News in Brief
Tisbury selectmen sue town's water commissioners
The Tisbury water commissioners, Tisbury Water Works superintendent Deacon Perrotta, administrator Lois Norton, and the Oak Bluffs Water District got summonses yesterday for a preliminary hearing in Superior Court this morning, in connection with a lawsuit filed by the town of Tisbury.
A few minutes later, they learned that the hearing has been postponed till January.
The lawsuit stems from a two-year conflict between the Tisbury selectmen and water commissioners over employee contracts for Mr. Perrotta and Ms. Norton, as well as issues relating to water works funds and accounting practices.
"This is the culmination of two years of failed talks, stalled talks, to resolve the issues relating not only to the employee contracts but some of the other peripheral issues we were unable to resolve during our discussion," said Tisbury town administrator John Bugbee.
Reached moments after receiving a summons, Tisbury's water commission chairman David Schwab said, "I thought we were working it all out." He received a phone message from Mr. Bugbee last Thursday, he said, about putting together a committee to study the water department's charter.
"It's too bad - like I said, I thought we were beyond this," Mr. Schwab said. "When we were going to put together the committee to look at it, I figured most of these questions would be answered by that committee, depending on whatever the committee recommended and whatever the town meeting came up with."
Asked about bypassing the committee process by filing the lawsuit, Mr. Bugbee said, "There are some issues that we hope to continue discussing through the creation of this committee, and there are other issues that the only other recourse seemed to be handing this over to the court to resolve.
"If we are able to resolve issues amongst ourselves, that doesn't preclude us ending certain aspects of the legal suit, but the board felt it was time to hand this over to the court and have them take a look at it, because we were just not making any progress dealing with it ourselves and dealing with it as a group."
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 Mr. Perrotta and Ms. 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 should be reduced.
At Tisbury's annual town meeting in April 2007, 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. In June, after talks had stalled between the Tisbury selectmen and water commissioners, Mr. Bugbee received a letter from the Bureau of Municipal Finance Law at the Massachusetts Department of Revenue (DOR), supporting the town's position that the employment contracts for should be limited to one-year contracts and provide benefits similar to those offered to other town employees. The DOR 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.
Aquinnah seeks townwide energy DCPC
The Aquinnah selectmen yesterday sent a nomination to the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) to create a town-wide energy conservation and generation district of critical planning concern (DCPC).
Mark London, MVC executive director, said the MVC might consider the nomination at tonight's meeting. If the nomination is considered and accepted, there would be a public hearing on the merits in a few weeks, Mr. London explained in an email to The Times.
The nomination application said, in part, "The residents of Aquinnah are eager to respond to a moral mandate to both conserve energy and create alternative energy sources ... With carefully considered guidelines, it is possible to encourage efficient, responsible building construction. Regulations designed to optimize alternative energy uses in new construction can educate property owners while benefiting the Island community.
The MVC meets at 7:30 pm in Oak Bluffs.
Night parking, traffic restricted on Circuit Avenue
Late night and overnight parking in Oak Bluffs' main business district will be prohibited beginning Nov. 4, as work crews replace a water main thought to be more than 100 years old.
Circuit Avenue from Lake Avenue to Samoset Avenue will be closed to parking from 10:30 pm to 5:30 am. The Oak Bluffs police department will order any vehicle left on the street during those hours towed at the owner's expense. The street will be closed to vehicles during some of those hours, though work crews will attempt to keep traffic disruption to a minimum. Police officers will be on hand when necessary to direct traffic along detour routes.
The closures will remain in effect from Sunday nights through Thursday nights for the entire month of November, except for the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.
Pedestrians will be able to walk along Circuit Avenue to visit businesses operating during all hours, including the hours the street is closed to traffic and parking.
"They're trying to keep the road open as much as possible," said town administrator Michael Dutton. "What they're planning to do is work in sections. They don't want to have an open trench during daylight hours."
Mr. Dutton said there should be minimal loss of parking spaces along Circuit Avenue during the day or early evening, and local businesses should be able to operate without disruption.
