposal, Corrigan suggests other possible cost-saving measures if the court rules against it. Among those suggestions would be to decrease the number of firefighters on overnight, a time when the number of incidents is lower.  Corrigan also suggests the possible return to a partial or largely volunteer fire service and subcontracting out EMS service.

Corrigan also says in her plan that the department needs a deputy chief – a position she has kept vacant since her arrival last June. She will recommend an interim deputy fire chief at the May 14 Town Council meeting.




 

 

 

Ethics Commission to Investigate Complaint Against Firefighter

Firefighter union president Bill Perry talks with former interim Fire Chief Olsen last November.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Former Fire Chief Peter Henrikson filed the complaint against Lt. Bill Perry, saying he and his brother should not work in same platoon.

The state Ethics Commission is investigating a complaint filed against firefighter union president Bill Perry – a lieutenant – that accuses him of conflicts of interest because his brother, a firefighter – was placed in the same platoon.

In its “Notice of Determination,” the Ethics Commission writes, “the … complaint alleges facts sufficient to constitute a violation of the provisions of the Rhode Island Code of Ethics.”

On its website, the Ethics Commission describes such an “initial determination to investigate” this way:

The decision to investigate does not address the validity of the complaint; rather, it merely indicates that the allegations properly fall under the provisions of the Code of Ethics. Neither the complainant nor the respondent participates in the initial determination.

Peter Henrikson, who served as EGFD chief from 2010 to 2013, filed the complaint (Perry Complaint).

In the complaint, Henrikson cites an Ethics Commission opinion from 2016, in response to  Perry’s request for a ruling on his brother James Perry’s application for a job with the East Greenwich Fire Department. In that application, then-Fire Chief Russell McGillivray said it was “very unlikely” that James Perry would be assigned to Bill Perry’s platoon because of Bill Perry’s position of authority over his brother.

James Perry did end up in Bill Perry’s platoon, Platoon B. However, Bill Perry works on Engine 1 at Station One (on Main Street) and James Perry works on Rescue 2 at Station Two (on Frenchtown Road) and James Perry is supervised by two other firefighters, a lieutenant and a captain.

Bill Perry’s lawyer, Elizabeth Wiens, said there would only be a conflict if Bill was in charge of evaluating his brother. He is not, she said.

Another accusation in Henrikson’s complaint is that Bill and James Perry are eligible for additional overtime because Platoon B recently lost its floater position due to a change in the contract.

That, however, would be impossible, since the overtime due to the loss of the floater would be available only when members of Platoon B are working. Members of that platoon would be the only firefighters not able to work overtime then since they would already be working that shift.

Henrikson’s complaint also addresses fill-in procedures – suggesting that Perry could have a hand in helping his brother get overtime spots. According to firefighters, overtime slots are filled off a list – the first name on the list gets the call, and so on; they are not determined by the ranking officer. Henrikson included a copy of EGFD fill-in procedures and other documents that are not public. He did not respond to a request about how he possessed those documents.

Henrikson has been advising Town Manager Gayle Corrigan in her efforts to restructure the fire department and he has met with both interim fire chiefs. His complaint was notarized by Town Solicitor David D’Agostino. His wife, Kristen, works as clerk for the fire department. Henrikson retired from the department just as it went from a separate fire district to merging into a town department.

Two months before Henrikson retired, the firefighters union – headed by Perry – passed a vote of no confidence in Henrikson as chief by a margin of 36-1.

Perry has 20 days from March 27 to respond to the complaint, although technically he has yet to receive the “notice of determination” that was sent to him via certified mail on that date. His lawyer has since obtained a copy from the commission via email. 

Henrikson had given Station One as Perry’s address but all EGFD mail goes to Town Hall. Perry only learned of the complaint after a resident tweeted about it Saturday. Town officials gave Perry the original complaint on Tuesday, 19 days after it had been sent by certified mail. The commission’s letter of determination was sent by certified mail on March 27; Perry has not yet received it from the town. 

