Top stories out of Foster and Glocester

Top stories out of Foster and Glocester

Ethan Lemanski, 10, gets blasted as he reaches the yellow station during the West Glocester Elementary School Color Run on June 2. Two hundred and fifty students ran through a course and were hit with different colored powder to raise money for the school. Funds went toward Field Day, materials for the classrooms and to promote community events within the school such as assemblies. (Breeze photo by Bill Murphy)

FOSTER and GLOCESTER – The quiet towns of Foster and Glocester can stir up some noise occasionally.

This year in Glocester began on a low note as the town’s Senate seat was left vacant when former state Sen. Nicholas Kettle resigned from office.

But as the year continued, it ended on a high with the arrival of the miniature version of the Vietnam Memorial, the Moving Wall, to Ponaganset along with a week of ceremony and observance.

In Foster, the battle over a newcomer’s gravel operation caused residents to come out by the dozens to speak against the developer’s proposed horse farm.

Gravel concerns

Foster residents were angered as the Town Council allowed Brian St. Croix to continue gravel operation on his horse farm at 9 Mount Hygeia Road, despite residents arguing that St. Croix’s original plan for a gravel pit has not changed, only his story.

The location was once a horse farm, and upon being denied rights to operate gravel pit, St. Croix returned to the town with plans to revitalize the horse farm under the Right to Farm Act.

Previously, St. Croix was denied Zoning Board approval to run a gravel pit, but did not stop operations.

Abutters to the property, the Sparks and Nadinger families, filed a cease and desist order against St. Croix for continued operations after the board denial, saying the town failed to protect its citizens by refusing to enforce its laws.

Rhode Island Supreme Court Justice Maureen Keough advised the town that St. Croix was within his rights to continue a gravel operation at his property under the Right to Farm Act, and that his claimed plan to create a horse farm was “valid and permissible.”

Town Council President Denise DeFranco said the town was at a standstill, and that it made the best decision under the circumstances.

Terms of consent, mandated by the court, include the stipulations that St. Croix can remove gravel Monday through Friday, and continue stone-crushing operations within a certain decibel level, and must be completed in a two-year timeframe.

St. Croix also may only work on 10-acre parcels of the property at a time, completing the build into a hayfield or grazing field before starting the next plot.

Also, within six months after the two-year deadline, the stables must be filled to at-least one-third capacity, or five horses.

End in sight for power 
plant hearings?

Across the border in Burrillville, the debate over Invenergy’s proposed gas and oil-burning power plant slogged into its fourth year.

While a decision is not expected until mid-spring, 2019, the past year brought several victories for the northern Rhode Island residents and officials who have fought the proposal since 2015.

In September, ISO New England, the nonprofit responsible for overseeing the regional energy market, requested permission to cancel a capacity supply obligation contract with Invenergy that had been seen as an essential piece of the company’s argument that it would bring needed energy to the region. In November, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission confirmed that decision, giving opponents hope the EFSB would look favorably on their argument that the plant is unnecessary and would cause environmental harm.

The company was dealt another blow in October when the EFSB opted to reject a two-year-old advisory opinion supporting the plant from the State Public Utilities Commission. The opinion was partly based on the contract with ISO New England, leading opponents to argue it was out of date. Together, the two developments were seen as significant victories by those who have fought the plant’s construction from the beginning.

“I think the board made a commonsense decision here, and it’s basically what we’ve been trying to convey to the EFSB for a number of years now – that the project is not needed in Rhode Island,” Burrillville Town Manager Michael Wood said on the board’s decision to reject the advisory opinion.

The company, meanwhile, maintained the need for the proposed plant is only growing and told The Breeze they will continue with the application as planned.

Statehouse changes

Two representatives were removed from office this year on less than pleasant terms.

The year kicked off in Senate District 21, representing Coventry, Foster, Scituate and West Greenwich, with Republican Sen. Nicholas Kettle resigning on Feb. 22 after allegations of video voyeurism and extortion.

Kettle pleaded not guilty, and was released on $50,000 personal recognizance.

“After taking several days to speak with my legal counsel and family members, I have determined that it is in my best interest to resign and concentrate on the unfounded allegations against me,” Kettle said in a letter to the General Assembly.

Foster Town Councilor Gordon Rogers, Republican, immediately declared his intent to run for Kettle’s seat, which was too close to the general election to call for a special election.

Rogers defeated Dr. Michael Fine, independent, and James Safford, Democrat, earning 5,237 votes to their 3,725 and 3,326 votes.

Days before the general election for District 47, representing Burrillville and Glocester, Rep. Cale Keable was removed from his position as the House Judiciary Chairman after a sexual harassment allegation was brought to light.

On Oct. 29, House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello removed Keable from the position approximately 90 minutes after news reports on a March 11 email to Mattiello from Rep. Katherine Kazarian, where she alleged “years of sexual harassment” toward her by Keable.

On Nov. 6, Republican David Place defeated Keable in the election. Place, a former Burrillville Town Councilman, won 56.7 percent of the vote, earning 2,959 votes to Keable’s 2,244 votes.

Brian St. Croix leans on a large rock on his property at 9 Mt. Hygeia Rd., in Foster. After being denied permission for a gravel operation, he returned to the town requesting to crush stone under the Right to Farm Act to build a horse farm. (Breeze photo by Jacquelyn Moorehead)
The Glocester Scarecrow Festival began on Oct. 13 and featured more than 60 scarecrows lining the main street of Chepachet. The scarecrows were on display until Oct. 28. The event was organized by Chepachet Grange #38 and the Glocester Manton Library. The Best of Show winner, above, was a scarecrow made by Bryan Parmentier, of Glocester. (Breeze photo by Charles Lawrence)
The Moving Wall, a half-size version of the Washington D.C.’s Vietnam Veterans Memorial, was on display at Ponaganset High School in Glocester, on Nov. 3. Vietnam Veteran Terry Benson, of Foster, makes a rubbing of the name of Jerry A. Johnson, displayed on the Moving Wall. Terry, who served in the Army from 1965-66, was a childhood friend of Johnson back in their hometown of Rushford, Minn. (Breeze photo by Bill Murphy)