News in Brief
Veteran Oak Bluffs firefighter suspended
Peter Martell, a captain and veteran of more than three decades on the Oak Bluff fire department, was suspended in March by fire chief Pete Forend.
In a letter to Mr. Martell, chief Forend said the suspension was based on "continued insubordination, continued failure to follow departmental chain of command, continued misrepresentation of authority, and unauthorized use of department funds."
"I have no clue where this comes from," said Mr. Martell. "I'm still in a state of shock about this. How do I defend these charges when I don't know what they are?" Mr. Martell said he is puzzled by all of the accusations, including the charge of unauthorized use of department funds. "I don't spend money in the fire department. I don't have authority to do so," he said.
A hearing is scheduled on June 18 to determine Mr. Martell's continued status within the department, and to give him an opportunity to defend the charges.
In his letter, chief Forend said the charges are sufficient cause for disciplinary action, including termination.
The fire chief declined further comment when contacted by The Times. "I can't say anything about that," said Chief Forend.
High school music teacher Dan Murphy placed on leave
Martha's Vineyard Regional High School music teacher Dan Murphy was placed on paid administrative leave Friday, for an indeterminate period, school superintendent James Weiss said this week.
Mr. Weiss confirmed that Mr. Murphy is also the subject of an internal school investigation, but the superintendent declined to elaborate on the reasons.
"At this point it is a personnel matter, and that is all I can say," said Mr. Weiss.
Edgartown Police detective Craig Edwards yesterday confirmed that there is an investigation of Mr. Murphy underway. He would not describe the basis for the investigation
Mr. Murphy, director of the Minnesingers choral group, has taught at the high school since 1996 and has a reputation as a popular teacher among his students. He did not appear at graduation ceremonies Sunday. A Times attempt to reach Mr. Murphy for comment yesterday was unsuccessful.
Photo by Susan Safford
Shenandoah returns; visitor days planned
Capt. Robert S. Douglas's Vineyard Haven schooner Shenandoah returned to Vineyard Haven Sunday morning, after several months of repair at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard in Boothbay, Maine. Shenandoah will begin her 44th summer sailing season this month.
Islanders and visitors will have an opportunity to visit and examine the rejuvenated sailing vessel during open houses and other events planned for the fourth Sunday of June, July, and August. Shenandoah will receive visitors alongside the Coastwise Wharf Company in Vineyard Haven. The first event is June 22.
Called "knot-tying" days by Black Dog Tall Ships which operates Shenandoah and her companion schooner Alabama, the events will take place from 9 am to 1 pm. Visitors will enjoy tours, instruction from crew for kids in sailors' knots, as well as raffles and product giveaways.
Weekend power outage
Parts of Martha's Vineyard experienced a brief power outage Sunday, caused by the failure of a NSTAR transformer in North Falmouth. According to NSTAR spokesman Mike Durand, the outages occurred shortly after 11 am and lasted six to eleven minutes, affecting 35,000 customers in southern Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard.
"The equipment is very well maintained, but sometimes you have problems," Mr. Durand said. "I do not want to speculate on what caused the transformer to blow out. Thanks to some very heads-up rerouting of power by our staff, power was restored quickly."
Candidates for state rep introduce themselves to voters
The Democratic Council of Martha's Vineyard will host an event to introduce the five candidates for the Democratic nomination for state representative on Sunday, June 29 from 4 to 6 pm at the Oak Bluffs School.
The election race was thrown wide open following an announcement this spring by Eric Turkington of Falmouth, the district's long-time representative, that he would not seek re-election.
The five candidates who have filed for the nomination for state representative in the September 16 Democratic primary are: Catherine Bumpus of Falmouth; Dan Larkosh of West Tisbury; Tim Lasker of Chilmark; David Moriarity of Falmouth; and Roger Wey of Oak Bluffs.
According to a press release, the Democratic Council "is a coalition of voters who share Democratic values. The Council exists to educate voters about Democratic values and programs and to support candidates."
