2009-04-09 / Front Page

Town Council discusses substance abuse prevention

By Erin Tiernan

Local experts addressed the Town Council on Monday night and explained the importance of proactive substance abuse prevention in Jamestown schools.

Student assistance manager and Jamestown resident Laura Hosley clarified the objectives of funding a student assistance counselor position in school. She said Jamestown students have continuously excelled at abstaining from substance abuse in comparison with other communities. She credited students' intolerance toward substance abuse to proactive efforts in the community.

"I'm not sure you understand the value of what we have going on here in Jamestown," said Hosley. "After the home, the school is the next place that needs to be there for the kids. The student assistance program here is what has really worked."

Hosley said the island's Substance Abuse Prevention Task Force has been successful with prevention, intervention, discipline and aftercare due to efforts at the teen center and in school. She said students' access to an assistance counselor in school is a fundamental component of keeping children healthy.

Sarah Dinklage, executive director of Rhode Island student as- sistance, said the opportunity for early intervention in schools can catch potential problems early, identify risk factors and prevent substance abuse in children.

The student assistance counselor works at Jamestown school four days a week and coordinates efforts with the teen center at the recreation center. The counselor is required to have a master's degree and is supervised by schools and the R.I. student assistance agency. Dinklage said these programs have been proven effective at reducing absenteeism and decreasing drug use and problems related to substance abuse.

"Parents, teachers and others in the community have found the student assistance program to be a highly effective model for addressing alcohol and drug problems that negatively affect academic performance and attendance," said Dinklage. "The idea is really to help you before alcohol and drug use becomes chronic and severe."

Liquor Licenses

In other business, the council decided not increase the number of available liquor licenses for victualer and tavern establishments. The request was made by Doriana Carella and Andrea Colgnese, who hoped to receive a license to serve beer and wine at the Village Hearth Bakery after renovations are complete.

Councilman Robert Sutton said he was against increasing the availability of class B liquor licenses in town and explained that the bakery is not an ideal location to serve alcohol due to its proximity to schools and intersections and the current issues with parking at its location.

The class G liquor license awarded to Conanicut Marine Services to serve alcohol on the Jamestown and Newport ferries while dockside was accepted by the council again for this year.

Around Town

Town Engineer Michael Gray and architect Bill Burgin met with the three low bidders on the police station renovations project and discussed plan modifications that will save the town money.

"Contractors had some general ideas how to save money without cutting the scope of the project," said Gray.

Discussion continued on the proposed FAST sailing center to be built at Ft. Getty. Town Council President Julio DiGiando requested more information before the council makes a decision to move forward with the plans.

Town Solicitor Peter Ruggiero will submit plans at the regular meeting on Monday, April 20, with more information about shared use of the facility, parking and boat storage.

Sutton said he was hesitant to remove the tree in front of town hall on Narragansett Avenue, per recommendation of the Tree Preservation and Protection Committee and the Planning Committee.

Town Administrator Bruce Keiser explained the safety concerns surrounding the diseased tree and said two arborists had evaluated it. They estimated its life at four or five more years and both recommended its removal.

"We've asked for a third opinion because it's a beautiful tree and we're going to miss it when it's gone," said Keiser.

Arbor Day was unanimously decided to be Friday, April 24, by the council.

Maurice LaFlamme, of 49 Bayview Drive North, filed suit to remove the right of the town to develop a portion of Prospect Street because the paper street overlaps the main house and outbuildings on the lot. He is seeking a mortgage and needs to clear town interests on Prospect Avenue before continuing. LaFlamme said the structures are over a century old.

Ruggiero said the town would only give up the portion of Prospect Avenue overlapping LaFlamme's property.

The council approved an ordinance opposing House Bill 5122, which would create a turnpike and bridge division within the state Department of Transportation and dissolve the current Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority.

In a 2-2 vote, the council voted not to display the Armenian flag in town hall. Current law prohibits other nations' flags to be displayed. Although the Armenian flag is a symbol against the failed genocide of the Ottoman Turkish government and not a symbol of another nation. Ruggiero advised the council that allowing this flag would open the doors for controversy with other groups soliciting similar actions.

Town Planner Lisa Bryer addressed the council regarding the Community Development Block grant that provides improved housing, employment opportunities and community facilities for low or moderate income families and individuals. An application for $450,000 to implement these actions was approved to be submitted to the Community Development office.

Environment

DiGiando and Keiser were appointed to participate in the Narragansett Bay Coyote Study. The study will focus on managing the town's coyote population at sustainable levels and strategize ways for residents to coexist with the animals.

The council decided to notify the Department of Environmental Management to communicate the town's concerns about composting toilets.

Jeanne Albrektson requested the council review the dangers because her neighbor has an application in to DEM for approval of a composting toilet at their residence. Albrektson is concerned about groundwater contamination, health repercussions of inadequately treated end-product from the toilets and maintenance of the composting toilets to ensure proper disposal and treatment of sludge.

The council decided to extend the term limits for the Wind Energy Committee for another year. Current terms expire May 31, but the committee needs more time to evaluate the use of wind turbines as an alternative renewable energy resource.

Town Planner Bryer's request to increase the contract amount for the wind power feasibility study by $3,000 for a total of $51,000 was approved.

The council endorsed a grant application by the Wind Energy Committee for $1 million to fund construction of a wind turbine on the island.

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