Authors Posts by Janet Hefler

Janet Hefler

Janet Hefler
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Oak Bluffs police sergeant Mike Marchand will be a familiar presence at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School this school year. — Photo by Michael Cummo

This week, Sergeant Michael Marchand traded his desk at the Oak Bluffs Police Department (OBPD) for one at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS). On Tuesday, Sergeant Marchand will assume full-time duties as the School Resource Officer (SRO).

Superintendent of Schools James Weiss and Oak Bluffs Police Chief Erik Blake announced his appointment in a press release last week. Mr. Weiss and Chief Blake waited to formally appoint an SRO until the high school’s new principal, Gil Traverso, started work full-time on August 11.

Sgt. Marchand told The Times in a phone conversation Monday that he had a 90-minute meeting last week with Mr. Traverso, who has experience working with an SRO in his former job as principal of the Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy in Springfield.

“He seems to have the same understanding of what the basics are, and we seem to be on the same page,” Sgt. Marchand said.

Plans for creating the SRO position have been in the works for several years, but funding was delayed by budget constraints. The MVRHS school committee approved $100,000 for salary and benefits for an SRO in the high school’s Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) budget, approved by town meeting voters Island-wide last spring.

Asked if he sought the SRO appointment, Sgt. Marchand said he had expressed an interest during the planning process to create the position. “I wanted to see a program get started, and I wanted to see it started in the right way,” he said.

Sgt. Marchand has both a professional and personal interest in making the SRO program successful. One of his four children is a student at the high school, and two other children will attend in the next few years. A fourth child is a graduate.

While working the day shift, Sgt. Marchand said he has spent a lot of time at the high school and had a lot of interaction with the assistant principals there.

“When they heard I was interested in the position, they thought it was a good fit,” he said. “I’ve been around the high school quite a bit, in over 20 years of policing. I know a lot of the kids and a lot of the teachers already.”

What does an SRO do?

His duties and responsibilities are outlined in a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the high school and OBPD, signed by Mr. Weiss, Chief Blake, and Oak Bluffs town administrator Robert Whritenour.

The SRO’s primary responsibility is to provide police services in the school environment and cooperate with school officials in developing education programs, emergency plans, law enforcement activities, and specialized counseling to faculty, staff, students, and parents, according to a copy of the MOU that Mr. Weiss provided in response to a request from The Times.

Sgt. Marchand will work an eight-hour shift Monday through Friday at the high school and will not be pulled to cover patrol shifts or court appearances for the OBPD, according to the MOU. He also is expected to attend or participate in extracurricular activities and after-school parent and community functions when possible. Depending on the activity he is involved in, he will wear a uniform or a modified version that identifies him as a police officer, and display his badge.

“The biggest priority of any SRO, myself included, is to make sure the students and faculty are safe,” Sgt. Marchand said, “and that they feel safe at school and they feel safe at work. And that lends itself, in turn, to an environment that is conducive to learning.”

His duties and responsibilities are categorized in the MOU under the headings of education, specialized counseling, law enforcement, and general. Duties under education include conducting programs and training for school personnel, participating in classroom presentations, and providing information about criminal or juvenile law to students.

Counseling duties include providing career counseling to students interested in law enforcement, discussing alcohol and other drug prevention, and meeting privately with students to discuss a wide variety of issues.

Law enforcement duties include investigating criminal activity committed in the school or on school property, and enforcing the law. The MOU stipulates that school officials, not the SRO, remain responsible for imposing discipline for infraction of school rules and policies that do not amount to criminal or delinquent conduct. Sgt. Marchand also will coordinate and be responsible for law enforcement and security at extracurricular events, as determined by the principal.

Sergeant Marchand said he has not set specific goals yet, because he is building the SRO program from the ground up.

“We know what type of program we want to model ours after, but we don’t know yet exactly what it will look like at the high school,” he said. “It will take a little while to figure that out. We’re excited about it.”

Sgt. Marchand’s office is located next to the two assistant principals’ offices, near the high school’s main entrance. It will be equipped with a police department phone line and a computer to allow him to connect with both the school’s and police department’s record systems.

Chain of command

Although Sgt. Marchand will be considered an MVRHS staff member, Chief Blake remains his boss.

In a phone conversation with The Times on Monday, Chief Blake said he weighed his decision to appoint one of his more experienced officers with supervisory responsibilities very carefully. “When Sergeant Marchand said he was interested in this job, what made me consider him were his skills as an administrator, the way he handles people, his experience and knowledge, and very importantly, his willingness to take on this assignment,” he said. “I picked the person I felt would best get the program going properly, and make sure it is stable for years to come.”

“With the commitment by the school monetarily and the commitment from the school administration and myself to get a program that would be beneficial and good, I felt I would make the sacrifice in the human capital in my department to get it done correctly,” he said, adding that he felt the SRO program was worth it.

“We’re going to lose a sergeant, but we have two others in which I have extreme confidence that they’ll be able to pick up whatever Sergeant Marchand does for me,” the chief noted. “The beauty is, I get him back in the summer, when I really need him.”

Chief Blake said the $100,000 budgeted for the new full-time, school-based SRO’s salary, benefits, and operating costs is based on the estimated cost to hire a first-year police officer. The annual base pay for an OBPD sergeant is $120,000, excluding overtime, stipends, and benefits, according to the Oak Bluffs personnel department.

Mr. Marchand will continue to receive his sergeant’s salary through the police budget and the $100,000 budgeted by the high school for the SRO will be used to pay the costs associated with a newly hired patrolman.

SRO programs Island-wide

The idea of having a full-time SRO at the high school has been under consideration since 2012, when the school committee voted unanimously to explore creating the position. The establishment of the SRO position this year appears to be well-timed.

On August 13, Governor Patrick Deval signed, “An Act Relative to the Reduction of Gun Violence.” In addition to strengthening gun laws, the legislation also requires the assignment of a school resource officer to each school district.

Law enforcement presence varies from school to school on the Island. In a previous interview on the subject, Mr. Weiss said each school and police department has tried to develop the best possible solution for their situation.

