WJAR: Westerly train station reopens with art gallery

WJAR: Westerly train station reopens with art gallery

By Miles Montgomery

WESTERLY, R.I. — Gov. Gina Raimondo, U.S. Sen. Jack Reed, U.S. Rep. Jim Langevin, and Rhode Island Department of Transportation Director Peter Alviti, Jr. joined the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly to celebrate the reopening of the Westerly Train Station Friday.

Following Amtrak’s change to online and mobile smartphone ticketing, the station was closed for the last two years. The new station features an indoor waiting area, access to restrooms while providing a new arts venue for the local Westerly community. The station will be closed Sunday to Tuesday but will open Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturday 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

“This project is a fantastic example of what can be accomplished through successful partnerships. The state, local community and the Artists’ Cooperative worked together on a solution that will provide a vital service to the public while expanding the cultural fabric of the community,” Raimondo said.

“It is great to see this historic train station being reopened to welcome travelers and art lovers alike. Instead of just a platform for passengers, it will serve as a platform for talented local artists to showcase their work in this unique setting,” said U.S. Senator Jack Reed. Senator Reed is the Ranking Member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development , who worked to provide record funding for Amtrak in 2018, some of which will help Westerly Train Station make needed improvements to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“This creative approach for reopening the Westerly Train Station provides a temporary home for the Artists’ Cooperative of Westerly, ensuring the public retains access to the works of local artists. I applaud the Gallery and RIDOT for working together to support Rhode Island’s art economy,” Langevin said.

“Westerly Station is an important part of our transit infrastructure,” Alviti said. “It is wonderful to see it come back to life with a new tenant. We appreciate the willingness of the Artists’ Cooperative to welcome Amtrak passengers. It creates a sense of vitality.”

Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly President Arlene Piacquadio said, “The Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly is pleased to join with RIDOT and the Ocean Community United Theater to unite our community through the arts with work of local artists displayed in the Westerly Train Station.”

The gallery is expected to remain in the station until renovations are completed on its former location, the United Theatre complex. The complex will be home to the gallery and will be the first satellite location of the Rhode Island Philharmonic Music School when the renovations are finished.

The Westerly station, owned by RIDOT, has served passengers since 1912 and provides service for Amtrak’s Northeast Regional trains, including nine stops on weekdays and six stops on weekends.

RIPR: JAMES LANGEVIN – US HOUSE DISTRICT 2 – DEMOCRAT 2018

RIPR: JAMES LANGEVIN – US HOUSE DISTRICT 2 – DEMOCRAT 2018

By RIPR Staff

Editor’s note: these are the candidate’s responses to questions provided by RIPR. The views expressed are the candidate’s alone, edited only in cases of inappropriate or libelous language. No changes have been made to correct errors of fact, spelling or grammar. 

What are your positions on immigration reform?

We need comprehensive immigration reform in this country. That means improving security at our border, but it also means reforming and modernizing our visa system. We also need to address the undocumented members of our communities, particularly the Dreamers brought to this country through no fault of their own. Unfortunately, far from working toward comprehensive reform, the current Administration has embraced senseless – and at times heartless – policies including a border wall, a travel ban targeted at Muslims, and, most disturbingly, the separation of children from their families at the border.

Should the Affordable Care Act be repealed and replaced? If so, by what?

Americans need affordable, quality health care. The Affordable Care Act was not a perfect law, but it was a significant step toward expanding coverage for millions of Americans, including 100,000 Rhode Islanders.  However, many Rhode Islanders are seeing steep premium increases due to the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine the law. That’s why I introduced the Individual Health Insurance Marketplace Improvement Act, a bill that would create a stabilization fund to increase competition among insurers and lower premiums. I hope to see more work on a bipartisan basis to advance solutions rather than overturn meaningful reforms, like protections for people with preexisting conditions, that have changed the lives of so many for the better.

Rhode Island was rated by CNBC as having among the worst infrastructure in the nation; Should transportation infrastructure be a more important issue in the US House’s next legislative session?

Rhode Island’s infrastructure is in desperate need of repair and modernization – especially our highway bridges, which are beaten down from extended use and corroded by storms. I am pleased the state is making this a priority, but we also need the federal government to pitch in more. That’s why I introduced the SAFE Bridges Act, which would direct up to $170 million in federal funds toward repairing Rhode Island’s bridges. I will continue to fight for funding that will enable our state to build the first-rate roads, bridges and public transit systems we need to support a 21st Century economy and allow Rhode Islanders to connect and travel safely and with ease.

