Martha's Vineyard News Briefs
West Tisbury eyes two land purchases
West Tisbury town officials recently took steps which if successful would allow the town to acquire two pieces of land.
Town treasurer Kathy Logue yesterday asked the town tax title attorneys to begin foreclosure proceedings on a 4.2 acre property on Shubeal Weekes road off State Road near the Tisbury line.
The property has been listed as "owner unknown" for several years. Recently the town unearthed a Department of Revenue document that, in effect, allows foreclosure proceedings to begin. The land abuts existing affordable housing sites.
"This could take time, perhaps as much as three or four years," Ms. Logue said, adding, "If an owner is found, then of course the matter would likely be resolved more quickly."
In other land acquisition news, the Welles family rejected a town offer for the purchase of one acre of land adjacent to the library. Selectmen moved quickly to bid on the land because it is adjacent to an access -challenged 2.6 acre lot of town owned land called Brandy Brow, bordered by State and Edgartown-West Tisbury Roads.
Selectmen declined to provide details of the offer. "Obviously the property has a range of possible uses from an expanded library campus to bus parking and the potential for designated public rest rooms," selectman Richard Knabel said yesterday.
He noted however that the Martha's Vineyard Commission has partial jurisdiction, the land has conservation restrictions and is part of the historic district commission. "We also don't know whether the town has an appetite for the purchase," he said.
Energy fair for Oak Bluffs, Tisbury homeowners
The Oak Bluffs energy committee wants to help Oak Bluffs and Tisbury homeowners take advantage of programs designed to save on energy costs. These include deferred forgivable loans for projects such as roof replacements, new siding, door and window replacement and code violation corrections, free energy kits and light bulbs.
The committee will sponsor an energy fair on Wednesday, December 3, at 6 pm in the Oak Bluffs Library. For more information call 693-3554, extension118.
Chilmark finances get an A
Chilmark has received a blue chip rating in 2008 from Powers & Sullivan, the town's independent accounting firm.
"Collections were up 4 percent and expenses were down 3 percent creating a surplus of $112,000 of just over 1 per cent," Richard Sullivan, a firm partner, reported to selectmen at a meeting on November 12.
"According to accounting standards, municipal cash balances should be within five to ten per cent of budget, Chilmark's is 9.45 per cent," he said, adding that Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds are $500,000, the stabilization fund is $750,000 and investment income has provided an additional $44,000.
"As an auditor, I like what I see. We are assigning an unqualified opinion, the highest grade, which reflects well on your management team," he noted.
Mr. Sullivan noted the town has joined a county effort to perform an actuarial analysis of its liability for post employment benefits for its employees required to be in place by 2010 by the General Accounting Standards Board (GASP).
He suggested the next steps in town documentation and control be focused on internal control systems and fraud risk management. He also suggested the town create a disaster recovery preparedness document, stored offsite or on disk, that would allow the town to return to business quickly in the event of an event.
Several finance committee members in the audience took issue with a statement in the auditing report that a capital improvement plan is in place, contending that while an ordinance is in place, no plan yet exists.
Selectman closed ranks around the capital improvement planning efforts the town is making. Mr. Sullivan said, " I have seen evidence that a process is in place, based on the detail we reviewed."
Selectmen passed a resolution calling for level budgeting by offsetting mandated cost of living increases with reductions in other budget lines. Our job is to protect the residents by budgeting well," said Frank Fenner, chairman.
With regard to the flat budget edict, executive secretary Tim Carroll said "some departments are always very cooperative in the process, others are not. The cooperative departments get hurt more in this equation."
During a brief discussion of ways and means to save, selectman J.B. Riggs Parker suggested the town look at the rates it pays for road flaggers. State police and town police flagger rates are about $40 per hour.
Two months ago, the state adopted a new Construction Zone Safety Plan that allows civilian flaggers, generally paid less than $20 an hour, to control traffic during roadwork.
High school posts health message online
The regional high school posted an online notice to parents last week about a student whose family member may have contracted an infectious illness due to a bacteria that sometimes causes meningitis, an infection of the tissue that covers the brain and spinal cord, or sepsis, an infection of the blood.
The notice, dated November 17, included information on how the bacteria is spread and a public health fact sheet about meningococcal disease. In a phone call last Thursday, Superintendent of Schools James Weiss reported that the student's family member was doing well.
The health message was posted on Edline, a new electronic portal on the high school's website this year that allows parents to access important school records and information about their child.
