Nexperience brings VR to Warwick Mall

Nexperience pod at Warwick Mall.

Nexperience, a Rhode Island-based startup, has opened a demo booth at the Warwick Mall to showcase their software development chops for the Oculus Rift, a cutting-edge virtual reality headset. For $5, you can don the headset and headphones and spend about two minutes in an immersive VR world.

This reporter (and his excited 14-year-old assistant) stopped by on Saturday to try out their software, and both came away impressed. The demo on offer, called "Volcano Rush," features an intense virtual roller coaster whose corkscrews and inversions may leave you queasy if you have problems with the kind of discordant vestibular inputs that VR can trigger. Set in a craggy, mountainous prehistoric terrain with volcanic activity, it provides quite an interesting backdrop for the coaster.

The ride is extremely smooth, and this reporter was able to freely move his head in all directions with no noticeable latency. There are good levels of detail on most of the visible surfaces, nice textures throughout, and some really nice spark effects. The one dinosaur that makes an appearance could use a few more polygons, but that's a minor quibble.

The company has already gotten some ink in the ProJo and deserves some support. If you're in the Warwick area, why not stop by and check it out.

Nexperience web site

Localblogging, 02871, Info tech, Tech & culture

Dolen leaves Aquidneck Island Planning Commission

After ten years at the helm of Aquidneck Island’s regional planning commission, Tina Dolen has resigned as executive director to take another leadership position. At AIPC, Dolen spearheaded numerous regional projects that received state and federal recognition and acclaim, including the West Side Master Plan (2005) and the Aquidneck Island Multi-Modal Transportation Plan (2011). During her tenure, Dolen brought over $3 million to Portsmouth, Middletown and Newport for regional projects.

While serving AIPC and the three municipalities of Aquidneck Island, Dolen received four fellowships to Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, awarded by the Hassenfeld Family Foundation and the Rhode Island Foundation.

In preparation for the release of surplus Navy property, she brought representatives from the Navy; the state of Rhode Island; and Portsmouth, Middletown, and Newport to a weeklong residency course at Harvard’s Kennedy School to build partnerships for municipal acquisition of 225 acres of surplus Navy property. Through the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, Dolen helped acquire funding to support the municipalities through the planning and implementation phases. Final disposition of the former Navy properties has not yet been announced by the BRAC offices in Philadelphia.

“It was a pleasure to work with our local, state and federal leaders, AIPC’s generous funders and the many citizens who helped us develop projects to improve the quality of life on Aquidneck Island.” said Dolen. “Moving to Aquidneck Island in 2004 to assume the position of AIPC executive director was a wonderful decision. I’m looking forward to continuing to serve the citizens of Newport and the island.”

Ray Berberick, CEO of Small Business Solutions from Portsmouth and an AIPC Board member stated: “Tina’s work on the West Side Master Plan, the proposed bike path, and the transportation study demonstrate her commitment and her expertise,” commented Berberick. “She laid a road map for us with many exciting plans to make common sense improvements that will benefit all islanders.”

Gladys Lavine, of Middletown, serving her second term on the AIPC Board, said, "The AIPC will miss Tina as she moves on to new challenges. Tina’s been a vital spirit for the Commission. The bike trail, the island-wide traffic study, the initiation of the BRAC process and more are the results of her tireless efforts. Tina’s vision of what can be achieved when the three island communities work together will remain a guiding principle of AIPC."

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, AIPC

Reps Canario and Edwards deliver education grant


Rep. Dennis Canario (D-Dist. 71, Portsmouth, Little Compton, Tiverton), center, is joined by Rep. John G. Edwards (D-Dist. 70, Tiverton, Portsmouth), right, during presentation of a $2,000 legislative grant to the Tiverton Education Foundation. Accepting the check on behalf of the organization are, from left, Deborah Pallasch, Diane Saana and Linda Larsen. The Tiverton Education Foundation raises money through donations, grants and fundraisers to be used for unbudgeted or enrichment programs within the Tiverton schools to help stimulate students’ academic achievements and enrich their learning environment.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, GA

Gist reacts to kneecapped NECAP

Following the announcement this afternoon that Gov. Chafee had allowed to become law a bill that deferred NECAP testing as a graduation requirement, RIDE Commissioner Deborah Gist released the following statement to the media:

Statement on legislation on standardized assessments and graduation decisions
Deborah A. Gist, Commissioner
July 1, 2014

Student readiness for college, careers, and life remains our highest priority, and we will continue working with our school districts to prepare all students for success.

