Authors Posts by Nelson Sigelman

Nelson Sigelman

Nelson Sigelman

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In this file photo, Aksel Cooperrider of the Astros throws to a Mashpee batter. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

In Game 1 of the Gateway Babe Ruth Championship on Monday, the Vineyard Gray traveled to Yarmouth to face the American League champs, the DY Gray Dolphins. The 18-1 Dolphins had no answer for hurler Jake Howell, who pitched a seamless two-hit shutout. The Vineyard won 3-0.

A sacrifice fly by Hunter Cleary, an RBI double by Nick Bischoff, and a wild pitch that scored Jeremy Regan from third were more than enough to overcome the pitching trio from DY.

Game 2, in the best-of-three championship series, was played on-Island at the high school at 4:30 on Wednesday, July 15. Game 3, if needed, will be in Yarmouth tonight.

Last week, the Vineyard Gray improved to 16-3 with a 2-1 series win over the Wareham Cubs in the National League best-of-three divisional championship series.

Last Thursday, in the first game, the Vineyard came back from an early 2-0 deficit with five runs in the bottom of the sixth to win 5-2. Jack Sierputoski pitched a complete game, striking out 10 Wareham batters along the way. Jake Howell, Harold Lawry, Hunter Cleary, Nick Bischoff, and Benny Binder delivered consecutive hits during the turnaround inning. Jack then struck out the side in the seventh to seal the deal.

In Game 2 on July 7, in Wareham, the Cubs returned the favor. Pitcher Jake Howell looked unhittable through three innings, until three consecutive hits found fair territory down the right-field line, contributing to a five-run inning. The Vineyard got as close as 5-3 with the bases loaded in the fifth, but could produce no more. The final was 7-3. Joe Serpa and Jack Sierputoski each contributed to the offense with two hits.

In Game 3, back on the Vineyard on July 9 in front of a loud crowd, the Vineyard shut down the tough Cub offense with a decisive 5-0 victory, improving their record to 16-3. A three-run fifth inning separated the two teams in what otherwise was a well-pitched and tightly defended game. Harold Lawry and Jack Sierputoski combined on the two-hit shutout, while Colby Balboni delivered a clutch two-run single during the fifth-inning rally. Colby and Jeremy Regan also combined on a fine third-to-second putout to close out the game.


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Following a one-year delay, the Army Corps signed off on a $2.2 million plan to deepen and widen the sand-clogged channel into Menemsha Pond.

Looking southwest, the Menemsha channel is visible in the background, and is scheduled to be dredged to the entrance of the pond. Photo by J.B. Riggs Parker.

One of the largest Martha’s Vineyard navigational projects in recent years is about to start in October, when work begins to dredge the length of the Menemsha Creek channel from the Vineyard Sound entrance into Menemsha Pond. The work is intended to provide a safe passage into the pond anchorage, designated a harbor of refuge.

One offshoot of the work will be approximately 60,000 cubic yards of sandy sediment, which will be pumped to replenish sand lost to erosion and storm damage along Lobsterville Beach in Aquinnah.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Work last week announced it had awarded a $2,170,798 contract to J-Way Southern Inc., of Avon, Ohio, to complete the dredging work. Work on the federal navigation project (FNP) is scheduled to start on or about Oct.1, and take about 12 weeks to complete.

The work was scheduled to begin in October 2014, but delays in securing the necessary state and federal permits pushed the project back one year.

The Army Corps is authorized to dredge the channel, last dredged in the early ’70s, to a depth of eight feet at low mean tide and a width of 80 feet from between the jetties that protect the Menemsha Harbor entrance, past West Basin and the red nun channel marker, and past Long Point, known locally as Picnic Point, into Menemsha Pond.

This map shows the channel and the area to be dredged.
This map shows the channel and the area to be dredged.

Money for the project comes from a $50 billion relief bill for areas damaged by Hurricane Sandy.

Earlier this year, the Army Corps completed a separate project to repair the jetties on either side of the channel.

“The project consists of maintenance dredging the federal navigation project at Menemsha Creek,” said Craig Martin, Army Corps project manager for the New England District, Programs/Project Management Division in Concord. “Approximately 60,000 cubic yards of sandy sediment will be dredged from the 10-foot entrance channel, eight-foot navigation channel, and six-foot anchorage by hydraulic cutterhead dredge.”

Work will not include dredging the 10-foot anchorage, where there is extensive submerged aquatic vegetation which cannot be disturbed or damaged under Massachusetts state permit requirements, the Army Corps said in a press release.

The sandy dredge material will be pumped via pipeline to Lobsterville Beach in Aquinnah, about 1.5 miles by water route to the west of the federal navigation project, the Army Corps said. The six-foot anchorage requiring maintenance dredging is approximately 1.5 acres in size.


