Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Woonsocket North Smithfield 01-31-2019

The Valley Breeze Newspapers serving the Northern Rhode Island towns of Cumberland, Lincoln, Woonsocket, Smithfield, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, North Providence, Scituate, Foster, and Glocester

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©2019 BREEZE PUBLICATIONS INC. Breeze THE VALLEY FREE JANUARY 31-FEBRUARY 6, 2019 Serving North Smithfield, Blackstone and Woonsocket WOONSOCKET – He's at every home game, flashing his Super Bowl rings and number one jersey. He's earned the respect of players and fans alike, and been described by count- less commentators as the Patriots' "number one fan." But for Keith Birchall, a Woonsocket resident and the man behind the "Silver Bullet" persona, it all comes back to family. That's where it started, after all, with a great-uncle who took him to a Bryant College practice session at the age of 6. It was there that he met his first Patriots player, former quarterback Steve Grogan, and walked away with an autographed trading card and a lifetime passion for the sport. "He signed my card and gave me a high-five and I was mesmerized from there," he said. Birchall still has that card, but now it sits surrounded by hundreds of other pieces of Patriots memorabilia in the basement of his Wood Avenue home. Mixed in with the auto- graphed jerseys and signed footballs are photos of his "football family," the fellow fans who have become his closest friends through it all. They've stuck by each other even as Birchall's own fame has risen with the team's, his silver face paint and outsize personality making him a favorite Woonsocket's 'Silver Bullet' brings the energy for fans By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer BREEZE PHOTO BY LAUREN CLEM KEITH BIRCHALL, a Woonsocket resident better known by his Patriots fan name "Silver Bullet," gives a tour of his Wood Avenue home earlier this week before head- ing down to Atlanta for the Super Bowl. WOONSOCKET – It's become a familiar summertime sight: Every year, a few weeks before the Fourth of July, tent vendors arrive in the city's major parking lots to sell fireworks to drivers and pass- ersby. And sell they do, to countless res- idents who prefer the convenience of stopping at a street corner to visiting a retail store. But not this year. Last week, the City Council took the first step in eliminating fireworks tent vendors, voting unanimously in favor of an ordinance billed as an effort to steer shoppers back toward brick-and- mortar stores. The measure was championed by Councilor Denise Sierra, who told The Breeze she's spent the past six months meet- ing with department heads to put together the new policy. "It has been a very lengthy, detailed and arduous process. There were multiple meetings with the fire chief, the zoning officials (and) the Law Department to make sure everything is in line with all the codes," she said. It's not the first time Sierra has taken aim at mobile tent sellers. City takes aim at tent fireworks vendors By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer See FIREWORKS, Page 10 SIERRA See SILVER BULLET, Page 15 NORTH SMITHFIELD – A massive pothole that opened up on Route 146 north wasn't the only example of the havoc wreaked on state roads by last week's weather, but it was among the worst. The pothole began causing flat tires and other problems early last Thursday morning, with drivers reporting as many as 29 cars pulled over to the side of the road at one point during the morning commute. By mid-morning, Rhode Island Department of Transportation crews and state police had responded to the area, which lies in a construc- tion zone close to the Slatersville exit. RIDOT crews placed a tempo- rary "cold patch" on the affected area and continued to monitor it throughout the day, but by evening, the situation had worsened again. With the pothole continuing to pose problems for drivers, RIDOT crews closed one northbound lane and kept it closed during the night as before, filling the hole with con- crete on Friday. "What happened is Thursday evening around five or so, we got another band of heavy rain moved through and it got to a point where we couldn't keep filling the hole," Cleanup continues after pothole problems on Route 146 By LAUREN CLEM Valley Breeze Staff Writer See POTHOLES, Page 14 To learn more about our tuition-free public charter school, sign up for one of our school tours: Thursday February 7, 2019 1 p.m. Tuesday February 12, 2019 1 p.m. APPLY TODAY – For questions or more information please contact Ms. Johnson: 401-768-1142 or Enrollment will close February 22, 2018. RISE Prep enrollment for the 2019-2020 school year is now OPEN for children entering grades K-4 in Woonsocket, North Smithfield, and Burrillville. Are you looking Are you looking for a for a Check out the back Check out the back of our of our Classified section where Classified section where you'll find our advertisers' you'll find our advertisers' most current job offerings! most current job offerings! INSIDE: Patriots superfans share secrets of team's success

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