One Square Mile: Woonsocket

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For most of this week, the White House has been the scene of meetings focused on police- minority relations, in response to protests  across the country, and the murderous attack on police officers last week in Dallas. Woonsocket Police Lieutenant Ed Cunanan will participate in one of those meetings Friday.

Woonsocket Community Forum

Woonsocket, RI – Scott MacKay leads a discussion on issues facing Woonsocket.


In their Woonsocket apartment, Bradley Mehlenbacher and his half-brother Brian Ross known to thousands as Draco and the Malfoys play a stripped-down version of their song, "Potions." They're one of the big names in a genre called wizard rock music that's based on the popular Harry Potter book series.

PROVIDENCE, RI – When you drive into Woonsocket, the sign welcoming you into the city includes another welcome- to the world headquarters of CVS. The fortune 18 pharmacy company, and one of the biggest employers in Rhode Island, continues to choose Woonsocket as its home.

WRNI's health care reporter Megan Hall sat down with one of CVS's top executives, Helena Foulks, to learn why.

PROVIDENCE, RI – Rhode Island's northernmost city faces many of the same challenges as the state as a whole, including a lack of jobs. But one thing that sets Woonsocket apart is an unusually rich array of local media.

Lorraine Corey is a grandmother of seven who self-deprecatingly puts her age as older than the dinosaurs. She might seem like an unlikely candidate to be the latest entry in Woonsocket's local media, but she cares deeply about how her tax dollars are spent.

PROVIDENCE, RI – The dynamite sandwich.

Its ethnic origins have been lost to time but the sandwich's popularity is as strong as ever.

Photo by Megan Hall

Providence, RI – What happens to that paper robe you wear at the doctor's office? Or the syringe after your flu shot? Medical waste can't just go to the dump- state law requires sterilizing and shredding it beyond recognition. As part of our One Square Mile: Woonsocket, WRNI's Health Care Reporter Megan Hall found a place that plays a large role in where most of that medical garbage goes.

PROVIDENCE, RI – WRNI Political analyst Scott MacKay takes our ONE SQUARE MILE Woonsocket series to Mayor Leo Fontaine's office for a chat about the city's storied past and challenging future.

Listen to more stories and interviews in our series, One Square Mile: Woonsocket.

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

The Woonsocket Police department has a tarnished history. In 1982 and for the rest of the decade, the big story was Raymond "Beaver" Tempest Jr. who was convicted a decade later for beating a young woman to death with a metal pipe. His brother was a detective on the force and the public believed Woonsocket Police mishandled the investigation. A few years after Tempest was convicted, Susan Menard became the mayor of Woonsocket.

PROVIDENCE, RI – School districts around the nation are trying to send more students to college as the United States looks to better compete in the 21st century. In this installment of our series One Square Mile: Woonsocket, we look at a program in Woonsocket city schools that prepares students for life after high school, but not necessarily a 4-year college.

Providence, RI – By MEGAN HALL

PROVIDENCE, RI – If you can't afford to see a private doctor in Woonsocket, you probably go to Thundermist Health Center.

Residents can use Medicaid or pay on a sliding scale for everything from check-ups to pre-natal care.

As part of our One Square Mile: Woonsocket, WRNI's Megan Hall sat down with Chuck Jones, the executive director of Thundermist's Woonsocket Health Center to learn more about the needs of the community.

A mural on a downtown building welcomes visitors. Photo by: Bradley Campbell.

PROVIDENCE, RI – As you drive into Woonsocket a sign welcomes you to a "city on the move". But a more accurate description may be a city in search of an identity.

Once the home of more than 100 bustling textile mills, Woonsocket is today a city notable for empty store fronts and mill buildings.

Its population has been falling steadily since 1950. Back then the city boasted 50,000 residents. Today it has about 41,000.


St. Ann Arts and Cultural Center is known in and around Woonsocket as the "jewel of the east."

The former Catholic church is home to North America's largest collection of fresco paintings. The church closed in 2000, due to financial troubles and dwindling attendance. But community members came together to save the artwork. They consider a part of their history.