How can Congress help solve the opioid crisis?

We must take a comprehensive approach to the opioid epidemic, including educating physicians about opioid prescribing practices, funding research that looks at alternative pathways and treatments to manage pain, and supporting programs that are the lifeline for those seeking treatment and recovery from addiction.  It’s also important to prevent these substances from arriving in our communities in the first place.  That’s why I’m pleased that my bill, the Joint Task Force to Combat Opioid Trafficking Act, passed the House of Representatives. The legislation creates a task force at the Department of Homeland Security to increase coordination within the Department and with public and private sector partners in order to stop the inflow of opioids before they cross our border. This public health emergency cannot be ignored, and Congress’ work is important to reducing the prevalence of addiction and overdose deaths in our communities.

What is your position on abortion and Roe v. Wade?

My pro-life stance is shaped by my personal experience of having come so close to losing my own life. However, I did not come to Congress to overturn Roe v Wade, and in this time of deep political divisiveness, any court ruling changing that precedent could tear deeply at the fabric of our nation. I believe we should work together to reduce unintended pregnancies by expanding access to reproductive health care, contraception, scientifically-based sexual education, and support services for new mothers.

Is flying unmanned drones in foreign airspace an acceptable method of eliminating terrorists?

I am honored to serve on the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees military drone programs. While unmanned aerial vehicles provide the United States with a great number of strategic advantages, we must ensure we use them responsibly and humanely. When drone strikes are carried out in accordance with US and international law, they can be an effective tool for combating terrorist groups like ISIL and stopping their deadly activities before they inflict more damage at home and abroad.

Should the US pull out of the Iran deal?

I was deeply disappointed that the President chose to unilaterally withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal. The agreement provided for comprehensive monitoring by the international community, and there remains no evidence that Iran violated its commitments. Walking away from the deal abandons our allies, weakens our credibility, harms our ability to foster similar diplomatic agreements in the future, and undermines the central goal of the agreement – to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. Withdrawing from this agreement threatens U.S. national security and international stability, and I believe the President should reverse his decision.

Should the US continue to give financial aid to Israel?

Israel is one of our closest allies and exists in a perilous region of the world. It is imperative that we continue to support its security and economy as a bastion of democracy in the Middle East. I have visited Israel several times, and I know that many Rhode Islanders also have close ties. I will continue to support efforts in Congress to strengthen these bonds, including my bill to enhance cooperative cybersecurity research and development.

ProJo: Citizens Bank unveils $285M Johnston campus, complete with robot security guard

ProJo: Citizens Bank unveils $285M Johnston campus, complete with robot security guard

By Brian Amaral

JOHNSTON, R.I. — Citizens Bank’s new, 425,000-square foot, $285-million campus here means a lot of things to a lot of people: jobs coming to town, a 20-year property-tax deal, walking trails open for public use where a landfill used to sit, two years of construction work, a chance for politicians to wield scissors at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday.

But to Anna Costa, a longtime Citizens employee who came to the event in a bedazzled green hat and green beads, it’s much more than even all that.

“It means a commitment to the community, and a commitment to us,” said Costa, a Lincoln resident who’s worked at Citizens for 23 years and started as a teller. “It’s going to feel like home.”

Costa was one of the hundreds of Citizens Bank employees who came out, clad in green, to watch the ceremonial opening of the new corporate campus. Company officials and local dignitaries said the new campus would be a boost for the town and the Rhode Island-based bank.

“This was going to be the largest construction project in Rhode Island in over a decade, so there was a lot at stake here, making sure we got this right,” CEO Bruce Van Saun told a group of employees and visitors.

The project, built on an old landfill off Route 295, took two years almost to the day from the groundbreaking to the ribbon-cutting, and very nearly was finished on budget, Van Saun said.

Within months, some 3,000 people will be working in Johnston, moving from other parts of the company, according to bank officials. Citizens’ headquarters will remain in Providence.

