Today’s news is the first revision of tomorrow’s history. Times Past provides a look back on past events through the pages of the Standard-Times as a way for us to examine the events that have helped shape the news of today.
By PAUL J. SPETRINI
One Year Ago
December 15th, 2011
n After much debate, the North Kingstown School Committee overturned a previous vote one month earlier that shot down an attempt to seek a $6.5 million bond for a number of Capital Improvement Project repairs in the district. The bond passed, 4-3, as committee members Larry Ceresi and Richard Welch, who were absent from the Nov. 3 meeting, swung the outcome in the affirmative.
The proposed bond was intended to fund a new roof at Davisville Middle School at a cost of $5.2 million and would also cover a number of other, smaller, projects at Fishing Cove, Hamilton, Quidnessett and Stony Lane Elementary Schools.
School Committee member Mel Benson, who rejected the proposal, felt the repairs were too cosmetic in nature while Superintendent Dr. Philip Auger disagreed, saying “These are not luxury items. We are risking students’ safety.”
n A routine search for juveniles trespassing in the area of the old Ladd School property proved anything but ordinary as RI State Police made a grim discovery in Exeter, coming across a set of human remains in the woods.
Following a marked path, the officer found the remains, believed to be from an older male, in the area of 299 South Road, who was thought to be between 35-55, roughly 5 feet, 10 inches and was wearing a dark, hooded sweatshirt with “Class of 2009” written on the front
Five Years Ago
December 13th, 2007
n Less than one week after his family pleaded for his release in an in-depth feature on the front page of the Standard-Times, James “Jamie” Hughes III saw his request for parole for the Sept. 1982 bludgeoning death of local mainstay Zeke Harris once again rejected by the Rhode Island Parole Board.
Hughes’ request was denied by the board because of the “heinous nature of the crime and the impact [Hughes’] actions have had on the victim, the family and the community at large.”
Hughes’ mother Laura was quoted as saying she was “shocked” at the decision but not surprised.
“I was hoping against hope,” she said. “I was praying.”
n The Configuration of Elementary Schools sub-committee met to discuss a public survey that was intended to gauge the public’s feelings on the possibility of reopening Wickford Elementary School and on the potential for all-day kindergarten.
There was a lot left in the air as about 1,000 total responses had trickled in thus far but school committee members admitted that, even if the public reached a consensus on either topic, there would be a lot of work left to do before either could be implemented in the district.
“Before we can even look at what that building would be used for, we need to get building inspectors in there and see what needs to be repaired.” April Brunelle said of WES.
Ten Years Ago
December 12th, 2002
n Five months after the town of Exeter attempted to halt construction by the U.S. Department of Labor on the Job Corps center, the project was still up and running.
Town Solicitor James Marusak had filed a lawsuit in Superior Court after the town council’s cease-and-desist order went largely ignored but the case was moved to Federal Court after the Department of Labor bypassed the local planning department and zoning boards and began construction the training school on state land.
Marusak contended that all the town wanted was for the Department of Labor to go through the appropriate local channels and, according to planning board member Frank DiGregorio, there were a number of concerns with the proposal, not the least of which was the fact that Exeter wouldn’t receive any tax-base but would be required to provide public safety for the facility.
n In a bit of foreshadowing at the growth of the Quonset Business Park, SENESCO announced that it would build two more large barges in what many believed was a sign that the local business was ready to step up to the big leagues of ship building.
The announcement came as SENESCO was nearing the end of its first contract to build a 320-foot double-hulled barge signed in August of 2001.
n The NK Town Council asked for more information before coming to a decision on a proposal by the SODCO company to build an irrigation pond in Slocum.
Linda Tucker, whose family had owned the land in question, told the council that there is a 100-acre piece of the property that couldn’t be serviced by available wells and, instead, needed the irrigation pond.
Both the planning commission and conservation commission had approved the request but the council felt there were still too many unknown variables left to decide.
“We have very many more questions than we have answers,” NK council member Dale Grogan said.
Twenty Years Ago
December 16th, 1992
n The town of North Kingstown requested to be allowed to intervene as “an interested party” in a lawsuit filed against the state by the New Jersey-based Ogden Martin Systems company.
Ogden Martin was suing the state for upwards of $100 million and seeking to shoot down a recently-enacted law that prohibited the construction of incinerators.
Attorney J. William Harsch argued that North Kingstown wanted a “seat at the table” and chose not to let the state make its arguments for it. Harsch argued that NK could change its mind down the line if it appeared the state would do an adequate job.
n In an attempt to step up property tax collections on residents’ vehicles, the town of Exeter announced a deal with the Department of Transportation to stop sending renewal forms to individual households and, instead, to send them to town hall.