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Oak Bluffs

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Citing the dramatic turnaround in town fortunes since Robert Whritenour took office, the board unanimously approved a pay hike.

Citing his exemplary performance since 2012, Oak Bluffs selectmen voted unanimously to give town administrator Robert Whritenour a raise. – File photo by Ralph Stewart

Oak Bluffs town administrator Robert Whritenour will have a little extra money to spend on Christmas presents this holiday season. Meeting in executive session following their October 28 meeting, selectmen held a performance review and followed it up with a unanimous vote to give the town administrator a three percent step increase effective immediately this fiscal year and next.

The raise was announced at Tuesday night’s regular meeting by chairman Greg Coogan. “It’s well deserved and overdue,“ he said.

Speaking with The Times earlier on Tuesday, Mr. Coogan was more expansive about the reasons for the raise. “He’s done so many things in a positive way for the town,” he said. “He’s very responsive to the board’s wishes. He’s put us in a great financial position. He’s made it an inclusive style working with the members of the finance committee, he’s making solid plans for the future with the capital improvement committee, and we’re going in a very positive direction so we can take proactive steps in improving the town infrastructure.”

Mr. Coogan also said that Mr. Whritenour has shown exemplary dedication to the town. “Bob puts himself through a lot on a daily basis with his travel,” he said, referring to Mr. Whritenour’s daily commute from Falmouth. “We know he sacrifices a lot to come to the Island and we know he’s developed a real love for Oak Bluffs, not just for the people but also for the uniqueness of Oak Bluffs.”

“We got Bob at a bargain price and he clearly earned his keep,” selectman Walter Vail told The Times on Tuesday before that night’s meeting. “It was the only fair thing to do. I hope somewhere down the road, before his contract runs out, that we can put in place a reasonable extension on it. I think the rest of the board would agree with me.”

Reached by phone, selectman Gail Barmakian had no comment on the raise.

Mr. Whritenour was named town administrator in February 2012. His current contract, which expires in 2017, called for him to receive $128,051 in FY 2014, which ends June 30, 2015.

“I’m very appreciative of the board’s action,” Mr. Whritenour told The Times on Wednesday. “I was quite moved actually. I didn’t request a raise. I’m very happy to be working for this town.”

Mr. Whritenour said a provision of his contract requires the selectmen to make an annual evaluation. While his three evaluations have been positive, Mr. Whritenour, citing hard financial times, said he had not requested or received any step increases, which according to his contract, can be roughly three percent a year with a favorable board review. “I didn’t put it in the budget because things have been so tight and the focus has been on the health of the town’s finances,” he said.

Mr. Whritenour said that selectmen based this fiscal year’s step increase on last year’s evaluation and next year’s step increase on this year’s evaluation.

Formerly Falmouth’s town manager, Mr. Whritenour was named interim town administrator in September 2011 and he’s been widely credited for bringing stability to town finances that were in disarray at the time.

Mr. Whritenour’s interim contract called for him to work for 13 weeks, at a salary of $1,731 per week, representing an annual rate of $90,000.

At the time, the town had been without an administrator since August 1 and was still reeling following a series of missteps that included a botched election and a reprimand from the state attorney general’s office over bidding and procurement practices.

Mr. Whritenour said the Oak Bluffs job was a substantial pay cut from his previous job as Falmouth town administrator, “But I didn’t come out here for the money,” he said. “I came to contribute to the community and I work hard at it and I enjoy it. I love the Island and I love the community and I want to continue to do a good job.”

Executive session explained
Mr. Coogan said there was no particular reason for the timing of the pay increase, rather a long succession of positive developments in the town. “We have had a lot of positive feedback about Bob for a long time, both when Kathy [Burton] was chair and when Walter [Vail] was chair. I believe his contract mentions looking at step increases and we hadn’t offered any in the last several years and we felt we had been a little bit late in rewarding him. It had nothing to do with anything other than he’s doing a great job  We feel this is the right thing to do.”

According to the agenda of the October 28 meeting, the reason for the executive session was  “To conduct strategy sessions in preparation for negotiations, or contract negotiations with nonunion personnel.” The minutes of the executive session have not yet been released.

“The intention was to have a frank discussion without any outside pressures. We just wanted to make sure we were all on the same page,” Mr. Coogan explained.

