News in Brief
Study recommends full-time Tisbury fire chief
A team of consultants from Resource Management Associates recommends changing Tisbury's fire chief position from a part-time to a full-time position, according to a draft report discussed at the Tisbury selectmen's meeting Tuesday.
"The board of selectmen should give favorable consideration to authorizing a full-time fire chief," the report concluded. "We believe that it is the right time to make this move in order to continue the forward momentum of the department that now exists."
The selectmen commissioned a study of the Tisbury Fire Department's organization, staffing, operations, and management, following a request by Fire Chief John Schilling in early January for an article on the annual town meeting warrant to establish the fire chief's job as a full-time, salaried position.
Mr. Schilling said that in addition to being on call six days a week, the fire chief's job demands extensive record keeping and performing an increasing number of federal and state mandated inspections.
Mr. Schilling said Tisbury's personnel board advised him that the position equated to the classification level M-5, with a salary of $52,805. Added costs to the town for paying 75 percent of a full-time fire chief's medical insurance would range from $445.50 a month for an individual plan ($5,346 a year) to $1,116.75 a month for a family plan ($13,401 a year), according to town treasurer and tax collector Tim McLean.
The Tisbury Fire Department includes the chief and two assistant chiefs, plus 45 persons who serve in three engine companies and one ladder company. Although all are volunteers, everyone receives a stipend. For fiscal year 2008, Chief Schilling submitted a budget of $149,195, a 17.8 percent increase over last year, largely due to salary increases for chief officers.
The selectmen agreed to place an article on next week's annual town meeting warrant to fund the position with $35,305, in addition to the chief's current salary of $17,500. The latter salary figure is the only one included in Chief Schilling's FY2008 budget request. The selectmen agreed to the article with the stipulation that they would hire a consultant to provide a feasibility study before town meeting. They hired Resource Management Associates (RMA) at a cost of about $4,500.
Discussing RMA's draft report at Tuesday's meeting, selectman chairman Tristan Israel said it achieved its purpose in providing a recommendation before town meeting. He apologized that the results were not available sooner for the voters.
Tisbury Ambulance receives $10,000 gift
An anonymous donor from the Tisbury community recently contributed $10,000 to the Tisbury Volunteer Ambulance Association (TVAA), enabling the non-profit organization to purchase much-needed life-saving equipment for an advanced life-support ambulance.
"The volunteers and staff of the ambulance service are gratified by this support from our community," TVAA president Melinda Loberg acknowledged in a press release this week.
Tisbury taxpayers will be asked to approve an override article on the warrant at the April 10 annual town meeting to borrow $135,000 to purchase and equip a new 2006-2007 ambulance, which will become part of the debt budget in fiscal year 2009.
If approved, some of the funds from the $10,000 donation will be used to defray the new ambulance's costs.
Woods Hole Model Boat Show is Patriot's Day weekend
The Woods Hole Historical Museum's sixth biennial Woods Hole Model Boat Show is planned April 14 and 15, Patriot's Day Weekend. On Saturday, the show will run from 10 am to 4 pm and on Sunday from 10 am to 3 pm. Throughout both days there will be exhibits, workshops, and talks at locations throughout Woods Hole. There will also be radio-controlled models sailing and racing in Eel Pond, and others in a pool on the museum lawn, plus model submarines running in the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution's tow tank.
Two years ago, there were more than 125 boat models on display, many of them the work of Vineyard modelers. The event's organizers look for even more this year. For children, there will be an opportunity to run radio-controlled boats in the pool, and to build models of the museum's signature boat, the Woods Hole spritsail boat. Visitors will be able to speak with the exhibitors and see construction demonstrations. Model boat clubs and commercial exhibitors are welcome, as are previous exhibitors.
Tickets, $10; kids 12 and under, $5; kids under 5, free, available at the door of the museum and at Woods Hole Community Hall. Potential exhibitors should contact the museum as soon as possible at 508-548-7270 or through the web site at woodsholemuseum.org.
Chilmark to West Tisbury: Fuggedaboudit
Chilmark selectmen have a strong, clear message for the West Tisbury finance committee: "We won't close our school."
They were referring at their regular meeting Tuesday night to West Tisbury FinCom's recommendation for its town to withdraw from the Up-Island Regional School District, of which Chilmark is a member. West Tisbury voters will vote on the proposal Tuesday at their annual town meeting.
Selectman Warren Doty brought up the issue, noting that the West Tisbury FinCom argues that its town could save as much as $700,000 if there were only one school in the district. West Tisbury and Chilmark elementary schools currently serve the three-town district, which includes Aquinnah.
