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COVID-19 shows it can heat up body temperatures and well as the local real estate market, bringing boom times this past 10 months with home sales and bringing out-of-state buyers to the Ocean State.

Local real estate agents confirm the obvious that many residents have been chatting about for months: Homes are selling like hot cakes and they aren’t on the market long.

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Yes, 2020 intimidated us, but didn’t beat us.

Pandemics don’t come very often – thankfully – but as the world has seen, they bring life to its knees in many ways.  

And so it happened in South County that vast changes invaded everyday life. Even with devastating hurricanes in the last 100 years delivering destruction all around here, COVID-19’s sweep remains broader, stronger and perhaps much longer lasting.

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While many people will be glad to see 2020 go and will welcome 2021 with open arms, especially as vaccinations look to be the light at the end of the dark tunnel that has been the COVID-19 pandemic, the reality for now  is that the pandemic will carry over into the new year and, with it, the cancellation and reconfiguration of more annual traditions continues. This year the area’s three main polar plunges, in which divers brave freezing cold water on New Year’s Day for a quick dive to raise money for a variety of charities, are all going digital.

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In a bit of political retribution for Narragansett Town Council members Jesse Pugh and Patrick Murray, the council has bypassed a rule put in place by the previous council requiring organizers of for-profit road race events in town to put up a $10,000 minimum donation.

Pugh, the council president, and Murray were in the minority in March when the previous council voted 3-2 to impose the new policy that stipulated that for-profit events such as road races, walk-a-thons and bike rallies must contribute at least $10,000 to a local charity.

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With the General Assembly’s approval of a $12.7 billion state budget for the current fiscal year, local leaders are keeping a close eye on the levels of aid their towns can expect to receive.  

The House of Representatives voted 59-6 Dec. 16 to approve a pared down state budget for the 2021 fiscal year that restores funding to cities and towns, uses federal coronavirus relief funds to aid struggling Rhode Islanders and does not raise taxes or fees. The Senate approved it 31-5 Friday and Gov. Gina Raimondo signed it Monday.

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In an effort to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas, several area congregations are seeking socially-distanced ways to be closer than the online or pre-recorded services allow, said various church leaders.

Several clergy from various denominations are planning some limited gatherings, unlike the complete shutdowns of services that happened at Easter when the COVID-19 pandemic infiltrated the state.

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Elisabeth DiBenedetto walks bundled up in a trademark thermal blue jacket and blue weather-protecting pants. A telltale stripe is on both, as well as on the satchel with mail that hangs along her side.

It’s cold — very cold — on a Tuesday morning as she walks her route in Narragansett. It’s a six-hour fast-paced walk, but not so fast during the holiday season that she misses greeting her regular customers.

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Eleven local organizations are benefiting this year from the generosity of The Champlin Foundation, which has announced $18 million in grant funding across Rhode Island.

They include museums and libraries, an art gallery and a summer camp.

In total, the foundation awarded 188 grants to meet pressing demands related to social services, education, historic preservation, arts and culture and beyond.

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Loss of tradition is becoming another casualty in the coronavirus fight in towns like Narragansett, where longing for them is producing disappointment and frustrations in a pressure cooker of emotions among residents and officials alike coping with change.

Local, state and organizing officials all say that the unpredictable is becoming predictable as they cope with disruptions to routines, planned events and even when approaches to safe precautions are dashed amid rising cases in the state.