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Workers quickly moved the barriers blocking the newly painted traffic lanes over the new $40 million bridge Tuesday, and the switch was made.

Vehicles flowed over the newly opened Lagoon Pond drawbridge in both directions shortly after it opened to traffic Tuesday afternoon. - Photo by David Welch

With no fanfare and just a handful of observers to mark the occasion, the new Lagoon Pond drawbridge that spans the channel between Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs opened to traffic about 2 pm Tuesday afternoon.

The switch from the temporary to the permanent bridge was straightforward. Crews from general contractor Middlesex Corp. briefly stopped traffic and moved traffic cones and barrels from one side of the road to the other.

Shawn Durgin awaited the word to begin moving the traffic barrels from one side to the other. Photo by Nelson Sigelman
Shawn Durgin awaited the word to begin moving the traffic barrels from one side to the other. Photo by Nelson Sigelman

Within minutes, a steady stream of traffic flowed in both directions. Motorists, many of whom have watched the bridge take shape, celebrated the occasion with beeping horns and shouts of congratulations. One man leaned out his car window to take pictures.

Maribeth Hemberger-Priore of Vineyard Haven, in her silver Mitsubishi SUV with the distinctive license plate ISLGRL, was the first car over from Vineyard Haven. She noted the occasion in a Facebook posting a short time later: “We were the first ones to cross over the bridge from

Island Girl drives across the bridge, the first Islander over the new span.
Island Girl drives across the bridge, the first Islander over the new span.

Vineyard Haven to Oak Bluffs. What a beautiful bridge. Well done.”

Members of the Lagoon Pond bridge committee (LPBC) were the first to drive from Oak Bluffs to Vineyard Haven. LPBC chairman and Tisbury selectman Melinda Loberg, smiling and waving from behind the wheel of her bright red Jeep, took former Martha’s Vineyard Commission Executive Director Mark London and committee member Scott Tuttle for a commemorative ride, followed by Tisbury selectman Tristan Israel in his silver pickup truck, with his passenger Oak Bluffs selectman Gail Barmakian.

Earlier crews worked feverishly to clean the lanes of debris and attend to last-minute details as a small group of officials gathered to mark the moment. Mr. London, who helped oversee the design process, said the bridge represented a good example of groups working together.

As an example, he pointed to the landscaping plan that would include a park and pedestrian walkway along the shore and under the bridge.

“It is nice to see one of the Island’s biggest projects come to fruition,” Ms. Barmakian said.

Melinda Loberg, Tisbury selectman, behind the wheel of her Jeep, and a group of bridge committee members along for the ride cross the new bridge for the first time.
Melinda Loberg, Tisbury selectman, behind the wheel of her Jeep, and a group of bridge committee members along for the ride cross the new bridge for the first time.

Ms. Loberg expressed her appreciation to all the workers involved in constructing the bridge. “There are so many people that came from all over the place to build this bridge,” she said. “They have taken a lot of pride in this, and they’re really the unsung heroes. They’ve been here through horrible snowstorms, ice storms, and miserable weather.”

She said the outcome was worth it. “It’s going to be a beautiful bridge,” she said. “It’s going to be a natural part of the road system for many, many years.”

As he supervised last-minute preparations, David Nash, project supervisor, said, “It’s always good to do a job you can be proud of.”


The work’s not over

The remaining phase of the project to replace the aging and sporadically unreliable 1930s-era drawbridge is the removal of the temporary bridge, put in place while construction proceeded on the permanent bridge.

That process is expected to begin soon, Ms. Loberg told The Times. The contractor, Middlesex Corp., has a compressed timeline to complete the work in the water by Jan. 31, 2016.

State Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) regulations restrict work that would impede or disturb the flow of water in the construction area from January 15 through May 31 to protect the spawning and juvenile development of winter flounder and shellfish.

The project is on schedule, however, and weather permitting, Middlesex expects to have the bridge dismantled by the deadline, Ms. Loberg said.

She said more traffic delays can be expected.

“There’s parts of the bridge and adjacent sidewalk, et cetera, that have not yet been constructed because of the presence of the existing temporary bridge,” she said.

The bridge project, including landscaping on both the Tisbury and Oak Bluffs sides, is expected to be complete by June 2016.

The initial construction estimate for the permanent drawbridge was $37.9 million, but the value of the contract MassDOT awarded was $43.7 million. Construction began in November 2013.

Vehicles flowed over the newly opened Lagoon Pond drawbridge in both direction shortly after it opened to traffic Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Sam Moore.
Vehicles flowed over the newly opened Lagoon Pond drawbridge in both direction shortly after it opened to traffic Tuesday afternoon. Photo by Sam Moore.


The two-bridge process

MassDOT announced plans in 2003 to replace the failing Lagoon Pond drawbridge in two phases, starting with the temporary bridge that opened in January 2010, built at a cost of $9.3 million. The original construction schedule called for the permanent bridge to open in 2014, but the project was delayed by a lengthy review process.

MassDOT gave two basic reasons for its two-phase plan. Building a temporary bridge allowed vehicular traffic (which can be as much as 14,000 vehicles per day in the summer, according to Martha’s Vineyard Commission figures) to be rerouted during the construction of the permanent bridge, and also allowed the drawbridge to continue to accommodate boat traffic, especially for emergency refuge in Lagoon Pond for boats in the harbor.

Engineers believed there was considerable risk that even with repairs, the previous bridge, which opened in 1935, would fail before a permanent new bridge could be built. In 1935 the bridge builders predicted with uncanny accuracy that their bridge would last 75 years. It lasted 78 years. MassDOT bridge project manager Steve McLaughlin told a bridge committee meeting in June 2014 that he expected the new bridge to last 75 years.