Edgartown police officers David Rossi and Stephanie Immelt share part-time SRO duties at Edgartown School. Tisbury police officer Scott Ogden serves as an SRO for four hours a day, three days a week, at Tisbury School.

Last year, Oak Bluffs police officers began a simple, cost-effective plan to increase their presence at Oak Bluffs School by assigning a day shift officer to complete arrest reports or other clerical work in a small office near the gym and cafeteria.

After much discussion last fall, the Up-Island Regional School District school committee decided not to add an SRO to this year’s budget, but they said they would continue to consider the idea in the future. Currently, officers from the district’s member towns of Aquinnah, Chilmark, and West Tisbury make random visits to the Chilmark and West Tisbury Schools and attend field trips, according to school officials.

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Ty Hobbs is the new career and vocational technical education department head at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School. (Photo Courtesy Ty Hobbs) — Photo courtesy of Ty Hobbs

Robert “Ty” Hobbs exchanged one island for another when he joined the staff at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) on July 1 as the new career and vocational technical education department director. Mr. Hobbs, who owns a home in Petersburg, Alaska, on Mitkof Island, previously worked for a year as the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program manager for that state’s department of education.

“There’s a difference between vocational education and CTE,” Mr. Hobbs told The Times in a telephone interview last week. “CTE is really about modern, current, academically infused learning, and that’s what we want to do here.”

Before moving to Alaska, Mr. Hobbs worked at Greater Lowell Technical High School. He taught computer science engineering and electronics engineering for seven years, before moving into administration as the technology department chairman for eight years.

Mr. Hobbs said he has owned his home in Alaska for 11 years and had been wanting to move there, so the state education job in Juneau gave him that opportunity. Although he was told that Alaska had plans to make its CTE program similar to the one in Massachusetts, Mr. Hobbs said it didn’t come to fruition.

“Working for the state of Alaska was kind of like working for the Registry of Motor Vehicles,” he said “It wasn’t really why I’m in education. I can do all the paperwork and everything that needs to be done, but I just prefer to be working with teachers and students.”

Although Mr. Hobbs had planned to make a one-way move to Alaska, the opportunity at MVRHS brought him full circle, back to the Bay State.

When asked about his background, Mr. Hobbs said he started his career in education in 1998, when he was 36, after gaining extensive technician work experience in applied technology and applied engineering.

“When I was in the classroom, and then in administrative jobs that I’ve been in, I feel like I really understood vocational work and what it means, and how to make money,” he said.

After joining the U.S. Navy at age 17, Mr. Hobbs served in the engineering department on the U.S.S. Georgia, a nuclear ballistic missile submarine now deployed as a cruise missile submarine. After his Navy service, he ran the nuclear reactor at UMass Lowell for about six years, and then worked overseas dismantling chemical weapons for Raytheon Company.

Mr. Hobbs started teaching electronics and computer science classes in 1988. By that time, he was a licensed stationary engineer working in the power industry. His job involved installing ozone generators to purify water, all over the country, for a division of Boston Edison Company.

With all of that experience under his belt before entering education, Mr. Hobbs said, “I feel like I can really help kids learn about how to take what they should learn in school and apply it to the workplace.”

Future plans

Asked if he has any plans yet for his department, Mr. Hobbs said that during his first year at the high school he wants to engage in dialogue with teachers and students about what learning really is, and to familiarize himself with the school’s culture.

He said that one area he does plan to address is the high school’s work study program.

“My intention is that we’re going to add a few things to make it more robust on the student’s end,” he said. “We’re not doing simple recall. What we want to do is talk about what the kids should be learning on the job. There are a lot of things, and it can vary. Not every kid is going to be the same; it’s going to be based on where they are.”

Mr. Hobbs said he would like to convey a message to the Island business community to help him boost the work study program.

“Any employer or potential employer, I would ask that they please call me, and let’s talk about placing a student,” he said.

Mr. Hobbs has created a Twitter account, vineyarderjobs, and is working on linking it to a blog site he is developing, as well as the school’s website. He said it will serve as “information central” for all interested students, parents, vocational teachers, and employers.

“Really, I want to learn about communicating with everybody as much as possible, to find out how can we help and do better,” Mr. Hobbs said. “I’m looking for any and all feedback from anybody.”

In the meantime, Mr. Hobbs, who had never been to Martha’s Vineyard before, is learning about the Island. Since he was already used to island life in Alaska and taking a ferry twice a week there, “I have not had any shocks here,” he said.

“I’m very happy, and I really like what I see here,” Mr. Hobbs added.

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— File photo by Susan Safford

Oak Bluffs Police Sergeant Michael Marchand has been appointed the School Resource Officer (SRO) for Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS), Superintendent of schools James Weiss and Oak Bluffs Police Chief Erik Blake said in a joint press release emailed to the Times late Wednesday afternoon.

Sergeant Marchand will assume his full-time duties at the high school on September 2. With the urging of the Martha’s Vineyard Youth Task Force, the MVRHS school committee approved $100,000 for salary and benefits for an SRO in the high school’s fiscal 2015 budget, approved by town meeting voters Island-wide last spring.

In addition to the salary and benefits for the position, Mr. Weiss said the high school would provide Sergeant Marchand with an office and a computer to allow him to connect with both the school’s and police department’s record systems. The town of Oak Bluffs will provide him with a vehicle and replace him with a new officer.

The high school staff and Oak Bluffs town officials drafted a memorandum of understanding detailing the SRO’s duties and responsibilities last spring. They waited to formally appoint an SRO until the arrival this month of the high school’s new principal, Gil Traverso. Mr. Traverso and Sgt. Marchand met earlier this week, Mr. Weiss said.

Chief Blake said he was happy that the school and police department worked collaboratively to fill the vital position, according to the press release.

“The officer chosen, Sergeant Marchand, will be instrumental in strengthening the relationship with school staff and, most importantly, students,” Chief Blake said.

