Catherine Welch

News Director

Before her arrival in Rhode Island, Catherine was news director at WHQR in Wilmington, North Carolina. She was also news director at KBIA in Columbia, Missouri where she was a faculty member at the University Of Missouri School Of Journalism.Catherine has won several regional Edward R. Murrow awards and awards from the North Carolina Press Association, Missouri Press Association, and Missouri Broadcasters Association.

She files regularly for NPR’s All Things ConsideredMorning Edition and Weekend Edition.  In 2008 she was part of an NPR series on America’s Battalion out of Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, following Marine families during the battalion’s deployment to southern Afghanistan. And because Wilmington was the national test market for the digital television conversion, she became a quasi-expert on DTV, filing stories for NPR on the topic.

Before joining the public radio family, Catherine worked in television at KTVU in the San Francisco area and at the cable technology network formerly known as TechTV.

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RI News
7:51 am
Mon July 8, 2013

Obama Officials to Tour Beach Rebuilding Efforts in Westerly

Atlantic Avenue in Westerly is still in need of repair, after being destroyed by superstorm Sandy last year.
Credit Flo Jonic / RIPR

Members of President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy taskforce will be in Rhode Island Monday touring coastal areas hit by last year’s storm.  Westerly officials will make their case for more financial help.

The south coast took a beating, with 150 homes and 30 businesses damaged just in Westerly. Town Manager Steven Hartford says funding is needed to rebuild, elevate and drain Atlantic Avenue, which was severely flooded during Sandy. He said Rhode Island may not have grabbed headlines during the storm, but it needs help too.

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RI News
9:51 pm
Thu July 4, 2013

The July 4th Ancients & Horribles Parade in Chepachet

Clowns poked fun of the crowd at the Ancients and Horribles parade.
Catherine Welch RIPR

On the other side of the state from Bristol, the irreverent Ancients and Horribles parade made its way through Chepachet. Gov. Lincoln Chafee was there, so were Providence Mayor Angel Taveras, Senator Jack Reed and Congressman Jim Langevin. They lead the parade, which included floats making political statements about Obamacare and genetically modified foods. There were also veterans, clowns, marching bands and a stream of fire trucks.  

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Education
1:40 am
Thu July 4, 2013

Bryant University Calls Bill Requiring Payment "Heavy Handed"

Bill allows Smithfield to bill Bryant University for municipal services.
Credit Bryant University

The General Assembly has passed legislation requiring Bryant University to make payments to the town of Smithfield. The university is calling the bill “heavy handed.”

Unless Smithfield and Bryant can come to an agreement, the legislation allows the town to bill the university for municipal services it uses. The non-profit university sits on some 420 acres of land that state Senator Stephen Archambault said would generate $2 million in yearly taxes.

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Transportation
4:12 pm
Wed July 3, 2013

RI Turnpike Authority: You Can't Bill Somebody for a Ten-Cent Toll

Because tolls are collected electronically, the plan was to charge an extra $1.50 for drivers without an E-ZPass who would then be billed in the mail.

The head of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority said it’s going to take some time to figure out how to collect tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge from drivers who don’t have an E-ZPass.

A toll gate will collect tolls electronically, with an extra fee tacked on for drivers who lack an E-ZPass and need a bill sent in the mail. But since the toll is now only a dime, Turnpike and Bridge Authority chairman David Darlington said they’ll have to find a cost-effective way to send those bills.

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Education
4:14 pm
Tue July 2, 2013

Twenty-eight RI Schools Receive a Low State Ranking

Education commissioner Deborah Gist says the rankings provide an opportunity for improvement in RI's schools.
Credit Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Rhode Island Education Commissioner Deborah Gist said parents in schools receiving a low rating should seek answers into how those schools are going to improve.

Twenty-eight schools received the lowest ratings, many of them were in Providence. The education department said the rating system is designed to identify warning signs and to help schools improve. Gist said while it takes years to turn a school around, parents should be concerned about a low-performing school.

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Transportation
12:34 pm
Fri June 28, 2013

RI Turnpike Authority: Toll Freeze Could Violate Promises Made in Bonds

The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority says it’s worried that a toll freeze on the Sakonnet River Bridge may violate promises the authority made in previous bond sales.

When the Turnpike and Bridge Authority put bonds up for sale, it made a promise to bond buyers that it would not take on assets that didn’t come with a revenue stream. That way, says Chairman David Darlington, the authority doesn’t get loaded down with bridges it can pay for. He says delaying tolls on the Sakonnet Bridge puts the Turnpike and Bridge Authority in conflict with those promises.

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Politics
2:19 pm
Wed June 26, 2013

RI Reactions to SCOTUS Decision on DOMA

Congressman David Cicilline is calling this a good day for equality, reacting to news of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision striking down a provision of a federal law denying federal benefits to married gay couples.

“No longer will people be discriminated against because of who they love,” said Cicilline, “and all marriages will be respected and people will be treated equally under the law. That’s a great victory.”

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Politics
10:47 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Chafee Urges State to Pay Off 38 Studios Bonds Following Downgrade

Governor Lincoln Chafee is urging the state to pay off the money owed for loans on 38 Studios following a downgrade from Moody's.
Credit Catherine Welch / RIPR

Gov. Lincoln Chafee says Moody’s is sending Rhode Island an important message by downgrading the state’s bonds for its failed deal with 38 Studios.

The credit rating agency downgraded the bonds by two notches and put the state on notice that the rest of its obligations are under review for a possible downgrade.

Lawmakers are debating whether to default on the moral obligation bonds used to float the failed video game company. Chafee said as Moody’s has shown, that’s a bad idea.

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RI News
9:30 am
Wed June 19, 2013

Windfall Expected From Table Games Opening at Twin River

Twin River Casino will start table games like blackjack and poker on Wednesday.
Credit Flo Jonic / RIPR

Rhode Island expects to pocket six-and-a-half million dollars just from table games in the next fiscal year.

Fred Carstensen  is an economist at the University of Connecticut who has been studying casino gambling in that state. He said as casinos open in Massachusetts, Rhode Island should expect to get a smaller piece of the casino pie.

"It’s not a bottomless pit, you’re shifting money away from other activities and frankly it doesn’t really create value," said Cartensen.

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Environment
3:02 pm
Tue June 18, 2013

RI Transitioning Into a Greener Fleet of State Vehicles

A Tesla owned by Rhode Island resident Don Wineberg shows nothing but storage space under the hood of the electric car.
Credit Catherine Welch / RIPR

While kicking off a push to install a network of 50 electric vehicle charging stations, Gov. Lincoln Chafee announced the state will replace much of its fleet with hybrid and electric vehicles. Chafee made the announcement at Roger Williams University, where the first charging station was unveiled.

Director of Administration Richard Licht said the program started this spring, and so far the state has replaced 30 gas-fueled vehicles with hybrids.  He notes that a waiver will be given to agencies, such as law enforcement, that can’t find a comparable substitute.

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