Oak Bluffs selectmen mull layoffs of five employees
The Oak Bluffs selectmen met in executive session following the public portion of the board's regular meeting Tuesday evening, to discuss matters pertaining to collective bargaining, and a lawsuit. The executive session, closed to the public, was to discuss layoffs of town employees.
The town faces an estimated $500,000 deficit in the fiscal year budget that began just two months ago, on July 1.
In the open portion of the meeting, town administrator Michael Dutton urged the board to act soon on the layoffs, which he previously said would likely involve five town employees. "I'd recommend taking action as quickly as possible," he said. "I don't like that, but by the first week of September, we should have our ducks in a row."
Once employees are notified of pending layoffs, the board's action in executive session will become part of the public record.
Also at Tuesday's meeting, the board agreed to address a growing dispute over amplified music in the pedestrian mall between Circuit Avenue and Kennebec Avenue. Selectmen reported that while some shop owners like the crowds generated by the musical performances, they say the loud level often interferes with business transactions and conversation inside nearby stores.
Selectmen voted to issue a letter of reprimand, to Sharky's Cantina, on the recommendation of police chief Erik Blake. Sharky's was cited for serving three intoxicated patrons, who were underage. Mr. Blake's recommendation noted that the popular restaurant has had no prior problems.
Tisbury selectmen extend chief's appointment
The Tisbury selectmen approved extending Officer Dan Hanavan's appointment as interim police chief at a meeting Tuesday night at the Katherine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven.
Chief Hanavan was appointed interim chief through October 12 after former police chief John Cashin left his position in July. The selectmen voted to extend Chief Hanavan's appointment to January 31, according to town administrator John Bugbee.
The selectmen made their decision in relation to a memorandum dated August 21 from consultant Robert Wasserman, who was hired to review police operations and management after Mr. Cashin's departure.
Mr. Wasserman's memo suggested the selectmen have three options in regard to hiring a new police chief, given recent discussions about the potential for a merger between the Tisbury and Oak Bluffs police departments.
Those options include hiring a new chief for Tisbury, appointing a single chief to oversee both police forces without merging the two departments, or totally merging the two agencies into a single department.
"We're all very happy with the job Chief Hanavan has been doing," selectman chairman Tristan Israel said in a call yesterday. "I think at this point we're going to look at some options about the viability of working with Oak Bluffs on some kind of mutual cooperation, so we thought it would be better to postpone any long conversation about a local police chief until we do that."
In other business, a lengthy discussion took place about relocating town hall annex operations in the event voters approve the construction of a new emergency services facility on the site.
Several town hall annex employees weighed in with comments, Mr. Bugbee said. The selectmen agreed to start their September 8 meeting early, at 5 pm, to discuss all of the options with annex employees, Planning Board members, and other town officials.
Chilmark woman injured in car accident
A Chilmark woman was injured Monday afternoon when she fell asleep at the wheel and struck a stone pillar beside State Road, according to West Tisbury police.
Susan Kauver was transported by Tri-Town ambulance to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital. The West Tisbury Fire Department used the "jaws of life" device to extricate Ms. Kauver from the 2000 Toyota Rav4, which flipped up on its side after the impact.
Information on the extent of her injuries is not available, because of health care privacy laws.
West Tisbury police issued three citations, seeking charges of negligent operation, marked lane violation, and failure to inspect a motor vehicle against Ms. Kauver.
The accident happened in front of 628 State Road, shortly before 5 pm Monday. Police from Tisbury and Chilmark were called in to help divert traffic. Police stopped all traffic on State Road, from Old County Road to North Road, for nearly an hour.
Schooner Amistad makes port in Vineyard Haven
The U.S. Freedom Schooner Amistad, a replica of the infamous slave ship whose African prisoners revolted against their captors in 1839, is visiting at the Tisbury Wharf in Vineyard Haven until September 6.
Headquartered in New Haven, Conn., Amistad is the sailing representative of an internationally recognized nonprofit educational organization. She is distinguished as Connecticut's State Flagship and Tall Ship Ambassador, according to Amistad America chairman of the board Fredrica Gray.
The 140-foot schooner was built at Mystic Seaport in 2000. She is made from 11 different types of wood, including iroko, which is native to Sierra Leone - the homeland of the captured Africans who revolted on the original slave ship.