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Participants in Cape Light Compact's new energy monitoring program will be able to check on their electricity usage through a variety of smart phone displays like these. — Graphic courtesy of Cape Light C

What does it cost to keep your air conditioning on when you’re not home? How much electricity does your home or business use when you’re there — or not there?

A new initiative launched last Friday by Cape Light Compact (CLC) will allow an initial 600 residential and commercial customers the opportunity to use smart devices or computers to track electricity usage and learn ways to increase energy efficiency.

Program participants will install a monitor that uploads data on electricity usage to a cloud-based software program for analysis. The results are then transmitted back to the participant’s smart device or computer. The monitor and software are provided by CLC’s vendor, People Power, based in Silicon Valley, California.

You can see how much electricity you are using in near real time, and compare it with prior days, weeks or even years,” CLC administrator Maggie Downey said in a press release. “The detailed feedback will also include recommendations for how you can reduce electricity usage, and ultimately the program is designed to help consumers gain a better understanding of how they use electricity and what drives their electric bills.”

Signing up

Those interested in participating in the behavior feedback initiative may apply online to see if they qualify at capelightcompact.org/smart. There is no cost to participate.

When you take the survey, it will immediately tell you if you met the minimum requirements, and then you’ll get a follow-up notification,” Briana Kane, CLC senior residential program coordinator, told The Times in a phone call Tuesday.

To be eligible, residential and commercial participants must live or have a business on Cape Cod or Martha’s Vineyard, and have an active residential or commercial NSTAR electric account with more than 6 months of usage per year. That does not rule out participation by seasonal homeowners, however.

If someone who owns a second home on the Cape or Martha’s Vineyard leaves the electricity on and it’s generating usage when they’re not there, they can participate,” Ms. Kane said.

Participants must have access to their electric meter to install a monitor on it.

There is no electrical wiring that requires installation by an electrician or anything like that,” Ms. Kane explained. “Basically, you just plug in a relay — it’s actually called a doughnut — into an outlet, and then you get the monitor and devices to start talking to each other. So in addition, you’ll download an app[lication] for that.”

The app also includes an installation guide.

It will do some of the Internet connection components for you, instead of you having to manually type in a lot of the information,” Ms. Kane said. “But you do need to have a Wi-Fi router that is always on, because that’s how the monitoring device gets the feedback.”

The device currently is not compatible with solar photovoltaic systems because of the net metering component, Ms. Kane said. “The technology cannot yet differentiate between demand from the house and the generation of electricity.”

Evolving technology

The new initiative is phase three of CLC’s Smart Home Energy Monitoring Pilot, Ms. Kane said. In phase one, launched in 2009, GroundedPower of Gloucester installed monitoring systems that  it developed in the homes of 100 residential customers on Martha’s Vineyard and Cape Cod. They received information about their energy consumption on an online “dashboard,” along with suggestions about how to save energy, which resulted in a 9.3 percent reduction in their daily energy use, according to a consultant’s report.

Phase two, implemented in 2011, opened the program to an additional 280 Cape and Vineyard residents. The technology supplied by the energy platform company Tendril included whole-house wireless monitoring, an in-home display, and a wireless base station designed to upload near real-time data to a web monitoring program.

Ms. Kane said phase three builds on lessons learned from the first two, as well as opening the program to both residential and commercial customers.

What we had heard from evaluations on phase one and phase two was, ‘I want to be able to do more,’” she said. “People also told us they would like the technology to be more up to date and allow them to view their energy usage on the go, because they aren’t always in front of their computers. This initiative will allow them to download an app to their iPhone, Droid device, or iPads or tablets, as well, and see their current consumption and usage history, and get in some real-time feedback.”

In addition to providing information about energy usage, the app includes a video component, Ms. Kane said.

So if you have an old smart phone — and it doesn’t need to be on a data plan — you can set that up anywhere around your home and connect it to the phone or device you carry,” she said. “It could be set up to detect motion or to record a video, and it will actually be viewable on your phone or smart device or from your desktop computer. That’s an additional feature, for people interested in some ‘bells and whistles.’”

Customers have also told CLC they would like to be able to control energy usage in their home remotely, Ms. Kane said. With that in mind, CLC is looking at technology such as a control plug that customers could purchase that would allow them to turn a lamp on or off or control the thermostat in their home from their smart device.

Space still available

Ms. Kane said although she has sent approvals off to a number of people that signed up for the energy monitoring program since last Friday, there is still space available.

What would be awesome would be to get the initiative fully subscribed, with 600 participants, and get everyone up and running over the next month,” she added. “Then, as we evaluate this, if it continues to be a program that people are interested in, we can look at continuing to offer it and allow additional people to sign up. But right now, we’re kind of managing the number at this launch, and seeing where the interest still is. You always hear people say these are things they’re looking for and are interested in, and we just want to make sure that is the case.”

To help get the word out, CLC reached out to organizations in its 21 member towns on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard, inviting them to participate in recruiting residents and businesses to take part in the initiative.

Seven organizations responded, including the Chilmark selectmen’s office, Harwich Council on Aging, Dennis-Yarmouth Regional Schools maintenance department, Mashpee recreation department, and energy committees in Bourne, Dennis, and Yarmouth. They will be able to earn up to a total of $10,000 in prizes, based on the number of people they recruit.

That being said, you don’t have to be a resident or a business in one of those towns to participate,” Ms. Kane said. “Everyone on the Cape and the Vineyard can apply to participate.”

About CLC

When the electrical industry was deregulated, power companies had to choose whether to be in the distribution or supply business. CLC is a public energy services organization created in 1997 to work with the combined buying power of the region’s 200,000 electric consumers to negotiate for low-cost electricity and other public benefits related to energy, including energy efficiency programs.

CLC is authorized by 21 towns and two counties on Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard to choose the electric supplier for their residents and businesses. NSTAR still owns and maintains the poles and wires, and is responsible for billing.

For more information, visit CLC’s website at capelightcompact.org.