The LPBC was created in 2005 to provide a conduit for local comments to MassDOT. Oak Bluffs and Tisbury selectmen appointed the committee members. Former Martha’s Vineyard Commission Executive Director Mark London and senior planner Bill Veno also participate as nonvoting members on the committee, and the commission’s staff provides assistance and organizes the meetings.

Ms. Loberg said she can’t believe it’s been 10 years since talk of a new bridge first started.

“Now that I’m at the other end of it, it’s been really fascinating, seeing how complex this project has been on so many levels,” she said. “Being able to crawl around inside and see the inner workings of the bridge and all the parts that they have to think about has been really fascinating.”

She has tremendous respect for the contractor, she said, who has been “orchestrating the timing on having the supplies come at the right time and having all the paperwork filled out for approvals from the DOT.”

Vehicles flowed over the newly opened Lagoon Pond drawbridge in both directions shortly after it opened to traffic Tuesday afternoon. - Photo by David Welch
 – Photo by David Welch

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Tribal chairman Tobias Vanderhoop said the tribe would reconsider its options for the long dormant community center project.

The Wampanoag Tribe wants to build a gaming hall on tribal lands in Aquinnah.

Updated 7 pm, Wednesday, Nov. 25

The Wampanoag tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) will appeal a decision by U.S. District Court Judge F. Dennis Saylor IV that the tribe cannot turn its long-unused community center into a gambling hall.

Scott Crowell, who heads the Crowell Law Office Tribal Advocacy Group, based in Sedona, Ariz., told The Times Monday that he would likely ask Judge Saylor to reconsider his ruling prior to filing an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

“There are development in other jurisdictions that we want to bring to his attention,” Mr. Crowell said, “but the tribal council has authorized an appeal with the First Circuit.”

Asked what specific developments he was referring to, Mr. Crowell said, “Action the Department of the Interior took regarding two tribes in Texas that we believe is relevant here.”

Mr. Crowell said he would file for reconsideration on or before the due date of Dec. 11. “We feel that he committed error on several different levels,” he said.

Mr. Crowell said his main arguments would focus on the judge’s reading of the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) and its relationship to the Settlement Act, as well as his determination that the tribe does not exercise sufficient governmental power over its own land for the lands to qualify under IGRA.

Mr. Crowell said the tribe is negotiating with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) over the December deadline for repayment of $1.1 million the federal agency provided the tribe for the construction of its unfinished community center, the proposed site of a tribal gaming hall.

“We are in consultation with HUD regarding that,” he said. “Nothing’s been firmed up or decided.”

Tobias Vanderhoop, tribal chairman, said the tribe would protect its rights and review plans for the community center.

“The tribal council has reviewed all options with our legal counsel,” Mr. Vanderhoop said in an email to The Times received late Wednesday. “Considering the effect of the federal court decision on our tribe, as well as other tribal nations, we will seek to overturn it in the First Circuit Court of Appeals.  At the same time, we are reviewing our options to complete the community center.  We remain committed to the defense of our rights and status as a federally acknowledged tribe.”

Judge Saylor’s 40-page decision, issued Nov. 13, was a sweeping victory for the town of Aquinnah, the Aquinnah Gay Head Community Association, and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Judge Saylor said the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA), signed in 1988, does not trump the Settlement Act, 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, and it has formed the bedrock of the longstanding legal relationship between the tribe and the Martha’s Vineyard community.

Following a detailed analysis of the issues in the case, Judge Saylor said, “In summary, the tribe has not met its burden of demonstrating that it exercises sufficient ‘governmental power’ over the settlement lands, and therefore IGRA does not apply. Furthermore, and in any event, it is clear that IGRA did not repeal by implication the Massachusetts Settlement Act. Accordingly, the tribe cannot build a gaming facility on the settlement lands without complying with the laws and regulations of the Commonwealth and town.”

The 6,500-square-foot building slated to become a bingo hall was originally intended to be a community center. It 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 has sat dormant and unfinished since the citizen-soldiers departed.

In making his decision, Judge Saylor said, “Whether an Indian tribe should be permitted to operate a casino on Martha’s Vineyard is a matter of considerable public interest, and the question touches upon a variety of complex and significant policy issues.

“This lawsuit is not, however, about the advisability of legalized gambling. Nor is it about the proper course of land development on Martha’s Vineyard, or how best to preserve the unique environment and heritage of the Island. And it is not about the appropriate future path for the Wampanoag people. If there are answers to those questions, they are properly left to the political branches in our system of government. The role of the court here is a narrow one, and it expresses no opinion of any kind about the broader issues underlying this dispute.”

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Polly Hill Arboretum is now listed on the National Park Service's (NPS) Register of Historic Places. – Courtesy of Karin Stanley

The Polly Hill Arboretum (PHA) announced it is now listed on the National Park Service’s (NPS) Register of Historic Places as the Polly Hill Arboretum Historic District. It was added to the list in June.

Applying for a spot on the register is complex, requiring extensive collaboration among researchers and other organizations, according to a press release. The West Tisbury local historic commission worked on the application for years.

Formal recognition based on national standards “honors the exceptional importance of the historic property, as well as the PHA’s preservation efforts,” Polly Hill Arboretum officials said in a press release. “The Polly Hill Arboretum Historic District retains integrity, and its present appearance clearly conveys the property’s evolution across 300 years of island history, from colonial farm to summer retreat to arboretum.”

The 70-acre PHA was created by botanist Polly Hill in the second half of the last century, when she and her husband inherited the property, according to the arboretum’s website. Now it is one of the few historic farmsteads on the Vineyard open to the public. Polly Hill also features a number of stone walls, open meadows, and historic building sites, including an old homestead which was renovated for office space.

The PHA was named a historic area in April 2010, and the Massachusetts Historical Commission has listed the Polly Hill Arboretum on the Inventory of the Historic and Archaeological Assets of the Commonwealth, according to its website.

