Aquidneck Land Trust hosts annual "Race for Open Space"

Screen Shot 2013-10-02 at 3.03.14 PM.pngAquidneck Land Trust (ALT) will host its 9th annual Race for Open Space 5K on its unique course along the Sakonnet Greenway Trail on Sat. Nov. 5, 2016, according to a release sent to local media.

Runners and walkers of all ages are invited to participate as individuals, teams or families. Walkers are welcome to bring strollers and leashed dogs. Registration begins at $25, but discounts are available for children, families, and military personnel.

New this year, ALT and Lizzie Benestad, a certified Road Runners Club of America coach, are offering a six-week, 5K training program that will get participants ready for the Nov. 5 race. The $80 fee includes race registration and an individualized training plan. The program starts Wed. Sep. 28 at 5:30 pm at the Gaudet Middle School track.

The race will start and finish at The Glen on Linden Lane in Portsmouth. After the race, participants and spectators are invited for food and festivities.

Registration begins at 9 am and the race begins at 10:30 am. Proceeds of the race go toward the overall mission of ALT. To register today, go to

Aquidneck Land Trust’s time-sensitive mission is to conserve Aquidneck Island’s open spaces and natural character for the lasting benefit of our community. The organization has conserved 2,552 acres on 76 properties across Aquidneck Island since its founding in 1990. ALT is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and the first land trust in Rhode Island to have received national accreditation. For more information, visit

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

Portsmouth water mains to be flushed in October

The Portsmouth Water and Fire District (PWFD) announced their annual water main flushing schedule in a news release, and advised that in early October, PWFD customers' tap water may temporarily appear discolored. The following parts of town could be affected on these dates:

Oct 3 East Main Road and Middle Road from Crossings Court to Hedly Street. Hedly Street and all side streets, including Industrial Park. Corys Lane and all side streets. Kings Grant and all side streets. West Main Road from Hedly Street to Union Street, including Father Flanagan’s and John Street.

Oct 4 Middle Road and all side streets to the west, Mill Lane and all side streets, West Passage Drive to Locust Avenue, Stonegate Drive, Greylock Drive, and Greystone Terrace area.

Oct 5 East Main Road to Middle Road, from Town Hall to Union Street.

Oct 6 East Main Road from Sherwood Terrace Vanderbilt Lane, east to the Sakonnet River, Union Street, Jepson Lane, and all side streets.

Oct 11 East Main Road from Lawrence Farms to Sherwood Terrace. Vanderbilt Lane to Sandy Point Avenue and all side streets.

Oct 12 East Main Road from Union Street to Mitchell Lane and side streets, Oakland Farms, Bramans Lane east to Meadow Lark Lane. Sandy Point Avenue and Sandy Point Farms.

Oct 13 Wapping Road to Old Mill Lane. Bramans Lane and side streets. Old Mill Lane, Indian Avenue and side streets.

Discoloration of the water is expected during and after the flushing. Flushing in one area may create discolored water in other areas. Customers are advised to avoid washing clothes and those with hot water tanks are advised to avoid drawing hot water during the flushing hours and until any discoloration has cleared. It is expected that the water will clear by midday after the flushing. Customers may also experience low water pressure during the flushing. This schedule is subject to weather conditions or other unforeseen circumstances.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

Aquidneck Island communites net $1M EPA clean water grant

Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 12.27.46 PM.pngOn Friday Sept. 16, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Sen. Jack Reed announced a $1 million grant to the communities of Aquidneck Island for an innovative new program to protect and restore fresh and salt water quality on Aquidneck Island, according to a release from the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission (AIPC). The three-year program was developed by the AIPC in partnership with the City of Newport, Towns of Middletown and Portsmouth, Aquidneck Land Trust, and Clean Ocean Access.

The grant is aimed at reducing storm water runoff, which washes pollution into drinking water reservoirs and coastal waters on and around Aquidneck Island. Storm water is a problem for water quality throughout the U.S.; however with relatively little protected watershed, large surface reservoirs, and some of the state’s most popular recreational beaches, Aquidneck Island is uniquely vulnerable to this type of pollution.

“Island Waters” will develop an inter-municipal partnership to help the communities develop more effective ways of managing storm water. For example, the partners will work together to identify, design and build high-priority storm water improvements Island-wide, and will look to share resources and training. While much of the “Island Waters” grant is for engineering and construction, the project also includes a storm water financing plan and extensive outreach to homeowners and other Island stakeholders.

