Islanders train to manage post traumatic stress
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has reported that Cape Cod and the Islands have elevated suicide rates when compared to the rest of the state. In response, the Department of Mental Health and the Cape and Islands Suicide Prevention Coalition earlier this month provided Post Traumatic Stress Management (PTSM) training on the Vineyard for 50 participants.
The goal of PTSM is to respond to traumatic incidents and large scale disasters with evidence-based public health/mental health intervention protocols incorporating ethno-cultural, gender, and developmental specificity so that the majority of survivors are stabilized and/or referred appropriately within the first 72 hours of the incident or disaster occurring, according to a press release.
A Martha's Vineyard PTSM team will be established as a result of this training. The purpose of the PTSM team is to respond to suicide attempts and other crises in a coordinated manner on Martha's Vineyard.
For more information call, Beth Toomey, West Tisbury police chief, at 508-693-0020, or Tom Bennett at Martha's Vineyard Community Health Services at 508-693-7900.
Federal dollars flow to Island water, sewer projects
Martha's Vineyard will receive federal grants totaling almost $2 million for water and sewer projects in Edgartown and Oak Bluffs. Tenth District Congressman Bill Delahunt announced that the Obama administration has approved $29.7 million in Rural Development Administration funds for such projects.
Joe Alosso, manager of wastewater facilities in Edgartown and Oak Bluffs, said the federal dollars would help expand sewering in both towns.
Pending voter approval in April, Edgartown would receive $806,100 to extend the municipal sewer system to 149 houses in the Island Grove subdivision, a cluster of houses off Meshacket Road and within the Edgartown Great Pond watershed.
The final report of the Massachusetts Estuaries Project study of Edgartown Great Pond released in December 2008 said that nitrogen loading from future development must be mitigated in order to restore the 890-acre salt pond to prime health. Nitrogen promotes plant growth, including invasive weeds, and also algae. That, in turn, reduces the oxygen levels in the water. Without adequate oxygen levels, the pond's ecosystem is disrupted.
The study suggested a 30-percent reduction in nitrogen loading. Mr. Alosso said that figure translated into 300 houses.
Recent sewering projects combined with Island Grove would put the town past that target, Mr. Alosso said.
Sewering is part of an overall effort to reduce nitrogen loading in Edgartown Great Pond that ultimately would result in an improvement in pond water quality Mr. Alosso said.
Lagoon Pond is also expected to benefit from a $1.1 million grant that will help pay for the costs of extending and connecting the Oak Bluffs sewer system to the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School and the new YMCA facility, work that has already, begun Mr. Alosso said.
In the near future, Martha's Vineyard Community Services, Island Elderly Housing and the MV Ice Arena are expected to tie into the system.
The award will also be used to expand the leeching capacity of the system by 250,000 gallons per day on the Leonardo property, which will relieve some of the stress on Ocean Park Mr. Alosso said. Money will also be used to upgrade the treatment plant.
Mr. Alosso said engineer Dick Barbini, superintendent of schools Jim Weiss, Oak Bluffs town administrator Mike Dutton and Edgartown administrator Pam Dolby were part of a team effort that led to the grant award.
"I want to commend the selectmen and public works officials in each of these communities for their tireless support and for helping us make the case that federal funding is desperately needed here in our region in order to protect the environment and create jobs," Mr. Delahunt said in a press release.
Howitzer missing for overhaul, not AWOL
Although a howitzer is missing from the grounds of American Legion Post #257 in Vineyard Haven, it is not AWOL (Absent Without Official Leave). After serving more than 15 years as a familiar Vineyard Haven landmark, the howitzer is undergoing a cosmetic overhaul, as requested by its owner, the U.S. Army.
Local legionnaires Henry Burt and Earl Littlefield acquired the World War II vintage howitzer from another post that no longer wanted it, according to Veterans Services Officer Jo Ann Murphy.
Since the howitzer remains government property, Ms. Murphy is required to submit an annual report and photo of it to the Army. Post #257 is responsible for its upkeep and any associated costs.
Last year, Army officials notified Ms. Murphy that they were not happy with the howitzer's rusting paint and appearance of deterioration. The problem was finding someone on the Island to do the work, post commander Edward Colligan said.
Post member Frank Knight stepped up to the plate, however, with an offer to sandblast and repaint the howitzer for the cost of materials. A few months ago Kim Baptiste, owner of Tashmoo Boatyard, and his son Michael towed the howitzer to Mr. Knight's property in Northern Pines, with an escort from Tisbury Police Sergeant Tim Stobie. Mr. Knight built a plastic shed for the howitzer so he could work on it over the winter.
South Mountain Company is helping the legion post construct a slab to keep the howitzer off the ground as required by Army regulations, Mr. Colligan said.
"We're hoping the howitzer is going to be back and looking wonderful for Memorial Day," Ms. Murphy said.
Tisbury selectmen extend police chief's contract
The Tisbury selectmen agreed Tuesday to extend police Chief Daniel Hanavan's contract through October 17.
Chief Hanavan was appointed the interim chief following the departure of former police Chief John Cashin last May. The selectmen took action to extend Chief Hanavan's contract, while awaiting a report on the Tisbury Police Department by consultant Robert Wasserman. Mr. Wasserman postponed his scheduled presentation Tuesday, for personal reasons.