Safe refuge

The federal government owns the channel that leads into Menemsha Pond, designated a federal harbor of refuge where boats may seek shelter in the event of a storm. In 1945, Congress authorized periodic maintenance dredging and repairs to the jetty to insure safe passage of vessels seeking refuge from storms. The Army Corps says parts of that channel have shoaled to depths of less than three feet, creating hazardous conditions for commercial and sport fishermen as well as recreational boaters.

Early in the project, the Army Corps sought to engage the main pond stakeholders, the towns of Aquinnah and Chilmark, and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah). While the Army Corps did not require local approval to move forward, it prefers it.

Navigating the political waters proved tricky. The town of Aquinnah and the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) both favored the dredging project, as a way to improve the health of the pond by increasing water circulation, and to allow vessels access to Menemsha Pond.

Chilmark officials worried about the effect on the scallop fishery and the potential for more and larger boats to use the federally designated channel to enter the pond. However, those town concerns were not enough to outweigh the Army Corps mandate to protect navigation through the federal channel.

Brett Stearns, director of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) natural resources department, has played a pivotal role in support of the project.

Mr. Stearns said the natural resources department has plans to continue to enhance the scallop fishery in the pond, which is expected to benefit from improved circulation.

“I’m pleased that we’re moving forward,” Mr. Stearns said. “I think it is essential, not only the maintenance of the watershed but for access for vessels.”


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For the second Saturday in a row, firefighters battled a restaurant fire in downtown Edgartown.

Firefighters responded to a fire at Rockfish restaurant Saturday.

Updated: 7/15/2015 at 3:00 pm

There is no rest for the weary for Island firefighters. For the second Saturday in a row, Edgartown firefighters, backed up by Oak Bluffs, responded to a fire in a downtown restaurant.

The fire began about 2 pm in the Rockfish restaurant at the corner of North Water Street and Mayhew Lane. Co-owner Nell Coogan said that the fire began in an area of one of the restaurant’s four hood vents where grease was able to accumulate and the fire spread into a wall behind it.

Ms. Coogan said that as of Tuesday, all four vents had been serviced to prevent another grease fire and the entire menu was available.

Saturday, as police blocked off Main Street, the men and women volunteer members of the fire department stopped what they were doing on a gorgeous summer afternoon — at the beach, around the house, or at work — and answered the call.

Edgartown Fire Chief Peter Shemeth said the fire location proved to be fortuitous. Firefighters were able to open the wall from the outside and extinguish the fire quickly. “It was a real good save,” Chief Shemeth said.
There was little damage to the restaurant, and Health Inspector Matt Poole conducted an inspection that same day. The restaurant reopened Sunday with a limited menu, utilizing its wood-fired pizza oven.

Oak Bluffs firefighters also responded to back up Edgartown, standard protocol for a fire in the heavily congested downtown area.

Unfortunately, Chief Shemeth said, the department has some experience responding to exhaust-fan fires, a reference to a fire one week earlier in the Atlantic restaurant.

Chief Shemeth said he was very pleased with the response on a day when members of the department were scattered around town and the Island.

Asked if he thought he might get a chance to go to the beach, he said, “That would be nice; we’ll see what happens.”

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President Obama and family will stay for two weeks in early August.

President Obama will play plenty of golf, if previous vacations are any indication. — File Photo by Nancy Lane/Boston Herald

The White House confirmed Friday what has pretty much been common knowledge on Martha’s Vineyard for months. President Barack Obama, First Lady MIchelle Obama and their two daughters will return to the Island this summer, as they have all but one year of his presidency.

“On Saturday, August 8th, the President and the First Lady will travel to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts,” a White House spokesman said in a press release distributed late Friday. “They will remain there until Sunday, August 23rd, when they will return to Washington, D.C. There are no public events scheduled at this time, and further details regarding travel will be released as soon as they are available.”

Official confirmation followed preparations that began months ago when the White House began making reservations to accommodate the large entourage of Secret Service agents, White House staffers, and support personnel that are responsible for the safety and success of the president’s vacation.

Chilmark is favored

Last year, the Obamas stayed at the home of Joanne Hubschman on Gosnold’s Way off Prospect Hill Road, which overlooks the north shore and Vineyard Sound. The seven-bedroom, nine-bath, 8,100-square-foot house, sits on a 10-acre lot and features 17 rooms in total, expansive water views of Vineyard Sound, an infinity pool and hot tub, and a dual tennis-basketball court.

A view of President Obama's vacation getaway at Gosnold's Way in Chilmark. – File photo by Nathaniel Horwitz
A view of President Obama’s vacation getaway at Gosnold’s Way in Chilmark. – File photo by Nathaniel Horwitz

Ray and Lillian Kellman, who live in the house next door, told The Times in early June they suspect the Obamas will return to the neighborhood this summer.

