News in Brief
Photo by Ezra Blair
Hospital gets emergency de-con tent
Emergency personnel from Oak Bluffs and Tisbury joined hospital employees on Friday to watch a demonstration of a new mobile decontamination tent the hospital received last week.
The tent, manufactured by Zumro Air Shelters, is an inflatable structure designed for decontaminating patients in the event of a chemical or biological disaster.
The hospital and Island emergency personnel plan to use the tent as part of a disaster training exercise next month.
Oak Bluffs selectmen
meet in new library
With the faint smell of new carpet and fresh paint still in the air, the Oak Bluffs selectmen held their first meeting at the new Oak Bluffs Library, Tuesday evening.
The library will open its doors to the public on Saturday at 10 am. A grand opening ceremony is still in the works.
While the selectmen had a sparse agenda, it took them more than two and a half hours to get through the five pieces of new business, which included reports from several town departments.
Todd Alexander, Oak Bluffs harbormaster, told the selectmen that despite a slow start in the spring, the harbor beat its previous year's earnings for the sixth year in a row, breaking the $900,000 mark. He attributed the good summer to the beautiful sunny weather in July and August.
Jerry Wiener, Oak Bluffs building inspector, told the selectmen that things were also going well in his department. He came to the meeting to ask for the selectmen's support to create a board of survey, which would establish a clear procedure that would allow the town to tear down abandoned buildings. The selectmen voted unanimously to support the plan.
Robert Huss, the selectmen's appointee to the SSA port council, briefed the selectmen on the latest news from the boatline, including rate hikes and schedule changes. He said that the SSA is also moving forward with plans to repair and replace sections of the Oak Bluffs terminal pier. He said work is expected to begin sometime in 2007.
The selectmen also heard a report from T.J. Hegarty, Dukes County rodent control officer. The selectmen asked Mr. Hegarty to implement his pest management program along the town bulkhead between the harbor and the SSA terminal. Mr. Hegarty said that some homeowners in the area had complained of rodents.
In other business, the selectmen voted to a grant an entertainment license to 67 Circuit Avenue for live music at the restaurant. After expressing some concern on possible noise issues, the selectmen agreed to grant the license for up to four amplified instruments.
West Tisbury approves expanded CPA committee
A smattering of West Tisbury voters approved a bylaw establishing a committee to administer the Community Preservation Act (CPA) at a one-article special town meeting on Oct 18 after approving an amendment to the original article expanding the committee from seven to nine members.
The CPA will be funded by a three percent surcharge on real estate taxes, matched by funds from the state. The money that is generated by the CPA may be spent on affordable housing, open space preservation, and historic preservation, with the requirement that at least 10 percent of the funds in any year go to each of the three categories, leaving the committee how to decide where to allocate the remaining 70 percent.
Following considerable debate about the purpose and intended uses of CPA funds, and how much money would be allotted to affordable housing and whether funds might be used to defray the costs of the town hall renovations, voters rebuffed an amendment directing that the undesignated 70 percent of the CPA funds be used exclusively for affordable housing.
Voters approved an amendment adding one person to the committee to be appointed by the selectmen and one by the Dukes County Housing Authority. The committee established by the bylaw will recommend how to allocate the 70 percent of the CPA fund not designated by law. Voters will have the final say on the committee's recommendations at town meeting.
Voters were presented with an article establishing a seven-member committee to include a member appointed at large by the selectmen and one member appointed by and from each of the following: the conservation commission, the planning board, the historical commission, the parks and recreation committee, the finance committee, and the affordable housing committee.
A mere 58 voters, 2.6 percent of the West Tisbury electorate, attended last week's Tuesday night meeting.
Cost to defend West Tisbury assessment rises to $275,000
West Tisbury selectmen received an itemized breakdown last week of the costs of defending the town assessors against William Graham's appeal of his West Tisbury real estate assessment.
According to a report presented to the selectmen October 12 by principal assessor Jo-Ann Resendes, the estimated cost of the defense so far is $275,833 of which the town has already paid $61,851.
West Tisbury voters will be asked to pay the $214,000 in additional costs, at a special town meeting on November 16.
Some of the largest bills in the case were not presented to the town accountant until October. Ms. Resendes told The Times she did not put the bills into the town's payment system because she knew there was no money to pay for them. "I am not trying to hide the cost," she said.
Mr. Graham owns 235 acres off Lambert's Cove Road, assessed at more than $50 million. He asserts, in an appeal to the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board, that he was over charged real estate taxes for 2003 and 2004. He also claims he was overcharged for 2005, and he has filed a request with the assessors for an abatement. By Mr. Graham's accounting, the overpayments for 2003 and 2004 total $319,164.
The case has stretched out for 36 days, spread over four months, generated 450 exhibits, and filled more than 2,000 pages of transcripts. It is the longest running case in the history of the ATB.
Massachusetts law requires that properties be assessed at 100 percent of fair market value.
MVC names steering committee for Island plan
The Martha's Vineyard Commission last week announced the formation of a 20-member steering committee to oversee the preparation of a comprehensive Island plan (CIP) for Martha's Vineyard.
According to a MVC press release, the goal of the plan is to provide a guide for the Island community as it struggles with questions of growth, affordable housing, and the future identity of the Vineyard.
