Martha's Vineyard Commission, Chamber presentation to focus on economy
David Augustinho, executive director of the Cape and Islands Workforce Investment Board, will talk about the economy and state funding for local business at a free presentation sponsored by the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce and the Martha's Vineyard Commission Tuesday.
Mr. Augustinho will present data on the current national employment situation, including industry and employment data specific to Martha's Vineyard. He will also provide information about the Workforce Training Fund, a state program that provides local businesses with matching grants to train employees, according to a press release.
Following the presentation, there will be an opportunity for questions. The presentation will be held from 4 to 5:30 pm at the commission offices in Oak Bluffs. Attendees are asked to RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 508-693-0085, ext. 16, by Monday.
Photo by Deborah Alpert-Sylvia
Island soldier home from Iraq
EOCN Craig Sylvia, USN, of Oak Bluffs returned for an Island visit after finishing a six-month tour of duty in Iraq. As he stepped off a Cape Air flight that arrived at the Martha's Vineyard Airport on December 17, family, friends, Island police and fire department personnel, and American Legion members who provided a color guard, were there to greet him.
EOCN Sylvia, a U.S. Navy Seabee, will leave the Island on Sunday to return to duty in Port Hueneme, Calif., where he is assigned to a construction battalion. His sister, Ariel Thomas of Oak Bluffs, said he will work and take classes there until his redeployment in September, possibly to Spain.
EOCN Sylvia is the son of Cindy Curtis of Oak Bluffs and Kevin Sylvia of Vineyard Haven. His brother, AMAN Leigh D. Sylvia, also in the Navy serving as an aircraft structural mechanic, is currently stationed in Brunswick, Maine.
Program offers tips for Island businesses
A program hosted by the Martha's Vineyard Women's Network (MVWN) on January 13 will offer tips on starting up, maintaining, and expanding businesses in today's marketplace.
Scheduled at 7 to 9 am in the Baylies Room of the Old Whaling Church, the breakfast program offers presentations from five funding, corporate structure, and technology experts.
The cost is $15 for MVWN members. The general public is welcome to attend on a first-come, first-served basis, at a cost of $25. For more information and to register, visit www.mvwomensnetwork.org.
Local business leaders on the program include EduComp owner Pat Gregory, Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank vice president Timothy Lowe, and Attorney Marcia Mulford Cini of the Cini Miller Law Office.
Other presenters include Laurie Walsh, a commercial loan officer and business assistance manager at the South Eastern Economic Development (SEED) Corporation, and Cliff Robbins, senior business advisor for the Massachusetts Small Business Development Center.
Ms. Walsh will provide financing advice and personal consultation about loan and technical assistance programs from SEED Corporation, a regional nonprofit economic development corporation that finances all types of small businesses in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.
Mr. Robbins, a management professional and educator with experience in marketing, sales, strategic planning and e-commerce, will offer individual advice and guidance for Vineyard business owners.
Ms. Walsh and Mr. Robbins will be available for half-hour, one-on-one sessions with MVWN members after the program from 9 am to 2 pm. Sessions will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Email Nevette Previd at email@example.com.
Founded in 2007, the MVWN provides continuing business education and networking opportunities for more than 70 members, for the purpose of promoting economic development on Martha's Vineyard. Other 2009 activities planned include a networking event on January 27 and additional monthly programs from February through May.
Gas price decline ends on mainland, continues here
Gasoline prices remained unchanged in the latest AAA survey, ending 15 weeks of consecutive declines. according to the State House News Service. In the January 5, 2009 survey, AAA found the price of a gallon of self-serve, regular unleaded averaged $1.62. That is a nickel below the national average and $1.43 per gallon less than the $3.05 per gallon average that Bay State motorists were paying a year ago.
While gas prices remained unchanged on the mainland they did dip slightly on Martha's Vineyard, according to an informal survey conducted by The Martha's Vineyard Times. Still, Island drivers continued to spend approximately 75 cents more than their Cape counterparts for a gallon of regular at most Island gas stations.
For example, last week the Citgo gas station adjacent to Five Corners in Vineyard Haven and Tisbury Shell a little further down Beach Road were selling a gallon of regular gasoline for $2.49. Yesterday, the price remained at $2.49 at the Tisbury Shell and had dropped to $2.39 at the Citgo station.
Airport Mobil in Edgartown was selling regular at $2.47 a gallon last week and $2.39 this week.
At the Edgartown Depot Corner Mobil, regular was selling for $2.39 last week. No one could be reached by phone at the station yesterday. Close by, Village Market listed regular at $2.43.
In Oak Bluffs, Jim's Texaco was selling regular at $2.49. At DeBettencourt's Mobil regular was $2.34.
Late Wednesday, a man who answered the phone at Up-Island Mobil in West Tisbury would not give prices over the phone. Menemsha Texaco could not be reached.
However, the best bargain was found on Sunday when Up-Island Auto in West Tisbury, as part of a weekly Sunday special, was selling a gallon of regular for $1.93.
Home loans that don't have to be paid back
Pre-applications for a $2 million grant program that offers substantial benefits for home improvements are due February 1. Town officials are encouraging Island residents to attend local workshops that explain the programs, how to apply, and outline the income qualifications. Loans are granted on a first-come, first-served basis.
