News in Brief
Chappy ferry deal reached, license transferred
Edgartown selectmen transferred the license and lease agreement for the Chappaquiddick ferry from Roy Hayes to Peter Wells on Tuesday
Mr. Wells has a contract to purchase the ferry business, and expects to close the business deal January 28.
"I'm very excited, I'm glad to be under way," said Mr. Wells, shortly after the transfer was completed, "I am nervous about it, but I think anybody in my position should be nervous."
While he declined to disclose the purchase price, he indicated it was close to the $3 million cited when Mr. Hayes offered to sell the business to the town earlier this year.
About 20 Chappy residents packed the selectmen's meeting to support Mr. Wells, and broke out in applause when the selectmen approved the transfer. Many were members of a committee appointed by selectmen that issued a report recommending changes in the current licensing agreement to give the town more control over schedules and fares.
"I was wondering if the selectmen are going to adopt any of the recommendations of the report," asked John Dropick, vice chairman of the committee.
"I think that we would be willing to consider those, but not incorporate them into the agreement at this time," said Margaret Serpa, chairman of the board of selectmen.
Housing groups launch effort for West Tisbury project
A consortium of Island affordable housing groups will hold a public meeting Monday to present a development concept for a parcel of land off State Road in West Tisbury.
The development group includes the Island Housing Trust (IHT), South Mountain Company, Habitat for Humanity and the Island Affordable Housing Fund. The development is planned for a four-acre building envelope on an eight-acre parcel IHT purchased as part of a 22.5-acre deal with the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank.
Phillipe Jordi, IHT executive director, said that plans are very preliminary and the public meeting is intended to describe the concept in an effort to ease the concerns of neighbors. For now the plan is to construct a small cluster of no more than eight single-family houses.
West Tisbury is zoned three acres. Mr. Jordi said a town bylaw allows for a special permit for multi-family houses in cluster neighborhoods.
The concept of a cluster is at the sole discretion of the planning board and for now that appears to restrict planning to one dwelling per acre. The alternative development route he said is 40B, the Massachusetts law that exempts affordable housing from local zoning bylaws.
Last December, the Land Bank commission and IHT announced the purchase of the 22.5-acre parcel on State Road in West Tisbury near the intersection with the Old County Road.
The purchase was intended to preserve an unbroken stretch of woodland along the road and provide land for the construction of affordable housing.
The public meeting begins at 7 pm in the Howes House meeting room on State Road in West Tisbury adjacent to the West Tisbury Library.
West Tisbury library receives $50,000 gift
Betty and Ralph Franklin of Sarasota, Fla., and West Tisbury have given $50,000 to the Friends of the West Tisbury Library, Friends president Susan Wasserman reported at a joint meeting of the Friends and the library trustees last week.
Summer residents in Christiantown since the 1950s, the Franklins are regular users and patrons of the library. Up until last year, Ms. Franklin worked every summer on the annual library used-book sale, starting as soon as she arrived on the Island, cataloging and pricing antiquarian volumes. The sale was an important part of her Island life. Assistant Librarian Nelia Decker recalls that Ms. Franklin directed the project in some years. "She was unflappable and a very funny person to work with," she remembers.
In announcing the gift, Ms. Wasserman told the Friends and the trustees, "Betty has such respect for the volunteers who run the book sale every year that she dedicated this donation to them."
According to Head Librarian Beth Kramer, the Franklins, in the process of making retirement plans, had an opportunity to make a one-time gift and chose the West Tisbury Library to receive it. "The gift is a huge personal statement," Ms. Decker added.
Library officials are still considering how to use the gift, one of the largest ever received by the library. Coincidentally, the library is this week beginning a series of strategic planning sessions. The Franklins' gift will figure importantly in the strategic plan, whether as a part of a possible future library expansion or fulfilling a more immediate need.
Oak Bluffs town administrator gets contract
Oak Bluffs selectmen Tuesday approved a personal services contract for town administrator Michael Dutton, and voted to transfer the licenses of two long-established businesses.
Mr. Dutton's contract, covering the period from July 1, 2007, to June 30, 2008, will pay him $99,900.
While the new contract represents a raise over his current salary, Mr. Dutton's pay remains 16 percent lower than administrators in comparable towns, according to a recently completed compensation study. The former selectman has been working without a contract since he was hired in June of 2006. Town counsel must review the personal services contract for Mr. Dutton, one of two authorized by the board of selectmen.
