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Community Services and Martha’s Vineyard Little League receive six-figure grants.

Phil Regan, of Martha's Vineyard Little League, receives a check from Lindsey Scott worth $177,810 given by MV Youth. – Photo by Rich Saltzberg

MVYouth, a fledgling charitable organization geared toward investing in Island youngsters, awarded large expansion grants to two Vineyard nonprofits Tuesday night at a ceremony at the West Tisbury Library. Martha’s Vineyard Little League received $177,810 to finish construction of two baseball fields off Pennsylvania Avenue in Oak Bluffs, and Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) received $620,780 to build a facility to house an Island-Wide Youth Collaborative Center at its Oak Bluffs campus.

Little League representatives, from left, Chris Porterfield, Jonathan Chatinover, Rick Mello, Lorne Lewis, and Phil Regan.
Little League representatives, from left, Chris Porterfield, Jonathan Chatinover, Rick Mello, Lorne Lewis, and Phil Regan.

Both organizations rose to the top of the group of 15 applicants to win the grants. MVYouth’s advisory committee started sifting through the grant applications on Nov. 15. “Using an evaluation tool that we developed, we assessed all the applicants based on leadership, plan, finances, impact, collaboration, sustainability, and readiness,” MVYouth Executive Director Lindsey Scott said at the ceremony, “and we used those criteria to judge how fundable the proposals were.”

In deciding the worthiness of a recipient, the “readiness” element was a priority for the advisory committee, which did not want the funds it donated to be bogged down as an organization sought additional funds.

“The money would be the last money in,” trustee and advisory committee chair Ron Rappaport said at the ceremony. “In other words, this would be money that would allow a project to go forward and would not be seed money for another round of fundraising.”

Since its founding by seasonal residents Daniel Stanton and Jim Swartz last April, MVYouth has raised $4,600,000 from a pool of 46 donors. According to a recent MVYouth press release, $1,000,000 of that will be disbursed each year over the next four years to other organizations serving the Vineyard’s youth.

Such a small number of donors giving so much money so swiftly astounded Mr. Rappaport.

“I actually haven’t seen anything like it,” he told the audience.

MVCS Executive Director Julie Fay gratefully received the oversize $620,780 ceremonial check on behalf of her organization. She said the funds will enable MVCS to begin construction of a modular building within months.

“We expect to break ground May 1, and be in there for October,” she said.

Phil Regan, MVRHS’s former baseball coach, happily accepted the oversize $177,810 check on behalf of Martha’s Vineyard Little League.

“This very generous gesture allows us to complete this project immediately rather than carry on for another five or 10 years trying to do it with a tin cup,” he said, referring to not having to hunt around for more donations. He said he expects the new baseball diamonds, one of which is designed to official Little League Baseball specs, to be ready for baseball this spring.

For applicants unsuccessful in landing MVYouth funding this year, Mr. Rappaport offered advice: “We say to those other organizations who are not getting awards tonight, come back next year,” he said, “come back the year after, come back the year after [that], because we’re going to be giving away eight or nine hundred thousand dollars in subsequent years.”

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After two weeks of renovations fans and friends of the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) Thrift Shop attend the reopening party.

From left: Thrift Shop employees Zachary Sawmiller, Sandy Pratt, and Noavakay Knight in the newly renovated store. – Photo by Michael Cummo

After two weeks of deprivation while renovations were underway, fans and friends of the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS) Thrift Shop in Vineyard Haven turned out for the reopening party last Saturday afternoon. Giddy from melting temperatures and delighted for an outing, visitors welcomed the bright walls, the airy, uncluttered new space, and the gleaming, colorful floor.

“It smells good!” said one woman, breathing deeply.

It being February, familiar faces were everywhere. Visitors and volunteers enjoyed snacks, music, and socializing. Sandy Pratt, thrift shop manager, assistant manager Noavakay Knight, and assistant Zachary Sawmiller greeted well-wishers.

“It took a village to do this,” Ms. Pratt said, grateful for those who worked.

Ms. Knight’s tiny dog, a fixture at the shop, happily accepted pats and compliments.

