Aquinnah braces for summer staffing shortage

Select board members have new roles.

The Aquinnah select board, shown here during an April meeting, heard from other town officials about possible summer worker shortages. — Eunki Seonwoo

Aquinnah Police Chief Randhi Belain told the Aquinnah select board Tuesday that his department anticipates a staffing shortage during the summer season. “Like everybody else here on the Island, we’re facing staffing issues as well for the summer. I just wanted to make you aware, it’s just myself and the three full-time officers,” Belain said. 

Two individuals, Brad Fielder and Chris Manning, plan to help the department. Belain said. Fielder, who received sponsorship from the department to attend Joint Base Cape Cod Police Training Academy in January, will be available on July 15. Manning works full-time with the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), so he will assist the department when he can. 

Belain said he asked Aquinnah town administrator Jeffrey Madison whether there will be an attendant at Philbin Beach. 

“I’m hearing again, no. So, I just want to make the board aware we’ll do the best we can,” Belain said. “But checking Philbin, we’ll get there when we can, and the same with the other areas. We’ll do our best, but most of our sights will be at the Circle, as you can imagine.” 

The police department is not the only place looking for help. Aquinnah public works highway surveyor and groundskeeper Jay Smalley came before the board looking for permission to start advertising for summer help. 

“I know I can’t hire the person until July, but I would like to speed up the process,” Smalley said. 

“I think that’s a good idea, Jay, actually. With the help shortage all over, it’s going to be a little harder,” board member Juli Vanderhoop said. 

In answer to a question from board member Tom Murphy, Smalley said no one has shown interest in the job so far. According to Smalley, the work can be done by anyone who is of “working age,” such as high school and college students.

“I do have to put in the fact they have to be somewhat capable in using chainsaws, and I’ve got to have somebody who has a license, because sometimes they will be alone working duties,” Smalley said. 

The board unanimously approved Smalley’s request to start advertising the position. 

In other business, the board voted 2-0 on the reorganization of its membership. Vanderhoop is now the chair, and Murphy is the vice chair. Vanderhoop and Murphy both recused themselves in each respective vote. 

Aquinnah town officials and employees will undergo conflict-of-interest training, which is required by the state every two years. 

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation awarded Aquinnah $27,567.81 as a part of the Winter Recovery Assistance Program. Madison said the state money will be used for various town projects, such as work on Lobsterville Road.

The police department is looking toward replacing a 2016 Ford Interceptor. Belain said the dealership he has been in contact with for a new vehicle stated it would give $5,000 if the Interceptor was traded in. 

“Which is a pretty good figure, if you ask me. It’s not like you’re going into the retail area. It’s totally different with municipal vehicles,” Belain said. 

The board unanimously approved allowing the department to trade in the Interceptor. 

The board approved signing grant forms and land disposition agreements with Island Housing Trust for affordable housing rental units on a lot located behind the town hall. Madison told the board he will notarize the forms. Aquinnah will be borrowing $400,000 over a 10-year term for these units. The annual debt service is estimated at a maximum annual cost of $46,000, and will be paid with Community Preservation Act funds, which was approved by voters during the annual town meeting

The board unanimously approved going forward with the engineering and schematic design phase with ICON Architecture for the town hall offices and the comfort stations at Aquinnah Circle, as long as it does not exceed $200,000. This will be funded through a Proposition 2½ debt exclusion that was approved by Aquinnah voters during the annual town meeting, and voted on favorably during the elections

Meanwhile, a new treasurer has been hired by the town. The Aquinnah personnel board unanimously recommended Jamie Vanderhoop, and the select board unanimously endorsed the hiring. Madison said Vanderhoop will start training next week, and will begin her official duties as soon as possible. 




  1. With the labor shortage should the government consider loosening immigration restrictions…

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