“When you’re talking about someone’s salary, that’s an executive session topic, or when you’re talking contracts, which we did not change,” Mr. Vail said. “Because we were beginning the work on our FY 16 budget, we wanted to make sure it did not get missed by the selectmen, because Bob wasn’t going to do it on his own, we know that.”

“Under the law, it’s standard practice to go into executive session to talk about contractual issues,” Mr. Whritenour said Wednesday. “I think that’s why the board chose to go into executive session. I really didn’t have a preference.”

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East Chop Drive is often closed in stormy weather. – File photo by Jamie Stringfellow

Town administrator Robert Whritenour brought good news to the selectmen at their regular meeting on Tuesday night, informing the board that the town has been awarded a sizeable grant from the state Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR). The funds will pay for updated design work and engineering studies to repair the revetment below East Chop Bluff.

“The state has proven to be a very strong partner,” Mr. Whritenour said. “The DCR, under the rivers and harbors program, has awarded the town a grant for $225,000. It was a highly competitive grant and Liz Durkee [conservation commission agent] and Dave Grunden [shellfish constable] deserve a lot of credit for this. The reason it’s so important is that we need to put together a firm design that will be shovel ready in the event that funding comes along.”

Mr. Whritenour said the East Bluff restoration may have to be done in stages as funding becomes available. In the meantime, the grant can go to cost estimates and new engineering plans which will help obtain funding in the future.

Although a great deal of time and energy has been spent to qualify for funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Mr. Whritenour said the town would be best served if FEMA was out of the equation. “FEMA is a world unto itself,” he said. “They purposefully have tried to get out of the project. They’ll do or say anything. What we’re focused on now is getting something done.”

The crumbling corniche that wraps around the East Chop bluffs and overlooks Nantucket Sound has a long history of erosion-related closures. It was closed for two years after hurricane Bob in 1991. The seaward lane was closed in November 2012 as a result of erosion from Superstorm Sandy. Three months later, winter storm Nemo caused damage that closed the road entirely for two weeks. One lane remained closed until late June of 2013, when it was reopened to reduce traffic on the alternate routes that cut through residential areas of East Chop.

In other business, selectmen voted 4-0, with Michael Santoro abstaining, to give permission to all Oak Bluffs restaurants and bars to serve alcohol until 1:30 am and to close at 2 am, on New Year’s day, January 1, 2015.

And not eat it all?

Marguerite Cook shows Holly Nadler how to display the chocolates they've made (and not yet eaten). – Photos by Michael Cummo

You might say I chose this particular mission — prepping chocolates — as an easy way out in the “How Hard” enterprise, whose credo, if it had one, would run something along the lines of “How hard could it be for one neurotic, I-have-a-note-from-my-psychiatrist Valley Girl to attempt some new venture that takes her far out of her comfort zone?”

Solid chocolate is made into liquid chocolate, so it can be scooped and poured into molds.
Solid chocolate is made into liquid chocolate, so it can be scooped and poured into molds.

Making chocolate? Pffff! Isn’t that like how hard could it be to get a massage, or to drink Campari and soda with George Clooney?

But I’m asking one of Life’s Big Questions here, and my goal is to receive the answer after an afternoon with Marguerite Cook, accomplished chocolatier and owner of the Good Ship Lollipop at the top of Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs.

The Big Question? If you’re like me, and your control blows a gasket when surrounded by sugary treats (with perhaps the exception of Fig Newtons and a particularly dry Jewish pastry called mandel breit), how hard could it be to actually work in a candy store and resist munching one’s way through the stock (asking the proprietress, of course, to run a tab — a big tab)? And this made me wonder: How many of us go wobbly-kneed at the sight of a cupcake or even an after-dinner mint? And conversely, what percentage of us eat very few sweets? Or none at all?

Caught in the act.
Caught in the act.

Turns out, hardly anyone is able to hold back, at least according to my own double-blind study when I posed the question to Facebook friends, asking how they’d address a bag of macadamia nut cookies left over from coffee with afternoon guests. Would they scoff them all before their heads hit the pillow? (As I had done the day before.)

