Rhode Island

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Lawmakers from Burrillville are calling on the Department of Health to recommend withholding approvals for the proposed power plant in the area, until changes are made to mitigate any potential negative health effects.

In a letter sent to an environmental health risk assessment toxicologist at the Department of Health, Representative Cale Keable and Senator Paul Fogarty list their concerns over the proposed power plant project.

Those include impacts on local drinking water, noise pollution, and emissions.

Chuck Hinman / RIPR

Providence poet Christopher Johnson is one of 20 candidates for Poet Laureate of Rhode Island. He is also facing charges of assault, resisting arrest and disorderly conduct after an encounter last spring with a Providence police officer. Johnson wrote about that encounter earlier this month for Motif Magazine, in an essay called Walking While Black. He spoke to Rhode Island Public Radio’s Chuck Hinman about his case.

  Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment, The Bottom Line. 

This week Mark and Dave speak with Rhode Island Public Radio political commentator and longtime reporter Scott MacKay about unfunded state pensions, and those in the cities and towns across the state.

According to data from the Providence Business News, the sum of those statewide liabilities is more than $5 billion.

When to listen: You can hear The Bottom Line each Friday at 5:50 pm.

VICTOR CASALE/CREATIVE COMMONS LICENSE VIA FLICKR

The corporation that runs a detention facility in Central Falls is responding to the announcement that the federal government plans to stop using some private prisons.

U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates says privately run prisons are both less safe and less effective than low-security federal prisons. That’s why she’s directed the federal government to stop renewing contracts with private prisons.

Officials running the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls say they haven’t received official word from the federal government about their future contracts.

A group of defense companies and local universities have announced a new partnership aimed at creating a hub for undersea technology. Dubbed the Undersea Technology Innovation Center, the project is still in the early stages. 

It will be organized by the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance, which has announced partners including the University of Rhode Island, the Navy and Salve Regina University. SENEDIA spokeswoman Molly Magee says the center would provide a hub for marine and defense technology.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

An advisory is the lowest of four drought designations.

State Water Resources Board Chairwoman Susan Licardi says the drought advisory is meant to raise awareness about current conditions. State officials are urging Rhode Islanders to take precautionary measures to conserve water and to be aware of the dry conditions.

State recommendations include avoiding over-watering of lawns, and not watering yards during the hottest part of the day.

John Bender / RIPR

Providence reached 96 degrees Sunday. It's not a record -- that's 98 degrees -- but the humidity was unusually high. The National Weather Service issued heat advisories for several days last week.

On Monday, the state will get relief, according to Weather Service meteorologist Bob Thompson.

“[Monday] will be a little bit less humid, it’s still going to be very warm [Monday], we’re still probably going to see high temperatures near 90, but the humidity will be a little bit less," said Thompson.

But Thompson predicts the respite will be brief.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

  There’s a new cell phone app designed to make getting to the ocean easier for people in Rhode Island. The shoreline access app maps exactly how far you are from all public ocean access points.

The project is part of the Rhode Island Sea Grant, a federal program attached to the University of Rhode Island. Sea Grant spokeswoman Monica Allard-Cox says the app builds on a guide written in the 90s.

National Weather Service

The advisory for much of Southern New England lasts through 7 o’clock Friday evening. Temperatures are climbing into the 90s, but humidity could make it feel as hot as 103 degrees.

Meteorologist Lenore Correia recommends keeping outdoor activities to a minimum.

“People can get heat exhaustion and things like that,” said Correia. “You don’t want to leave your children in the car, or your pets, and you just want to be careful and make sure to drink lots of water.”

Correia said things will cool off by the end of the weekend.

JJBers / Creative Commons License

Work is underway on a new stretch of bike path in Providence. The project will create an off-road path from India Point Park, north towards Pawtucket. The path is just three-quarters of a mile, but State Department of Transportation Chief Operating Officer Peter Garino says it will connect two major bike paths.

“It may not be a long segment, but it really is a critical segment,” said Garino. “We’re looking at something that really connects both the Blackstone and East Bay Bike path and makes one path out of them. It’s the missing link between the two paths.”

The head of Rhode Island’s Medicaid program is stepping down from her post. That will be the second vacancy at a top state health position.

The board of the state Commerce Corporation this week approved incentives to help two companies expand in Rhode Island. State Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor stopped by our studio yesterday to discuss a range of other issues involving economic development

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Behind the scenes negotiations on the I-195 District, and the inside word from state Commerce Secretary Stefan Pryor. 

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Anya Rader Wallack took the position as head of Medicaid, the state’s health insurance program for low income residents, in October. Before that she led the state’s health insurance exchange, HealthSource RI. 

In an email sent to staff, Wallack wrote she accepted the Medicaid position during an especially difficult time, about a week after her husband passed away. She wrote the job has been “a rewarding challenge and a welcome distraction.”

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