News in Brief
Oak Bluffs police have busy Patriot's Day weekend
Oak Bluffs responded to several disturbances that ended in arrests over the holiday weekend, according to a log provided by Lieutenant Tim Williamson of the Oak Bluffs police.
At 10 pm Friday, officers responded to a disturbance on Circuit Avenue and arrested Ademar Marcelino, 32, of East Boston, on an active arrest warrant issued by the Edgartown District Court. The warrant resulted from an OUI arrest on January 24. Mr. Marcelino provided a false date of birth and put up a brief struggle when police officers attempted to serve the warrant.
About one hour later, police responded to a fight at Seasons Pub on Circuit Avenue. Lieutenant Williamson told The Times that two men became disruptive, and one of the men grabbed a female staff member inappropriately. When general manager Mike Santoro spoke to the men they attacked him and another staff member who came to his aid.
Two off-duty Oak Bluffs police officers were sitting in the pub. They identified themselves and helped stop what quickly became a very violent situation.
"It's a good thing they were there," said Lieutenant Williamson. "I am very proud of the way they intervened to prevent further injuries."
Police charged Patrick Joyce, 44, of Chicago, Ill., with assault and battery and disorderly conduct. His brother, McDara Joyce, 40, of Milton, faces charges of assault and battery, indecent assault and battery, and disorderly conduct.
"It's nice to know," said Mr. Santoro, "that on duty or off duty the police are there to back you up."
Just before midnight, police responded to a fight at the bottom of Circuit Avenue. Officers saw Charles J. Caldwell, 38, of Wheelhouse Way, Oak Bluffs, grab another man by the back of his neck and slap the man across the face. Police arrested Mr. Caldwell for assault and battery.
Saturday was less than one hour old when police responded to a domestic disturbance at 130 Wing Road. The officers "found a male victim bleeding from the head, as a result of his roommate hitting him over the head with a chair," said Lieutenant Williamson, in a press release. "Responding officers were familiar with the residence as well as the occupants."
Officers located the suspect, identified by the victim as 54-year-old Johnny Faust, also known as Zeus, hiding in a tree in the yard of the residence. Mr. Faust jumped out of the tree and charged at one of the responding officers. A struggle ensued.
Other officers on scene were able to eventually gain control of Mr. Faust and place him under arrest. He was charged with assault and battery with a dangerous weapon (chair), assault and battery on a police officer, and resisting arrest.
Less than a half an hour later, police received a call about a fight on Circuit Avenue, in front of the Lampost Lounge. When police arrived they met with a man with welts and lacerations to the face. The victim told police he was attacked by four male subjects outside the bar but was unable to provide a description of his assailants, who had left the scene, said police. EMTs treated the man who refused transport to the hospital.
Sunday was a day of rest for the most part. Police stopped Gabriel W. Shanok, 36, of Surry, Maine, on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road. He was charged with operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, operating under the influence, open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle, and failing to inspect a motor vehicle.
Striped bass is a welcome sign of spring
John Rapone of Edgartown holds a small striped bass he caught from the beach last Thursday at Katama. For many Islanders news of a striper hooked is as welcome a sign of spring as the sound of a pinkletink or the first sight of an osprey.
John, his brother Tom, and several other Island fishermen took advantage of the warm spring day and went for a ride on the beach. "It's sure nice to see on a sunny day in April," said Tom of his brother's catch.
According to the Martha's Vineyard Coastal Observatory, the bottom water temperature one mile off the south shore of the Vineyard is close to 50 degrees. Warming water temperatures should mean the approach of more stripers.
Photo courtesy of Denys Wortman
Tisbury selectmen welcome Jeff Kristal
Tisbury selectmen Denys Wortman and Tristan Israel welcomed newly elected Jeff Kristal to the board at their meeting Tuesday night. Looking out at the audience where his wife Jynell and their children Evan and Emma sat, Mr. Kristal remarked with a smile, "I spent the last eight to ten years out there, and now that I'm up here, it's a lot different."