The NPS says that being listed on the National Register is the first step toward eligibility for National Park Service–administered federal preservation tax credits.

For more information, go to pollyhillarboretum.org.

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The Martha’s Vineyard Community Horse Center will offer lessons, counseling, and a home for Island equestrians of all levels.

Remy the horse pokes his head out of the stable toward Rebecca Miller, Samantha Look with her daughter Ayla Strom, and Sarah McKay. Photo by Sam Moore

A group of Martha’s Vineyard equestrians has taken on the task of creating a nonprofit community center to train Islanders of all ages in horsemanship, and to facilitate therapeutic equine counseling. To reach their goal, they will have to clear a series of hurdles as daunting as any Olympic course’s.

Organizers of the Martha’s Vineyard Community Horse Center (MVCHC) Misty Meadows have set out to raise several million dollars to purchase the sprawling, state-of-the-art Misty Meadows farm compound in West Tisbury from owners and supporters Jerry and Carol Kenney, key supporters and backers of the effort.

The core group includes Sarah McKay, Julianna Flanders, Tracey Olsen, Samantha Look, Alison Rich Stearns, Rebecca Miller, and Emma McGlynn.

Sarah McKay, left, and Rebecca Miller in the attic above the stables of the Misty Meadows barn. Photo by Sam Moore
Sarah McKay, left, and Rebecca Miller in the attic above the stables of the Misty Meadows barn. Photo by Sam Moore

Sarah McKay, one of the driving forces behind the effort, knows something about growing nonprofits. Ms. McKay was one of the founders of the Island Grown Initiative, which raised millions to purchase Thimble Farm in Oak Bluffs, now the hub of IGI activities.

The idea for the center sprouted when Ms. McKay shared her horseback riding and caretaking history with Ms. Kenney. At the time she was unaware that Ms. Kenney co-owned the riding complex with her husband, and that the Kenneys, who purchased Misty Meadows in 1999, were looking for a way to make Misty Meadows, which had gone mostly unused in recent years, more accessible to the community.

The MVCHC website (mvhorsecenter.com) describes the Kenneys’ involvement.

“Carol and Jerry Kenney, who currently own Misty Meadow, came to Martha’s Vineyard in 1991 with their two daughters and, like many others on the Vineyard, enjoyed their first riding experiences at Misty Meadows. Here in the early 1990s, their daughters fell in love with horses at a time when the Vineyard still offered an active and vibrant social network centered on horses … The Kenneys’ daughters went to school in New York City, but they lived for their Vineyard weekends, school holidays, and the summers when they could engage with their Island horse-loving friends. At a young age, their daughters helped with and later led the Camp Jabberwocky equestrian program. Their older daughter went on to obtain her adult certification in therapeutic riding at High Hopes in Connecticut. Later, as part of her doctoral internship in clinical child psychology, she worked at Green Chimneys in Brewster, N.Y., a residential unit for children where animals are used in therapy … To enrich the lives of Island children, the Kenneys would like to see Misty Meadows regain its stature as an equestrian center for Islanders. On top of their original purchase, the Kenneys invested close to $8 million rebuilding Misty, and they are offering to sell it as a nonprofit community facility for less than half that amount. They are also contributing to an endowment to assure Misty Meadow’s viability and continued success.”

The goal, according to the group’s website, “is to become a central facility to rekindle interest in horses through free and/or affordable programs to cultivate a new generation of horse enthusiasts.” Programs would focus on unmounted horsemanship (nutrition; health and anatomy; grooming; leading; and barn chores) and 4-H horse-related instruction.

Sarah McKay with Simba, a horse currently in the stable off County Road. Photo by Sam Moore
Sarah McKay with Simba, a horse currently in the stable off County Road. Photo by Sam Moore

MVCHC will host an open house at Misty Meadows at 10 am, Friday, Nov. 27, to introduce itself to the community, Ms. McKay said. There will be a series of demonstrations in dressage, natural horsemanship, equine-assisted learning (EAL), and pony rides.

“It’s just a way to really have people see a little bit of what we’re planning to offer, get some input, get some ideas,” she said.

Ms. McKay said that MVCHC is focused on starting very slowly. The first program, taught by Rebecca Miller, debuts in January, and is a six-week self-esteem-building program for high school–age girls. The pilot program is group-centered, and designed to foster relationships between individuals and horses. It will be mostly unmounted.

Samantha Look of Crow Hollow Farm in West Tisbury will teach 4-H lessons, which come from a national curriculum that teaches students about horsemanship in all its aspects, from riding to horse health. Ms. Look took 4-H classes on the Island when she was a child, but the program has since disappeared. She is eager to revive it.

Ms. Look said there is something unique about working with horses successfully. “There’s unconditional acceptance in a relationship with a horse,” Ms. Look said.


Ms. McKay said part of the goal is to make the horse experience be accessible. “A lot of people have a perception that anything to do with horses is very expensive, very elitist,” Ms. McKay said; “that it’s only for people who are going to do serious competition. We’re really wanting to broaden that base, and encourage kids to think of it as accessible and affordable.”

The MVCHC will not be a commercial barn. It will not offer formal boarding or traditional riding lessons. Nor will it be discipline-specific; for example, with a focus on dressage or hunter-jumper riding. The mission is centered around “educating people about the connection and the opportunities for learning and growing with horses,” Ms. Mckay said. “It’s also about having access for Island kids to be around horses, whether it’s riding or unmounted.”

The second component, counseling, will be tailored to a wider segment of the community. Starting out with riding instructors with counseling-related backgrounds, Ms. Mckay said EAL could be applicable to groups such as the elderly or even recovering addicts.

“EAL is a very fast-growing branch of therapy that really gets into the nature of horses, what they can really do to work with people,” she said. “The opportunities are endless.”