Chicken Alley Thrift Shop hosted a reopening party last Saturday. – Photo by Michael Cummo
Chicken Alley Thrift Shop hosted a reopening party last Saturday. – Photo by Michael Cummo

Furnishings were minimal, but the few racks and shelving units offered enticements. Amid the revelry, partygoers took the chance to shop. Browsing was better than ever in the uncrowded display areas. Happy customers left with clothing, kitchenware, appliances, and books.

Anna Marie D’Addarie, program coordinator at the Oak Bluffs library, arrived promptly, and within minutes was heading to the cash register with a set of English china flowered demitasse cups and saucers.

Island newcomer Rizwan Malik, administrative coordinator at the Martha’s Vineyard Museum, clutched sturdy white soup bowls. He and wife Allyson had already purchased many necessities here.

“I love the floor, I think it’s great,” said Jim Pringle from Oak Bluffs, a 25-year veteran of the MVCS Possible Dreams Auction Committee, as he considered a Crock-Pot.

Taking in the scene, professional organizer Noreen Baker of Vineyard Haven, a.k.a. the Clutter Queen, said she often recommends the shop to clients for shedding unwanted belongings.

“It’s really inviting,” said Ellie Bates, adding that she visits frequently. “I like those empty shelves. It means they’ll be taking new donations.”

Zephir Plume of Vineyard Haven came to see, not to buy, despite leaving with a new pair of leather gloves.

Even this reporter, determined not to shop or spend, couldn’t resist two quality sweaters — J.Jill and Eileen Fisher! — and three wineglasses.

A long set by singer-songwriter Jemima James, performing with Goodnight Louise, was a highlight. Between tunes, band members appreciated the stylish footwear displayed nearby.

Patrons pulled up chairs, and 8-year-old Connecticut Langhammer twirled around the floor. At 14 months old, even little Ivy Korba took bouncy steps to the beat of the music.

Later, Jeff Pratt used his well-honed DJ skills to keep the energy festive.

Though stock was lower than usual, thanks to sales and free days before the closure, staff had no doubt shelves would soon be packed again.

Doors shut on Jan. 23, and workers kept up a feverish pace. Fondly known as the Chicken Alley Thrift Shop, the 50-year-old enterprise earns needed funds for MVCS. Ms. Pratt proudly said gross income for 2014 neared $500,000. This was the first major facelift since the “Thrift” moved here from Main Street 11 years ago.

The project was massive, from moving everything into storage pods to dealing with extreme weather. Volunteers painted walls, and a professional crew did the floors with industrial-grade Rust-Oleum epoxy.

The clean, bright space was ready Feb. 4. Staff took the opportunity to reconfigure the layout for better flow and organization. Fitting rooms moved, and the front counter now faces the door so volunteers can better greet customers and donors.

Relieved and pleased, Ms. Pratt said the thrift shop is moving ahead with a strong presence on social media, an increasing involvement of youth and young adults, and may even host occasional musical events.

“It’s a community space,” she declared emphatically.

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The sixty-six exhibits featured topics from the theory of relativity to an automatic dog scratcher.

Science fair winners, from l to r: Olivia Jacobs, third place; Ellie O'Callaghan, second place (partner Arden Bezahler not pictured); and Nils Aldeborgh, first place. – Photo by Natalie Munn

A three-dimensional light cube created by Nils Aldeborgh took the grand prize at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s 16th Annual Science and Engineering Fair held Saturday morning.

The popular event, held in the school cafeteria, drew a large crowd who viewed 30 engineering projects and 36 investigative projects in the categories of chemistry, biology, physics, earth science, and environmental science. The fair also included a wind turbine engineering competition.

Nils, a junior and first-time entrant in the science fair, told The Times in a telephone conversation after the fair that his win came as a surprise. “I thought I did a pretty good job, but I didn’t expect first place,” he said.

Nils’s light cube contains 64 LED lights, installed onto a board and plugged into an Arduino microcontroller. It is programmed with a computer to create three-dimensional images. Nils said his project stemmed from an interest in finding out what other people were doing with the microcontroller after learning to use it last year.

“The light cube kept coming up when I looked on the Internet, and I thought it would be cool,” he said. “I decided to concentrate on how to make the most efficient version, to see how simple I could make it.”