The Council does not endorse or support candidates until the Democratic Party has formally nominated them, said the press release. Registered Democrats and independent voters who share Democratic values are welcome to participate in DCMV activities. For more information, email MVDemocrats@aol.com.
Derby invites Hall of Fame nominations
The Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby committee announced that the public is invited to nominate individuals to the Derby Hall of Fame. According to the committee's guidelines, candidates must have demonstrated "good sportsmanship, honesty, integrity," and exhibited a concern for fish and the environment. Established in 1999 to honor individuals who deserve special recognition for their accomplishments or contributions to the Derby, the Hall of Fame is not meant to recognize a singular achievement, such as catching a record fish.
Those interested in nominating an individual are asked to contact Maryanne Jerome at 508-627-8510 and request a nomination packet by Friday, June 20.
Early dismissal at high school for alarm malfunction
Martha's Vineyard Regional High School students were given an unexpected early dismissal at 12:15 pm yesterday due to a malfunctioning fire alarm system.
Principal Margaret (Peg) Regan said the fire alarm system went off last Sunday when no one was in the building and was determined to be a false alarm. Yesterday, the alarm system went off three times in the span of about 15 minutes. "It got a little wild - we don't know exactly what's going on, whether there is something wrong with the wiring in the system or whether heat or something else is triggering the alarms," Ms. Regan said.
She decided to send students home early so the alarm company could work on the system without disruptions. The company was investigating the problem yesterday afternoon and Ms. Regan said she expected to have some information today.
Ceiling falls at Edgartown town hall
Part of the ceiling at Edgartown town hall collapsed last week, forcing several town workers to relocate their offices to other parts of the building, and several town boards to change the location of scheduled meetings.
"The whole ceiling has to come down," said town administrator Pam Dolby, after receiving reports from engineers who looked at the damage. The repairs may take several months to complete.
The part of the ceiling which fell is located above partitioned office and meeting space on the second floor, which served as a temporary meeting room for the board of selectmen until recently. The selectmen used the space for most of the past six months, while the town library occupied their regular first floor meeting room. The library was forced to relocate while repairs were made to its building.
Insurance representatives and engineers surveyed the damage at town hall yesterday.
The ceiling collapse has created difficult working conditions for town hall workers, who are still in the process of moving their operations to meeting rooms, other offices, and even the town hall kitchen. Construction has begun on a new wall to protect those workers who are able to remain in their second floor offices from dust and debris.
Edgartown invites all to join the Fourth of July parade
The annual July Fourth parade in Edgartown is a quintessential example of small-town community spirit and pride. Visitors and Islanders line the flag-draped parade route that winds through the streets of Edgartown and shout their appreciation to the marchers, including Vineyard veterans and various Island groups.
Parade grand marshal Fred "Ted" Morgan has extended his annual invitation to Islanders to join the parade - on a float, in a marching or musical group, or as an owner of an antique car (1958 and older).
There is a $1,000 first prize for the winning float; $800 for the most patriotic; $500 for the most original; and a $500 special prize.
Parade participants must pre-register by calling 508-627-6180. Parade assembly starts at 3 pm. The parade starts at 5 pm.
Mr. Morgan also wants to remind everyone considering a float that throwing candy to the people standing along the route is not allowed.
Lobsterville Beach parking goes diagonal
The parking area along Lobsterville Beach in Aquinnah sports newly painted diagonal lines. The selectmen approved the configuration to create more parking space.
Jeff Burgoyne, Aquinnah town administrator, said fishermen were pleased with the change. "You could see the smile on their faces" he said.
Martha's Vineyard Commission to decide Bradley Square project
The Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) has scheduled deliberation and a decision on the controversial Bradley Square project in Oak Bluffs for its meeting on June 19.
Last week, the land use planning committee recommended approval of the project by a 6 to 0 vote, with four members abstaining.