“We’ve heard that they’re coming back,” said Mr. Kellman. “They’ve rented houses around here, and they wanted to rent this house for the purpose of the Secret Service. I presume if they rented houses around that they’re going to be here.”

Although he hadn’t heard anything official yet, Mr. Kellman said he was contacted by a real estate agent who told him that his house was one of several being considered for rental to the Secret Service. He said the Hubschman house is the perfect spot for the president and his family, as it is surrounded by conservation land.

“It’s completely private — it’s all reservation down here — which is why it’s so great for him,” Mr. Kellman said. “It’s a very secure area. It has a swimming pool, it has tennis courts, it has everything that you could want right there. And it’s got a rather staggering view.”

After living in their home in Chilmark for 40 years, the Kellmans never thought they would be sharing the neighborhood with a president. They said that besides a few road stops for car checks, the biggest inconvenience was having to provide a list of all their house guests. Last year they forgot to include their gardener and best friends on the list. But by and large, they said, having the Obamas next door didn’t really affect them.

“As far as I was concerned, we were just sorry not to catch a glimpse of him,” Ms. Kellman said.

Mr. Obama and his family have vacationed on the Island every year since his 2008 election, with the exception of 2012, when he was campaigning for re-election. Chilmark is their favored vacation spot.

In 2009, 2010, and 2011, the first family rented Blue Heron Farm in Chilmark, a 28.5-acre compound on Tisbury Great Pond. In 2013, the first family rented a house in Chilmark just off South Road. The location necessitated a road closure that left some Island residents grumbling about the inconvenience.

Past presidential vacation activities have included golf, more golf, bike trips with the family, hikes, and dinner with friends.

The annual event attracted throngs of people to Main Street, Vineyard Haven.

Main Street, Vineyard Haven was crowded with people for the annual Tisbury Street Fair Wednesday night. Photo by Larisa Stinga.

On a sultry summer night, Tisbury welcomed throngs of visitors to Main Street, Vineyard Haven Wednesday night for the 44th Street Fair where they enjoyed food, shopping and musical entertainment.

Pedestrians of all ages filled the street. For many, the Street Fair provides an opportunity to catch up with old friends and make new ones. Kids enjoyed a variety of activities.

The Island Cove Adventures climbing wall was a popular attraction.
The Island Cove Adventures climbing wall was a popular attraction.

Tisbury Police Lieutenant Eerik Meisner said the evening was peaceful and problem free. “Everybody had a good time and it went smoothly,” he said. “It was a good crowd.”


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Our columnist narrowly escapes holiday mayhem in pursuit of fluke and sea bass.

From left, the Virginians: Vlad Wojcik, Grayson McNeely and dad Grady McNeely with a nice fluke caught drifting off Chilmark Sunday. – Photo by Nelson Sigelman

So I’m casually driving along Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road minding my own business, at a fair clip. I mean, I’m not one of those Island drivers who likes to punish unbelievers by driving the speed limit or below. Five miles over — that seems fair to me, and, I assume, the police.

A snappy Toyota with New York plates comes up behind me; right behind me. The driver, a young girl, is looking at her cell phone. Next I see, she is applying makeup to her cheeks. I’m starting to get irritated.

She backs off a bit. I don’t know if it is because she is so close to my bumper that she can read my expression in my own rearview mirror, or because she is looking up a phone number.

Up she comes again. I watch in amazement as she dons a white blouse over her undershirt. Let me point out that this requires two hands which are not on her steering wheel while this fashion change takes place.

I consider stopping my truck and administering a lecture, but it would probably get me arrested, so I drive on, and thankfully leave her behind at the roundabout.

Sunday morning I left Menemsha Harbor with Vlad Wojcik of Virginia, who was visiting his mother Helen Parker of Chilmark, and Vlad’s friend Grady McNeely and Grady’s 8-year-old son Grayson. We were looking for fluke and sea bass.

Sea bass had been plentiful, fluke a little scarce. On Sunday we found both fish in about 80 feet of water off Chilmark between the brickyard and Cedar Tree Neck.

The combination of the wind blowing hard out of the west and a rising tide pushed us along at a good clip. A drift sock, essentially a water parachute, helped slow our speed so we could hold bottom, the key to hooking fluke.

Grayson was a quick learner, and swiftly picked up how to drop his fluke rig to the bottom and keep it there. When I asked him what he liked most about the fishing trip, he said, “Reeling in fish.”

That day we had plenty of action. It provided a good warm-up for the annual VFW Post 9261 Martha’s Vineyard Fluke Fishing Derby Saturday and Sunday, July 11 and 12.

