News in Brief
Photo by Susan Safford
Heavy rain has
limited effect here
After severe and almost constant rain over the past week, local officials say the wet weather has had little effect on the Island's major facilities. More than three inches of rain fell in the past week, according to measurements taken at different locations around the Island.
Harbors may see a rise in phytoplankton, which could cause problems in the future, and some storm drains backed up here and there causing some minor flooding.
On the other hand, the heavy precipitation has helped replenish the ground water supply, said local water quality experts. "It puts more revenue into the ground," Edgartown water commissioner Fred Domont said, citing no negative effects.
The recent saturation is a healthy change from this year's abnormally dry March and April months, according to Bill Wilcox, the water resource planner at the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC). "We want that extra water for the summer months," Mr. Wilcox said of the recent precipitation.
He cautioned that the heavy rains create runoff from the streets, which often includes nutrients and small amounts of oil. Many of these nutrients bypass the filtration systems in the storm drains, and go into the ground and surface water, stimulating growth of phytoplankton in the harbors of Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown.
Although minor amounts of phytoplankton are healthy for a body of water, Wilcox warned that it could be "too much of a good thing. There's a lot of mother nature street cleaning going on," he said.
Joe Alosso, facilities manager at the Edgartown Wastewater Treatment Commission, said the rains have not affected the treatment system.
In Nantucket meeting,
SSA gets progress reports
Meeting in Nantucket on May 9, Steamship Authority (SSA) members learned that construction progress on two new vessels - the Island Home, which will serve the Vineyard route, and Iyanough, a fast ferry to replace Flying Cloud on the Hyannis to Nantucket route - will see them delivered to the boatline in November.
The members also hired John W. Gilbert Associates, naval architects, to prepare specifications and drawings for the Nantucket refurbishment, an estimated $5 million project. Mr. Gilbert's fee will be $142,000. The boatline is looking for state funding to help with the work, which will require four months or more to complete.
Wayne Lamson, SSA general manager, told the members that reduced fuel consumption on several boatline vessels had saved nearly $70,000 during the first quarter of this year, compared with the like period a year ago. The Islander, Flying Cloud, and Governor did not contribute to the savings, but the "number of gallons per mile consumed by both the Martha's Vineyard and the Eagle has declined by more than 20 percent from two years ago." Boatline vessel captains implemented the effort to reduce fuel consumption, Mr. Lamson explained.
Mr. Lamson said that, as it has added Wi-Fi service for customers in its terminal buildings, it will shortly add the service aboard boatline vessels, beginning on the Nantucket routes by Memorial Day weekend, and on Vineyard routes shortly after.
The SSA will spend $53,000 on repairs to the small boat dock that extends from the beach along the north side of the Vineyard Haven Terminal wharf. Work is to be done early in June. And, the members approved a $75,000 contract for Apex Environmental Inc. for permitting and engineering services for the dredging and bulkhead improvements contemplated for the SSA's Fairhaven maintenance facility. Construction work must wait on the availability of funds.
Finally, a rewritten handbook of customer policies and procedures, including rates, ticketing, vehicle reservations, parking policies, and conditions of travel is in the last stages of review. "Ultimately," Mr. Lamson wrote in a letter to boatline employees on May 9, "we hope that the handbook will be a convenient way for our customers to navigate our labyrinth of rules and regulations, and that it will prompt us to streamline at least some of those rules for everybody's benefit."
Tisbury Police to host bicycle safety event, auction
People looking for a new bike need go no further than the Tisbury Police station. On Saturday, the Tisbury police will auction approximately 100 unclaimed bikes.
The auction begins at 10 am at the police station in the town parking lot adjacent to the Stop and Shop.
On Sunday, police will sponsor the department's 10th Annual Police Bicycle Safety Skills Challenge for children at the Park and Ride parking lot on High Point Lane in Tisbury, from 11 am until 1 pm. The free event is open to young bicyclists, grades K-8 from all towns.
Participants should bring their bicycles and safety helmets. The first 90 students will also receive a free T-shirt.
Complimentary refreshments will be provided, and police will raffle off a bicycle. Cycle Works of State Road Vineyard Haven will provide complimentary safety checks on bicycles and helmets.
Re-energizing West Tisbury
West Tisbury once again has an energy committee. The old committee arranged for audits of the energy use in various town buildings and made recommendations which resulted in considerable savings for the town. Its work completed, its charter lapsed, and committee chairman Shelton Bank made a final report more than a year ago.
