News in Brief
Assessor leaves West Tisbury for Edgartown
Jo-Ann Resendes will switch towns but not jobs. The longtime West Tisbury principal assessor will leave the job she has held for 22 years and become the new Edgartown assessor as of July 16.
Ms. Resendes's decision to leave West Tisbury comes in the wake of two significant victories for her office and the three-member West Tisbury board of assessors.
In March, the Massachusetts Appellate Tax board ruled in favor of the West Tisbury assessors and against Dr. Timothy and Ellen Guiney, in an appeal of the town's multi-million dollar real estate valuation of the couple's north shore property near Paul's Point.
In June 2006, the board ruled in favor of the assessors in a high-profile battle with West Tisbury resident William W. Graham, who had appealed his 2003 and 2004 assessments to the tax board, claiming that the town's assessments and the methodology used to arrive at the numbers were unfair, even improper.
Over the course of the legal battles, Ms. Resendes was the subject of sharp criticism, some of which questioned her integrity and competence. The charges were amplified when the Vineyard Gazette, in an editorial, called on Ms. Resendes to resign.
Throughout the extensive news coverage, Ms. Resendes, an Edgartown resident, maintained a low profile. Quiet and soft-spoken, she generally refrained from public comment.
Ms. Resendes downplayed the criticism and any recent events as factors in her decision. She said that Edgartown is a larger town with more variety, and she said she is ready for a new challenge. Her annual salary will also increase.
"It was a job opportunity that seemed to be a good one for me," she told The Times. "Any other place in the world, it would be looked at as career enhancement."
Michael Colaneri, chairman of the West Tisbury assessors, which includes Cynthia Mitchell and Stanton Richards, said, "Jo-Ann's leaving will be a great loss to the board and the town of West Tisbury. Experience and dedication are just a couple of her greatest assets and this is clearly West Tisbury's loss and Edgartown's gain."
Cape Air suspends
most flight operations
Cape Air Wednesday announced "a voluntary and temporary" cancellation of most flights utilizing Cessna 402 aircraft.
Cape Air posted the following announcement on its web site: "This voluntary ramp down, which will result in the cancellation of most flights, is a conservative yet wise precaution. Several recent engine abnormalities have led us to examine the wear-rate in one of the engine components. To eliminate any risk this could create, replacement parts will be installed in every airplane and we have brought in colleagues from the engine manufacturer and the FAA to support our effort.
"Despite the initiative we are taking to replace all of these components, we feel the best and safest action is to temporarily ramp down all Cessna flights until we implement this action on all engines on our 49 Cessna aircraft. We expect full operations to resume in a few days, but will update this information as it becomes available."
For more information, go to www.flycapeair.com.
SSA meets Tuesday
in Oak Bluffs
The Steamship Authority (SSA) will hold its monthly board meeting at 9:30 am Tuesday in the Oak Bluffs Library meeting room.
SSA chief executive officer Wayne Lamson said he expected to present a routine agenda. Although the summer season has just begun, the boatline is already looking ahead to next year.
Mr. Lamson said the agenda would include a discussion of the winter and spring schedule and the 2008 budget policy statement. There will also be an update on capital projects, including the Oak Bluffs terminal improvements.
One group that has specific ideas about the terminal is the Martha's Vineyard Surfcaster's Association. Representatives of the group plan to ask the SSA to include a fishing pier as part of the rebuilding project. The original terminal plan included provisions for a fishing platform.
Budget constraints and security considerations in the wake of 9/11 led the SSA to drop the fishing platform from the plans.
Sengekontacket Pond closed to shellfishing
The Oak Bluffs and Edgartown shellfish constables were busy Friday posting signs around Sengekontacket Pond prohibiting shellfishing, after recent water quality tests showed high levels of fecal coliform bacteria.
David Grunden, Oak Bluffs shellfish constable, said he received a telephone call Friday morning from Division of Marine Fisheries biologist Mike Syslo with the results of recent water quality tests that showed levels above the safe level for shellfish consumption.
The pond remains open to swimming and boating. Mr. Grunden said he does not expect the pond to be reopened to shellfishing for at least two weeks, pending future test results.
Recent road runoff following heavy rains, a high number of waterfowl, including large flocks of non-migratory geese, and development around the pond are all suspected of contributing to a general deterioration of water quality in the pond.
Oak Bluffs planning board approves hospital site plan
Fresh from last week's appearance before the Martha's Vineyard Commission, the Martha's Vineyard Hospital gathered its architects and planners Tuesday to negotiate one more regulatory hurdle.