The team competition provides lots of laughs. It also supports a good cause. The awards ceremony and barbecue follow the final weigh-in Sunday at the VFW on Towanticut Avenue in Oak Bluffs. There are prizes for the biggest fluke and sea bass. Kids 12 and under enter free, but must register. Adult registration is $20; teens and seniors are $10. Weigh-in is 4 to 6 pm at the VFW. There is also a team competition. For more information, call organizer Peter Hermann at 774-563-0293. Register at local tackle shops.


The battle is over

Larry’s Tackle Shop’s “Blue and Bass Battle” concluded last week after one month of hard fishing in June. The results follow.

Josh Flander holds his winning 35.3 pound boat bass. – Photo courtesy of Larry's Tackle Shop
Josh Flander holds his winning 35.3 pound boat bass. – Photo courtesy of Larry’s Tackle Shop

Shore Bass: 1. Ashton Hannah, 23.65 lbs; 2. Sam Bell, 21.85 lbs; 3. J-Bird, 20.70 lbs.

Boat Bass: 1. Josh Flanders, 35.30 lbs; 2. David Flanders, 33.90 lbs; 3. Tony Canha, 33.35 lbs.

Shore Bluefish: 1. Zach Pinerio, 12.25 lbs; 2. Steph Pond, 10.05 lbs; 3. Chad Cunningham, 9.80 lbs.

Boat Bluefish: 1. Mike Capen, 10.50 lbs; 2. Tony Canha, 9.55 lbs; 3. Don Mac, 9.55 lbs.


Striped bass regs explained

The Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) implemented new regulations last year affecting the commercial sale of striped bass caught during for-hire trips. The new rules get tricky when recreational fishermen are in the picture.

DMF said any vessel carrying for-hire patrons must abide by all recreational regulations. For-hire patrons cannot be designated as the vessel’s “crew” in order to claim the vessel is conducting a commercial trip. DMF attempted to clarify the regulations.

“For example,” DMF said, “under the current recreational and commercial rules, if a for-hire captain and his mate take out six patrons on a for-hire trip, the maximum amount of striped bass that may be harvested during the trip is eight fish, at 28” or more. If the maximum is harvested and each of the six patrons takes home one fish, the for-hire captain may sell the remaining two fish if they meet the commercial requirements (e.g., 34” or more, open commercial fishing day). Alternatively, if only three of the patrons took home one fish, the for-hire captain could sell the remaining five fish if they meet the commercial requirements. Regardless of the number of trips taken in a day, no more than 15 fish could be sold under the authority of the vessel’s commercial striped bass endorsement in a day. Note that the 15-fish limit applies to striped bass endorsements of Commercial Boat Permits (or Commercial Lobster Permits); Individual and Rod & Reel Permit holders with a striped bass endorsement are limited to two fish per open day.”


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Working in hot, humid conditions, firefighters from two towns battled a blaze that destroyed an occupied accessory structure but saved the main house and a dog.

The accessory building adjacent to the main house was fully involved when firefighters arrived. Photo by Rob Gatchell.

Oak Bluffs and Tisbury firefighters responded to a call of a fully involved house fire just before 9 pm, Tuesday night on Border Road, off Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Tisbury. The narrow dirt road parallels the Tisbury-Oak Bluffs town line and combined with the heat and humidity created difficult conditions for the more than 40 firefighters who battled the blaze.

More than 40 firefighters responded to the call. Photo by Rob Gatchell
More than 40 firefighters responded to the call. Photo by Rob Gatchell

The fire destroyed a large accessory building fire officials said was used as a living quarters. Firefighters were able to save the main house which suffered exterior scorching but no interior damage, Oak Bluffs Fire Chief John Rose said.

No occupants were in either building at the time of the blaze and fire officials said they did not yet know the identity of the owner or the possible cause. A small dog in the main house was removed in good shape.

One firefighter was transported to Martha’s Vineyard Hospital for observation. There was no report on his condition.

According to a witness renting the home next door, flames erupted out of the wooden frame house, one lot back from the Lagoon, about 8:45 pm.

“I could hear popping, like fireworks, and assumed that was what it was,” Jan Rosenfeld, of Manhattan Beach, California, told The Times. “I went outside to investigate. I saw huge flames through the bushes and the house in front of me. The whole thing was on fire.”

Firefighters advance on the blaze in a successful effort to save the main house. Photo by Rob Gatchell.
Firefighters advance on the blaze in a successful effort to save the main house. Photo by Rob Gatchell.

Ms. Rosenfeld said that within minutes, the house was engulfed. And almost as quickly, she heard sirens.

The firefighters had the fire under control within 15 minutes, she said.

Initially, a homeowner on the Oak Bluffs side of Lagoon Pond saw the flames and reported the fire as in Oak Bluffs. Fire Chief Rose said that after he heard the initial call and the location he asked that Tisbury also respond.