Based on regulations put in place in 2008, we expected students in the Class of 2014 to attain the level of at least partial proficiency or show significant improvement on state assessments in order to be eligible to earn a diploma. As a result, students, families, teachers, and community members stepped up to ensure that our students received additional support to improve their skills, particularly in mathematics. Because of that effort, more than 2,000 students significantly improved their performance in mathematics and at least 95 percent of all high-school seniors met the state-assessment graduation requirement.

Given the change in law, we will continue working with school leaders and teachers to make sure students still receive the support they need to improve their achievement levels and to be ready for success in college and in challenging careers.

During the many public discussions of our Diploma System, every voice raised called for high expectations and extra supports for our students. We all agree on this point. This legislation states that Rhode Island shall use standardized assessments “to promote school improvement and to target remediation programs to individual students and groups of students.” We will remain constant in our commitment to setting high expectations for students and to providing students with the instruction, support, and resources they need to meet these expectations.

–Deborah A. Gist, Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, RIDE, Gist, education

Mayday hits $2M -- just five days left to reach $5M goal announced today that they've hit $2M in pledges to the "SuperPAC to end all SuperPACs." This grassroots, kick-started experiment in restoring democracy is the brainchild of Harvard Law professor and activist Larry Lessig, and the goal is to raise enough citizen contributions to put some muscle into 2014 races as a proof of concept -- the concept that Americans care about campaign finance reform, and that Congress needs to treat this as a serious issue.

I'm asking you to pitch in if you can. You can pledge on my page at MAYDAY.US.

Still need some convincing? Listen to Joseph Gordon-Levitt (Remember -- Friday, July 4 is the deadline. Don't wait for the kick...)

02871, Localblogging, Mayday, Elections

Portsmouth Water District releases 2013 Consumer Confidence Report

14apr17_pwfd.jpgThe Portsmouth Water and Fire District’s annual Consumer Confidence Report (CCR) was mailed to customers on June 25th and 26th, according to a release from the District. The CCR indicates that the District’s drinking water met or surpassed all Federal standards in 2013. According to the CCR, the District does not own any water supplies, but purchases its regular water supply on a wholesale basis from the Newport Water Department and relies on the Stone Bridge Fire District in Tiverton for emergency water supply.

The CCR, which is required of all public water suppliers by the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act, summarizes the District’s water sources and provides information on regulated and unregulated contaminants in the water. The CCR also provides important health information on drinking water, including bottled water, particularly for those people that may be immunocompromised.

The CCR also provides health information about specific water quality issues and indicates that the District continues to experience high levels of Total Trihalomethanes (TTHMs), which are a by-product of drinking water chlorination and are a suspected carcinogen. The CCR shows that in 2013 the District’s highest four-quarter Running Annual Average TTHM level was 96.3 parts per billion (ppb), which is above the EPA Maximum Contaminant Level of 80.0 ppb. The range of TTHMs measured in the distribution system was 21.5 to 134 ppb.

TTHMs are an on-going concern for the District, Newport Water and the Navy, as all three island water suppliers are distributing the same treated water. The CCR indicates that the City of Newport has awarded a design-build contract for the construction of a new Lawton Valley Treatment Plant in Portsmouth and improvements to the Station 1 Treatment Plant in Newport. The total project cost is $84 million. Due to the challenging water quality of the City of Newport’s nine reservoirs, Advanced Water Treatment processes are incorporated into the improvements at each plant in order to assure compliance with drinking water standards, particularly TTHM standards. The plants are scheduled to be operational before the end of 2014. All water users on the island will pay for these improvements through increased water rates.

Copies of the report are available at the District’s main office at 1944 East Main Road and the Portsmouth Free Public Library. The report is also available on the Internet at

Customers with questions on the report or about water quality in general are encouraged to call the District’s office at 683-2090.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, localbloggging, pwfd

Barrington artist chosen for national honor

Kevin Doyle performing at 2013 National Heritage Concert in Washington DC (photo by Tom Pich, provided by the National Endowment for the Arts).

National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Jane Chu announced today that Kevin Doyle of Barrington is among the latest recipients of the NEA National Heritage Fellowships, the nation's highest honors in the folk and traditional arts, according to a press release from the RI State Council on the Arts. Doyle, an Irish Step Dancer, is among a select group of artists and jazz musicians who are being honored for mastering the artistic skills and preserving the cultural traditions of their respective art forms.

