Parking, Sengekontacket top Oak Bluffs agenda
The number of short-term parking spaces will increase on Circuit and Kennebec Avenues, after a vote by selectmen Tuesday. The one hour parking limit on Circuit Avenue in the main business district will be extended to Uncas Avenue, near the Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank branch.
The 15-minute parking limit that now applies to spaces on Kennebec Avenue adjacent to the Oak Bluffs Post Office will be extended up to Samoset Avenue, near the back of daRosa's. Time limits are in effect from 9 am to 6 pm.
"The reason behind it is to allow people to get in and out of town, quick stuff on Kennebec Avenue, and a little longer on Circuit Avenue," said selectman Duncan Ross, who also serves on the Roads Committee.
Selectmen took action on the recommendation of the town's roads committee. The roads committee held a public hearing on the proposed changes on May 13, and unanimously voted the recommendation at its June 10 meeting.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, the board heard a report from the Joint Committee on Sengekontacket, formed in 2007 by selectmen in Edgartown and Oak Bluffs to address water quality issues in the pond.
Because of high bacteria levels in the water, the state Division of Marine Fisheries has declared the pond a conditionally approved area, and prohibited shellfishing in the summer months over the past two years.
Members of the committee outlined the efforts to clean the pond, and various scientific testing and studies underway.
"I'm sorry to report that we had some samples flunk at the end of May," said Edgartown Shellfish Constable Paul Bagnall. He said water samples taken in Major's Cove constantly fail water quality standard tests. "The time of year leads me to believe it's a wildlife situation."
Past testing has indicated that a large flock of cormorants nesting on Sarson's Island is the source of some pollution. Septic systems around the pond are also believed to be a large part of the problem.
The committee reported that permits to dredge a channel between the pond's two ocean inlets at big bridge and little bridge should be in place by the fall. The annual town meeting voted in April to borrow $500,000 for the dredging project.
Chief Toomey says no retirement now
West Tisbury police Chief Beth Toomey said reports that she plans to retire by year-end are conjecture at this point.
"It's all rumor," the 15-year veteran chief said. "I've said I'm considering retirement. That's what 57-year old people consider. But when I retire I will write a letter to the board [of selectmen], and they will announce it. That's the way it will happen."
Ms. Toomey has 27 years under the state law enforcement officer pension plan.
"It's a healthy thing [to discuss retirement plans], and I owe it to the people and to the town. They showed great confidence in me when they appointed a woman and a patrolman to this job 15 years ago," she told The Times this week. "I am focusing on my job. This has been and will be a difficult summer."
Ms. Toomey recently received a master's degree in clinical mental health counseling from Antioch University in Keene New Hampshire.
West Tisbury adopts new pay plan
West Tisbury town employees will be paid every other Friday, beginning on July 1. Selectmen approved the new schedule at their meeting on June 10.
Workers are currently paid on the first and 15th of the month, regardless of the day of week.
The new plan has been under discussion by town department managers and employees since January, town accountant Bruce Stone said. "Employees will be able to plan better because they will be paid on the same day of the week," he said, adding that the new schedule also allows the town to pay for work completed. The cycle now requires the town to pay in advance at times, depending on the day of week on which paydays occur.
Selectmen also spent an hour wrestling, without action, on the town's 11 pages of taxi regulations. Selectmen, police chief Beth Toomey and representatives of Mario's and Bluefish taxi companies agreed that an overhaul was needed for what selectmen Richard Knabel described as "11 pages of densely-worded, highly subjective prose."
Selectmen agreed to continue discussion on a new taxi code on July 1. They plan to rewrite the regulations, and then schedule a public hearing to discuss the proposed plan.
In other action, selectmen voted to allow a six-month planning period for the Island Housing trust to complete arrangements to move a house donated by the Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank to an affordable housing lot in the Bailey Park development off Great Plains Road.
The bank recently purchased the house, which is adjacent to the bank's branch on State road near Up-Island Cronig's and was the site of a former art galley. The bank plans to build new offices on the site after the house is moved.
No quorum in Edgartown, no payment for MVC
Edgartown cancelled a special town meeting scheduled for June 18, after falling well short of a quorum on a rainy Thursday night. A total of 154 voters were needed to proceed with the five-article warrant. At 7:24 pm, moderator Jeff Norton told the assembled crowd that their numbers were about 30 voters short.
