The slow death and rebirth of Central Falls
If Rhode Island was the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution, then Central Falls was its cradle.
American textile manufacturing first took hold in Central Falls and the neighboring town of Pawtucket, creating a booming mill town. First producing chocolate and snuff, the mills came to produce “clothing, tools, brooms, aprons, badges, candy, beverage bottles, lace, braid, hosiery, webbing, belting, spools, art goods, rayon, mills supplies, monuments, and knitting machines,” according to the city. That drew early waves of European immigrants from Canada, Ireland, Poland, and Portugal, whose descendants still live in the area. In the 1960s and 1970s, a labor shortage prompted a second wave of immigrants from Latin America to begin coming to the area.
CENTRAL FALLS, Rhode Island — James Diossa was in college when the housing meltdown first hit his hometown. He was only an intern when Central Falls started careening towards bankruptcy. He was the council member ever when the city’s mayor came under investigation for corruption.
Now Central Falls is looking to Diossa for help. The 28-year-old Democrat has become its mayor, tasked with turning around the poorest city in Rhode Island—the state with the highest unemployment rate in the country.
CENTRAL FALLS – Rhode Island’s smallest city already has the highest percentage of foreign-born residents and Mayor James Diossa has now officially proclaimed it a “Welcoming City” for newcomers to America.Read more
CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. — Lleras Grille sits in a tiny, cluttered strip mall on Broad Street, wedged next to a tattoo parlor and a bodega.
To Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, it represents hope for a city in recovery.
"It just opened up Friday," Diossa said in a lengthy interview at the little Colombian eatery four days afterward. "We have other new restaurants, also on Broad. They're Honduran and Guatemalan."
One-square-mile Central Falls, population 19,000, is Rhode Island's smallest and poorest municipality. It generated national headlines with its bankruptcy filing in 2011 and exit from Chapter 9 protection only 13 months later.
Diossa, 29 and the son of Colombian immigrants, is the new face of Central Falls. The former councilman won a special election in December 2012 and earned a four-year term a year later. He is the first mayor since Rhode Island returned local control to the city.Read more
CENTRAL FALLS – Mayor James A. Diossa on Wednesday announced the purchase and distribution schedule of the city’s new 95-gallon gray trash carts and blue recycling carts. Beginning on Monday, July 14, city homeowners and residents will be issued two sturdy wheeled trash and recycling carts as part of an effort increase cleanliness and decrease littering throughout the city.
“This is an investment made with the consideration of our residents and another forward step for the city of Central Falls," said Diossa in a news release. "The durable plastic containers with the attached lids for trash will improve quality of life, reduce a potential rodent population in the city and will prevent littering due to high winds."Read more
CENTRAL FALLS – An unprecedented community collaborative to tackle truancy and chronic absenteeism in the city’s public schools kicks off next month and City Councilwoman and School Committee member Stephanie Gonzalez is leading the charge.
The idea for the Back to School campaign was hatched in the spring by the newly-formed Central Falls Alumni Association, which has partnered with the school district to reach out and involve school, community and municipal stakeholders, including School Superintendent Frances Gallo, Mayor James A. Diossa and Police Chief James J. Mendonca, to name a few.
The goal of the Back to School campaign, organizers say, is to promote the importance of school attendance, as well as a new school uniform policy that will be enforced this September.