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. 

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RIPR FILE

As the weather warms up, gas prices are down in the state.  A gallon of regular unleaded is down four cents from last week.

That puts the price at $2.36 per gallon.  The current price is six cents lower than the national average.  A year ago the price for the same gallon of regular unleaded was $1.23 cents higher. 

To the north, gas prices in Massachusetts remain unchanged from last week. Regular unleaded will set you back $2.32 cents per gallon in the Bay State.  That’s ten cents less than the national average.

John Bender / RIPR

Local leaders have announced the launch of a statewide task force to deal with sexual assaults on college campuses. The issue has been getting increased national attention in recent years.

The task force is comprised of local law enforcement, medical professionals, and representatives from Rhode Island colleges and universities.  They’re tasked with developing new policies to better handle sexual assaults involving college students.  Often, colleges deal with sexual assault internally, and law enforcement is not involved unless a victim wishes to press charges.

John Bender / RIPR

Friday marks the start of the NCAA Division 1 Men’s hockey tournament. Four tournaments will take place across this country this weekend.  Providence plays host to one of the events.

Providence’s tournament is the East Regional semifinals. The first games don’t start until the weekend at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center.

The teams involved include Providence College, Boston College, Miami University of Ohio, and the University of Denver.  PC will face Miami Saturday at 6p.m.

John Bender / RIPR

Police are investigating a fatal accident involving a Rhode Island Public Transit Authority bus. The bus struck and killed a nine-year-old girl in Providence on Thursday morning.

RIPTA says the accident happened on Smith Street at approximately 8:40 a.m., just blocks from the Rhode Island Statehouse. 

A bus traveling away from downtown Providence hit the girl, who was on foot. Police say she died of her injuries. 

Television, 1st Edition/Museum of Broadcast Communications

  The Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame has announced this year’s inductees.  Legendary CBS journalist Fred Friendly is on the list.

Friendly, who passed away in 1998, got his start in broadcast journalism in Rhode Island.  After graduating from Hope High School in Providence, he went on to work at radio station WEAN.

Friendly moved onto television at CBS, where he created the news documentary program with Edward R. Murrow, See It Now. Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame spokeswoman Debbie Rich said the show was groundbreaking.

Wikimedia Commons

Lawmakers will consider legislation today that would up the legal age to purchase cigarettes and other tobacco products. Rhode Islanders can currently start buying cigarettes at age 18. 

The new legislation would bar people under the age of 21 from buying cigarettes, or any other tobacco related products.  That includes cigars, chewing tobacco, and the increasingly popular e-cigarettes.

The House Committee on health, education and welfare is taking up the bill.

RIPR FILE

A slot parlor in Plainville Massachusetts is set to open on June 24th.  Ocean state gaming facilities have been bracing for the competition for years.

John Bender / RIPR

Eight years since the height of the national foreclosure crisis, Providence faces a plague of vacant houses, blighting neighborhoods.  Now the capital city’s new mayor is ramping up efforts to combat the issue. One home on the city's West Side is a success story; it's part of the ambitious plan to create many more in the state capital.

On a cold, sunny morning in March a massive front end loader tears into a tan, two-story home, on Marshall St. on the West Side of Providence. A group of neighbors and passersby watch from across the street.

It’s the first day of Spring, but don’t put away your winter coat just yet.  After a brutal January and February, more snow is predicted today. National Weather Service meteorologist William Babcock said it’s expected to start late this afternoon.

"It could become a factor for the evening commute for parts of the state.  Possibly Providence, better shot in spots like Newport and Westerly," said Babcock.

RIPR FILE

The full house has approved a bill allowing Twin River Casino to build a hotel  on its property.  Twin River wants the hotel to compete with proposed casinos in Massachusetts.

The restriction that keeps Twin River from building a hotel was originally put in place to protect Providence area hotels from losing business.  But now Massachusetts plans to open three casinos and a slot parlor, threatening Twin River’s revenue.  Twin River officials have unveiled a proposal to build a four story hotel on their Lincoln property.

RIPR FILE

Elected officials and local dignitaries will be on hand to celebrate Women’s History Month at Slater Mill in Pawtucket Monday.

The event will also address economic issues for women. Gendered wage gaps remain persistent in the Ocean State.  That’s according to data from the Women’s Fund of Rhode Island, the advocacy non-profit sponsoring the event.

Featured guest, U.S. Senator Jack Reed, says that makes Slater Mill especially appropriate, due to female mill workers’ early fights for equity.

Aaron Read / RIPR

The state’s unemployment rate ticked down in January, compared to the same month a year ago.  The rate is now 6.5 percent; the state’s lowest since the start of the recession.

That’s down more than two percentage points since January of last year (when it stood at 8.6).  It’s been seven years since the state’s unemployment rate has been this low, back in February of 2008.  Despite the good news, Rhode Island’s unemployment rate remains higher than the national average, of 5.7 percent.

Courtesy RISD

The RISD museum has received a $2.5 million gift from the Rockefeller family.  The money will go to support the museum’s decorative arts department.

The decorative arts refer to objects which have practical uses as well as artistic value; such as furniture, silverware, and vases.   In addition to the monetary gift, David Rockefeller, is donating about 43 objects from his personal collection. Museum director John Smith said the most important items include some eighteenth century English furniture.

John Bender / RIPR

The state is suing a scrap metal yard on the Providence waterfront, at the upper Narragansett Bay, for alleged environmental violations.  This is not the first time the company has come under fire.

Back in 2012, the Department of Environmental Management, notified Rhode Island Recycled Metals, it was violating numerous rules on water pollution.  The state worked with the company on a plan to solve the issues.  But more than 2 years later, the DEM says the company still hasn’t cleaned up. DEM director Janet Coit says she’s taking them to court.

John Bender / RIPR

Members of Rhode Island’s Liberian community are cheering news that the last Ebola patient in Liberia has been released. But many remain concerned about the future of Liberia.

Matthew Kai is the leader of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Providence.  His congregation is primarily Liberian.  Kai led them through months of anxiety at the height of the Ebola outbreak.  He says things have quieted down since then… but now he fears world aid will evaporate

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