“Island Waters” builds on extensive work by all three Aquidneck Island communities in recent years to improve storm water management and financing, including new watershed studies commissioned by Middletown and Newport, a storm water financing study by Middletown, and the establishment by Portsmouth of a wastewater management district. The project will also take advantage of recent work by Clean Ocean Access to test storm water for pathogens that threaten human health, and watershed conservation planning by the Aquidneck Land Trust. The partners will work closely with the state Dept. of Environmental Management, Dept. of Transportation and Eastern RI Conservation District to implement the project.

“The three Aquidneck Island communities – and the Navy – share a single drinking water system, while all three municipalities contribute runoff to our reservoirs and coastal waters,” said Julia Forgue, P.E., Director of Utilities for the City of Newport. “The City welcomes the opportunity to work more closely with our Island neighbors to ensure clean, safe waters for residents and visitors.”

“Clean water is very important to Middletown residents, and the Town has been working hard to reduce storm water pollution from public roads, for example through the work we’re doing in the Maidford River watershed and at Second Beach,” said Shawn J. Brown, Middletown Town Administrator. “This grant will help further implement our watershed plans.”

“Through our new wastewater management district, Portsmouth is reducing septic system pollution, and this grant will help us eliminate illegal discharges to coastal waters,” said Richard A. Rainer, Jr., Portsmouth Town Administrator. “Moreover, the ‘Island Waters’ project will help Portsmouth to reduce pollution into the Island’s drinking water system.”

The project is funded by EPA’s Southeast New England Coastal Watershed Program, with additional funds from all six municipal and non-profit partners. The grant is providing $996,820 in federal funding toward a total project cost of $1,164,620. The partners are providing $167,800 in municipal & private match, much of it as “in-kind” match through staff support.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

Opiod Awareness town hall meetings across RI next week

16sep16_opiod_townhall.jpgUnited States Attorney Peter F. Neronha today announced a series of public discussions and town hall meetings to raise awareness about the rising public health crisis in Rhode Island of opioid addiction, and opioid and heroin overdoses. The programs, announced in a release today, will begin on Monday, September 19, 2016, will reinforce the Department of Justice’s three-fold approach to the opioid and heroin epidemic - prevention and awareness; enforcement; and treatment.

On Friday, Sept. 16, President Barack Obama and Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch designated the week of September 19-23, 2016, as National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week.

Regional town hall meetings and discussions organized in collaboration with Prevention Coalitions from across Rhode Island, and open to the public, will be held in Providence, South Kingstown, Woonsocket and Middletown on Monday, September 19 thru Thursday, September 22, respectively. Each program will include the screening of the powerful documentary Chasing the Dragon: The Life of an Opioid Addict; the personal stories of our neighbors touched by the epidemic of drug overdoses that is devastating families across Rhode Island; and a discussion with members of the medical, treatment, education, community-outreach and law enforcement communities. Parents, students, teachers, school administrators and the public are strongly encouraged to join the discussion at these events.

“We are all aware of the opioid/heroin overdose numbers in Rhode Island and across the country. They are staggering, so staggering that it can sometimes be hard to get a handle on this epidemic's real human cost. But behind each number is a person, a real person, with great potential, and with family and others who love them. Some are gone forever, and others are on a path that may soon take them there” said Neronha. “Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week is about raising awareness about existing treatment that can divert people from that path, and about preventing addiction in the first place. Thanks to the continuing, terrific work of so many, Rhode Island is an opioid/heroin treatment and prevention leader. Hopefully our discussions can contribute to this effort.”

On Monday, September 19, 2016, at 10:00 am, at the Brown University School of Professional Studies, 200 Dyer Street, Providence, United States Attorney Peter F. Neronha, joined by United States Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, will kick off National Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week in Rhode Island with a screening of the powerful documentary Chasing the Dragon; the personal story of a local person impacted by addiction; and a discussion about heroin and opioid addiction awareness with local physicians, treatment specialists, educators, and the leadership of the FBI, DEA, and local law enforcement.

Town hall meetings and discussion events around Rhode Island will continue on Tuesday, September 20, 2016. Each program will include a screening of Chasing the Dragon, the personal stories of local families and individuals impacted by addiction, and a discussion about heroin and opioid addiction awareness with local physicians, treatment specialists, educators, and the leadership of the FBI, DEA, and local law enforcement.

The schedule for Heroin and Opioid Awareness Week programs in Rhode Island for the week of September 19, 2016, is as follows:

Monday, September 19, 2016
10:00 a.m.
Brown University School of Professional Studies
200 Dyer Street, Providence

Tuesday, September 20, 6:30 p.m.
South Kingstown High School Auditorium
215 Columbia Street, Wakefield

Wednesday, September 21, 6:00 p.m.
Woonsocket City Hall, Harris Hall
169 Main Street, Woonsocket

Thursday, September 22, 6:30 p.m.
Middletown Town Hall, Council Chambers
350 Main Road, Middletown

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

AIPC to hold solar forum at Salve on 9/23

Screen Shot 2016-09-12 at 12.27.46 PM.pngThe Aquidneck Island Planning Commission (AIPC) will be holding a public forum on solar energy at the Salve Regina Pell Center at 6pm on September 23. This will be the first in a "Smart Island" series of forums, according to a release from the AIPC.