Ms. Miller, who is a counselor, described the way a class might work. For example, students complete a task, such as going out into the ring and bringing the horse back to a starting point.

“They may not even know how to use a halter,” Ms. Miller said. The benefit of the exercise, she said, would come from developing a relationship with the horse and working together to develop mutual trust with the animal and with peers. “The real work happens once they leave,” Ms. Miller said.

Initially, the center will operate largely through donations. The Kenneys have three elderly horses at the barn, and other horses will be loaned from owners around the Island. Equipment will also be loaned and donated for horses and riders.

The second step, after starting up programs, will be to purchase the property from the Kenneys. Ms. McKay said this is expected to take place through a series of private donors, whom the MVCHC’s task force is starting to reach out to. Six months, she said, would be a realistic time frame for purchase.

For the time being, the center will be staffed by the seven-member task force that has been working to get programs off the ground, as well as volunteers. Eventually, down the line, the center will hire staff.

“It’s the opportunity of a lifetime for the community,” Ms. McKay said.

Writers Fritz Striker, left, and D.W. Kann in front of H.P. Lovecraft's house in Providence, R.I. —Photo Courtesy D.W. Kann

What’s a screenwriter to do with the scraps of ideas that, for one reason or another, never make it to the big screen? For D.W. Kann and the team at Darkside Media, taking those ideas “back to the drawing board” meant literally drawing their scripts — as comic books. Their first series, “Lovecraft P.I.,” will be released in December. Their second, “Berserkers,” follows in January.

IMG_3305.JPG“Lovecraft P.I.” reimagines the legendary horror author H.P. Lovecraft as a 1930s private investigator of the paranormal. “It’s kind of like ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ meets ‘The X Files,’” Mr. Kann told The Times.

Mr. Kann, who grew up on the Vineyard reading Stephen King, says comic books and the horror genre are both lifelong interests. “I had over 1,000 comics in my collection at one point,” he said.

However, it wasn’t until he moved to Hollywood after college that Mr. Kann began exploring the independent comic scene. “It took it to a new level,” he said. “There were more personal stories, not just superhero stories. How they were written, how they were drawn, really took me in.”

Around the same time, Mr. Kann discovered the horror fiction of H.P. Lovecraft. The influence of Lovecraft and the indie comics inevitably leaked into Mr. Kann’s work with Darkside Films.

“Lovecraft has had quite a resurgence over the past several years,” Mr. Kann said. “But his stuff is hard to advance to film. In order for us to take his writings and add our own little flair to it, we decided it would be best to make it into a comic book, and maybe parlay it into something bigger down the road.”

Mr. Kann began writing “Lovecraft P.I.” as a film more than six years ago, snowballing off an idea from his co-writer Fritz Striker, whom he describes as a “die-hard Lovecraft fan.” The character of Lovecraft is often used in supernatural fiction, but Mr. Kann said they wanted to stay true to the actual writer. “I try not to read or watch anything too close to what I’m working on, because I don’t want it to get into the imagination of trying to write it all,” he said. The problem was that the real-life Lovecraft was “a shut-in,” unsuitable as a protagonist in his own right. So, the writers turned to the detective novels of Dashiell Hammett for further inspiration. “When Fritz proposed positioning Lovecraft as a 1930s dick, it created that type of masculine-bravado character we needed,” Mr. Kann said.

For art, the writers embraced the digital age, posting ads in online artist forums. They found António Brandão, who shared their enthusiasm for the project and whose sepia-toned drawings drive the story’s mystique. The book’s cover was drawn by celebrated poster artist Paul Shipper, who created bills for “Star Trek,” “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “Back to the Future,” and “Jaws” (to keep the list concise).

Berserker.Variant.Cover.jpgDon’t be surprised if some of the imagery looks familiar. The books are highly influenced by the New England seacoast: an homage to Lovecraft’s work and Rhode Island heritage as well as Mr. Kann’s own Island roots. “We wanted to recreate that authentic old New England feeling,” Mr. Kann said. “The docks of Menemsha play a part in the second and third issue of ‘Lovecraft P.I.’ The setting of ‘Berserkers’ was influenced by Noman’s Land.”

Mr. Kann said exploring the comic genre allowed the writers to express their story in a much different way from film. “What better way of giving people a visual of where we’re coming from than a comic book?” he said.

There’s certainly a market for it out there. In recent years, the television adaptation of “The Walking Dead” has scored record-breaking ratings. The trailer for the highly anticipated film “Suicide Squad” has been viewed over 2 million times on YouTube. 167,000 people attended Comic-Con in New York City this October. It appears comics are suddenly, well … cool.

“Over the past 10 years, things have really ramped up,” Mr. Kann agreed. “Because of the Internet, all that stuff, even the older stuff, is a lot more attainable. It’s ignited this whole trend.” He cites Dr. Who as an example of a long-running series which has recently revived its cult following.

What’s interesting is that fans seem to be branching out from the run-of-the-mill superhero stories that usually dominate the comic scene. For Mr. Kann personally, the release of “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” in 2009, though not a comic, was an exciting moment in the world of horror fiction. “I thought it was a really cool idea,” Mr. Kann said, “mashing up two genres to create something new.”

“Lovecraft P.I.” is a mashup in a much broader sense. It brings together the styles of Lovecraft and Hammett. It takes 1930s scenarios and applies them to the 21st century. It brings the thematic elements of cinema onto a paneled page. It draws influence from as far away as Hollywood and as near as Menemsha. When Darkside Media tumbled all that together, the product was a comic in a class of its own. It seems for Mr. Kann, there was a rabbit hole at the bottom of that chest of discarded film ideas. Fans of comics, art, horror, and detective fiction should definitely follow him down there and check it out.