In a letter to Town Solicitor D’Agostino (Wiens to D’Agostino 4/2/18), Perry lawyer Wiens outlined her objections to the town’s failure to deliver Perry’s mail in a timely fashion and questioned Henrikson’s access to town documents. She called Henrikson’s complaint the act of a “disgruntled former chief.”



 

A Philosopher In Every School

Socrates, painted by Jacques-Louis David in 1787.

By Bob Houghtaling

In the midst of arguments about the roles guns play in our society I offer this simple solution. We need more philosophers in schools. Sure, metal detectors are important. Sure, resource officers are fabulous. And, sure, new laws must make it more difficult to obtain firearms. With all of this said, don’t overlook the value of having a philosopher on school grounds. No, seriously, I am not kidding.

Whatever happened to looking for meaning in one’s life? Whatever happened to Socratic dialogue and thought? Once upon a time, in the ancient world, people would argue points of view in the public square. Those days are long gone. Perhaps, as time went by, we felt that such things were passé and philosophy with all that talking and meaning stuff was pure B.S.

If one looks at the profiles of many of our “shooters,” terms like mentally ill, alienated, troubled, and loner abound. While resource officers and psychologists might prove to be helpful in ameliorating some of the damage caused by mostly enraged men – taking a look at our nation’s societal norms might be something to consider as well. Why are we so angry? Why are young men lashing out? Why are so many feeling unattached? Could our values be a part of this? Questions are the parents of answers. Before scoffing at philosophers as a solution – it might be time to consider the impetus behind the proliferation of our mass shootings.

Sometimes we ignore the simplest of truths. In my opinion looking at ourselves is a key part of the entire gun issue. We place so much emphasis on test scores, and other accoutrements of school success, but far less on social and emotional learning. Maybe equipping teachers with the skills and opportunity for philosophy would be a better solution than giving them guns. Let’s take a look at the human side of the issue. Without addressing life’s whys, all ensuing answers will be incomplete. Aristotle once referred to man as being a “social animal.” We can’t ignore this. Just a thought. See you soon.

Bob Houghtaling is the director of the East Greenwich Drug Program. 

Asadorian, McDonald, Plain Among EGHS Wall of Honor Recipients

The wall of honor at EGHS can be found in the hallway between the auditorium and the cafeteria.

The 2018 East Greenwich High School Wall of Honor ceremony takes place Wednesday, April 11, and will honor five alumni of the school: John Chandler, Class of 1966; Diane McDonald, Class of 1969; Dr. Bernice Pescosolido, Class of 1970; Guy Asadorian, Class of 1982, and, Matt Plain, Class of 1994.

The ceremony starts at 6 p.m. and is held in the East Greenwich High School auditorium, with a reception immediately following in the cafeteria. Friends and family of the honorees are invited to attend, as well as current high school students and anyone with a love of East Greenwich. Former recipients – plaques for all those who have been named to the Wall of Honor line the hallway at the high school between the auditorium and the cafeteria – are encouraged to attend.

About the 2018 inductees:

Guy Asadorian moved to East Greenwich when he was two. He has been here ever since.

Along the way he attended three of the four elementary schools in town and graduated from East Greenwich Junior High and then East Greenwich High School in 1982.

He played in the local Little League and continued on to Senior League and then American Legion ball.

In the winter he played EG Rec league basketball, and at 12 he discovered football. In high school he played four years of football culminating in a selection as an All Division end as a senior.

He also played three years of baseball and one year of golf, and in the summer participated in Junior Golf and the RIGA Tournament.

After graduation from EG he matriculated at Western New England College in Springfield, Mass. There he played played four years of baseball for the Golden Bears, and two years of football.

He graduated in 1986 with a degree in finance and economics.

Mr. Asadorian used his college training to start a career in financial services, starting out as a stockbroker for Janney Montgomery Scott. After two years he moved to Smith Barney, where he spent 12 years and was elevated to the position of first vice president.

In 2001 he left Smith Barney to form Tameracq Partners, which is a middle market mergers and acquisitions firm that advises buyers and sellers up and down the East Coast and beyond.

In 2013 Guy left Tamaracq and joined BNY Mellon Wealth Management as a Wealth Director in charge of new business.

A man who loves his community, he has always tried to give back with volunteer work.