The second place grand prize went to Arden Bezahler and Ellie O’Callaghan for their project on the effects of different soap bases. Olivia Jacobs took the third place grand prize for her project on simulating an artificial pancreas, which she said was inspired by her curiosity about how an insulin pump works for diabetics.

The three grand prize awards were presented in honor of former Tisbury Waterways president Dr. James H. Porter. The grand prize winners, who scored the top overall scores among the first place winners, received cash prizes of $200 for first place, $175 for second, and $150 for third.

Additional awards were also given to first, second and third place winners in the engineering design and investigative categories.

The wind turbine competition was open to physics students. Nina Harris and Zachary Bresnick teamed up to win first place for designing the wind turbine with the best energy output, as evaluated by its performance in a wind tunnel.

Wide-ranging projects

The projects covered the waterfront and then some. Patrick Best and Pearl Vercruysse came up with a plan to restore eelgrass in Martha’s Vineyard coastal ponds, following improvements in water quality.

Chris Aring dazzled fair-goers with an augmented reality sand table. It allows users to manipulate sand to represent different topographical formations and to study how they are affected by changes, such as erosion and water, for example. A corresponding computer engineering program projects the images and changes back onto the table in real time.

Lucas Dutton came up with a way to make his enjoyment of bike riding pay off. He modified a bicycle-mounted headlight and tail light generator assembly so that energy from peddling goes into a converter and charges his cell phone.

Daniel Gaines examined how to construct a more efficient hydrogen fuel cell, which he explained creates energy by splitting water molecules into hydrogen and oxygen. He experimented with adding different minerals to the water to see which ones would cause the most water to electrolyze, and found baking soda worked the best.

Olivia Smith built her own solar hot water heater. She said it took her three tries to get the design right, and some trial and error to determine what materials to use. Most of them she found at home, such as PVC pipe, acrylic mirror, and sheetmetal, thanks to her dad, who is a plumber. She said the winter weather has made it difficult to test the heater’s efficiency and is looking forward to testing it further this summer.

Pet interests

Family dogs provided the inspiration for two projects. Lucy Ulyatt and Whitney Schroeder built an automatic dog feeder. It features a timer that can be set for multiple feedings, and a motor that is calibrated to dispense the desired amount of dry kibble.

To cope with the demands of his golden retriever that wants constant petting, Elias Fhagen-Smith designed an automatic dog scratcher. He mounted a dog brush to a motorized rotating arm that is triggered when the canine steps onto a pressure mat, retrofitted from a Halloween fright device.

Inspired by popular crime scene forensics television shows, Lauryn Bond and her twin brother Nicholas investigated what factors affect differences in internal and external temperatures in determining time of death. They used oranges instead of dead bodies as their test subjects, however.

Justine Cassel said she decided to expand her interest in steampunk fashion, which incorporates modern styles with elements from the Victorian era, to engineering a practical and attractive piece of steampunk décor. The end result was a shelving unit made of PVC piping purchased from Ace Hardware and recycled materials she found at home, including mahogany plywood, old metal gauges, and her great-grandfather’s barometer. Justine stood next to her project dressed in steampunk fashion, complete with driving/flying goggles.

Mindful of the growing excess of used plastic shopping bags that litter the landscape worldwide, Willa Vigneault came up with a way to put them to good use. She fused 55 of them together to create a three-ply tarp. She said although she found it difficult to get the bags to melt evenly, she hopes to perfect her technique so that it could be easily accomplished by people in developing countries or by refugees to create shelters.

Awards and prizes

Science teacher and fair coordinator Jackie Hermann emceed the awards ceremony at the fair’s conclusion. She thanked the students for the countless number of hours they put into the projects, and their teachers, parents and families for their support.

Ms. Hermann also thanked the 36 people representing local organizations, as well as a variety of science and engineering backgrounds and interests, who acted as judges. In addition, she acknowledged the many local businesses and organizations that donated refreshments, award money, gift certificates and other door prizes.

All fair winners who chose to be eligible for the South Shore Regional Science Fair at Bridgewater State College by completing the necessary paperwork at the start of their projects received a letter offering them the opportunity to attend on March 14.

First place engineering project awards ($150): Nils Aldeborgh; Arden Bezahler and Ellie O’Callaghan; Olivia Jacobs.

