News in Brief
Virus causes high absenteeism at high school
A viral infection that spread quickly through the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School early last week resulted in a large number of absences.
"We had up to 100 students absent yesterday and 92 today," Principal Margaret (Peg) Regan told The Times last Thursday. "We are seeing kids getting this very quickly - this week has been the biggest week for absentees." The virus has not affected a large number of teachers and staff, she added.
The symptoms include a sore throat, nausea, fatigue, and a headache, which last for a few days Ms. Regan said.
Ms. Regan said that according to Dr. Melanie Miller and Dr. Michael Goldfein some type of viral infection is moving through the school population.
Drs. Miller and Goldfein have examined many high school students stricken with the virus at their offices at Vineyard Pediatrics.
"We are concerned, although we are seeing kids recovering and returning to school," Ms. Regan said. "It is obviously very contagious, and we're stressing improved hygiene, particularly washing hands more frequently, and keeping well rested."
Aquinnah voters approve new pay scales
At a special town meeting Tuesday, Aquinnah voters agreed to put in place a new compensation and classification plan for town employees.
The approved plan creates nine grades of hourly pay and seven salary steps with pay scales that range between a low of $13.55 per hour to a high of $40.02 in the current fiscal year.
A total of 49 voters assembled at 7 pm to take action on a 13-article warrant. By the end of the meeting two hours later a bare quorum of 39 voters remained. Voters postponed indefinitely articles 5, 9, 12 and 13 and approved all others.
Voters said yes to the creation of a personnel board with three members to be appointed by the selectmen to three-year terms. Following considerable discussion, they agreed to spend $3,500 on engineering needed for a distributed antennae system base station at the landfill.
In the first test of taxpayer willingness to expend more money for county services in addition to the county assessment, voters postponed indefinitely article nine, a request for voters to pay a share of the county engineering, health and rodent control departments.
Following an appeal from property abutters, voters agreed to postpone articles 12 and 13, both of which pertained to the development of town property adjacent to town hall for use as affordable rental housing.
Tisbury selectmen approve plans and promotion
Planning discussions dominated the first half of the Tisbury selectmen's meeting Tuesday evening. Planning board member Peter Duart told the selectmen the board is putting the finishing touches on a municipal facilities master plan that will be presented to voters at town meeting.
After looking at a proposed design plan, presented by Rachel Orr and Tara Simmons, for Tashmoo Park off Lake Street, the selectmen voted to accept their late filed warrant article, asking for voters' approval of the plan at the March 25 special town meeting.
The selectmen also discussed harbormaster Jay Wilbur's proposals for improving his office building and the Owen Park dock, which may be funded from the passenger embarkation ferry fee allocation. Although they agreed that the dock should be re-decked and a power source added, selectman Denys Wortman said he could not support Mr. Wilbur's request to add dormers or a balcony to the harbormaster's building to improve view of the harbor. He suggested purchasing a video camera system instead.
Police Chief John Cashin asked the selectmen to approve his recommendation to promote Officer Timothy Stobie to sergeant. Chief Cashin said his recommendation came after a great deal of thought. In addition to Officer Stobie's fine record of service, including several months as interim police chief, Chief Cashin noted that, "He has worked very closely with me and has been an incredibly supportive right hand man." The selectmen approved Officer Stobie's promotion, effective with his next paycheck.
In other business, the selectmen granted a one-year livery license to Dean Athanas to operate a Vineyard branch of his Green Shuttle of Cape Cod business, as a one call, reservation-based connection service from the Island to TF Green and Logan airports, Amtrak, Boston, Providence, and other New England destinations.
Sandra Demel and John Kollett of Vineyard Haven will serve as the local agents, picking up passengers in a Prius and delivering them to the Island ferry terminals. On their arrival in Woods Hole, passengers transfer to another Prius for a ride to their destination.
New pastor joins Faith Community Church
At the Faith Community Church of Martha's Vineyard on Sunday, the Reverend Paul Hubley installed a new pastor, the Reverend Jeffrey Winter.
After most recently serving on the staff of the St. Paul's Cultural Center in Antalya, Turkey, Rev. Winter and his wife, Judy, moved to the Island. They have three children and three grandchildren.
The Faith Community Church is located on Meeting House Way in Edgartown. For more information, call 508-627-8918 or visit www.faithmv.org.
Island soldiers need your help
You can help support Vineyard soldiers stationed in Iraq and elsewhere around the globe. Stell Burnham of Edgartown, Bob Pacheco and Reliable Market, and Jo Ann Murphy, Dukes County's veteran's agent, are organizing a repeat of the effort that was so successful last year. The goal is to send parcels of food - not mess hall food or field rations, but highly desirable and badly wanted supplements to both - to Vineyarders in the military wherever they are posted.
Your donations will fuel the effort. Mr. Pacheco will supply the food, and Ms. Murphy will manage the shipping. Call Ms. Burnham, at 508-627-9521 for information. "If you can do anything at all, please," Ms. Burnham asks.
School committee rescinds wastewater project vote
At a meeting last week, superintendent of schools James Weiss recommended that the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) district school committee rescind a vote taken on Jan. 14, which approved authorization for the MVRHS district to bond a wastewater system upgrade.
He explained that there was an issue with timing, because the vote required action by the Island towns within a certain number of days, which did not coordinate with special town meetings already scheduled.
