March 30, 2013

New England Dispatches

From news service reports

PROVIDENCE, R.I.

Fine of $1 million upheld in fatal 2003 nightclub fire

The state workers' compensation court on Friday upheld a $1 million fine against the brothers who owned a Rhode Island nightclub where 100 people died in a 2003 fire, a decision that said the brothers flagrantly violated a law that required them to carry workers' compensation insurance for almost three years.

Four employees died from the fire at The Station nightclub in West Warwick on Feb. 20, 2003, which was started when a rock band's pyrotechnics set fire to flammable foam installed as soundproofing by owners Jeffrey and Michael Derderian.

A three-judge panel of the court rejected the Derderians' appeal of the $1,066,000 penalty, which was calculated by multiplying the daily maximum penalty of $1,000 by 1,066, the number of days they failed to have workers' compensation insurance.

Lawyers for the Derderians did not immediately return messages seeking comment. A spokeswoman for the state Department of Labor and Training, which brought the complaint, would not comment.

The brothers declared bankruptcy after the fire, but a federal bankruptcy judge found the fine amounted to a penalty and could not be discharged under the law. Still, it's unclear whether the fine will ever be completely paid.

CRANSTON, R.I.

Powerball winner to buy house, truck with plow

A Woonsocket man says he plans to buy a house and pay off his bills after claiming a $2 million Powerball jackpot from last month.

Rhode Island Lottery officials said Thursday that Lonnie Jackson Jr. claimed the jackpot from the Feb. 6 drawing. He bought the winning ticket at AJ's Mini Market in Woonsocket. The ticket matched the five numbers of 5-27-36-38-41 but not the Powerball number 12.

Jackson says he couldn't believe it when the clerk at AJ's told him he had won. He says he also plans to buy a truck with a plow for clearing snow and take care of his family. Jackson thanked his lawyers, the market and lottery officials.

His ticket was the second $2 million Powerball winner in Rhode Island this year.

WINDHAM, N.H.

Students seek to overturn board's ban on dodgeball

Two New Hampshire brothers unhappy about their school district's decision to ban dodgeball have started a petition to bring it back.

The Windham School Board voted 4-1 last week to remove the game and other "human target" activities from the curriculum after receiving some complaints that the games promoted bullying and violence. The vote followed the recommendation of a group of physical education teachers.

The Eagle-Tribune reports twins Matthew and Michael Senibaldi, seventh-graders and the sons of the board member who voted against the ban, started an online petition asking the board to restore dodgeball.

The petition says it's unfair to ban the games after just a few complaints.

HAWLEY, Mass.

Town of 330 residents beset by resignations

There's big trouble in the small Franklin County town of Hawley.

Select Board member Tedd White resigned Thursday, the fourth official in the town of about 330 residents to step down since a March 12 special election to replace a selectman who died in office.

White said in his resignation letter he would rather "pound my thumbs with a hammer" than attend "crooked, rigged" board meetings.

The Recorder of Greenfield reports that White said he cannot endure the "rudeness, disrespect, bias and disregard for procedure" of board Chairman Phil Keenan.

Keenan has the backing of 105 residents who signed a petition supporting him.

The town clerk, town moderator and a member of the regional school committee have also resigned this month, saying they cannot work with the board.

 

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