News in Brief
Airport signs contract
with new manager
Armed with a Superior Court ruling that upheld their authority to set salaries, the Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission voted last week to enter into an employment contract with their newly hired airport manager.
The airport commission voted 5-1 to approve a contract with a starting salary of $89,000 for Sean Flynn, the former assistant airport manager and acting airport manager since May. John Alley, airport commission vice chairman and chairman of the county commission, was the lone dissenting vote.
The airport commission's decision to enter into an employment contract with Mr. Flynn departed from the terms of a deal signed in June with the Dukes County commissioners, in which the airport commission agreed to keep the airport manager within the county pay scale system.
However, airport commissioners said that the agreement with the county became moot after a Superior Court judge ruled in July that the airport, not the county, had the right to set the salaries for its professional managers.
This week, E. Winn Davis, Dukes County manager, would not confirm whether the county would honor the contract and pay the full amount of the airport manager's salary. Mr. Davis said that he was working on a proposal that he would present to the county commissioners at last night's county meeting, but he would not discuss the details of his plan.
"I am working very hard to accommodate both what the airport wants to do and what the county is obliged to do under its legal requirements" said Mr. Davis. "How we do that will be revealed in due course."
On Tuesday, Mr. Alley said that he had not heard of any plans to withhold any part of the airport manager's salary. "I am certainly not going to sponsor paying a lesser amount," he said. "Everybody agreed to it, and we have to pay it."
Tisbury selectman argues for one-bridge solution
Tristan Israel, a Tisbury selectman, sent a letter to the commissioner of the Massachusetts Highway Department last week protesting the agency's decision to build a temporary Lagoon Pond bridge before constructing a permanent one.
Following the completion of a recent engineering study commissioned jointly by the towns of Tisbury and Oak Bluffs, Lichtenstein Consulting Engineers, based in New Jersey, recommended possible mitigation repairs that could be made to shore up the existing bridge while a replacement bridge is constructed.
At a public hearing on Dec. 7, Lagoon Pond Drawbridge Committee members said they informed Mass Highway that they wanted the repairs to be done as soon as possible to reduce the bridge's risk of failure before a temporary and/or permanent bridge could be built.
Mr. Israel's letter to MassHighway, written on behalf of the Tisbury board of selectmen, questions whether the proposed mitigation measures might allow for use of the existing bridge, bypassing the need for the temporary bridge and accelerating construction of a permanent one.
"The Tisbury selectmen would respectfully request that the State of Massachusetts implement the recommendations in the Lichtenstein report and in doing so take another look at the feasibility of the entire project as currently planned," wrote Mr. Israel.
The letter sends mixed signals to Mass Highway, which received the go-ahead from the towns to proceed with the two-bridge solution. MassHighway has completed the design of the temporary bridge and is scheduled to start construction in 2006. The Lagoon Pond drawbridge committee already had also requested that MassHighway accelerate the building of the temporary bridge by scheduling workers for double shifts, said Melinda Loberg, committee chairman.
Permitting, studies, and awarding of a construction contract for the permanent bridge were scheduled to take place from 2004 to 2008, with construction of the bridge to take place in 2009 to 2011.
Mr. Israel's letter also notes that the board is concerned that the project's cost has already doubled in two years, a delay due in part to the towns' requests for independent engineering studies.
Habitat for Humanity needs workers
Habitat for Humanity of Martha's Vineyard, a nonprofit affordable housing organization, needs volunteers to assist in the final push to complete the construction and renovation of the Twin Oaks house on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs.
According to a press release, no building experience is necessary. The remaining work on the project is indoors and consists primarily of painting.
For more information, call the Habitat office at 508-696-4646, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Town hall named after long-serving administrator
While he no longer sits at the head of Edgartown government, Peter Bettencourt's name now sits on the front of the town hall.
At a ceremony on Saturday, the town of Edgartown honored the long-time town administrator by naming the previously unnamed town hall the Peter O. Bettencourt Town Hall.
Mr. Bettencourt, who retired on Dec. 31,was the Edgartown town administrator since 1966. He said that he had suspected that the town had planned a going-away party for him, and that he even carried his speech in his pocket for two weeks so that he wouldn't be caught unprepared. However, he said that he never expected the honor of having the town hall named after him, an honor that despite his prepared speech left him speechless.
"It was something that I never expected," Mr. Bettencourt told The Times this week. "I was speechless when the plaque was unveiled, but I am both honored and proud of it. I know my parents, who are both deceased, but devoted a good portion of their lives to public service, would be proud as well."
He added, "I am extremely grateful to the board of selectmen for this honor."
Less than two weeks into his retirement, Mr. Bettencourt said everything is still sinking in. He said with his extra free time he is working part-time at the Edgartown law firm of Reynolds, Rappaport and Kaplan, where he can offer his expertise in municipal matters. He said that he also has "housing projects galore," and hopes to travel and spend more them with his family.
