Jamestown, Rhode Island

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Date Selections from the News Archive - Headlines and Highlights
April 20, 2006 Into the Drink: 'Old Bridge' becomes one with the Bay
On Tuesday morning, April 18, at 11 a.m., a single fleeting blast marked the beginning of the end for the old Jamestown Bridge. A crowd of thousands gathered at the University of Rhode Island's Bay Campus to watch the demolition.  The demolition project will cost a total of $19.5 million, spread out over three major phases. The first phase was Tuesday's explosion, which targeted the main through truss. The second phase will occur in about six weeks, and will detonate the outer deck portions. The third major phase will happen six weeks after that, taking down the inner piers. The first explosion itself intense to witness. A man with a megaphone alerted the crowd that detonation would occur within a minute, and all eyes and ears turned toward the distance. Suddenly, a single, large flash followed by smoke sealed the old bridge's fate. Debris could be seen splashing into the water even from a distance. Only a few seconds later, a vicious thunder-like boom was heard throughout, and some of the younger observers appeared startled. Within minutes of the blast the smell in the air, until then having consisted of a familiar salty odor combined with donuts and fresh brewed coffee, was replaced with a burnt fetor similar to a child's toy cap gun.
October 6, 2005 Plum Beach Lighthouse Association founding member passes, leaves legacy
Built in 1899 and given up by the Coast Guard in 1941 after the Jamestown Bridge was completed, the five-story Plum Beach Lighthouse sat idle for decades and was deteriorating year by year. That changed in 1988 when the Friends of Plum Beach Lighthouse, led by Shirley A. Silvia, was formed. It was long and tedious work. There was no money, and few people seemed to care. But in 2003, the lighthouse was lit again and today it flashes a beacon every five seconds. On Saturday, Silvia died at the age of 76.  For the next couple of weeks, the white portion of the lighthouse will be covered with black bunting, accompanied by a single rose. Donations may be made in her memory to the Friends of Plum Beach Lighthouse Inc., P.O. Box 1041 North Kingstown, Rhode Island 02852.
August 24, 2005 New site for the "Wild Dog" Triathlon gets thumbs up
After 10 years at North Kingstown Town Beach, the race was moved but the popularity remained the same.  Competitors began and finished the race at Fort Getty Recreational Park (Fort Getty Road). Along the way they were challenged by a .25 mile swim, 10 mile bike ride and 3 mile run.  21-year old Ian Ray of Massachusetts was the overall winner with a time of 56:35.  "I liked the course. Going around the lighthouse was beautiful," he said. Bill Lunn, who finished second overall, was also a fan of the scenery. "I liked going out by the light-house,"
August 4, 2005
For the first time in Rhode Island's history, an eight-week-old osprey, named  "Conanicus" (named after the famed Narragansett Indian chief) is expected to fly to South America sporting a $3,000 state-of-the-art backpack holding a one-ounce solar powered satellite transmitter.  The transmitter will allow tracking of its daily migration pattern during a journey of about 3,000 miles that will take about one month to complete.  This tracking was made possible due to the efforts of Chris Powell, the co-founder of the Jamestown Raptor Project. "The Project was created with the desire to set up a web based video camera so people could observe the daily activities of the osprey from the Great Creek Marsh Meadows in Jamestown. There are 22 species of raptors that can occur on the island including owls, hawks and osprey. We wanted to create a web site where people can go for bird identification, to view them live from the video camera and eventually we also want to create an overlook area so people can watch them from the other side of the road"
July 8, 2004 Rhody's dairy farms unveil a 'fresh' idea for consumers
The Rhode Island Dairy Farms Cooperative (RIDFC) announced it would begin selling its "Rhody Fresh," milk in local stores in mid-July.  The unveiling of the new label, a black and white cow with a state logo cleverly designed into one of the black spots, took place at Jamestown's  Wanton Farm (Dutra Farm) with a backdrop of cows wandering in a pure, green pasture.  Guests mingled with "Rhoda" (the cow spokesperson) snacked on Oreo cookies and enjoyed glasses of cold "Rhody Fresh", which will be available at Ryan's Market in Wickford, McQuade's Marketplace in Jamestown and all Dave's Marketplaces.
