Valley Breeze

The Valley Breeze Pawtucket 04-24-2019

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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PAWTUCKET EDITION | VALLEY BREEZE | APRIL 24-30, 2019 PAWTUCKET 7 PAWTUCKET – Tom Flanagan, a Pawtucket native now living in Colorado, has released what he's call- ing "a touching, and at times hilarious memoir" about his time growing up in the city in the 1980s. The book pays tribute to Joe Kelly, a local legend who died in 2017. "'The Potato Puff Surprise' is a coming-of-age story about growing up, battling bullies, and dabbling in the dark art of home improvement," states a release. In the book, Flanagan says he is transported back in time, back to the old neighborhood, back to Jenks Junior High School, and back to Rocky Point Amusement Park. "Writing this book was a wonderful trip down memory lane. I grew up with an eclectic bunch of characters and my friend's (Sean Kelly) dad, Joe Kelly, was the ring leader. Joe was a rebel, a scoundrel, a bluesman, and a true legend," he said. "Someone needed to tell their story and I'm honored to do so." The self-published book, produced through Amazon's on-demand service, is available on Amazon and other platforms this week. The author, 47, was born and raised in Pawtucket, "home to the Industrial Revolution, the Pawtucket Red Sox, and the Division Street House of Pizza," states a synopsis. "He has a passion for telling stories about the trials and tribulations of growing up." A technologist now living in Colorado with his wife Kathy and daughter Marley, Flanagan said he finally decided to write down the sto- ries and bring the characters to life. He told The Breeze his book is a cross between the movie "Stand By Me" and the TV show "The Wonder Years," and Kelly is the catalyst for all three acts. This is a touching memoir with funny scenes, he said. This is Flanagan's first book, and he previously wrote a national technol- ogy column and has written some short stories. Flanagan said he sometimes misses Pawtucket, but visits friends and fam- ily here frequently. He won't say much about the book's title, but says it's inspired by a dish his friend's mom made. Kelly was a "larger than life char- acter, a unique character, a true leg- end," he said. The book describes how as a teen he had the opportunity to work for Kelly's Home Improvement Company, "one of the toughest jobs in my entire life." Kelly made the experience incredibly difficult, he said, wanting to teach him both a craft and responsibility. The Christmas before Kelly's death, he asked Flanagan to deliver his eulogy. Flanagan did so after Kelly's brief battle with cancer, giving the eulogy at the Galway Bay Irish Pub near McCoy Stadium. Kelly was always up to something, and his antics are found throughout the book, said Flanagan. Learn more about Flanagan's book, available for $4.99 on Kindle and $9.99 in print, at www.TFLAN.com . Flanagan hopes 'Potato Puff Surprise' inspires laughs, memories By ETHAN SHOREY Valley Breeze Managing Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com FLANAGAN PAWTUCKET – A U.S. District Court judge last week dismissed all claims against all defendants in a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment of a student at the Pawtucket Learning Academy. The court, in its April 16 ruling, found that even if the student's alle- gations were true, the Pawtucket School Department and its educators were not responsible. "The health and safety of our students is the top priority of the Pawtucket School Department," said Supt. Patti DiCenso in a state- ment. "What happened to this girl was awful, and the young man who assaulted her is in prison for 20 years." She added, "The Pawtucket School Department responded to this crime immediately, and the young man was arrested the next day. While the Pawtucket School Department is not responsible for this young man's criminal conduct, the Pawtucket School Department remains commit- ted to helping the student finish her education." George Hovarth, attorney for the student who sued the city and its schools, did not respond to a request for comment this week. He told The Journal that the case increased public awareness about what was happening in schools and led to changes at the PLA. U.S. District Court Judge John McConnell Jr. found no substantive allegations or facts linking any of the defendants in the case to the grounds on which they were potentially liable. There was no factual content allowing the court to draw reason- able inferences, he said, based on accusations that they "continued to subject (the student) to sexual harass- ment based on her sex" and "failed to promptly and appropriately respond to the sexual harassment and assaults ..." Hovarth originally filed a $3.5 mil- lion lawsuit against the city and its schools in August of 2017, alleging that school officials and staff failed to protect his client, a 13-year-old female student, from being raped by 18-year-old Ivander DeBurgo, who pleaded no contest three months earlier to one count of first-degree child molestation sexual assault (rape), and is now serving a lengthy prison sentence. The suit alleged that the school should have done more to protect the student from DeBurgo, including keeping him off the grounds. The attorney had alleged that his client suffered multiple incidents of inappropriate contact from others in the school. He had sought damages for emotional distress, psychological damage, post traumatic stress disor- der, medical expenses, loss of enjoy- ment and other injuries. In 2017 a judge ordered the city to pay tuition for the victim to attend a private school. The student alleged that she was raped, sexually assaulted and molest- ed for two years at the PLA and that the defendants, including school staff and officials, knew or should have known about it. The judge found "no plausible facts of knowledge by school officials" that she was assault- ed, saying there were only "general- ized assertions" that they had knowl- edge of such acts. DiCenso told The Breeze she has "always had the best interests of this student as well as all students" in mind during her tenure in Pawtucket. Though she's not able to comment on the details of the case, every effort was made to provide "every support that we could, and we're moving forward." She said it's been a difficult process for the staff at the PLA, which is housed at the administration building on Main Street, and they have dedi- cated their time and expertise to "a school within a school." "They know the students well and I'm relieved for them that they dis- missed these accusations," she said. DiCenso after lawsuit dismissal: Safety of all students our priority By ETHAN SHOREY Valley Breeze Managing Editor ethan@valleybreeze.com 9 Powder Hill Road (Off Rt. 123) Lincoln, RI 401-728-5903 www.RhodyRug.com Open Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat 9 a.m.-4 p.m. VISIT OUR FACTORY OUTLET STORE! 2044 Smith St., North Providence, RI (401) 231-2370 fax (401) 232-9220 www.ourplacetux.com TUXEDO RENTAL H E A D Q U A R T E R S $ 40 OFF with this ad! 14 Days Notice! • Largest selection of Tuxedo Styles • Largest selection of colors and shades of accessories • All stocked in one location locally • We honor competitor's coupons

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