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Spotlight on the Statehouse: March 5, 2015

Alum tapped as DOH director

Nicole Alexander-Scott MPH’11, assistant professor of pediatrics and medicine at the Alpert Medical School, was nominated Tuesday by Gov. Gina Raimondo to serve as the next director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, multiple news outlets reported. Her nomination is pending confirmation by the State Senate.

Michael Fine announced his resignation as director of the DOH Feb. 25 and is set to conclude his four-year tenure March 27, WPRI reported. Alexander-Scott is slated to assume her role April 1.

“It is a privilege to have this opportunity to work with so many talented health care and public health professionals to strengthen our care system across the state,” Alexander-Scott said.

Raimondo said she appreciated Fine’s work to help contain the recent meningitis outbreak at Providence College.

Fine said “the governor has made an excellent choice for our state” in nominating Alexander-Scott, WPRI reported.

Winter weather will not abate

As snow, sleet and rain continue to fall this week, the Providence public school system is grappling with how to account for missed school days. The city is weathering the fifth snowiest winter on record, with more than 64 inches of precipitation.

Extending the school year from June 26 to June 29, holding school on Saturdays, lengthening each school day and reducing April vacation have all been considered as measures for making up missed class time, NBC 10 News reported Monday. To help with the decision, the school district is soliciting feedback from families through a survey.

“We don’t want to hold school in name only,” said Christina O’Reilly, spokesperson for the Providence Public Schools. “We want to be sure that if we hold a school day we are appropriately staffing and educating kids in our classrooms.”

R.I. gas prices tick upward

Rhode Island gas prices have climbed nearly 30 cents over the past month, WPRI reported Monday, reversing the trend of falling prices that consumers have enjoyed in recent months. Though the average price per gallon of gas is still $1.18 less than it was a year ago, the incremental hikes of five to 10 cents per week are expected to continue this spring, WPRI reported.

While local residents may feel their wallets getting lighter as prices increase, the University’s energy costs do not tend to fluctuate as fluidly.

Along with gas prices, the costs of heating facilities, plowing the roads and keeping sidewalks clear of snow and ice are also on the rise, as a result of below-average temperatures and above-average snowfalls.


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