He has coached Little League softball, served on the Town Planning Board, and currently sits on the board of the Quonset Development Corporation, representing the Town of East Greenwich.

Along with Jeff Santos, Mr. Asadorian is a prime mover on the committee that has revived the East Greenwich Athletic Hall of Fame. In 2015 that body inducted four nominees for the first time in 18 years.

Not stopping there, Guy has volunteered with the business community as well. He was formerly a committee member of the City of Cranston Police and Fire Pension Fund, President of the RI Association of Investment firms and a Board Member of the Pawtucket Country Club.

Currently he is a member of the Screening Committee for Cherrystone Angel Investment Group and Chairman of the Investment Committee for the Armenian Historical Association of Rhode Island.

For his commitment to his school, his town and his state Mr. Asadorian will be one of five people to be inducted into the East Greenwich High School Wall of Honor next April in the annual ceremony at the East Greenwich High School.

John Chandler was the second son of Jim and Marie Chandler. He was born in Corpus Christi, Texas, Dec. 2, 1948. The son of a U.S. navy pilot he lived mostly in California while growing up.

But in September 1961 his father was assigned to Quonset Point Naval Air Station. At first John was disappointed, moving from sunny California to what he envisioned as the “frozen north.”

“Little did I know,” he said recently, “that living in East Greenwich would become one of the great experiences of my life, and one for which I have been forever grateful.”

John finished 8th grade at Eldredge and then attended East Greenwich High, graduating in 1966.

At EGHS John served as class president for two years and also vice president of the student council. Though standing only 5 foot 6 inches, he was awarded seven varsity letters, earning three in football and two each in basketball and baseball. He co-captained the Avenger hoopsters and was awarded the school’s Athletic Award Sweater.

Upon graduation, John enrolled at Providence College. He graduated in June 1970, with a B.A. in mathematics and minors in computer science, philosophy and theology.

While at PC he played three years for the college’s club football team, a member of the National  Club Football Association. He started two years at defensive back and was chosen second team club All-American. He finished second in the nation for the NCFA in punting averaging 43.2 yards per kick.

John then joined the working world as an information technology software developer, systems architect, project manager and consulting professional. He worked for a number of corporations, including, Price Waterhouse, Home Depot, Lockheed, AIG, NCR and Scripto.

He also took some time from his busy work schedule to attend Woodrow Wilson College of Law in Atlanta, where, in 1978, he graduated magna cum laude with a Juris Doctorate degree.

John eventually co-founded his own company, a consulting business, CompBasics Inc., where he served as CEO and president for 17 years. His list of clients there included: IBM, Bellsouth, Southern Company, Baxter Healthcare and Sun Trust Bank. Chandler had many notable achievements while dealing with these companies and handling thousands of stores and, in some cases, billions of dollars in store sales.

“I have often told people throughout my life that the most magical, impactful and significant period of time, was the time I spent in East Greenwich, and attending EGHS,” Chandler said. “I was very fortunate to be part of this very beautiful, warm and compassionate community that was blessed with the finest teaching staff anyone could hope for.

“I recall, in particular, how proud my classmates were to call themselves Avengers, as we participated in local charity and athletic events.

“I was recently blessed to attend our 50th class reunion, and I can assure all of you, that the love for, and spirit of, East Greenwich High School, endures to this day.”

Diane McDonald is a 1969 graduate of East Greenwich High School. But, way before that she started her lifelong involvement with horses. She started riding them 10 years before, at age 8, at Peter Pots Pottery in Kingston, R.I.

At age 10 she was competing in local shows, and, at age 12, for her Christmas present, she got her first pony, Dapper Dan. The next year she moved up to bigger shows at the Providence Auditorium, major shows around New England, and even at Madison Square Garden.

Along the way she received year end awards from the R.I. and New England Horsemen’s associations’ in Pony Hunter and Junior Hunter.

In 1966 the family moved to a small farm on Howland Road and Diane started teaching neighborhood children about horses and riding. Dapper Dan died in 1967 and Diane named her farm after him.

