John McDaid's blog

PBA hosts 5K run to benefit PHS scholarship fund

pba_run.pngThe Portsmouth Business Association is hosting a "Summer’s End" 5K Run/Walk on September 26 to benefit the PHS Scholarship fund.

What
PBA is hosting their 3rd annual 5K run/walk on Saturday, September 26th in Common Fence Point. It's a flat course with scenic water views. Leashed pets and baby strollers are welcome!

Where
The race begins and ends at the Common Fence Point Community Center. (Directions)

How
Sign up online. $20.00 entry fee until Sept 24th. $25 on day of race. First 100 entrants receive a premium Spor-Tek running shirt.

All proceeds go to the Portsmouth High School Scholarship Fund
Each year, the PBA awards $1,000 scholarships to two exceptional Portsmouth High School students.

Questions?
Contact John C. Farley at John.Farley@NewportWM.com

Editorial note: Written from a PBA press release.

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02871, Localblogging, PBA

PHS top school in Rhode Island blood donations

Portsmouth High School students donated the most blood this year of any school in the state, according to an e-mail sent to parents today by principal Bob Littlefield. Littlefield thanked all those who contributed, complimented PHS donors on their "mature, courteous, and respectful" work with the RI Blood Center. From Littlefield's note:

Not only did we have the most units of blood donated in relation to the size of our student body, but we generated more units than any other school.

The effort started back in July of 2014 with our summer drive and ended with our last drive of the year in May.

Throughout the year Portsmouth Patriots have given of themselves to help others. Hopefully, they learn to make regular blood donation a part of their every day lives for many years to come.

Equally important, though, is the praise we receive regularly from the staff at the RI Blood Center on how mature, courteous, and respectful our students are. And this praise comes from professionals who work in schools throughout Rhode Island. Our blood drives are organized, quiet, and make little disruption to the school day. This is a great example of Patriot PRIDE.

Editorial note: Written from a PHS group email.

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02871, Localblogging, PHS

Busking at Bowen's Wharf on Monday, July 27

buskingatbowen.jpg

Click to embiggen. Image courtesy of Newport BridgeFest

Monday night from 6-8pm I'll be busking on Bowen's Wharf as part of the Newport BridgeFest, the week-long celebration of local musicians that "bridges" the Folk and Jazz Festivals. More than 50 local musicians will be playing at nine venues around Newport next week — you can get the schedule and full details at NewportBridgeFest.com. Hope you can drop on by!

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02871, Localblogging, Music

Rep. Edwards tax relief bill for property development becomes law

edwards.jpgGov. Gina Raimondo has signed legislation introduced by House Majority Whip Jay Edwards (D-70 Portsmouth) that creates an exemption from taxation for certain residential property developments that are being built on speculation, according to a state house news release.

“This legislation will encourage economic activity in the construction industry,” said Rep. Edwards. “The economy is starting to turn around, the state’s unemployment rate has dipped below 6 percent, and that’s certainly good news; but things are still lagging in the construction industry, especially in the building of new homes. We’re not seeing the type of construction activity we associate with summer. This bill will be just the shot in the arm the construction industry needs to encourage growth.”

Under the legislation (H5044), new construction on development property would be exempt from the assessment of taxes as long as the owner files an affidavit claiming the exemption with the local tax assessor at the start of the project. The assessor would then determine if the property on which the new construction is located is development property. If the real property is development property, the assessor would exempt the new construction from the collection of taxes on improvements, until such time as the real property no longer qualifies as development property.

“Rhode Island has an inventory of old homes, many of them expensive and not energy efficient,” said Rep. Edwards. “And few market rate middle class homes are available or being built, compared to luxury or subsidized units. With the many fees already assessed to the building industry — impact fees, permit fees, review fees — it is no wonder that construction companies are disinclined to build homes on speculation or undertake rehab projects that are going to be a financial burden in the way of real property taxes until the properties can be sold.”

The law defines development property as “real property on which a single family residential dwelling or residential condominium is situated and said single family residential dwelling or residential condominium unit is not occupied, has never been occupied, is not under contract, and is on the market for sale.” It also includes improvements and/or rehabilitation of unoccupied single family residential dwellings or residential condominiums which the owner purchased out of a foreclosure sale, auction, or from a bank.

The legislation received the support of the Rhode Island Builders Association. In testimony presented to the House Committee on Municipal Government when the bill was heard, the RIBA cited an industry study, showing that a healthy construction industry would create $404 million in addition income for Rhode Island households, would generate $60.2 million in additional tax revenue for the state, could create more than 9,000 new jobs (thereby reducing the unemployment rate by two percent).

Editorial note: Written from a state house news release.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, GA

Local legislators score well on "Freedom Index" (i.e., they mostly fail)

The "nonpartisan" RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity has released their 2015 ranking of Rhode Island legislators, their self-styled "2015 Freedom Index," according to an e-mail sent to followers this morning, and the good news for Portsmouth is that most of our reps are solidly on their naughty list, coming in with sub-zero scores.