Of the new people who will be working in Johnston, about 800 will be call center employees moving in from space the company is currently renting. The design goes against the stereotypical image of a corporate call center: the windowless warren of cubicles, dimly lighted in fluorescence. No matter where anyone sits, said Keith Kelly, president of Citizens Bank Rhode Island, they won’t be more than 40 feet from a window.

“Creating a state-of-the-art facility like this will help perform and collaborate better,” Kelly said in an interview Monday.

The campus also features ball fields that local youth leagues will be able to play on, space to play bocce — Costa said she was going to challenge the mayor to a game — and a rain-collection system on the roof.

Any rain-collection system would have been put to use Tuesday: it rained on and off all morning, including a quick burst the exact moment that a group of politicians and bank officials snipped up portions of a Citizens Bank ribbon outside to applause.

Patrolling it all was the Knightscope K5, a robotic security guard resembling a portlier R2D2. It is equipped with cameras and can read license plates to make sure people don’t come onto the campus that aren’t supposed to, said Derek Lemire, senior physical security officer.

“It shows we’re forward-thinking,” Lemire said.

For the ribbon-cutting ceremony Tuesday, Citizens pulled out all the stops: Groups of employees, whom the bank refers to as “colleagues,” waved and smiled to cars as they drove in. Local students marched and sang, and a local police honor guard took part.

The entire congressional delegation — U.S. Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and U.S. Reps. Jim Langevin and David Cicilline — were there, as was Gov. Gina Raimondo.

“It’s a wonderful partnership,” said Raimondo, noting the bank’s two-century track record, “and we hope it continues for the next 200 years.”

The dignitaries lauded, in particular, Johnston Mayor Joseph Polisena. Whitehouse referred to the site of the bank as the “wind-swept Mount Polisena.” Langevin noted that Polisena was always ready to talk turkey.

Polisena, for his part, said the development will change the town for the better.

“We all know they could have gone up the road to Taxachusetts — err, I mean, Massachusetts,” Polisena said to laughter.

The town approved a tax deal under which Citizens will pay $250,000 per year in property taxes per year. Especially compared to a big development with lots of housing units and lots of students, it was a good deal for the town, Polisena said.

“This place,” Polisena said, “will put Johnston on the map.”

NK Standard Times: Grant awarded for Quonset marine highway project

NK Standard Times: Grant awarded for Quonset marine highway project

By Alex Trubia

NORTH KINGSTOWN, RI –  U.S. Senator Jack Reed (D-RI) this week announced an $855,200 federal grant for the Quonset Development Corporation (QDC) to purchase new yard equipment that will assist the Port of Davisville with handling cargo and advancing a marine highway project.  The grant comes after Reed successfully worked to designate short sea shipping between Rhode Island, Brooklyn, and Newark as a marine highway project in March.

This new federal grant will provide the Port of Davisville with one reach stacker, four yard tractors, and four bomb carts, which will help to facilitate the movement of containers at the Port and provide added capability to make the Port’s short-sea shipping service more efficient and competitive while also providing a viable alternative for freight shipping.  According to Reed, the grant will also provide resources to help market this new service.

QDC Managing Director Steven King said the grant funding will accelerate the Port of Davisville by enabling the corporation to handle container shipping as “a means of moving goods” while expanding their capabilities in short-sea shipping.

“It will also help us to add to the hundreds of jobs here at the Port,” King added. “We want to thank Senator Reed for his leadership on this initiative, and to Red Hook Container Terminal for their partnership in making this Marine Highway Project a reality.”

Marine highways are navigable waterways that offer an alternative to the nation’s crowded highways and roads for moving freight or passengers.  Under the America’s Marine Highway program, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Maritime Administration (MARAD) periodically designates additional marine highway projects, offering new or expanded short sea shipping services and routes that have the potential to provide public benefits and long-term sustainability.

Being recognized by MARAD, the marine highway project will also receive preferential treatment for future federal grants and other assistance from DOT and MARAD.

As the ranking Democrat on the Senate Transportation-Hud Appropriations Subcommittee, Reed said the grant will help to establish a new marine shipping alternative on the Northeast Corridor, which “has the potential to create jobs and to relieve congestion and wear-and-tear on our highways.”

“It also creates competition for the movement of freight in the region, which could ultimately lower costs for businesses and consumers,” Reed added.  “I was pleased to work with my colleagues in the Rhode Island delegation to support Quonset’s application to purchase new equipment that will help get this service off the ground.”