Ms. Gray said the ship's builders "tried to incorporate the Diaspora into the boat," and she added that the Amistad America is now an educational vessel that links a classroom experience with an adventure for college students.
"Our job," Ms. Gray said, "is to teach lessons inherent in the Amistad story and about the struggle to keep people free. If you think about it, there is no black history, and no white history - our history is inexplicably bound up together."
This fall, the Amistad will sail for the Caribbean for a 14-nation "Caribbean heritage tour." She will return to Connecticut in the summer of 2010. The aim of the Caribbean tour is to promote an exchange of ideas through an examination of the history of the slave trade and the African Diaspora, according to a recent press release.
While in Vineyard Haven, the Amistad will host two afternoon sails each day from September 1 to September 5. The day sails are scheduled from 12 noon to 2 pm, with an hour break, and then from 3 pm to 5 pm. Tickets will cost $40 for adults and $20 for children. For more information, visit amistadamerica.org.
Dredge to be launched at Edgartown Great Pond
Edgartown's Great Pond Foundation has acquired Nessie, a portable cutterhead dredge, to increase the effectiveness of the Edgartown Great Pond's openings to the sea, according to a press statement. The openings help improve the water quality and health of the pond. Last year, the foundation leased Nessie and tested her. She performed well, creating a channel that improved the quality of subsequent openings.
Dredging is one of several helpful efforts, cited in the Massachusetts Estuaries Project Report, to reduce the nitrogen load into the pond (from fertilizers, septic systems and agriculture) and enlarge oyster populations. Limiting future build-out in the 4,500-acre watershed and sewering of high density residential neighborhoods will also help.
The Great Pond Foundation will launch Nessie at 5 pm on September 2 at Wilson's Landing in Edgartown. The ceremony is open to the public. Attendees are encouraged to come by boat to join the flotilla as a fitting form of transportation for this event. If not by boat, carpool, since parking is limited.
According to foundation president Tom Wallace, "Our funding goal is $900,000 - and thanks to the generosity of the pond's residents, neighbors and friends - we are almost there. We have commitments of $700,000, and $626,650 has been received. We are confident that even in these troubled economic times, we will reach our goal." Donations are welcome at PO Box 2005, Edgartown, MA 02539. Great Pond Foundation is a 501(c) 3 organization and may be reached at 508.627.7222 or at GreatPondFoundation.org.
Tisbury MCAD complaint amended
Tisbury Police Officer Kelly R. Kershaw filed an amendment to her complaint of sexual discrimination, harassment, and retaliation with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination (MCAD).
Ms. Kershaw's amended complaint requests that former Tisbury Police Chief John Cashin and Tisbury town administrator John Bugbee be named individually as respondents.
As reported earlier, notice of an MCAD investigation of Officer Kershaw's complaint, dated April 7, was served on April 28 to respondents including the town of Tisbury, the Tisbury Police Department, and Sgt. Timothy Stobie ("Tisbury officer files MCAD charge," MV Times, May 7).
In her two-page complaint, Ms. Kershaw, a full-time police officer hired in August 2004, accused Sergeant Stobie of sexual harassment. In addition, she claimed that she was subjected to a pattern of harassment and work actions not applied to male officers.
Ms. Kershaw alleged that Mr. Cashin and Mr. Bugbee ignored requests to address her complaints and attempted to force her to quit her job.
In Ms. Kershaw's amended complaint, filed July 13 by her attorney, James Budreau, she alleges that Mr. Cashin and Mr. Bugbee committed additional acts of harassment and retaliation after she filed the April 7 MCAD complaint.
Mr. Cashin left his position as police chief on May 20, three months short of the end of his three-year contract.
Mr. Bugbee said yesterday that the town's attorney, Gareth Notis, has responded on the town's behalf to Ms. Kershaw's amended complaint. As a next step, Mr. Bugbee said, an MCAD hearings officer will review both sides of the complaint and decide if there is enough evidence to move it to a hearing.
In the story "And the Curtain Falls..." in the August 20 issue of The Times, Brian Ditchfield was incorrectly identified as the director of Island Theatre Workshop. He is the director of the Children's Theatre.
A photo caption in the story "Getting to the Point", in the Health and Fitness supplement in the August 20 issue of The Times, gave the incorrect location of Nancy Gilfoy's office. Her office is on Central Avenue in Vineyard Haven.