John Bender

Reporter

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

Aaron Read / RIPR

The state’s unemployment rate ticked down in January, compared to the same month a year ago.  The rate is now 6.5 percent; the state’s lowest since the start of the recession.

That’s down more than two percentage points since January of last year (when it stood at 8.6).  It’s been seven years since the state’s unemployment rate has been this low, back in February of 2008.  Despite the good news, Rhode Island’s unemployment rate remains higher than the national average, of 5.7 percent.

Courtesy RISD

The RISD museum has received a $2.5 million gift from the Rockefeller family.  The money will go to support the museum’s decorative arts department.

The decorative arts refer to objects which have practical uses as well as artistic value; such as furniture, silverware, and vases.   In addition to the monetary gift, David Rockefeller, is donating about 43 objects from his personal collection. Museum director John Smith said the most important items include some eighteenth century English furniture.

John Bender / RIPR

The state is suing a scrap metal yard on the Providence waterfront, at the upper Narragansett Bay, for alleged environmental violations.  This is not the first time the company has come under fire.

Back in 2012, the Department of Environmental Management, notified Rhode Island Recycled Metals, it was violating numerous rules on water pollution.  The state worked with the company on a plan to solve the issues.  But more than 2 years later, the DEM says the company still hasn’t cleaned up. DEM director Janet Coit says she’s taking them to court.

John Bender / RIPR

Members of Rhode Island’s Liberian community are cheering news that the last Ebola patient in Liberia has been released. But many remain concerned about the future of Liberia.

Matthew Kai is the leader of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Providence.  His congregation is primarily Liberian.  Kai led them through months of anxiety at the height of the Ebola outbreak.  He says things have quieted down since then… but now he fears world aid will evaporate

RIPR FILE

Channel 12 reports the Providence Board of Licenses believes there’s not enough concrete evidence to revoke a liquor license for a bar that’s been implicated in a corruption probe. But Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza said he’s still looking into the matter.

Yet more snow is on the way for Rhode Island.  The national weather service expects about one to three inches of snow starting late Tuesday afternoon.  

The snow is predicted to switch over to a wintry mix by midnight, lasting into Wednesday morning. Meteorologist Benjamin Sipprell said this could affect the Wednesday morning commute.

“As we go into Wednesday morning, temperatures will be pretty well above normal, so the expectation is for the morning commute, it may be a little soupy out there with very low visibility along area roadways,” said Sipprell.

RIPR FILE

Construction is slated to begin this month on a solid barrier dividing lanes on the Pell Bridge in Newport.  The public has called for a median for years.  

Calls for a median grew louder after a 75 year-old man crossed into oncoming traffic on the bridge on Christmas Eve of 2013, and died of his injuries. The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority installed reflective posts along the center of the bridge a year ago.  But they cannot stop cars from crossing into oncoming traffic. 

Homeownership rates for Latinos in Rhode Island are well below the national average.  New data show 25 percent of the of the state’s Latinos own their own home, compared the national average of 45 percent. That’s according to study by the Latino Policy Institute, and Housing Works RI.  From 2007 to 2013, the cost of home ownership far outpaced incomes for Latinos in the state.

What’s more, the number of Latinos grew by more than 50 percent since 2000, making them the fastest growing population in the state.

John Bender / RIPR

This February is officially the snowiest on record in Providence, according to the National Weather Service.  A light snowfall on Tuesday night pushed the monthly total to 31.6 inches, breaking the city record set in 1962. 

Meteorologist Alan Dunham says that’s even more than the famed February blizzard of '78. “1978 is in third place with a total of 28.6 inches, for the month of February," said Dunham.

And forecasters predict the new record could get just a bit higher before the month is out.  An inch or less of snow could fall this afternoon. 

John Bender / RIPR

World renowned composer and performer Philip Glass is in Rhode Island.  He performed at Veterans Memorial Auditorium in Providence Wednesday as part of a program put on by local arts non-profit First Works. He continues his visit Thursday, to work with students at the Jacqueline Walsh School for the performing arts in Pawtucket.  For this month’s Artscape, Rhode Island Public Radio’s John Bender examines the draw of Philip Glass’ music, and why it endures.

RIPR FILE

New details are emerging about a major arts festival scheduled in Providence this summer. The event is part of Mayor Jorge Elorza’s plan to develop the city into an artistic tourist destination. 

  

                

John Bender / RIPR

Rhode Islanders will soon get a break from arctic temperatures, but the trade is more snow this week. After several days without a glimpse of the white stuff, the National Weather Service is predicting snowfall will return Tuesday night.  

Meteorologist Alan Dunham said Rhode Island won’t see the foot or more it’s seen in previous storms this winter.  “Maybe two to four inches.  Mainly Providence down towards Newport and points east, but even northwest part of Rhode Island up in the northwest hills could see an inch or two,” said Dunham.

Richard Baccari, Sr. the head of development company Churchill and Banks, is stepping down after forty years with the company.  Churchill and Banks rose to prominence developing supermarkets across the state, as well as the Lincoln Mall, and T.F. Green Airport parking lot

Rhode Islanders are in for another arctic blast starting Friday.  Temperatures plunged into the single digits, and the National Weather Service says things will only warm up to the high teens through the weekend.

Meteorologist Mathew Belk, said wind chills will make temperatures feel far below zero. “Wind chills are going to be generally in the minus fifteen to minus 24 range, so it’s going to feel pretty chilly out there,” said Belk. 

John Bender / RIPR

12 years ago today, 100 people died, and hundreds more were injured in a fire at the Station nightclub in West Warwick. The fire made national headlines as one of the worst nightclub fires in U.S. history.  Survivors are still working to build a public memorial, and living with the scars from that night.

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