"Solar and Beyond: the Aquidneck Island Energy Forum" will feature some of RI's leading advocates and decision-makers on energy policy: State Representatives Lauren Carson and Deborah Ruggiero; Marion Gold, Commissioner of the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission; and Carol Grant, Commissioner of the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources.

“This is an important and timely discussion,” said Representative Carson. “The speakers and panelists each bring unique expertise and knowledge for building a cleaner and renewable energy agenda for Aquidneck Island. This smart step can put the three municipalities on the same track towards a future of clean and local energy projects and investments.”

A panel discussion with energy experts and leaders from the private, public, and non-profit sectors will follow the speakers. The evening will end with a discussion about building a clean, sustainable and affordable energy future for the communities of Aquidneck Island and beyond.

“AIPC is really pleased to be able to bring this important event to the Island, and grateful for the support of all our partners,” said Hilary Stevens, Chair of AIPC. “The “Solar and Beyond” forum will build on AIPC’s recent work, helping Aquidneck Island to expand clean energy – while kicking off a terrific series of public conversations among Island communities.”

The Aquidneck Island Energy Forum, hosted in partnership with Acadia Center and Emerald Cities Rhode Island, will take place from 6:00-8:00pm on Thursday, September 22nd at the Salve Regina’s Pell Center, 518 Bellevue. Admission is free and open to the public but space is limited. Register online here.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Posts from the Democratic National Convention

2016-07-24 13.52.48.jpgLast week, I had the opportunity to cover the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia for RI Future. You can read all the stories I filed on their web site.

Disclaimer: I am currently a Democratic candidate for Portsmouth Town Council, so anything I write here should be read with that in mind. My campaign web site is over at

Portsmouth police station bond passes House

16may11_canario.jpgRep. Dennis Canario’s (D-71) legislation (H 7793) that authorizes the Town of Portsmouth to issue $10,000,000 of general obligation bonds and/or notes in order to design, construct, equip and furnish a new police station passed the House of Representatives last night, according to a state house news release. The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration.

“The current police station was built in the 1970’s and it was built for the 70’s. So there was no female officer locker room, crucial technology systems are housed in inadequate non-cooled rooms, officers must store their gear in boiler rooms, there is no public space for events such as the citizens’ police academy, and in today’s climate, and the layout of station is below standards for the public and the officers. These are among the many reasons a new station is needed,” said Representative Canario. “If approved by the voters, these bonds will allow the town to build a police station that everyone can be proud of and one that would be able to serve the citizens in the most effective and state-of-the-art way possible.”

The act would take effect upon approval by the voters of Portsmouth.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.

Portsmouth's new wind turbine rises


Workers lift the generator unit atop the new wind turbine as one of the massive blades is trucked into the work site. Click to enlarge.

Aquidneck Planning hires development and comms director

16june09_alexander.jpgThe Aquidneck Island Planning Commission (AIPC) announced in a release today that Mary Alexandre has joined its staff as Development & Communications Manager. In this new position, Ms. Alexandre will create and implement fundraising and communications strategies to fund AIPC's current growth and to position the organization for expansion in the near future.

Ms. Alexandre brings a rich knowledge of the East Bay and Aquidneck Island area to AIPC. She was a journalist with East Bay Newspapers for ten years and a freelance writer and editor for several local sites and other publications. She has served in fund development leadership roles at Boys Town New England England and St. Philomena School, both in Portsmouth; and most recently, The College Crusade of Rhode Island in Providence.

"I am so excited to be 'back home' again in the East Bay area," she said. "I look forward to bringing together my backgrounds in journalism, communications, and development to help AIPC expand its important role as an advocate for Aquidneck Island. We have to keep this very special island the jewel that it is, now and in the future."

Ms. Alexandre, a graduate of Framingham State College with a degree in media communications and writing, is a longtime resident of Bristol, along with her husband and four daughters.

The Aquidneck Island Planning Commission (AIPC) is a non-profit organization working to preserve and improve the environment and quality of life on Aquidneck Island, in partnership with the communities of Middletown, Newport and Portsmouth. AIPC leads and supports planning and action to ensure that Aquidneck Island remains dynamic, sustainable and connected, for the benefit of residents, businesses, and visitors.

Editorial note: Written from a news release.