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Oak Bluffs

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Oak Bluffs, Edgartown and Tisbury firefighters converged on the Lampost Sunday morning.

As smoke billowed out of the Lampost early Sunday morning, first responders from Oak Bluffs, Tisbury and Edgartown raced to the scene and quickly took their pre-assigned positions. Over the course of the next three hours, firemen battle the “blaze,” searched the four-story structure for victims and rescued a fellow firefighter.

Firefighters prepare to enter the Lampost building amid billowing smoke.
Firefighters prepare to enter the Lampost building amid billowing smoke.

As firemen rolled up the hoses that criss-crossed Kennebec and passers-by did double takes at the victims lying on the ground — mannequins that had been hidden in the building — Chief John Rose provided an assessment of the morning drill. “Overall it went pretty well,” he told The Times.

Mr. Rose said the drill provided valuable information about where to best place equipment, especially Tisbury Fire Tower 1, a ladder engine equipped with a crane and a bucket that can put a firefighter eye level with a blaze, or a struggling victim, on the fifth floor.

The conditions were intended to mimic a real blaze.
The conditions were intended to mimic a real blaze.

Mr. Rose said the glaring inadequacy of the radio communication system was a particular concern. “This has been an Island wide problem for a while now,” he said. “We knew it was an issue but we didn’t realize the extent of it until today. There were times I couldn’t get commands to my men because their radios weren’t working properly. When the Rapid Intervention Team went in on a Mayday call to save a fellow firefighter, they weren’t able to communicate with him and we couldn’t hear where they were. That’s completely unacceptable.”

A firefighter feels his way into the building.
A firefighter feels his way into the building.

Mr. Rose said the exercise took months of planning between him and Edgartown fire chief Peter G. Shemeth, and Tisbury fire chief John Schilling. “It’s good to know these two departments have our backs, because if there is a fire in the downtown area, God forbid, we’re going need to act quickly. I think everybody has a much better idea of their role after today,” he said.

Mr. Rose said grant applications have been submitted to obtain funding infrastructure improvements, such as additional radio transmission towers. “One way or another, we have to do something,” he said.

“We learned a lot about placement of apparatus on Circuit Ave., particularly with Tower 1,” Chief John Schilling told The Times. “It was a challenge to put up ladders at the front of the building because of the sharp slope of the terrain. There’re also a lot of challenges managing personnel at a scene that size.”

Mr. Schilling also expressed concern about the sketchy radio communication. “We need to address our communication challenges,” he said. “We’re using a system that was designed in the 1960’s, where everything flows through one central dispatch. That doesn’t work in a mutual aid situation.”
Mr. Schilling said there will be a meeting next week with all Island fire and police chiefs and representatives from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) to address the problem. “Somewhere along the line we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to transition to a new system, unfortunately it’s going to be a significant dollar figure,” Mr. Schilling said.

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A three-company exercise will prepare firefighters and EMTs for a fire in the vulnerable Oak Bluffs downtown district.

Don't be alarmed if you see smoke pouring from the windows of the Lampost on Sunday. – Photo by MIchael Cummo

The Lampost on Circuit Avenue will be engulfed in smoke early on Sunday morning, Jan. 11, and that’s just the way Oak Bluffs Fire Chief John Rose wants it.

“It’s the first phase in preplanning a fire in our downtown area,” Chief Rose told The Times. “It’s a three-town operation; Tisbury and Edgartown will be sending over apparatus and crews to help us to make it as realistic as possible.”

Chief Rose estimates there will be 15 fire and EMS vehicles and between 50 and 60 fire and EMS personnel. The drill will commence around 8:30 am and should be concluded by noon. Chief Rose said the simulated smoke may be visible to passersby as early as 7:30. “We want to get the word out so people won’t be alarmed,” he said.

 — File photo by Mae Deary
— File photo by Mae Deary

Circuit Ave will remain open during the drill. The only road closure will be on Kennebec from Healy Way to Lake Avenue. Parking spots in front of the Lampost, the Ritz Cafe and Mocha Mott’s will be taken up by fire and EMS vehicles. “We’re trying to minimize the impact to the business community, but it’s something that we have to do,” Chief Rose said. “We have to get prepared for a big fire in that area. It’s such a challenge with the old wood buildings being so tight together. There’s so many things that make a fire down there a tricky approach.”

