We’ll be running Rhode Island News Briefs regularly, featuring interesting stories from around the state, gathered from various news organizations, and other sources from business, government, and non-profit organizations.

Vartan Gregorian, former Brown President and “savior” of New York City’s Public Library, Dies


Vartan Gregorian, who served as Brown University’s president from 1989-1997, and credited by the New York Times with restoring “a fading New York Public Library to its heart of American intellectual life,” died at the age of 87 on Thursday in a New York City Hospital. During his career he also headed the Carnegie Corporation. The New York Times obituary characterized Dr. Gregorian as “a fighter: proud, shrewd, charming, a brilliant historian and educator who rose from humble origins to speak seven languages, win sheaves of honors…he was best known for resurrecting the New York Public Library from a fiscal and morale crisis.”


Providence police sergeant appeals assault case


PROVIDENCE — Sgt. Joseph Hanley, 49, found guilty by District Court Judge Brian Goldman of simple assault for kicking, punching, and kneeling on the head of 28-year-old Rishod Gore, a black man, in April 2019, has appealed his conviction to the Superior Court. Hanley was found guilty of the assault after Gore was handcuffed and lying prone on the sidewalk. Hanley has asked for a jury trial in Superior Court.

RI’s unemployment rate falls to 7.1% in March


Rhode Island’s unemployment rate fell to 7.1 percent last month, a 0.2-percentage drop from February, according to the state Department of Labor and Training. The U.S. unemployment rate in March was 6 percent.

Veterans Home gets $840,000 in federal funds


BRISTOL — The Rhode Island Veterans Home is receiving $840,000 in federal coronavirus relief funding, from a $100 million emergency payment to state veterans’ homes from the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. Additionally, the RI Veterans Home can anticipate additional funding from the American Rescue Plan, which has allocated some $750 million for construction grants and payments to veterans’ homes nationwide.


Westerly schools consider switch to electric buses


WESTERLY — The school committee has received a proposal from its transportation officials to switch to all electric buses as a way of reducing use of fossil fuels, improving students’ health by eliminating exhaust fumes. Susan Guarino, transportation director, and Ruedi Hauser III, transportation safety coordinator, discussed the idea with the School Committee at a meeting this week. Hauser said electric buses cost about four times that of traditional ones (with costs decreasing) but could pursue grants to reduce costs. Hauser suggested the district could begin introducing the electric buses in the 2023-24 school year, making Westerly the first system in Rhode Island to switch to electric buses.

Planning Board slams lack of fight against Route 6 blight

FOSTER – The Foster Planning Board is asking the Town Council to create a municipal court to address building and maintenance violations, particularly along what it says is a problem with blight along Route 6. Planning Board Chairman Anthony Renzi expressed frustration about the board’s requests being ignored for years by the Town Council. The Planning Board previously asked the Town Council and building officials to enforce state building maintenance codes, but said they received little response. The Planning Board has argued that new businesses will not come to Foster because of unappealing roadways, particularly Route 6.

More From What’s Up Newp

Frank Prosnitz

Frank Prosnitz brings to WhatsUpNewp several years in journalism, including 10 as editor of the Providence (RI) Business News and 14 years as a reporter and bureau manager at the Providence (RI) Journal. Prosnitz began his journalism career as a sportswriter at the Asbury Park (NJ) Press, moving to The News Tribune (Woodbridge, NJ), before joining the Providence Journal. Prosnitz hosts the Morning Show on WLBQ radio (Westerly), 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. Monday through Friday, and It’s Your Business, also on WBLQ, Monday and Tuesday, 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Prosnitz has twice won Best in Business Awards from the national Society of American Business Editors and Writers (SABEW), twice was named Media Advocate of the Year by the Small Business Administration, won an investigative reporter’s award from the New England Press Association, and newswriting award from the Rhode Island Press Association.