March 25, 2019

News Briefs

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DaSilva Ready for January 8th Inauguration - Named Transition Team
East Providence Mayor-Elect Bob DaSilva announced the formation of a transition team after the election to help guide him as he prepares to move into his role as the city's first elected Mayor. The transition team’s makeup included individuals with experience in business, municipal and state government as well as in the arts and recreation. The team is chaired by Ernest Almonte, former Auditor General for Rhode Island from 1994 to 2010. Almonte is assisted by vice-chair and State Representative Gregg Amore.

Team members met with the various city department heads and employees to learn which strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats exist in the delivery of services. By having one-on-one encounters with each department, DaSilva hopes to get an in-depth view of city hall from the point of view of its employees.

"I want to learn through the eyes of experienced individuals with various backgrounds what our employees need and desire to improve their delivery of services. Our team will also evaluate if we are employing best practices and making the best use of our personnel resources," said DaSilva. "I am honored to have an incredible group of people volunteering to help us shape a successful administration. I couldn't be more pleased to have a person like former Auditor General Ernest Almonte leading the team. His finance background, integrity and leadership will be invaluable in guiding me in our transition," said DaSilva.

Acting City Manager Chief Christopher Parella has met with the team and will be aiding them in setting up the meetings between the transition team and department heads and employees. A subgroup of the team will specifically look at the state of the arts, culture and recreational opportunities within the city. The transition team will prepare a report to the mayor detailing their findings.

Transition Team Members:
Ernest Almonte - Former Auditor General for Rhode Island and CPA
Greg Amore - EPHS Athletic Director, Educator and RI State Representative
Valerie Perry - Former City Clerk and Councilwoman
Charlie Tsonos - Ward 1, School Committee Chairman
Tony Ferreira - Ward 2 School Committeeman
Nate Cahoon - Ward 3 School Committeeman and Councilman-Elect
Robert Britto - Ward 1 Councilman
Paul Moura - Former RI State Senator and Representative and member of the East Providence Waterfront Commission
Helder Cunha - RI State Representative, Business Owner Construction
Chrissy Rossi - Former City Councilwoman and School Committeewoman
William Fazioli - Former East Providence City Manager and Chairman of the East Providence Waterfront Commission
Jeanne Boyle - Former East Providence Planning Director
Laura McNamara - Executive Director of East Providence Area Chamber of Commerce
Michael Marcello Esq. - Former RI State Representative, Former Woonsocket City Solicitor
Peter Santos - Director of Information Technology Providence School Department
Joshua Luis Pereira - Computer Operation Specialist & Business Owner
Steve Rosa - Business Owner - Specializing in Marketing
Melissa Linhares Spurr - Business Owner - Specializing in Marketing
Phil Tirrell - Business Owner - Specializing in Realty
Maureen Gomes-Lopez - Retired Johnson & Johnson Sales Field Personnel Administration, Retired AFSCME Executive/Chief Negotiator Higher Education
Mark Mancinho - AFL-CIO Political Director
Samantha Burnett - Certified Paralegal background in Finance, Legal Research and Acquisitions
Daniel Brito - Business Owner - Specializing in Construction & Building
Rick Lawson - Information Technology & Arts
Damian Ramos - President Mohawks - recreation and arts
Mike Resendes - Business Owner & President of EPYSA
Jen Cahoon - Business Owner and Artist
Alba Curti - Retired Director of East Providence Recreation Dept.
Nick Shattuck - Educator and EPHS Assistant Athletic Director
Bill Mulholland - Retired Director of Pawtucket Parks & Recreation
Richard Watrous - Local Designer, Arts Advocate & Creative Consultant
Mayor-Elect DaSilva Nominates Municipal Judge

East Providence Mayor-Elect Bob DaSilva is set to appoint Lisette M. Gomes of East Providence as East Providence Municipal Court judge. Gomes would oversee cases involving minimum housing violations, violation of city ordinances and RI traffic code infractions.

"East Providence needs a judge who can handle the city' s busy Municipal Court, which last year processed more than 5,000 cases," DaSilva said. "An accomplished solicitor, Gomes' knowledge of the law, years of experience in municipal court litigation and her strong interpersonal skills will be an asset to our community."

The appointment of Gomes to serve as East Providence Municipal Court judge is subject to approval of the new City Council at the Jan. 8, 2019 inauguration meeting.

Gomes currently serves as Pawtucket's assistant solicitor where she prosecutes criminal violations, defends the city against civil claims and assists with labor arbitration. She also currently serves as Central Falls' housing prosecutor, where she oversees housing code violations.

Prior to joining the City of Pawtucket in 2015 and the City of Central Falls in 2013, Gomes launched her own practice in 2012 to focus on personal injury, landlord-tenant and criminal defense matters.