April 29, 2004 Traditional bakery- great smells, hard work
It's two p.m. and Andrea Colognese and Doriana Carella have already put in a 12 hour work day at the Village Hearth Bakery. The sleep-deprived husband and wife, owners of the small Island shop, work as many as 18 hours a day. "We're so used to it, it's in our system," Carella said. Sharing a "love of food," the two said they started out as caterers in Boston. Growing increasingly tired of working for other people, they decided to start their own bakery. The couple found a house in Jamestown and began converting the garage into their dream business. The bakery was soon finished complete with its centerpiece, a wood-fired masonry oven. Made out of brick and reaching from the floor to the ceiling, the oven was built almost entirely by Colognese. "It's a lot of work, every morning I have to load it with wood," Colognese said. "It's very physical." They feel their oven, which cooks pizza at 700 degrees Fahrenheit, provides a different type of experience for islanders, residents from surrounding communities and tourists. Their most popular breads include rustic Italian and eight-grain. Besides the many breads they offer, the couple also offer a community experience. Every Sunday night, they offer brick-oven pizza, which attracts a lot of local residents. "We didn't know anyone when we came here, now we know everyone," Carella said.
April 15, 2004 $3.8M price tag on public works bldg. stuns island council  
  After receiving an estimate of $3.8 million last month for the Department of Public Works Facility, the town council said Monday it must work with the firm spearheading the project to lower the cost. Council members expressed overwhelming disapproval with the firms estimate. Councilor Guy Settipane called the number "way over the top".  He pointed out that two other firms had estimated it would cost less then $2 million. The council suggested lowering the cost of materials, or locating the facility in multiple locations. The firm had estimated it would cost $1,154,000 for site preparation for the Taylor Point location. With that in mind, council member Claire Fergurson said that no matter how much the cost of construction was lowered, it would still cost the town too much. "We're trying to stuff a great big teddy bear into a little Christmas stocking and its not going to work." he said.
(See related story below, dated August 14, 2003.)
  The town council reaffirmed its position that the old Jamestown Bridge must come down after debate over the bridge's fate resurfaced last week. The town will send a letter to the Statewide Planning Council objecting to plans that would turn the bridge into a bike path or park, as environmental groups have asked the state to consider. The Transportation Advisory Committee ordered the RI Department of Transportation to study the cost effectiveness of proposals for the bridge, which is slated to be demolished later this year. The council also expressed dissatisfaction with the state's announcement that it would be too expensive create a fishing pier in North Kingstown. Councilor Guy Settipane said the state promised the pier, and "It's interesting how the state seems to flip-flop a little bit on this issue depending on what group has had the last opinion." Councilor Julio DiGiando suggested that other options be examined to see if a bike path or park could still be created even if the old bridge is demolished. "Its important that we advocate for standard bicycle paths on the new bridge," DiGiando said. "If we allow bikes on the new bridge, we wouldn't have to have bikes on the old bridge."
Nov 20, 2003 Restored Plum Beach Light Debuts   
For the first time in 62 years, the Plum Beach Lighthouse will shine on Narragansett Bay. After 14 years of hard work and dedication from the nearly 50 members of the Friends of the Plum Beach Lighthouse organization, the final touches are expected to be complete by Dec. 1, 2003. The lighthouse was abandoned in 1941, when the opening of the Jamestown Bridge made it unnecessary as a navigational tool on the bay. The lighthouse looks almost exactly the way it did when it was first built, back in 1899. One of the final steps in the restoration was installation of a new solar powered light. Though it is not a true lighthouse light, the new light will have a range of three to four miles and has been approved by the Coast Guard. The outside of the house is complete and architecturally comparable to the original, but inside restoration is not complete. Abandoned for over 60 years, the lighthouse had become home to thousands of pigeons and more than 52 tons of pigeon guano accumulated inside the house, at depths of four and a half feet! Because the interior damage was so extensive, it was decided to use the funds allotted for inside restoration to make the outside architecturally similar to the original.