An added complication for firefighters is the volatile Island weather, which could quickly turn a kitchen fire into a conflagration. “You have to consider what’s your wind direction, what’s your wind speed, even the time of year and the time of day. If it’s 4th of July weekend in the middle of the day, it’s a whole different fire than if it’s December in the middle of the night,” Chief Rose said.

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Tisbury School vanquished rival Oak Bluffs on the basketball court, 67-48, on Tuesday afternoon. Led by Dylan Dyke’s incredible 36-point performance, the Tisbury Tigers could not stop scoring. Cameron Moore also chipped in 15. Jared Regan led the way for the Blazers, scoring 14, while Jeremy Regan scored 13.

If you read last week’s Oak Bluffs Column and thought it seemed familiar you were right. Because of a production error, instead of the newest and correct version being printed in the print version of the paper, the previous week’s column was printed. However, if you read the online digital copy of the Times, you were reading the correct column for December 24.  I am sorry some of the events that I wrote about have gone by already, but I am including the news that is still current.

January will be a busy month at our Oak Bluffs library. To kick off Mini Golf weekend, they will show the 1980 classic with Chevy Chase, Bill Murray, and a furry gopher on  throwback Thursday Movie Night on January 8, at 6 pm. This free event also includes popcorn and trivia.

The third annual Mini Golf Extravaganza will be held on the 9th & 10th. On Friday, January 9, from 5 to 8 pm you may enjoy food, beverage, and fun and play on the 18-hole indoor course.  This event is for those 21 years and up. The cost is $18. On Saturday, January 10, the mini golf runs from 10 am to 1 pm and is for all ages and free and is great family fun.

Are you ready for lobster rolls again? Then mark your calendars for Sunday, Jan. 4 from 12 noon until 2 pm. That is when Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven will once more serve winter lobster rolls. Their prize-winning rolls, with chips and beverage, are a bargain at $17, or you may enjoy  hotdogs for  $3 and assorted pies for $4 a slice. For info or advance orders call 508-693-0332.

Congratulations to Ashley and Jared Andrews who became proud parents of a son on Wednesday, the 17th of December. Cooper Christopher Andrews arrival also made Lynn Rebello of Oak Bluffs a first-time grandmother. What a great Christmas present.

The  community suppers at Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven will be held every Friday starting Friday, January 2, and run through March 26 from 5 to 6:30 pm. Everyone of all ages is welcome at these free suppers. There will be good food, a comfortable setting and a warm welcome. For info, call 508-693-0332.

Big changes at the four corners by the Fire Station in Oak Bluffs. The fire station is now surrounded by a safety fence and the demolition of the old station has already begun. It will be interesting to watch the progression of the new station.  The original station was constructed in the 1980’s. The foundation and finishing touches were put on that steel building mostly by volunteers and — you guessed it — they were  firemen, and the cost to the town was around $45,000.

We send belated birthday smiles to Roger Schilling Jr. on the 26th, Richard Tarter on the 28th. Smiles to Ava BenDavid, Anita Combra and Claudia Metell on December 31; Jen Araujo,  and  Michelle  Bettencourt on January 2, Nola Mavro, Chris Alley, and Nicole deBettencourt share the 3rd, Kate Feiffer and Jules BenDavid on the 5th, and Michael Araujo and Kelly Irene Pacheco on the 6th.

Many of us have lost dear friends and relatives this past year. Among those we hold close to our hearts and in memory are: Lester White, Gerry Davis, Scott Francis, John Potter, Ruth and Michael Davon, David Wessling, Henry Fauteux, Eddie Drew, Stacy Viera, Ann Margetson, Patricia Costa, Eddie Landers and Ann Tuccelli.

This poem by William Henry Harrison Murray says it all this season.

Ah friends, dear friends,

As years go on and heads get gray,

How fast the guests do go!

Touch hands, touch hands,

With those that stay,

Strong hands to weak,

Old hands to young, around the

Christmas board touch hands.

The false forget, the foe forgive,

For every guest will go

And every fire burn low

And cabin empty stand.

Forget, forgive,

For who may say that Christmas day

May ever come to host or guest again.

Touch hands!

However you celebrated this season, I hope that you celebrated together in peace.

Editor’s note: due to a production error, the Times printed the December 18 Oak Bluffs column in the December 24 newspaper. The correct column was published online and can be found at: mvtimes.com/2014/12/22/oak-bluffs-poem-season/.

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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.