The Tisbury EMS department has been dipping into its overtime pay budget to ensure full coverage for emergency response, ambulance coordinator Tracy Jones told the town selectmen this week. Ms. Jones said the department is having trouble attracting personnel to fill shifts, and that many shifts are being paid on an hourly basis rather than a stipend in order to meet coverage requirements. The town has two licensed ambulances, one of which must be staffed around the clock seven days a week by a paramedic and an EMT.
“There are several shifts in the upcoming months that will be vacant unless others, accruing overtime, take them,” Ms. Jones said. Doing so would increase department costs, she said. She said if the stipend for an EMS shift increased, the department could have better luck filling the spots. The current stipend is $130 for a 14-hour shift, she said.
“I just want you to be aware that [the overtime] is incredibly costly right now,” Ms. Jones said.
Town administrator John (Jay) Grande said he would speak with other towns regarding their EMS coverage and report back at the next meeting.
The town also moved ahead with plans to close down a portion of Main street on Sunday, Sept. 1 for the annual Tisbury firefighters association car show. Event organizer Ken Maciel said interest in the event was noticeably up from last year, with about 120 cars expected to be on display from 1 to 5 p.m. that day.
Planning did not go off without a hitch. Artists from the Night Heron Gallery on Main street attended the meeting to express concern about the car show.
“There were many questions of the new event that were raised this week by other business owners, and we were disappointed that we were not involved,” said Diana Stewart, a jewelry designer. Ms. Stewart presented a petition signed by 15 businesses on Main street that objected to the event being held on Labor Day weekend, on the grounds that it might discourage people from coming downtown to shop. Mr. Maciel offered 17 signatures of businesses who were in favor of the plan.
Board chairman Jeffrey Kristal said he felt the car show would be a good way to generate business in town, and noted that Oak Bluffs closes down Circuit avenue at times for special events.
“I think this town needs a shot in the arm,” he said.
Selectman Tristan Israel agreed.
“If we’re wrong, then that will be something we can learn about,” he said. He also suggested business owners to work toward reviving the Tisbury Business Association, which “has kind of faded away” in the past year.
Selectmen unanimously approved declaring Sept. 28 a town Plug In Power day to coincide with a nationwide effort to raise awareness of electric vehicles. More than 70 cities across the country are participating in the effort, but Tisbury is the only town in Massachusetts to participate, Vineyard Power general manager Erik Peckar said. Mr. Peckar said an event would be held from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Cronig’s Market, home of the solar-powered electric car charging stations which were installed last year. Island electric car owners will be on hand, as will a representative from the Massachusetts Clean Cities Coalition.
“We hope you guys make it out there and test-drive some cars,” Mr. Peckar said. “We may have a Tesla there.”
Cindy Doyle, representing the Dukes County healthy aging task force, told selectmen that the University of Massachusetts Rural Scholars program would be returning to the Island in the fall to work on a project addressing the needs of the Island’s senior population. The project will be similar to a Lyme disease survey the rural scholars worked on two years ago, she said.
Representatives from the Vineyard Transit Authority reported a 1.9 per cent decrease in ridership over the last quarter, which they attributed to bad weather discouraging bus riding.
Members of the police department received approval to move forward with a proposal to add a K-9 tracking program to the department. The department hopes to add a trained bloodhound to the force to aid in missing persons searches. The dog would be housed at the police department. Selectmen gave the plan approval, and the department will now work on fundraising ideas to supplement the cost of the dog and its training.
Emergency Management director Christopher Cini and assistant director Stephanie Andrade were appointed until June 30, 2014. The selectmen also accepted a gift of bay scallop seed from Rod Taylor of Taylor Seafood in Fairhaven, and approved the annual Friends of the Vineyard Haven Public Library annual 5K Race and Fun Run. The Fun Run will be held on Sept. 15.
A public hearing on the installation of six new telephone poles on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road was postponed until the Sept. 17 selectmen’s meeting.