The plan will set out the strategy for achieving this vision by outlining possible programs, regulations, and other actions that could be carried out by the Martha's Vineyard Commission, by the towns, and by other entities, according to the release. The Martha's Vineyard Commission will adopt the plan as the official regional plan.
Jim Athearn of Edgartown will chair the steering committee, which includes members drawn from all Island towns.
High school art teacher wins NEA Foundation award
The National Education Association (NEA) Foundation has selected Paul Brissette, Art and Design department chairman at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, to receive the organization's Christa McAuliffe Award for 2005.
According to the NEA Foundation, the Christa McAuliffe Award honors a past grantee who has contributed extraordinary service to the foundation or its grantees and has exhibited outstanding innovation in teaching and learning. The award was created in honor of the teacher who died tragically during the space shuttle launch in January 1986.
The award recognizes educators who effectively use technology for student-centered instruction, and who take advantage of their position at the cutting edge to bring about positive change in education beyond their own classrooms.
In 1999 Mr. Brissette received an Art@Work Grant from the foundation and used it to develop a curriculum that requires students to solve engineering and architectural problems using computer-aided design. He also served three years on the Foundation's board of directors.
Photo by Ezra Blair
Storm leaves Island drenched, but unscathed
Whipping wind that gusted to nearly 60 miles per hour and torrential rain pounded the Island Tuesday, but according to officials across the Vineyard, the storm caused few serious problems.
Theodore Saulnier, Tisbury police chief, said that there was some minor flooding on Beach Road and on Lagoon Pond Road, but for the most part the storm was innocuous. He said that there were a few power outages caused by fallen branches, but no widespread blackouts.
"We fared pretty well," he said.
Todd Alexander, Oak Bluffs harbormaster, said that despite a northeast wind, there were no boating problems this week. "A northeast wind is the worst direction for our harbor, but there really aren't many boats left in the harbor this time of year," he said. "The cruise ship floats have been replaced with much bigger and more secure floats, so they didn't cause us any problems either. All in all, we really didn't have anything major."
Travel on and off the Island came to a halt during the peak of the storm. The Steamship Authority canceled all of its trips on the Vineyard route on Tuesday. On the Nantucket route, all of the trips were canceled except the 5:30 pm boat from Nantucket to Hyannis, which took three hours (rather than the normal 2 hours, 15 minutes) to make the voyage.
Airlines also canceled flights on and off the Island most of the day on Tuesday. Sean Flynn, acting airport manager, said that the wild weather didn't cause any other problems.
"We had a couple flickers of the lights, but that was about it," he said.
Housing Trust has
two houses for sale
The non-profit Island Housing Trust announced that it has two affordable houses for sale off Stony Hill Road in Tisbury. One two-bedroom house will be sold for $141,000 to a qualified applicant earning 80 percent or less of the median income ($48,300 for a three-person family) and another two-bedroom house will be sold for $269,000 to a qualified applicant earning 140 percent or less of the median income ($84,600 for a three-person family).
Applicants must have attended a homebuyer workshop sponsored by the Regional Housing Authority, according to a press release. The application deadline is Nov. 30.
For more information or to receive an application package, call Tisbury town hall at 508-696-4200 or the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority at 508-693-4419.
Free firewood for the cutting
The Martha's Vineyard Land Bank has some free firewood, but there is a catch. The firewood must first be cut.
According to a press release, the Land Bank will allow the cutting up of downed trees for firewood on the former Webb's Campground property off Barnes Road In Oak Bluffs.
There is a limit of one cord per person. Interested parties must have a chainsaw and truck and pre-arrange a cutting time with the Land Bank office. Wood is for personal use only and may not be sold.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 508-627-7141.
Home health care agencies team up for flu season
The Visiting Nurse Service (VNS) of Martha's Vineyard Community Services and the Vineyard Nursing Association (VNA) are teaming up to provide two regional flu vaccine clinics for Vineyard residents over 18 years of age in November.
The first clinic will be held in the gymnasium of the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School on Saturday, Nov. 5, from 10 am to 2 pm.
The second clinic will be held at the West Tisbury Public Safety Building (on State Rd. across from Conroy Apothecary) on Nov. 15, from 1 to 5 pm.
According to a press release, the regional clinics are a collaborative effort by the VNA and VNS and replace the individual clinics formerly held at the Council on Aging sites. Residents of the Vineyard may attend either clinic.
According to the press release, the Department of Public Health recommends yearly flu shots for: people 65 years of age or older; people under 65 with one or more chronic medical conditions requiring frequent or ongoing medical management; people who have a weakened immune system; all women who will be pregnant during flu season; and all health care workers aged 50 years and older who provide direct medical care.
In addition to flu shots, the flu clinics will also offer Tetanus-diphtheria booster shots (recommended for all adults every 10 years) and pneumococcal vaccine shots (recommended once in a lifetime).
The flu clinics are free however people under the age of 18 will not be immunized.
For more information, call the VNS at 508-693-7900, ext. 230, or the VNA at 508-693-6184, extension 10.
Correction: In a News in Brief report published last week regarding a break-in at Louis' Café, we reported the age of one of the suspects, William Felder, as 18. The information, as stated in the police report, was incorrect. Mr. Felder is 17.