Mr. Israel and Mr. Kristal voted to elect Mr. Wortman chairman. Although former selectman Tom Pachico did not attend the meeting, both Mr. Wortman and Mr. Israel thanked him for his nine years of service.
In response to questions and discussion with voters, the selectmen invited town clerk Marion Mudge to provide an overview of the ballot recount process that will take place on May 2 regarding the results from the selectman's election and the question on beer and wine. (See related article.)
In department reports, department of public works (DPW) director Fred LaPiana thanked the voters of Tisbury for supporting the Veterans Memorial Park project "so overwhelmingly." Mr. LaPiana said construction on the park will begin after Labor Day and he expects the grounds will be ready to use within one calendar year. In an update on a fiber-optic system approved by the town, Mr. LaPiana said MassHighway will be issuing a permit in another week, which will allow the town to move forward on the project.
Police Chief John Cashin said he provided town administrator John Bugbee with estimates for a dash-mounted camera system similar to one used in the Oak Bluffs Police Department that would be helpful from a legal standpoint in protecting Tisbury police officers. Funds would come from a community policing grant.
In other business, the selectmen signed a new agreement for transportation from the Park and Ride lot with Vineyard Transit Authority and the Steamship Authority.
They also noted upcoming meetings, starting next week with a public hearing about municipal planning by the Planning Board on Wednesday, April 30, 7:15 pm, at the Tisbury Senior Center. A public hearing for proposed regulations on the Lake Street dock will take place at 6 pm during the selectmen's regular meeting on May 6. An All-Island Selectmen's meeting is scheduled for May 7, 7 pm, at the Tisbury Senior Center.
Permanent Endowment Fund announces spring grant recipients
The Permanent Endowment Fund for Martha's Vineyard announced the award of $45,000 to 14 Island organizations. "We had a very interesting group of applicants this cycle," said Debbie Hale, Permanent Endowment Fund chairman. "From the arts to affordable housing to healthcare and the elderly, it was a wonderful cross-section of nonprofits touching many different members of the Vineyard community. As always, we wish we had more money available for a greater number of the organizations who look to us for support. But we are happy to report that the grant recipients this spring offered very interesting and often innovative proposals to improve the quality of life on the Island."
Following is a list of spring grant recipients: African American Heritage Trail of Martha's Vineyard ($3,000); Featherstone Center for the Arts ($1,000); Island Affordable Housing Fund ($2,000); Martha's Vineyard Community Services ($2,000); Martha's Vineyard Shellfish Group, Inc. ($5,000); Oak Bluffs; Council on Aging ($2,000); Sail Martha's Vineyard ($15,000); Silver Screen Film Society Inc. ($1,000); Vineyard House, Inc. ($4,000); Vineyard Nursing Association, Inc. ($2,500); Vineyard Open Land Foundation ($1,500); Vineyard Village, Inc. ($2,000); Windemere Nursing & Rehabilitation Center ($3,000); and The Yard ($1,000).
For more information on the Permanent Endowment Fund, go to permanentendowmv.org, or call 508-338-4665.
Island gas prices top $4
It is official. Officially demoralizing. The price of gas rose above $4 on the Vineyard yesterday, based on a quick, informal survey of local stations by The Times.
At the Citgo station and the Tisbury Shell station, both in Vineyard Haven, the price was $4.19 for regular. It was slightly less at the Edgartown self-serve and Edgartown Mobil, $4.05 and $4.09 respectively.
Jim's in Oak Bluffs was selling regular just under the mark at $3.99.
The biggest Island bargain The Times found was Texaco Menemsha. A gallon of regular was selling for $3.85 at the harbor front station.
According to AAA of Southern New England, the average cost of a gallon of regular yesterday was $3.47 in Massachusetts. One year ago it was $2.81.
VNA offers Cape students home care experience
A partnership between the Vineyard Nursing Association (VNA) and the Cape Cod Community College nursing program will provide nine students with a community health experience that meets their nursing graduation requirements.