"The difficult part is going to be noise during the nighttime hours," said Mr. Dutton. "It's just one of those unfortunate things we'll have to live with."
Originally, the Oak Bluffs water district planned to clean and line the old water main. When the town put the job out to bid, they asked for alternative bids to replace the main.
"We were so pleasantly surprised that it was much more economical to install a new water main," said water systems administrator Lois Norton. The original plan would have required temporary bypass piping and difficult temporary connections to local homes and businesses, she said.
"It was a logistical nightmare. We wanted to accommodate our business owners," said Ms. Norton.
Under the current plan, work crews will build the new main beside the old one, and there will be no disruption of water service during construction. Once the new main is in place, and tested, the switch over will require that water service be turned off for only about an hour in the middle of the night.
Keeping in touch with the Island's military personnel
In order to keep in touch with active duty military personnel from Martha's Vineyard, Dukes County Veterans Agent Jo Ann Murphy is asking for help from the Island community in keeping her up to date on the names and addresses of active duty military personnel from Martha's Vineyard.
Due to strict privacy laws, Ms. Murphy said the military service branches do not automatically supply her with the information. "If people don't call and tell me where a serviceman or servicewoman is, I have no way of knowing," she said. Contact Ms. Murphy at 508-693-6887 or email her at email@example.com.
Those who would like to donate supplies for holiday care packages for Vineyard military personnel can drop off items up until November 16 in boxes set up at the Oak Bluffs Police Department, the Tisbury town hall annex, and Martha's Vineyard Hospital.
Suggested items include phone cards, sunscreen, bug lotion, deodorant, eye drops or eye wash, foot powder, hair bands, hand sanitizers or wipes, Kleenex, mouthwash, Q-tips, shampoo, shaving items, shower gel, toothbrushes and toothpaste, candy, coffee singles, gum, mints, Little Debbie snacks, packaged cookies, and Silly String.
Oak Bluffs police clerk Jeannie Pierson and Tisbury planning board administrative secretary Pat Harris coordinate efforts at their workplaces to collect donations of supplies and money for military personnel serving in Iraq. They have expanded the project to include the Island community in response to people who asked them about contributing.
For questions or to make monetary donations, contact Ms. Harris at 508-696-4270.
Teenage vandals smash vehicle mirrors
A group of teenage boys smashed the side view mirrors of two vehicles parked on Pennacook Avenue in Oak Bluffs on Saturday night.
Oak Bluffs police said that a witness called police to report that a car full of young males was responsible. By the time police officers arrived, the vandals were gone. Anyone with information is asked to call Oak Bluffs Police at 508-693-0750.
Oak Bluffs Transfer Station closed today
The Oak Bluffs/Tisbury transfer station on Pennsylvania Avenue off County Road in Oak Bluffs will be closed today, Nov. 1, and will reopen at noon tomorrow while operations at the station are transferred from the former contractor, Allied Waste, to Bruno's Roll-Off in Edgartown.
Last June, the Tisbury and Oak Bluffs selectmen awarded a three-year contract to Bruno's, the low bidder at $1.9 million, to manage the transfer station operations starting on Nov. 1.
Tisbury and Oak Bluffs pulled out of the Martha's Vineyard Refuse Disposal District - a regional entity that handles refuse services for Edgartown, Chilmark, West Tisbury, and Aquinnah - in 1993. The two towns together oversee a municipal refuse service contract for operations at the transfer station in Oak Bluffs.
Tisbury selectmen discuss Port Council issues
The Tisbury selectmen, meeting Tuesday, tentatively scheduled a fiscal year 2008 tax rate classification hearing on Nov. 20 at 5 pm, when they will also discuss beer and wine licensing regulations, in preparation for another public hearing, possibly in December.
In a joint meeting with the Vineyard Haven Library board of trustees, the selectmen and trustees unanimously approved the appointment of Jo Weinberg to fill a vacancy on the board after Ann Metcalf resigned. The library board also informed the selectmen they had approved the temporary appointment of reference librarian Cecily Greenaway as the interim library director.