"They (FinCom) have not recognized that we won't close the school," Mr. Doty said. "They're asking for something that won't happen." He added that West Tisbury would lose transportation money, assuming that all Chilmark children would go to West Tisbury, as well as $420,000 in state reimbursements. The proposal also doesn't address the issue of a decreasing school population in West Tisbury, he said.
"We built the Chilmark School at the center of a campus," Mr. Doty said, calling it "a lively place" where children run into grandparents at the nearby post office and library all year. "We're not going to close it," he repeated emphatically.
Selectman chairman Riggs Parker backed Mr. Doty. "This board will remain solidly in favor of the school." Selectman Frank Fenner echoed that sentiment.
In other business, town treasurer Melanie Becker reported that Chilmark's Standard & Poors' credit rating is very strong at AA. She said it would be AA-plus, the highest rating, but S&P only factors income of year-round residents.
Island Children's School seeks water supply
The Island Children's School in West Tisbury has learned from the Department of Environmental Protection that its well water does not qualify as a public water supply, so its needs to find an alternative.
School director Kim Baumhofer asked the West Tisbury selectmen last week to consider a tie-in to the West Tisbury School's well. The pre-school has nine months to get a new water supply, she said. Ms. Baumhofer said the school's current well was initially approved, but extending the school hours triggered the new requirement.
Tying into the public school would require at least a 2,000-foot trench, public health officer John Powers said. He suggested there might be another site for a well on the property.
Selectman Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter said he supports the school's efforts, but would like the staff to pursue options other than tying into the public school. Selectman Glenn Hearn said it could "be problematic to have an outside party use the town's certified water supply."
The selectmen agreed to send a letter to the DEP that confirms the town's discussions with the school, but they urged Ms. Baumhofer to continue to look at alternatives.
In another building matter, Mr. Powers reported to the board a recurrence of air quality problems in the former Music Street library building, where the health and building departments have offices.
Mr. Powers and other staff members have reported respiratory problems and strong odors in the building since last fall. The building is leased to the town by the Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust, which in January had moldy insulation removed from under the building, gutters and downspouts installed and filters added. The situation improved temporarily.
However, since the weather has gotten warmer, Mr. Powers said, "We've gone downhill a bit."
Chris Scott, executive director of the Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust has agreed to bring in an air quality expert to look at the data and perhaps do new testing.
Shellfish constable Tom Osmers expressed concerns about frequent closures of Town Cove for shellfishing, after high bacteria counts were detected in tests conducted by the state Department of Marine Fisheries. Seven of 12 tests from November 2005 to December 2006 were above the federal legal maximums for coliform bacteria, he said.
Mr. Osmers believes the high bacteria counts are the result of the pond not getting enough water exchange with the ocean to keep it healthy.
Beacon Hill Briefly
Cape Wind EIR
State environmental officials Friday announced they have approved the final environmental impact report submitted by proponents of the Cape Wind project, a mass of wind turbines planned for Nantucket Sound.
Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles issued the certificate on the project's final report, determining that the project adequately complies with the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act.
Still under federal environmental review, the project now moves at the state level to several other permitting agencies, including MassHighway, the Energy Facilities Siting Board, and local conservation commissions. The Alliance for Nantucket Sound, which opposes the project, last week called its final report "deeply flawed, held together by unsupported claims, legal errors, and persistent omissions."
House and Senate settle on $235 million increase in local aid
The Legislature's top budget writers announced that they have agreed to raise aid to cities and towns by $235 million next fiscal year, including a $20 million increase to Gov. Deval Patrick's Chapter 70 proposal. Across Chapter 70 (school funding), Lottery aid, and additional assistance, the Legislature is calling for a 4.9 percent bump over the current fiscal year's budget. The two chambers planned to vote on their local aid resolution yesterday.
Provided to The Times by State House News Service
A story published in the March 29 issue of The Times, "A long road to approval for Hart Hardware," said the West Tisbury zoning board of appeals granted Mr. Hart a variance with conditions in 2001, to allow a 22,200 square-foot mixed use building on a non-conforming 20,000 square-foot lot. The correct figure for the square-footage the ZBA allowed was for a proposed 2,000 square-foot building and 22,682 square feet for the non-conforming lot.
In the March 22 issue of The Times, an article titled "Rockport models wet/dry choice," incorrectly identified Jean-Marc Dupon as the owner of Le Grenier restaurant. His father, Jean Dupon, is the owner.
A letter to the editor published on March 29, "Simpler and quieter," regarding the sale of beer and wine in Tisbury did not include the name of its author, Abigail Higgins of West Tisbury.