Out of the dozens of comments that flooded back, the plea for abstention ran something like 20 to 1 against. Respondents related sugar consumption of epic proportions, such as Carole Flanders, originally of Oak Bluffs, now of Florida, who wrote, “I recently demolished three-quarters of a carrot cake at a single sitting.” Barbara Beichek of Oak Bluffs shared, “I’ve gobbled Nestlé Quik dry ’cauz I had no milk.” Jim Bishop, also of Oak Bluffs, revealed he would polish off the cookies immediately, because “it’s not worth waking up in the middle of the night unable to go back to sleep because there are certain uneaten cookies in the kitchen.” Nancy Slonim Aronie of Chilmark bravely admitted, “I have thrown cookies into the garbage and retrieved them two hours later, let them dry out from the pickle juice and finished them off.”

Exactly three souls identified themselves in the “just say no” camp: Lynnda Blitzer from Santa Barbara wrote, “Throw them away, they’ve served their purpose.” Susan Wilson of Oak Bluffs maintained, “Leftover cookies turn to shards and crumble in my cupboard.” Debbi Kanoff of Westwood, Calif., ranked herself in the “self-restraint/deferred gratification department.” As usual, the grownups among us are few and far between.

So if most of us occasionally — or always — weaken in the grip of Back Door Donuts straight from the baker’s vat, was there any wisdom I could winnow from an afternoon of chocolate making? Could I resist munching my way through my apprenticeship?

Marguerite Cook admires the finished chocolate pops at her shop, The Good Ship Lollipop.
Marguerite Cook admires the finished chocolate pops at her shop, The Good Ship Lollipop.

I showed up at the candy shop on a freezing November afternoon. Amid festive displays of toys, stuffed animals, and every brand of candy in the known world, Marguerite already had her three Hilliard kettles rolling and gently heating to 90 degrees. One kettle held milk chocolate, the second dark, the third white. The sweet fragrance from the drums was so seductive. I was ready to plunge my face in the white chocolate cylinder and sing as I slurped, “Bibbidi-bobbidi-boo!” like the Disney character caroling away on the sound system.

Fortunately, Marguerite kept things on the sane and sanitary side. I was given a lavender scrub with cartoon drawings of Pinocchio figures. I’d already had the foresight to cover my hair in a pink bandana. We washed up at a specially designated sink, my mentor filling my dry hands with so much soap, I rinsed under hot water all the way through Annette Funicello’s rendition of “A Dream Is a Wish Your Heart Makes.”

Yes, it’s clear from the music and the memorabilia that Marguerite is nostalgic for her childhood in small-town Braintree in a family of 12 kids. Yowzer! On the same block, another family had 13 kids, yet another 15. Nowadays, she and husband David have two grown daughters and five grandkids, all of them living on the Island. Her extended family has just taken over a small city in Bavaria.

Marguerite showed me how to feed a spoonful of melted dark chocolate into trays of turkey-shaped molds. The chocolate hardens fast, so you don’t want any to spill over, and of course, mine did; I have the motor ability of Lucille Ball on the assembly line. No prob. Marguerite wielded a putty knife and slid the surplus chocolate back into the kettle where it reformatted with the sinuously swirling, bulbous ball of chocolate. She taught me to insert a white stick, twirling this way and that, before the trays of chocolate turkey pops disappeared into the cooler.

I wanted to lunge after one of those yummy treats but, well, Marguerite would notice the empty mold and, also, my right hand was encased in a latex glove, my left hand meant to mind itself. No petting of dogs or patting anyone’s bottom. Or eating the product.

Next we poured milk chocolate into a tray, gave it a few minutes to harden, then Marguerite spooned white chocolate over it ever so carefully so as not to rile up the dark layer beneath. She handed me a hammer, and I bashed candy canes into tiny crystals which we sprinkled over the top. This confection too got whooshed into the cooler, but some 20 minutes later, Marguerite retrieved it and sliced it into small squares. She gave me one to sample. Heaven. The combination of chocolate layers and the poignant dusting of mint-flavored candy was a taste bud thrill of uncommon proportions; possibly the result of nibbling nothing else in the full time I’d worked in the shop.

Marguerite packed up three turkey popsicles and six of those candy cane babies for me to take home for my Thanksgiving with my son and his girlfriend in NYC. She tied a gold ribbon around the box, and said with a knowing wink, “I’m calling Charlie to make sure this ribbon was intact when it got to him.”

