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RI State Report: Big Money For Rhode Island’s Hospitals + Coast

Saturday, July 27, 2013


Grants, grants, and more grants. This week’s State Report centers on a pair of federal grants, which look to improve Rhode Island's emergency preparedness and coastal resources. Also on the docket, are the newly released 2013-2014 State Arts Council grant recipients, which were announced on Thursday.

Aside from grants, we'll look at an innovative public fitness program being instituted in Providence, and the decision made by certain lawmakers to decline their annual pay hike.

RI hospitals get $5.9 million in fed funds

In an effort to help Rhode Island’s hospitals better respond to natural disasters and public health emergencies, the federal government has awarded the state $5.9 million in federal grants, according to an announcement by Sen. Jack Reed’s office on Wednesday.
“This federal funding will help bolster Rhode Island’s emergency response capabilities and ensure hospitals and medical centers across the state are ready to effectively respond when we need them the most,” said Reed.
According to Reed, the money is especially necessary in the wake of recent events like the Boston Marathon bombing and Superstorm Sandy. The funding will also be used to combat large-scale occurrences like epidemics, foodborne illness outbreaks, chemical spills, hurricanes or terrorist acts.
Rhode Island will receive $4.4 million through the state’s Public Health Emergency Preparedness (PHEP) cooperative and $1.5 million via the Hospital Preparedness Program (HPP).
The money is administered by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HSS).

State gets $2.2 million to protect coastal resources

In other grant news, Sen. Jack Reed and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse announced on Tuesday that Rhode Island has been awarded over $2.2 million in federal funding to help protect the state’s coastal resources.
“This federal funding will help protect the environment and bolster Rhode Island's economy. I am pleased to have helped secure this federal funding to help the state respond to the increasing demands on our coastal resources. I commend the staff of the CRMC for its commitment to using smart planning to conserve coastal habitats and natural resources for future generations,” said Reed.
The state’s Coastal Resources Management Council—which works to preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal areas—will receive about $1.3 million, while the Rhode Island Sea Grant will get $975,000 through the Sea Grant College Program. Located at the University of Rhode Island’s School of Oceanography, the Rhode Island Sea Grant centers its efforts on coastal protection and sustainable fisheries.
“CRMC and Sea Grant help Rhode Island communities better understand the causes of their changing landscapes and plan for the future. I congratulate both of them on receiving this funding,” said Whitehouse.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is administering both grants.  

State Arts Council announces 2013-2014 grant recipients

On Thursday, the Rhode Island State Arts Council awarded $786,000 to 143 non-profits, schools and individuals as part of its latest round of grants for the 2013-2014 season. It received 294 applications from artists, schools and organizations statewide.
The grants—which are funded through an appropriation from Gov. Lincoln Chafee and the General Assembly—range from $500 for small community-based projects to, to $92,500 to Trinity Reparatory Company for operating support.
"I strongly believe in supporting Rhode Island's vibrant arts community–one of the premier assets in our state," said Chafee. "Artists, musicians, theaters, galleries, historic and heritage organizations, curators, designers, film and any developer of creative, new ideas are integral to maintaining Rhode Island's reputation as the 'arts state' and enhancing its economy."
The grant award includes the following:
  • $40,000 to 17 individual artists for programs including an African drum and dance festival; a theatre piece for individuals with and without disabilities based on the Nutcracker story; and a series of jazz workshops and concerts based out of Community MusicWorks in Providence.
  • $25,500 to 23 non-profit organizations for support of projects like the Olneyville Fall Festival; a program at Sojourner House titled "Voices Unfold"; support for Art Night, a community arts celebration in Bristol and Warren; and a documentary entitled "Slaterville: America's First Mill Village".
  • $40,000 to 18 schools and non-profit organizations for arts education programs such as a project at the International Charter School using narrative photography to help with the 3rd grade social studies unit on "Documenting Cultural Communities"; a project at Smithfield High School that brings together the arts and science curriculum through the creation of small sculptures with a teaching artist; and a 10-week collaborative photography and writing program at Shea High School in Pawtucket.
  • $608,239 to 60 major arts and cultural organizations across Rhode Island including New Urban Arts in Providence, The Gamm Theater in Pawtucket, Common Fence Music in Middletown, 2nd Story Theater in Warren, and Island Moving Company in Newport.
Click here for a full list of grant recipients.

Mayor Taveras announces ‘Fitness in Providence Parks’ program

On Tuesday, Mayor Angel Taveras announced that Providence would be offering free and low-cost exercise classes in city parks throughout the summer and fall.
The program, which is called “Fitness in Providence Parks,” aims to provide exercise and fitness activities to citizens, as well encourage residents to enjoy the city’s green spaces.
"Fitness in Providence Parks is an important part of our continued efforts to create a healthier and more vibrant city by providing more opportunities for residents to exercise and spend time outdoors," said Taveras. "I applaud our community partners including the Partnership for Providence Parks, Yoga Passport and the YMCA of Greater Providence for helping residents maintain healthy lifestyles and enjoy the many green spaces that Providence has to offer."
The summer and fall curriculum will include Zumba, yoga, Pilates, and circuit training. Classes are open to all residents and many offer childcare options.
Click here for the full schedule of classes.

Nine lawmakers reject annual pay raise

Members of the General Assembly received an automatic pay raise on July 1, but not all of them are accepting the extra money.
As of this week, nine lawmakers have turned down the 2.1 percent raise—including Senators Dennis Algiere (R), David Bates (R), Dawson Hodgson (R), Nicholas Kettle (R), Christopher Ottiano (R), Edward O’Neill (I), Adam Satchell (D) and James Sheehan (D), and Rep. Michael Chippendale (R).
In 1995, a state constitutional change downsized the GA and mandated that legislators be compensated an annual rate of $10,000, with annual pay increases based on the Consumer Price Index of the previous year.
Based on this formula, the pay raise for this year was 2.1 percent, which brings the lawmakers’ annual pay from $14,640 to $14,947. The annual salary of the House Speaker and Senate President has increased to $29,894.
“While Rhode Island’s economy seems to be brightening slightly, we are not yet out of the woods,” said Sheehan, who also declined last year’s pay increase. “I wish to continue to show, albeit modestly, my understanding of the sacrifices which continue to be made all across state government and in most of the households in our state.”
Forty lawmakers turned down last year’s 3.2-percent raise.

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