To obtain a copy of “Lovecraft P.I.,” donate to the book’s Kickstarter campaign through Dec. 4. Donors will receive a digital version of the comic upon release. A Kickstarter campaign for “Berserkers” will launch in January. For more information, visit darksidemedia.us.


Photographer Carl Treyz gets above the Island’s iconic landmarks.

I have had the idea for this project since the release of my first aerial video of Chappaquidick (bit.ly/overChappy) just over a year ago. Growing up, I spent countless hours fishing and swimming by the Cape Poge Lighthouse, but knew very little about the history of the lighthouses on Martha’s Vineyard. I actually visited a few of them for the first time during this project. For example, I had only seen the West Chop Lighthouse from the ferry, but through this project I learned it is used as housing for the Menemsha Coast Guard.

West Chop Lighthouse, taken in winter earlier this year. Video still by Carl Treyz
West Chop Lighthouse, taken in winter earlier this year. Video still by Carl Treyz

I am not able to visit the Vineyard as often as I would like, so it took almost a year to get the footage. I was limited by weather, and wasn’t able to reshoot some of the lighthouses during better conditions, but I think their beauty is evident even on cloudy, cold days. In the future, I would like to capture some of these lighthouses during the summer and fall seasons. The most difficult part about this project was simply sorting through the hours of footage I acquired. So much of it was similar, and choosing the best pieces while trying to avoid redundancy was a challenge.

My love for Martha’s Vineyard has only grown since I started my aerial photography and videography projects, and I thoroughly enjoyed the time I spent at each location. I wanted to capture the charm of these lighthouses from a unique perspective and film them in a way that really brings them to life.

 Don’t sweat the technique

I am currently flying a DJI Phantom 2 that I have had for over two years now. It has a H3-3D Zenmuse gimbal, which holds most of the GoPro cameras. For this video, I used the GoPro Hero3+ Black and Hero4 Black.

Learning to fly the quadcopter wasn’t easy at first, and it took quite a bit of practice to feel comfortable. I have a special backpack case for my Phantom, so it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to set up and get in the air. I also have an LCD screen attached to my controller, which gives me a live feed of what the GoPro is filming. With this screen and a few other modifications, I am able to get crystal-clear video for about 2,000 meters, depending on the terrain and weather. I can fly for around 15 minutes on one battery, so having multiple batteries allows for multiple shoots and lots of fun.

East Chop Lighthouse, taken in winter earlier this year. Video still by Carl Treyz
East Chop Lighthouse, taken in winter earlier this year. Video still by Carl Treyz

I bought my first “real” quadcopter shortly after DJI released their first Phantom in 2013. I was really into the GoPro cameras (and still am), and wanted to get a new perspective on all the things around me. My Phantom has also been a great addition to my more recent travels throughout the Caribbean and Central America. Ever since I took my first aerial picture, I was hooked, and it has since given me opportunities to get involved in everything from conservation research to filming short documentaries.

 The EnTidaled Project was created by my friends and me to help connect people to conservation initiatives around the world using engaging multimedia. We believe that people will only conserve what they love, and in a time when we all seem to be more connected to the Internet and our devices than the outdoors, it is increasingly important that people rediscover their passion for nature — whether it be the ocean, hiking, birding, etc. Through photography and short films, we hope to inspire others, especially young people, to take an interest in the future of the environment. We encourage people on social media to use the hashtags #EntidaledProject and #WhatDoYouLove to share the things they are passionate about.

 For more info on EnTidaled: enTidaledproject.org.


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The M.V. Unitarian Universalist Church minister makes his temporary post permanent.

The Rev. Bill Clark asked to be photographed in front of this flag at the Unitarian Universalist church, the only place of worship on the Island where it is flown. Photo by Sam Moore

On the Sunday following the Paris shootings, it was SRO at the nearly century-and-a-half-year-old UU church on Main Street, Vineyard Haven. The Rev. William Clark was attuned to the churchgoers’ collective grief. He began, “I had planned a service today on the subject of authenticity in our lives, but I think I need to enlarge that topic to take in recent current events. I’ll start by saying that, at this time, my own authentic voice is one of great sadness.” Afterward, one of his congregants told him, “We’ve all come to you with broken hearts, and you’ve helped us begin the healing.”

Reverend Bill stood before the packed crowd without priestly vestments. He wore a snappy pale beige blazer and a blue plaid tie. His demeanor, as always, turned to boyish delight as he addressed the kids before they trooped off to Sunday school. “Was there a recent occasion,” he asked them, “when you wore costumes and masks?” As ever, he managed to insert subtext for the grownups: “Masks allow us to hide parts of ourselves. When I was little, I had three sisters who played with dolls. I wanted so badly to play with dolls, but I didn’t think they’d let me, so sometimes I played with their dolls in secret.“

After more joshing, the children departed, and the minister got down to brass tacks, but not before the usual formality of hymns, candles of joys and concerns, a prayer here, a homily there, a starchy, intelligent reading by intern minister Janet Norton, who confided that when she was a UU kid growing up, she thought of the church as a place where “I could hang out with other people who liked to think.”

Reverend Bill then spoke about a lifelong search for authenticity, full of insights about compassion as the defining signifier of any path we undertake for the sake of sharpening our spiritual resolve. He wrapped up his sermon with a “prayer for us to retain our essential humanity.” At the end, he broke character again, as they say in the theater, and he happily told his congregants he’d finally found new housing, a cottage in West Tisbury off Old County Road, replete with his personal desiderata of a woodstove and a clawfoot tub.

Mr. Clark came to Unitarianism by a most circuitous route. He grew up Catholic in Bethel, Conn., even as the family moved quite a bit with his entomologist dad (“a bug doctor,” he explained). As a young man, Bill found he learned visually, and this led him to seek a master’s degree from NYU in sign language. For two years he worked at the Maryland School for the Deaf, then threw himself into another two years at St. Joseph’s School for the Deaf in the Bronx.