In other action, the selectmen approved the transfer of a liquor license held by the Ritz Café to businessman John Reveruzzi. Mr. Reveruzzi owns and manages David Ryan's in Edgartown, and the Sugar Shack, on Oak Bluffs harbor.
"What we plan to do is run the operation exactly as it is run presently," said Mr. Reveruzzi. "For the first year, we really don't know what to expect, so we want to keep everything the same."
Janet King, who attended the hearing, has managed the Ritz Café since 1987, and her family has owned the colorful bar since 1967.
Selectmen also voted to transfer a license held by King's Rental to rent 50 mopeds and six cars from long-time business owner Cheryl King to Jason Leone, who operates other rental companies on the Island.
Selectmen advised Mr. Leone that they will try to negotiate a reduction in the number of mopeds allowed when the license comes up for renewal this spring.
Up-Island school budget approved narrowly
After two previous meetings and several hours of debate, the Up-Island Regional School District (UIRSD) committee certified the fiscal 2009 budget at a meeting Tuesday at West Tisbury School. The vote was 4-1 to certify the budget's bottom line at $8,351,135.03. (Under the terms of the UIRSD regional agreement, the budget required the approval of two-thirds of its members, 4 out of 5.) Committee member Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter of West Tisbury cast the dissenting vote.
In an effort to reduce the regional high school's budget, school superintendent James Weiss had agreed to forego adding a facilities manager position to his office, a shared service also included in the UIRSD's budget.
The new position would have freed West Tisbury assistant principal Bob Lane from his facility management responsibilities to assume teaching an industrial technology class, which would have saved the school district the cost of a half-time teacher's salary and benefits.
With the facilities manager position removed, the school committee agreed to take out the $19,300 share the district would contribute for salary and put $40,582 back into West Tisbury School's operating budget for the half-time industrial technology teacher.
The budget finale was not without some drama, as Mr. Weiss fired back at committee member Roxanne Ackerman's criticism about rising administrative costs and proposals for adding staff in his office, at the possible expense of school programs.
"I personally and professionally disagree," Mr. Weiss responded. "Our purpose for being is to provide fair, equitable, and appropriate education for our 2,100 students on this Island - we know what our mission is. The issue is not our focus - the issue is money."
Mr. Weiss said he looked long and hard at the salaries paid to staff in his office, and although he considered removing an increment increase, he concluded it would not be fair.
"I'm not willing to offer up the salary increases of anybody in my office - they work hard, and it wouldn't be fair," Mr. Weiss told Ms. Ackerman. "I'd be willing to forego my salary increment for fiscal year 2009, but I won't take a penny from Laurie [Halt] or Amy [Tierney] or any of my staff."
Committee members Susan Parker, Marshall Segall, and Dan Cabot said they would not support removing Mr. Weiss's salary increment increase.
"I could continue to vote no," said Ms. Ackerman, who had voted with Mr. Manter against certifying the budget at the last two meetings. Instead, after expressing her frustration about rising administrative costs, she ended the stalemate.
Services for former Oak Bluffs police chief Peter Williamson
Peter Williamson, 70, the former Oak Bluffs police chief, died yesterday at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
Chief Williamson served on the Oak Bluffs police force for 32 years, 27 of them as chief. He retired in 1992. His son Tim Williamson is a lieutenant on the Oak Bluffs police force. Chief Williamson was the husband of Judith M. Williamson. A full obituary will appear in a later edition of The Times.
Visiting hours will be held on Sunday from 4 to 7 pm in the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs. A funeral Mass will be held on Monday at 11 am in Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Oak Bluffs. Burial will follow in Sacred Heart Cemetery, Vineyard Avenue, Oak Bluffs.
Donations may be made to Hospice of Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 2549, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. Arrangements are being made by Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home. For online guest book and information, visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com.
Medication safety fair targets errors, patient safety
As part of a system-wide effort to improve patient safety and care, the Martha's Vineyard Hospital has turned its attention to medications.
On Saturday, Jan. 26, from 9 to 11 am, the hospital will sponsor a "Medication Safety Fair." Members of the public are encouraged to bring their current medications, including any vitamins, herbs and over-the-counter medications, in a bag to the hospital's main lobby.
Hospital staff and local Island pharmacists will be on hand. Attendees will receive a medication wallet card that can be used to maintain an accurate and complete list of each patient's medications. The hospital will also collect expired medications for disposal during the event.
The fair is part of an initiative dubbed the "hospital medication reconciliation project," the program is intended to improve patient safety related to medication errors through a redesign of systems of care and the development of a standardized process, according to a press release.