First place investigative project awards ($150): Maggie Burke (The Ability of Sponges to Filter Nitrogen from Water); Sam Bresnick and Sam Rollins (How pH Levels Affect Oyster Shells); Harrison Dorr and Nicolas Andre (Acceleration of a Magnet in Copper); Nicolas Andre and Miles Albert (How Does Heat Affect the Adhesiveness of Glue?).

Second place engineering project awards ($125): Christopher Aring (Augmented Reality Sand Table); David Packer (TV Remote with a Speaker); Willa Vigneault (Strength of Fused Plastic Bag Sheeting).

Second place investigative project awards ($125): Julia Felix and Kat Roberts (The Effect Temperature has on Dissolved Oxygen in Water); Miles Jordi (Nutrient Enhancing Growth); Julian Hermann (How Does Water Temperature Affect Plant Growth?).

Third place engineering project awards ($100): Sophia McCarron (What is the Optimal House Position?); Daniel Gaines (Fuel Cells); Ethan Donovan (Arduino); Peter Ruimerman (Hydro Electric Power in Menemsha).

Third place investigative project awards ($100): Rose Engler ((Impact of Shellfish Decomposition on pH Levels in Brackish Water); Curtis Fisher (Traveling the Speed of Time); Matteus Scheffer and Jack Sierputoski (Shellfish – Filtration of the Future); Cooper Bennett and John Gonsalves (Effect of Heat on the Growth of Yeast).

Wind Turbine Design and Engineering Competition: first place ($150), Zachary Bresnick and Nina Harris; second place ($125) Jack Reagan; third place ($100) Sara Poggi and Samantha Hargy.

Special Topic Awards

The David Brand Award for an outstanding project related to earth science: Maggie Burke.

Island Grown Initiative Award for a project that focuses on agricultural systems and techniques that support biodiversity or that address traditional or historic Island agriculture: Lila Norris and Zachary Danz (Milk vs. Water).

Cape Light Compact Award for an outstanding energy-related project: Daniel Gaines.

Lagoon Pond Association Award for a project that addresses a water quality issue with application to the protection of Martha’s Vineyard water resources: Emily Moore (Creating a Tank to Sustain the Life of a Jelly).

Marine and Paleobiological Research Institute Award for an outstanding marine or coastal science project that might include any aspect of science, fishing, engineering or conservation: Patrick Best and Pearl Vercruysse (Eelgrass Restoration in Vineyard Coastal Ponds).

Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association Award for a project that focuses on increasing the awareness and understanding of aspects of our marine environment, provided in memory of Donald K. Boyd: Rose Engler.

Sustainability Awards, sponsored by the Munn family, presented to the top projects by a female and male that involve recycling or reuse of materials for a new purpose, or that involve methods of reducing energy or materials consumption: Willa Vigneault and Addison Geiger (Electric Motorcycle).

Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation for a project that may benefit the environment and ecological management of these lands: Christopher Aring.

Ms. Hermann notified The Times on Monday that some of the winners were inadvertently left off the list announced at Saturday’s awards ceremony: first place investigative project, Harrison Dorr and Jared Foster; third place investigative project, Matteus Scheffer and Jack Sierputoski; third place engineering project, Peter Ruimerman; Lagoon Pond Award, Emily Moore.

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Selectmen must now negotiate complex land-use agreements necessary to implement the plan.

The special town meeting was sparsely attended, and took less than 15 minutes. – Photo by Steve Myrick

Chilmark voters, in a series of near unanimous votes taken with little debate, approved a plan to restore the Squibnocket Beach parking lot and the access road to the Squibnocket Farm subdivision at a special town meeting Monday night. It took less than 15 minutes for voters to endorse the plan devised by a special town committee. The overwhelming support stood in stark contrast to the battles which have divided the town over the past year. At last year’s town meeting, voters narrowly rejected a plan endorsed by selectmen that included a bridge spanning the shorefront to provide access to homes on Squibnocket Point. Instead, they opted to form a special seven-member committee, appointed by moderator Everett Poole.

Obstacles remain, however. The board of selectmen must negotiate land-use and land-rights agreements with the owners of two small parcels of land needed to implement the new plan, and Squibnocket Farm homeowners must agree that the plan will provide adequate access to their homes.