And then the open road called to him. He traveled the world, settling for two years in Singapore before pushing off to New Zealand, then back to Asia again where, outside a McDonald’s in Singapore, he conversed with a group of deaf people, which yielded a job in a facility for severely handicapped kids. He says today, “I had to relieve these children of the cultural perception that disability came from bad karma, and that it was a matter of shame.”

Back in the States, and in need of a new direction, he fondly recalled childhood vacations on Cape Cod, thus repatriating himself to Provincetown. “In the early ’90s,” he reflects, “the AIDS epidemic was raging. I heard a call to do the work of caring for AIDS patients.”

He heard another call to serve as a sign language interpreter for the First Unitarian Church of Provincetown. A nascent urge to become a minister stirred in him, and one last call came through one afternoon on the beach, in a voice that nudged: “Are you coming or not?”

Mr. Clark applied to two divinity schools: Harvard and Starr King in Berkeley, Calif. Both accepted him, and his choice was a no-brainer. “It’s difficult to turn down Harvard,” he reflects today. He graduated in 1999, was ordained at Brewster Church on the Upper Cape, and was next hired by a small congregation in Houston, Texas, which he helped to grow, then on to five years at the Henry David Thoreau fellowship in Sugar Land, Texas. But after all this glorious experience, adventure, and résumé-stuffing, life got in the way. As it tends to.

Reverend Bill found that as he shoveled snow, he had chest pains he could no longer ignore. A heart attack ensued. It laid him up for six years. After recovery, he took it easier, going out for guest minister jobs, including an appearance on the Vineyard a few years back with a service titled “The Accolades of the Artichoke,” about peeling our sorrows back to the heart of the matter. The sermon ended with artichokes handed out to the assembly. (I was there and procured one, steaming it that very evening; it was delicious! I had to supply my own melted butter.)

In a recent interview, I asked Mr. Clark if he thought UU philosophy was opening up more to spirituality, to a sense of connection with a higher truth or power. Like Ms. Norton, I too was raised as a Unitarian, when all church members, including my own parents, presented themselves as strident atheists. I recalled a long-ago New Yorker cartoon where a Unitarian kneels in prayer and starts, “To Whom It May Concern.”

Reverend Bill acknowledges that congregations of the past largely occupied themselves with social action. This reminded me of my own laity’s involvement in civil rights, including a bus hired to drive from the San Fernando Valley in California to Selma, Ala. Reverend Bill said, “Things have certainly opened up, but there are still crusty UUs who’ll come up to me after a service and declare, ‘You said the word “god” seven times during the sermon!’” When I asked him what he’d be if not a Unitarian, he replied without hesitation, “A Buddhist.”

Reverend Bill’s artichoke service inspired the congregation to offer him a regular interim-minister posting, replete with a cottage on Seth’s Pond, with his (above-cited) must-have list of a fireplace and a clawfoot tub. The cottage — as they do these days — went bye-bye, but in the meantime, the congregation voted to put William Clark in the catbird seat. He said yes to a permanent ministership, and, as mentioned, a new cottage with the desired appointments recently materialized. (Does this man of the cloth keep a vision board or something?)

The only missing accoutrement, Reverend Bill told his adoring audience, was this: He needed a couch. “A really attractive, fluffy couch.” No doubt he’s already sitting on it and, one hopes, sipping brandy as he stares into the hearthside flames, pondering next Sunday’s sermon.


Hand sewn items from Rachel Baumrin at Island Made Holidays @ Alleys.

‘Tis the weekend. The holiday shopping countdown is on. The Vineyard celebrates its version of Black Friday with a host of holiday markets, trunk shows, and crafts fairs. Along with the traditional Thanksgiving-weekend Artisans Festival (Nov. 27 and 28 from 10 to 4 at the Ag Hall in West Tisbury), there are a few pop-up shops featuring handmade gifts and artwork.

Birdhouse gourds by Rusty Gordon at Vineyard Holiday Gift Shop. —Photo by Gwyn McAllister
Birdhouse gourds by Rusty Gordon at Vineyard Holiday Gift Shop. —Photo by Gwyn McAllister

Featherstone Center for the Arts is hosting its 12th annual Holiday Gift Show, and this year there are a record 75 artists and artisans participating. You’re bound to find something for everyone on your shopping list, as the selection includes ceramics, glass, jewelry, clothing, small paintings, photos and prints, cards, and much more. Unique offerings include three-dimensional paper crafts and colorful dog collars. The shop is open everyday from 10 to 4 through Dec. 20.

For the past few years, an empty shop on Spring Street has been transformed every winter into the Vineyard Holiday Gift Shop. Stop by and enjoy a cup of cider while you check out the work of dozens of talented Vineyarders. Along with jewelry, pillows, ceramics, and ornaments, you’ll find beeswax candles, dried flower wreaths, and Martha’s Vineyard Sea Salt. For a really different kind of gift, check out the colorful birdhouses crafted from gourds by Rusty Gordon of Ghost Island Farm.

Linda Alley, who started the Holiday Gift Shop several years ago, has launched a new pop-up shop, Island Made Holidays@Alleys, behind Alley’s General Store in West Tisbury. Some of the items, like Stephanie Rossi’s little animal and mermaid figures made from Island wool, and pillows, throws, and heating pads by Rachel Baumrin, can also be found in Vineyard Haven, but the little West Tisbury shop also carries some unique gifts, such as pillows by Daisy Kimberly, cat-themed books, calendars, cards, and wall hangings by Lynn Christoffers, and Ms. Alley’s New Lane Sundries line of jams and jellies. The shop is open every day from 10 to 6 through Christmas Eve.

