News in Brief
Three finalists named for Edgartown School principal
The Edgartown School committee and superintendent of public schools James Weiss narrowed the field of seven candidates for the principal's job at Edgartown School to three finalists after interviews last week. The finalists are Elana Aitken, Carlin Hart, and Lisa Sheffield.
All three were familiar faces. The committee previously interviewed them in January 2006 before selecting Paul Dulac, who unexpectedly left last month to become superintendent of Marblehead Public Schools.
"We'll take a hard look at these three," said Edgartown School committee chairman David Rossi. "We hope to wrap up interviews next week, take a break for school vacation, come back, and make a decision."
While the ultimate decision on hiring a principal is up to Mr. Weiss, he said he considers it a collaborative process. He plans to get as much input as he can from the community, sit and talk with the school committee, and then make a decision.
The three finalists will each spend a full day visiting Edgartown School and meeting the students, faculty, staff, and community members. Visits started this week, with Mr. Hart's scheduled yesterday, Ms. Aitken's on Feb. 16, and Ms. Sheffield's on Feb. 21. Parents and anyone in the community are welcome to meet and talk with each of them on the day of their school visit from 8 to 8:45 am and 3 to 4 pm in the cafeteria. Survey forms will be available for comments.
Ms. Aitken, a clinical psychologist, currently serves as the clinical director of Hampshire Educational Collaborative in Northampton. She received her bachelor's degree at UMass in 1971 and her teaching certificate in 1974. Her teaching experience includes special education. Ms. Aitken owns a home in Edgartown and has been a summer resident for more than 25 years.
Mr. Hart, the local candidate, serves as assistant principal at Oak Bluffs School, where he has worked since 2001. He worked as an elementary school teacher in Fairfax, Va., for 10 years, and then became an assistant principal in another Virginia School before moving to Oak Bluffs. Mr. Hart's experience includes 16 years in the classroom, and 7 in administration.
Although a resident of Wellesley, Ms. Sheffield is an adjunct professor at Ashland University in Ohio. In addition to 15 years of experience in early childhood teaching, she spent five years in grades K-12 education administration and 3 years as an instructional leadership coach. Ms. Sheffield, who holds a Ph.D. in leadership and a master's degree in educational leadership, teaches a variety of educational workshops and mentors teachers seeking their certification and licensure.
The salary advertised for the Edgartown School principal ranges from $97,500 to $108,000. The school's enrollment includes 323 students in grades K through 8. The new principal will assume his or her duties no later than July 1, 2007.
Mr. Weiss appointed assistant principal Anne Fligor as the interim principal for the remainder of the school year.
Ongoing contract negotiations could affect Vineyard supermarkets
Contract negotiations for unionized Stop and Shop employees in three New England States will continue this week, and union members will vote to ratify the proposed contract or to go on strike on Sunday. There are Stop and Shop supermarkets in Vineyard Haven and Edgartown.
A three-year contract for five local unions employing about 44,000 Stop & Shop workers in New England will expire this weekend. Local 328 of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union in Rhode Island represents 10,000 of those workers, including employees on the Cape and Islands, according to secretary treasurer Jim Riley.
Union representatives are primarily concerned with reduced costs for pension plans and insurance payments. The five locals are negotiating as a group with Stop & Shop. Local 328 will hold a meeting Sunday in Rhode Island, where the company's offer will be presented to union members. A vote to ratify or strike will be taken at that time, Mr. Riley said. Contract negotiations began in December.
Islander approaches the end of Vineyard service
After more than half a century of service running between Woods Hole and Martha's Vineyard, the Islander will likely make her last scheduled trip sometime on Monday March 5, Steamship Authority (SSA) general manager Wayne Lamson said this week.
The Island Home, the new $33 million double-ended ferry built to replace the venerable Islander, now awaits commissioning in the SSA's Fairhaven maintenance yard. She will be commissioned on Saturday, March 3, in Vineyard Haven.
If there are no delays, Mr. Lamson said, the plan is to take the Islander out of service and replace her with the Island Home sometime on Monday, March 5. The switchover may be made during a crew shift change. "We will have a better idea when we get closer to it," he said.
The Islander will be sold, or scrapped. At the March 13 meeting of the five boatline members, Mr. Lamson said he would ask the SSA members to declare the vessel surplus, so he can put her up for sale. Maintaining the Islander as a back-up ferry would be impractical and costly, he said.
Oak Bluffs consults town council on contract issues
Oak Bluffs officials asked town counsel Ron Rappaport last week to review various town contracts, payroll warrants, and performance evaluations, in an effort to see if the town should handle such matters differently in the future.
"We asked him to simply opine at what has gone on and what the town has done and ask where we made errors," town administrator Michael Dutton said.
Mr. Rappaport is consulting with the town's labor lawyer, Michael Gilman, and is expected to respond to the town's inquiry by the end of this week.
Many of the concerns, Mr. Dutton said, arise from various personal service contracts and employee bonuses that were awarded during Casey Sharpe's tenure as town administrator. Mr. Dutton has said he is confident nothing illegal was done regarding the various permit bonuses that were awarded.
Going into this year's budget season, selectmen said they were eager to get advice from town counsel and move forward appropriately.
"That will be a critical function of our board this year, to restore the public's confidence in our budget," selectman Kerry Scott said at the board's Tuesday meeting.
Mr. Dutton said the town is also in contact with the state Department of Revenue's Division of Local Services about the matter.
Jury commissioner warns of jury duty telephone scam
Telephone scam artists have a new trick that takes advantage of people's sense of responsibility, according to the Massachusetts Jury Commissioner.