Portsmouth state reps Ray Gallison (D-69), Jay Edwards (D-70), and Dennis Canario (D-71) all came in at a -7, tied with such progressive stalwarts as Teresa Tanzi and Art Handy. Portsmouth's Republican senator, Chris Ottiano (R-11), scored an awesome -15, just a point above the "worst" score for that chamber (which was bagged by our neighbor to the south, Lou DiPalma (D-12). (Yay, Senators!)

Oh, btw, SoPo Republican Dan Reilly (R-72) was the only local who cracked positive territory with a "1" rating, which almost put him in their top 10 with folks like Mike Chippendale and Doreen Costa. Maybe next year, Dan.

As you might have noticed, I use any pronouncements from the RI Center for Freedom and Prosperity like spit in an avalanche: Whatever direction they go, I head the other way.

P.S. Is it just me, or does their logo look like a shark fin? Appropriate.

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02871, Localblogging, RI center for freedom and prosperity

Portsmouth Water District incumbents re-elected comfortably

The results for yesterday's election for the Portsmouth Water and Fire District offered no surprises, as the incumbents (and sole declared candidates) for each position were all elected by near-unanimous margins, according to tallies provided to the media.

For the two open positions for Tax Assessor, Ted Czech received 64 votes and Michael Nott 54. For Tax Collector, Fred Faerber received 55 votes (with 1 write in) and Treasurer Allen Shers was returned to office with 63 votes (also 1 write in.)

A total of 69 votes were cast in an election where there were 12,779 eligible voters, for a turnout of 0.54%.

Congratulations to our re-elected officials, and thanks to everyone who took time to vote!

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, pwfd

Portsmouth Water District elections TODAY!

The Portsmouth Water and Fire District holds its annual election of officers today — Wednesday, June 10 — at the District main office at 1944 East Main Road, and everyone who is a ratepayer in the district can vote. Polls open at 7am and close at 8pm.

This year, four positions are up for election -- one Tax Collector, one Treasurer, and two Tax Assessors. All four races are uncontested, with incumbents running for re-election.
For Tax Collector, Fred Faerber is seeking re-election, incumbent Treasurer Allen Shers is seeking another term, and Tax Assessors Ted Czech and Michael Nott are also running for re-election.

I urge everyone to take a few minutes out of your day to stop by and vote.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, pwfd

OpEd: Rep. Carson urges GA support for RI Tourism

By Rep. Lauren H. Carson

The beauty of our state is unbounded — from the sparking beaches of Newport and Aquidneck Island to the rugged shoreline of Beavertail; from the historic landmarks that dot the capital city and Blackstone Valley to the fields, streams and woodlands of the western part of the state. We have arguably the best restaurants in the region if not the nation, history at every turn and a diversity of traditions and cultures that adds to the richness of the state.

With all this to offer, it is unfortunate we don’t do a better job of promoting the entire state of Rhode Island. We need to reorganize and re-energize our efforts to make Rhode Island — not just a city here or a beach there — a destination for tourists and the money they bring with them. This will be good for business.

Rhode Island invests just under $7 million annually in tourism. But our neighboring states have much more aggressive marketing budgets. Connecticut revitalized its tourism budget in 2012 by committing $24 million, and Massachusetts spent $16 million in Fiscal Year 2014. On average, states spend nearly $3 per capita to promote tourism. In Rhode Island, it’s less than a half dollar. Clearly, Rhode Island is not keeping pace in the region and our lack of investment is affecting our tourism bottom line.

As the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation reported in a comprehensive tourism marketing and branding investment plan issued in December, the lack of an effective, overarching state brand and marketing initiative has resulted in a loss in market share nationally and resulted in more tourism dollars going to nearby states instead. The report proposed that a $4 million investment in a state branding campaign could result in massive growth of tourism and tourist dollars in the state. That level of funding and marketing could be expected to attract between 500,000 and 670,000 new visitors to Rhode Island. Those visitors could be expected to spend between $210 million and $280 million in the state, generating between $9 million and $12 million in state sales and occupancy taxes. For these reasons, I have introduced legislation (2015-H 5914) that would appropriate $4 million to the Tourism Division for promoting the whole state as a brand.

Tourism is a thriving sector of the Rhode Island economy. The Volvo Ocean Race, a prestigious around-the-world race held every three years, chose Newport as the only North American port for this global event. Over 12 days last month, 135,000 people visited the Volvo Village at Fort Adams State Park, with a direct economic impact to the state expected to be between $40 million and $100 million. One hotel search site recently named Newport one of the country’s Top 50 cities to visit and one of America’s most sought-after vacation spots. Now that’s economic development.

This is a business decision: Invest in the wonders of Rhode Island and continue to enjoy the economic returns that our tourism economy has been delivering. Business acumen tells me to fund the parts of the system that are producing economic returns, design a coordinated statewide organizational strategy that will support local economic expansion and make increases in overall statewide investments to support and to compete with our neighboring states.

I also propose that any new statewide marketing campaign report regularly to the General Assembly. I would like to see an executive summary on our new statewide marketing programs, to include measurements on the return on our investments, trends and data so that the Assembly may better understand the results of our market strategies.

