Pop Star Angers Locals as She Moves Into Town

A little over two years ago, mega pop star, Taylor Swift purchased a mansion in Westerly, Rhode Island for nearly eighteen million dollars. At the time, Westerly residents were thrilled that their new neighbor was going to be one of the biggest celebrities of the century, and welcomed her with open arms.

 

The home Taylor purchased, located in the Watch Hill village of Westerly, sits on a popular public beach that Westerly residents have been enjoying for generations. Swift’s new residence was previously known as the Holiday House, or simply, the Harkness House by locals. Named after the previous owner, Rebekah Harkness, heir of Standard Oil, the house has been cherished by the citizens of Westerly since it was built in 1931.

 

After less than 6 months of being a Westerly resident, however, rumors among Westerly residents began swirling that their beloved new neighbor, Swift, was planning on changing the beloved landscape of their cherished Watch Hill beach.

 

Swift ordered construction of a seal wall around her estate, which prevents locals from fishing, swimming, and surfing in the place that has been their favorite area for such activities.

 

Taylor Swift's house, in Westerly, RI, and the new sea wall she built. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

Taylor Swift’s house, in Westerly, RI, and the new sea wall she built. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

 

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The new sea wall, and fence is an “eye sore” for locals. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

The neighbors of the Swift mansion, and the protected fence. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

The neighbors of the Swift mansion, and the protected fence. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

The sea wall and fence sitting at the end of the public beach, and at the bottom of the Swift residence. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

The sea wall and fence sitting at the end of the public beach, and at the bottom of the Swift residence. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

The beach is not inaccessible to the public due to the sea wall build by Swift. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

The beach is not inaccessible to the public due to the sea wall build by Swift. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

The "No Trespassing" sign at the foot of the Swift residence hill, is a turn off for many locals that grew up on that very beach. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

The “No Trespassing” sign at the foot of the Swift residence hill, is a turn off for many locals that grew up on that very beach. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

No one was more upset than Watch Hill resident Shane Daly. Daly, along with many other residents, was outraged that a celebrity could move in to town, and change the landscape that has been a part of his town for generations.

 

“The majority of my summer days were spent in that area of the beach that is no longer assessable to us now that Ms. Swift has built her sea wall”, says Daly. “Since I was a little boy, I have been visiting that beach to enjoy quality time with family and friends. My father taught me to swim there, I learned to surf there, and I taught my boy how to fish there.”

 

Daly is certainly not alone with his anger towards the 25-year-old pop star. In addition to the beach area being inaccessible to the public now, neighbors in the Watch Hill area are irate about the sea wall, and accompanying fence being an eye sore.

 

“The entire landscape has changed, and will never be the same, my father would roll over in his grave if he could see this new addition to his backyard”, says a neighbor of Swift, who preferred to not be mentioned by name in this article.

 

When asked about whether or not Swift has the required permits to build the sea wall, Laura Dwyer, spokesperson from RI Coastal Resources Management Control said, “Swift did not need a permit to build the wall. Everything is on level, and they haven’t done anything wrong.”

 

Despite the sea wall, Daly admits that Swift is not all bad for his hometown.

“She seems to be a wonderful young lady, and has been perfectly gracious with us locals. She brings in tourists who drive in for the day just to catch a glimpse of her house, and she is always shopping in the area’s stores, and supporting local businesses. All us residents want are answers as to what the exact regulations are for beachfront owners. We have heard many times that Swift has followed all necessary measures to be allowed to build the wall, but we just do not have any proof that she did not receive any special treatment because she is a celebrity. We just want to all have the same rights, and the same guidelines, celebrity or not.”

 

If you are in the Westerly, RI area, and want to check out the Swift mansion, or head to the public beach to check out the sea wall for yourself, head to 16 Bluff Avenue, Watch Hill, RI.

Watch Hill Mansion

 

Beloved Middle School Teacher Gone, But Not Forgotten

Brian C Richard Award from Ryan Jacobson on Vimeo.

 

On Christmas Eve, 2014, N.A. Ferri Middle School in Johnston, Rhode Island, lost not only a teacher and colleague, but a friend, role model, and inspiration.

Brian Richard, eighth grade math teacher at the middle school since 2006, lost his year and a half long battle with Esophageal Cancer. His positive outlook on life, and his optimistic attitude right up until he lost his battle, made him an inspiration for his students, co-workers, family, friends, and community.

In order to commemorate Brian, his fellow teachers have decided to create an annual award for special graduating eighth graders that possess some of the same positive qualities that Brian Richard became known for.

The Brain C. Richard Award will be awarded to students with positive attitudes in the face of adversity, a love and sense of pride in the middle school, a sense of humor, and a good rapport with both students and teachers.

The award will be given to a male and female student on both eighth grade teams, based on the criteria mentioned above. The first annual Brian C. Richard award was given out at the eight grade awards night last week, and was presented by his friends and co-workers, with his family in attendance.

For more information on Esophageal Cancer, visit www.ecan.org

 

Statistics from cancer.org and cancer.net (Infographic made by Ryan Jacobson)

Statistics from cancer.org and cancer.net (Infographic made by Ryan Jacobson)

Jonathan Edwards Spring Fest Kicks Off Summer at the Vineyard

J Edwards Spring Fest from Ryan Jacobson on Vimeo.

Jonathan Edwards winery, in North Stonington, Connecticut, hosted its annual Spring Fest this weekend at the vineyard. Hundreds of visitors attended the event, which is one of two fests the vineyard has throughout the year.

Included in the admission price, ($25/$30 at the door) attendees were given a Jonathan Edwards wine glass, and their choice of six samples, or a full glass of wine. Also included were activities such as face painting, airbrush tattoos, and barrel roll contests. Two bands performed on each of the days as well. Food trucks and gourmet food vendors also were available at the fest.

“The Spring Fest, along with our Fall Fest, is our most popular event”, says Danielle Brandt, employee at the vineyard. The Spring Fest marks the beginning of the summer season, which is our busiest, and favorite time of the year.”

2015 Connecticut Wine Trail Passports, and bottles of Jonathan Edwards wine were part of the scenery at Jonathan Edwards Spring Fest.

2015 Connecticut Wine Trail Passports, and bottles of Jonathan Edwards wine were part of the scenery at Jonathan Edwards Spring Fest. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

Many people came prepared with plenty of cheeses, meats, fruits and meats to pair with their favorite Jonathan Edwards wines, at the Spring Fest. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

Many people came prepared with plenty of cheeses, meats, fruits and meats to pair with their favorite Jonathan Edwards wines, at the Spring Fest. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

Despite cloudy conditions, the turn out for Saturday's Spring Fest was very impressive. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

Despite cloudy conditions, the turn out for Saturday’s Spring Fest was very impressive. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

The Vines were a popular stop for many amateur photographers in attendance at Jonathan Edwards' spring Fest. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

The Vines were a popular stop for many amateur photographers in attendance at Jonathan Edwards’ spring Fest. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

The scent of fresh flowers filled the air at Jonathan Edwards' Spring Fest. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

The scent of fresh flowers filled the air at Jonathan Edwards’ Spring Fest. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

Jonathan Edwards Sauvignon Blanc was a popular choice among the attendees at the Spring Fest. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

Jonathan Edwards Sauvignon Blanc was a popular choice among the attendees at the Spring Fest. (photo credit: Ryan Jacobson)

Jonathan Edwards will host their second fest weekend in the Fall. Tickets will soon be available through their website, or by visiting the vineyard on 74 Chester Maine Rd, in North Stonington, Connecticut.

Read about another popular Jonathan Edwards event, Barrels and Brushes, here.