The Port of Davisville, Brooklyn and Newark service is a proposed container-on-barge service that will be operated by SEACOR AMH, LLC and will include a dedicated run twice per week with up to 800 TEU containers.  This service will operate in the Block Island Sound, Narragansett Bay, Long Island Sound, and East River.

Last March, Reed announced the project in Rhode Island alongside MARAD Administrator Rear Admiral Mark H. Buzby, marine workers, and business leaders during a tour and visit to discuss federal funding for small shipyards and new opportunities for Rhode Island businesses.

“I am pleased MARAD has approved Quonset’s Marine Highway designation.  The Marine Highway program is designed to expand the use of navigable waterways, relieve congestion, and reduce pollution,” Reed said in March. “This designation makes them eligible to apply for future federal Marine Highway grants.”

At that time, Reed also asked the rest of the Rhode Island Congressional Delegation to join his letter to Administrator Buzby in support of QDC’s request for the funds.

“As the northern terminus of this service, the Port of Davisville combines port, rail, air, and ground transportation, is a top ten port in North America for vehicle imports, and is a gateway to markets throughout Southern New England,” the Congressional Delegation stated. “The added capability will make the short sea shipping service more efficient and competitive, providing a viable alternative for freight shipping along the congested 1-95 corridor.”

The letter was signed by Reed, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, and U.S. Representatives David Cicilline and James Langevin.

WPRI: Lawmakers, tourism leaders review ways to improve industry in RI

WPRI: Lawmakers, tourism leaders review ways to improve industry in RI

By Susan Campbell, Shaun Towne

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — USA Gymnastics’ annual convention brought approximately 2,000 people to Providence this week and it was a good opportunity for local leaders to take a closer look at Rhode Island’s tourism industry.

Attendees are expected to spend an estimated $2 million while they’re in Providence. It’s one of dozens of conventions hosted by the capital city every year.

“The direct spending impact of those is typically around $70 million or $80 million annually,” Martha Sheridan of the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau said.

Tourism insiders say the industry is doing well overall but there’s always room for improvement, especially when it comes to infrastructure.

According to the U.S. Travel Association, outdated airports, congested highways, and backlogged maintenance at national parks are among the issues hindering economic growth across the country.

“Not one U.S. airport is on the list of the top 25 airports in the world. We need to invest more at a federal level in our airports, as well as infrastructure in general,” Sheridan added.

In an effort to tackle the issues facing the tourism industry, Congressmen David Cicilline and Jim Langevin paid a visit to the Rhode Island Convention Center, where the USA Gymnastics event was being held.

“I know that our economy is, in so many ways, is dependent and thrives on tourism,” Langevin said.

“One of the big challenges we have is the state of our infrastructure in this country and in our state,” Cicilline added.

The legislators were given a behind-the-scenes tour of the convention center to see what it takes to pull off these types of events and keep up with visitors’ needs.

“This past year, we’ll be spending about $5.2 million through a program that the state of Rhode Island has. It’s the asset protection program,” Larry Lepore, general manager of the R.I. Convention and Dunkin’ Donuts Centers, explained. “It does two things. It gives us the ability to get updated equipment and then allows us to operate more efficiently.”

The state’s total traveler economy was $6.5 billion in 2017, according to the R.I. Commerce Cooperation, which included visitor spending and tourism-related construction.

Cranston Herald: Telling the story of Alzheimer’s

Cranston Herald: Telling the story of Alzheimer’s

The story is the message and the Alzheimer’s Association, Rhode Island Chapter was looking for stories as it launched a series of 21 meetings across the state Monday in an effort to underscore the effects of a disease that has no cure and, according to members of the state’s congressional delegation, threatens to financially cripple our healthcare system.

The first of those storytelling sessions was preceded by “Coffee with Congress” at the Warwick Public Library where Congressmen David Cicilline and James Langevin, and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse outlined funding programs to fight Alzheimer’s.

“Personal stories are an effective way to help policymakers understand how their work affects people. That’s where you come in as an advocate,” Donna McGowan, executive director of the state Alzheimer’s Association said in opening remarks.

There were personal accounts like that of former Warwick Representative Neil Corkery, who is enrolled in an experimental program and talked of the importance of the care he receives as a patient with Alzheimer’s. He lamented how the administration is focused on tax cuts and dismissed the importance of health care.