The project, which has faced both strong support and strong opposition from property owners in the Dukes County Avenue neighborhood, would include nine affordable rate homes, and two market rate homes. Four of the affordable units would be designed as live/work spaces, suitable for artist studios. Oak Bluffs residents would get preference in four of the nine affordable units, which would eventually be awarded by lottery.
The project would also relocate and preserve the Denniston building, once the home of a popular minister, and the site of the Island's first African-American church.
Norton Point Beach vandalism prompts restricted hours
Last week someone drove onto the Katama end of Norton Point Beach and knocked over fencing and signs erected around a restricted section of beach used by protected nesting shorebirds.
The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR), which manages the county owned beach, announced the beach would be closed to vehicle access from 10 pm to 7 am immediately. The closure will be changed to midnight to 7 am once summer employees become available to patrol, said TTOR regional supervisor Chris Kennedy.
An April 2007 storm created a cut through the beach, creating hazardous conditions for fishermen and beachgoers. Strong currents now flow through the channel that joins Katama Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
The beach is popular with fishermen and had been open 24 hours a day. Mr. Kennedy said fishermen are generally quite respectful of the rules and he suspects the offender was joy riding late Wednesday night. He said that luckily the vehicle did not harm any shorebirds, a serious state and Federal offense. "It is unfortunate we can't leave it open," said Mr. Kennedy, "but we just can't run the risk of leaving it open if we don't have a ranger on duty."
Mr. Kennedy asked anyone with information to call TTOR at 508-693-7662.
Edgartown parks ready for sharks
Edgartown is not about to get swallowed up in the buzz about reliable sightings of a great white shark in Vineyard waters, but the parks department will be ready if it's not safe to go back in the water.
Parks administrator Marilyn Wortman has ordered signs that say "sharks sighted, no swimming," just in case one of the predators is observed off South Beach.
"After the sharks were sighted and it's in the news, we just decided better safe than sorry," said Ms. Wortman. "You can't close the beach. You can't stop people from sitting on the beach, but we can keep them out of the water."
Sharks have been the subject of much discussion on the Island since several local fisherman say they spotted a great white shark off Menemsha in the past several weeks.
"We're hoping they all go away," said Ms. Wortman.
Usually, town lifeguards keep a close watch for sharks from their perches high above the sand, but lifeguards will not be on duty until June 23.
Community Services surveys Islanders
Martha's Vineyard Community Services (MVCS), the not-for-profit agency that offers support services for Island residents, is identifying priorities with a survey during the month of June.
"It's part of our strategic planning process," said Joy Ganapol, who is overseeing the survey, "to identify what the community sees, to try to find out what the community sees as lacking, and what's important so we can develop our services."
The questionnaire explores how people feel about the extent and importance of social problems and programs, including child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, mental health, after-school programs, housing, and elder issues.
The results will help the organization target its programs where the need is greatest.
"There has never been this kind of comprehensive, agency wide survey," said Ms. Ganapol. "We're trying to respond predominately to the needs of year-round Islanders."
The survey is available on-line at www.mvcommunityservices.com. Paper versions of the survey are available at MVCS offices, the Thrift Store, libraries, and other public places.
VTA will participate in Dump the Pump Day
The Martha's Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) will participate in third annual "National Dump the Pump Day" on Thursday June 19 sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association.
Dump the Pump day is intended to encourage people to ride public transportation to save money, conserve gasoline, and help reduce greenhouse gases. The VTA will offer half price fares and giveaways to those who participate.
Lauren Thomas, VTA office manager said, "By participating in Dump the Pump Day, we hope people who have never used the VTA will decide to give us a try instead of driving their car."
In a News Brief published on June 5 entitled "Owners fined for dog's chicken-killing spree," Beldan Radcliffe's last name was misspelled, along with the wrong first name for Tony Riseborough's mother, Corinne Dorsey. Ms. Radcliffe and Mr. Riseborough owned chickens killed by a dog belonging to Kenneth and Nina Garde of Tisbury.