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A seven-year effort by a group of Tisbury residents to get a crosswalk installed at the intersection of State Road and Causeway Road has stalled. The Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) has said the specific area does not meet its requirements for a crosswalk. But the town is not giving up on the effort.

In a letter dated May 29, Tisbury department of public works (DPW) director Glenn Mauk told MassDOT of the town’s interest in creating the crosswalk due to pedestrian safety concerns. MassDOT responded on June 23 that it could not honor his request, also citing safety concerns.

“The Town has previously requested a crosswalk at this location,” MassDOT said. “At that time personnel from the District Traffic Operations Unit conducted a field review to determine if minimum sight distance requirements were met. The conditions at the intersection do not provide the minimum sight distance required for the installation of a crosswalk.”

At Mr. Mauk’s suggestion, Tisbury selectmen agreed to follow up on the matter with a public records request to MassDOT, in order to review the documentation on which its crosswalk decision was based. Town administrator Jay Grande sent a letter dated June 17 requesting copies of all written correspondence related to the proposed crosswalk dating back to 2007, including emails, texts, letters, memoranda, and plans.

MassDOT legal counsel Ulysses Jacks acknowledged the town’s request in a letter on June 26. “We will attempt to retrieve the document(s) you have requested…,” he said, adding that MassDOT would notify Mr. Grande of a fee for assembling and reproducing the documents that are located.

The stretch of State Road between Vineyard Haven-Edgartown Road and Main Street, also known as South Main Street, is the Island’s busiest, according to past traffic studies conducted by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and MassDOT, especially in the summer as more vehicles travel to and from the Steamship Authority. Foot traffic to Veterans Park, located off Causeway Road, increases seasonally as well, as sports and other recreational activities ramp up.

The crosswalk initiative began as a neighborhood petition in 2007 signed by 30  people, including not only Vineyard Haven residents who lived nearby but also some Oak Bluffs and Edgartown residents. In addition to a crosswalk at Causeway Road, the petition called for replacement of the existing speed limit sign on State Road and the addition of one near Causeway Road, and the posting of a hidden driveway sign near Delano Road.

Since then, a major sidewalk reconstruction program was undertaken on State Road along the stretch from Main Street to Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in May 2012.

It did not solve all of the neighborhood group’s safety concerns, however, and they have continued to bring up the crosswalk request every spring, when it is time for MassDOT to repaint the stripes on State Road.

At one point several years ago, town officials were told by MassDOT that the department had run out of paint and had none to do crosswalks, Deborah Medders, a State Road resident and Tisbury town moderator, recalled in a recent conversation with The Times.

Given the 20 mph speed limit on State Road and the slight downhill curve the road takes going towards Five Corners, Ms. Medders said she and her neighbors anticipated that MassDOT would deny the crosswalk because of the sight distance issue.

“We understand what DOT is saying, but the need is still there,” she said.

Another area resident, Lorraine Parrish, said she often sees people trying to cross State Road as she looks out her kitchen window, which has a full view of Causeway Road.

“Where else can they cross?” Ms. Parrish said in an email to The Times. “The only choice is to walk down State Road, which doesn’t even have a shoulder to walk on, much less a sidewalk. If there isn’t enough sight distance to put a crosswalk, then doesn’t that make it an even more dangerous spot for people crossing without one?”

The neighborhood group has also been concerned about the use of the one sidewalk on the north side of State Road. Although bicyclists are generally prohibited from riding on sidewalks by state law, many of them do not get off and walk their bikes.

The residents don’t expect a decrease in traffic, Ms. Medders said, but they would like MassDOT to tell the town what can be done to make the street safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

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The former Secretary of State and rumored presidential candidate attracted a large crowd to a book signing event Wednesday at Bunch of Grapes.

Hillary Clinton high-fives a fan during her book signing at Bunch of Grapes bookstore. — Photo by Michael Cummo

It was rainy and grey outside, but the mood was bright inside the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven Wednesday where Hillary Clinton fans were positively beaming. Ms. Clinton was in town to sign copies of her new book, “Hard Choices.”

The line to get a book signed at Bunch of Grapes snaked around the bookstore and down past the Vineyard Haven police station.
The line to get a book signed at Bunch of Grapes snaked around the bookstore and down past the Vineyard Haven police station.

“We love you,” “Please run, we need you,” “I’m such a fan of yours,” and variations of the same were heard again and again from people who had waited in line, some for four hours, to purchase a book and spend precious seconds with the former first lady and rumored presidential candidate.

Ms. Clinton’s appearance on the Island stole some of the media attention from her former boss, President Obama, who was staying dry in his Chilmark vacation home. About 30 members of the press attended the event. The Obamas, Ms. Clinton and her husband, former president Bill Clinton, were scheduled to attend a birthday party for Ann Jordan, wife of Washington insider Vernon Jordan, Wednesday night.

The line for books snaked from the front of the bookstore, down the alley next to the Capawock Theatre, past the Tisbury Police Department, and down Union Street.

First in line was Louis Ricciardelli of Wayland. His daughter Paula Sumberg of Maryland helped her dad navigate the bookstore’s crowded aisles in his wheelchair. Ms. Sumberg said her dad, a lifelong Republican, is a big admirer of Ms. Clinton and really wanted to meet her. They had waited in line since noon.

Hillary Clinton's most recent book, Hard Choices, on display at Bunch of Grapes.
Hillary Clinton’s most recent book, Hard Choices, on display at Bunch of Grapes.

“My dad told Hillary that if she runs for President, it will be the first time he ever votes for a Democrat,” Ms. Sumberg said, which her dad confirmed with a grin.

Dressed in a shell pink lace jacket with an ivory shell underneath, Ms. Clinton smiled engagingly and looked into each person’s eyes while she made brief small talk with them.

Dana Jacobs of Vineyard Haven said she had arranged to take the day off from her job weeks ago for the signing. A sophomore at Northeastern University majoring in political communications, Ms. Jacobs said her admiration for Ms. Clinton grew after she read her previous book, “The Secretary.”