The ribbon remained intact all the way up my stairs. By the time I crawled into bed, however, I’d devoured four of the squares. My tummy churned, and I swore off candy cane bark for alI  time. Conceivably I might have overdosed on sweets for the rest of my life.

Before falling asleep, I realized I’d stumbled on a major cultural breakthrough. Anyone can be treated for sugar addiction: Simply indenture oneself to a baker or a candy maker for an afternoon!

The next morning I woke up with something in my freezer with my name on it.

Brynn and Asher Savva pose with Santa at Offshore Ale. — Photo by Michael Cummo
From left, Bianca Teano, Payton Tennant and Delilah Butler color ornaments at Offshore Ale. — Photo by Michael Cummo
From left, Bianca Teano, Payton Tennant and Delilah Butler color ornaments at Offshore Ale. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Blustery winds and scattered showers caused members of the Oak Bluffs Association to call off some scheduled Christmas activities, including a Circuit Ave parade and hayride, last Saturday, December 6, but there was still plenty of Christmas cheer to go around. After a successful Oak Bluffs Open Market indoors at Dreamland for local artisans and crafters to sell their goods, visitors to OB gathered at Offshore Ale Company to decorate gingerbread houses, ornaments, and visit with the guest of honor, Santa Claus.

The parade and hayrides have been rescheduled for Saturday, December 20.

Help is on the way for Little bridge channel, once a main thoroughfare for kayaks, and now so clogged with sand that it can now be traversed by SUV's.

On Friday morning, Oak Bluffs town officials were notified by town administrator Robert Whritenour that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has given final approval on the Project Worksheet for Sengekontacket dredging, according to an email shared with the Times. FEMA has indicated that the funds will be committed either Friday or Monday. The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) will then release a state contract to the town which will be voted on by selectmen. Mr. Whritenour estimated that the project can be completed by April 1, the deadline set by the Massachusetts National Heritage Endangered Species Program regulations. Mr. Whritenour said he expects a start date from the contractor next week.

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Although long-awaited FEMA funds may be released next week, wary town officials discuss contingency plans.

Little Bridge in Oak Bluffs. —Photo by Michael Cummo

It appears that the long-running, painstaking pursuit of federal funds to dredge the choked channel at Little Bridge in Oak Bluffs may finally be at an end. At Tuesday’s selectmen’s meeting, town administrator Robert Whritenour read aloud an email he received that morning from Tom Perry, a high-ranking official at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

“We are now in the later stages of the approval process and expect to be able in the next week to provide you with the news that you have an approved FEMA Project Worksheet,” Mr. Perry wrote. “As always, it is possible we could encounter additional review/approval problems, but we do not anticipate any at this time.”

The news received a tepid response from town officials, who’ve heard words to this effect several times before. “It’s very encouraging, but it does stop short of final approval,” Mr. Whritenour said. “We’re changing our attitude with FEMA applications. As long as approval is not completely final, we need to go ahead with a new contingency plan. We can’t be sure of anything with FEMA. I recommend the town take this on as its own project.”

Mr. Whritenour said that one option is for taxpayers to vote to appropriate the funds at town meeting, possibly with a short-term bond issue, and then use the federal funding as reimbursement, rather than be beholden to a bureaucracy as clogged with red tape as Little Bridge channel is clogged with sand. “Waiting for a federal agency is not the way to go, he said. “They have a different mindset than we do.”

“In the FEMA scope, this project is nothing,” selectman Gail Barmakian said.

FEMA has budgeted the Little Bridge dredge project at $321,000. Shellfish constable David Gruden said that if the town self-finances the project, it would be free of onerous federal regulations and the job could be done much less expensively, and with local contractors. “With all the federal criteria, no local companies could bid on the job because none of them had the fancy GPS depthfinders that were required,” he said. “I talked to one of the interested local companies that said their bid would be more in the neighborhood of $150,000. If we did it our way, it could be half price or less. That said, there’s a lot more sand there now then when the project was bid on. All estimates were for removing 4,000 cubic yards of sand. It’s three or four times that now.”

Mr. Grunden added that another advantage of self-financing is that the town has permits in hand to use the sand for beach nourishment.

“I agree this is the only sane way to go,” chairman Greg Coogan said. “What’s the timeline look like?”