To remedy the scheduling conflicts, the school committee agreed to vote again in March on the bond authorization, which involves no funding at this time. Turning to transportation issues, the school committee approved Martha's Vineyard Regional High School principal Margaret (Peg) Regan's request to purchase two new buses from the state's bid list by March to replace two in poor condition that are used off-Island to transport special education students. The committee already had approved using excess and deficiency funds to purchase the buses last year.
In other business, Ms. Regan commended school nurse Linda Leonard and athletic trainer Tania Laslovich for their diligence and hard work in implementing a new computer software program. The new program allows them to retrieve students' medical information more quickly, integrate functions their offices share, follow trends in absences, injuries, and illnesses, and screen student athletes with chronic injuries.
After noting trends in overuse injuries, Ms. Leonard and Ms. Laslovich recently organized a sports injury conference for coaches, gym teachers, and school nursing staff. They also are collaborating on implementing Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT), a state-of-the-art concussion management program.
The next school committee meeting date has been changed to March 17, at 7 pm, in the high school's library conference room.
Blake Richards found dead after sentencing
Blake Richards, formerly of Vineyard Haven, committed suicide on Feb. 7, according to Nashua, New Hampshire police. His death occurred one day before he was to begin serving a jail sentence. On Feb. 1, after a jury trial in Edgartown District Court, Mr. Richards was convicted of open lewdness. Mr. Richards, a computer technician, was accused of exposing himself during a repair call. He was found not guilty of an indecent assault charge arising from the same incident.
According to police in Nashua, where Mr. Richards moved with his family following his arrest on March 21, 2007, the cause of death was asphyxiation. Police said there will be no further investigation into the death.
Judge H. Gregory Williams sentenced Mr. Richards to two years in jail, with all except 60 days suspended. At the request of Mr. Richards's attorney, Judge Williams stayed the sentence until Friday, Feb. 8, when he was ordered to return to the Island to begin the jail term.
Mr. Richards was due to face sex charges in March, in another case involving a girl under the age of 14.
Tisbury beer and wine bill moves to governor's desk
Tisbury's Home Rule petition for legislative permission to issue beer and wine licenses was enacted by the state senate and sent to Gov. Deval Patrick Tuesday. The governor has 10 days to sign it. Once he does, the beer and wine question may be put to voters on the April 15 town election ballot.
A public forum for Tisbury residents to discuss beer and wine licensing will be held at 6 pm, on Feb. 19, at the Katharine Cornell Theatre. The Tisbury selectmen scheduled the forum in response to requests from community members over the last six months, according to a recent press release from town administrator John Bugbee.
"I hope that the residents of Tisbury will take full advantage of the opportunity to have their voices heard on this critically important issue," Mr. Bugbee wrote in the press release. "This will be the last time residents will have the chance to speak on the issue, due to the fact that the question will be on the ballot this coming election, and therefore will not be debated on town meeting floor, as that stage in the process has already taken place at our last town meeting."
Last April, by a vote of 120 to 77, Tisbury voters authorized the selectmen to file the Home Rule petition. Call Mr. Bugbee at 508-696-4203, with questions or comments about the Feb. 19 hearing.
Dorothy A. Larkosh Roberts of Oak Bluffs died on Feb. 13, at her home. She was the mother of Daniel and Christopher Larkosh. Visitation will be Sunday, Feb. 17, from 2 to 5 pm, at Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs. A funeral Mass will be held on Monday, Feb. 18, at 11 am, at Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, Massasoit Avenue, Oak Bluffs. Visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com for online guestbook and information. A full obituary will appear in a future edition of The Times.
Bay scallop season dragging down
Cape Poge Bay will be closed to commercial and recreational scalloping on Friday, Feb. 15. The Edgartown selectmen voted Monday to close the area on the recommendation of shellfish constable Paul Bagnall.
The commercial season opened for bay scallops on Nov. 1. Sections of the bay were closed throughout the winter, as stocks were depleted.
"It's time to give the whole thing a rest," said Mr. Bagnall.
While bay scalloping will continue in Edgartown's outer harbor and in Katama Bay, yields in those areas are expected to be limited. "For all intents and purposes, we're about done," said Mr. Bagnall.
In other action, the selectmen scheduled a special town meeting for March 6, at 7:30 pm. Among the articles expected to be included in the warrant are two submitted by Dukes County commissioners asking voters to fund half of the county health program and rodent control programs, and all of the county engineering department.
Selectmen expect to finalize the warrant at their regular meeting next week.
County invites sheriff to talk about state takeover
The Dukes County commissioners will hold a special meeting tomorrow, Feb. 15, with Dukes County Sheriff Michael McCormack to discuss a proposed state takeover.
A bill attached to Governor Deval Patrick's proposed FY09 budget would transfer the county sheriff's departments in seven counties to the state, effective July 1 of this year.
Funds now paid by the county toward the running of the sheriff's department (what the state calls "maintenance of effort") would, beginning in 2010, be paid by the state. In 2008, the county is paying approximately $517,000, more than a quarter of the total county budget of $1.9 million. The same sum will be paid in FY09, but not thereafter.
The prospect of a state takeover raises a number of questions, said county commission chairman Leslie Leland of West Tisbury. Will the state assume ownership of the jail in Edgartown and the communications center building at the airport? And how would it affect long-held plans to build a new jail and house of correction on airport property.
The meeting begins at noon in the county administration building, located off the main entrance road to the airport.
A story in the Feb. 7 issue of The Times, "Fatal accident sparks emotional online debate," incorrectly identified the church of Paulo Tenorio as Assembleia de Deus Nova Vida. The correct name is Algreja Que Cresce, or The Growing Church.