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Dresses of various colors hang on racks. If the mood is for blouses, there’s plenty and jeans to match. Warm insulated vests shout that summer is begrudgingly giving way to more frequent cold weather.  

These clothes and more can be found in the heart of Peace Dale at the Jonnycake thrift store, which recently re-opened following a months-long closure when the coronavirus sapped the life out of many local stores catering to walk-in traffic.

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Although Election Day is still weeks away, voting begins this week as unprecedented numbers of mail ballots arrive in mailboxes and Oct. 14 starts early in-person voting.

Local elections officials say they are swamped with many tasks to ensure orderly voting while the fear-laced atmosphere of COVID-19 has produced greater demand for mail ballots and the threat of long lines to vote in person.

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Narragansett Elementary School and Kingston Hill Academy are among the tops in the country, both being named as 2020 National Blue Ribbon Schools.

The U.S. Department of Education selected the schools, along with Charlestown Elementary School, as three of just 367 schools nationwide for the honor, which measures each school’s overall academic performance or progress in closing achievement gaps among student subgroups.

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South County schools opened this week, but with increased preparations, and a delayed start among many changes educators, parents and students are confronting.

Apprehension combined with excitement and commitment are some of the feelings parents, students, teachers, school staff and administrators talked about to The Independent as school doors opened and students filled hallways.

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A connector from Route 4 to Interstate 95 South in Quonset is one step closer to reality as Sen. Jack Reed’s (D-RI) office announced Friday that two new federal grants totaling a combined $25.3 million were awarded to Rhode Island by U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao to improve traffic flow in and around Quonset Business Park and the “Cranston Canyon” stretch of Route 37.

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Throughout South County, another squad in the community COVID-response team has popped up: organizations that reach out to community members facing financial or mental health hardships.

The Independent has provided periodic stories about groups, organizations and businesses filling needs in the community. Their sponsors often say the motto “We’re in this together” is what draws supporters and volunteers into action.