Town administrator Pam Dolby said Friday that another town meeting must be scheduled in the fall to address payment of the town's $274,000 assessment from the Martha's Vineyard Commission. Voters rejected that payment when it was presented as a Proposition 2.5 override ballot question at town elections in April, even though town officials concede Edgartown is legally obligated to pay.
The first article on the special town meeting warrant Thursday asked voters to pay that bill from the town's free cash account.
"The free cash we have now will roll over," Ms. Dolby said. Whether the town will ask voters to pay the $274,000 from the free cash account, or appropriate the money from its operating budget depends on the severity of anticipated state budget cuts.
"It depends on the numbers," Ms. Dolby said . "We just have to look at what the state cuts between now and the fall."
Ms. Dolby anticipates new articles will be added to the next special town meeting warrant, to deal with downward revised revenue projections for the fiscal year 2010 budget which begins July 1. That budget was approved this April at Edgartown's annual town meeting.
Oak Bluffs Police arrest six as summer begins
Oak Bluffs Police responded to 72 calls for service and made six arrests, according to a weekend log provided by police. The calls included a report of shoplifting, in which stolen merchandise was placed into a baby carriage containing two infants, police said.
Just after 7 pm Friday, police responded to a report of a man on County Road bleeding badly from the head. The man told officers that another man he identified as Andre Carpaneda struck him several times in the head with a brick.
The victim was transported to the hospital and treated for his injuries, police said. Police officers subsequently arrested 42-year-old Andre Carpaneda for assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
At 1:13 am Saturday morning, police responded to a report of a fight between two individuals on Washington Avenue. When police arrived, one of the combatants began yelling and swearing at the officers, according to the report, despite their efforts to calm him down. Police arrested Carlos Johnson, 22, of Tisbury, for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
At 3 am that same morning, an alarmed homeowner called police and reported that an intoxicated male was inside his house. When police arrived, they found a 19-year-old male who was "highly intoxicated and confused as to his whereabouts."
The young man was so intoxicated, police said, that he entered the wrong house thinking it was his lodging for the night. Police placed him in protective custody.
About 3 pm that afternoon, police went to Basics Clothing on Circuit Avenue to investigate a report of two women shoplifting. When police arrived, store owner Lori Welch said that Melissa Boyd, 19, of Edgartown had stolen the green T-shirt she was wearing.
Ms. Welch said that Michelle Plesser, 22, who was pushing two babies in a baby carriage, was also involved in the thefts.
Ms. Plesser said she was not involved and consented to a search of the carriage, according to the police report. A search of the carriage turned up a pullover sweatshirt, two pairs of flip-flops and an additional shirt identified as belonging to Nautilus Trading Company/Ocean T-Shirts and South Beach Apparel, police said. In all police found five items with a total value of approximately $104.
Police brought both women to the police station for questioning. Ms. Boyd admitted to stealing all the items and said that Ms. Plesser had assisted by using the carriage as a decoy and hiding place, according to the police report.
Police arrested Ms. Boyd, 19, for shoplifting. Police decided to summons rather than arrest Ms. Plesser, because of the presence of the two infants.
Hospital confirms swine flu cases now total five
The Martha's Vineyard Hospital has treated five confirmed cases of H1N1 influenza (swine flu) in the month of June, Tim Walsh, hospital chief executive officer, confirmed this week.
Two of the case required hospitalization. Three were treated in the emergency room. In all cases, the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) confirmed the diagnosis, based on test results. As with all cases of flu, Mr. Walsh said, the swine flu virus can be dangerous if a person is in poor physical condition. He said in many other instances, the swine flue strain results in nothing more than a normal case of flu.
Mr. Walsh said a 42-year-old woman was transferred to Boston on June 2, and a five-year-old female was transferred to Boston on June 13. He explained that in almost all cases, when children must be hospitalized, they are transferred to Boston, to take advantage of specialized care.
The other three cases were all treated and released. They included a 10-year-old on June 9; a 10-year-old on June 10; and two-year-old on June 11.
DPH no longer provides daily updates on H1N1 cases.
In the most recent weekly report, dated June 18, DPH said the level of influenza activity in Massachusetts is still much higher than normal at this time of year.
DPH said there had been 1,273 confirmed cases of H1N1 flu in Massachusetts, with 99 people hospitalized and one death since the outbreak began.