The first trucks had to navigate a narrow dirt road to reach the house set back in the woods. Hose lines ran for more than 1,600 feet from Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road to the front lines of the blaze.

“It was a long way in to get water,” Tisbury Fire Chief John Schilling said. “The fire was rolling on to the main structure when we got here. The guys did a good job.”

Smoke filled the air once the flames were extinguished. Photo by Rob Gatchell.
Smoke filled the air once the flames were extinguished. Photo by Rob Gatchell.

As firefighters continued to hose down the charred remains of the building the Island fire chiefs praised the cooperative effort and the turnout. Chief Schilling said the exact location did not matter.

“It’s great, the support that each town gives the other when we have a major event like this,” Chief Rose said, as he stood perspiring in the heat. “And it’s not just Oak Bluffs and Tisbury. Edgartown is covering Oak Bluffs right now because all my apparatus is tied up.”

“It was a tough location,” Chief Rose said.

West Tisbury firefighters also backed up Tisbury.

Police closed off Edgartown-Vineyard haven Road for more than one hour.


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Aquinnah selectmen Monday voted to issue a cease-and-desist order to prevent the tribe from working on the community center.

Tribal leaders want to turn the long dormant Wampanoag community center into a bingo hall.

Aquinnah selectmen met in a specially called executive session Monday morning, and voted unanimously to deliver a cease-and-desist letter to the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) that orders the tribe to stop work intended to transform a long-unfinished shell of a community center into a high-stakes bingo facility.

Scott Crowell, who represents the Aquinnah Wampanoag Gaming Corporation, a separate tribal entity formed to pursue gaming, said the tribe will not respond to the order to stop work on the building, and is well within its legal rights to proceed under the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act.

The heart of the issue is the extent to which the settlement agreement limits the tribe’s ability to build a casino, either in southeastern Massachusetts or on tribal lands on Martha’s Vineyard. Signed by tribal leadership in 1983 and ratified by the state legislature in 1985 and by Congress in 1987, the settlement agreement stipulated that the tribe was subject to local and state laws and zoning regulations in effect at the time.

The legal question still to be settled is whether the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) signed in 1988 trumps the settlement act Congress approved in 1987. That question is now before a federal judge.

The 6,500 square foot building that is the latest flashpoint in tribal-town relations was erected at taxpayer expense just off the entrance road to the tribal lands by two teams of Air Force reservists in 2004 and 2005 as a civil engineering community project. The shell sat dormant and unfinished after the citizen-soldiers departed.

It was not until Governor Deval Patrick signed the state’s 2011 expanded gaming law, which authorized up to three licenses for resort casinos in Massachusetts, that the tribe turned its full attention to the unfinished building. Spurned in its quest for a piece of the mainland gaming pie in favor of the Mashpee Wampanoags, the Gay Head tribal membership narrowly voted to turn its unfinished community center into a Class 2 gaming facility.

In December 2013, Governor Patrick filed suit in state court to block the tribe from moving forward with a gaming facility on Martha’s Vineyard. The case was later moved to federal court, and the commonwealth was joined by the town of Aquinnah and the Aquinnah/Gay Head Community Association Inc. (AGHCA).

A hearing is scheduled August 12 before U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV on cross-motions for summary judgement, at which all sides will argue the case. In a deposition given last week, Tobias Vanderhoop, chairman of the Wampanoag Tribe, testified that the tribe planned to move forward to convert the building.

The tribe contends it does not need a building permit to proceed because it meets federal gaming requirements. If it moves forward the tribe would be on the hook for approximately $1.2 million in Housing and Urban Development grants appropriated for the community center.

‘Overwhelming implications’

The selectmen took action Monday at the request of town counsel Ronald Rappaport. Mr. Rappaport has previously argued that the tribe must comply with town zoning and building requirements, and that gaming is not a permitted use.

“It is clear that the tribe and the gaming corporation intend to proceed with construction of a casino,” Mr. Rappaport said in a phone conversation Monday, “and that they intend to proceed without obtaining any town permits. We cannot sit back and allow anybody to build anything in town without a permit, so the selectmen today authorized the issuance of a cease-and-desist order, and we intend to follow up on that.”

Asked what is at stake for the town and the Island in federal court, Mr. Rappaport said, “A casino on the Vineyard — as [selectman] Jim Newman said today, is nothing that we planned for, and the implications are somewhat overwhelming.”

Over the years, the Aquinnah/Gay Head Community Association has vigorously defended the tenets of the settlement agreement even as it worked to forge closer ties with the tribal leadership. The tribe’s latest move, just weeks before the central question will be decided in court, came as a surprise.

