News in Brief
SSA closes Islander deal, approves pier project
At their monthly meeting held in Hyannis on Tuesday the Steamship Authority (SSA) members approved the sale of the Islander to Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation of New York (GIPECNY) for $500,000. GIPECNY is a public redevelopment agency responsible for the planning, redevelopment, and ongoing operations for 150 acres of Governors Island.
Vineyarders who travel to New York City, where the venerable ferry will run between Manhattan and Governors Island, should still recognize her, despite modifications that will include the removal of the double-ender's bow/stern doors.
Marc Hanover, Vineyard SSA member, told The Times after the meeting that he is happy the Islander is going to continue to be used. He was equally pleased with the members' vote to award a contract for the first phase of the Oak Bluffs terminal reconstruction project.
RDA Construction Corporation of Quincy received a $4.4 million contract to replace various dolphins and the transfer bridge and add two new staging lanes to the north side of the pier.
At one point in the lengthy history of the terminal project, the SSA planned to incorporate a fishing pier in the plan. Those plans were dropped due to budget considerations and security concerns in the wake of 9/11.
Undaunted, members of the Martha's Vineyard Surfcasters Association continued to press the SSA for some type of fishing access. Last month, Carl Walker, SSA director of engineering, contacted the state Office of Fishing and Boating Access to see what type of support might be offered.
Although it is no longer part of the terminal project, Tuesday SSA port council chairman Bob Huss of Oak Bluffs reported on a meeting with SSA, state and town officials, and local fishermen. He said although it is still very preliminary the state appears willing to seriously consider constructing a fishing pier at that location.
"That's very exciting," said Mr. Hanover about the possibility of a fishing pier.
In other business, the SSA approved the 2008 winter and spring operating schedules. The spring schedule will begin on April 3 and the summer schedule on May 21.
The board voted to allow the New England Fast Ferry to dock at the SSA Woods Hole terminal as part of a pilot high-speed project sponsored by the New Bedford Harbor Development Commission. The boat will make two round trips per day Mondays through Fridays from August 1 to November 15.
SSA treasurer Bob Davis provided an analysis of the SSA rate structure with respect to the cost of service. Among the details, he said that during 2006 automobiles booked at the standard fare covered 136.6 percent of their allocated cost of service, wile trucks covered 115.9 percent.
The analysis showed that Island residents are subsidized by non-Islanders. The report stated that automobiles booked at the discounted Islander fare covered only 35.4 percent of their allocated cost of service, while trucks traveling on excursion fares covered 48.4 percent.
Stop & Shop employee dies of bacterial meningitis
A 30-year-old employee of the Edgartown Stop & Shop died this weekend due to bacterial meningitis, an infection of the brain that can be caused by bacteria or a virus. Public health officials confirmed the cause of death but declined to identify the man.
Edgartown health agent Matt Poole stressed that there is no public health risk. "The only means of transmission is close intimate personal contact, the exchange of saliva," said Mr. Poole. "The public is not at risk. Those who have been in close personal contact with this man have been notified and have received prophylactics."
Employees at the Edgartown Stop & Shop referred all questions to the corporate office. "We're very shocked and saddened," said Stop & Shop Public Spokesman, Robert Keane. "He had a lot of friends at the store and we'll miss him a great deal."
Mr. Keane said he would not identify the man without permission from his family.
By law, public health officials must report all cases of meningitis. Donna Rheaume, Massachusetts Department of Public Health (MDPH) spokesperson, said the man was a resident of Dartmouth, and was working at Stop & Shop this summer.
Ms. Rheaume said that the last outbreak of bacterial meningitis on the Vineyard occurred in 2000, when there were two nonfatal cases. In the last five years there have been 18 fatalities tied to bacterial meningitis in Massachusetts, she said.
Meningitis is an inflammation of the membranes of the brain and the spinal cord. Symptoms vary but often include #fever, stiff neck, headache, vomiting, lethargy, and sometimes rash, according to material found on the DPH web site.
For more information call the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Division of Epidemiology and Immunization at 888-658-2850 or go to http://www.mass.gov/dph.
DOR questions water works funds
A letter received by the Tisbury selectmen this week from Kathleen Colleary, chief of the Bureau of Municipal Finance Law at the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, supported the town's position that employment contracts for Tisbury Water Works superintendent Deacon Perrotta and administrator Lois Norton should be limited to one-year contracts and provide benefits similar to those offered to other town employees.
While Ms. Colleary declined to render an opinion on the specifics of the cases involving the two water department employees' contracts, she did state that she was not aware of any statute under Massachusetts General Laws authorizing a special services contract for Mr. Perrotta and Ms. Norton. Ms. Colleary also agreed with Tisbury's argument that excess water works funds should be returned to the town's treasury rather than being held in a special reserve fund for the water department.
The Tisbury selectmen's scrutiny of the water department began in March 2006 when they took notice of the salaries and benefits package the water commissioners awarded through five-year contracts to superintendent Deacon Perrotta and administrator Lois Norton. Overseeing both the Oak Bluffs Water District and Tisbury Water Works, at that time the two administrators were paid over $100,000, $50,000 from each town, with a more generous benefits package than those given to other town employees.
The selectmen also argued that $1.57 million in surplus cash documented in the water department's annual audit, conducted separately from the town's, should either be returned to the town's general fund or the water rates reduced.
At Tisbury's annual town meeting in April, Mr. Israel proposed amending the salary line in the water department budget to reduce the two water department employees' salaries from $117,000 to $78,759, which voters approved.