In a discussion of Steamship Authority (SSA) issues, Tom Pachico, chairman of the selectman and the board's appointed SSA port council member, said he would attend the port council meeting this morning in Woods Hole.
At the Oct. 16 SSA monthly meeting held in Oak Bluffs, but not attended by the Tisbury selectmen, Mark Hanover, the Vineyard SSA member, said that he wanted to discuss the policy for the use of the Island Home lift decks. Mr. Hanover said that in his view, the lift decks are not being used to full advantage, and he would like to see more flexibility from SSA management.
According to published reports, the lift decks generated minimal concern during the public forums and meetings that led to agreement on the final design plans for the Island Home.
At the October meeting, the SSA members decided to ask the port council to prepare a report and recommendations for discussion by the board at a future meeting.
Mr. Pachico told his fellow selectmen that as he recalled, the town of Tisbury was "pretty adamant" about not selling space on the lift decks unless a ferry were cancelled and the SSA needed to handle extra traffic or make an extra trip.
Selectman Tristan Israel said he would have no problem with the SSA using the lifts occasionally and that he thought the lift decks were supposed to give the SSA "wiggle room" in times of service difficulties. Selectman Denys Wortman suggested keeping the lifts available for Islander-preferred traffic or standbys.
Mr. Pachico said that when the lift decks were proposed, Tisbury's concern was that the extra 16 cars that could be carried would add to traffic congestion around Five Corners. Based on the comments by the selectmen, Mr. Pachico said he would tell the port council that the town is not in favor of selling the lift deck space and that it should be used only when a boat is cancelled or for an extra trip.
Oak Bluffs police host citizen's police academy
The Oak Bluffs police department will host its first annual Citizen's Police Academy, offering town residents the opportunity to get acquainted with police officers and gain a better understanding of law enforcement and its challenges.
The academy will be held at the Oak Bluffs Police Department in the Peter Williamson Room every Thursday from 6:30 to 8:30 pm, starting Nov. 29 through Jan. 31 (excluding Dec. 27). The nine-week program includes eight classes, plus a graduation night on Jan. 31.
"Officers will conduct training in areas of their own expertise, allowing participants a practical view of policing and its complexity in these changing times," according to a press release from Oak Bluffs Police Chief Erik Blake this week.
Class topics will include constitutional law, criminal law, motor vehicle law, applied patrol procedures, operating under the influence and field sobriety testing, firearms, domestic violence, marine operations and port security, and community policing.
Participants also will have the option of taking part in a cruiser ride-along, a practical exercise at the firearms range, and a marine patrol operations exercise.
Interested applicants 18 or older should contact Sergeant Michael Marchand at 508-693-0750. Informational brochures, academy applications, and liability waiver forms may be picked up at the Oak Bluffs Police Department on Oak Bluffs Avenue from 8 am to 4 pm, Monday through Friday. Applications are due by 4 pm on Friday, Nov. 16.
The Tisbury Police Department ran a similar citizen's police academy in 2005 and 2006. Participants especially enjoyed learning about patrol procedures, trading places with police officers in making vehicle stops in the Park and Ride parking lot.
County commission will vote to narrow its options
On Thursday, Nov. 8, the Dukes County Charter Study Commission (DCCSC) will for the first time vote to eliminate some of the seven recommendations it can make to the voters of Martha's Vineyard.
The plan, proposed by the steering committee at the meeting on Oct. 25, is for the commissioners to vote to eliminate courses of action from DCCSC consideration. While a vote to eliminate would not mean that a particular action could not be re-introduced at some later date, it would be withdrawn from present consideration in order to focus the commission's time and energy on the remaining choices. In accord with a motion made by DCCSC commissioner Tristan Israel, at least two-thirds of commissioners voting will be required to remove a choice from DCCSC consideration (16 of 23, if all vote).