This week, Art Smadbeck, chairman of the Edgartown selectmen, said he could not think of a better honor for Mr. Bettencourt than naming the town hall after him. "We were really trying to come up with an honor that was suitable for a remarkable man with a remarkable career," he said.
Fundraising for new hospital goes local
The effort to raise $42 million to build a new Martha's Vineyard Community Hospital has entered the living room phase. With major donors having pledged a total of $30 million, hospital fundraisers are now looking on-Island to reach their goal.
In what one official described as the Islander phase of the campaign, board members and Tim Walsh, hospital chief executive officer, are attending private meetings with small groups of people arranged and hosted by Islanders in their homes, such as a meeting this evening at the home of Emily Bramhall in Chilmark, a Tisbury businesswoman and former hospital board member.
The meetings, which will continue through the spring, provide an opportunity for hospital leaders to describe the overall plans, said Rachel Vanderhoop, hospital development director.
Sail Martha's Vineyard offers winter courses
Sail Martha's Vineyard announced plans to offer maritime-focused continuing education classes taught by local experts through the winter for the benefit of Islanders who want to learn more about a particular subject or review certain skills, executive director Tom Rancich said this week.
Courses offered are broken down into three categories; navigation, maintenance and engineering, and marlinespike seamanship.
Instructors include captain Lynn Fraker; Steve Swartwood of Herring Creek Marine; Jeff Canha, a vocational high school teacher and marine mechanic; and Malcolm Boyd.
The first class, basic chart reading, begins on Jan. 30. For a complete course schedule, call 508-696-7644 or e-mail email@example.com.
Photo by Philippe Jordi
Uplifted house on the move
A building located at 7 Beach Road, formerly the studio of artist Travis Tuck, was extracted from its foundation and moved to a new location at 150 State Road, on Tuesday, holding up traffic and attracting curious stares.
Michael Kidder, the building owner, donated it to the Island Housing Trust (IHT), which decided to move it to its new location for inclusion in an affordable housing development on State Road opposite Morrice the Florist.
Specialists in house moving transported the house to the site of a sprawling ranch house once owned by the late George Schiffer. When Mr. Schiffer died in 2002, he left the house to his niece, Kathryn Roessel, former Vineyard Steamship Authoirty representative. When Ms. Roessel died last year she wanted the property to be used for affordable housing. Her aunt, Eva Schiffer, sold the house to IHT at a significant discount.
The lot will become the new home of the Kidder building, which will be converted into two affordable condominium units. Plans call for the construction of another two-unit building on the one-acre site in the future.
High school land use subject of forum
A community planning session to discuss possible uses for land around to the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 28.
The meeting, sponsored by the High School Area Plan Steering Committee, is scheduled to begin at 8:30 am in the high school library. The planning session will include a site visit and group activities.
According to a press release from the steering committee, the purpose of the meeting is to generate ideas about how to best use the land in the area around the high school, particularly public land on the north side of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road.
The steering committee suggested four areas on which to focus the discussion: character, uses and buildings, traffic and transportation, and open space.
For information on the planning session, call the Oak Bluffs selectmen's office at 508-693-5511.
Health council receives $51,000 dental grant
The Dukes County Health Council oral health working group has received a $51,000 planning grant from the Oral Health Foundation to design a comprehensive dental plan for Vineyard residents.
The planning grant will be used to assess the oral health status of Island residents, and to develop plans for oral health programs in response to identified needs, according to a press release. The Oral Health Foundation is funded by the Delta Dental Plan of Massachusetts.
"By building strong partnerships with a wide array of safety-net providers, we are able to significantly increase the comprehensive, preventive dental services available to vulnerable adults and children in Massachusetts," said Bryan Spence, spokesperson for the Oral Health Foundation.
According to the press release, the health council was selected to receive the grant because it meets the Foundation's goal of improving access for severely underserved populations.
"Conducting a community-based oral health assessment will help us develop effective programs for Islanders with unmet oral health needs," said Cynthia Mitchell, director of Island Health, Inc. and chairman of the Dukes County health council. "With the help of the grant from the Oral Health Foundation, we can achieve our goal of improving the oral health services for low-income, underinsured, and uninsured individuals on Martha's Vineyard."
For more information on the Oral Health Foundation, go to the foundation's web site at: www.oralhealthfoundation.org.
Three errors which crept into a Letter to the Editor from the Rev. Alden Besse, published Jan. 5, eviscerated the points the writer attempted to make. In the next to the last paragraph, the first sentence included the word "leader" instead of "lender." The sentence should read, "If we keep on spending more than we are earning and supporting prodigal spending by borrowing from others (and against our future) someone, maybe China or Japan or a domestic lender, will soon think their chance of repayment is uncertain and want their money now."
The last paragraph of the letter should read as follow, "When this happens, and it will unless we radically reform our addiction to spending, do not say, 'We were not warned.' Rather realize our arrogance and conceit, and our greed and selfishness in profligate consumption have richly deserved our catastrophic collapse. The time is now to live within our means before we destroy the means to live."