Fin Com group seeks budget restraint
The Martha's Vineyard Finance Association, (MVFA,) an organization of the finance and advisory committees of the six Island towns, last week called on municipal employees to help hold down wage increases.
The all-Island FinCom met on January 21 and issued the following statement, signed by MVFA chairman Jon Snyder of Tisbury:
"We are in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Across the country, many have lost their jobs. Retirement nest eggs have disappeared. A return to prosperity is not around the corner.
On the Vineyard, all six towns and all the Island-wide organizations are facing tight budgets that may mean layoffs over the coming year.
"These are tough times, and in the past Vineyarders have come together as one in tough times for the good of all. In this spirit of community, the Martha's Vineyard Finance Association asks all public employees - town, county, schools, Martha's Vineyard Commission, VTA, et al - to forego their usual Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2009.
"Wages are the largest component of our town and regional budgets. COLAs are intended to compensate for inflation, but prices, particularly gasoline and heating costs, have been falling.
"We recognize that the majority of employees are members of unions and are working under contracts that were signed when the economy was in much better shape. Legally, they can ignore our request. However, the MVFA feels strongly that it is unfair to ask the few non-union employees to give up their COLAs voluntarily while union employees take pay increases.
"The COLA might add a couple of percent to each person's income, but those few percents add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars across the island. Foregoing the COLA would save all six towns money and would help preserve as many jobs as possible."
U.S. Rep. Delahunt visits Island officials today
10th District Congressman William Delahunt is scheduled to travel to the Vineyard today to brief local and county officials on the latest developments concerning the economic stimulus package voted on yesterday in Washington.
The meeting is a part of an ongoing series of forums that Mr. Delahunt has hosted in the district on the status of the stimulus package. Mr. Delahunt will discuss overall funding allocations and how towns and other organizations can apply for funding.
The meeting is hosted by the Martha's Vineyard Selectmen's Association, the Dukes County Commissioners, and the Martha's Vineyard Commission.
The meeting is scheduled for 11 am at the Martha's Vineyard Regional Transit Authority in Edgartown, at 11 A Street in the airport business park.
Arboretum completes conservation assessment
The Polly Hill Arboretum in West Tisbury recently completed its second conservation assessment through a grant administered by the Institute of Museum and Library Service's (IMLS) Heritage Preservation Program.
This program provides a general assessment of an institution's collections through a self-study questionnaire, followed up by a two-day onsite visit by a professional collections conservator, according to a press release.
Executive director Tim Boland said, "The assessment helps the arboretum become more valuable to the museum world, but more importantly helps us build the capacity to be more effective in our community."
A recent grant award from IMLS will pay for Tom Clark, collections and ground manager, to travel to the forum, "It's Alive! Petals to Primates: Preservation Challenges of Living Collections," in February. The conference will address many of the recommendations from Mr. Bristol's recent report.
For more information, call 508-693-9426 or go to www.pollyhillarboretum.org.
Tisbury Democrats to caucus
Registered Tisbury Democrats will hold a caucus at the Tisbury Senior Center, 34 Pine Tree Road, Vineyard Haven at 10:30 am, Saturday, February 7, to elect six delegates and three alternates to the 2009 Massachusetts Democratic Convention on June 6 at the MassMutual Center in Springfield. The caucus is open to all registered Democrats in Vineyard Haven. Those not elected may apply to be add-on delegates as youth, minority, or disabled.
For more information, contact Robert Sawyer at 508-693-5900 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Edgartown Bank takes steps to protect debit accounts
A breach of computer records at a national company that processes card payments for restaurants, retailers, and other merchants has created headaches for Edgartown National Bank.
The bank has been reissuing new debit cards to customers ever since it learned of a breach in the computers of Heartland Payment Systems.
According to a published report in USA Today, last week the company disclosed that intruders hacked into the computers it uses to process 100 million payment card transactions per month for 175,000 merchants.
The company discovered the hack after Visa and MasterCard notified it of suspicious transactions stemming from accounts linked to its systems. Investigators then found a data-stealing program planted by the thieves.
Greg Berks, Edgartown National Bank vice president and chief operations officer, said the problem originated with Heartland. Although no fraud or suspicious activity has been reported, Edgartown National decided to be proactive and cancel existing cards and reissue new ones. "We just want to make sure our customers are safe," said Mr. Berks.
The breach was specific to account numbers and did not contain personal information such as addresses and social security numbers, according to information posted on the Edgartown National Bank website (edgartownnationalbank.com).
Plans unveiled for new Café Moxie
Plans for a new Café Moxie building, at 48 Main Street in Tisbury, moved forward with a vote last week by the Martha's Vineyard Commission to forego reviewing the project as a development of regional impact (DRI). The Martha's Vineyard Commission's decision gave owners Paul Currier and Michael Ryan a green light to proceed with local permitting.
A fire last July 4 destroyed the Café Moxie building and severely damaged the Bunch of Grapes bookstore, which shared a common wall.
Plans call for a three-story building to include a food prep area in the basement, a dining room on the Main Street level, and two one-bedroom apartments on the third floor. Revenue from the apartments could help offset a loss in profits from reduced seating in the restaurant, due to decreased floor space because of stricter setback requirements, Mr. Barwick said.
