John Bender


John started at RIPR in 2013 as the Morning Edition producer; researching stories, interviewing newsmakers, and writing scripts for stories every morning.  Plus special projects and regular reporting on major events.  In early 2017 he was promoted to "general assignment" reporter.  Whatever's happening in the news today?  That's what John is covering. 

Ways to Connect

John Bender / RIPR

Providence school and city officials are bracing for a possible strike by the city’s school bus drivers. The city has no back up for transportation.

That means the more than 9,000 students who could be affected would have to find alternative ways of getting to school. The drivers’ union, Teamsters Local 251, and the Ohio-based bus company, First Student, are currently in a contract dispute.


The latest round of talks ended Thursday afternoon. The drivers' union, represented by the Teamsters Local 251, are seeking a new contract with Cincinnati-based bus company First Student. The two sides are working with a federal mediator. 

The union represents about 220 drivers in Providence.  The drivers were eligible to start striking Friday, September 21st, though they did not.

Warwick Police have identified the body discovered in the Pawtuxet River Wednesday afternoon.  An investigation remains ongoing.

Police have identified a 55 year-old Cranston resident, and believe the cause of death was related to suicide. Next of kin have been notified. The police discovered the body while looking for a mannequin during a routine search and rescue training in the Pawtuxet River.

Courtesy RI Philharmonic

The English-born, Boston-area musician Bramwell Tovey will now lead the local ensemble.

Avory Brookins / RIPR

The power of progressive Democrats faces a local test Wednesday. In the Rhode Island primary, a group of progressives are challenging candidates backed by the party establishment.

Talia Blake / RIPR

Teachers, students, and police milled quietly around Central High School and Providence Career and Technical Academy Thursday morning, the day after a shooting claimed the life of a student outside the two schools.

John Bender

Just before the end of the school day Wednesday, the second day of a new school year, police were called to the Providence Career and Technical Academy High School.

Shots had been heard fired. It was a little before 2 p.m. 

John Bender / RIPR

Six mayors from Northern Rhode Island gathered Tuesday in a show of support for Lt. Governor Dan McKee. He’s facing a primary challenge next week from Providence State Representative Aaron Regunberg.

McKee served for six terms as Mayor of Cumberland and said that experience informed his priorities as Lieutenant Governor. Standing on the Statehouse steps, he said he has the connections with municipal leaders and the practical experience to keep doing the job.

John Bender / RIPR

Tiverton Casino opened to the public for the first time Saturday morning. A crowd came out to explore the new facility. A line of hundreds snaked around the building waiting for the doors to open.

Tiverton Casino Hotel / Facebook

As of September 1, Rhode Island will officially have two full-scale casinos, operating table games like poker and black jack. Twin River Casino held a ribbon cutting Thursday for its new location in Tiverton, where gambling opens to the public on Saturday. 

Unwrapping The New Facility

The ribbon cutting marks the completion of a 85,000-square-foot casino near Rhode Island’s border with Fall River. 

alexisnyal / Flickr

The Providence area matched a heat record Wednesday set in 1953. Thermometers climbed to 95 degrees in the city.

Alan Dunham, meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said while that’s hot, it's nothing compared to how hot it felt at some points during the day due to humidity.

"The two o’clock heat index was 102 degrees. So people have to make sure they stay well hydrated and wear light clothing," Dunham says. 

The Westerly Sun is the latest family-owned local newspaper to be sold to a larger management company.

When the sale goes through at the end of the month, The Westerly Sun’s will be owned by Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers. The company already owns several local weeklies, as well as daily papers the Pawtucket Times, and the Woonsocket Call.

Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers Publisher Jody Boucher said in an emailed statement, that all Westerly Sun employees will be retained.

Traffic gridlocked along Interstate-195 going into Providence early this week due to construction on the Washington Bridge. The gridlock followed a change in the traffic pattern along the span.

To make room for construction equipment and crews, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation shut down the Gano Street exit, and opened a temporary on-ramp in East Providence.

The agency says the crews are repairing the top of the 50 year-old bridge. DOT spokesman Charles St. Martin said there are a few things drivers can do to keep traffic moving.

John Bender / RIPR

The two candidates met Monday night at a forum in East Greenwich. And the tension between establishment Democrats and progressive upstarts was on display.


The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the City of Woonsocket on behalf of a local nonprofit that serves survivors of domestic violence. The suit alleges the city is withholding grant money without cause.

According to the lawsuit, the city was set to provide about $35,000 to the nonprofit Sojourner House for the operation of an apartment building and emergency shelter in Woonsocket.