In follow-up to previous discussion, the selectmen said they would consider issues raised by department of public works (DPW) commissioner John Thayer regarding health insurance benefits currently offered to only five town board members.
At the selectmen's January 12 meeting, Mr. Thayer said Tisbury once offered a municipal health care policy to members of town boards, which included the selectmen, the DPW, and the board of health, in addition to any stipend paid to them for serving.
The selectmen agreed to evaluate possible options and costs.
In departmental reports, Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Fred LaPiana said a public hearing on Tisbury's proposed connector road between State and Edgartown-Vineyard Haven roads would be held at the DPW offices on February 22, 7:30 pm.
In other business, the selectmen approved closing Lagoon Pond to scalloping, effective immediately. They also appointed Dr. Henry Nieder to the shellfish advisory committee (SAC) until June.
Today, the selectmen will interview a candidate for shellfish constable, selected from applicants by a search committee. Jared Hammond, a short-term, part-time shellfish constable who applied for the constable job, objected to the search process, but the selectmen took no action in response to his complaint.
Pending the SAC's recommendations, the selectmen scheduled a public hearing on February 9, at 6:30 pm, on a proposed amendment to shellfish regulations regarding skip-dredging for quahogs in Lake Tashmoo.
Permanent Endowment announces new grant cycle
The Permanent Endowment for Martha's Vineyard is accepting applications for its spring grant cycle. Through its grants program, the Endowment seeks to raise awareness of Vineyard issues, respond to community needs, foster collaboration among nonprofit organizations, and support innovative approaches to bettering the quality of life on the Island, according to a press release.
Island 501 (c) nonprofit organizations as well as continuing programs that benefit the Vineyard community are invited to apply. This spring two new funds, the Lillian Hellman Recreational Fund and the Jack Ware Fund for Martha's Vineyard, will be providing funding as well.
Application materials are available on the Endowment's website and in the reference section of each town library on the Island. For additional information, contact the Permanent Endowment at 508-338-4665 or firstname.lastname@example.org. All applications must be postmarked by February 16, 2010, and applicants will be notified of grant awards by April 1.
Course helps families with mental illness
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Massachusetts is sponsoring a free Family-to-Family educational course in Oak Bluffs for family members of individuals with a serious mental illness. The course is taught by two trained family member volunteers and is intended to help family caregivers cope with a close relative's mental illness.
Funded by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health, the course consists of 12 weekly two-and-one-half hour sessions from 6:30 to 9 pm. The program provides information about schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety disorders, and borderline personality disorder.
The classes also include information about diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, crisis handling, problem solving, communication, and empathy. The free course is open to close relatives and significant others of persons with a serious mental illness.
The class size is limited to 20 people and advance registration is required.
Classes begin on February 18. Call 508-693-5872 with any questions and/or to register.
Cape great white shark is a 'snowbird'
A great white shark tagged last fall in Nantucket Sound by Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) researchers, has turned up off the north coast of Florida. The electronic tag attached to the shark is transmitting location, water temperature, depth, and light levels, among other data.
"For Massachusetts citizens and biologists and shark enthusiasts across the globe, this is an exciting opportunity to study these fascinating creatures," Energy and Environmental Affairs secretary Ian Bowles said in a news release, whose office includes DMF. "We're looking forward to sharing the findings - so far, all we know is that this particular shark is a snowbird."
Island resident and DMF senior biologist Greg Skomal spearheaded the tracking project. His team tagged five great white sharks near Chatham. It was the first successful tagging of the species in the Atlantic Ocean, using electronic satellite technology. By analyzing the data, scientists hope to discover more about wintering grounds and other habits of the marine predators.
"I am very excited that the technology worked," Mr. Skomal told The Times on Monday.
The data is transmitted to a satellite tracking company and then sent to biologists who use the information to create a "retrospective analysis" that should provide a three-dimensional picture of the shark's movements after it left the waters off Chatham.
Mr. Skomal said great whites in the Pacific routinely leave the coast of California and dive to depths of 1,000 feet. How long the fish stayed in New England waters and what depths they swam at as they traveled are some of the questions scientists hope to answer.
Finding great whites can be difficult. Getting close enough to hit one with a harpoon in order to imbed a tag requires equal measures of luck and skill. Bill Chaprales, a commercial harpoon fisherman from Cape Cod, helped the biologists develop the techniques they needed to locate and get close to the fish, and use a harpoon to plant a tag that would remain in a free-swimming fish.
One computerized tagging device was programmed to detach on January 15, 2010. It was on time.
At midnight on Friday, January 15, the tag surfaced 50 miles east of Jacksonville, Florida, and began transmitting data.
The next two tags are scheduled to detach and begin transmitting data on March 1.
If all goes well, researchers will have new information about the movements of a species that scientists have rarely tracked in the Atlantic. The biology of great whites in the Atlantic is poorly understood, particularly in terms of seasonal movement.
A story in last week's Times, "Six win Chilmark homesites," incorrectly identified homesite winner Cameron Parry as Matthew Parry.
A story in last week's issue, "Beth Toomey to retire after 16 years as West Tisbury chief," included an incorrect reference to 297 days of compensatory time. In fact, it was 297 hours.