Authors Posts by The Martha's Vineyard Times

The Martha's Vineyard Times



Several Island police department budgets took a hit over the course of President Obama’s two-week vacation on Martha’s Vineyard. The Secret Service requests help with crowd control and traffic control as the president moves around the Island to visit golf courses, beaches, and restaurants. Those services are not reimbursed by the federal government.

The Oak Bluffs police department estimates about $13,000 in extra hours and overtime for police officers. Police were requested to help when the president visited Farm Neck Golf Club seven times during the first family’s 16-day vacation. The president also dined at the Sweet Life Cafe and attended the annual Oak Bluffs fireworks display Friday night.

In Edgartown, Chief Tony Bettencourt estimated his department spent approximately $3,500 on extra shifts and overtime associated with the president’s vacation. It was an unusually expensive year for Edgartown. The Secret Service called on the department to provide officers for the arrival and departure of the president at the Martha’s Vineyard Airport. This year there was an extra arrival and departure, when the president briefly returned to Washington, D.C., in the middle of his vacation. The president also dined at the Edgartown restaurant Atria, and appeared at the Edgartown School for a statement on the murder of journalist Jim Foley by terrorists. Michelle Obama also traveled to Edgartown for lunch.

Those costs were offset by the $14,200 in rent the government paid for the use of the Edgartown School, which served as the White House media center. That rental fee goes into the town’s general fund.

The Secret Service called on West Tisbury police to cover two shifts during the president’s arrival and departure from the airport, at an estimated cost of $720.

Because the president rented in Chilmark, that town’s police department, one of the Island’s smallest, was called upon to provide daily coverage. Chilmark police chief Brian Cioffi declined to comment on the costs to his department. “I do not comment on the financial aspects or the security aspects of a presidential visit,” Chief Cioffi said. In an email statement, executive secretary Tim Carroll said town department heads have not yet submitted those costs.

Under normal circumstances, there are four State Police officers assigned to the Vineyard. The presidential visit swelled their ranks to more than 16. No costs were immediately available for overtime and rental accommodations.

The Massachusetts Environmental Police also assigned an additional officer to the Island, in addition to the sergeant now assigned.

Police departments in Tisbury and Aquinnah did not have any extra costs associated with Mr. Obama’s visit this year.

Scott Blakeman brings his stand-up comedy to the Grange Hall.

New York political comedian Scott Blakeman returns to the Vineyard with his solo show, Scott Blakeman: A Standup Who Doesn’t Dumb Down, this Saturday, August 30, at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury. Mr. Blakeman is an original member of New York’s longest running political comedy show, “Laughing Liberally,” and has performed his comedy around the world, according to a press release. The show starts at 8 pm, and tickets ($20) are available at and at the door.


The Permanent Endowment for Martha’s Vineyard is accepting applications for its fall grant cycle. Through its grants program, the Endowment seeks to raise awareness of Vineyard issues, respond to community needs, foster collaboration among nonprofit organizations and support innovative approaches to improving the quality of life on the Island, according to a press release.

“The Endowment welcomes applications from Island nonprofit organizations with IRS 501 (c) (3) status seeking funding for new projects as well as continuing programs that benefit the Vineyard community. In the past, the Endowment has provided support for the arts and culture, civic affairs and community development, education, the elderly, the environment, housing, health and human services and youth programs/projects.”

The deadline is Sept. 15. For application forms or more information, go to For questions, contact Andria Jason, Foundation manager, at

Amanda Ruzza performs at Union Chapel on Friday. Photo courtesy Sheila Baptista.

The fifth annual Martha’s Vineyard Jazz and Blues Summerfest, a two-day musical event presented by Lewis and Kirk Productions, is this Friday and Saturday, August 29 and 30.

Sage performs Saturday at the Old Whaling Church.

Sage performs Saturday at the Old Whaling Church. Photo courtesy of Sheila Baptista. —

The line-up for Friday’s events, held at Union Chapel, includes Andrea and James Rohlehr and the AndJam Band, Amanda Ruzza, The Berklee Rainbow All-Stars directed by Tia Fuller, and Acute Inflections. On Saturday at the Old Whaling Church, see Sage, an all-women’s jazz and blues ensemble; and Jazzmeia Horn.

Both nights begin at 7 pm, and tickets start at $35, VIP seats start at $75. A portion of the proceeds from Summerfest will also benefit regional breast cancer networks and other local organizations that assist women who are receiving cancer treatments, according to a press release. For more information, visit; for tickets, visit or call 914-363-9299 ext. 384.


On Friday, August 13, 16 seasoned players from the Vineyard, New York, New Jersey, Florida, and Boston made up a field of eight doubles teams in the first Compass Tennis Tournament on Martha’s Vineyard at the Island Inn Country Club in Oak Bluffs.

With a presidential golf party sometimes serving as a backdrop on the nearby links, the players enjoyed a relaxed and flexible game schedule, which proved comfortable for all participants. Why a “compass”tournament rather than a traditional, one-game elimination tournament?

