Middletown

TROSMISIEK / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Middletown is the third community in Rhode Island to ban plastic bags in an effort to protect marine life.

RIPR FILE

In Newport, volunteers are gathering on the city’s Cliff Walk to clean up the tourist attraction and the ocean access points near it. The event is organized by the Aquidneck Island-based nonprofit Clean Ocean Access.

Clean Ocean Access director Dave McLaughlin says the group has collected some 50 tons of trash during area beach cleanups over the last decade.

Wikimedia Commons

Portsmouth is considering a no-smoking ordinance that could make all of Aquidneck Island’s public beaches and parks smoke free. The town council voted Monday to draft the ordinance, which could be approved as early as September.

Neighboring Newport and Middletown already have similar bans in place.

Portsmouth Town Administrator Richard Rainor says he’s not sure what penalty the ordinance might carry, but he believes it will still be effective.

Chris Hunter / Collective Thought Media

The Aquidneck Land Trust has acquired 72 acres of land in Portsmouth to conserve as open space. The Land Trust recently purchased the parcel for $3 million. The scenic property at St. Mary’s Church includes 25 forested acres.

Land trust executive director Chuck Allott said the property at St. Mary’s Church includes forested land that neighbors St. Mary’s Pond, one of Aquidneck Island’s drinking water supplies.  “So it's a very important drinking water, watershed protection parcel and it's also an important habitat property because of that forested land.”

Providence Business News Editor Mark Murphy joins Rhode Island Public Radio's Dave Fallon for our weekly business segment The Bottom Line.

This week, Dave and Mark talk with National Grid spokesman David Graves. They go over the permitting process of stringing new power lines around the island, and why a growing hunger for juice has forced the utility to upgrade.

When to Listen

You can hear The Bottom Line each Friday at 5:50pm.

National Grid said the tremendous growth on Aquidneck Island has prompted it to spend $93 million on upgrading its power system there.

The utility said the current system is outdated and will soon be overwhelmed. How outdated is it? Well, one substation was built in 1949.

Wikimedia Commons

Officials in Middletown say slow internet speeds are driving away business, and they’re urging  Newport and Portsmouth to help pay for a faster internet for all of Aquidneck Island.

Elisabeth Harrison

Schools in Rhode Island spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year on special education, a broad category that includes physical and learning disabilities, emotional problems and autism.

Right now, the students needing the most attention are often sent to special schools, but a growing program from Bradley Hospital shows promise in reducing the cost of special education by keeping more students in their own school districts, in their own schools.