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Tall-ship project gains donation from R.I. bank

BankNewport donated $1,200 to the Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island project on behalf of the bank's consumer boat loan program.

The bank’s donation was based on the number of boat loans it originated from March through December 2012.

BankNewport previously extended grants totaling $35,000 to Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island — $25,000 in 2008 for the acquisition and shipbuilding plan for the vessel and $10,000 in 2010 in support of the Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island headquarters at the Buliod-Perry House on Washington Square in Newport.

“BankNewport is proud of its long partnership with the Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island organization,” BankNewport executive vice president for commercial lending Leland R. Merrill Jr. said in a statement. “We commend their unwavering commitment to construct this sailing school vessel, a significant economic development, educational, and cultural benefit for Newport and the state.”

Last month, Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island announced that the 196-foot, three-masted, square-rigged tall ship was given a permanent home on the north side of a new 240-foot fixed pier that has been designated as part of the scheduled improvements to Fort Adams State Park in Newport.

The SSV Oliver Hazard Perry, which is under construction at Senesco Marine in North Kingstown, R.I., will be the first oceangoing full-rigged ship to be built in the United States in more than 100 years. The ship’s mission is to be Rhode Island’s flagship non-profit maritime campus, offering experience-based core learning opportunities to a diverse student population, including those with disabilities.

Oliver Hazard Perry Rhode Island has raised $6.5 million in donations; however, more than $2.5 million must still be raised to complete the ship and begin its first year of operations.

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