“She was so personable,” Ms. Jacobs said. “I’ve read that about her, that she is really lovely in person, and that’s exactly how she was.”

The ticket price for the event was the cost of one book, with pre-orders suggested, and a limit of two signed books per customer. A limited number of tickets were available on Wednesday, on a first-come, first-served basis.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was all smiles Wednesday.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was all smiles Wednesday.

Luckily for Lily Richards, a high school senior who lives in Greenfield, there were still a few tickets left on Tuesday, when she just happened to find out about Ms. Clinton’s book signing while looking something up about her online. Ms. Richards is a big fan. She not only wrote her AP European history class term paper about Ms. Clinton, but she also presented it to the class as if she were Ms. Clinton — and was the country’s 45th president.

Ms. Richards alerted her mother, Kate Strum-Richards, who made a quick trip with her to the Vineyard Wednesday morning, just for the signing. While on the ferry, they shared Lily’s story with Cynthia Woolbright of Webster, N.Y. She wasted no time at the book signing telling Ms. Clinton about Lily’s paper.

“I’d love to see it,” Ms. Clinton told Lily, and gave Lily her card. Lily’s smile said it all.

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The Oak Bluffs selectmen's annual summer informational meeting held in the Oak Bluffs Library conference room attracted a full house Tuesday night. — Photo by Janet Hefler

Oak Bluffs selectmen hosted their annual meeting for seasonal home and property owners Tuesday night. The almost three-hour event attracted a standing-room only crowd in the Oak Bluffs library meeting room where seasonal taxpayers aired their concerns and complaints.

Parking changes at Niantic Park, beach conditions, and a proposed oyster farm off Eastville Beach were the hot-button topics, underscored by expressions of frustration over a lack of communication with town officials.

On the topic of beaches, Suesan Stovall called attention to the town’s much-maligned efforts to replenish sand at Inkwell Beach and Pay Beach with dredge spoils from the Lagoon Pond channel, and the condition of town beaches in general. Although the material was expected to bleach out by summer, by spring it was still dark and clay-like, prompting protests from some Oak Bluffs residents. The highway department began removing the spoils in May.

Ms. Stovall said she visited Inkwell Beach on Monday and it was still black and dirty, and was like asphalt. “It’s disgraceful that our beach looks like this and hurts my feet when I walk on it,” she said.

Richard Seelig, who owns a house near the beach, told the selectmen a group of people concerned about the issue have formed the Oak Bluffs Citizens Beach Committee and would like to act as an advisory body to the selectmen. We appreciate the highway’s department’s efforts to remove the material in May,” he added. “We hope if by next spring the sea hasn’t taken away the rest of it, we can somehow find a way to do that.”

Selectman chairman Greg Coogan suggested that the committee get on the selectmen’s agenda for a future meeting to discuss their ideas.

We’re happy to have a committee formed; it’s helpful to us,” park commissioner Amy Billings said.

Several residents who live near Niantic Park said they were not aware that the selectmen were close to approving a final design for renovating the ark. Most of their concerns focused on parking.

The proposed renovation will include new basketball courts, new playground equipment, new fencing and lighting, additional sidewalks and parking, and new public bathrooms that will accommodate families with children and the disabled.

Evan Martinson raised questions about the plan to remove some spaces by the basketball court that is used by the senior center and return those to grass, and to creating a row of paved diagonal parking across Niantic Avenue, as well as eliminating on-street parking. Tamar Kaissar said she and her husband, Tal, are concerned about children’s safety if traffic flow is changed on Wamsutta Avenue.

Our goal was to create as many spaces as we could, as safely as possible, to incorporate walkways, and to make it safe for the kids,” Ms. Billings said. She suggested that concerned residents attend the park commission’s public meeting on August 18.

Although the selectmen had planned to consider final approval for an aquaculture license for Dan and Greg Martino to farm oysters off Eastville Beach, Mr. Coogan said they took it off Tuesday night’s agenda, pending approval from the state’s Department of Marine Fisheries.

The selectmen gave their approval in March on the condition that the oyster cage buoys must not interfere with recreation. Several Eastville Beach residents attended that meeting to oppose the project, and about a dozen were at Tuesday night’s forum to do the same.

Siblings Amy, Jack, Pat, and Wendy Ludwig, who grew up in Pennsylvania and still enjoy their family’s home on Beach Road, were among them. Eastville is still the one beach we can access with boats and swimming — it would be a shame to have part of that use taken away,” Amy Ludwig said, adding that the farm would obstruct navigable water and present a safety issue for windsurfers and small boats.

Wendy Ludwig showed photographs of the area in question, with arrows indicating where the oyster farm would be. This may be best site Oak Bluffs has to offer for this type of venture, but that doesn’t make it a good choice,” Pat Ludwig said. “We’re prepared to fight it.”

The Ludwigs said they were not aware of the issue when it came up last winter and that they didn’t feel they were able to participate in the public discussion.

Several people complained about a lack of notification and communication with the town. The selectmen agreed it is an issue they will work to resolve, most likely by sending emails to home and property owners who sign up.

Earlier in the forum, before opening the floor to questions and comments from the audience, Mr. Coogan called on town administrator Robert Whritenour and several town department heads to talk about their work over the past year.

We’ve got a number of projects that we’re trying to draw the entire community into, not just the folks that are here in the winter, but also the folks that are here in the summer and spring and fall, and get your viewpoints on things,” said Mr. Whritenour, first up on the program.

One of the town’s major focuses has been improvements to finances since 2011, when Oak Bluffs had an “absolutely unacceptable” deficit of $435,533 in the general fund alone, Mr. Whritenour said.

You need to know that since that time, your town leaders have been working extremely hard to eliminate what we had in this town with structural deficits where we were spending more money than we were taking in; there’s just no other way to put it,” he said.

Although it sounds simple to fix, it was a complicated process, Mr. Whritenour added. What made the biggest impact was that the town developed a team approach to finances, involving the selectmen, finance committee, town administrator, town departments, and also the voters. Working with a plan over three years, we have turned that around to the point where last year, we had a $1.5 million general fund balance,” he said.