Hospital officials appeared before the Oak Bluffs planning board to seek approval of the new hospital site plan. The planning board was unanimous in its decision, opening the way for construction to begin.
"It looked pretty good to us and seemed like they addressed all of the issues we were concerned about," said John Bradford, planning board chairman.
Three injured in multiple car accident Monday
Four cars carrying eight people altogether along Edgartown/Vineyard Haven Road were involved in a multiple car accident Monday after the first car stopped to make a turn onto Pilgrim Road and the driver of the fourth car failed to stop.
Three persons went to the hospital, none with serious injuries, according to Edgartown Police.
Evan Schwab, 17, of Chilmark was charged with negligent operation of a motor vehicle for his role in the accident.
Politicians promise pothole funds
Sen. Robert O'Leary and Rep. Eric T. Turkington told a meeting of Island school and town officials last Friday they are confident that the state Department of Education will come through with "pothole" funds to reimburse towns whose regional school assessments will increase dramatically under the state's statutory funding formula. The state's fiscal year 2008 budget, which awaits approval by Gov. Deval Patrick, includes $5.5 million for the "pothole" funds. Representative Turkington said new language added to the education bill ensured that the Island would be eligible for the funds. Towns on Cape Cod and in western Massachusetts will be applying for the funds, as well.
The Island's regional school district would have to apply for the funds on behalf of the towns most negatively affected by the new formula, which include Chilmark, Edgartown, Tisbury, and West Tisbury. In order to be eligible, the regional school district must have a school budget in place.
About a dozen people attended last week's meeting at the Oak Bluffs Library, including selectmen from Aquinnah, Chilmark, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown.
The Tisbury selectmen did not attend the meeting because they said they did not receive notification by e-mail as the other town officials did. Tisbury selectman Tristan Israel said at a meeting this week he was "flabbergasted all of these people were sitting together in a room and didn't think to call us when they didn't see us there."
Mr. Israel said he is concerned that if Tisbury voters turn down the state's statutory formula at a special town meeting to vote on it on June 26, the town may not receive any of the pothole funds. Yesterday, superintendent of Island schools James Weiss said he was told by Senator O'Leary's office that whether a town accepts the state statutory formula or not, "If we apply and are eligible, we will get the money - but we have to have a budget in place."
Cautioning that the legislative process is a slow one, Mr. Weiss said in the past, the school system received notification about pothole funds around October. "Senator O'Leary and Representative Turkington indicated they are working with the Department of Education to get something sooner," he said.
Cultural Council invites public comment
The Martha's Vineyard Cultural Council (the MVCC) will hold a community input meeting Monday in an effort to solicit suggestions and strengthen the council's outreach and effectiveness.
The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7:30 pm at the Howes House in West Tisbury (just across from Alley's General Store).
The MVCC's mission is to promote excellence, access, education, and diversity in the arts, humanities, and interpretative sciences for the purpose of improving the quality of life for all of the Island's residents. The council must adhere to the state program guidelines but has some flexibility when developing local criteria for awarding grants, and it is in this regard that public input becomes essential according to a press release.
Vineyard organizations and programs that received council grants in 2006 included, The Yard's multicultural residency in Island schools; the Fall Workshop productions at the Vineyard Playhouse; and the M.V. History Series at the Oak Bluffs Public Library.
Members of the MVCC would like Islanders to attend the Monday meeting in order to help shape the future of the arts, humanities and interpretative sciences on the Island.
For more information and reports, e-mail MVCC secretary Pia Webster at firstname.lastname@example.org.
VTA to participate in Dump the Pump Day
The Martha's Vineyard Transit Authority will participate in National Dump the Pump Day, organized to promote public transportation, on Thursday, June 21.
The VTA will offer half-priced fares (except for 31-day and yearly passes) for the occasion. "Goodies and giveaways" will also be available to passengers, according to a VTA advertisement.
Dump the Pump Day is intended to promote public transportation as an affordable and environmentally friendly alternative to driving. "On June 21, people can make a difference by riding public transportation and encouraging their friends and family to do so, too," according to a press release from Angela Grant of the VTA.
The Nantucket Regional Transit Authority, the Cape Cod Regional Transit Authority and the Youth Hostel in West Tisbury are also participating in Dump the Pump Day. The Hostel will be hosting an "Offset Carbon Barbeque" between 1 and 5 pm.
In June 7 article entitled "Driver's education program approved as elective in high school curriculum", a photo at top right incorrectly identified Barbara and Tom Furino as the couple on the right. They are on the left.