A resident of East Providence since 2013, Gomes' family immigrated to the United States from Cabo Verde in the late 1970s. Gomes is fluent in Creole and conversational in Portuguese and Spanish.

Gomes earned her Juris Doctorate in law from the University of Toledo and a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Salve Regina University. Current East Providence Municipal Court Judge George Furtado did not seek reappointment to the post and has offered to help Gomes in her transition to the role of Municipal Court Judge.
City Wins $850,000 grant from Volkswagen to Clean Sabin Point

Outgoing Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Kilmartin announced that East Providence will receive an $850,000 grant which is intended to help the City open Sabin Point beach to public swimming. In a December 12th press release, Kilmartin said that Rhode Island will receive $4.1 Million in Grants from Volkswagen As a result of a settlement with Volkswagen for violating Rhode Island state laws prohibiting the sale and leasing of diesel vehicles equipped with illegal and undisclosed emissions control defeat device software, Kilmartin announced the $4.1 million in funding for a variety of environmentally beneficial projects across the state.

Kilmartin stated that "... grants from the Volkswagen settlement monies will go to benefit opening of upper bay beach, lead poisoning prevention, solar panels at Salty Brine Beach, Asthma intervention among youth, environmental mapping and data development, healthy homes initiatives, environmental stewardship education programs, and many more efforts."

Other entities in addition to East Providence receiving grants include the University of Rhode Island, the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), Rhode Island Department of Health (HEALTH), Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT), HousingWorks RI, the Green & Healthy Homes Initiative (GHHI), the RI Schools Recycling Club, and the Farm Fresh Harvest Kitchen.

"A silver lining of Volkswagen's malfeasance is being turned into a benefit for Rhode Island," said Attorney General Kilmartin. "It is through this settlement that we can have a real impact on the health and well-being of our citizens and support environmentally beneficial projects right here in Rhode Island. We chose grants based on the ability to most improve the quality of life for Rhode Island citizens, to further reduce harmful emissions from our environment, improve the health of our waterways, offset climate change hazards, and create environmentally-sound educational opportunities for students. I am especially excited about the Sabin Point Beach project, which will aid remediation efforts to finally re-open the Upper Bay beach to swimming after having been closed for decades and provide recreational opportunities for thousands who might not otherwise have access," said Kilmartin.

Settlement funds will support the City of East Providence's efforts to re-open Sabin Point Beach to swimming. This beach on the Upper Bay in East Providence has been closed for decades due to chronic water pollution in the Bay. However, water quality has now improved to a point where this beach could be re-opened if localized storm water issues were remediated. This project would partner with the City, DEM, and Save the Bay to undertake the remaining remedial work to improve storm water runoff water quality necessary to open the beach. The City is slated to use the $850,000 for a "Stormwater System Remediation Project to Re-Open Sabin Point Beach to Swimming."

Sabin Point Park is a favorite locale in the summer for people and families to take in cooling breezes and to recreationally fish off the pier. The East Bay Bicycle Path is a short distance from the park, as is the seasonal 1862 National Historic Landmark Charles I.D. Looff Carousel. Both of these facilities improve access to and increase the number of persons using the park and beach. This would represent the first and only beach in the Upper Bay opened to swimming in generations and act as a tangible testament to the success of the ongoing restoration of Narragansett Bay.

"The significant amount of VW funds awarded make a complete storm water retrofit of Sabin Point Park a reality," states Acting City Manager Christopher Parella. "Without these funds, project implementation would have been incremental and subject to intermittent grant funding typically requiring our City to match funds over an unknown length of time. We now have a real opportunity to return a swimmable beach to the citizens of East Providence in the not too distant future, which is an incredible and historic accomplishment. The City greatly appreciates the support of all who have collaborated with us on this end goal," added Parella.

New EPHS Planned Opening is 2021 (From three to four stories now)
In a somewhat tense but still informative School Committee meeting in late December, the committee was told that preliminary plans for the $189 million new high school were being readied and a "100% schematic design will be presented to the School Committee at the February 2019 meeting. The committee was told that the goal is to open the high school by 2021. A preliminary design plan will be discussed at the January 15th school committee meeting. Peregrine Group spokesperson, Sam Bradner gave the committee a brief outline of the project plans. Aspects of the new school design are still being worked on by the architectural firm.

One change that will occur is the height of the building. Originally the plan called for a three story school but after further study of the grounds and geological reports, it was decided to shrink the building's footprint and go to a four story school. "This will allow for a more stable foundation and better facilitation of the career center shops and labs which require higher ceilings," said project planners. An obvious disagreeable undertone developed between School board Chairman Charles Tsonos and member Joel Monteiro. Tsonos asked if the iconic EPHS clock tower was definitely going to remain. Tsonos also was concerned with the location of the career center lunch cafe. The cafe will be on an upper floor level and the clock tower will remain but there is a slight chance it may be moved. "The cafe will be on the second floor, near classrooms. It is a teaching station with lots of components. We are still vetting out these issues (clock tower, cafe)" said Bradner.

