March 20, 2019

News Briefs

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Police Chief Parella Retires
Mayor Bob DaSilva has announced the retirement of Police Chief Christopher Parella effective Feb. 15, 2019. Parella, 56, has served on the East Providence Police Dept. for nearly 30 years. He was first sworn in as an officer in 1990 and rose through the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, captain, acting chief and ultimately rising to the rank of police chief in 2014.

“Chief Parella has served the city of East Providence with honor and distinction since he first joined the department nearly 30 years ago,” Mayor Bob DaSilva said. “We thank Chief Parella for his dedication to the department and to this community. We wish him well in retirement.”

Under Parella’s direction, the police department has acquired new police vehicles, upgraded its security systems and revamped the SWAT unit.

Parella, an East Providence resident and graduate of Roger Williams University and Bridgewater State, said he wanted to be an educator or coach, but felt the calling to become a police officer.

He accomplished that and more.

“Chief Parella at a time when the city was facing some uncertainty was called upon to serve as Acting City Manager and laid the groundwork for a smooth transition for my team and a mayoral form of government,” DaSilva added.

In a letter sent to city employees Parella wrote, " Fellow City Workers, please be advised that... I will retire from my position as Chief of Police. I have been a member of the Police Department and a city worker since being sworn in 1990, eventually becoming Chief in 2014. I have thoroughly enjoyed every minute of my time with the Police Department, the city, and especially the time I have served as your Police Chief.

Simple words cannot express the heartfelt gratitude and thanks I feel for the personal and professional support you have shown me during my tenure as both Chief of Police and Acting City Manager. I have developed a strong appreciation for the work you do, and the relationships I have forged during my twenty-eight plus years with the city will remain with me for the rest of my life. I plan to leave for retirement quietly, respectfully and with little to no fanfare, but with the sincere hope that I lived up to the incredible expectations that are attached to the role of Chief of Police.

Once again a sincere thank you for all of your support throughout the years. I wish you all the best of luck and all of the happiness life has to offer. God Bless!"

The police department membership said in a statement, " Today we salute our Chief of Police, Colonel Christopher Parella, as he completes over 28 years of service with the East Providence Police Department. Colonel Parella's career is distinguished by a commitment to the community which he happily served, and to the men and women who serve under him. Chief, we wish you and your family safe and happy travels in the next chapter of your life!"

William Nebus, Deputy Police Chief, has been named acting Police Chief as the City will conduct a replacement process for Parella.

East Providence Police Officer Mello To Carry Olympic "Flame of Hope"
Special Olympics Rhode Island and the City of East Providence released a joint announcement to say that Det. Sgt. Diogo R. Mello of the East Providence Police Department, has been selected to serve as part of the Final Leg team, leading up to the 2019 Special Olympics World Summer Games.

The Final Leg team, a team of 112, which includes 96 law enforcement officer runners, 10 Special Olympics athletes, and logistics personnel – will serve as Guardians of the Flame®.

Mello, a 29-year member of East Providence Police Department, will also serve as a Guardian of the Flame® as he runs the “Flame of Hope” throughout the United Arab Emirates (UAE), leading up to the start of the Special Olympics World Summer Games in Abu Dhabi.

“We were excited to learn Det. Sgt. Mello was selected to not only represent the East Providence Police Department but all of Rhode Island in the Final Leg Law Enforcement Torch Run,” Mayor Bob DaSilva said. “Det. Sgt. Mello along with Cpl. Tammy David have dedicated years of their time to this wonderful cause. Our community is so proud of these officers and their dedication to SORI.”

Mello has been a volunteer with Special Olympics for more than 10 years. From 2016 through 2018, Mello was a member of the Torch Run Super Plunge Team https://vimeo.com/207340691, a team which consisted of a small group of dedicated individuals who plunged into the frigid waters of Galilee; every hour on the hour for 24 hours. As a member of that team, Mello raised more than $30,000 for the Special Olympics. Mello and his team continue to raise funds for the Final Leg team. Read more about Mello and his team and information on how to donate here: https://bit.ly/2tsGdOJ.

Final Leg runners from around the world were selected to proudly represent their local Torch Run and Special Olympics Programs. The Law Enforcement Torch Run® Final Leg for the 2019 World Games will take place from March 3 through March 14.

The run will honor the spirit of the Special Olympics global movement and deliver a message of hope to communities where people with intellectual disabilities continue to fight for acceptance and inclusion.

The Final Leg Team will attend many community events and embark on different routes, running the “Flame of Hope” throughout Ajman, Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi.

The Final Leg and community visits will raise excitement for the World Games throughout the country.

“For more than 38 years, the Law Enforcement Torch Run has been an integral part of the Special Olympics Movement,” said Khalfan Al Mazrouei, managing director of the 2019 Special Olympics World Games. “We look forward to cheering on the Final Leg Team as they bring the World Games message of inclusion throughout the country.”