The scam begins when a person receives a call from someone claiming to be a court official chasing scofflaws who have missed jury duty. When the target protests that he or she knows nothing of the supposedly missed jury duty, the caller demands personal identifying information such as a social security number and date of birth to confirm that the target is not at risk of fine or arrest according to a press release.
"This is a particularly ingenious scam because it preys on people's fears and indignation at being falsely accused of breaking the law," said state Jury Commissioner.
"The scam artist will often pose as a sheriff or court officer, and state that you or someone close to you, such as your child or spouse, has missed jury duty and will be fined or arrested if they don't report to the court immediately. Because the caller isn't selling something or directly asking for personal information, the target often doesn't recognize the scam and is only too eager to offer information to persuade the caller that they've made a mistake."
The jury duty scam has been reported in many other states over the past year, but is only now appearing in Massachusetts, according to court officials.
Commissioner Wood said that neither the Office of Jury Commissioner nor the courts ever contact jurors by telephone regarding their jury service. All communication is by mail.
The Office of Jury Commissioner said that anyone who receives a telephone call about missed jury duty should hang up and call the Office of Jury Commissioner at 800-843-5879, or send an e-mail to JurorHelp@jud.state.ma.us requesting confirmation of their juror status.
Oak Bluffs selectmen focus on road projects
The Oak Bluffs selectmen considered resurfacing projects for town roads and chatted with the new directors of two Island organizations at their Tuesday meeting.
County engineer Stephen Berlucchi presented a large schematic showing a plan for the area of Lake Avenue that cuts between the Flying Horses and Circuit Avenue Extension. The project, which will be fully funded by a grant from Mass Highway, includes reducing two lanes of traffic headed toward the harbor down to one, and angling parking on the right side of the street. Selectmen gave preliminary approval for the concept, and plans call for construction to begin at the end of the year.
Highway and parks department superintendent Richard Combra Jr. asked the selectmen to put a seven year moratorium on cutting into the surface of Dukes County Avenue, which will be repaved this fall.
A wastewater line will be connected to Dukes County Avenue this spring, and Mr. Combra asked that anyone looking to hook up to that line do so before the repaving, so the new surface won't have to be cut into. Selectmen said they would ponder the request before taking a vote.
Natalie Dickerson was introduced as the new president of the Martha's Vineyard NAACP, replacing Marie Allen. She thanked the board for their past support, and said she was enthusiastic to work with them in the future.
Patrick Manning, the new director of Island Affordable Housing Fund, was also introduced. Despite owning a home in Edgartown, Mr. Manning said he was eager to get to work on Island-wise affordable housing projects.
Tisbury special town meeting Tuesday
Tisbury voters will be asked to take action on 22 warrant articles, totaling $471,500, when they gather for a special town meeting at 7:30 pm in the Tisbury School gymnasium Tuesday.
Improvements to the Water Street parking lot, the disposal of surplus property, zoning bylaw amendments and additional funding for town departments and projects are among the topics voters will be asked to take up at the mid-winter prelude to the annual spring town meeting.
Town officials will ask voters to accept the provisions of a state law that would under certain conditions allow a member of a board, committee, or commission to miss an adjudicatory hearing without being disqualified from a final vote on the matter that was the subject of the hearings.
Proposed zoning changes include an amendment to sign regulations that would allow businesses such as those located on Breakdown Lane off of Holmes Hole Road to put their names on a directory sign at the intersection on State Road. Another article would amend the wording of a zoning bylaw to clarify that it restricts construction, renovation, and/or expansion of all structures, residential and non-residential, within the shore zone, to 500 square feet in total.
The community preservation committee will ask voters to approve the allocation to specific reserve funds of $56,289 to open; $56,289 to affordable housing; $56,289 to historic; and $394,028 to a budget reserve account.
Voters will be asked to spend $150,000 of Tisbury's share of the embarkation fee fund, $196,000 collected to date, on Water Street parking lot improvements Embarkation fee revenues are generated by a 50-cent fee on each one-way passenger ticket, payable to the town where the trip originated. The law requires that ferry fees be deposited in a special fund, "to be solely appropriated for the purpose of mitigating the impacts of ferry service on the city or town."
Voters will be asked to spend so-called free cash, money left over from the previous year, on five articles: $100,000 for improvements to the Water Street parking lot; $25,000 for emergency repairs on the historic Water Works Spring Building; $47,500 for spraying trees on town property to protect against moths and caterpillars; $80,000 for sidewalk replacement and lighting work on Main Street; and $49,000 for underground ductwork for utilities along the Water Street parking lot and Cromwell Lane.
Edgartown company's newest safety film targets clandestine drug labs
The increasing number of clandestine drug labs used to produce methamphetamine creates unique hazards for emergency personnel who are likely to discover a lab during a routine response. According to a press release, Emergency Film Group of Edgartown has produced "Response to Illicit Drug Labs," a training program for law enforcement, firefighters, hazmat teams, environmental response personnel, and others who may be involved in a raid at an illegal lab, or who may unexpectedly discover one.
Emergency Film Group is the winner of more than 130 awards in national and international competitions. The company provides training for more than 12,000 customers on such timely topics as incident management, terrorism response, homeland security, hazardous materials, protective clothing, and air monitoring.
For more information, call 508-627-8844, or visit www.efilmgroup.com.
Fred Roven named resort and second home specialist
Fred Roven, owner/broker of Martha's Vineyard Buyer Agents, received the Resort and Second Home Property Specialist (RSPS®) designation by the National Association of Realtors, an industry trade group.
Mr. Roven completed the required training while working as a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans, according to a press release.
Mr. Roven can be reached at 508-627-5177.