Mr. Grunden said the town has until April 1 to complete the dredge, otherwise — due to regulations by the Massachusetts Natural Heritage Endangered Species Program that protects nesting birds — the project would have to wait until the following autumn.

Since annual town meeting will be after the April 1 deadline, selectmen discussed calling a special town meeting to vote on financing the dredge project.
Mr. Whritenour also noted that given the declining health of Sengekontacket Pond, there is additional urgency to clear the Little Bridge channel, one of only two openings that feed water from Nantucket Sound into the pond.  “We don’t have the luxury of waiting for the federal government to write us a check,” he said.

“We need to work on this as soon as possible,” shellfish committee member Rick Huss said. “It’s already gone longer than it should. Every nor’easter is going to pile up more sand.” Mr. Huss said the lack of circulation due to the clogged channel is doubly deleterious because it endangers the shellfish population that helps buffer rising nitrate levels.
“I recommend that Bob [Whritenour] and David Grunden look at all the options, town meeting, special town meeting, and see where we stand,” Mr. Coogan said. “Hopefully we’ll hear some good news next week and this will all be moot.”

Robert Grimley, FEMA Region 1 recovery division director, told The Times in August that funding for the dredge project was likely to be released in a matter of weeks. Mr. Grimley has not returned repeated calls and emails from The Times regarding the latest FEMA developments.
In other business, selectman Michael Santoro, after recusing himself from the proceedings, went before the board to apply for a transfer of license for the Ocean View restaurant from the current owners, Ocean View Inc., to Santoro Hospitality II, Inc. “The Ocean View is an institution,” he said. “I’m going to have some tough shoes to fill. I’m going to continue the Jackson tradition as best I can. I’m going to add a few new menu items, but I won’t touch the fish sandwich or the steak sandwich, I promise.”

Noting the charitable work the Jacksons have done in the community over the years,  Mr. Santoro also promised to keep on the current Ocean View staff. “I’ve been doing business here for 23 years,” he said. “It would be foolish for me to go in there and turn it upside down.”  The selectmen approved the transfer unanimously, 3–0. Selectman Kathy Burton was absent due to illness.

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Citing issues that surfaced at an Island-wide meeting with state officials, the board amends official comment on 2014 ocean plan.

Yellow areas have been identified as possible locations for sand mining in Massachusetts waters. The areas outlined in purple are located in federal waters. – Photo courtesy of Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management

Massachusetts is the only state on the east coast that bans offshore sand mining. But the recently released  206-page 2014 Ocean Management Plan (OMP), compiled by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), proposes the formation of up to nine offshore sand mining pilot projects. Since the report was released, Oak Bluffs officials have been staunch advocates of offshore sand mining. In a letter to CZM dated October 22, Oak Bluffs town administrator Robert Whritenour, on behalf of the board of selectmen, wrote, “It has become clear to us that without the availability of offshore sand resources, [Oak Bluffs] will be unable to preserve our coastal resources. The town strongly supports the use of sand mining in Massachusetts.”

At their regular meeting on Tuesday night, however, selectmen reconsidered their position. Responding to information presented at last week’s public meeting with CZM officials and the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, the board agreed that offshore sand mining was a more complex solution than previously thought, and that a more measured response to the CZM was in order.
“We all went to the commission meeting, and we heard a slightly different discussion than we anticipated,” chairman of the selectmen Greg Coogan said.

Warren Doty, a Chilmark selectman and the founding president of two fishermen’s organizations, was on hand to speak against sand mining. “Every time you collect sand, you’re disturbing the benthic environment, which is six inches of sand and mud and dirt at the bottom and is the base of the food chain,” he said. “In Nantucket Sound, the major fishery is conch (channel whelks). There are two million pounds of channel whelk landed in Martha’s Vineyard in 2014 and the price is over $2 a pound. Something in the neighborhood of $4 million is coming into this fishery. It is the most profitable fishery on the Island, and it’s very sensitive to changes in the sea bottom.”

Mr. Doty said sand mining in Vineyard sound would likewise jeopardize the winter flounder population.
“The issue is not just supporting sand mining itself,” selectman Gail Barmakian said. “We want all the sand we can possibly get, but not at the cost of our fisheries. We don’t live in a vacuum here. We have to do a cost-benefit analysis. They say Rhode Island is successfully balancing both sides of the issue, but there hasn’t been any track record with long-term data.”
“This is an exceptionally complex issue,” conservation commissioner Joan Hughes said. “We need to deal with hard science and good statistics and find out how we can solve problems for both. Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey have done this. There’s a lot of very good science out there.”