There were nods of agreement from the congressional delegation.

Colin Burns, a former Warwick resident and graduate of Hendricken, likewise had the congressional delegation’s attention. Burns, who is pursuing a doctor of nursing practice degree at URI, questioned what efforts are being taken to develop the workforce to provide geriatric care.

Cicilline vowed to get back to Burns with answers and Langevin, noting his dependence upon caregivers, said there needs to be incentives to get young people into geriatric care.

Yet it was the statistics that defined the magnitude and impact of the disease.

McGowan said that deaths from Alzheimer’s continue to rise, with data showing that the numbers of deaths have more than doubled between 2000 and 2015, an increase of 123 percent.

“What’s more, is that Alzheimer’s is the only leading cause of death in the U.S. that cannot be prevented, cured or even slowed,” she said.

“Alzheimer’s disease poses an increasingly dire threat to our nation’s fiscal future,” she said.

McGowan called the disease the most expensive in America, saying that total payments to care for individuals living with Alzheimer’s or other dementias is $277 billion, which includes an increase of nearly $20 billion from last year.

“Unless we move quickly to address this crisis and find better treatments for those who have it, these costs will grow swiftly in lock step with the numbers of those affected, and Alzheimer’s will increasingly overwhelm our healthcare system,” she said.

She said there are presently 23,000 Rhode Islanders living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Master of ceremonies Lt. Gov. Daniel McKee outlined legislation aimed at combating Alzheimer’s and the work going into updating Rhode Island’s State Plan. Stories and information gathered from the 21 town hall meetings will be integrated into a report to be delivered early next year to the General Assembly. The meetings are being held through Aug. 10.

“So when you think about the economic impact and statistics of this disease, our healthcare costs are rather enormous. This is an urgent health priority to end this disease. It is a burden on families and if it goes unnoticed it will crush our healthcare system,” said Congressman Cicilline.

Whitehouse offered a glimmer of hope.

He called the Rhode Island Alzheimer’s Association a real model for advocacy, adding, “bit by bit we are showing signs and there is a sense of optimism in Alzheimer’s research. The United States of America has the best clinical research capability in the world, bar none. To have that addressing this problem with that kind of research and support behind it, I think is really a cause for optimism,” he said.

The Alzheimer’s Association Rhode Island Chapter provides programs and services to people living with Alzheimer’s and their caregivers, including: a 24/7 Helpline (800.272.3900); peer and professionally led support groups; early-stage social engagement programs; educational programs both online and in person; safety services including MedicAlert® and Alzheimer’s Association Safe Return®; and healthcare professional training on Alzheimer’s disease.

“This disease is relentless, but so are we,” vowed McGowan.

Patch: Langevin To Meet Senior Citizens Tuesday

Patch: Langevin To Meet Senior Citizens Tuesday

By News Desk

NARRAGANSETT-SOUTH KINGSTOWN, RI – From Congressman Jim Langevin: Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) will hold a series of visits focused on issues important to Rhode Island seniors tomorrow, Tuesday, August 7th. These South County based meetings will cover topics related to Medicare, Social Security, Alzheimer’s research, and other issues affecting seniors. This themed day is one of several that comprise the Langevin Listening Tour, a district-wide initiative Langevin is leading to collect feedback and gain insight from constituents.

“I look forward to meeting with seniors in my district and listening to their concerns,” said Congressman Langevin. “Seniors have unique needs that deserve our attention, and I am committed to staying engaged on the issues that affect them.”

Congressman Langevin has long been a strong advocate on behalf of Rhode Island’s senior population”, said Susan DiMasi, Senior Services Director for the Town of South Kingstown. “I’m grateful he is considering the input of seniors as a part of his listening tour.”

The complete schedule for tomorrow is listed below. Updates on tomorrow’s events, and the entire Langevin Listening Tour, will be posted to Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the hashtag #LangevinListeningTour.

 

Tuesday, August 7:

WHAT: Congressman Langevin will host “It’s All About Seniors,” a town hall style event with representatives from Medicare and Social Security.

WHERE: Brookdale South Bay, 1959 Kingstown Road, South Kingstown, RI 02879

WHEN: 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

PRESS: Open


WHAT: Congressman Langevin will tour the George & Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience at the University of Rhode Island and receive a briefing on their latest Alzheimer’s research.

