From union battles to elections to a 413-foot turbine to hurricanes, 2012 kept us busy. With 2013 on the horizon, we've decided to take a look back at the biggest stories from the past year.
Town Mandates 24-Hour Shift for Firefighters
In a controversial 3-2 vote, the North Kingstown Town Council passed a new ordinance that mandated 24-hour shifts for the town's firefighters and made other significant changes to their schedules and pay. The ordinance moved firefighters from 10- and 14-hour shifts to 24 shifts and upped their weekly work schedule from 42 to 56 hours per week. According to Town Manager Michael Embury, the change could save the district $1.2 million in the first year.
Since its passage, Local 1651 (the NK firefighters' union) has battled the change in letters, public hearings and in court. In December, a Superior Court judge ordered the town to "unring the bell" and return firefighters to their former work schedules. As of the end of 2012, NK firefighters have been working this new schedule since March.
Custodial Services Outsourced
The North Kingstown School Committee was embroiled in its own union battle this year as negotiations with the NK Education Support Professionals broke down. In a .
The union protested the move, even causing the first day of school to be delayed. The union argued that they were not striking, but picketing the first day of school after being ordered back to work by Washington Superior Court. Both sides are still involved in litigation over the matter.
Turbine Finally Erected
Almost two years after it was approved, the 413-foot wind turbine at North Kingstown Green was finally built this October. The turbine was built in the backyard of wind energy developer Mark DePasquale and is one of the tallest structures in the state – taller even than the trio of turbines in Providence. Since September 2010, the turbine (and its sister project, Stamp Farm – which was defeated by planning commission last year) has been the subject of sizable public outcry due to its size, safety concerns and location in residential area. .
Many new faces will be appearing at meetings for both the Town Council and School Committee, as well as the General Assembly, following this November's election.
The council . In total, there were a whopping 14 candidates for council. It took a couple of days for the results to be finalized and winners declared, as the race for council was too close to call.
On the school side, Lynda Avanzato retained her seat while newcomers Robert Jones and Cheryl Clarkin joined the committee. . She promises to remain active in the community as a private citizen.
At the state level, Rep. Doreen Costa and Senators James Sheehan and Dawson Hodgson all kept their seats. after a tough primary against Sharon Gamba.
Route 2/102 & Rolling Greens
Many municipal meetings in 2012 were dominated by the future of development in town – especially at the contentious intersection of Route 2 and 102. A proposal to build a village center development at Rolling Greens Golf Course – called "The Preserve at Rolling Greens" – has been met with opposition for the past two years. In November, the council moved to rezone the intersection.
Wickford Junction Opens
A . The $50 million station, complete with a 1,100-space parking garage, offers transportation from Wickford Junction to Warwick, Providence and all the way up to Boston.
Just in time for Halloween, Hurricane Sandy barreled through the northeast this October. Though New Jersey and New York bore the brunt of the storm, Rhode Island also saw its fair share of carnage. North Kingstown, luckily, came out of the storm relatively unscathed – despite some jaw-dropping pictures of flooding in Wickford Village during the storm.
Fry Sentenced to 20 Years
After months of postponements, Kimberly Fry was finally sentenced in the murder of her 8-year-old daughter. In fall 2011, Fry was convicted of strangling her daughter in August 2009 after the girl threw a tantrum over taking a bath. Fry was sentenced to 40 years, with 20 years to serve. During her sentencing, Fry told the court, "All I wanted to do is give her a perfect life."