In the past year, the prices of electricity and gasoline have increased about 75 percent, and at Mr. Bank's suggestion the selectmen last week appointed a new ad hoc committee of members recruited by Mr. Bank: Phil Larsen, Art Nelson, Richard Knabel, Warren Hollinshead, Ned Robinson-Lynch, and Mr. Bank.
At the selectmen's meeting last week, Mr. Bank commented that in the five years since the original committee was first established, new technologies have been developed, and the capital costs to acquire them have gone down. "With a combination of higher energy costs and [cheaper] technologies, capital costs you might not have considered then are now worth looking at," he said.
Mr. Bank added that people (that is, taxpayers and voters) are today more aware and more willing to listen to recommendations. "A 75 percent increase does a lot to get people's attention," he said.
Homeowners advised to take precautions against mold
While the height of mold season is usually the humid summer months, heavy spring rains could be a recipe for the fungus, according to an advisory from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Homeowners who have experienced water damage from this spring's soggy weather could be at an increased risk for mold growth.
Disaster recovery specialists said that mold can begin to grow within 24 hours after water damage.
Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores invisible to the naked eye. Mold begins to grow indoors when mold spores land on wet or damp surfaces.
According to FEMA, the secret to preventing mold is to clean, dry, and disinfect all wet surfaces as soon as possible.
Donald Cronig, a certified mold inspector and owner of Beacon Home Inspections in Tisbury, said it is important for homeowners with water damage to act quickly.
"Moisture is the key for mold growth. It can happen almost any time. If there is a damp place for it to grow, it will," he said.
Mr. Cronig suggested several measures to prevent mold growth. "Almost every single Island house should have a self-emptying dehumidifier in the basement or crawlspace," he said. "Also, if a home has a crawlspace it should absolutely have a moisture barrier. Even if it feels dry, there is always moisture coming up through the ground."
Mr. Cronig also suggested cleaning gutters and making sure that the ground slopes away from buildings so that water does not enter or collect around the foundation.
Education workshop for Island affordable housing
Prospective house buyers are invited to attend a free workshop Tuesday, May 23, sponsored by Vineyard affordable housing organizations from 6 to 9 pm in the Community Room at the Oak Bluffs School.
Guest panelists will discuss the home-buying process, and details regarding credit ratings, mortgages, and insurance.
Applicants interested in the homes at the Twin Oaks site in Oak Bluffs, which will be offered by the Island Affordable Housing Trust, will satisfy one of the trust's requirements by participating in the educational workshop. The registration deadline is Monday.
Juno bound for Sicily
Juno, the 65-foot schooner, Capt. Scot DiBiaso of West Tisbury, sailed yesterday for Europe, with a crew of five, including Chris Crawford, Jim Lobdell, and Gretchen Snyder of the Vineyard. Juno, a Nat Benjamin design, was built and launched by Gannon and Benjamin in 2003. In addition to the Islanders, Juno's mate, Dougald Knox, hails from Eastern Australia and cook Elisa White from New York.
The vessel is headed for Palermo, Sicily, where she will be joined by her owners, Melissa and Robert Soros of Chilmark. She will spend the summer cruising in the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas.
Captain DiBiaso says he expects to reach Palermo in about a month, after a mid-way stop in the Azores and "Gibraltar, if we have to." Foul weather has kept the vessel in port more than a week longer than originally scheduled.
"We're going in search of sunny skies, and will send some back here," the captain said.
Spring 2007 is Juno's earliest possible return to Vineyard Haven, and it could be a year later than that, according to Captain DiBiaso.
Rotary Club Pledges $50,000 to MV Hospital
The Rotary Club of Martha's Vineyard has announced the largest single contribution in the organization's 15-year history, a donation of $50,000 to the capital campaign to build a new hospital on Martha's Vineyard.
By a vote of the membership, the club pledged $10,000 per year over a five-year period.
Joe Pitt, chairman of the club's charitable foundation committee, said the contribution is a good fit with the philosophy of the club's charitable giving. "We look for methods in which our money can do the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people," he said. "The hospital serves the entire community, year-round, seasonal residents and visitors, and we're thrilled to be able to assist them in building a new facility."
In an obituary published on May 11 for Bohumil Cenkl, his name was incorrectly spelled.