Tsonos also wanted to see a current classroom teacher be included on the school building committee. "I'd like to see a greater role for teachers, said Tsonos. "A teacher has a lot to offer as a day to day worker," he added. "Why do you think that's not happening now?" asked Monteiro. "I know where all of you are going with this," offered member Jessica Beauchaine. "If a teacher wants to be part of it, they should be," said Beauchaine. "This is a novel idea but not a new one," retorted Monteiro. Board member Nate Cahoon reiterated that teachers have been involved since day one and continue to be.

Superintendent Crowley's Contract Extended, Increased
The school committee voted 3-2 to give Superintendent of Schools Kathryn Crowley a three-year contract with a 3% salary increase in year one and a 2% increase in year two. The Superintendent, hired in 2015, is making about $150,000 currently. Her contract could exceed $160,000 by the third year. However the vote on this contract was not unanimous. "A lot of thought went into this. Where are we as a district today," said Joel Monteiro. "I'm very appreciative of the work she and her team have done for this district. We are moving in a good direction and her contract has clearly stated expectations. I am in full support of this," added Monteiro.

"I won't be supporting this contract," said member Tony Ferreira. I'm against it for one reason, one sticking point. Had we talked before I could have put this to bed but I'd rather not say until I talk to the Superintendent in private," said Ferreira. "This is nothing to do with her ability. After I talk to her for a half hour I'd be fine," added Ferreira. Nate Cahoon had key involvement in drafting the contract. "We looked at pay across the state. The Superintendent is now the 19th highest paid out of 39 districts in the state," said Cahoon. "The proposed salary increase is tied to the record of her performance over the past three years."

Tsonos said that he would be more supportive of a two-year contract. "It's not about job performance, I am concerned about contract length. We (committee) are here for two years and the terms should coincide," said the chairman.

City Police Make Arrests
The East Providence Police Department has issued a statement regarding a recent Armed Robbery that occurred at the Riverside Gas station located at 3339 Pawtucket Avenue in the Riverside section of the City.
"On Tuesday 12/11/18, East Providence Police officers responded to Riverside Gas, 3393 Pawtucket Avenue, for the report of an armed robbery in progress. Upon arrival, two suspects had fled the area. East Providence Police detectives immediately began their investigation. As a result, we are pleased to report the first suspect has been arrested.

Timothy Jordan, age 25, of Bullocks Point Avenue, Riverside RI, is being charged with: 1st Degree Robbery and Conspiracy to commit robbery. "Members of the East Providence Detective Division aggressively investigated this crime. The investigation, with assistance from other units within the police department quickly resulted in two suspects being identified. One of the suspects is a 25 year old male and the other suspect is a juvenile.

Investigators from the East Providence Police Department had executed a search warrant at an apartment complex located at 39 Bullocks Point Avenue. During the execution of the warrant, multiple items of evidentiary value were located at that residence. There was no one home at the residence at the time the warrant was executed," said Lt. Raymond Blinn in his statement.

EP Police Detective Lt. Raymond Blinn also announced the arrest of an arson suspect for a fire going back to 2016:
"The East Providence Police Department, in cooperation with the RI State Fire Marshal’s Office, and the East Providence Fire Department report the arrest of Dakota Cronin, age 24, formerly of 486 Bullocks Point Avenue East Providence, RI on the charges of 1st Degree Arson and 3 Counts of 4th Degree Arson. The charges stem from a 2016 case where two neighboring houses had fires set to their vehicles at the intersection of East Knowlton Street and Earle Avenue," stated Lt. Blinn.

"The Earle Avenue fire started in a truck that was parked in the driveway of the residence and spread to a boat parked next to it in the driveway and then to the attached garage of the house. The house was occupied at the time of the fire," Blinn continued.

While the neighbor from East Knowlton Street was assisting the resident at Earle Avenue, he noticed that the interior of his car, which was parked in his driveway, was on fire. He then rushed to his vehicle and put that fire out.

A joint investigation with the RI State Fire Marshal’s Office and the EP Fire Department was initiated. East Providence Detectives processed the scene and did recover some physical evidence, which was then sent to the State Crime Lab. In March of this year Detectives were notified that a piece of evidence that was recovered belonged to Cronin. That information, coupled with information developed through a lengthy investigation resulted in an arrest warrant being signed for Cronin on the above charges.

"The East Providence Police Department wants to acknowledge the assistance from the other agencies and also recognize the exceptional work by our determined and dedicated Detective Division," added Lt. Blinn.

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