Sep 25, 2003 Island throws itself a party  
  The town threw a birthday party last weekend with a guest list that included politicians, local Islanders and Council President Kenneth Littman's dog Gussy. The celebration marked the 325th Anniversary of Jamestown's incorporation. Friday night featured a reenactment of the signing of the town's first charter. The replica was given to Gov. Carcieri, then passed to Council President Littman. Littman said "Looking at this document, I'm not sure of what to do with it; but given Jamestown's record, we'll probably appoint a committee to revise it." The celebration included a parade on Saturday and an afternoon of games, food, and music. The procession of floats, which included an old horse drawn fire truck, traveled down Narragansett Avenue and ended at East Ferry, where a tent housed various community organizations and games, prizes, and pastry. Some long time residents wore green and white hats proclaiming "Born in Jamestown."
Aug 21, 2003 Keeping alive an island tradition: Poor engineering = good fun  
  Keeping alive the tradition of poor engineering and good fun, the Jamestown Yacht Club held the 26th Annual Fools' Rules Regatta this past Saturday; an event known for its ludicrous ship designs and friendly rivalries. The 9 a.m. cannon signaled the competitors could begin building the boats, which must be constructed entirely on the beach. The Fools feverishly began duct taping milk crates, plywood, and empty Poland Spring jugs together to make the perfect craft. After the two-hour construction period, another cannon signaled the races would begin. Not to be confused with the America's Cup, in this race more attention is paid to those who fail than those who win.
Aug 21, 2003 Their farm: Simply 'outstanding'  
  Black and white cows, rolling, green pastures, and an old, shingled barn are sights straight out of a children's book. But, Wanton Farm, known locally as Dutra Farm, on Weeden Lane, is more than a pretty landscape, . it has been named Rhode Island's 2003 Outstanding Dairy Farm by the Rhode Island Green Pastures Committee. The farm, dates to colonial times when Joseph Wanton, Jr., Deputy Governor of Rhode Island in 1764 and 1767 owned it.  It is one of only 22 licensed dairy farms in Rhode Island and the last of its kind in Jamestown. The Dutras have a herd of more than 100 Holsteins, which are milked twice a day. They also grow corn and hay for feed during the winter months, and they maintain a machinery and repair shop.
Aug 14, 2003 Town finalizes plan for Public Works facility  
  The town council chose a plan for the construction of the Department of Public Works facility after hearing proposals at Tuesday night's meeting."We've chosen the plan for the site, now we'll move on from here," said Council President Kenneth Littman." "Now we'll try to sort out all the specifics."
Aug 14, 2003 Town honors its history at 325th anniversary celebration  
  In 1779, George Washington came to Conanicut Island by ferry boat, then rode a horse across Jamestown before being picked up at East Ferry by the French. Meeting with General Rochembeau, the two plotted against the British. That story is one of many bits of Jamestown history that will be commemorated on Sept. 20 when the town celebrates the 325th anniversary of its 1678 Charter.
Jul 24, 2003 Some islanders still unhappy with proposed harbor law 
  Local residents showed up to the town council's public hearing Monday to express their concerns over the contentious Harbor Management Ordinance proposal. The proposed ordinance aims to regulate use and activities along the town's waterfront, providing for both improved public access and protection of the environment, while distributing the burden and benefits of harbor management, and remaining consistent with existing regulations. Some residents spoke out against the proposal, saying it goes against existing laws.
May 08, 2003 It's all about sheep on Saturday
  Sitting on moe than 265 acres of land, almost a mile of it on the shoreline, Watson Farm is a little slice of heaven in Jamestown. Home to over 65 head of cattle and 100 sheep, Watson Farm is one of only a few working farms left in Rhode Island, producing beef, lamb, and wool. In addition to its regular public access days, this unusual museum and farm opens its gates for a variety of events throughout the season. One of the largest and most popular is approaching on Saturday --the annual Sheep Shearing Day, which is held from noon until 4 p.m. It's an event that the whole family can enjoy.
