West Tisbury moves to clarify and improve cemetery record keeping
West Tisbury cemetery superintendent John Alley met on Monday with selectman Glenn Hearn and Mr. Hearn's wife Linda to answer questions about cemetery recordkeeping. The meeting was arranged in the wake of Mr. Alley's August 30 reappointment by the board of selectmen.
The Hearns have volunteered to work with Mr. Alley to put cemetery record keeping in order. Monday's meeting was scheduled at the urging of the other selectmen last week.
Mr. Hearn told The Times Tuesday that he and his wife had questions about some discrepancies they found in cemetery deed and ledger books and maps. Mr. Hearn said that it was a "good meeting," but he would not elaborate until he reported to the other selectmen at yesterday's scheduled meeting.
The next step in the records process will be to get computer software to handle the record keeping. Mr. Hearn said the software could be installed on the town's computers so there will be ongoing records. Mr. Hearn also said the selectmen will look for volunteers to go through the West Tisbury Cemetery and verify all the names on gravestones for the records.
Selectmen questioned Mr. Alley about his cemetery record-keeping during several sessions this summer and over the past three years. They said there is no central place where records are kept of where people are buried in the town's three cemeteries.
As the relationship between the board and Mr. Alley grew prickly, the selectmen suspended Mr. Alley from his duties for about a month, although they had not actually reappointed him to the position. Last week, Mr. Alley said he was holding off on whether to accept the appointment made on Aug. 30 until he saw the official reappointment letter.
The agreement to meet with the Hearns is an indication that Mr. Alley has agreed to accept the reappointment and the stipulations that were added to it, Mr. Hearn said.
In making the reappointment, the board limited Mr. Alley's duties to issuing deeds to cemetery lots, keeping accurate records of lot owners and burial locations, supervising funeral activities and reporting on activities for each payroll request. Maintenance and other duties will be handled by other town employees for the term of this appointment, which goes until the April town meeting.
In other business last week:
The selectmen asked Mr. Hearn to look into working cooperatively with Chilmark and Aquinnah on possibly sharing cell phone towers or equipment to help improve the cell phone service in West Tisbury. Mr. Hearn said Monday he is collecting information from Chilmark about the town's plans to improve its service.
Chilmark and Aquinnah officials have been exploring the possibility of providing cell phone service through a distributed antenna system that utilizes small antennas set on telephone poles as an alternative to towers. A similar system is used on Nantucket.
"The question is, is it practical for West Tisbury to hook up with the same concept?" Mr. Hearn said. "We need to find out what it would take to hook up with Chilmark and Gay Head." He added that although West Tisbury has at least three cell phone towers, there are still many dead spots for cell phone reception in the town.
Also last Wednesday, the selectmen discussed briefly scheduling a meeting on the school state financing formula, but decided to wait until Aquinnah holds a public hearing and selectmen vote on the ongoing issue.