“The unilateral actions being taken by the tribe’s leadership to move ahead to open a casino in Aquinnah are astounding, in that they fly in the face of the core issues that are the heart of the ongoing litigation among the commonwealth, the town, AGHCA, and the tribe,” retired lawyer and longtime AGHCA president Larry Hohlt told The Times. “It is quite appropriate for the town to issue a cease-and-desist letter. Hopefully doing so will result in responses by the tribe that will not make the taking of further legal action necessary.”

Cease and desist

The letter is dated July 6 and signed by assistant building inspector Leonard Jason, Jr.

The order describes the permitting history of the building, which was to include a gymnasium, stage, locker rooms and a kitchen. Following a series of public hearings, on December 13, 2007 the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC) approved the community center as a development of regional impact under the condition that the tribe would return to the MVC should it “substantially alter the use of the premises from the proposed uses.”

In 2011 and 2012 the town issued building permits for a community center.

Mr. Jason’s letter references the testimony of Tobias Vanderhoop on July 1, when he testified under oath that the building permits issued by the town were no longer valid because the tribe had transferred control of the building to the gaming corporation for use as a casino and has the authority to proceed under the IGRA.

“Mr. Vanderhoop acknowledged that the tribe did not notify the town about this change of use, nor did the tribe seek new or amended permits to reflect its proposed change of use. He further stated that the tribe would not permit town inspections, and that the type of commercial gaming  which would be conducted on the premises was ‘electronic bingo, or, as it’s referred to, Class 2 gaming activities …’ Mr. Vanderhoop stated that the tribe has retained a contractor and an architect, although architectural plans have not been made available to the town.”

Mr. Jason said the tribe cannot proceed with its renovation plans for a casino without permits and that commercial gaming is not a permitted use under town zoning bylaws.

“Accordingly,” Mr. Jason said, “I must instruct you to cease and desist from all construction activities at this time.”

‘Spurious side proceeding’

The tribe is represented by Scott Crowell, who heads the Crowell Law Office Tribal Advocacy Group, a firm “committed to tribal advocacy and the preservation and furtherance of tribal sovereignty,” according to the group’s website.

Mr. Crowell said the town is well aware of the tribe’s legal position that the federal Indian Gaming Regulatory Act supersedes the settlement act regarding gaming. “Any jurisdiction of the commonwealth and the town over matters integral to the tribe’s gaming operation that might have been in effect prior to the passage of the IGRA, is no longer in effect, and that includes the town’s efforts to use its permitting process to interfere with the tribe’s gaming operation,” Mr. Crowell said in an email to The Times.

“The town was well aware of the tribe’s position well before this past week. That is why they intervened in the federal litigation. The issue will be resolved in that litigation and not in some spurious side proceeding over a permit.”

Mr. Crowell said the tribe offered to take steps to assure the town that all work was up to code, but the town responded by issuing the cease-and-desist order. Mr. Crowell said the tribe’s decision to move forward with construction should come as no surprise.

“The tribe initiated this process well over three years ago, and the town brought its lawsuit against the tribe because it was already aware of the tribe’s plans,” he said. “The effort of some to portray these developments as new, or a change in the timeline, has no basis in fact. Indeed, if anything, the process has been slower than anticipated.”

Class 2 gaming of the type envisioned for Aquinnah encompasses high-stakes bingo, poker, pull-tab cards, and associated electronic games that do not require coin slots. Unlike class 3 gaming, which encompasses all types of gaming and requires a tribe-state agreement, tribes may regulate Class II gaming on their own lands without state authority, as long as the state in which the tribe is located permits that type of gaming.

Benefits for all

The May 2011 vote at a general membership meeting of the tribe to use the community center building for gaming was unannounced, and revealed a clear split between tribal members who live on the mainland and Island residents. The vote was 21-10 with 7 abstentions. A second vote followed in May 2012 that affirmed the earlier vote but by a narrower margin.

This week, tribal members submitted a petition calling for another vote on the use of the building by the general membership. That vote will be scheduled later this summer, tribe chairman Tobias Vanderhoop told The Times in a telephone conversation Tuesday.

Mr. Vanderhoop said the cease and desist order was not unexpected. He referred all questions about work on the building to Ms. Andrews-Maltais.

Mr. Vanderhoop said there is no question that the question of gaming in town has created divisions among the membership. He said he has tried to mitigate the concerns of tribal members through additional discussion.

Asked for his personal view on the question of gaming, Mr. Vanderhoop said, “It is my responsibility as the elected chairman of the tribe to represent the interests of all the tribal citizens. My point of view is that I stand with the actions that the membership takes and I carry out my duty.”

Asked if he agrees with the idea of constructing a casino in town, Mr. Vanderhoop said, “As long as it is the will of the people that is what we will do.”

Mr. Vanderhoop said it is important that people understand the benefits the proposed gaming facility would bring to the tribe, in terms of increased funding for a variety of social services that include health care, scholarships and youth programs, as well as “additional housing to allow tribal citizens to return home.”

