Council Declines to Ask Chariho to Revisit Books and Media Policy - DECEMBER 7, 2021
RICHMOND TOWN COUNCIL
Council Declines to Ask Chariho to Revisit Books and Media Policy
DECEMBER 7, 2021
By Cynthia Drummond for BRVCA
RICHMOND — With only three of five Town Council members present at the Dec. 7 meeting, there were insufficient votes supporting a motion to ask the Chariho Regional School Committee to reexamine its policy regarding the policy on books and media in schools. Council President Nell Carpenter and councilor Ronald Newman were absent from the meeting.
Councilor Richard Nassaney asked the council to send a letter to the School Committee, asking members to revisit a policy that restricts decisions about which books and other media are available to students to parents of students in the district.
“What if I have a question? Or what if I don’t appreciate something that’s being put there,” he said. “There is a right, there is a process that people have to go through, and I think that it’s very important, that whether I use the right or not, I shouldn’t be limited, and I don’t think that anyone else should be limited, either.”
Council Vice President James Palmisciano, who chaired the meeting, said he would support sending a letter asking the committee to reconsider the policy.
“…Even though I might not agree with the desire to change some of these, which is at the root of this, I think it’s important to step back and see that the right to voice one’s opinion as a taxpayer is important,” he said. “So, I would be in favor of a letter just inspiring, or encouraging the School Committee to revisit their decision to see if there’s a way to address the process for receiving and processing in a timely manner the requests that they’re receiving.”
Councilor Lauren Cacciola disagreed, saying the decision should be left to the School Committee.
“I just feel…that we’d be micro-managing them,” she said.
Cacciola abstained on the motion, and with only Nassaney and Palmisciano voting in favor, there were not enough votes on the reduced council for the motion to pass.
The council did vote to support two grant applications, one to the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management for a dog park and the second to T-Mobile for new equipment for the Beaver River playground.
The new dog park, next to the Heritage Trail, would cost $84,000, and the town is asking the DEM to contribute a Recreation Acquisition and Development Grant in the amount of $71,580.
Town Solicitor Karen Ellsworth noted that a condition of the grant is public input on the project.
“You might just want to announce to the audience that during the public forum section of the meeting, you will be asking specifically for comment on this grant application,” she said.
Several residents voiced their support for the project. Victoria Vona, a longtime member of the town’s Dog Park Committee, said the park was overdue.
“For nine years, we’ve been trying to get a dog park into Richmond, so I’m a big supporter of the dog park,” she said.
The council also approved an application for a grant of up to $50,000 from T-Mobile for the playground equipment.
Cacciola, who has taken the lead on the playground project, said she had solicited quotes from two playground equipment companies.
“I just want to stress how important [it is] adding this equipment, with council approval, going forward and applying for the grant, because mental health and well being of these kids are most important, and it’s something that hasn’t been updated since 2000,” she said.
Council members voted to support the submission of a 2021 COPS Hiring Grant which will significantly subsidize the cost of hiring a new police officer.
Police Chief Elwood Johnson told the council that while the Richmond is growing, the town has only 14 police officers, the fewest of the three Chariho towns.
“The starting salary in July of this year, which is our goal date to have somebody in the [police] academy, is $51,000,” he said. “So over three years, you get $125,000 from the federal government. Year four, you have to retain them and pay their salary. After year four, it’s your call whether you want to keep that position or not.”
Finance Director Laura Kenyon noted that the officer’s salary in the fourth year would be in the town’s 2023 budget.
The matter of odor mitigation measures for medical marijuana growers was deferred at the suggestion of Ellsworth, who was awaiting additional information. Council members agreed to continue the matter to a future meeting.
The council also received an update from Antonia Bryson, the town’s representative on the Wood Pawcatuck Wild and Scenic Stewardship Council. The seven rivers that comprise the Wood Pawcatuck watershed were designated by the National Park Service as wild and scenic in 2019, and the Stewardship Council was formed to enhance and protect the 300-square mile watershed’s ecological, cultural and recreational values.
Bryson explained that the council was planning an outreach initiative to raise awareness in the 12 towns that are located in the watershed.
“Hopefully, next year we’re thinking about something called ‘River Day’ in which each town would be responsible for coming up with an event that would celebrate its rivers, and they would all go forward at the same time, so we’re excited about that,” she said.
In other business, Town Administrator Karen Pinch reported that the towns of Charlestown and Hopkinton, which had been asked to join Richmond in contributing to the Maddie Potts Memorial Field House building permit fee, had added the matter to upcoming Town Council agendas.
Maddie Potts died suddenly on the Chariho soccer field in 2017. Her parents, Dan and Stephanie Potts, started the Maddie Potts Foundation to raise funds for a new field house at Chariho to honor their daughter’s legacy.
Foundation Treasurer Melissa DeJoseph had asked the town to consider reimbursing the foundation the $5,120 fee, and the council voted at the Nov. 16 meeting to ask Hopkinton and Charlestown to help offset the permit fee for the field house, which is now under construction.
The council voted to make two schedule changes, cancelling the December 21 Town Council meeting, and also closing the Town Hall on Dec. 31 for the New Year’s holiday instead of waiting until the Monday after New Year’s.’
Beaver River Valley Community Association
P.O. Box 10, Shannock, RI 02875