Central Falls

John Bender / RIPR

The Central Falls Library is looking to expand its programming for students.  The library got a big boost from actor Alec Baldwin at a fundraiser over the weekend.

Alec Baldwin cracked jokes before a packed crowd at the Fete Ballroom in Providence before reading a James Thurber short story.

"We’re going do a little short stories, and some poetry and some Shakespeare.  You can keep getting drunk too, like you normally do here," said Baldwin.

Actor Alec Baldwin will be in Rhode Island this weekend to help raise money for the Central Falls library. The event, called “Baldwin for Books” features the actor along with Central Falls students and teachers reading passages from literature. There will also be a raffle to read Shakespeare with Baldwin. The library’s executive director Joel Pettit  says he doesn’t know why the actor is helping the library, but has an idea.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Central Falls mayor James Diossa has called a meeting for Monday to see if the city can keep the Osram Sylvania plant open. The lighting manufacturer plans to shutter the plant in September.

Lighting manufacturer Osram Sylvania has announced it will close its plant in Central Falls. The company said the closing is due to changes in the light bulb industry.

Osram Sylvania said it needs to close the Central Falls plant so it can focus on its move from traditional lighting to solid-state lighting, such as LED light bulbs.

There were fewer children in Rhode Island last year with elevated lead levels in their blood. Improvements to housing played a big role in the decline.

Most of the drop in lead levels took place in Providence, Woonsocket, Warwick and Tiverton. In Providence, the city has made sure children couldn’t live in rental homes unless they were certified as lead-free.  Also, the city’s water authority monitored lead levels in drinking water.

Elisabeth Harrison

Award-winning actor Viola Davis made a stop at Bryant University on Friday during the annual Women’s Summit.

The theme of this year’s conference: “being the CEO of your own life.”

Davis says part of what has made her successful as an actor is her experience growing up in Central Falls.

"Every experience growing up in a dysfunctional family with alcoholism, with poverty, with being the geek always into theater and the Rhode Island State Drama Festival, that has been the wellspring of me as an actor," Davis said.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

Charles Moreau, the former mayor of Central Falls is a free man. 

Moreau served thirteen months of a two-year prison sentence for pleading guilty to corruption charges.

However, in separate case, a federal appeals court found the same charges did not constitute criminal activity.

Moreau’s conviction was vacated on the grounds that he would plead guilty to a new charge of bribery.

U.S. Attorney General Peter Neronha says that while he’s unhappy the Moreau walked free, at least Moreau was convicted of a new charge.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

Former Central Falls mayor Charles Moreau could find himself a free man as early  as Friday, despite his conviction for corruption.  A ruling in another case has through his conviction into question because he guilty to taking a gratuity.

Former Central Falls Mayor Charles Moreau could be freed as early as Friday from federal prison, according to a spokesman for U.S. Attorney Peter Neronha.

Moreau was convicted of bribery and has served 13 months of his 2-year sentence in a Maryland federal prison. Since his conviction, a federal appeals court has ruled in an unrelated case involving a businessman and a legislator in Puerto Rico. That ruling said federal law does  not ``criminalize gratuities’’ and dismissed the charges against both men.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

For several years we’ve been following the struggling Central Falls School district.

The high school grabbed national headlines when it fired all of its teachers back in 2010.

The fired teachers were later rehired by the district, but the firings left Central Falls High School in an uproar.

Three years later, Rhode Island Public Radio's Education reporter Elisabeth Harrison found signs of progress at the school, but scars from the mass firings remain.

Central Falls Mayor James Diossa is appointing Matthew Jerzyk, formerly deputy city solicitor in Providence, as city solicitor in Central Falls, effective January 6.

It's Friday, do you know where your column is? Right here. Thanks for stopping by, and feel free as always to drop me a line at idonnis (at) ripr (dot) org and follow me on the twitters.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Rhode Island Kids Count is out with an issue brief on the high school graduation rate in Rhode Island.  The latest statistics show that while the four-year graduation rate is increasing, a gap remains between affluent students and their lower-income colleagues.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

A four-month long investigation has resulted in the arrests of nearly three dozen accused drug dealers. The investigation targeted narcotics activity in Central Falls.

Starting in June Central Falls police noticed an uptick in shootings. They suspected it was drug related so they called in the state police to help them out.  The result was the arrests of 35 individuals over a four month period and the seizure of a sizable collection of illegal drugs, said Rhode Island State Police Superintendent Steven O’Donnell.

Special to RIPR

Who says off-year elections aren't interesting? Some random news and observations:

1. Women candidates came up big in Central Falls, albeit in uncontested races, winning five of seven City Council seats. The extent of this kind of female presence is unusual in RI municipalities, although four of five Barrington town councilors are women.

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