Up to $35,000 dollars in home improvement loans can be granted for owner-occupied, year-round, or landlord-owned homes. If the owner keeps the home for the 15-year term of the loan, the loan will be completely forgiven. If the home is sold, a portion of the loan must be paid back.
Homeowners who earn less than 80 percent of the median income for Dukes County are eligible. The median income for a family of four is $62,900.
The grant program has proved very successful in Oak Bluffs and Tisbury, and is being expanded to Edgartown, West Tisbury, and Aquinnah next year. Workshops will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 14, at 5 pm at the West Tisbury library, 6 pm at the Edgartown library; and on Thursday, Jan. 15, at 11 am at the Up-Island Council on Aging; and 5:30 pm at Aquinnah Town Hall.
Each workshop is open to residents of any Island town. Loan applications are available at local town halls.
Superintendent's records upkeep approved
In their first meeting of 2009 on Monday night, members of the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School District school committee resolved to do some spring housecleaning.
At last month's meeting, the school committee gave superintendent James Weiss approval to seek proposals for records management for both the regional high school district and the Up-Island Regional School District (UIRSD).
In follow-up Monday, Mr. Weiss said he received a proposal from King Information Systems, a records management company. Showing photos to illustrate his point, Mr. Weiss said that because records in the basement and storage areas in his building are such a mess, the company estimated the project would cost $20,000 to $25,000, depending on what they find "in the dark reaches."
The proposal includes reviewing the financial documents, sorting and organizing them, and destroying those that are no longer needed. Some of the financial records date back at least 20 years.
King Information Systems also will train the superintendent's staff on what records to keep and how to store them going forward, Mr. Weiss said. He suggested that since the regional high school district has more records, it should pay two-thirds of the cost, using excess and deficiency funds, and the UIRSD pay one-third.
"You ought to find a way to do this cheaper - this is an outrageous amount of money," school committee member Roxanne Ackerman of Aquinnah told him. She said she has experience in records management and could come in and show his staff how to do the job. Mr. Weiss said no one on his staff has time to do the project, even during the summer.
After discussing several suggestions from Ms. Ackerman, the school committee agreed they would prefer to use a professional service and, with the exception of Ms. Ackerman, voted to approve the proposal. Mr. Weiss also will seek the UIRSD school committee's approval.
In other business, Martha's Vineyard Regional High School principal Stephen Nixon said that he has hired Joe Thibodeau, co-owner of the Vineyard Auto School, as the new driver's education instructor.
The next Martha's Vineyard Regional High School school committee meeting is February 9.
Edgartown closes Cape Poge to scalloping; yield is down
Edgartown selectmen, on the unanimous recommendation of the town's shellfish committee, voted to close Cape Poge to scalloping beginning tomorrow, January 9.
Several commercial fishermen attended the selectmen's hearing, opposing the recommendation to close Cape Pogue and other Edgartown waters.
“It was a tough choice," said shellfish constable Paul Bagnall. “There are a few adults left, but there's a lot more seed. It's a hard row to hoe in the wintertime, even in the best of years. On the other hand, people want to see the resource protected."
Although the commercial season remains open in the outer harbor and Katama Bay scallops are not abundant.
Mr. Bagnall is still compiling figures for the season's yield to date, but expects the final total will be down significantly.
“It wasn't anywhere near the year before, which was about 5,000 bushels. We probably did about half that," said Mr. Bagnall.
There are signs that the species is rebounding in new areas, according to Mr. Bagnall. Adult scallops were harvested this year in several Cape Cod towns, and in Buzzard's Bay, where no scallops have been harvested for many years.
Also encouraging is an abundance of seed scallops, both in terms of future yield and improvements in water quality.
“I haven't seen Cape Pogue have that many seed scallops in a good 10 years," said Mr. Bagnall. “In terms of a regional picture, it's good news. Scallops are finicky in what they like for water quality."
He cautions that an abundance of seed is far short of a guarantee for higher yields next season. He does predict that the wholesale price will be lower next year, because supply is likely to increase.
“Isn't that the curse of the fisherman? When the fish are in, the price is low."
Cumberland Farms gives ambulance service $1,000
In keeping with its annual tradition of supporting the Last Night First Day celebration on Martha's Vineyard, Cumberland Farms presented a $1,000 donation to the Tisbury Ambulance Association.
Part of a network of retail stores and gas stations and associated distribution services that span 11 states across the Northeast and Florida, the local Cumberland Farms is located adjacent to the Vineyard Haven post office.
Boston lawyer hangs out Vineyard shingle
Jay F. Theise, a Boston-based lawyer and new Aquinnah homeowner, announced that he is now meeting with clients by appointment on Martha's Vineyard.
Mr. Theise said his focus is on personal rights and business needs, including general litigation in state, federal, and bankruptcy courts, estate and trust administration, general business and real estate development work, mediation and arbitration and asset protection and recovery.
"The network I have created through my national, and in many instances international, practice provides my clients with access to legal specialists of the highest ability and standing in the profession, virtually anywhere in the world," said Mr. Theise.
For more information, call 508-955-9015.