Mr. Vanderhoop said there would be benefits for the wider community. “The gaming facility has the potential to increase tourism on this end of the Island,” he said, “increase patronage to the existing businesses across the Island and will create more jobs, not only in the facility but for ancillary businesses that will have the opportunity to benefit from the tourists.”

Spiritual impact

Two of the three members of the Aquinnah board of selectmen, chairman Spencer Booker and Julianne Vanderhoop, are tribal members and do not share that rosy assessment of the impact.

Mr. Booker said the selectmen were unaware of the tribe’s plans. He said that on most issues there has been communication between the town and tribe, but where gaming is concerned, the town has been left out of the loop.

Mr. Booker said he is opposed to gaming in town, and fears its effect on a cultural and spiritual level. He said he is not alone in that view.

“A casino in Aquinnah would impact the tribe and tribal people greatly on a very deep level,” Mr. Booker said. “People have hunted these lands for generations, and what would it do with the masses teeming all over our lands?”

Selectman Julianne Vanderhoop said she is perplexed by the tribe’s actions, and said the notion of creating a gaming hall in the Island’s smallest town is “far-fetched.”

Ms. Vanderhoop said the tribe has been sold a bill of goods, and is not considering the implications of a project that would ultimately be more harmful than good.

“It’s disappointing to me, not only as a town official but as a tribal member,” Ms. Vanderhoop said. “I really don’t know how this is viable at all.”

Ms. Vanderhoop said the push for a casino on tribal lands is driven by the off-Island membership who are not connected to the rhythm and culture of the Island. “I think that everyone in town is unprepared for this,” she said.

At the least, she said, the tribe ought to wait until there is a decision in the case now before Judge Saylor.

Earlier decision

In an earlier procedural ruling, Judge Saylor said that the tribe remains bound by the terms of the settlement agreement, and knowingly waived its sovereign immunity with respect to tribal lands.

In that instance, Judge Saylor was ruling on a motion filed by the tribe to dismiss the AGHCA complaint.

In a 33-page decision, dated Feb. 27, 2015, Judge Saylor leaned heavily on a decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in December 2004, which found that the tribe was required to seek a building permit in the winter of 2001 when it erected a small shed next to the shellfish hatchery on one of its ancestral lands, known as the Cook property, without a town building permit. The state’s highest court ruled that the tribe, then the only federally recognized tribe in Massachusetts, was not immune from zoning enforcement despite its federal recognition and its claim of sovereign immunity.

Judge Saylor did not address the overarching question of the IGRA, but he did speak to the settlement agreement and the tribe’s multifaceted arguments, and in doing so laid the groundwork for any future defense of the settlement act with respect to other land-use issues, irrespective of the rights of the tribe to gaming.

Following a detailed legal analysis, Judge Saylor said that he “must give full faith and credit to the decision of the Supreme Judicial Court.”

Judge Saylor said that in reaching its decision, the SJC “necessarily must have determined that the settlement agreement was enforceable against the parties” and “that the tribal council was capable of waiving the sovereign immunity of the tribe even though it had not yet been federally recognized.”

Taking one step beyond the Cook lands, Judge Saylor said, “The language in the settlement agreement applies equally to the remainder of the tribe’s lands as it does to the Cook Lands; there is no apparent basis on which to distinguish the Cook Lands from the lands targeted for gaming. By that reasoning, therefore, the tribe waived its sovereign immunity with respect to all of its lands.”

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Hospital officials said the response to what appeared to be a health emergency was not wasted effort.

The hospital posted signs in English and Portuguese at all entrances during the measles scare.

Updated 3:30 pm, Tuesday

A diagnosis of measles, confirmed by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, that galvanized Martha’s Vineyard Hospital into organizing two free vaccination clinics and spurred a full-scale public health alert across the Island, was incorrect.

The change in diagnosis followed advanced testing of samples sent to the federal Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention. Tim Walsh, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital chief executive officer, said the Department of Public Health (DPH) confirmed the measles misdiagnosis in a telephone call Friday.

Mr. Walsh took a positive view of a health scare that tested hospital resources. “The good thing that happened is that some people who might not have been vaccinated did get vaccinated,” he said.

The measles scare began on June 17 when a mother brought an unvaccinated child into the hospital emergency room who exhibited symptoms consistent with measles. DPH tested blood samples, and confirmed the diagnosis on Friday, June 19.

That diagnosis set off a full-scale effort by state and local health officials to prevent the spread of the highly contagious disease. Public health investigators tracked the child’s movements and identified seven possible exposure locations, times, and dates.

Martha’s Vineyard Hospital organized two free measles immunization clinics on June 24 and 25, at which a total of 125 children and adults received vaccinations.