WHERE: 130 Flagg Road, Kingston, RI 02881

WHEN: 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

PRESS: Open

Foreign Affairs: RI Fire Departments Receive $107K to Purchase Gear & Improve Safety

Foreign Affairs: RI Fire Departments Receive $107K to Purchase Gear & Improve Safety

CENTRAL FALLS, RI – Today, U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse and Congressmen Jim Langevin and David Cicilline announced $106,668 in federal funding to help the Central Falls Fire Department, Kingston Fire Department, and Albion Fire District purchase needed equipment and gear to help them better serve their communities.  The funding is being awarded through the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) Program.

The Central Falls Fire Department will use $59,048 to purchase a Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) washer/extractor dryer, which the department currently lacks.  The equipment will help the department ensure both efficient cleaning of essential gear and the swift and effective returning of gear to service.  The department will also use the funds to replace its aging self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) air compressor refill system.

The Kington Fire Department will receive $34,286 to help purchase gear for firefighters currently sharing or wearing spare sets of uniforms, air masks, hoods, gloves, and other items.  The Department is seeking the new items as a result of increased recruitment and retention success among its ranks, many of whom are students at the University of Rhode Island.

The Albion Fire District in Lincoln will receive $13,334 for a protective gear washing machine to deep-clean gear and protect firefighters from hazardous carcinogens, chemicals, biological agents, and particulate matter.

“These federal funds will support our firefighters and improve public safety.  I was pleased to work closely with fire departments and local leaders in Central Falls, Kingston, and Albion to help deliver these funds,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Committee that oversees FEMA funding and helped include $350 million in competitive AFG funding for first responder organizations across the country in the 2018 Omnibus Appropriations law.  “I will continue doing everything I can at the federal level to help our firefighters protect our communities and improve emergency response capabilities.”

“I congratulate the fire departments in Central Falls, Lincoln, and South Kingstown that won federal grants to purchase new equipment,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “Firefighters deserve the very best tools available to carry out the job of keeping the people of Rhode Island safe.”

“It is imperative that we provide the most up-to-date equipment necessary to keep our firefighters safe as they respond to emergency calls throughout our communities,” said Congressman Jim Langevin, a senior member of the Committee on Homeland Security, which oversees the AFG program. “I congratulate each of the departments for winning these highly-competitive federal grants, which will help protect the health and safety of our brave first responders.”

“This critical funding will provide incredibly valuable resources for our first responders,” said Congressman Cicilline, who worked directly with Central Falls and Lincoln to secure this new funding.  “Our first responders should always have access to the best equipment available so they can do their jobs safely and effectively.”

The support offered to the Central Falls Fire Department by Senator Reed and the other members of our Congressional Delegation is invaluable,” said Chief Robert Bradley of the Central Falls Fire Department.  “The process for the Assistance to Fire Fighter Grants has become more and more competitive each year and the support and guidance received has made an immeasurable difference. Their expertise has shone through and has become increasingly evident as “Lil Rhody” continues being awarded their grant requests.”

“We appreciate the efforts of Senator Reed and Congressman Langevin for their ongoing support of the Fire Service,” said Chief Nathan Barrington of the Kingston Fire Department.  “The grant provided will dovetail nicely with the Safer Grant we received for recruitment and retention.  Recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters is a critical need.  As evidenced by the unfortunate fire in Richmond this past Sunday the role of the volunteer fire departments is critical.  The large bulk of the responding departments were volunteer.  Kingston Fire provided over 250 volunteer man hours combating this blaze and we were just one example of the over 20 departments that responded.”

“This new washer and dryer system is a welcome addition for our department that will help protect our firefighters from toxic and dangerous carcinogens and cancer-causing agents,” said Chief Richard Andrews of the Albion Fire District.  “We’re grateful to receive these funds and we look forward to continuing our work in the community while taking the necessary precautions to perform our job safely and effectively.”

Since 2001, Rhode Island fire departments and other first responders across the state have successfully secured over $36 million in AFG awards to pay for equipment upgrades, protective gear, emergency vehicles, training, and other resources.

