2008-09-25 / Front Page

Town awarded $12,500 recycling grant

By Sam Bari

State Representative Bruce Long (R-Jamestown, Middletown) announced at Monday's Town Council meeting that Jamestown had been awarded a $12,500 municipal recycling grant from the Rhode Island Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC).

At the Town Council's request, Long inquired about the status of the town's 2008 grant application. RIRRC has been stifled because it lacks a board of directors to approve the grant applications. Consequently, Long spoke to the governor's office about the Jamestown application.

The governor had recently taken over the board's responsibility by executive order until a board is approved by the Advice and Consent Committee. The municipal recycling grants were awarded under that order. Jamestown was awarded $12,500, although the town applied for $20,750. Statewide, $747,000 of applications were submitted, but only $278,000 of grants were awarded. Some communities did not receive a grant.

Turnpike and Bridge Authority

Rep. Long reported in his legislative update that he and State Senator M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D - Jamestown, Newport) thanked Chairman Darlington of the Turnpike and Bridge Authority for holding a Sept. 16 public hearing as well as three previous public forums. The Jamestown lawmakers had requested public hearings in an Aug. 25 letter to Darlington. They had been pressing for reduced toll rates for locals and a break in the cost in purchasing the transponders. The board will make their final decision at its Wednesday, Sept. 24, meeting held at the Jamestown Town Hall, Long said.

Councilman Robert Sutton spoke in favor of the RITBA, particularly acknowledging Executive Director Earl "Buddy" Croft for his efforts to accommodate the town whenever it was in need.

Sutton said, "The toll bridge authority have been pretty good neighbors," and pointed out that they did not hesitate to step forward when the town needed the land under the bridge to construct the new highway barn. He said, "They have been cooperative and accommodating, and I think we should be patient and listen to their proposal before jumping to any conclusions or making demands."

Sutton said that the tolls have not been raised since the onset, and mentioned that they have even been reduced. The original price was nine tokens for $10 and each car went through the tollgate for free when a roll was purchased. The rate was then reduced to ten tokens for $10 and a free pass through the tollgate when a roll was purchased. He said that the rates are going to stay the same and that Croft had assured him that the price of the transponders was not going to be an issue.

Long also reported that he and Sen. Paiva Weed testified the following night, Sept. 17, at the Governor's Blue Ribbon Panel on Transportation Funding held at CCRI in Newport. He said that their testimony implored the panel to consider the double taxation paid by local residents in Newport County for state infrastructure.

"Not only do our constituents pay for the statewide infrastructure of roads and bridges, but we are also required to support the Newport and Mount Hope Bridges with one toll," Long said. "It is an equity issue that is unfair to our local residents," he added.

Wind Energy Committee

Wind Energy Committee Chairman Don Wineburg contacted Long and Sen. Paiva Weed inquiring about the status of the wind energy study feasibility grant application, submitted in May 2008, to the state Office of Energy Resources. A meeting was arranged with Fred Hashway of the Rhode Island Economic Development Corporation.. 2008 legislation transferred the fi- nancial responsibilities of the OER to the RIEDC.

Long and Wineburg met with Hashway and learned that the Jamestown application had fallen between the cracks in the midst of the transition to RIEDC. Long reported that Hashway is in favor of the grant and that the RIEDC Board will vote on the feasibility grant application at its October meeting.

Rhode Island Public

Transit Authority

Long said that the Rhode Island Public Transit Authority has scheduled several hearings around the state to listen to public input on proposed cuts it is considering to balance its budget.

One cut is route #64, the Newport URI run, which provides service to Jamestown. This cut will all but eliminate bus service to Jamestown. Any elimination of this service will also eliminate the RIDE program, available to seniors and the disabled.

Long said he will fight the cutbacks in service, and he has requested that the Newport County public hearing scheduled for Tuesday, Sept. 30, at the Newport Public Library be changed because of the Jewish high holy holiday, Rosh Hashanah. RIPTA agreed to reschedule the public hearing to Tuesday, Oct. 7, at the same location, the Newport Public Library, from 2 to 4 p.m., and then from 6 to 8 p.m.

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