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NORTH KINGSTOWN, R.I. — The North Kingstown Town Council voted unanimously to accept on behalf of the North Kingstown Fire Department the 2021 FEMA Assistance to Firefighters Grant award in the amount of $848,081.39 for the purchase of new radios and communication equipment.

“In the aftermath of September 11, 2001 there was a national push for what was called interoperability,” Fire Chief Scott Kettelle said.  “This is the ability for people to better communicate between the agencies, whether that be military, police, local, state, federal, fire and the like. A call that was heard  again after the Station nightclub fire rocked the state. The state of Rhode Island received federal funding and put together a system called RISCON, the Rhode Island Statewide communications Network.”

Kettelle said that the system was put together and beta-tested in the Narragansett town police and fire departments before being extended from there to the town of Westerly, Providence, and over time, the rest of the state.

Kettelle pointed out that at the time of this system being built grant monies were flowing when it came to creating equipment or trying to meet the interoperability goals and get into compliance with federal commission standards.

However, Kettelle said, the town’s radios are reaching the end of their life and that Motorola has declared them officially unserviceable due to a lack of obtainable parts after the state successfully milked about a 10-year life span from the equipment. This was the second year in a row that the town of North Kingstown applied for the grant and after being denied in 2021, Kettelle was glad to see that it was approved this year so the work of updating and repairing the system can get underway.

“Do I need all this money today, no I don’t,” Kettelle laughed. “But do I need all this money over the next five or six years? Yes I do. The federal government was gracious enough to support us with a grant. I think it’s an excellent use of federal grant monies, and I think it’ll make this town and community safer.”

In other approvals, the town council voted to approve a water main extension to service Pinewood Village Apartments on South County Trail, and an additional extension to service the Reynolds Farm North Development at the end of both Seawynds Drive and Taylor Place.

Discussion of the town’s water continued as Town Manager Ralph Mollis reported that the Department of Health’s sanitary inspection of the town’s water on July 21 went successfully. Mollis said that the report revealed no significant deficiencies and that the department of health was impressed with the town’s dedication and effort to ensure residents are being provided with drinking water that is both safe and reliable. According to Mollis the results of the inspection, as well as the results of a leak detection survey, will be presented in a brief summary to the council by Water Director Tim Cranston at the council’s September 26 meeting.

In other water-related news, Mollis said that the town recently reached out to and began to work in close partnership with the engineering department of the Quonset Point Development Corporation to replace 3,000 feet of water main that runs through the QDC property and provides a second source of water for the Shore Acres Neighborhood. The work, Mollis explained, was done in conjunction with QDC’s rail upgrade project and saved North Kingstown Water Department rate payers nearly a quarter of a million dollars.

Last week’s council meeting was likely the last that will take place at the senior center as North Kingstown Town Hall is set to re-open in mid-September. The town will host a public dedication for the building on Monday, September 19 at 5:30 p.m.

“As a reminder to the general public,” Mollis said. “The Recreation Department, various senior center and other services, council meetings along with zoning and planning board meetings will soon call 80 Boston Neck Road home.  All other department services will continue to be housed at 100 Fairway Drive.

In additional business the town council voted unanimously to approve a new second hand license for Elizah Lily’s Second Chances, a consignment, antique, resale and gift store located at 1121 Ten Rod Road and open Wednesday through Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.     

The Town Council’s next meeting will be held on September 26 at 7 p.m. at the Town Hall at 80 Boston Neck Rd.

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