On Nov. 8, the DCCSC will first vote whether to eliminate "No changes at all"; then, to eliminate "Abolish [county government] without replacing"; and then, to eliminate "Abolish and replace" (presumably with some as-yet-undetermined regional coalition of town governments).
It is likely that all three choices will be eliminated, at least for now.
Because the DCCSC was voted into existence to make changes, at this early date it is unlikely that more than a handful of commissioners would vote to make none.
Abolishing county governments, with or without substituting a regional coalition of governments, would require lengthy and uncertain negotiations with the state legislature and the governor. Two DCCSC subcommittees have recommended against abolishing county government on the grounds that doing so would not save the taxpayers money.
The remaining four choices are: to recommend changes to the county-manager form used now, to recommend one of the other two forms pre-approved by the legislature, or to recommend a custom charter. It is possible, though unlikely, that one or more of these choices will also be eliminated next week.
The narrowing vote will take place at the meeting of the DCCSC on Thursday, Nov. 8, at 5 pm at the Oak Bluffs Senior Center. A final vote is tentatively scheduled for early next year.
President Bush gives stripers game fish status
President George Bush traveled to the Chesapeake Bay, the birthplace of many of the striped bass found in Island waters, to sign an executive order on October 20 that establishes game fish status for striped bass, as well as red drum, in federal waters.
Federal regulations prohibit the possession of striped bass in waters outside the state's three-mile limit in an area designated the exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
The executive order (available at mvtimes.com) directs the Commerce and Interior Departments to put regulations in place to establish game fish status for red drum and striped bass in federal waters.
In his remarks, the President said, "The executive order is part of our commitment to end over-fishing in America and to replenish our nation's fish stocks and to advance cooperative conservation and responsible stewardship."
In recent years, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries has been pushing to open the EEZ striped bass fishery in order to exploit productive shoals currently outside the state limit. Last week, a DMF spokesperson said the agency is evaluating the executive order.
In his remarks, the President said that it is important to recognize that sport fishing is a $40 billion a year industry. "A lot of bait shops and small business owners are doing well as a result of good sport fishing policy," he said.
Mr. Bush added, "The striped bass - I don't know if our citizens follow the striped bass, but it's a good fish to catch. It's a lot of fun. It's also a good fish to eat. We've got to make sure we've got enough to catch as well as enough to eat, and we can do both in a smart way."
The executive order directs federal agencies to work with state officials to find innovative ways to help conserve striped bass and red drum. The President said that includes the state designation of "game fish" where appropriate. He said. "I hope the state officials take a serious look at game fish designation; it is an effective tool to protect endangered or dwindling species."
The striped bass is a prized New England game fish and a mainstay of the Vineyard's recreational and charter-boat fishing industry. Some recreational fishing leaders and conservationists have opposed a reopening of the EEZ on the basis that it currently provides striped bass with a refuge from commercial exploitation.
Cape Light Compact program receives award
Cape Light Compact's (CLC) "Solarize Our Schools" project has been awarded the Interstate Renewable Energy Council's Annual Innovation Award for 2007.
CLC, in partnership with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC), placed a 2 kilowatt-hour photovoltaic system on schools in each town on the Cape and Martha's Vineyard, with the exception of West Tisbury and Aquinnah, whose solar electric systems were placed on the town library and fire station, respectively.
CLC and MTC accomplished the "Solarize Our Schools" project by offering a bonus grant fund to pay for solar panels in the hometown schools of residential customers who enrolled in a green program, which provides electricity from renewable energy sources, from January to April 2006.
CLC is a regional energy services organization made up of all 21 towns of Barnstable and Dukes counties.
Cape workshop to cover College financial aid
Congressman Bill Delahunt and the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority will sponsor a forum on financial aid from 10 am to noon Saturday, November 10, at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay.
"This year, the Congress followed through with a commitment to make college more affordable for all Americans and passed the single largest investment in college financial assistance in over 50 years," Mr. Delahunt said in prepared remarks. "The purpose of this forum is to provide families with the information that they need as they begin to plan for impending college costs."