He told the Martha's Vineyard Commission he referred the Café Moxie project, because it triggered two items on the DRI checklist, an increase in intensity of use and an increase in overall size.
Tisbury planning board co-chairman Henry Stephenson expressed concerns at the hearing about the building's design which, he said, the planning board considered a "cottage style" more appropriate for Oak Bluffs than downtown Vineyard Haven.
Mr. Stephenson said he raised the issues with the Martha's Vineyard Commission because Tisbury has no architectural review board. However, during discussion at the Martha's Vineyard Commission hearing, Mr. Stephenson said the building owners and architect Peter Breese were willing to continue a dialogue intended to satisfy the planning board's concerns. He said the planning board does not want to delay the project.
Mr. Ryan, also the owner of Island Woodworks and contractor on the new building project, said he aims to finish the restaurant interior and the building shell in time for a new Café Moxie to open July 4, on the one-year anniversary of the fire.
Community rallies for Codding family after fire
An account has been opened for those who want to donate to Patty and Lewis (better known as Toby) Codding, whose Codding Lane home was destroyed by fire on January 20.
Donations can be made to the Patricia and Lewis Codding Fund at any Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank branch.
Sandi Hakala, one of the family friends helping to organize donations, said the Codding family is overwhelmed by the kindness of their friends and neighbors.
"They're pretty much set for clothing and food - people were incredibly generous," said Ms. Hakala. "Money will always come in handy down the road."
Ms. Hakala said the couple's many friends have offered support, while several Island merchants helped out with clothing, supplies, and prescription medicines. "Our community is amazing," said Ms. Hakala.
Many Islanders are offering support and services through the popular social networking site Facebook. A group called "Helping the Coddings," was established, and in the first few days, more than 234 people joined. They have offered everything from construction help to disc jockey services for a future fundraiser.
Martha's Vineyard Commission asks for share of Cape Wind royalties
The Martha's Vineyard Commission wants state lawmakers to share royalties from the Cape Wind project. Acting on a commission vote, Mark London, Martha's Vineyard Commission executive director, made the request in a January 28 letter to Senator Robert O'Leary and Representative Tim Madden.
"In that the impacts of the Cape Wind project will most directly affect the Cape and Islands," Mr. London wrote, "the Martha's Vineyard Commission supports the proposal that a portion of the project royalties received by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts be distributed to the Cape and Islands to help offset these impacts, and that the Commonwealth establish a mechanism for receiving and equitably distributing all royalties."
The Department of the Interior's Minerals Management Service (MMS) is expected to rule favorably on the 130-turbine wind farm planned for Horseshoe Shoal. The average anticipated production from the proposed wind facility could provide approximately 75 percent of the electricity demand for Cape Cod and the Islands, MMS concluded.
Tisbury selectmen net shellfish committee
After casting their nets for two new shellfish advisory committee volunteers, the Tisbury selectmen chose Thomas Searle and James Tilton, both commercial fishermen. The seven applicants also included John Custer, Doron Katzman, Ray Lincoln, Dr. Henry Nieder, and Bill Sweeney.
The new appointees will fill two slots on the committee, one recently added by the selectmen and another vacated by the resignation of Charles Conroy. Selectman chairman Denys Wortman winnowed the applicants by asking if they would be able to attend meetings held on the third Wednesday each month at noon. Mr. Wortman said yesterday that the meeting time is not negotiable for new members, because it is one that works for the current committee.
Selectman Tristan Israel suggested making the final selections on the basis of how long the applicants have lived in Tisbury, with Mr. Searle, Mr. Tilton and Mr. Sweeney the most senior. The selectmen offered Mr. Sweeney a slot as an alternate on the committee, which he declined in favor of possibly serving on the Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Committee. Mr. Lincoln agreed to serve as the alternate instead.
In other business, the selectmen acknowledged a letter from department of public works director Fred LaPiana telling them that Ken Garde has resigned as a board of public works (BPW) commissioner. Mr. Garde continues to serve on the board of health. The selectmen plan to advertise for candidates to replace Mr. Garde and will conduct interviews on February 10, at 6 pm, in a joint meeting with the BPW commissioners.
In follow-up to business from January 13, selectman Tristan Israel asked the board to reconsider its sponsorship of a warrant article regarding a home rule petition for beer and wine sales. Since the article was submitted as a petition, Mr. Israel said it is not possible for the selectmen to assume its sponsorship. The selectmen voted to withdraw their support.
Fund set up for Sally Sylvia
A fund has been established for the benefit of Sally (Habekost) Sylvia, daughter of Priscilla and Fred Thifault of Vineyard Haven. Ms. Sylvia has been diagnosed with a serious medical condition that will require surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and an extensive recovery period.
Ms. Sylvia is the manager of Martha's Vineyard Sun Self Storage, Sun Island Delivery, Martha's Vineyard Cape Cod Trailer Storage, and Old Colony Management Storage. Ms. Sylvia's family has appealed for tax-deductible donations, which may be made to the law office of attorney George Brush, in the name of You've Got a Friend, P.O. Box 1317, West Tisbury, MA 02575. Include Ms. Sylvia's name in the memo section of the check.