“I wanted to provide the players with as much game time as possible and thought this would provide the perfect opportunity,” tournament director Tom Rabbit said. “During a compass format all players are in the tournament to the very end. The top prizes go to the east winner (who is undefeated) and to the east runner-up (who has lost only to the east winner). Next in order are the winners and runners-up from: north, west, and south. Everyone wins and comes away with a cash prize.”

The tournament was played over the course of 11 days. Teams continued to change brackets as they accumulated wins and losses. Each team was guaranteed three matches, which gave them a chance to play in a final in their section. All participants received cash awards with the champions receiving stylish compasses and engraved glassware as well.

With the success of the tournament, Mr. Rabbit and co-director Elaine Pinckney are already discussing plans to make the tournament an annual event, and expanding the field to include a women’s section.

Results: East Champions: Todd Hollister and Shaun Schofield; East runnerup: Chuck Scott and Gene Erez. West winners: Lance Pope and Russ Hawkins; West finalist: Roger Spinney and Ray Lincoln. North winners: Pat Cashin and Ray Perez; North finalist, Stephen Harr and Samm Walton. South winners: Russell Jackson and Tom Montero. South finalist: Sandy Ray and Tom Soldini.


The big story to come out of the Holmes Hole Sailing Association’s summer series of racing is the growing number of boats that are turning up at the starting line each week. Last week was a perfect example: 20 boats competed last Thursday and 17 entrants headed out for the Sunday race to Chappaquiddick.

Northeast winds around 15 miles per hour set the racers off to Chappy on a short beat to get around Can 23a, then falling off for a reach to the Red Nun 4 at the entrance to the outer harbor at Edgartown. Another beat northeast to Can 3 was followed by a dead-downwind run to the finish.

There were lots of interesting possibilities for success, but the A Division Alerion 28s found the course and wind speed most to their liking. Jim Dixon captured his first win of the season on At Last, followed by season leader Mo Flam aboard Penelope. Stuart Halpert grabbed third on Providence, making it a trio of Alerions at the top.

Guest boat Rascal, a C&C 40 sailed by Charlie Burckmyr of Edgartown, joined the fray, continuing the outreach to include boats outside of Vineyard Haven.

In the B Division, Bow Van Riper got his Vineyard 15 Tyche moving briskly to take the blue ribbon by nearly three minutes over Woody Bowman in Wonder, a Gannon & Benjamin Tern (yawl). Third place went to David McDonough who single-handed his C&C 37 Trinity to yet another in-the-money finish.

Thursday race results

The rising tide of competitors makes for a crammed starting line and close finishes and Thursday evening’s race with 20 boats put skippers to the test. A dying northeast wind made for some nervousness in the back half of the fleet, but everyone finished the loop around the harbor buoys before the light left the harbor. The earlier setting sun, while creating a dazzling light show for racers, is a bittersweet reminder that the days, and the sailing season, are getting shorter.

The next HHSA event is the regular Thursday night race with dinner afterwards on the deck at the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club. All are welcome. The final two races of the summer series are on Sunday, August 31, with starts at 10 am and 2 pm.

The deadline is today, Thursday, to sign up for this year’s Moffett Race on Saturday, Sept. 6. Don’t miss this annual celebration of Island sailing. Sign up here: or visit the Holmes Hole website at


Following up on the success of last year’s walk/run in support of the new Edgartown Library, the Friends of the Edgartown Library will sponsor the second annual event on Labor Day, Sept. 1.

The event is a 5K (kilometer) run or walk — depending on each participant’s mood and fitness level — that begins on Pennywise path and winds through the woods until it connects with the bike path for the final mile to the destination at the Edgartown School, where the new town library is being constructed. For the more serious runners, this is a USATF-sanctioned event.

Advance registration forms are available on the library website Day-of-race registration and number pick-up begins at 9 am on September 1 with runners shuttled by bus to the starting line for the 10 am start.

Registration fees are $20 for adults and $10 for kids in advance, plus an extra $5 per person on race day. The first 200 registrants will receive a commemorative tee-shirt bearing the winning design created by a child at the Boys’ and Girls’ Club. Sizes are distributed on a first come, first served basis.


Aug. 21, Peter Silverman and Jane Katch sold 68 Bija’s Way to Jane T. and Jerald A. Katch for $210,000.

Aug. 21, Erik Simonsen Jr., trustee of Flanders Lane Nominee Trust, sold 37 Flanders Lane to Erik Simonsen Jr. and Kimberly Richter Simonsen for $570,000.


Aug. 18, Sandra Raymond sold 81 Martha’s Road to Malcolm W. Hall 2nd and Laurel C. Hall for $325,000.

Aug. 18 Constantine B. O’Doherty sold 108 Martha’s Rd. to Brian G. and Sally F. Walshe for $1,250,000.

Aug. 19, Joseph C. and Belinda W. Pioggia sold 114 South Summer St. to Thomas A. and Francesca A. Bartlett for $2,320,000.

Aug. 19, 7 Dunes Road LLC sold 43 Crocker Dr. to 6424N10LLC for $1,479,000.