I urge the leadership of the General Assembly to take heed of the Commerce RI report and commit the funds necessary to create a state brand to better sell Rhode Island as a tourist destination, while continuing to support the good work being done on the local tourism level. We have so much to offer, but we need to do a much better job of convincing others to visit Rhode Island and see it all for themselves.


Lauren H. Carson (D-Dist. 75, Newport), currently serving her first term, is a member of the House Committee on Small Business and the House Committee on Oversight.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, LTE

DEM says Portsmouth dump capping now in compliance

Rhode Island's Department of Environmental Management has found that the firm conducting capping operations at Portsmouth's former town dump has cleaned up some bad soil that made its way onto the site and is now in compliance, according to a document provided to media by DEM Principal Environmental Scientist Mark Dennen. In a cover e-mail, Dennen said:

As you are aware, the Department issued a Notice of Intent to Enforce regarding a soil received from Newport that was found to be unacceptable. Since then, soil has been removed, confirmation sampling has been done and APE has agreed to do more frequent sampling. Consequently, a Letter of Compliance was issued today (attached).

As you may be aware, the Beneficial Use Determination will end on September 20, 2015. After this date, AP Enterprises will only be allowed to accept soil meeting residential criteria and will have to complete final capping, grading and seeding activities within 1 year.

In the enclosed "Letter of Compliance," Dennen outlines the remediation steps that Arthur Palmer Enterprise (APE) had taken: removing the soil, disposing of it at an approved location, accepting no additional soil from the site, reimbursing DEM for testing, and providing a plan for increasing sampling frequency to every 2,000 cubic yards.

You can read the full document here.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, landfill, Landfill capping

Electronic literature book features Portsmouth sf author

15jun01_pathfinders.jpgPortsmouth science fiction writer John McDaid's 1993 hypermedia novel "Uncle Buddy's Phantom Funhouse" is one of four examples of early digital literature included in a just-released scholarly resource called "Pathfinders," which aims to preserve and explore these innovative electronic fictions. Electronic Literature Organization president Dene Grigar and board member Stuart Moulthrop were co-principal investigators on this National Endowment for the Humanities funded effort to make these works available to a broader audience. Here's their announcement:

In the decade between 1985 and 1995, as personal computers grew familiar and the Internet became a presence in everyday life, assumptions about reading, writing, and text began to change. Digital tools allowed increasingly powerful combinations of media. The ancestors of blogs and social networks appeared.  Experimental writers began to use tools like hypertext as the basis for fiction and poetry.

In the face of all these changes, the idea of the book remained essential in understanding the new nature of writing.  Yet the book could no longer be limited to traditional forms.  To understand the early history of electronic writing we would need a new kind of book; but what would it be like?  How would it capture the interactivity the effort now required of readers? How would it reflect the graphics, movement, and sound that that had become important narrative strategies? How would such a reinvented book make accessible works meant to run on an Apple IIe or early Macintosh computer, in these days of tablets and smart phones?

Pathfinders: Documenting the Experience of Early Digital Literature, by Dene Grigar and Stuart Moulthrop, answers these questions in the form of a multimedia, open-source web-book created for a wide array of digital devices. It features 173 screens of content, 53,857 words of text, 104 videos, 203 color photos, and various audio files, providing readers with access to four important computer-based works of literature that were among the first to be sold commercially in the U.S. — but are now seriously threatened by obsolescence.

The book, whose production was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, will be released June 1, 2015 and made available free of charge through the open-source platform Scalar, created by the Alliance for Networking Visual Culture at the University of Southern California.

Using video and still photography, Pathfinders captures demonstrations of four groundbreaking works, performed by their authors on vintage systems.  Readers accessing the book will watch Judy Malloy walk through her database novel Uncle Roger, originally published on the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link and considered by some the first example of social-media literature.  They will also see a tour of Uncle Buddy’s Phantom Funhouse, a revolutionary hypermedia novel-in-a-box by John McDaid, and a demonstration of two classics in the early hypertext system Storyspace, Shelley Jackson’s Patchwork Girl and William Bly’s We Descend.  Extensive interviews with all four authors add an important dimension of oral history to the project.

All four are acclaimed works of fiction representing the cultural impact of digital technologies that resonate today in experimental writing, video games, cinema, and virtual reality experiences.

Pathfinders was created by Dene Grigar, Professor and Director of the Creative Media & Digital Culture Program at Washington State University Vancouver, and Stuart Moulthrop, Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  Demonstrations and research took place in the Electronic Literature Lab (ELL), a working collection of electronic literature and vintage computers dating from1983 assembled and directed by Grigar. The designer of the Pathfindersbook is Will Luers, faculty member in the CMDC Program. Madeleine Brookman, a junior in the CMDC Program, served as the Research Assistant to the project.

The formal book launch party is scheduled for Friday, June 5, at 6:30 p.m. at Nouspace-Angst Gallery, located at 1015 Main Street, Vancouver, WA. The works of these authors will be displayed on vintage computers and copies of the book will be on view to the public. For more information, contact Dr. Dene Grigar, dgrigar at wsu.edu.
 
The book will be available at http://scalar.usc.edu/works/pathfinders.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, Fiction

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