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KRC Prehistory
Carolyn Demko and Ann Morrill were on the beach at Laurel Park on the Kickemuit River with their children, and they noticed there was black silt on the hairs of the children's legs and arms. They wondered why. By talking to others, they found out that the black silt that was deeper in the middle of the river came from the backwash filters of the Bristol County Water Company. Carolyn and Ann went to talk to the Monroe's who lived on the westerly shore of the Kickemuit. The Monroe's had been very concerned about the muck for they could see the river deteriorating before their eyes. They said that what had been a very sandy bottom was now all black muck from the pipe in front of their property. They told how a young quahogger had drowned in the river because he had the bag of quahogs tied around his waist and he inadvertently stepped in deep muck and drowned with his feet trapped by the muck. They told how other efforts had been made to try to correct this problem, but were unsuccessful, because BCWC was owned by American Water Works and squelched any efforts. They knew about the marine biologist, Manuel Canario, had done a study that showed the bad effects the silt was having on the marine life in the river. This silt was coming from the water company treatment of water from another source. The Monroe’s were happy that someone was interested in solving the problem. They would help however they could.
In 1967, Carolyn and Ann brought the problem to the Laurel Park Improvement Association and Ecology Action of R.I. Ecology Action found a Newport lawyer, Kathleen Monaghan to handle the case if we could raise $1,000 for court and legal fees. Then Carolyn and Ann presented the case to local organizations such as the Bristol County Stripers Club (BCSC). Peter Sepe introduced them. BCSC were very receptive. C & A decided to collect a petition and have raffle at a dollar a ticket to raise the money for the legal fees. Organizations all around the river were approached. Frances Anderton from the League of Woman Voters invited Carolyn Demko to speak to the group on the problem. Carolyn accepted and did so. The Warren Town Council, under Town Council President, Paul Harvey, was very receptive and called for a public hearing on matter. Senator John Chafee and Warren Town Council, President, came to the Kickemuit River and wrecked their shoes walking in the river near Child Street. The Providence Journal wrote an editorial asking citizens to come to the hearing. The editorial, in 1969, said, "The Kickemuit River cannot speak for itself. It needs loud voices from those who know it, love it and want to save it. "So many people came. So many young men, including friends of the quahogger who had drowned, came and spoke. They all wanted this silt problem corrected and unanimously supported our efforts and encouraged the Town Council to help.
Manuel Canario, the marine biologist, called and confirmed his report on the bad effects of the silt on marine life. He had tried to stop the Water Company and was not successful. A thousand signatures and the thousand dollars were collected which we gave to the lawyer. This went on for years in the courts. Ann Morrill kept track of the decisions and communications with the lawyer and courts.
The Federal Court finally said that BCWC had to stop the discharge. Governor Licht came to Warren to personally thank Carolyn and Ann for their successful efforts. There was no more silt on the children's arms and legs. Ken Morrill said that an organization should be formed that meet regularly representing the various neighborhood/associations around the salt water Kickemuit River, so, that the problems that one group was having that could affect the river could be brought back and decisions made. In 1973, the first meeting of the Kickemuit River Council was formed at the Butterworth Avenue Association Hall.
On September 18, 1973 a committee of people with representatives from Butterworth Avenue Association, Cedar Crest Association, Touisset Highlands, and Laurel Park Improvement Association met with the purpose of setting up a council that would afford the opportunity of understanding through awareness the problems of the whole Kickemuit River and of planning together for the future plans of this River. The charter members of the organization of the KRC are as follows: William Gablinski, Steven Roth, Frank Sherman, Leroy Boissoneault, Edward Pelligrini, Manuel Camille, Charles Jocelyn, Rene Beauvais, Henry Keefe, Patricia McGuirl, Dorothy Mathewson, James Mathewson, Anthony Balzano, Kenneth Morrill, Ann Morrill, David Harrison, and Jane Harrison.
The name of the new organization was voted to be the “Kickemuit River Council".
The officers were elected as follows:
• Frank Sherman, President (Cedar Crest)
• Manuel Camille, Vice President (Butterworth Avenue Improvement Association)
• James Mathewson, Treasurer (Touisset Highlands)
• Ann Morrill, Secretary (Laurel Park Improvement Association)
A Bylaws Committee was formed consisting of all of the Charter Members. The date for them to meet was September 27, 1973.