Officials from the Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority will provide an overview of several topics, which will include information on completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), the financial aid application and award process, and MEFA's parent assistance services.
Representatives from local area colleges will be available to speak with students and their parents beginning at 9 am.
In September, the President signed into law the College Cost Reduction Act of 2007, a "New Direction" legislative priority of this Congress, according to a press release provided by Congressman Delahunt's office. This legislation includes measures to ease the financial burden imposed on students and families by the cost of college. The legislation cuts interest rates in half on subsidized student loans over the next four years; increases the maximum Pell Grant scholarships over the next 5 years; expands eligibility through needs analysis to include and serve more students with financial need; provides upfront tuition assistance to qualified undergraduate students who commit to teach in public schools; and provides loan forgiveness after 10 years of public service.
For more information about federal student financial aid, such as eligibility requirements, application instructions, or repayment options, call Representative Delahunt's office toll-free at 800-794-9911.
Economic development funds earmarked for Cape, Islands
Tenth District Congressman William Delahunt recently announced that Cape and Islands Community Development Inc. will receive $750,000 in economic development funds from the United States Department of Agriculture.
"I want to congratulate the Cape and Islands Community Development Inc. for receiving this federal grant from the Department of Agriculture," Congressman Delahunt said. "They play an important role in helping finance small businesses and in bringing jobs to the region."
These funds are part of the USDA's Intermediary Relending Program (IRP). The purpose of this program is to increase economic activity and employment in rural communities. Under the IRP program, loans are provided to local organizations (intermediaries) for the establishment of revolving loan funds.
These revolving loan funds are used to assist with financing business and economic development activity to create or retain jobs.
Some examples of projects that are eligible under the IRP include: the acquisition, construction, conversion, enlargement, or repair of a business or business facility, particularly when jobs will be created or retained; the purchase or development of land (easements, rights of way, buildings, facilities, leases, materials); to purchase equipment, leasehold improvements, machinery, supplies; start-up costs and working capital; pollution control and abatement; transportation services; feasibility studies; hotels, motels, B&Bs, and convention centers.
Cape and Islands Community Development Inc. is a small business and micro loan fund that was created in 1995, to provide financial and technical assistance to start up small businesses in the counties of Barnstable, Dukes, and Nantucket. The program was created as part of an economic development initiative of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce. Call 508-790-2921 for more information on how to apply for small business financing.
While the number of aircraft using Martha's Vineyard airport decreased in the past year, the number of commercial passengers remained nearly the same, according to the latest statistics prepared by the airport. The statistics in general reflect fewer, but larger, commercial aircraft, carrying about the same number of people. "U.S. Airways' numbers are actually up, while Cape Air's were down a little bit," said airport manager Sean Flynn, speaking of the two commercial carriers with regular flights scheduled at the airport. "If you look at U.S. Airways numbers for July and August, they were higher than last year. We're encouraged about that."
For the 12-month period ending on August 31, U.S. Airways carried 7,675 passengers, an increase of 673 passengers, or nine percent over the same period a year earlier.
Cape Air carried 37,903 people to or from Martha's Vineyard for the statistical period, a decrease of 709 people, or 1.8 percent from the year before.
There were 51,509 aircraft "events" (generally a landing or a take-off) for the period ending in August, a decrease of three percent over the previous period. Those totals include both commercial, privately owned, and military aircraft.
In July and August of this year, the airport's two busiest months, an aircraft took off or landed from the airport every 4.7 minutes, on average.
In the future, records will show the type and size of aircraft using Martha's Vineyard Airport. "The numbers don't always tell the story," said Mr. Flynn. "The airport has, since May, been tracking the type of aircraft using the facility by size. This will be our baseline year."
Local physician attends clinical symposium
Dr. Michelle McCrumb recently attended a five-day clinical symposium on advances in skin and wound care. Dr. McCrumb is a physician and surgeon at Heel & Sole Podiatry in Vineyard Haven.