In 1972, Diane graduated from URI with a B.S. in mathematics. That same year she received the RI ASPCA Award. In 1973 she graduated from the Potomac Horse Center with a

British Horsemaster’s Degree. Along with teaching and coaching (cheerleaders) at EG Junior High, she started Dapper Dan Farm as a full operation.

She also won the Rhode Island and New England championships aboard, L’Hirondelle, in the Working Hunter Division. She was to ride him him to championships again, most notably at the Tampa (Fla.) Invitational Horse Show.

In 1974 Diane was named Young Professional Business Woman of the Year  by the East Greenwich Chamber of Commerce and was runner-up for the Rhode Island Award. However, she was voted to the board of the R.I. Horseman Association Directors. Later she was voted to the New England Welsh Association’s Board of Directors.

In 1975, Diane moved Dapper Dan Farms to Ives Road, its present location, where it continues to prosper and turn out top horses and riders.

She has gone on to be named President of the Rhode Island Horseman’s Association and many other boards and councils both in Rhode Island and New England. She has also coached riders, including her sister, Bethany, to championships in riding and showing.

More than all her accomplishments in the World of Horses, is the pride she felt when her own daughter, Ashley, won the Rhode Island Horseman’s Association Mini Medals Finals title, and then, was named to the Rhode Island team at the New England Equitation Championships, which took the four top RI riders, to compete in the Challenge of the States.

Bernice Pescosolido graduated from East Greenwich High School in 1970. She was one of two valedictorians for her class, and, was the top female graduate. She received a B.A. from the University of Rhode Island in 1974 and a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1982.

Currently she is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology at Indiana University. She is also the director of the Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research, and Co-Director of the Indiana University Network Science Institute. Throughout her career she has focused on social issues in health, illness and healing.

Bernice’s research agenda addresses how social networks connect individuals to their communities and to institutional structures. This agenda encompasses three basic areas of health care services, stigma and suicide research. In the early 1990s, she developed the Network Episode Model, designed to help people recognize and respond to health problems and to use health services. She initiated the first major national study of the stigma of mental illness in the United States in over 40 years.

In 2005 she was presented with the American Sociological Association’s Leo G. Reeder Award for a career of distinguished scholarship in medical sociology. In 2009 her research into gene x environment interaction earned her the Eric Freidson Outstanding Publication Award from the American Sociological Association Section on Medical Sociology. In 2011 she won the Leonard I. Pearlin Award for Distinguished Contributions to the Sociological Study of Mental Health.

In 2013, Bernice was asked by actress Glenn Close to chair the Scientific Advisory Council for her nonprofit organization, Bring Change 2 Mind, which Close founded to address stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness. one of their goals is to bring Change 2 Mind to college campuses.

Matt Plain attended East Greenwich schools from Grades K to 12, graduating from East Greenwich High in 1994.

Along the way he garnered many honors in both athletics and academics. He was quarterback on the football team, named captain in 1993. That same year he was All-Academic and All Division. A Kent County Player of the Year finalist, he topped that off by being named to the National Football Foundation’s Golden Dozen Award.

He played on the basketball team for four years. In baseball he was All Division and on the All Class B All Star team.

He was President of the National Junior Honor Society and then was named to the National Honor Society his senior year. He also served as a volunteer tutor at Eldredge School, was editor of the Crimson Yearbook one year and sports editor the next.

He belonged to the DECA program and was a State Champion in 1993.

Matt was EGHS’s representative for the Providence Journal Honor Roll Award in 1994, and was chosen Best All-Around Male Athlete that year, also winning the Uno Uustal Award for Most Valuable Athlete-Class of 1994.

He attended the University of North Carolina, where he was a Dean’s List student. He received his bachelor’s degree there while also working 30 hours a week. At Chapel Hill he served as a volunteer tutor, a youth basketball and baseball coach, and, a volunteer for Habitat for Humanity.

Upon graduation he taught math, science, social studies and english at a junior high school. He also coached football, wrestling and baseball. At nights he worked on and achieved a master of education degree.