"Flu outbreaks evolve in unpredictable ways; it is impossible to know whether this outbreak will decrease, remain the same, or grow in coming weeks, and whether the illness will remain at its current severity which, on the whole has been relatively mild for most people," DPH said. "Some severe cases may occur in people with underlying risk factors such as young children, the elderly, and people with chronic medical conditions."
Environmental Police eye boating OUI
The Massachusetts Environmental Police (MEP) will increase its efforts to raise awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence (BUI), through training and enforcement.
"While boating is typically a safe and fun form of recreation, the fun is easily ruined when drugs and alcohol are involved," MEP Director Colonel Aaron Gross said, in a statement issued to the press. "We would rather arrest people than have to tell their families they're never coming back."
This weekend MEP, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other marine law enforcement agencies in Massachusetts and across the country will carry out "Operation Dry Water." According to a press release, law enforcement agencies will intensify their efforts to detect boat operators who are operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol with focused enforcement patrols and breath tests throughout the Commonwealth's recreational waterways.
MEP warns boaters that operating a recreational vehicle with a blood alcohol Content of .08 percent or higher is against the law in Massachusetts, as it is under most state and federal laws. For more information, go to mass.gov/dfwele/dle/boatrvsafe.htm.
Oak Bluffs will host Possible Dreams Auction
The 2009 Possible Dreams Auction, the annual celebrity-studded Martha's Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) fundraiser, will move to Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs. The event will take place on Monday. August 3. under tents to avoid any weather-related problems.
"We're delighted to host this major community event, an anchor of Vineyard summers for 30 years," Oak Bluffs Park Commission chairman Nancy Phillips said. "Oak Bluffs welcomes the auction and Community Services to our town and we look forward to being 'home' to the auction for years to come."
For 29 years, the event was held on Edgartown Harbor in the Harborside Inn courtyard. But in 2007 a summer storm resulted in a one-day postponement and many patrons including a number of well-heeled bidders and celebrities were unable to attend. The total amount raised, including admission and online auction proceeds, was $531,000. Proceeds for 2006, long-time auctioneer Art Buchwald's last year on the podium, hit a record $872,172.
The auction features "dream" items not normally available for purchase. For example, in the past singer/songwriter and Island resident Carly Simon offered to provide lunch and sing a song for the high bidder on her dream.
"The Possible Dreams Auction has raised nearly $8 million during its first three decades," DiAnn Ray, co-chairman with Jim Shane of the 2009 Possible Dreams Auction, said. "This funding has been essential to the services that MVCS provides annually to 6,000 Island residents."
The auction tent will open at 4 pm and bidding will start promptly at 5 pm. An elegant celebration dinner will take place in a separate tent at Ocean Park following the auction, according to a press release.
Auction admission tickets are $25 and will be available online through MVTickets and at shops across the island. Tickets for the dinner afterwards are $300 per person.
For more information, visit www.possibledreamsauction.org.
Aquinnah launches official town website
It took a while, but the town of Aquinnah has joined the ranks of Island towns with interactive websites. The town launched the site, www.aquinnah-ma.gov, on June 15.
The site includes a town calendar, announcements, notices, information about locally owned businesses, documents and bylaws and library events, according to a press release.
Aquinnah webmaster Liz Witham said that, in addition to the usual town website fare, the website also hosts a "community corner" where residents can discuss various topics, and share favorite recipes or photos of town. She expects to add more information about points of interest in town, such as the Gay Head Light and the Vanderhoop Homestead.
"The opportunity to create an online environment for my hometown is one I've really enjoyed," Ms. Witham, a documentary filmmaker, said. "As a resident, I'm also finding it's wonderful to have a virtual environment where the various facets of town life can all come together in one place. We've really never had something quite like it before."
Animal Shelter to celebrate pets
The Animal Shelter of Martha's Vineyard will celebrate Island pets, from noon until 2 pm Saturday, at Sunset Park in Oak Bluffs.
All pets - dogs, cats, parrots, sheep or you name it - are welcome as the Animal Shelter celebrates how these companions add to our lives, said a press release. Father Michael Nagel of the Good Shepherd Parish will bless all pets, and there'll be demonstrations and other activities.
There will also be an open house at the Animal Shelter of Martha's Vineyard, on Pennywise Path off the
Edgartown Vineyard Haven Road, from 10 am to noon and 3 to 5 pm. For more information, call 508-627-8662.
SSA looks ahead to schedules and budget
The Steamship Authority met June 16, at Nantucket. The agenda included a look ahead to the 2010 winter/spring boat schedules and next year's operating budget. Current budget guidelines propose no rate increases in 2010.