The seminar covered new research in diabetes, vascular disease, biochemistry, and laboratory testing. Also covered were the latest advances in wound care, including stem cell research, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and new bandaging materials.
One of the goals of the symposium is to give specialists from many fields a chance to share research and clinical expertise, in order to improve training and treatment options for patients.
"Shibori," artisans holiday shop, opens Friday
Tomorrow three local artists will open "Shibori" for the holiday season. The store is located in The Mansion House in Vineyard Haven and features the works of artists Margot Parrot, Robert Osborne, and Jamie Rogers.
Margot Parrot's dyeing methods are borrowed from multiple cultures, using modern dyes that are machine washable.
Robert Osborne's recent works on paper feature mixed media and collage using papers from the German papermaker, Gmund.
Jamie Rogers, of Stones of the Earth, creates silver and crystal fine art jewelry. Rogers studied at the Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina.
For more information call 508-696-5459.
Angela "Pink" LeRoyer has joined Harborside Realty of Edgartown as a sales associate. Ms. LeRoyer worked for the past 12 years as a paralegal and administrative assistant at the Edgartown law office of Reynolds, Rappaport & Kaplan, LLC, where she was involved in real estate matters. Ms. LeRoyer is the wife of Bill LeRoyer, principal and co-owner of Harborside Realty.
Comcast names Dan Sullivan VP of business services for Southeast Mass
Comcast, the Island's provider of cable, entertainment, and communications products and services, has named Dan Sullivan the new vice president of business services for Southeastern Massachusetts. In this newly created role, Mr. Sullivan will focus on expanding the company's business-class internet and TV services and deploying business-class digital voice, Comcast's innovative new digital telephone service for small and medium-sized businesses, according to a press release.
"I'm very excited about this opportunity to help local companies secure reliable high-speed Internet, voice, and video services from a provider they already know and trust," said Mr. Sullivan.
For more information about Comcast business class products and services, please visit www.comcast.com/business or contact 1-800-316-1619.
Gregory Ehrman, Mathew Schiffer made associates at Hutker
Hutker Architects of Martha's Vineyard and Falmouth announced the promotion of Gregory Ehrman and Mathew Schiffer to associate. Mr. Ehrman and Mr. Schiffer are being recognized for their exemplary design skills and outstanding project management, said a press release. Their contributions have kept Hutker Architects in the forefront of residential architecture on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and throughout New England.
Mr. Ehrman earned a Master in Architecture from Northeastern University and has been a project manager at Hutker Architects for seven years.
Mr. Schiffer is a registered architect and has been a project manager on Hutker Architects design team for the past five years.
For more about Hutker Architects visit www.hutkerarchitects.com
Island Club adds to member benefits
Our Island Club, a buying club for Islanders that provides a variety of discounts for goods and services while donating a percentage of member's fees to Island nonprofits, has joined with One Big-Planet, a members discount program.
Members can enjoy daily savings of up to 50 percent, according to a press release at over 80 participating merchant locations nationwide.
Our Island Club has more than 2,400 members who enjoy discounts at more than 100 participating businesses and has donated in excess of $35,000 to Island organizations, according to a press release.
Members can visit www.OurIslandClub.com to enroll for their free benefits program. For more information, contact Geoff Rose at 508-696-5430 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Tea for two or more
The English Butler Tearoom at 29 Winter Street in Edgartown now offers more tea and sympathy than usual, expanding its business hours to 12 to 5 pm, seven days a week. Tea-for-one starts at $6.50 on the new winter menu.
Owner Alison David said this will be the first year the store will remain open through New Year's Day, offering special events such as a children's Halloween costume tea party, mothers and daughters Thanksgiving tea, and a Boston tea party on December 16. Ms. David recommends making reservations ahead. "We're open to suit for adult and children's parties, as well," she added.
The English Butler also offers a "Scandal Party" for four, delivering everything needed for a special evening at home including a foot-soak, tea, and chocolate. Call 508-627-1013 or e-mail email@example.com to make reservations for tea time or special events.