Moving back to Rhode Island, he entered law school at Roger Williams University, where he  was a member of the RWU Law Review, was an Honors Program participant, was a seven-time Cali Award winner for excellence in legal research and writing, received a Feinstein Grant, served as a legal intern at the R.I. governor’s office, was a member of the Association of Public Interest Law and a research assistant for a legal writing professor and a constitutional law professor.

Matt graduated from Roger Williams School of Law, fifth in his class and passed the bar exams in Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts.

After serving a judicial clerkship he joined the law offices of Barton Gilman LLP and was elevated to partner in just six years.

Matt is a member of the East Greenwich School Committee. He also serves on the Advisory Board to the Roger Williams University School of Education and sits on 14 other boards and councils.

Among his professional honors, Matt is a five-time Rising Star honoree from “Super Lawyer” magazine, the Mortar Board Award from the Segue Institute of Learning and a recipient of the Providence Business News 40 Under Forty Award.


The EGHS Wall of Honor is sponsored by EGHS alumnus Allen Gammons of Berkshire Hathaway Gammons Realty.

If you have any questions concerning the event, please call committee co-chairs Bob Houghtaling at 230-2246 or Chris Cobain at 398-1562.

School Committee Passes $39 Million Budget

 

The budget includes a librarian at the high school and a director of teaching and learning.

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

In a 7-0 vote, the School Committee passed a $39.1 million budget Tuesday night, which includes asking the town for $35.4 million, a nearly 4 percent increase – the maximum possible under state law – over last year’s allocation.

Originally, the School Committee had asked “budget owners” – building principals and other administrators – to level-fund their budgets, which resulted in a 2.9 percent increase for the town’s part of the budget due to contractual salary and transportation cost increases. But at their meeting March 20, the panel asked Supt. Victor Mercurio to revisit the budget with those budget owners to add in those items they deemed critical for the integrity of the district’s educational offerings.

On Tuesday, Mercurio presented $340,000 in additional budget requests, including $200,000 for maintenance (both ongoing and deferred), and $80,000 for a reading program for the lower elementary schools Frenchtown and Meadowbrook.

“It’s not that we’re trying to fill every possible percentage of what we’re able to ask for to fulfill a wish list,” said Chairwoman Carolyn Mark. “We’re trying to regain some ground.”

Mark was referring to the current (fiscal year 2018) budget, which fell short of what the committee had deemed necessary. A year ago, the School Committee asked the Town Council for a 4 percent budget increase ($1.3 million). The Town Council budget level-funded the schools but took around $530,000 in administrative costs off the district’s books. That resulted in the School Committee cutting the library media specialist position at the high school among other things.

In the current budget, the high school librarian is restored and there is money for the long-desired position of director of teaching and learning (i.e. a curriculum director).

“This isn’t a wish list, these aren’t luxuries,” said Committee member Matt Plain. “The suffering compounds over time” without sufficient budget money.

Plain suggested that school administrators attend the School Committee’s presentation of its budget to the Town Council since they are the boots on the ground who really know what’s needed.

“Everything we’re going to put before the Town Council we can back up,” he said. “Not just that it’s something good – we can back it up that it’s something that’s necessary.”

Committeeman Jeff Dronzek – chair of the district’s finance subcommittee – said he thought the committee should pass a budget even just slightly below a 4 percent ask from the town as a show of good faith.

“To push the limits because we can isn’t necessarily the best thing we can do,” he argued. “Yeah, if you don’t ask you don’t get it but I think we need to be cognizant of the entire situation…. I think if we put something out there that’s a little bit lighter than 4 percent, that puts us in a better negotiating position.”

Dronzek also expressed frustration that the committee still did not know the district’s fund balance (i.e. surplus). Typically, the town’s audit is completed by now and the district knows how much money it has in surplus. This year, for a variety of reasons, the town sought extensions through March 31 to submit audit figures to the state. While town officials said during a Town Council meeting March 26 that the audit was on track for state submission by the end of the week, town Finance Director Linda Dykeman did not offer any new information at Tuesday’s School Committee meeting about the school district’s fund balance.

Mercurio said he would have more information about the fund balance at the  April 24 School Committee meeting. However, that wasn’t going to help in the current budget discussion since, by Town Charter, the School Committee must submit its budget request to the town by April 15.

