Anyone for a pickup game?

'Panther Blue is everywhere' at Johnston's renovated Chief Rainone Gym


There was a unique pickup basketball game at approximately 11 o’clock Saturday morning inside Rainone Gym.

The players — and participants — ranged in age, from their late 20’s to 50 and beyond, as they relived the glory days playing either middle school, high school or recreation games at Rainone Gymnasium.

“Panther Blue is everywhere,” was among the many comments. “Look at the tip off circle … foul line lane — baseline ... wow, this place is amazing.”

It’s that way, as people like Secretary of State Gregg Amore and Gorge Carvalho, who serves as state director for U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse assessed, “because when it comes to community pride and building the best sports and recreation facilities (Johnston) is in a league of its own.”

In fact, the headliners at Saturday’s Re-Dedication of Rainone Gym and unveiling of DiGregorio Court just so happen to be native Johnstonians who have distinguished their small suburban town in the political arena and corporate world, as well as the building and construction trades, just to name a few.

Heading the list was DiGregorio Construction owner Rico DiGregorio, who learned to play basketball at “The Dome” and whose company was responsible for $388,181 in cash and in-kind work and contributions toward its rehabilitation.

Enter Mike Sabitoni, another one-time Panther and president of the Rhode Island Building Trades, whose organization generated $60,000 for the extraordinary project.

Then there was “Mr. Johnston Generosity Joe Vinagro Jr.” who donated thousands upon thousands of in-kind contributions.

Likewise, the RI Laborers Unified Trust donated $40,000 and the RI Chapter Associated General Contractors of America added another $10,000 to the total, while another $10,000 came from one of the RI laborers organizations.

“Over $60,000 in cash donations — not to mention the hundreds of thousands of dollars in in-kind work was all part of rebuilding this historic gym,” Mayor Joseph Polisena proudly noted.

He also praised former Johnston Building official Ben Nacenzi, Recreation Director Chris Correia, along with the Corsinetti family-owned Hartford Paving Company, while also touting the Baccala family owned concrete company and the Local 57 Engineers, all based in Johnston.


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here