News in Brief
Edgartown town hall air quality mystery solved
A back-up generator behind the Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank in Edgartown has been identified as the source of higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide (CO) in Edgartown town hall.
The bank's generator is set to run a 45-minute test each week, according to town administrator Pam Dolby, to make sure it is operating correctly and ready in case of power outage.
The exhaust on the small unit is located about 10 feet way from an air vent on the side wall of town hall. During the 45-minute test, the exhaust was finding its way through the vent and into town hall, where CO was measured at dangerous levels.
Town hall was closed for part of Friday, August 22, and again on Monday, August 25, after tests showed higher than normal levels of CO in the air. Sophisticated monitors were installed inside town hall, which helped pinpoint the bank's back-up generator as the source of the CO.
The plan to correct the problem includes venting the generator exhaust high into the air, where it can disburse safely.
The odorless, colorless gas causes a chemical reaction in blood that deprives the body of oxygen. The symptoms are shortness of breath, nausea, and dizziness. If high levels of the gas are inhaled, it can lead to unconsciousness, and eventually death.
SSA shifts boats to replace disabled Nantucket
The Steamship Authority (SSA) needed to do some quick maneuvering this week after the Nantucket, which is replacing the Martha's Vineyard on the Vineyard run, broke down Saturday.
The Nantucket normally carries passengers and vehicles between Hyannis and Nantucket but was shifted while the Martha's Vineyard undergoes scheduled annual maintenance.
Wayne Lamson, SSA general manager, said the captain reported a loss of power on the Nantucket's port side after leaving the Vineyard on the 8:15 am run to Woods Hole. The problem was later determined to be in the reduction gear assembly, he said.
This week the vessel underwent extensive repairs. Mr. Lamson said Tuesday it is unknown what caused the problem but anticipated the Nantucket would be back in service today.
To cope with the loss of the Nantucket in conjunction with the absence of the Martha's Vineyard, the SSA took the freight boat Sankaty, which has the largest passenger capacity of any of the freight boats, off the Nantucket route and transferred it to the Vineyard route. The reduction in passenger capacity has meant rescheduling tour groups and waits for some passengers.
With the disabled Nantucket taking up one slip in Woods Hole the SSA also had to juggle where boats berth for the night. Mr. Lamson said the Martha's Vineyard is expected to be out of dry dock by Friday. If required, he said, some of the scheduled work would be put off until another time and the ferry would be brought back into service sooner than expected.
The SSA meets Tuesday on Nantucket. Among the topics to be discussed is next year's draft of the 2009 operating budget.
Management is also expected to recommend adopting town street lists in lieu of requiring a signed SSA affidavit declaring full-time Island residency.
Responding to a request from SSA Vineyard member Marc Hanover last month, management also plans to recommend that the board modify the head start program. The change would allow ticket holders to change a reservation 30 days before a trip is scheduled to take place, rather than by May 15, the current deadline.
Photo courtesy of Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe
Aquinnah Wampanoag Powwow
The 4th annual Aquinnah Wampanoag Powwow took place Saturday at the Aquinnah Circle. Despite the threat of rain and tropical storm winds, the event took place under a tent to a large appreciative crowd. Many participants wore ceremonial tribal regalia.
West Tisbury driver arrested after crashing into bus
Oak Bluffs police Sunday arrested Nelson Tuck of West Tisbury after a vehicle driven by Mr. Tuck smashed into the rear of a Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) bus near Lola's Restaurant on Beach Road.
Police and rescue personnel responded to the scene following a report of a motor vehicle accident. According to a police press release, the responding officers found a white VTA bus stopped in the inbound lane of traffic and a silver BMW M5 behind the bus with extensive front-end damage.
Police said the accident scene suggested that Mr. Tuck, 27, struck the rear of the bus immediately after some passengers had debarked. "Evidence gathered at the scene suggests the vehicle did not apply the brakes before crashing into the rear of the bus," said the police report. Five people were taken by ambulance to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital for injuries sustained from the crash.
Police arrested Mr. Tuck for operating under the influence (alcohol) and plan to seek several other motor vehicle related charges.
The accident was approximately half a mile from the scene of a one-car accident that occurred on February 26 when Mr. Tuck lost control of a 2002 BMW heading northbound and struck guardrails on both sides of the roadway.
Following his release from the hospital, police arrested Mr. Tuck for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. On March 14 Mr. Tuck appeared in Edgartown District Court. He was ordered to pay fines totaling $415. Charges of negligent operation of a motor vehicle and OUI were continued without a finding for one year and Mr. Tuck was placed on probation.
Commercial striped bass, bluefish seasons close
The Massachusetts commercial striped bass fishing season closed yesterday. The state Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) announced the closure based on dealer reports that projected that the total quota of 1,107,828 pounds for 2008 would be reached as of the end of the day Tuesday.
The commercial bluefish season ended Saturday when the state reached its annual bluefish commercial quota of 516,619 pounds.
Fishermen expect the bass closure. The bluefish closure took many Islanders by surprise. Louis Larsen, owner of The Net Result fish market in Vineyard Haven said it is the first time he has seen the commercial bluefish season be closed.
The state Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) strictly regulates commercial fisheries. The length of the commercial bass and bluefish seasons is tied to annual state quotas that are set in keeping with management guidelines provided by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), the 15-member body that manages species and implements management plans along the East Coast.