After the committee approved the budget request, Chairwoman Mark stressed that this was just the start of the budget process and that there would be a lot more discussion before the Town Council votes on the final town budget in June.



 

Police Log: Drunk Driving and Suspicious Speeding

By Bethany J. Hashway

Monday, March. 12

11:51 a.m. – Police arrested a Providence man, 33, for driving on a suspended license after pulling him over for speeding on Exchange Street near King Street. Police spoke with the driver, who said he didn’t have any identification on him. Checks on him using his name showed the license suspension. The man told police he’d been visiting friends on Duke Street; police said the house on Duke Street where the man had visited was known for drug activity. He said he knew nothing about that. He told police his license had been suspended for 10 years. Police could smell a strong odor of marijuana coming from the car. The man said he had a medical marijuana card but didn’t have the card with him and didn’t have any marijuana with him. The man was taken into custody and processed at the police department. He was later released with issued a District Court summons.

Wednesday, March. 14

11:15 a.m.  – Police arrested a Pawtucket woman, 32, for driving with a revoked license after police were called to 900 Division St. for a car accident with injuries. The driver of the first car told police his back was sore so rescue was called. The driver of the second car had told police her arm hurt so a second rescue was requested. The driver in the first car had told police he had been rear ended by the second car while he was waiting to turn left into a driveway. The woman who was driving the second car involved told police that she didn’t realize the car into front of her was slowing down to turn and she couldn’t stop in time. Both cars had to be towed; the drivers were transported to the hospital. Police did routine checks on the drivers and found the woman’s license was revoked. She was issued a District Court summons for the second offense.

Thursday, March. 15

12:41 a.m – As police were doing a routine check of the Park-and-Ride on South County Trail they had found a blue Nissan Altima with Massachusetts license plates that appeared to be abandoned. Police did checks on the car, which showed that the car was registered to EAN Holdings LLC out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, but had been reported stolen to  North Providence police on Feb. 22. While searching the car, police found that the driver’s side door was unlocked and two key fobs were on the floor under the steering while. Police also noted that there were minor scrapes to the back bumper. Police did smell a faint odor of burnt marijuana coming from inside the car. The car was a rental so police called the rental company; they said someone from the company would pick up the car.

Saturday, March. 17

1:15 p.m. – A resident from Marlborough Street told police he had received a package from Home Depot he did not order at his house on March 15. The package contained a white rope. The man told police he’d talked to someone at Home Depot who said the rope had been ordered along with a wifi thermostat. The man reported that he doesn’t have an Home Depot credit card account but someone had apparently opened up an account in the man’s name and used that account for the order. The man cancelled the card.

Sunday, March 18

2:05 p.m. – Police arrested an East Greenwich woman, 54, for driving while intoxicated after they were alerted from another driver. The woman was heading east on Division Street toward South County Trail. The driver who alerted police continued to follow the car and police caught up with it at Cindy Ann Drive and Middle Road. As police watched, the car drifted over the center line twice and even into the opposite lane of travel. Police tried to stop the car but the driver did not pull over. Eventually, police got the driver to stop; she stopped right in the middle of the street. When talking to the women in her car, police could smell alcohol on her breath. Her eyes were bloodshot and her speech was slurred. When police asked her for license and registration she asked if she could go home. Police had to repeat the request several times. As the woman was getting her license out of her purse, police saw a small bottle of alcohol in it. The woman complied with police requests that she take field sobriety tests, which she failed. Police took her into custody and transported her to EGPD headquarters for processing. She was charged with driving under the influence, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license and refusal to submit to a chemical test (second offense). Police also cited her for leaving lane of travel and operating left of center.

This Week in EG: School Committee, Wine & Wonderful, Bunny Hop 5K

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 2

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

Tuesday, April 3

Historic Cemetery Advisory Commission – The panel meets at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.

School Committee meeting – On the agenda, the panel will vote on approval of a $38.8 million proposed FY 2019 budget and will discuss rental fees for facilities and fields. Find the superintendent’s March 20 budget presentation here.

Wednesday, April 4

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.

