DEM sets conditions for Portsmouth dump capping extension

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The RI Dept. of Environmental Management (DEM) has issued new requirements for the company capping Portsmouth's former town dump, according to documents released by DEM this afternoon.

In a letter dated July 8, AP Enterprise, the firm engaged in the capping project, had requested RI DEM allow another one-year extension on the project back in July, citing delays in getting a CRMC approval and limited availability of suitable soil from construction projects. Similar arguments about the "weak economy" and lack of construction were featured in a similar request a year ago.

Today's response from DEM Principal Environmental Scientist Mark Dennen took a tougher line than the prior request, requiring a plan to address two major concerns before it will allow work to proceed. DEM said that while it recognizes the reasons AP Enterprise is struggling to complete the work, it notes

As these are not under the Department’s control, we are concerned that extending an approval based on economic factors will result in a BUD with no foreseeable conclusion and ultimately no closure. Our main concern is to minimize the impact to the surrounding neighborhood. To that end, the Department needs some assurance that work at the site will lead to a conclusion of capping activities in a reasonable time frame.

Additionally, DEM asks AP Enterprise to complete work on areas of the site which are already suitable for final covering operations.

[L]ocations in the eastern portion of the site that abut residential properties could be brought to final grade and loamed and seeded at any time. The Department believes that final capping activities should proceed as quickly as possible.

Read AP Enterprise's renewal request and DEM's response.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, Landfill capping, landfill

Portsmouth issues RFP to manage Melville Campground

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Click to embiggen. Image: Town web site

The Town of Portsmouth, RI, has issued an RFP for vendors to manage their 153-acre, 123-site campground, located within the Melville Recreation Area, according to documents posted on the town web site. A pre-proposal meeting is set for September 10, and the deadline for bids is October 3.

As described in the Town's RFP, the Melville Pond Campground is located on the west side of Portsmouth, and features a nine-pond waterway, hardwood and pine forest, substantial marsh areas and hiking trails leading to the Narragansett Bay. Melville Campground currently is open Apri1 1 to November 1. The campground contains 123 sites, of which 32 have water, electric, and sewer hook ups for RVs, 34 have water and electric for RVs. Campground includes camp office and store, pavilion, and a single family home that will be available to vendor year round.

The Campground has yearly gross revenues of about $220k, according to Town documents, and has operated in the black in 4 out of the last 5 years. Among the key criteria identified in the RFP is "an Operations Plan that clearly demonstrates the proposer’s plan to provide services and maintain facilities including a capital plan."

Read the full RFP on the Town web site, PortsmouthRI.com.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, Town of Portsmouth, Melville Campground

Car show to benefit RI Endometriosis Foundation

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Click to embiggen.

On Monday, August 18, 2014, please join A&W Restaurant and The Endometriosis Foundation of Rhode Island for the second annual “Cruise Night.” This car show aims to raise funds and awareness of endometriosis, which affects more than 5.5 million women in the United States.

The event starts at 5:30pm at A&W 460 Putnam Pike Greenville, RI. Entry is free, and cars will be judged and awarded. There will also be a 50/50 raffle. All funds donated are tax deductible and will benefit The Endometriosis Foundation of RI.

Details and more about the Endometriosis Foundation on Facebook at or email them at endofoundationri@gmail.com

The Endometriosis Foundation of RI is a 501c3 non-profit corporation.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging

RIDE launches blended learning initiative

The Rhode Island Department of Education (RIDE) and The Learning Accelerator (TLA), a nonprofit organization supporting the implementation of high-quality blended learning, today announced an ambitious initiative to make Rhode Island the first fully “blended-learning state” in the nation. Blended learning is the combination of traditional, face-­to-­face teaching with elements of personalized, online, competency­-based education that leads to improved student engagement and achievement.

“Through our laws and regulations on digital learning, our Innovation Powered by Technology Model School grants, and our Wireless Classroom Initiative, Rhode Island demonstrates our state’s unwavering commitment when it comes to using technology to advance teaching and learning,” said Rhode Island Board of Education Chair Eva-Marie Mancuso. “We are very grateful that The Learning Accelerator has recognized our commitment and will work with us to take digital learning to the next level in our state.”

“This partnership with The Learning Accelerator recognizes and furthers our commitment to basing instruction on the needs of every individual student,” added Deborah Gist, Rhode Island Commissioner of Elementary and Secondary Education. “Digital learning in all of its forms provides, literally, unlimited educational resources for every classroom, allows our schools to design flexible instruction schedules, and enables students and teachers to work closely together at a pace that is right for each student. With these funds, we will continue our commitment to innovation powered by technology.”

The partnership will initially engage in two major initiatives:

  • Development of a an integrated Five-Year Strategic Plan for Rhode Island that will position blended learning as an engine for system change, and
  • Creation of a communications campaign intended to fully accelerate blended learning throughout the state.

“States and state actors create conditions—beyond policy— that are critical to high-quality blended schools and innovation,” said Lisa Duty, Partner at The Learning Accelerator. “Together we are pursuing system-level changes and identifying the resources and critical shifts necessary to lay the foundation for more personalized, blended learning.”

Both TLA and RIDE agree that pursuing a student-centered vision of learning and transformative outcomes, with explicit goals in mind, is key. States will need to wrestle with the problems they’re trying to solve, and get clearer about operationalizing the relationship between blended learning — still in development — and their desired outcomes.

Editorial note: Written from a press release.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, edtech, education

Nexperience brings VR to Warwick Mall

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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.

Resources
Nexperience web site
Facebook
Twitter
YouTube

Tags: 
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.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, AIPC

Reps Canario and Edwards deliver education grant

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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.

Tags: 
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.

Tags: 
02871, Localblogging, RIDE, Gist, education

Mayday hits $2M -- just five days left to reach $5M goal

mayday2m.jpgMayday.us 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...)

Tags: 
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 portsmouthwater.org.

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.

Tags: 
02871, localbloggging, pwfd

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