Mr. Whritenour said the town’s major priority now is trying to create long-term fiscal stability, which will help address some of the major challenges Oak Bluffs faces, including addressing coastal infrastructure projects, such as replenishing beach sand, replacing the North Bluff seawall, and repairing East Chop Bluff.

Mr. Whritenour encouraged everyone to take part in a survey about Oak Bluffs, available online at obdowntown.com.

Police chief Erik Blake, highway superintendent Richard Combra Jr., Oak Bluffs library director Sondra Murphy, shellfish constable Dave Grunden, and Oak Bluffs School assistant principal Carlin Hart also provided reports.

In other business, the selectmen held a hearing regarding a dog complaint against Karen Coffey and Daniel Koch for an incident on July 8 in which their two dogs attacked another dog, for the second time. The selectmen voted unanimously to approve Animal Control Officer Anthony Ben David’s recommendations to place a $200 bond on each dog, and require the owners to keep the dogs in a fenced pen at home, and on a leash no longer than three feet and muzzled when in public.

The selectmen also voted to approve a license for Lucy Abbot, who plans to open a used furniture business, Take a Seat, on Dukes County Avenue, and to reappoint Ms. Billings as the park commission’s representative on the town’s Community Preservation Committee.

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The Martha's Vineyard Boys & Girls Club in Edgartown, one of the many organizations serving Island kids. — Michelle Gross

Martha’s Vineyard is rich in charitable organizations, but the newest group to arrive on the scene does so with a new model and money in hand. MVYouth, a new philanthropic organization founded by 40 Vineyard families, has committed to spend $4 million over the next four years to support Island youth through expansion grants to local organizations and scholarships.

Unlike many Island nonprofit groups, MVYouth will not rely on fundraising efforts, in particular the ubiquitous annual summertime event. Each of the founding donors has pledged $25,000 annually to MVYouth, for a total of at least four years, which will be disbursed at $1,000,000 per year, according to a press release. In addition, MVYouth’s founders agreed to underwrite all of the administrative, overhead, and operating expenses separately.

MVYouth is the creation of Daniel Stanton and Jim Swartz, who now serve as its co-chairmen. Summer residents of Edgartown, the two friends share backgrounds in banking and finance, as well as long histories of supporting causes that help young people.

dan_stanton_headshot
Dan Stanton.

Mr. Stanton is a retired partner from Goldman, Sachs & Company. He currently serves as the president of The Boathouse in Edgartown and on the board of the Vineyard Golf Club. Mr. Swartz is the founder of Accel Partners, a global venture capital firm, and Impact Partners, a financing and advisory firm advancing independent cinema. He has been a strong supporter of the YMCA of Martha’s Vineyard and served as co-chairman of its capital campaign.

“It was a big decision to make sure all of the donations would flow right through to the organization,” MVYouth executive directorLindsey Scott of Chilmark told The Times in a phone call Monday. “The 100 percent flow-through model is very important to what we are doing, and the willingness of the founders to take on any additional costs so the funds go directly to benefit the organization’s cause is very generous.”

MVYouth filed for 501c3 nonprofit status in June and expects confirmation soon, Ms. Scott said. The organization will manage two programs, expansion grants and scholarships. Expansion grants will support organizations that enrich the lives of young people from birth to 25 years old through quality programs and services, according to the press release.

Grants generally will not be awarded to maintain operating budgets, but rather to support capital investments and program expansions.

“MVYouth has been careful not to disrupt existing donor contributions that sustain the many Island nonprofits,” the press release explained. “Instead, MVYouth will add capital to organizations ready to take quantum leaps forward.”

MVYouth plans to award approximately 25 percent of its funds to scholarships, which will cover needed tuition expenses and fees for students who are unable to afford to attend their school of choice.

They saw a need

In separate telephone interviews with The Times this week, Mr. Swartz and Mr. Stanton described what inspired them to start MVYouth and their hopes for the organization’s future.

Jim Swartz
Jim Swartz

Mr. Swartz said he and Mr. Stanton came up with the idea for MVYouth after observing the difficulty many Island organizations have in mounting fundraising campaigns, particularly for new capital items.

“They do a great job getting funds for an annual operating budget and sustaining efforts, but when faced with the need to put on a new roof, for example, or to add or expand a program, it becomes a burden for them to hire a development person and raise the money,” he said.

Mr. Stanton said the more he started investigating the needs of Island youth, the more he discovered, including at-risk children, teens and young adults in need of early intervention programs, and college-bound students with financial needs.

“I’ve spent time personally with the superintendent of schools and folks at the high school, and while I don’t know everything about all of the issues, I think what we’re doing will brighten the future for some kids,” he said. “We can’t help them all, but we think we’re on the right path.

Mr. Swartz said the model for MVYouth, in which donations go directly to the cause and not to administrative costs, was inspired by the Robin Hood Foundation in New York City and the Tipping Point Community in San Francisco, where he lives part of the year.

“We watched what was working in other communities and felt it was a good time to try that here on the Vineyard,” Mr. Swartz said.

“We felt it was time to not just focus on one charity, but several ones with a common theme, to try to benefit kids,” Mr. Stanton said. “If this organization is sustainable, and if, let’s say over 20 years, MVYouth is able to give twenty to thirty million dollars to scholarships and organizations that benefit kids, I can’t see how growing up on this Island won’t get a little easier for many of them because of it.”

The flow-through model also dovetailed with the two men’s goal to attract new — and younger — donors.

“We thought there was a whole group of young people on the Island who weren’t really engaged yet with philanthropic efforts on the Island and want to be,” Mr. Swartz said. “From what we’ve observed, they would be happy to have an organization they think is well run and well managed to contribute to, particularly one that has no overhead and the funds flow through directly.”

“A number of people who haven’t been here that long, some of them are more recent seasonal residents, feel like they’re investing in the future of this Island,” Mr. Stanton said. “I encouraged them to look at it that way.”