"In order to be successful, quality improvement must be a facility-wide effort, involving all levels of our staff," said Mary-Patrice Ruocco, the hospital's Patient Safety Coordinator. "The Medication Reconciliation concept involves more than just a few people; it's a philosophy that reflects what our patients and their families can expect during every admission, Emergency Department visits, and upon discharge from our facility. Partnering with our patients as part of the process is what the upcoming Medication Safety Fair is all about," said Ms. Ruocco.
For more information about the Medication Safety Fair, contact Mary Ruocco at 508-693-0410, ext.205.
Recycled barn will be part of museum
A load of antique barn timbers from the town of Shirley is scheduled to arrive on the Island today. The one-time dairy barn will be reconstructed at the site of the Martha's Vineyard Museum's planned new campus in West Tisbury on the former Littlefield property.
Museum staff learned about the old barn's availability last summer from West Tisbury builder Rick Anderson. Mr. Anderson was instrumental in bringing several recycled barns, including the Ag Hall, to the Island. Built around 1850, the oak and chestnut structure measures 105 feet long, 40 feet wide, and 37 feet tall. It was owned by the Hazen family as a dairy barn until 1910, when Edward Mott Davis converted the farm to an orchard and stored apples in the building. Developer GFI Shirley, which now owns the farm, donated the building to the museum free of charge. A fundraising effort in July and other donations amassed some $90,000 towards its reconstruction.
According to Amy Houghton, the museum's director of development, barn materials are arriving in four shipments and will be stored temporarily on Martha's Vineyard Agricultural Society property. Although a recent Boston Globe article said the barn would house "antique carriages and boats," Ms. Houghton said that neither the specific use nor location of the structure has been determined.
Health council receives grant for substance abuse prevention
The office of the Massachusetts Attorney General has awarded a one-year $90,000 grant to the Youth Task Force (YTF), a subcommittee of the Dukes County Health Council. The money will be used to combat youth substance abuse.
The "Environmental Approaches to Preventing Youth Alcohol, Prescription Drug and Other Substance Abuse grant" will be used to hire a coordinator to implement youth substance abuse prevention strategies, according to a press release.
The plan is to target seventh- and eighth-grade students. The mission of the YTF is to reduce substance abuse and other risky behaviors among Island youth "by promoting community-wide health and wellness for youth and families through a cooperative, integrated network of youth, parents, health practitioners, health-care and social service organizations, public officials, educators, law enforcement officers, and other community members."
The Health Council formed the YTF in 2004 in response to the results of Youth Risk Behavior Surveys carried out in 2000 and 2002 that documented levels of substance use and other risky behaviors among Island youth as being significantly higher than state and national levels.
Over the past year, the YTF has completed a community-wide needs assessment, developed a five-year strategic substance abuse prevention plan utilizing a social norms approach to address the community's youth substance abuse problems, and applied for this grant.
In observance of Alcohol Awareness Month in April and to address the issue of underage drinking, the Youth Task Force will host Town Hall Meetings the first week in April to help the community learn about the consequences of underage drinking. The Youth Task Force also has plans to launch a web site database/help site of the resources available to youth and families on Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod.
Open house and scholarship exam at Falmouth Academy
Falmouth Academy will host its annual scholarship exam and open house on Saturday, Jan. 26, from 8:30 am to noon.
A panel of students will discuss their experiences at the school and answer questions from prospective students and their parents. Following the panel discussion, prospective students will take the exam while their parents view presentations from every member of the FA faculty.
Approximately 25 Vineyard students currently attend the independent day school for college-bound students in grades seven to twelve, including an exchange student from Slovakia who lives with a family in Vineyard Haven, according to a press release.
Students interested in applying to Falmouth Academy for the 2008-09 school year are invited to attend. For information or to register for the exam, call the admissions office at 508-457-9696.
New midwife joins hospital
Martha's Vineyard Hospital announced last week that Certified nurse midwife Nancy Leport of Aquinnah has joined the Martha's Vineyard Hospital's Center for Women's Health.
Ms. Leport completed her midwifery training at Columbia University in 1997 and previously worked as a nurse in the hospital maternity department. She joins a team that includes Dr. S. Patrick Donegan, nurse midwife Cathy Chase, nurse Evie O'Donnell and office assistant Brenda Fauteaux.
The Center for Women's Health provides routine gynecologic and infertility evaluations, advanced laparoscopic surgery, contraceptive management, and prenatal care, according to a press release. For more information, call 508-696-7294.
A caption for a hockey photo on Page 8 of the Jan. 17 Times incorrectly identified Olivia Hart as Courtney Minnehan.