It was a newsy year in East Greenwich, with all of Rhode Island following the actions of the 2016-18 Town Council, their controversial town manager, Gayle Corrigan, and the stunning 2018 election results. But restaurant news also proved popular among readers. Here are the 10 stories that got the most number of page views. On Friday, we will feature those stories that may not have garnered the most clicks but EG News thought deserved a second look as 2018 winds down.
A few days after the election in November that saw a Democratic sweep on the Town Council and her own loss, Council President Sue Cienki sent an email to EG News that led with the sentence, “The town is bankrupt.” The email went on to spell out all the woes she saw as facing the town, including high municipal employee pension liabilities and her feeling that people are being taxed out of their homes. She also vented her frustration with EG firefighter contract and the firefighters generally, as well as with the press for not reporting her warnings. With more than 5,800 clicks, this story was far and away EG News’s widest read story of the year.
The second most-read story for 2018 (at 3,200 clicks) was about the change of ownership at venerable Main Street pizzeria Frank & John’s in July. John Illiano sold to Lucy Chacon after 45 years. For a downtown that has seen a lot of change in recent years – from a place where you could buy groceries and hardware supplies to a destination location known for its high-end restaurants, the idea that Frank & John’s would continue, albeit without the familiar white-aproned Illiano, seemed to comfort readers.
While it came as no real surprise, the Town Council’s decision to fire manager Gayle Corrigan did prove newsworthy, the proverbial other shoe, after an election three weeks earlier that brought into office five candidates who had pledged to do exactly that: get rid of Corrigan. When the council did meet in that unusual Saturday session, they voted 5-0 to terminate Corrigan and named DPW director Joe Duarte to serve as acting town manager. Because Corrigan’s longtime business associate Linda Dykeman had resigned as the town and school finance director days after the election, the council also voted to search for a consultant to work with Duarte on finance and other operations. That story has been read nearly 2,900 times since it posted Nov. 28.
The fourth most clicked-on story in 2018 detailed the Town Council’s decision to approve Town Manager Gayle Corrigan’s firing of firefighter Rob Warner, who had been accused of lying, refusing to obey orders and speaking disrespectfully to superiors. Warner, who had been the department’s IT point person for 12 years, has since been charged with and pleaded not guilty to two felony charges of computer trespass in relation to his work in East Greenwich.
Many readers were interested in the story about the Grille on Main closing. When it opened in the early 1990s, it was perhaps a precursor to the restaurants that followed. And the bar was a meeting spot for a generation of 20-somethings, so its closure saddened many. After months of little or no activity at the site, it is slated to reopen in early spring as the East Greenwich outpost of Wakefield’s Tavern on Main. The story about the closing got more than 2,400 clicks.
In August, Superior Court Judge Susan McGuirl ruled that the town could not change the firefighter platoon structure in the middle of a valid contract, another major court decision against the town. In real terms, that meant the town had only to wait until June to enact the platoon change, but that seems unlikely now with the all-Democratic Town Council. The story got more than 2,300 page views.
This article, which posted July 3, got nearly 2,300 page views, an indication of the intense interest in the election for Town Council. At the time the article posted, there were 11 candidates, but independent James Rosenman dropped out of the race before signatures to get on the ballot were due. The biggest surprise was that only three people signed up to run as Republicans – something not seen in many election cycles. Conversely the Democrats had a full slate – something not seen since the early 1990s.
This was the big story of the year for East Greenwich, even if the page views (upwards of 2,220) don’t reflect it. For the first time in at least 50 years, maybe ever, East Greenwich elected an all-Democrat Town Council. The unifying theme: they had all pledged to get rid of Town Manager Gayle Corrigan. Significantly, Council President Sue Cienki, the top vote-getter in 2016, finished just 4 votes ahead of the lowest vote getter, independent and first-time candidate Bill Higgins.
While stories about town government predominated on EG News in 2018, this story about the closure of the EG Golf Club was a reminder of how much readers value learning about the ups and downs of businesses in town. The fact that property owner New England Tech finally just locked the gate one day after the club’s manager failed to pay rent for several months, added urgency to the story. Since then, the club has reopened under new management, with a new restaurant in place of what had been Bistro Nine: Circe Restaurant and Bar. More than 2,200 people clicked on the closure story.
What’s known as a preview story, this post rounds out the top ten stories for 2018 in terms of page views. Like the #4 story above, this story was about Rob Warner, 14-year EGFD veteran, who subsequently was fired. This story garnered 2,200 page views.
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