The members last week approved a budget policy statement that management will use as guidelines in the preparation of the SSA's 2010 operating budget.
The board asked management to base projected operating revenues on actual traffic statistics for the most recent 12-month period; properly maintain terminals and vessels; and identify projected training expenses, health care and insurance costs in the budget.
"As a last resort," the statement said, "the 2010 operating budget will include additional revenues needed from proposed rate increases in order for the Authority to adequately cover next year's projected cost of service."
Management is expected to present a preliminary budget for discussion at the September board meeting followed by a vote in October on the final version.
Management presented the 2010 winter and spring operating schedules for public review prior to a scheduled vote next month, according to a synopsis of the meeting prepared by the SSA.
The proposed schedules are largely the same as this year except that the winter schedule, which ended on April 3, 2009 will run 10 additional days in 2010. The SSA also proposes to once again berth the Island Home overnight at Vineyard Haven on Friday and Saturday nights.
That adjustment, meant to save fuel and crewing costs, would eliminate the 9:30 pm trip from Vineyard Haven on Friday and Saturday nights and the 6 am trip from Woods Hole on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Veteran Island banker joins Edgartown National
One month after he lost his job in a round of layoffs, Paul Watts, an Island banker and well-known community volunteer has a new position as senior vice president and commercial loan officer at Edgartown National Bank.
"Paul and I have shared backgrounds in community banking and a philosophy of personalized service that only community banks can deliver," Fielding Moore, president and chief executive officer, said in a press release. "Mr. Watts has distinguished himself with professionalism and outstanding dedication to the Island community. Paul is a most welcome addition to our Edgartown National Bank Team."
Mr. Watts moved to the Island in 1989 to work for Martha's Vineyard National Bank. Over the past 20 years that bank has undergone several ownership changes. In 1994, Compass Bank bought it and renamed it. In 2004, Sovereign Bank acquired Compass Bank and renamed the Vineyard branch Bank of Martha's Vineyard, and just last year Spanish owned Banco Santander, the fifth largest bank in the world with international operations in more than 40 countries, bought Sovereign, but kept the name of the bank the same.
At the time, Mr. Watts assured customers that it would be a seamless transition and that the management team would remain intact. Then came the banking crisis and a round of layoffs.
Mr. Watts has worked with many Island charities and non-profit organizations, including the Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Martha's Vineyard, where he met many staff members of the Edgartown National Bank.
"I'm thrilled to be back in community banking," said Mr. Watts in a press release. "It is a refreshing change to be working for a community bank with local decision making and the flexibility to serve local banking needs."
The Edgartown National Bank is an independent community bank based in Edgartown, with branches around the Island.
Fast ride to Guard's Blue Angels air show
The Millennium fast ferry, which operates between Oak Bluffs and Quonset Point, Rhode Island, is offering discount fares for travel to the Rhode Island National Guard open house and air show, featuring the famed US Navy Blue Angels and the Canadian Snowbirds, this Saturday and Sunday.
The ferry leaves Oak Bluffs at 10:30 am and returns at 7 pm. Tickets are $20 for adults and $15 for children and admission to the show is free. For more information, call 401-295-4040 or go to www.riairshow.org.
Air charter service offers New York flights
Twin Cities Air Service, a full service air charter business, offers flights between New York City and Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, using a Cessna 402 aircraft that features all leather, executive club-style seating.
The company says charter service provides flexibility, efficiency, and privacy. The cost of a one-way flight package, for up to seven people is $1,500.
Owner Nate Humphrey, a former Cape Air/Nantucket Airlines pilot, purchased the company, in business since 1992, in 2002. Mr. Humphrey is no stranger to Vineyard skies.
In his spare time, while working for Cape Air, he flew Classic Aviators unmistakable red bi-plane. Part of the reason he wanted to introduce Vineyard service is the fondness he retains for the Island, according to a press release. Call 800-564-3882 or go to flycharter.com.
This photo of MVRHS senior Katharine Clarke was mistakenly omitted from the Class of 2009 supplement, published on June 18.
In the June 18 issue of The Times, the article "Chilmark Spring Water molds a better bottle" incorrectly identified one of the owners as Fred Dunkl. Mr. Dunkl's first name is Frank. Always has been.
Tabitha Clark's name was spelled incorrectly in The Times' High School Graduation supplement published on June 18.