Warwick Post: Langevin talks growth, small business needs with local chambers of commerce

Warwick Post: Langevin talks growth, small business needs with local chambers of commerce

By Rob Borkowski

EAST GREENWICH — Congressman Jim Langevin (D-RI) hosted three roundtable discussions with leaders in the Rhode Island small business community Thursday, focusing on business needs and economic growth strategies, the first of many themed days for the Langevin Listening Tour, a district-wide initiative Langevin is leading to collect feedback and gain insight from constituents.

“Small businesses are the engine that drives Rhode Island’s economy,” said Congressman Langevin. “They support economic activity, help build communities, and employ the majority of private sector workers in our state. I look forward to engaging with local business leaders and listening to their ideas to improve our business climate and foster further economic growth.”

“We need to all work together to provide resources and assistance to small businesses and to the community groups that support economic development.” said John Kevorkian, a Partner at Sprout CoWorking who is hosting Congressman Langevin for a tour before the first roundtable event with members of the co-working and incubator community.

Congressman Langevin is a tireless advocate for small business in Rhode Island,” said Lauren Slocum, the Executive Director of Central Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce and the lead organizer of the roundtable at the New England Institute of Technology. “I am pleased to see he is continuing his outreach, and I look forward to a spirited discussion of the issues.”

“This convening session provides an opportunity for a sampling of our chamber members and of other chambers to voice their pressing concerns about operating a small business in Rhode Island”, said Kristin Urbach, the Executive Director of the North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce. “Based on our past experience with Congressman Langevin, we know that he is not only a great listener, but also a leader who takes action and follows up to achieve the desired outcome. We’re honored that the Congressman selected Dan’s Carriage Inn located in North Kingstown for his South County small business event.”

Disability Scoop: Community Living Agency Denies Disability ‘Segregation’ Remarks

Disability Scoop: Community Living Agency Denies Disability ‘Segregation’ Remarks

By Michelle Diament

A federal agency responsible for community living is reaffirming its mission following allegations that a top official publicly stated that she favored “segregation” of people with disabilities.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Community Living said it is committed to making “community living possible for all.”

The assertion comes in a letter to members of Congress weeks after the agency’s principal deputy administrator, Mary Lazare, spoke at two disability group conferences. A similar set of remarks during both appearances left some advocates alarmed and sparked concerns from a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers.

In letters sent to Lance Robertson, who heads the Administration for Community Living, last month, the lawmakers said they were told that Lazare indicated that the Supreme Court came to the wrong conclusion in the landmark Olmstead v. L.C. case, which affirmed the right of people with disabilities to access community-based living.

Furthermore, the letters from U.S. Reps. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., Gregg Harper, R-Miss., and Jim Langevin, D-R.I., as well as Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., said Lazare reportedly stated a preference for segregated and institutional settings.

There are believed to be no recordings of the appearances, which Lazare made at conferences put on by the Autism Society and the National Association of Councils on Developmental Disabilities during the same July day.

However, later that day, Lazare seemed to back away from her own words through a statement on the Administration for Community Living’s Twitter page.

“I regret & apologize for my words at #ASAconf18,” thestatement read. “ACL believes ppl w/disabilities have the right & choice to live in the community. We work to expand those opptys & are 100% committed to that mission. We also recognize Olmstead gives people the right to other choices.”

Now, in a written response to members of Congress, ACL’s Robertson is denying that Lazare expressed the alleged views.

“As you know, Principal Deputy Administrator Mary Lazare spoke on July 11 at two events. We know portions of her remarks caused concerns, which we are happy to address. I want to assure you that she did not state, or intend to express, the opinions referenced in your letter,” Robertson wrote.

“At ACL, we believe community living should always be the expectation,” he continued. “An integral part of our mandate is to uphold those rights guaranteed in the Americans with Disabilities Act and reinforced through the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Olmstead v. L.C., which we fully support.”

In addition, Robertson said his agency remains “firmly committed” to supporting the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in implementing a Medicaid rule outlining what types of settings qualify as community-based. The lawmakers had indicated that Lazare reportedly said the rule should be revisited.

Even with the response, Langevin said he remains unsatisfied.

“Despite the agency’s assertion that Ms. Lazare ‘did not state, or intend to express, the opinions referenced in (our) letter,’ I remain concerned that we received no additional information or clarification on her original remarks,” the congressman told Disability Scoop. “People with disabilities deserve to be fully included in society, and any suggestion to the contrary is simply unacceptable.”