The Thrift Shop in Vineyard Haven is featuring a special holiday shopping section for the first time this year. Store employees have been setting aside some special items for the selection, which includes antiques, vintage and designer clothes, and one-of-a-kind items like a couple of vintage hand-stitched quilts.


Handmade wooden bowls by Fred Hancock at Featherstone Holiday Gift Shop. —Photo by Gwyn McAllister
Handmade wooden bowls by Fred Hancock at Featherstone Holiday Gift Shop. —Photo by Gwyn McAllister

The seasonal Oak Bluffs Open Market will make an appearance indoors on Nov. 27 and Dec. 5 as part of the newly launched Holidays in Oak Bluffs initiative. Along with many of the vendors selling antiques, art, and handmade jewelry, the market found inside the Ocean View Restaurant will be offering free Christmas-card photo portraits, a visit from Santa, pet portraits, and music.

Christmas fairs and bazaars can be found on Saturday at the P.A. Club and the VFW. The VFW will feature a bake sale, a country store, and raffles.

This weekend, a couple of trunk shows will be held at local stores. Citrine in Vineyard Haven will feature jewelry by Hawkhouse and bags from Noepe Designs all weekend long. Jeweler Nettie Kent will kick off a series of trunk shows at Driftwood Jewelry on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs on Saturday, Nov. 28.

Artist Joan LeLacheur will be hosting an open studio and sale of her wampum jewelry and mosaic tiles on Friday, Nov. 27, from 10 to 5 at 42 Old South Road in Aquinnah.

Starting this weekend, an African crafts sale will be going on every Friday and Saturday on upper Main Street, next to the Edgartown Cinema. All proceeds support various humanitarian projects in Africa.

And last, make sure to stop by the Louisa Gould Gallery in Vineyard Haven this week for the annual Small Wonders Holiday Show. The exhibit and sale features smaller works by many of the gallery’s most popular artists and artisans. The open house on Friday from 10-4 will feature refreshments and visits by many of the artists. The show will run through Dec. 27.

Happy shopping, everyone!


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Don Herman, who retired with this game, coached his last team to victory in the historic rivalry.

Updated 3:45 PM Tuesday

When Martha’s Vineyard football players huddled together prior to the start of the 37th Island Cup played on Nantucket Saturday, Coach Don Herman gave them a simple message: “Everybody keep their mouth shut and play football.”

The Vineyard varsity team took that advice to heart, and beat the Nantucket Whalers 7-0 to take home the Cup. Senior running back Ben Clark scored a touchdown in the first quarter, and junior James Sashin kicked the ball for an extra point. The Whalers could not get past the Vineyard defense, and Vineyard junior Elijah Matthews squashed Nantucket’s last scoring chance with an interception in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.

The contest pitted the Mayflower Small League–leading Whalers against a Vineyard team that topped the .500 mark by the end of the season. The win puts Martha’s Vineyard up 20-17 in the Island Cup series, and marks the team’s 12th victory in a row over Nantucket.

It was also retiring Coach Don Herman’s last victory, after 28 years at the helm of the team. Parents and former players rushed the field to celebrate as Ben Clark dumped a bucket of water on Coach Herman amid hugs and handshakes.

“It was definitely sad to walk off the field for the last time playing with these guys,” Clark, the team’s captain and winner of the MVP award, said. “Coach told us he’s had 28 years of wins and that we should play for ourselves, but every kid on the team wanted to win it for him. He’s been a great role model. I know he’s helped me a lot.”

Senior Andy DiMattia echoed Clark’s sentiments. “It was pretty emotional,” he told The Times. “The last game for me and my brother [Jimmy DiMattia]. The guys on the team talked about it all week. We wanted to send Coach out with a victory. We really did.”

His brother Jimmy added, “I think we prepared like any other game, learning what we had to. But there was a lot of extra juice; there always is for Nantucket.”

Of his players, Coach Herman said, “These seniors can graduate knowing they didn’t give up a single point to Nantucket” in either of the games they’ve played on the Whalers’ field. His only regret, Coach Herman told the Times, is that his last Island Cup wasn’t played at home.

The victory was made sweeter by the fact that two of Coach Herman’s coaching staff, Jason O’Donnell and Jason Dyer, played on the team during Mr. Herman’s first Island Cup in 1988, which they lost 0-14. Mr. Dyer came back specifically for Mr. Herman’s last season.

Following the game, Coach Herman, team members, and fans returned to the Vineyard on a specially chartered Steamship Authority ferry. Amid much postgame commentary about referee calls and sportsmanship, Coach Herman sat with his family and avoided speaking negatively about Nantucket.

“I’m relieved,” he said, looking relaxed. “I usually don’t have trouble sleeping, except for this week.” He was alluding to the pressure leading up to the game.

Coach Herman expressed gratitude to the community, and to former players. “I’ve just received so much love, and positive letters of encouragement. I feel truly blessed,” he said.

When the ferry arrived in Vineyard Haven Saturday evening, the team charged down the ramp to a cheering crowd and the blaring horns and sirens of Island firetrucks and ambulances.

Jack Shea contributed to this story.

Shellfish constable David Grunden defends his decision to close off fishing in the face of complaints and vandalism.

Oak Bluffs shellfish constable Dave Grunden in Madeiras Cove Wednesday morning. — Photo by Sam Moore

Oak Bluffs shellfish constable David Grunden closed Sengekontacket Pond to scalloping before the season opened, disappointing commercial fishermen who can earn a hefty daily paycheck from the prized mollusk, and recreational fishermen looking forward to a fine dinner.

Mr. Grunden first announced the closure at the selectmen’s meeting on Oct. 13. “It was a very difficult decision,” he told The Times on Monday. “A lot of factors had to be considered, including a few people’s wages. But there is a very high percentage of seed in the pond.”