Mr. Swartz said that he and Mr. Stanton set a goal to launch MVYouth’s fundraising efforts this summer, never expecting to meet their $4 million funding target so quickly.

“We started approaching people at the beginning of the summer, and we were astounded ourselves that we were able to raise as much money as we did,” he said.

“I think causes that are very focused on one group of beneficiaries, in this case, children on the Island, really resonate with a lot of people,” Mr. Stanton said.

“Basically in about seven to eight weeks, we went from zero to forty donors,” he added. “That was really as fast as we thought it would be possible to get that done.”

“A key difference for MVYouth is that we did not raise money through an event,” Ms. Scott said of the organization’s successful efforts. “There were one-on-one conversations with members of the board of trustees and prospective donors, and out of those conversations came all our founding donors.”

Mr. Swartz and Mr. Stanton both said they fully expect MVYouth to keep growing.

“We wanted to log in a base number of donors here so we could be confident we could tell people we’d distribute a certain amount of money each year, “ Mr. Swartz said. “And we hope over time we can raise some more money.”

“We like to think that in a couple of years from now, MVYouth will generate funds in the $1,000,000 to $1,500,000 one to one and a half million dollar range, and that other residents, whether full-time or seasonal, will participate,” Mr. Stanton said.

Low cost model

To keep administrative and overhead costs to a minimum, Ms. Scott, who was hired in March, is the only paid staff member.

“Outside of my salary there is very little in the way of operating costs,” she said. “There is no office and no phone line; basically everything is happening by computer through me, on a laptop.”

Ms. Scott lives in Chilmark with her husband, Josh, and two children. Trained in art history and art education, her previous work experience includes teaching art at the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School and creating an interactive film and theatrical film program for children and families for the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival.

MVYouth’s board of trustees includes Steve Barnes, Drew Conway, David Fialkow, Mimi Haas, and Ron Rappaport. A local advisory board, still in the process of formation, currently includes Mr. Rappaport as its chairman and members Meg Bodnar, Brock Callen, Beth Kramer, Brian Mackey, and Peg Regan.

“Every one of them was hand-picked, based on their experience, their exposure to different issues on the Island, and their personal histories,” Ms. Scott said. “We have a really great group, a nice dynamic among people who are thoughtful and generous. Everyone is really interested in seeing the community of youth organizations well funded.”

Since the majority of the founding donors are seasonal residents, Mr. Stanton said he is excited about having a local advisory group.

“It would be misguided for us to assume we’ve got an understanding of all of the intricacies of the issues that affect kids on this island,” he said. “We felt strongly we need a group of people who live here 12 months a year and have a history of working with kids.”

Application deadlines are November 15 for expansion grants and March 15, 2015, for scholarships. The advisory board will review the applications, conduct interviews for both programs, and make recommendations to the board of trustees. Grants and scholarships will be announced next spring.

For more information about program requirements, application details, and deadlines, go online to mvyouth.com or email Ms. Scott at info@mvyouth.com.

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The fundraiser benefited the Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative, a program for local students.

The 2014 Walter Cronkite Award winners and group of Martha's Vineyard Youth Leadership Institute (MVLYI) delegates enjoyed a visit aboard The Gadget, the sailboat formerly owned by Walter Cronkite and named Wyntje. From left are award winner Sam Low, MVLYI delegate Charlotte McCarron, Bob Nixon, award winner Sylvia Earle, Stone Soup Institute executive director Marianne Larned, Shavanae Anderson, and MVYLI delegates Mary Ollen, Katherine Reid, and Ava Thors. Mr. Nixon and Ms. Anderson are past Cronkite Award winners. — Photo by Ashley Tilton Photograp

The Stone Soup Leadership Institute (SSLI) honored oceanographer Sylvia Earle, and Sam Low of Oak Bluffs, an award-winning documentary filmmaker, at the 5th Annual Walter Cronkite Awards Ceremony and reception Tuesday night. About 150 guests attended the $150 per ticket event in support of SSLI’s Martha’s Vineyard Youth Leadership Initiative (MVYLI), held on the grounds of Mr. Cronkite’s former home in Edgartown, now owned by Karen and David Brush.

Walter Cronkite IV presented the awards named for his grandfather to Ms. Earle and Mr. Low. The program also included guest speakers Bob Schieffer, CBS News chief Washington correspondent for CBS News and moderator of the network’s television show “Face the Nation,” and Christopher Callahan, dean of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.

SSLI, a nonprofit organization founded in 1997 on Martha’s Vineyard, presents the Cronkite Awards to honor people who use the power of the media to create positive social change in the world, board president Marsha Reeves-Jews said in her opening remarks.

Mr. Cronkite, a long-time CBS anchorman, Vineyard sailor, and friend of many Islanders, served as SSLI’s honorary chairman for almost 10 years, before his death in 2009. Founder and executive director Marianne Larned told the audience that Mr. Cronkite became involved with the Institute after working on a television series based on her book, “Stone Soup for the World: Life-Changing Stories of Everyday Heroes.”

The first annual awards ceremony held in Mr. Cronkite’s name in 2010 honored his efforts to prepare youth for the future, as well as his life as a journalist.

In her remarks, Ms. Larned said the Institute created the Vineyard youth leadership project to train young people to become leaders in their lives, on the Island, and in the world. MVYLI supports and mentors local high school students who have decided to pursue higher education and helps prepare them for their future, both on and off the Island, through college prep and scholarships, job shadowing, and an annual Youth Leadership Summit for Sustainable Development.

This year’s summit, held June 21–27 in West Chop, was dedicated to oceans, which inspired the selection of Ms. Earle and Mr. Low.

Award winners

A pioneering oceanographer, explorer, author and lecturer, Ms. Earle formerly served as the chief scientist at NOAA. She has been a National Geographic Society Explorer-in-Residence since 1998.

Ms. Earle reminded the students in the audience that more has been learned about the ocean since the middle of the 20th century than during all preceding history.

