John Bender

Reporter

John started at RIPR in 2013 as the Morning Edition producer; researching stories, interviewing newsmakers, and writing scripts for stories every morning.  Plus special projects and regular reporting on major events.  In early 2017 he was promoted to "general assignment" reporter.  Whatever's happening in the news today?  That's what John is covering. 

Ways to Connect

The Nepalese community in Rhode Island is helping victims of the devastating earthquake that rocked the country last week. A magnitude 7.8 quake struck the capital of Kathmandu, killing some 5,000 people.

That number is expected to rise as aid workers get to more remote regions of the country. KC Kshitiz from the Nepalese Association of Rhode Island, said friends in Kathmandu are without shelter or power.

“They’ve been hit really hard, and some of them have lost their houses. So they’re just outside on the ground, setting up tents and living in the tents,” said Kshitiz.

RIPR file photo

Lawmakers have begun the process of estimating how much money the state can spend in 2016 (through the Revenue and Caseload Estimating Conference).  They’ll hear a series of presentations over the next couple of weeks on projected revenues and spending so far this year. They use the information as they consider Gov. Gina Raimondo’s proposed budget.

RIPR FILE

Boston Marathon Bombing survivor Heather Abbot said she will attend the race Monday.  Abbot, who lives in Newport, lost her left leg following the blast at the finish line.

She said she’ll watch the races joined by loved ones, continuing her annual Marathon Monday tradition.

“I’ll be spending the day in Boston with my same group of friends that I’m always with, trying to create some better memories, and put that memory of 2013 in the past.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

Two years after losing her left leg in the Boston Marathon bombings, Newport resident Heather Abbott is starting a foundation.  The charity will provide funds for other amputees.

Before Heather Abbott lost her leg, she says she never realized the variety of prosthetics needed for things like swimming, biking, even wearing high heels.  Or that those prosthetics can cost tens of thousands of dollars each.

Abbot said that’s important because most insurers won’t cover leg prosthetics for activities other than walking.

RIPR FILE

The RIde program offers door to door pickup and drop-off services to about 15-hundred people per day.  

The new cell phone application will allow passengers to track their bus, as it comes to pick them up.  GPS data provides more specific estimated times of arrival. Passengers can also cancel trips via the app.  In total some 12-thousand people rely on the transit authority’s RIde program.

RIPTA recently embarked on a campaign to improve it services… conducting surveys, hosting community meetings, to determine possible changes to bus routes and fares.

The Rhode Island Foundation has announced the winners for this year’s innovation fellowships.  The program is aimed at sparking new ideas for the state. The award comes with a $300,000 grant.

This year’s two winners include John Haley, a scientist specializing in marine fisheries.  He’s working on a product to improve mussel aquaculture.  It’s a kind of cord that’s “pre-loaded” with mussel larvae to speed up the cultivation time for mussel farmers.

John Bender / RIPR

A live camel made a quick stop in middle of downtown Providence this afternoon.  The eight-foot tall animal was visiting from Roger Williams Park Zoo, and greeted passersby in Kennedy Plaza. 

The zoo brought him out to drum up buzz for a new ‘ride-a-camel’ exhibit, and, of course, celebrate hump day.

Do you have insight or expertise on this topic?  Please email us, we'd like to hear from you. news@ripr.org  

RIPR FILE

Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea has unveiled legislation aimed at reforming Rhode Island’s voting laws. Gorbea promised to modernize the voting system during her campaign.

The proposed legislation brings online voter registration to Rhode Island. Residents would enter a database that can be updated when people move out of town or out of state. Gorbea said that would reduce redundancies in the voter rolls.

John Bender / RIPR

This story is part of our series “Rising Tide” about how – or whether - Rhode Islanders are emerging from the deepest economic recession since the 1930s. The question we’re asking is: does a rising tide really lift all boats, or are some Rhode Islanders still being left behind?

The chairman of the nation endowment for the humanities visits Rhode Island today. Chairman William Adams will be announcing more than one-hundred thousand dollars in grants for the state. The grants are going to 14 different community organization around the state, including, Water Fire, RiverzEdge a youth arts program in Woonsocket and the Little Compton Historical Society.

Elizabeth Francis is the director of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.

Kristin Gourlay / RIPR

After Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty on 30 counts Heather Abbott, the Newport woman who lost part of her left leg in the bombing, posted on her Facebook page:

“Nothing can ever replace the lives that were lost or changed forever, but at least there is some relief in knowing that justice is served and responsibility will be taken.”

Abbott, who now lives with prosthesis, recently began her own foundation, which helps provide prosthesis to others who’ve lost limbs.

John Bender / RIPR

City Councilors meeting in Providence Tuesday evening will consider a plan to redevelop the Providence waterfront.  They could vote to move forward with an effort to revamp some 300 acres.

The redevelopment area stretches along the lower Providence waterfront, from about Thurbers Avenue south to Fields Point. It would transfer control of the land to the Providence Redevelopment Agency, the city organization that works to improve blighted areas in the city. The plan would also fund environmental cleanup of the site, much of which is heavily contaminated. 

John Bender / RIPR

The Rhode Island school of Design in Providence has reached a contract agreement with the Technicians’ Union.  The union’s 44 members began a public strike last Thursday.

By Friday dozens of students had joined the 44 workers in picket lines around the campus.  RISD’s technicians operate ceramics, metal working, and glass studios, among others.  The Technicians’ union alleged that they get fewer benefits than other faculty, and that RISD walked away from negotiations. School officials say the union rejected the contract they offered.

Wikimedia Commons

The house finance committee is set to hear testimony this week regarding portions of the proposed state budget. The agenda includes the so-called “Taylor Swift Tax.”

It’s known that way because of the pop singer who owns a multi-million dollar vacation home in Westerly… the budget article proposes a property tax on vacation homes worth more than one million dollars.

John Bender / RIPR

Providence police have concluded their investigation into a public bus accident that resulted in the death of a nine-year old girl.  Investigators do not believe the accident was the result of operator error by the bus driver.

                                  

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