Aug. 21, Michael Ault sold 13 Plantingfield Way to Faith Van Clief for $555,600.

Aug. 21, Richard A. and Barbara A. Lankow sold 11 Dunes Rd. to Frank A. and Catherine K. Delli Carpini for $1,200,000.

West Tisbury

Aug. 19, Melissa J. Manter sold 93 Dr. Fisher Rd. to Daniel J. Larkosh and Christopher E. Larkosh, trustees of Larkosh Realty Trust, for $50,000.

Aug. 19, Arthur R. Hitchings 3rd and Julie M. Hitchings sold 43 Trotters Lane to Hilary Wall and Brian Cox for $535,500.

Aug. 20, Huseby Mountain Farm LLC sold Lot 1 Pine Hill Rd. to Stephen C. Araujo for $300,000.

Aug. 20, Christine A. Fisher sold Lot 2 State Rd. to Jarret F. Brissette for $525,000.

Laura Reid

Laura Reid —

The inexhaustibly compassionate, silly, and immeasurably brilliant Dr. Laura Lee Reid, wife of Louis Cossutta, mother to Sarah Conca, Katy Decker, and Eben Cossutta, died on Monday, August 18, unexpectedly and peacefully in her home in Chilmark after a life of hell-raising, vacuuming, and joy-spreading. She was 60 years old.

A physician and resident of Martha’s Vineyard for more than 20 years, Laura was known for her loving and humble bedside manner and generosity of spirit to anyone in need of treatment or care. She also loved plants, bright colors, perfectly shaped beach rocks, ice cream with jimmies, cashmere sweaters, laundry, Robert Smith, aliens, and roller coasters. Her taste was impeccable, her house immaculate, and her mind a work of art.

After graduating first in her class in eighth grade, and completing her own application, she was accepted to Milton Academy on a full scholarship. She became a straight-A student with the goal of studying biomedical engineering to design a prosthetic eye for her beloved sister, Sandy, who was blind since birth.

After the surprise blessing of her first daughter, Sarah, in 1971, Laura pursued a degree in biomedical engineering at Boston University, again on full scholarship, work at the MBL in Woods Hole, and then onto engineering school. After two years of work at Harvard Apparatus, she pursued a medical degree at UMass Worcester Medical School to help her better achieve her goal of helping others. While working as a resident, she purchased her first home, made it beautiful, and had her second daughter, Katy, who was allowed to choose her own disastrous shade of pink for her first bedroom.

In 1985, she overpowered an armed gunman in a multi-hour hostage crisis at Mary Lane Hospital in Ware, where she was a third-year emergency room resident after, as quoted in The Courier, she “just grabbed the damn gun.” A single mom with two small children, she decided to move her family to Falmouth, and then to Chilmark, in search of a more peaceful lifestyle and work environment.

The Island quickly became her Eden, where she fell in love with not only its beaches, residents, and her amazing gardening projects and fish ponds, but also the love of her life, Louis Cossutta, and her beloved stepson, Eben, her “confidante and partner in crime.”

Although her life was often hard, and she was sometimes neglectful to her own needs, she was tireless in her drive to help others, sharing her own personal struggles and hardships, thus allowing her patients and friends the freedom to share what was needed for recovery without fear of judgment or shame.

Though she will be missed, those who love her know she is somewhere magical (possibly a spaceship), pain-free, dancing on roller skates to The Cure’s “Fire in Cairo,” with her dear departed friend Andrew, wearing too much hot pink and turquoise, but looking as fabulous as always.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, August 30, from 1 to 3 pm (beginning promptly at 1) at the West Tisbury Grange Hall. Bright colors, 80’s makeup, and laughter suggested!


The Office of the Attorney General said members of the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission did not violate the open meeting law by deliberating outside of regularly scheduled and posted meetings. The ruling, in a letter dated July 28, was in response to a complaint by attorney Ted Saulnier, former Tisbury police chief, who represents fired former airport employee Beth Tessmer in her lawsuit against the airport commission and airport managers.

Mr. Saulnier alleged that in early February commission members John Alley, Denys Wortman, and Peter Bettencourt met improperly with the airport commission attorney and airport manager Sean Flynn at a time when the airport commission was embroiled in controversy over its disciplinary procedures and the eventual firing of Ms. Tessmer.

In a letter addressed to airport commission attorney Susan Whalen, Assistant Attorney General Hanne Rush said, “We find that the commission did not engage in improper deliberation, either in-person, by email, or through a third party. The individual conversations between chair Alley and commissioner Bettencourt; chair Alley and Mr. Flynn; and Mr. Flynn and commissioner Wortman did not constitute deliberation because they’re all communications between less than a quorum of the commission’s members.”

Ms. Rush said that the office of the attorney general considers the matter resolved.

Mr. Saulnier has made similar allegations in his lawsuit on behalf of Ms. Tessmer now pending in Dukes County Superior Court. The lawsuit alleges slander, defamation, discrimination, retaliation under the Massachusetts “whistleblower” law, wrongful discharge, denial of due process, civil rights violations, and civil conspiracy.