Apr 03, 2003 To most, old bridge will make fine reefs
  The vast majority of the 100-person audience at the state Department of Transportation's public hearing on the demolition of the old Jamestown Bridge were in favor of the state's plan to convert pieces of the bridge into artificial reefs, but some voiced concern over the lack of detail in the fishing pier proposal. The option preferred by the state is to deploy bridge materials to create a series of five artificial reefs, three near shore in Narragansett Bay and two further offshore. A number of residents are opposed to the DOT plan to convert 1,650 feet of the bridge on the North Kingstown side into a recreational fishing pier. The timeline for the project anticipates bids in March 2004, with construction beginning in early summer 2004. Demolition and construction of the artificial reef is expected to take 12 to 18 months. The fishing pier work and associated bike path and parking lot should be completed in 2008.
Mar 27, 2003 Island council adopts new ordinance to provide off-street parking relief  
  After much discussion between council members, residents, planning consultants, and members of the chamber of commerce the council adopted a zoning ordinance amendment related to off-street parking requirements in the village district that provides relief from the requirements of minimum off-street parking for existing lots as of January 1, 2003. It has the effect of temporarily "freezing" the current parking requirements while more analysis is completed by planning and zoning officials. The amendment expires in 180 days, by which time there should be a detailed plan of action regarding a permanent solution to parking problems.
Mar 20, 2003 The Old Jamestown Bridge
  The Department of Transportation will host a public hearing on the bridge demolition on March 27. Demolition will take place in four phases; demolition of the high spans, deck spans, girder spans and trestle spans. The demolition of the substructure will also be broken down into four phases. The DOT plans to leave 1,650 feet of the bridge intact on the North Kingstown side. It will be converted for use as a recreational fishing pier. Bridge debris is expected to be used to create an artificial reef. Five possible sites are identified: Gooseberry Island, 1.5 miles south of Newport; Sheep Point, .25 miles east of Newport; Black Point in Narragansett; and two sites in deeper water, which would not require navigational buoys; 3.5 miles north of Sandy Point, Block Island and a spot in Rhode Island Sound. Jamestown officials expressed concern about the future of the emergency water supply line that reaches the island via the old bridge's roadway. It connects the island's water system with North Kingstown's. When Jamestown has low volumes in its reservoirs, the pipeline is turned on to help the island meet water demands during the summer. The DOT's chief engineer assured council members that the state will work with the town to relocate the pipeline.
Feb 27, 2003 It's still winter, but island has summer parking on its mind
  With the busy summer tourist season just months away, the long-lived debate regarding the lack of adequate parking near downtown businesses is heating up again. A proposed zoning ordinance amendment deals with parking requirements in the village business district. The proposed amendment comes after a two-month study of the current parking situation by the chamber with the assistance of a planning and zoning consultant. The study focused on a 40-lot area including Narragansett Avenue, Conanicus Avenue and Ferry Wharf. According to the study, there are currently 437 privately-owned parking spaces available. If the current zoning standards are applied, 851 private spaces would be required, resulting in a deficit of 414 spaces that would need to be "found." The amendment would "freeze" the current parking requirements and avoid the need for obtaining relief from the zoning board for a set period of time.
Dec 19, 2002 Finally, island chooses a site for highway barn -- Taylor Point
  Town council voted 4-1 Monday night to build a new highway barn to the immediate west of the wastewater treatment plan on 1.2 acres at Taylor Point. The vote seemingly ends a debate which has been going on since the mid 1980s over where to locate a new highway barn for the public works department. The department has been located at Ft. Whetherill since the state ordered the town to vacate all buildings at Ft. Whetherill except one, which is where the department is currently located. Council unanimously agreed on two aspects of the issue - that the facility should be located in one place and that it should be no more than 11,000 square feet. But it was Monday night's vote which was the tough one. The council had voted once before on where to locate the facility. After voting last summer to split it into two locations, the council rescinded its action two weeks later in the wake of public discourse. The site is smaller than others that had been proposed and there is limited room for expansion in the future; however councilors were willing to vote for it because there is no perfect site.