Some years, the season has been closed in less than four weeks. DMF has tinkered with the bass regulations for years in an effort to avoid an early-season market glut and to lengthen the amount of time locally caught bass is available for markets and menus.
In comparison to past years, the 2008 Massachusetts commercial bass season proceeded very slowly. In 2007 the commercial season ended the first week in August.
The end of the commercial season does not mean the end of fresh striped bass or bluefish on fish market shelves. The state allows fish markets to sell striped bass and bluefish caught in other states. The fish must carry a tag designating the state of origin.
One source of frustration for local fishermen is that Rhode Island-based boats can catch bass and bluefish in Vineyard waters for sale in the Ocean state. Those fish may then end up in Massachusetts fish markets.
Recreational fishermen are allowed to catch two striped bass per day a minimum of 28 inches in length and keep 10 bluefish per day.
Retired Navy SEAL will evaluate aged beach bombs
Federal, state, and Edgartown officials have established a plan to deal with World War II era unexploded bombs that have recently been discovered with more frequency on local beaches.
Most of the ordinance are practice bombs, used during military training missions more than 60 years ago. But experts caution that even some practice bombs included a small explosive charge, and a few of the discoveries turn out to be the real thing.
After a meeting involving the Army Corp of Engineers, State Police, Edgartown police, and beach owners this past Friday, a short-term plan was formed.
West Tisbury resident Tom Rancich will be contracted to evaluate each discovery. He will determine whether the object is safe to move and store, or whether it may be a live bomb that requires a controlled detonation.
Mr. Rancich is a decorated 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy, who spent part of his career as a Navy Seal, dealing with disposal of unexploded bombs. He retired at the rank of Lieutenant Commander in 2003, after serving with the Naval Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan.
Previously, the state police bomb squad was called to the Island to evaluate suspicious objects, but the frequent discoveries put a strain on the bomb squad's resources.
"They were happy to respond to bombs," said Mr. Rancich. "They were not so happy to respond to chunks of metal."
According to police chief Paul Condlin, about 40 objects were discovered over the spring and summer along one stretch of South Beach.
The Army Corp of Engineers will take the lead in formulating a long-term plan to deal with the discovery of unexploded bombs. That plan may include regular sweeps of local beaches, and a public awareness campaign.
ServSafe classes offered
ServSafe food sanitation classes taught by Cynthia Barletta and Alice Robinson will be held at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School beginning September 16 from 5-9 pm. The classes will continue on Tuesday and Wednesday nights for three weeks, and end with a certification exam on Oct. 1.
The training program in food sanitation, sponsored by the Oak Bluffs Association (OBA), is for personnel in food service establishments and others responsible for enforcement of the food sanitation code. The FDA Food Code with an integrated State Food Code and employee training materials are included.
Upon successful completion of classes and the exam, a certificate will be awarded, which meets federal, state, and local requirements for a Person in Charge of a food establishment.
Pre-registration is requested. For more information or to register, contact Alice Robinson at 508-693-4555. Email registrations to firstname.lastname@example.org. The fee for the class begins at $250, with discounts to OBA members and additional participants from the same establishment.
Sandpiper Realty Inc. wins website award
Sandpiper Realty Inc. was named a winner in the 2008 Massachusetts Association of REALTORS Website Design Contest according to a press release. The judges selected three sites from a total of 75 competitive entries from across the Massachusetts.
The judges described Sandpiper's website as follows: "A cleanly-designed site with a wealth of local information helps sandpiperrealty.com sell not only their listings, but the entire island of Martha's Vineyard. Well-produced video tours of the island's communities provide a vivid background for the homes on the island."
New air shuttle service planned from White Plains, New York
Tradewind Aviation plans to offer premium scheduled charter shuttle service between White Plains, New York, and Martha's Vineyard beginning next spring. The company now offers Nantucket service.
The new service will enable passengers to avoid the delays and hassles of commercial airline terminals, according to a press release. Flights will depart Thursday or Friday evening and return Sunday evening or early Monday morning.
Discount ticket books are available. For more information, call 800-376-7922.
Island realtor elected to regional trade board
Bill LeRoyer, co-owner and principal broker of Harborside Realty, Inc. of Edgartown, was elected to the Cape Cod and Island's Association of REALTORS board of directors. The professional association is made up member real estate offices located on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket and is the local chapter of the National Association of REALTORS that has over 1,000,000 members nationwide. At present there are 36 member offices on the Vineyard. That number is increasing according to a press release due to the ability of member offices to post their listings on REALTOR.com, the world's leading real estate web site.
Home prices take biggest monthly tumble in 21 years
Home prices in Massachusetts dropped more in July than in any other month since The Warren Group began tracking the market in 1987. Sales for the month were down again too.
The 12.3-percent over-the-year drop in the median sale price of single-family homes placed the median sale price at $320,000, down from $365,000 in July 2007. "The drop is a dramatic turnaround from five to six years ago when prices were escalating by double-digit percentages," Timothy Warren Jr., CEO of The Warren Group, said in a statement released Tuesday morning. "Foreclosure activity has certainly dragged down home prices and will continue to affect the overall market."
The year-to-date median price is $316,000, down 9.7 percent from $350,000 a year ago. Prices flattened in Nantucket but were down in every other county in Massachusetts. Sales in July were down 6.4 percent and year-to-date sales are off 16.9 percent.