Westerly

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A Superior Court judge recently ruled homeowners in Westerly seeking remedy for alleged nuisance from a neighboring quarry operation have the right to do so.

When two families filed a lawsuit against the quarry owner, Westerly Granite Inc., the quarry operators, Armetta LLC, formerly known as Copar Quarries, LLC, and the subconstractor Maine Drilling and Blasting, Westerly Granite responded with a counter complaint.

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On the surface, this story is about sand and gravel. And it’s not, actually. It's a story about how stone becomes sand and gravel. And about the people who built homes around what used to be a dormant quarry in Westerly. It’s the first installment of a two-part series.

Charlestown resident Denise Rhodes lives about 1,000 feet away from this quarry, just across the border in Westerly. She invited local town council members and Rhode Island Public Radio to her house on a day when the town issued a “Code Red alert.” 

John Bender / RIPR

Rhode Island has received more than $2.7 million to clean up contaminated properties in Pawtucket, Providence, and Westerly.

Senator Jack Reed says these federal grants awarded through the Environmental Protection Agency’s Brownfields Program will help local governments protect public health and redevelop former industrial sites for better use. Reed says it’ll also benefit the economy by creating jobs and increasing the value of surrounding properties.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

The Town of Westerly has secured more than $1 million in grants to dredge Winnepaug Pond in Misquamicut. 

Winnepaug Pond, behind Misquamicut Beach, has built up a lot of sediment over the course of 50 years or more, said Amy Grzybowski, Westerly’s director of planning, code enforcement, and grant administration. She said the town has wanted to dredge the pond for more than 10 years. 

Then, Superstorm Sandy dumped more sand, making it more shallow and warm.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

Flood warnings remain in effect for Rhode Island rivers, but forecasters for with the National Weather Service says people shouldn't fear a repeat of the historic floods of March 2010; which were the worst in the state.  However residents in Westerly were still worried.

Gail Quatromanni lives in a sprawling ranch with spectacular view of the Pawcatuck River.  But it hasn't been looking very pretty in the last couple days.  In a 24 hour period starting Sunday morning, Quatromanni said the river rose 19 inches.

Ian Donnis / RIPR

The state Senate on Tuesday afternoon unveiled a new plan meant to close a skills gap in Rhode Island. Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed said the “Rhode to Work” plan is a response to business leaders’ complaints that they’re having trouble finding skilled workers.

The plan calls for creating a single workforce training system; improving adult education; and expanding the number of internships and apprenticeships in Rhode Island.

The public has a chance to weigh in Friday on a slate of proposed transportation projects that will be paid for out of a new fund

The new fund helps cities and towns access low-interest loans for road construction projects. It’s modeled after the state’s Clean Water Finance Authority, which over the past 15 years has loaned out $1 billion for municipal sewage treatment projects. In fact, the Clean Water Finance Authority will administer this new transportation fund.

Westerly’s Zoning Board is circling back to a cease and desist order against Copar and Westerly Granite. Tuesday's hearing picks up where the zoning board left off earlier this year.

Residents near Copar’s quary say it’s noisy and spews rock and dust into the air, causing health risks. Copar says the noise is no louder than a busy road.

Meanwhile, Copar and the Town of Westerly are locked in a lawsuit that the former town manager was hoping would be resolved in mediation.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

Scores of workers who helped clean up after Superstorm Sandy were officially thanked Friday.

The Department of Labor and Training said it had $1.5 million in federal aid and hired about 98 workers to help clean up after the storm. They cleared debris from Fort Adams State Park, the East Bay bike path and worked around Misquamicut Beach to get it ready for the Memorial Day opening of the summer season.

Catherine Welch / RIPR

It was one year ago that Superstorm Sandy slammed onto the Rhode Island coast. The storm raked across Misquamicut Beach, destroying businesses and dumping tons of sand onto Atlantic Avenue. 

 

 

The streets are quiet in Misquamicut Beach, mostly the ocean roar and sounds of construction fill the air. Many of the motels and restaurants are closed for the season. But the New Land Motel and Apartments is open. Manager Rinette

Test results from two mosquito pools in Rhode Island have come back positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis. This is the second time EEE has been confirmed in the state this year.

The samples came from traps set in Tiverton and Westerly.  The Department of Environmental Management says the findings aren’t surprising for this time of year, and it’s likely that EEE is present in other parts of the state.

Furthermore, two mosquito pools in Tiverton and Hopkinton have confirmed positive results for Highlands J Virus, that virus is a bird disease that doesn’t affect humans.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

A White House panel says coastal communities damaged by Hurricane Sandy should prepare for future storms due to rising sea levels.

The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding task force has released a list of recommendations to help communities reduce future damage.

The Presidential task force report says that towns and cities near the coastline need to spend money now in order to avoid costly damage later.

That’s because climate change and rising sea levels are increasing the threat of extreme storms.

The Town of Westerly and Copar Quarries head into mediation Wednesday to see if they can settle a dispute that will please both the quarry and residents.

RIPR FILE

The Shaw’s supermarket chain says it’s closing six underperforming stores. Four are in southeastern Massachusetts and two are in the Rhode Island communities of Westerly and Woonsocket. 

But the closures won’t necessarily mean massive layoffs. A spokesman for Shaw’s said the company will try to avert layoffs by absorbing the affected employees into their remaining stores.  After the closures of the stores in Westerly and Woonsocket there will be eight Shaw’s stores left in Rhode Island.

Flo Jonic / RIPR

Members of President Obama’s Hurricane Sandy taskforce will be in Rhode Island Monday touring coastal areas hit by last year’s storm.  Westerly officials will make their case for more financial help.

The south coast took a beating, with 150 homes and 30 businesses damaged just in Westerly. Town Manager Steven Hartford says funding is needed to rebuild, elevate and drain Atlantic Avenue, which was severely flooded during Sandy. He said Rhode Island may not have grabbed headlines during the storm, but it needs help too.

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