“At the same time, more has been lost, more changed,” Ms. Earle said. “And so, at this moment in time, you’re armed with the knowledge. If you didn’t know that the ocean had problems, we’d be in serious trouble. But you do know, and you do have the power. And it’s the power of what Walter Cronkite used so well to communicate to his fellow humans, the state of the world, the past, the present, and especially the future.”

Ms. Earle apologized for having to leave early to attend a showing at Menemsha Beach that evening of a film, “Mission Blue,” about her quest to protect the ocean through a global network of marine protected areas dubbed “hope spots.” Chilmark filmmaker Bob Nixon, the producer, said it would be available on NetFlix on August 15.

Mr. Low, an Oak Bluffs resident, was recognized for his accomplishments as a filmmaker and author. His award-winning film, “The Navigators – Pathfinders of the Pacific,” documented the Polynesians’ settlement of the Pacific.

Mr. Low recently wrote a book, “Hawaiki Rising – Hokule’a, Nainoa Thomson and the Hawaiian Renaissance,” that was published in conjunction with the departure of Hokule’a, a replica of an ancient Polynesian canoe, on a three-year voyage.

Mr. Low said Hawaiian culture was dying when the canoe was built in 1976.

“To be voyaging in the path that our ancestors took to discover one-third of the earth’s surface and settle it was an astonishing experience for anyone with Hawaiian blood, and it caused a revival of Hawaiian culture that I as an anthropologist have never seen anywhere before,” he said.

Following the award presentations, Mr. Schieffer shared a few of his memories of Walter Cronkite as a friend and mentor. “First and foremost he was a journalist, a newsman,” he said. “He loved reporting and loved talking to people. I never saw Walter be rude to a single person that came up to him.”

Mr. Callahan spoke briefly about the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, which he said continues to emphasize Mr. Cronkite’s values of objectivity, accuracy, and fairness.

Youth leaders

The program also included remarks from two of this year’s MVYLI summit participants, Caley Bennett, 17, and Ava Thor, 15, both students at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.

“Living on an island, we all mutually felt that we have a really good understanding of the ocean, and we see things a lot more clearly than people who might not live near an ocean,” Caley said. “Oceans are very important to our island economically, and even socially. A lot of people wouldn’t come to the Vineyard as tourists if we didn’t have such nice beaches.”

Ava reported on an ocean sustainability-in-action project that the youth delegates are planning in conjunction with the Ocean Conservancy’s international coastal cleanup initiative on September 20.

“Towards the end of the summit we were brainstorming to come up with a project that would engage everybody in the community, the locals, the wash-ashores, the Island-borns, the tourists, everybody, so that we could make our cause their cause, so that we could have a mutual understanding of how important the oceans are,” she said.

The delegates came up with the idea to host a gathering with food and music on Island beaches, perhaps over a span of one to three days, to showcase three project themes: marine wildlife, beach cleanup, and lawn fertilizers that contribute to water pollution.

MVYLI delegates Mary Ollen and Charlotte McCarron, who graduated from MVRHS this year, and Isabella El-Deiry, a student at Howard University, spoke briefly about the program’s benefits and positive influence on their lives.

Mr. and Ms. Brush said that as the owners of Mr. Cronkite’s former home, they wanted to support and carry on his legacy on the Vineyard. After the awards ceremony, guests enjoyed cocktails and canapés on the spacious grounds at the back of their home, which slope gently down to Edgartown Harbor.

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— Nathalie Woodruff

Two sailboats headed in opposite directions collided around 2:30 pm on Monday, about a half mile off East Chop. Although the smaller boat’s mast broke and it had to be towed, no one on either boat was injured, according to U.S. Coast Guard personnel and Tisbury assistant harbormaster James Pepper, who responded to a radio call for help.

“Apparently both boats were on a tack that their sails covered their view of the oncoming boat in the other direction,” Mr. Pepper said in a phone call with The Times Tuesday morning. “Neither looked under the sail in time to see the other boat, which happens sometimes.”

Mr. Pepper said Nancy Woitkowski of Falmouth was sailing alone in Cetus, her 32-foot sailboat, when the collision with Surf Bird, a 40-foot sailboat owned and operated by Richard Hall, occurred.

Mr. Hall, a resident of Oak Bluffs and Washington, D.C., had two passengers aboard. “We were sailing towards West Chop from East Chop, and I did not see any other boat,” Mr. Hall told The Times in a phone call Tuesday. “Everyone on our boat was okay. I talked to the other boat owner this morning, and apparently she is okay, too.”

Asked for more details about how the accident happened, Mr. Hall declined to discuss it further.

Mr. Pepper said the Tisbury Harbormaster’s office responded to the accident and assisted a tow boat from TowBoatUS, which had also notified the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG).

“We dispatched a Coast Guard small boat from Woods Hole to arrive on the scene, to make sure no assistance was needed by either vessel, and none was,” Chief Michael Caianiello of the USCG Woods Hole Command Center told The Times in a phone call Monday.

The Massachusetts Environmental Police and Sea Tow also responded, as did Diane Hartmann of West Tisbury, who was sailing in the vicinity of the accident. Nathalie Woodruff of Oak Bluffs and her brother, Ken Judson, who divides his time between Mexico and Southeast Asia, were out for an afternoon sail with Ms. Hartmann when the collision occurred.

“We got a call on Diane’s ship radio that there was a distress call from a person on one of those boats, that they’d just had a collision with another boat,” Ms. Woodruff told The Times. “They called ‘May Day, May Day,’ so Diane took down the sails and we motored over there. Apparently nobody was hurt, which was fortunate.”

Mr. Pepper said that Ms. Woitkoski, a nurse, had some cuts and scrapes, but had tended to them herself before anybody arrived. “She said she was fine, and stayed with her boat; she didn’t want to get off and go anywhere,” he said.

The sailboat was towed to Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard, where its rig and sail were removed. Ms. Woitkoski took a ferry back to Woods Hole, Mr. Pepper said. Cetus is now moored in Vineyard Haven harbor.