Mr. Grunden said it was the first time he has closed Sengie to scalloping in his 16 years on the job. And the closure was not well received.

He and assistant shellfish constable Jason Mallory have dealt with thefts of property from a department boat, vandalism of Mr. Grunden’s personal truck, and accusations of personal vendettas from commercial fishermen that, in one case, led to a physical altercation.

In addition, the grumbling about the skimpy scallop crop in the town’s half of Lagoon Pond gets louder by the day, despite the fact that Edgartown and Tisbury are also experiencing poor harvests. “It’s pretty taxing right now,” Mr. Grunden said. 


Going to seed

Mr. Grunden said he based his decision on surveys he and members of the shellfish committee made. He estimates the Sengekontacket scallop population to be 90 percent seed. The substantial size of the seed would make it easy for fishermen, commercial or recreational, to inadvertently take the seed that will grow to adults, and do heavy damage to next year’s harvest, he said.

“They are the biggest seed I’ve ever seen,” he said. “I’ve been around scallops for many years, and even I have a hard time distinguishing sometimes. I decided this was an opportunity for us to leave everything alone.”

Courtesy Tisbury Shellfish  Department
This flyer produced by the Tisbury Shellfish Department explains how to tell seed scallops from adults.

Rick Huss, shellfish committee member and longtime commercial fisherman, concurred. Mr. Huss said the telltale growth ring on mature scallops is not discernable on much of the Sengie seed. “There’s a color ring on a lot of them that you can mistake as a growth ring, but it’s not a growth ring,” he said.

This difficulty was illuminated Monday when a number of shellfish committee members, along with Mr. Grunden and Mr. Mallory, accompanied commercial fisherman Kyle Peters on an exploratory scalloping dive in the pond in response to Mr. Peters’ emotional plea to selectmen at their Nov. 10 meeting.

Mr. Peters implored selectmen for a “divers only” exemption to the closure, because it would cause him considerable financial hardship. He told the board he has been diving for scallops in Sengekontacket for 35 years, and in his view, there was an abundant population of adults. “You’d see one every five feet,” he said. “There’s not a lot of seed piled up like they said there was.”

Mr. Grunden disagreed with Mr. Peters’ assessment, which led to Mr. Peters angrily accusing Mr. Grunden of having a personal vendetta against him. Although Mr. Grunden stood by his ruling, and two shellfish committee members strongly backed him, selectmen sought a compromise and asked Mr. Grunden and the shellfish committee members to allow Mr. Peters to make his case by making a site visit to the pond.

On Tuesday, Mr. Huss told The Times the results of the exploratory dive made on Monday clearly backed Mr. Grunden’s decision. “He brought in 145 scallops, and 21 were legal; the rest were seed,” Mr. Huss said. “We’re in business to make sure the ponds are healthy and to keep them sustainable. But we don’t guarantee people can use the pond for work.” Mr. Huss said he also disagreed with the way the appeal was handled. “I think the selectmen should have backed up David, at least at a public meeting,” he said.


Give seed a chance

Mr. Huss attributes the June dredging of the channel at Little Bridge as a major contributing factor to the superior seed size. “The pond recirculating after three years of being closed has to make a difference,” he said.

“They’re big, they’re beautiful-looking scallops,” Mr. Huss said, describing the prodigious seed scallops. “The amount of growth on them is amazing, and if we leave them alone, we can have an incredible crop next year.”

Mr. Grunden made a similar assessment, adding that natural crop killers like algae blooms are always a possibility.


Oak Bluffs Shellfish Constable Dave Grunden cruises the lagoon Wednesday morning. — Photo by Sam Moore
The calm waters of Lagoon Pond are in sharp contrast to this year’s turbulent scalloping season.. — Photo by Sam Moore


Mr. Grunden said this year’s Sengekontacket seed have a better chance of surviving the winter because they have more fat for sustenance, and that a larger naturally occurring spawning population — natural recruitment — could be a boon to the pond’s scallop population.

This year, the town of Oak Bluffs paid $37,000 to the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group (MVSG), primarily for shellfish seed. While Mr. Grunden says the MVSG is a valuable asset, the town cannot solely depend on it for new generations of shellfish. “Natural recruitment has to take place for the population to flourish,” he said.

This year the MVSG provided Oak Bluffs with roughly 4 million scallop seeds. “We would never make it if we depended on [MVSG] seed,” Mr. Huss said. “We’d be like the Cape; we wouldn’t have any scallops.”

Mr. Huss added that Cape Poge Bay in Edgartown should serve as an example for those who question the shutdown. “They [Edgartown] let people take small ones, and they were two or three years before they came back to anywhere normal.”

Oak Bluffs taxpayers have a considerable investment in the town’s shellfish resource, which includes clams. In the current fiscal year, taxpayers will shell out $181,990 to fund the shellfish department. That is in addition to the MVSG contribution.

In calendar year 2014, Oak Bluffs sold 669 shellfishing licenses — 14 commercial licenses at $350 each, and 209 recreational licenses at $40 each. The total revenue from all shellfish licenses — which also includes one-week, two-week, nonresident and senior licenses — brought in a total of $17,615.

“Currently Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket are about the only areas left with a commercial season most every year,” Mr. Grunden wrote in an open letter explaining his rationale to the fishing community, following the closure. “We are now given an unusual and unique opportunity to try to get the scallop stocks to rebound and set a base for future years … My decision stands that the best thing for the scallop fishery in the Oak Bluffs side of Sengekontacket Pond is to keep it closed to harvest this year. We owe it to the pond and all our scallopers, recreational as well as commercial, to take advantage of this opportunity.”

Correction – an earlier version of this story incorrectly spelled “Madeiras Cove” as “Medeiros Cove”