Opioid Task Force meeting – The first meeting of the newly assembled panel starts at 2:30 at Town Hall. Here’s the agenda.

Planning Board meeting – On the agenda, the board will review preliminary plan for “Castle Street Cottages,” a 9-unit residential redevelopment and a final plan review for “Frenchtown Place,” a 11-lot cluster subdivision.

Thursday, April 5

A Talk w/Providence Dep. Police Chief – Friends of the EG Free Library presents Providence Deputy Police Chief Thomas A. Verdi, who will share what it takes for our community police departments to maintain peace and order in turbulent times. Topics will include “red flags,” active shootings, gun violence, mental health issues, and community partnerships. From 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the library, 82 Peirce Street.

Friday, April 6

Wine and Wonderful – Tickets are available for the East Greenwich Rotary’s annual food and wine extravaganza at Swift Community Center. Support EG Rotary and all the great programs and organizations it supports. Buy tickets here.

Saturday, April 7

EG Track Club’s 7th Annual Bunny Hop 5K & 1 Mile Fun Run – The East Greenwich Track Club’s 7th Annual Bunny Hop 5k and 1 Mile Fun Run is coming up on Saturday, April 7, starting at 9 a.m. at Goddard Park. Proceeds go towards fully funding the popular Summer Track Series for ages 4-14 (do not have to be an EG resident to participate) on Wednesday nights in July at the EGHS track. We’ve been able to provide the series for free for 6 years. Last summer, 300 children came out during the first week! Find out more and register here.

OTHER ITEMS OF NOTE

Recycling is ON this week.

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

April 12

“Wonderful Women” – The EG Chamber of Commerce presents an event for women focused on “wisdom, wellness, and beauty” at Quidnessett Country Club. There will be workshops, food, entertainment, and expo tables. Tickets are $35 ($40 after April 9).

April 15

History at the Varnum Armory Memorial MuseumPresented by docent Patrick Donovan and presented by the EG Historic Preservation Society, return to Revolutionary War days, when then-General Washington visited, and experience the historical militia scene of that period. Refreshments will be served.

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 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.




 

How Much Does EG Owe for Extra Legal Work?

Attorney Tim Cavazza at the Town Council meeting Sept. 11.

Town paid Whelan, Corrente $104,000 for work through November – no bills have been received since. 

By Elizabeth F. McNamara

Sometime before last November – when Gayle Corrigan was named town manager –  the town contracted with the law firm Whelan, Corrente, Flanders, Kinder & Siket for legal work centered on the town’s effort to reduce costs at the fire department. That work cost the town $104,518 through Nov. 30. Although legal work has continued apace since November, the town has received no bill.

Four months have passed and, according to town officials, “The town does not have any bills from Whelan, Corrente, Flanders, Kinder & Siket, LLP, [for December through March] in their care, custody or control. . . . ”

It’s unclear what arrangement the town has with the law firm since the town has declined to release the letter of engagement it signed. The City of Providence has released a copy of its letter of engagement with Whelan, Corrente from 2015. In that letter, lawyer Tim Cavazza stated the firm would bill the city monthly and would charge a monthly rate of 1 percent for any bill not paid within 45 days.

Cavazza is the lawyer who has been negotiating and acting on behalf of the town on firefighter labor-related issues. Since November, Cavazza has spent hours in negotiating sessions with the firefighters and the town has filed suit against the firefighters in Superior Court. Without the letter of engagement, it’s not known what Cavazza’s firm is charging. In Providence in 2015, Cavazza charged $230 an hour.

Billing clients monthly is the norm, according to several lawyers EG News talked to for this article.

Some clients could have different billing cycles, they said, but it was not typical for a public entity to request anything other than monthly billing.

Cavazza’s work is in addition to work done by Town Solicitor David D’Agostino, who is paid $11,500 a month for his services, as well as lawyer Andrew Teitz, who works for the Planning Department and bills $195 an hour.

The total 2018 budget for legal work is $322,500, with $145,000 going to fees and services (and at least of that $135,000 going for the town solicitor); $100,000 in claims reserve(money earmarked for an eventual claims payment); $2,500 for incidentals; and $75,000 for professional/arbitration.