Jul 04, 2002 Dedicated islanders restore a slice of the American Revolution
  The Conanicut Battery restoration, a project five years in the making, was dedicated on Saturday. The 22 acre site, located on Battery Lane, off of Beavertail Road, just south of Fort Getty Road is owned by the town of Jamestown, and includes the remains of earthen fortifications built during the Revolutionary War - originally, in 1776, by Rhode Island Colonists, then by the British, who restructured the fortifications and remained on the island through 1779.  The area also saw military use during both World Wars. The battery could contain six to eight cannons to fire on enemy ships traveling in the West Passage between Jamestown and North Kingstown. The cannons could reach about half way across the one-mile passage. On the other side was a battery at Bonnet Shores which could do the same. The area is now clear of trees and the hills and ditches that form the battery stand tall, almost as they did during the American Revolution. On Saturday visitors walked paths carpeted with mulch, taking in the sights and reading historical storyboards.
Jun 13, 2002 Island okays revised comprehensive plan
  The town council unanimously approved a revised version of its Comprehensive Plan but held off on making changes to the Zoning Ordinance Monday night.The Comprehensive Plan lays out the general framework for development within the town. The revised plan contains more provisions for maintaining open space than did the previous one, which was approved by the town in 1991. There is also a stronger focus on growth and development. Proposed amendments to the town's zoning map did not fare as well as the Comprehensive Plan. The amendments would have transformed many lots in town from their current zoning designations into lots zoned for public use. The council voted 4-1 to send the changes back to the Planning Commission for review.
May 02, 2002 Old fort has new role
  Fort Wetherill will once again be a defender of Narragansett Bay. The fort, built over 200 years ago and used on and off by the military from the Revolution through World War II, is now the site of the state Department of Environmental Management's aquatic research center. The facility will be used by DEM's marine biologists to conduct research into fisheries management issues such as age and growth studies for winter flounder, lobster, and quahog. The $4.7 million project completely restored the three existing military buildings in the historic fort. The integration of a historical site with a state park and environmental research laboratory is an example of how the state hopes to keep in touch with the past while moving into the future.
Apr 25, 2002 The sweet smell of success is no secret for family flower business
About five and a half years ago, Helenna Fountain moved back to Rhode Island after living in Florida for awhile and wasn't sure what she wanted to do. When she saw that the florist on the island was for sale, she talked to her sisters about it and they opened The Secret Garden about six months later. The three sisters, who grew up in North Kingstown, are still talking and operating a successful business. The Secret Garden specializes in unique floral designs, creative plants, and gifts for the home and garden.
Sep 27, 2001 Community center upgrade approved, bike path questioned
  The town council voted 4-0 to award a bid for the community center beautification project which will include renovations to the front of the building, including stairs which have suffered wear and tear over the years. The project could begin next month and could be completed in the spring when the weather is warm enough to plant vegetation. Friends of Jamestown Community Center, a group of local residents, spearheaded the drive to raise funds for the project. Initially built in 1947, the community center is a former USO hall for the Aquidneck Island area. The largest public space in town, the center is used by Jamestown Community Theatre, Jamestown Community Chorus and the Conanicut Island Art Association among others.

Bike Path Concerns: The council raised questions about the state Department of Transportation's plans to run a bicycle path through town. The proposed path would run over the Jamestown Bridge, off Helm Street, along the coast on Seaside Drive, up Nautilus Street and onto Route 138 West. The council voted unanimously to have the town solicitor and town administrator draft a letter to the DOT expressing the council's concerns and conveying ideas for alternate routes.

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