Shellfish constable David Grunden said that the state would rigorously monitor the pilot projects to minimize environmental damage and that ultimately the town has to take substantive action, especially given its northeastern exposure. “If Oak Bluffs didn’t have infrastructure that was so exposed, especially during northeasters, I would probably be on the other side of this, but I’m all in favor of it,” he said. “Our low-lying roads are in peril. It’s even worse when you factor in climate change and sea level rise. The town must insist that the state allow [sand mining] to protect the town infrastructure. It’s not going to be cheap, but there’s no cheap way to protect the town from the northeast exposure.”

Mr. Grunden showed the selectmen a map that indicated the closest potential sand mining site to Oak Bluffs was three miles offshore. Selectman Michael Santoro asked why sand could not be mined closer to shore, where it has been clearly building up for years. “It’s very difficult when you get involved in these projects because a lot of the common sense solutions are not acceptable,” Ms. Hughes said.  “We asked about this, but the Army Corps of Engineers refused.”
Mr. Grunden added that mining sand closer to shore can be counterproductive, as a mass of sand near the shore can help impede wave energy during storms. Moving that sand would remove that benefit.

Speaking as a selectman, Mr. Doty said the town of Chilmark is particularly opposed to mining between the north shore and Cuttyhunk. “The idea that we’ll stand on Menemsha beach and see a 150-foot barge take sand to Hyannis is not acceptable.” he said.
“I don’t think any of us want to see a big operation that could supply Hyannis,” Ms. Barmakian said.

The revised letter from the selectmen will be sent to the CMZ once the 60-day public comment period on (OMP) ends at 5 pm on Tuesday, November 25.
The ocean plan draft is available online at the EEA website, mass.gov/eea/. Comments can be emailed to oceanplan@state.ma.us.

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Longtime Oak Bluffs health agent Shirley Fauteux has indicated that she will retire from her position effective February 14, 2015.  Born in Oak Bluffs and raised in Vineyard Haven, Ms. Fauteux has worked for the town for 22 years. “I’ll miss the people and I’ll miss learning something new every day,” she told The Times.

Reading from the job description she was preparing for the town to post, Ms. Fauteux said her job required knowledge of sanitary codes, septic systems, food codes, farmers markets, seafood handling, Vibrio, medical waste, tanning salons, lead paint, asbestos, emergency preparedness, chemical and biological emergencies, incident command, composting, tick-borne illnesses, school cafeterias, volatile organic compounds, quarantine and communicable diseases.
“Sometimes people forget that the rules are for the good of the public. Enforcing them can be a difficult balance,” she said.

Ms. Fauteux is considering several job offers on the mainland.

Town administrator Robert Whritenour told The Times in an email that the health inspector position will be posted next week.

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Upper Lagoon Pond in Oak Bluffs is a water source for the town.

Following a tempestuous public meeting on September 25 and often acrimonious public debate, the Oak Bluffs board of health Tuesday voted to put the question of whether or not to continue the practice of adding fluoride to the town water supply, as it has since 1991, to voters at April annual town meeting in the form of a non-binding resolution.

Board of health member and chiropractor John Campbell is at the forefront of the fluoride-removal effort. Several Island dentists have spoken in public in favor of the public health benefits of fluoridation.

Irrespective of the April vote, the board of health would be responsible for the decision.

The welcome booth in Oak Bluffs welcomed more people this summer.

The first quarter of fiscal year 2015 was a good one for the town of Oak Bluffs and its business community.
At Tuesday night’s selectmen’s meeting, town administrator Robert Whritenour told the board that estimated receipts for the quarter are up $186,231 over last year. He attributed  the increase to strong harbor receipts — which does not include the new fuel facility — and to increased local estimated receipts from restaurants and hotels.
Oak Bluffs Association president Dennis daRosa said the business community had an exceptional summer. According to Mr. daRosa, information booth manager John Newsom reported that over 45,000 visitors requested assistance at the booth in July and August this year, a 30 percent increase over last year. There were also record crowds at Harborfest in June and Tivoli Day in September, with almost double the number of vendors of both events.