PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — From the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples to a search for a new higher education commissioner, here are five things to know in Rhode Island:
GAY MARRIAGE: ‘I DO’
Same-sex marriage is now legal in Rhode Island, and couples applied for licenses at clerk’s offices from Newport to Providence, though not in large numbers. One of the first gay couples to marry in the state — 25-year-old Zachary Marcus and 28-year-old Gary McDowell — tied the knot at Providence City Hall in a ceremony presided over by Mayor Angel Taveras. Same-sex couples can now marry in 13 states and the District of Columbia.
SEARCHING FOR A NEW HIGHER EDUCATION CHIEF
Gov. Lincoln Chafee says a search will be conducted for a permanent higher education chief after his nominee withdrew from consideration. Eva-Marie Mancuso dropped her bid for the post after the watchdog group Common Cause noted her appointment would run afoul of ethics rules. She is chairwoman of the state Board of Education, and the revolving door ethics policy prevents officials from immediately serving in paid positions requiring the approval of the body on which they sit. Mancuso had initially sought an exemption.
A SMELL SETTLEMENT
Johnston’s mayor reached a tentative settlement with the operators of the state’s Central Landfill over the stink wafting from the facility. Joseph Polisena said Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corp. agreed to pay the town $3 million to settle the suit and compensate for residents’ suffering. The money will be used to build a new high school athletic complex. The mayor says the town council approved the settlement and it will be presented to the judge soon.
BACTERIA AT BEACHES
An environmental group working to protect Narragansett Bay says there have been an ‘‘astoundingly high’’ number of beach closures this season. Save The Bay said the number of closure days this year so far is 107, compared to 54 all of last year and 76 the year before. The group attributes the high number to pollution from leaking cesspools and failed septic systems as well as storm water contaminated with pet waste, fertilizers and pesticides, automotive oil and other pollutants.
A SELF-ESTEEM BOOST
The Rhode Island Foundation is spending $150,000 on a campaign to get Rhode Islanders feeling better about themselves. The ‘‘It’s All In Our Backyard’’ TV, radio and billboard ads aim to accentuate success stories in a state that has been plagued with high unemployment, a depressed housing market and a chronic image problem. ‘‘We have a self-esteem challenge,’’ foundation CEO Neil Steinberg said. ‘‘Let’s show that Rhode Island can fight above its weight.’’