The Final Leg Team is slated to safely deliver the “Flame of Hope” to the 2019 Special Olympics World Games Opening Ceremony on March 14, which is expected to attract more than 45,000 spectators while being viewed by millions worldwide via global broadcast partners ESPN and Abu Dhabi Media. Games will be held March 14 through March 21.

Henderson Bridge to be Replaced
In a RI Department of Transportation press release, it was announced that the often used Henderson Bridge is slated to be replaced. The federal government will be investing an additional $54.5 million in Rhode Island bridge improvement and repair projects this year according to provisions in a new spending law authored by U.S. Senator Jack Reed. Reed joined with Governor Gina Raimondo, the Congressional delegation, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) and Mayors Elorza and DaSilva at the Henderson Bridge last month to lay out plans for the funds.

Senator Reed joined Governor Gina Raimondo, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, U.S. Representative Jim Langevin, U.S. Representative David Cicilline, Providence Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, East Providence Mayor Roberto DaSilva, RIDOT Director Peter Alviti and Building Trades Council President Michael Sabitoni at an event overlooking the structurally deficient Henderson Bridge, which is set to undergo a $70 million renovation, to discuss efforts to make bridge improvements and transportation investments that will help create jobs and improve the safety and efficiency of the state's transportation network.

Built in 1969, the Henderson Bridge is a 26-span, 2,000-foot bridge which carries vehicles over the Seekonk River from East Providence to Providence. By replacing this bridge, RIDOT will reduce its statewide structurally deficient bridge area by 12 percent.

"Senator Reed has been a great champion for the infrastructure projects in Rhode Island," said Senator Whitehouse, a senior member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. "Upgrading our roads and bridges is one of the federal delegation's top priorities. On the Environment and Public Works Committee, I'm fighting for a major infrastructure investment to bring roads and bridges here and across the country in line with modern safety standards and to create jobs on a large scale."

The Henderson Bridge and Henderson Expressway were overbuilt as they were originally constructed as part of an unfinished highway. Approximately 20,000 vehicles cross it daily and there are six lanes. It has been rated as structurally deficient since 1996 when RIDOT first started keeping such records. As a result, RIDOT has spent $4 million over the last ten years on repairs to keep it safe. It has been load rated four times since 2010 due to the continual and increasing amounts of deterioration.

The first phase of construction will take the bridge down to one lane in each direction. It will also include 2,500 feet of separated bike/pedestrian path infrastructure. The smaller footprint will require less maintenance and will free up almost 33 acres for potential development and recreational use.

"We are truly grateful to Senator Jack Reed for his leadership in being able to secure the funds to bring much needed improvements to the Henderson Bridge, which will create better access to Waterfront Drive and our waterfront as a whole," East Providence Mayor Bob DaSilva said. "The transformation of Henderson Bridge not only fortifies the collaboration between two cities, but also allows residents of the state and the region to benefit from what will be a destination spot for generations to come."

Additional funds of approximately $15.1 million for highway improvements are also in the bill. RIDOT will take some time to determine how these funds should be allocated.

The first phase of the Henderson Bridge replacement is expected to create about 800 job years. The state will be asked to match 20 percent of the project cost.

The bridge was named after its designer, engineer George Henderson of Rumford.

Former Councilman at Large and Mayor Jim Briden Opines
"A few years ago, I attended a local conference which included a session on how decisions are made in government. The idea being that a good decision making process which, in a sense, becomes part of a system will over time result in actions which are ultimately beneficial to society. This concept is applicable to every level of government.

So one of the areas I focused on while recently in elected office in East Providence was on how we make decisions in our city. The concept I emphasized over the past two years was that important financial decisions must be based on thorough due diligence and made as a part of a well thought out and continuously refined multi-year plan.

This approach makes what an elected body refrains from doing as important as actions which are ultimately taken. This was why, for example, last Spring it was necessary to examine the school bond options/scenarios over the course of at least two meetings where the due diligence was done based on multi-year projections showing the tax/fiscal impact over time.

The purpose was also to establish a model for our City which includes a deliberative process for making important decisions based on an expanded time horizon. This approach brings into focus the idea that we need to make choices on how we use our limited resources which in the long run results in a highest and best use.

Over time, when we look back on decisions that from hindsight we wish we had not made, one can in most instances attribute this to a more systemic problem based on the absence of a good decision making process.

Over the past two years, the City Council made important financial decisions using a good process and model which will have a long term beneficial impact on our City.

This included reallocating the annual tax year synchronization contribution (2.3M) to the debt service on a future school bond, not increasing our debt so as to safeguard our future borrowing capacity for a new high school while making a significant allocation of 10M which will result in important savings on future road repair.

These decisions were the result of a deliberative process, working closely with our fiscal advisors and predicated on a long term plan. In sum, I believe that establishing and refining appropriate models for making important decisions serves our city well," stated Briden.

Looff - East Providence Arts Festival Committee Seeks Volunteers
"The Looff-East Providence Arts Festival committee will be meeting on Saturday March 9th at 1pm at the Riverside Library. This is an open meeting for anyone who would like to be a part of planning and volunteering for the festival, " said Committee Chairman, Rick Lawson.

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