Providence

Ian Donnis / RIPR

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza is our guest for the first Political Roundtable of 2016. We discuss concerns on Providence finances and the city's ongoing dispute with the firefighters' union.

John Bender / RIPR

A recent AP investigation found major grocery store chains across the country fail to provide food for areas that need it most. In Rhode Island some fifty-thousand people don’t have easy access to healthy foods, and most of them are in Providence county.

A small group of locals have been trying to open a grocery store on their own, but it’s taken a decade to get the project off the ground.

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If you’ve stepped outside at all this month, you already know the weather has been far from frightful.  Forecasters are predicting a record-breaking Christmas, and the city’s warmest December.

In Providence, Christmas set a record last year at 63 degrees. Meteorologists believe we’ll approach that record this year, and maybe even beat it. Overall this is shaping up to be the warmest December on record in Providence, with an average temperature of 43 degrees.

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Three Rhode Island school districts have been chosen for a new state initiative aimed at preparing students for jobs in high tech industries. Newport, Providence and Westerly will be part of the program known as P-TECH; short for Pathways in Technology Early College High School program.

There's just one week until Christmas, so I want to wish a very happy holiday season to my readers, and offer my thanks for stopping by in 2015. (Program note: TGIF is taking next week off and will return December 31.) As usual, your tips and comments are welcome, and you can follow me through the week on the twitters. Here we go.

Arbitration is set to begin Wednesday between Providence and its firefighters, as the two sides wage a legal battle over work schedules.

This spring, Mayor Jorge Elorza announced a new staffing protocol to reduce the costs of overtime payments. City firefighters criticized the move, saying the change should be made through collective bargaining.

Last week the state Supreme Court denied an appeal by the city to delay the arbitration, but the mayor’s office says it is ready to use the process to enforce its right to restructure the fire department.

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High temperatures in Providence broke several records over the last two days, and meteorologists say White Christmas is exceedingly unlikely.

Around 11 p.m. Monday night, the mercury hit 61 degrees to beat out a record for that date of 59 degrees set in 1991.

Just a few hours later, at 4 a.m. Tuesday morning, temperatures climbed even higher, reaching 64 degrees. That was two degrees warmer than the record. It was even warmer than the same early morning hour this past July 4th.

Elisabeth Harrison / RIPR

Language immersion programs known as “dual language” programs are a growing trend in public elementary schools. They allow students to become bilingual in English and another language, like Spanish. 

Providence school officials have just announced a plan to offer new dual language programs in Spanish and possibly Mandarin at Carl Lauro Elementary School.

The programs would begin with two Kindergarten classrooms in each language, then add a grade every year until fifth grade.

James DeWolf Perry has been named executive director of the Center for Reconciliation, the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island’s initiative to locate a slavery museum and inter-racial reconciliation center at the former Cathedral of St. John in Providence.

James Baumgartner / RIPR

The Providence City Council finance committee voted to approve a proposed downtown hotel Tuesday night. The project was proposed earlier this year, but movement on the issue was slow.

A local developer wants to build a nine-story hotel on the site of a now-vacant government building. The project was proposed this summer, but the city’s finance committee did not vote on it for several months. Local construction workers felt opposition by a hotel workers union seemed to be stalling the project.

One of Rhode Island’s only Spanish-language theater companies is getting its own home. The ECAS Theatre in Providence has been operating for nearly two decades. (ECAS stands for Educational Center for the Arts and Sciences.)

ECAS began in 1997, producing plays in both English and Spanish. Up to now, the group has rented space, but organizers have found a permanent home in Providence’s South Side.

The group mainly stages plays from Hispanic countries. Artistic Director Francis Parra said they provide a glimpse into the national cultures of many Rhode Island residents.

John Bender / RIPR

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza has launched an advisory council to focus on gun violence. The 11-member group will meet at least four times a year, and deliver annual recommendations to the city.

Providence City Council President Luis Aponte joins Bonus Q+A to discuss the outlook on development in Providence, and a host of other issues, including pensions, Kennedy Plaza, the PawSox, and more.

Ian Donnis/File Photo / RIPR

Providence City Council President Luis Aponte joins Political Roundtable this week to discuss continued deficits in the city budget; Mayor Jorge Elorza's strategy in trying to cut the cost of firefighter overtime; and the outlook on attracting the PawSox to Victory Place.

Chuck Hinman / RIPR

The Providence-based arts organization AS220 is celebrating its 30th anniversary Saturday night with a big party at Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel in Providence. After a humble start in a small room in the Providence Performing Arts Center back in 1985, AS220 has grown to become an arts and performance powerhouse

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