In a telephone conversation Monday, Mr. Walsh said the hospital had no choice but to react the way it did on the basis of the initial test results. “If you think it’s measles, you have to go with it,” he said.

In the end, Mr. Walsh said, it turned out to be a very expensive training exercise, when all the costs were factored in for staffing.

“It was a terrific training exercise,” Mr. Walsh said. “Everyone was doing what they thought was the right thing to do.”

Dr. Jeffrey Zack, director of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital emergency department, told The Times that in essence, the blood samples resulted in two false positives. Those results combined with the patient’s clinical symptoms all pointed to measles, he said. It was not until more advanced and time-consuming testing of the patient’s urine was completed that the measles diagnosis was overturned.

Dr. Zack said the positive point is that the hospital and the community learned some lessons, and people received vaccinations. Erring on the side of caution, he said, was better than letting an outbreak gain a foothold.

He said he looks forward to a productive debriefing with the DPH and the boards of health that will result in finding ways to improve any future response. Better communication is one area that needs attention, he said.

Hospital officials learned a lot. “We are the better for it,” he said.

Citing a case in Massachusetts and a recent measles death in Washington, irrespective of the misdiagnosis, Dr. Zack said, “It’s still out there, and the world is really tiny, and I think making sure folks get vaccinated is really important.”

Scott Zoback, DPH spokesman, attributed the misdiagnosis to the complexity of the measles virus.

“Partially thanks to its vaccine-driven rarity, diagnosing measles is complex from both clinical and laboratory perspectives,” Mr. Zoback said in an email to The Times. “While final testing has not confirmed measles in the patient on Martha’s Vineyard, it is important that Public Health authorities at all levels respond immediately to suspected measles to carry initial diagnostic testing, consult with the CDC, and institute control measures that can prevent a serious outbreak.”

According to DPH, from time to time subsequent testing does not confirm measles as the cause of rash illness. Many other illnesses can cause fever and rash, but measles is especially severe, sometimes life-threatening and highly contagious.

Globally, 150,000 children die every year from measles. As it remains very common in many parts of the world, high levels of vaccination are essential to prevent imported cases from spreading, DPH said. This is particularly important on the Vineyard, which has many visitors from other countries and other states.

Massachusetts law requires vaccinations against 14 communicable diseases as a condition of enrollment in public schools. In addition to medical exemptions, Massachusetts allows exemptions on religious grounds.

Statewide, 95 percent of kindergarteners are reported as having received two doses of MMR vaccine, while on Martha’s Vineyard (Dukes County), 84 percent of kindergarteners are reported as having received two doses of MMR vaccine, according to DPH.

In the wake of last year’s measles outbreak, on Wednesday, California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new law that will not allow parents to cite personal beliefs to reject vaccinations for children enrolled in public and private schools and daycare centers.


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Vivian Combra DeBettencourt, 80, of Oak Bluffs died peacefully on Sunday, July 5, 2015, at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, with her family at her side. She was the daughter of Mary (Sivee) and Domingo Combra.

Vivian DeBettencourtVivian was born on Sept. 2, 1934, at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. She was raised on the Vineyard, graduating from Oak Bluffs High School in 1952. While in high school, she began a correspondence with an Island boy, Richard DeBettencourt, who was in the Air Force. When Richard returned stateside, they began dating, and were married Dec. 30, 1953.

After a few years of living on- and off-Island, Vivian and family moved to Holliston, where they resided for some 30 years. Vivian worked as a secretary and as a lunch lady, but felt most comfortable at home.

Vivian’s real home, however, was always the Vineyard at heart ,and they moved back “home” upon retirement.

Vivian enjoyed sports, particularly basketball, in which she was a six-year starter at Oak Bluffs High School. She loved watching the Celtics, with Larry Bird being a particular favorite. But most of all, Vivian enjoyed her time with both her immediate family and all her relatives, whom she cared so deeply for. Her family and relatives were truly her life. She was a wonderful and tireless homemaker and wife, a truly caring and compassionate mother, and a wonderful grandmother. She was a loyal and trusted friend to all.

Vivian is survived by her daughter Gail of Bourne, her son Douglas and wife Jayne from Oak Bluffs, granddaughter Kimberly of Vail, Col., and granddaughter Kathryn and husband Nicholas Townes of Oak Bluffs. She is predeceased by brothers Herbert, Philip, and Donald, and sister Elizabeth.

A visitation was held on Wednesday, July 8, 6 pm to 8 pm in the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown Road, Oak Bluffs. A graveside service will be held on Thursday, July 9, at 11 am at the Sacred Heart Cemetery, Vineyard Avenue, Oak Bluffs. Donations in Mrs. DeBettencourt’s name may be made to Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 1748, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.