Chu said, "Among these recipients of NEA National Heritage Fellowships there is a recurring theme. Starting at a young age, these individuals were exposed to the arts. Today these artists' passion for their art can be seen both in their long and dedicated careers and their willingness to share their knowledge with new audiences."

Governor Lincoln Chafee praised Doyle for receiving this national honor. "On behalf of the citizens of Rhode Island, I congratulate Kevin Doyle for his recognition by the National Endowment for the Arts," Governor Chafee said. "As a retired RIPTA bus driver, he exemplifies the very best our state has to offer. His love for Irish Step Dancing and the arts is clear and should encourage others to pursue their passions."

Senator Jack Reed offered his congratulations. "I commend NEA for selecting Kevin Doyle to receive our nation's highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. Kevin is an elite artist with a common touch. He makes Irish step dancing look easy, but he is someone who has poured many years of hard work, sweat, and soul into honing his craft. I think it is great that he is being recognized on a national stage and making Rhode Island and our Irish-American community proud," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed, the Chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Interior, which oversees federal arts funding, including the NEA's annual budget.

Senator Whitehouse also praised Doyle and this award. "Our arts community makes Rhode Island a better place to live and do business," said Whitehouse, an ex-officio member of the National Council on the Arts, the advisory body of the National Endowment for the Arts. "Supporting the artists that make the Ocean State such a special place is a wise investment. I congratulate Kevin Doyle on this honor, and wish him the best of success as he continues his career."

Congressman David Cicilline, who represents Barrington, also applauded Kevin Doyle's achievement. "For decades, Kevin Doyle has pursued his passion for Irish Step Dancing and has shared with so many his talents and the traditions of his family and his Irish heritage, and I am delighted that the National Endowment for the Arts will honor that artistic dedication," said Congressman David Cicilline. "As a Barrington native, talented dancer and proud father, Kevin is an example to so many across our state, and I am excited to join in recognizing his accomplishment as a NEA National Heritage Fellow."

Randall Rosenbaum, Executive Director of the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, added his congratulations. "We're thrilled that Kevin Doyle has received this important recognition of his work upholding and advancing the art of traditional Irish step dancing," said Rosenbaum. "We're pleased that the National Endowment for the Arts supports these important cultural efforts here in Rhode Island and throughout the country."

With more than five decades of Irish step dance under his feet, Rhode Island-born Kevin Doyle is a son of County Roscommon through his mother Margaret Taylor Doyle. He is a grandson of County Longford through his father John, whose Irish parents came to live in Providence, Rhode Island's Fox Point in the early 1900's.

At the age of eight, Doyle, along with his sister Maureen, began to learn their first Irish dance steps from their mother. He recalls his mother lilting (a way of vocalizing rhythmically using syllables rather than words) old tunes like "McLeod's Reel," which she had learned from her own mother in Ireland. In the 1960s, Doyle studied at the Pat Fallon School of Irish Dance with visiting Boston instructors Steve Carney and Mary Sullivan, and at the McCorry School of Dance in Pawtucket, where he learned steps traceable to the old dance masters of Ireland.

Through apprenticeship awards with the Southern New England Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program and Rhode Island State Council on the Arts, Kevin taught his daughter Shannon traditional Irish dance and she has gone on to become an Irish dance teacher herself. In 2013, Doyle was awarded a Folk Arts Fellowship from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.

Doyle is retired from a career as a RIPTA bus driver.

The 2014 NEA National Heritage Fellows will be honored at an awards ceremony on Wednesday, September 17, 2014 and a concert at George Washington University's Lisner Auditorium on Friday, September 19, 2014. Both events will be open to the public and the concert will be streamed live at More information, including how to obtain free tickets to the concert, will be available later this summer.

About the National Endowment for the Arts
The National Endowment for the Arts was established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government. To date, the NEA has awarded more than $5 billion to support artistic excellence, creativity, and innovation for the benefit of individuals and communities. The NEA extends its work through partnerships with state arts agencies, local leaders, other federal agencies, and the philanthropic sector. To join the discussion on how art works, visit the NEA at

About the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts
The Rhode Island State Council on the Arts is a state agency supported by appropriations from the Rhode Island General Assembly and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. RISCA provides grants, technical assistance and staff support to arts organizations and artists, schools, community centers, social service organizations and local governments to bring the arts into the lives of Rhode Islanders.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, arts

Canario announces re-election bid


Portsmouth Rep. Dennis Canario (D-71) will be seeking re-election, according to a press release posted on his web site today. Full text follows:

As many of you know, my first term serving in the House of Representatives (District 71) and the People of the State of Rhode Island was not only a historic one for our state, but a very meaningful one for our community. Removing the tolls on the Sakonnet River Bridge and funding our state’s road and bridge infrastructure system was a vital step in helping save our economy in both East Bay and our state.

