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For the first time since March 16, 2020, the members of the North Kingstown Town Council met at the Beechwood Senior Center with citizens in attendance Monday night as they discussed the future building needs for the town, made appointments and reappointments to numerous town boards and took the time to recognize the services of Town Clerk Jeannette Alyward during an over three hour meeting.

“It’s great to have this return again to some normalcy,” Town Manager Ralph Mollis said. 

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Robert Zarnetske ended his brief term as town manager this week noting he was most proud of developing a culture that encouraged town employees to speak up about issues.

“We’re getting to the point where folks realize their ideas matter. It’s not just top down, it’s bottom up,” he said during an interview in town hall with The Independent. However, following his own advice is partly the reason he is leaving.

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island is joining a challenge to a Bonnet Shores Fire District policy that bars residents from voting if they own less than $400 of property in the district.

The ACLU filed a friend of the court brief supporting a lawsuit that district residents brought in Washington County Superior Court in the matter. A hearing on the case is scheduled for Sept. 21.

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“They are superheroes and superstars, take your pick on how to refer to them,” Narragansett High School Principal Daniel Warner said when introducing the Class of 2021 at the school’s commencement.

The celebration marked the end of not only their high school years, but also the conclusion of a most difficult final year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“It’s really great seeing everyone tonight,” Warner said. “The kids had it tough over the past year-and-a-half, but they persevered and struggled through and showed us a way forward.”

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Only a few months ago, an in person graduation seemed improbable for many, with expectations of another virtual graduation ceremony or one with very limited people.

Luckily for the North Kingstown High School Class of 2021, that was not the case, as 324 seniors gathered on the football field to join the ranks of Skippers alumni. The ceremony was held on campus in the stadium rather than at the Ryan Center for the first time in over 15 years in order to comply with COVID restrictions at the time of planning.

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HELP WANTED: Kitchen staff, maintainers, front desk assistants, bartenders, wait staff, kitchen workers, cooks. And the list goes on.

With 68,000 people receiving unemployment compensation and only 10% working, local hotels and motels are still struggling to find help as an avalanche of tourists is expected to fall on South County this summer.

And this comes as the state has sweetened the deal by allowing many who return to work to collect the federal unemployment benefits and earn more money before losing some portion of their state benefits. Still the problem exists for these and other businesses.

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In another sign of the district coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the North Kingstown School Committee voted unanimously Tuesday night to rescind the district’s Superintendent’s Emergency Authority ordinance, which had been in place since March 24, 2020, which granted Superintendent Phil Auger additional powers under both Rhode Island and the Town of North Kingstown’s state of emergency declarations.

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Narragansett Chief of Police Sean Corrigan presented a plan that calls for increased patrols of Narragansett’s beach and pier areas this summer, two weeks after police from several departments broke up a large fight on the town’s beach.

The chief said most of the planning was in progress before May 23, when police arrested eight people, including three juveniles, after a fight broke out on the town beach.

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Last fall, the North Kingstown High School Girls Tennis team was facing a dilemma. When senior Alaina Minarik’s doubles partner was unable to play a match, they needed to pair her up with a new partner — and fellow senior Julia Totten stepped up to the plate.

While they might not have won the match, both said they played well together and enjoyed the experience. Now, the two find themselves paired together again, but this time with a new distinction: valedictorian and salutatorian of the class of 2021, respectively. 

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Seniors Andrew Simone and Patrick LaCroix are in the home stretch, near the finish line of an eventful four years at Narragansett High School.

Simone, 17, is the school’s Class of 2021 valedictorian while LaCroix, 18, is salutatorian for the Mariners class. They’d recently just attended a Top 10 ceremony, a banquet for seniors, where they’d each received a special plaque honoring their achievements.

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School officials in South Kingstown have backed off a threat to sue a local parent who has filed public records requests about race and gender curriculum, hoping instead to mediate the issue in a case that has drawn national attention.

At a special meeting June 2 lasting more than four hours, the School Committee unanimously decided it will try to go through mediation to respond to requests from Nicole Solas of Wakefield for information related to South Kingstown’s curriculum and how it incorporates teachings about race and gender.

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Prout School class of 2021 valedictorian Janice Hixon is thankful she was able to spend most of her senior year at the high school, among classmates and with her teachers.

Hixon and salutatorian Michael Garman are among the 102 Prout seniors who will graduate Tuesday night at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul in Providence. It will be the 53rd commencement for the Catholic coeducational high school.