"Our community, and the nation as a whole finds itself managing larger number of folks aging at home. I think this is a wonderful opportunity to introduce these nursing students to a pivotal area of medical care that is projected to grow by leaps and bounds over the next ten years," said VNA clinical director, Sandie Corr-Dolby. "Martha's Vineyard is subject to the same nursing shortages that we see nationwide. Our nurses are very excited to introduce these nine students to the world of home health nursing."
Breese Architects associate receives fellowship
Matt Coffey, an Associate at Breese Architects in Vineyard Haven, will receive a Martha's Vineyard Vision Fellowship funded by the Philip Evans Scholarship Foundation to pursue his interest in green building and sustainable design.
According to a press release, Mr. Coffey plans to work on a strategy for an affordable housing program at Breese Architects and to explore ways to promote sustainable design on the Island. For more information, go to www.breesearchitects.com
Our Island Club adds four scholarships
Our Island Club, a membership discount group for Island residents, has created four $1,000 scholarships to benefit healthcare, agriculture, higher education, and the arts. The scholarships are funded by membership fees and are available through the VNA, the Farm Institute, The Permanent Endowment Fund, and Featherstone Center for the Arts.
According to a press release, Our Island Club currently has over 2,500 members, more than 100 participating member businesses and has contributed $60,000 to Island charitable causes. A complete list of 2007 contributions may be found at www.ourislandclub.com.
State House News Service
Panel okays bill toughening enforcement of open meeting law
A legislative panel last week approved a proposal for sweeping changes to the state's open meeting laws, stiffening penalties for violations and establishing new enforcement powers for the attorney general.
The bill (H 3171), voted favorably Thursday morning by the committee on state administration and regulatory oversight, would also update the law for the 21st century, adding "electronic convening" to the language. This provision requires email, instant messaging, video-conferencing or web conferencing by a quorum of members of any state or local body to be reported publicly at the group's next meeting.
The proposal would also require that all interviews conducted by public bodies to fill vacant positions be open to the public, not just the finalist interviews.
The committee's bill would simplify current statutes by melding state, county and local open meeting laws into one, and it would ensure that state bodies receive the same penalty as local ones - increased in the bill from $500 to $1,000 - when the law is violated. All funds collected under the law would go toward open meeting law training and education across the commonwealth.
Attorney General Martha Coakley, who supports the bill, would establish under her purview a Division of the Open Meeting Law, led by an assistant attorney general, who would prosecute violations of the law. Currently, district attorneys have jurisdiction to prosecute alleged violations of the open meeting law.
"The DAs recognize that the vast majority of open meeting law infractions, they're really committed by hardworking civic volunteers whose violations are unintentional," Ms. Coakley said. "The DAs do a great deal of community education for these civic volunteers. It only makes sense to have that function centralized with the attorney general. Every penny spent for public education of these civic volunteers is two dollars saved in enforcement."
Under the law, public bodies would still be allowed to convene in executive session to discuss the mental or physical health of an individual, or any criminal charges against a public official, employee or staff member. They may also meet privately to go over collective bargaining strategies, security procedures, criminal investigations, preliminary screening of interview applicants or pending litigation.
Governor allows triple damages to become law
After the Legislature rejected his warnings about unfairly penalizing small businesses, Gov. Deval Patrick opted not to veto a bill he had strongly criticized that would punish employers who fail to pay workers' wages on time. The bill became law on April 14 without the governor's signature.
Known as the "treble damages" bill (S 1059), the legislation would force business owners to pay three times the wages they owe their employees should employees successfully argue that they had not been paid on time.
Worker attorneys hailed the new law as a needed protection against unscrupulous employers. Business groups had lobbied strongly against the bill, claiming it would strip judges of their discretion in awarding damages and hit all employers with large damages, regardless of the nuances of individual cases.
"I am allowing the bill to become law because I support efforts to ensure that all workers are paid the wages and compensation legally owed to them," the governor wrote in a non-signing letter accompanying the bill. "I am declining to sign the bill because I remain concerned that mandating treble damages in all cases, without any exception for employers who act in good faith, is unfairly punitive."