I am proud of the tremendous work we accomplished and I know there is still a lot more to do. Jobs and the economy are two very important issues that we must continue to work at. I have and will continue to advocate for a clean/green environment, address how we tax retirement income, sensible and responsible spending of taxpayer money, equal civil rights for all Rhode Islanders, and support the health and welfare of all veterans and those with special needs.

I am honored to announce that I will seek re-election for State Representative to the General Assembly representing district 71 which covers portions of Portsmouth, Tiverton and Little Compton. As your State Representative I have worked tirelessly for our district and have made great strides. I ask each and every citizen for your support and I ask that you allow me to continue to build on a better future for Rhode Island. My proven record of commitment, honesty and integrity will help keep us on that path to a brighter future.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, GA, 2014

Portsmouth Water District goes green with e-payments

14apr17_pwfd.jpgPortsmouth Water and Fire District customers can now pay their water bills online using the District’s new web payment portal, according to a release from the District. Payments can be made through a recurring credit or debit card payment or a recurring electronic draft from a checking account. In addition, customers can make a one-time credit card or debit card payment for a particular bill.

Customers can also use the web portal to look-up their payment and water usage history and to view their latest bill. Customers can select to have their water bills emailed to them rather than receiving a paper bill.

According to Administrative Board Chairman, Philip T. Driscoll, there are no charges to the customer for making payments through the District’s web portal. Driscoll indicated that the Board is trying to make it easier and “greener” for customers to receive and pay their water bills. In addition, Driscoll stated that the District is trying to encourage customers to pay electronically to reduce the additional foot traffic that is expected at the office with the switch to quarterly water billing.

The web portal will also be available to make payments for Water District Property Tax bills beginning in October of 2014.

The web portal can be accessed through the District’s website at by clicking on the “Pay My Bill” button near the top of the home page. Customers will be prompted to create an online account, which will require the account number from their water bill.

Customers can also sign-up for recurring payments and use a credit card for payment at the District office.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Localblogging, 02871, pwfd

Portsmouth hires school Superintendent Ana Riley

On June 10th, the Portsmouth School Committee selected Ana C. Riley to be the next Superintendent of Schools in Portsmouth. Currently Ms. Riley is Superintendent of Schools in Dartmouth, Massachusetts. Ana Riley began her career as a High School chemistry teacher in Fall River, Massachusetts and moved on to serve as principal of first an elementary and then middle school over the course of 16 years. Since 2008, she has served the Dartmouth School District first as the Assistant Superintendent and then Superintendent of Schools.

The School Committee was impressed with Ms. Riley’s focus on improving student achievement and her ability to work with district stake-holders to develop a strategic improvement plan guided by core values and multiple measures of student data. In Dartmouth, Ms. Riley worked with her staff to bring trust and transparency to the budget, publishing a detailed budget aligned to the strategic improvement plan and directed at improving student achievement. These were all core qualities the Portsmouth School Committee sought in its next Superintendent.

During her tenure in Dartmouth, Ms. Riley developed leading programs including: an “Every School, Every Week” program that had District Administrators at all levels visiting one school per week; an Academic Summer School for grades 1 through 8 which was integrated with the Dartmouth Recreation Department; an initiative for every High School Junior to take the PSAT; the utilization of the National Institute of School Leadership to support professional development; and the implementation of the STAR assessment program in the Dartmouth Schools, a less time consuming common assessment tool.

The Portsmouth School Committee has approved a three year contract. Ms. Riley will receive a base salary of $152,000 plus benefits, a package comparable with other Districts in Rhode Island that are Portsmouth’s size. Ms. Riley will be succeeding Rear Admiral Barbara E. McGann who has been serving as Portsmouth’s Interim Superintendent this past year. The Portsmouth School Committee has also established a Transition Subcommittee to act as the liaison with the new Superintendent. Its members include: Emily Copeland, Chair; Fred Faerber and Andrew Kelly.

Ms. Riley received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from Regis College, a Master’s degree in School Administration from Fitchburg State College, and is presently enrolled in a Doctoral Program in Education Leadership. She resides in Fall River, Massachusetts with her husband Kyle, a Special Education Director in Dighton-Rehoboth Regional District, and their six children.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

02871, Localblogging, Schools, PSD