Principal Steve Nixon said exposure to the person affected by the illness had not occurred in the school building. "We put a message out to try to keep rumors from spreading, while keeping within the limits of health information privacy laws," he said.
The high school utilized Edline in an effort to notify parents, which is a more difficult task with older students, added Superintendent of Schools James Weiss.
"We're struggling with that - if it were an elementary school, it's easy," he said. "Kids take a notice home in their backpacks - it's not a big deal. High school is much more difficult, and we thought we'd try Edline to see if that was going to work."
Parents whose children may have had close contact with the student whose family member was sick most likely already knew about the situation, Mr. Weiss said.
"So this was a general type of announcement to other people, and we did it because we wanted to be proactive and get something out before it hit the 'jungle drums,' as I call it, and people started thinking crazy things," Mr. Weiss explained. "There's no rampant problem at the high school."
Setting up an Edline account requires an activation code. Contact Ruda Stone at 508-693-1033, ext. 126.
Deer shotgun season begins Monday
The two-week deer shotgun season begins Monday, one half hour before sunrise.
While risk to non-hunters is minimal, public safety officials advise people entering wooded areas to be cautious and wear bright colors, preferably blaze orange, particularly at dawn and dusk, when deer and hunters are most active.
Hunting is prohibited within 500 feet of any occupied dwelling or building, without the authorization of the occupant or owner, or within 150 feet from hard-surfaced roadways. Hunters must wear a minimum of 500 square inches of blaze orange on the back, chest, and head.
State wildlife officials said that hunting remains the most effective means of controlling deer, particularly during the shotgun season, which accounts for the majority of the deer killed.
All deer taken during the Vineyard shotgun season must be appropriately tagged and brought to the official deer checking station in the State Forest, or the Wampanoag tribe's headquarters building in Aquinnah.
Any hunting related problems should be reported to the police at 911 or the state environmental police dispatch number at 1-800-632-8075.
As part of its celebration of its 25th publishing year, The Martha's Vineyard Times offers all display advertisers the chance to double the impact of their advertising during the holiday season. Times advertising representative Carrie Blair said this week that, beginning with advertising for the November 26 issue - for which there are early deadlines - and continuing every Thursday in December, Times advertisers can double the size of their display advertising and pay only 25 percent more for the space.
"Huge ads, huge impact, just when Island businesses need to make an impact - it's a good deal," Ms. Blair said this week. "Speak with Danielle Zerbonne, Chris Roberts, or me to get the increased attention you need."
Stina Sayre Design House holds open house
Stina Sayre, a Swedish-born clothing designer whose eclectic creations fuse function with elegance and whimsy, will open her Vineyard Haven design studio for a special holiday showing on Saturday, November 29, from 10 am to 4 pm. Ms. Sayre's studio is tucked into a row of tiny shops across from the Black Dog Tavern on Vineyard Haven harbor. According to a press statement, Ms. Sayre's clothes are handmade on Martha's Vineyard by Ms. Sayre and other skilled artisans.
"For winter I love to create pieces that are warm and soft and sensuous, but also have a little edgy feeling to them," she says.
The Stina Sayre design studio is located at 13 Beach Street Extension across from the Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven. For more information, call 1-508-560-1011 or go to www.stinasayre.com.
PeaceCraft opens its holiday doors
Peacecraft, a nonprofit marketing and educational organization that sells traditional handmade crafts from self-help projects in Latin America, Africa, Asia, Haiti, and the United States, will open its doors for the holiday season at 9 Beach Road in Vineyard Haven next to the Citgo gas station.
Sue Tonry, owner of the storefront located by Five Corners has generously donated her space for the annual holiday sale that benefits the artisans and provides funding for medical, educational, and food programs in the poorest areas of the world.
The inventory includes knit wool gloves, slippers, and mittens from Nepal, nativities and ornaments from Peru, the Philippines, Kenya and India, and jams from Swaziland.
To volunteer or for more information call Margaret at 508-693-0368.
A story published last week in The High School View, "Students work for change," described the Philanthropy Club, a newly organized student club that seeks to connect students with opportunities for community service, contained an incorrect contact email address. The correct address is email@example.com.
A story published in the Nov. 20 issue of The Martha's Vineyard Times, "Eat, drink, and be informed at Oyster Bar Grill" incorrectly identified the man serving wine in the photo, Matthew Ryan, as owner Mike Gillespie. The name of chef Mikey Rottman was spelled incorrectly.