Tisbury town administrator John Bugbee said the town's selectmen and water commissioners have been trying to resolve their differences in meetings over the last year. "I think what happens now is we'll continue to try to broker an agreement and not have to go down the litigation road," Mr. Bugbee said. He plans to follow Ms. Colleary's suggestion and forward information to the Division of Local Services for clarification about the issue of whether the town or water department should have custody of the water works funds.
rural, will receive grant
The Massachusetts state department of education (DOE) agreed this week to re-designate Tisbury as a rural community, making the town eligible for a federal education grant under the Rural Education Achievement Program (REAP), according to a press release from Rep. Eric T. Turkington and Sen. Robert A. O'Leary.
As a result of Tisbury's renewed eligibility to receive REAP funds, a DOE spokesperson confirmed in a phone call yesterday with Representative Turkington's aide Jon Wilson that the town will receive fiscal year 2007 REAP funds around September 15. Superintendent of schools James Weiss said he expects Tisbury will receive "in the neighborhood of $20,000," and was told he will find out the exact amount today.
The purpose of the REAP grant is to help rural districts comply with the federal No Child Left Behind Law in meeting their state's definition of yearly adequate progress. The Up-Island Regional School District has received money from the grant every year since 2002. Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, and Edgartown first applied for the grant in 2004. Tisbury was the only Island school district to lose its REAP grant last fall, which had amounted to about $26,000 for the two years the school district received it.
According to the U.S. DOE, applicants do not compete for the funds, but rather are entitled to them if they meet basic eligibility requirements. "For some unknown reason, following the spring of 2006, we couldn't get a firm determination as to what happened to change Tisbury's designation," Mr. Weiss said. "Oak Bluffs, Edgartown, and up-Island continued to receive the funds, but Tisbury did not."
The loss of the funds came as a blow to Tisbury, which already was reeling from news about having to pay thousands of dollars more towards its assessment for the regional high school under the state's mandated statutory formula. Although some people may have thought the two were linked, Mr. Weiss said, "One thing has absolutely nothing to do with the other - the REAP grant is totally a separate issue from the school formula."
Since REAP is a federal program, Mr. Weiss said his office and Tisbury School contacted Representative William D. Delahunt's office for help in resolving the issue of Tisbury's loss of the grant. "A couple of his staff have been working on it and really made the difference," Mr. Weiss said.
In addition, this week Rep. Turkington and Sen. O'Leary wrote a letter to Assistant Secretary Kerri Briggs, office of elementary and secondary education at the U.S. Department of Education, reiterating the need to restore Tisbury's eligibility for the funds and to consider the town for FY07 funds if any remained.
Funeral services for
Donald M. Sennott
Donald M. Sennott, 79, a long-time summer resident of Oak Bluffs, died yesterday in Providence, R.I. He will be buried Monday following a service at the Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Oak Bluffs. The time of the service was not available as of press time. An obituary will appear in next week's issue of The Times.
park and ride with prizes
Riding a free shuttle bus in and out of Edgartown can pay off in prizes for employees who work downtown through a rewards program sponsored by the Edgartown Board of Trade. The object of the incentive rewards program is to promote public transportation and to reduce traffic and congestion downtown.
Each time an employee parks in the Triangle Park and Ride lot behind Edgartown Pizza and takes the free VTA #11 shuttle downtown, he or she earns a chance to win weekly prizes. The shuttle runs every day from 6:50 am to 1:07 am.
The more rides someone takes, the greater the chance of winning prizes.
Drawings will be held each Tuesday and winners announced in the Times and the Vineyard Gazette. Employers also will be notified by e-mail.
The incentive rewards program runs until Sunday, September 9. Bank of Martha's Vineyard employee John Coskie is coordinating the program. For questions, contact him at 508-696-4402.
Island sea captain documentary is planned
Detrick Lawrence Productions has announced production of a documentary film, "Zeb - Schooner Life," about legendary Vineyard sea captain Zeb Tilton.
The company, based in Edgartown, is also trying to locate anyone with recollections of Mr. Tilton or his schooner, Alice Wentworth.
Individuals with relevant information are encouraged to contact the film's director, Gordon Massingham. Mr. Massingham, who is also the President of Detrick Lawrence, may be reached by telephone at 508-627-8844 or by e-mail at Gordon@efilmgroup.com.
Release is planned for Spring 2008, according to a Detrick Lawrence press release.
"What may be most remarkable about Zeb Tilton," the press release said, "is that he kept alive a way of life, that even as he practiced it, was a thing of the past. As he worked the schooner trade in the age of oil and gas, he became a national figure as he reminded so many of our national heritage."
Free seminar will focus on long-term care planning
Island insurance agent Steve Jordan will host a free seminar on the role long-term care planning plays in a person's retirement planning on Tuesday, July 24, at 10 am in the Edgartown Room of the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown.
Louis L. Murray, a certified long-term care counselor and member of the Boston Estate Planning Council will lead the seminar entitled, "What's Your Plan?"
"The insurance and financial services industry has responded to the crisis of elderly needs and objectives with products that allow people assistance right in their homes, while other assets are left intact for their spouse, children, or planned charitable giving," said Mr. Jordan.
Seminar seating is limited. To register, call Steven C. Jordan at 508-693-9500.
The cover of the Calendar section on July 12 incorrectly identified the young man in photo number 1. In fact, it was David Macias who was waving the American flag on a float sponsored by the Assembly of God Church.