“Very pleased,” said Jim Malkin, who chaired the special committee, following the votes. “Look forward to a hopefully speedy resolution of all the issues, so the town can get on with its life.”

The first five articles on the special town meeting warrant related to the Squibnocket Beach proposal.

In the first article, the town meeting unanimously approved the committee’s plan, which calls for the town to remove the boulder revetment and manage the retreat of the beach to its natural state; build an access road to the Squibnocket Farm subdivision, including a low causeway passing over the wetlands bordering Squibnocket Pond; and create new parking lots on both sides of Squibnocket Road.

Next, voters authorized selectmen to negotiate any agreements for the plan approved by voters.

Voters then designated up to $410,000 in Community Preservation Act (CPA) funds to execute a long-term lease for a stretch of beach west of the parking lot, currently controlled by the Vineyard Open Land Foundation. The Squibnocket Farm homeowners originally proposed that they would purchase the 1,200-foot stretch of beach and then lease it to the town. That proposal was part of a comprehensive plan that included a 15-foot-high bridge parallel to the shoreline to provide access to the homes on Squibnocket Point. Voters derailed that plan at last year’s annual town meeting,opting instead to study alternatives. Bill Rossi, chairman of the Chilmark board of selectmen, told voters that he is hopeful the town can reach an agreement, but the terms negotiated as part of the original proposal may not be available, now that the plan has changed.

“I’ve been in communication with the representative from the Vineyard Open Land Foundation and the Squibnocket homeowners,” Mr. Rossi told voters. “It’s going to be a different version of that agreement. We’re looking to lease a portion of what was originally agreed last year. My understanding is there is less support for spending the amount of money they were going to spend last year, but there is still willingness to get something done.”

At a Jan. 13 selectmen’s meeting, Mr. Rossi said the town is renegotiating the original proposal, but some Squibnocket Farm homeowners are concerned with the expense. “We’re exploring all our options with that parcel,” Mr. Rossi said at the Jan. 13 meeting. “There is huge concern; there’s not any backroom politics going on, but we are negotiating, renegotiating, based on my assumption that there isn’t a consensus within the homeowners association to incur this expense, and I think it’s creating some division.”

Next, voters designated $350,000 from CPA funds to acquire the two small parcels, unbuildable under current zoning, needed to implement the latest plan. Peter Weldon, who owns one of the parcels, has told selectmen he is willing to sell or give his land to the town. The other parcel is owned by Anthony Orphanos and Wendy Jeffers, seasonal residents of Chilmark. They have submitted a seven-page counterproposal, saying they are willing to negotiate a long-term lease if the town makes certain changes to the Squibnocket committee plan, including changes to the location of the road, parking, and a kayak launch area.

Following Monday’s meeting, Mr. Orphanos said he is optimistic an agreement with the town can be negotiated. “We’re willing to lend or lease the land to the town, a long-term nominal lease,” Mr. Orphanos said. “Our interest is basically design-oriented. We want to address all those things that could come up, and the biggest thing is the height of the low causeway. We think it can be done in a very satisfactory manner. I think it can be fine.”

Selectmen, however, have expressed reservations about leasing the property, and about making significant changes to the plan proposed by the special committee.

Finally, the special town meeting voted to appropriate $11,670 to fund the town’s share of a $280,000 state grant to be used for the “managed retreat” of the beach to its natural state.

Several town meeting voters offered high praise for the difficult task taken on by the special town committee on Squibnocket, including some who vigorously opposed the original plan for a higher bridge spanning the beachfront.

“I thank the committee, selectmen, and all involved,” said David Damroth, a former Chilmark selectman and resident of the Blacksmith Valley neighborhood overlooking Squibnocket Beach. “It was an amazing amount of work. What we’ve arrived at is a solution that looks to be, I won’t say a compromise, but a wonderful solution to the problem.”

Selectman Warren Doty also complimented the work of the special committee. “There were 23 meetings,” Mr. Doty said. “They listened to everybody who had an opinion.”

Also at Monday’s meeting, voters unanimously designated $20,000 from CPA funds for affordable housing, approved payment of $3,330 in bills from a prior year, and approved a total of $3,564 in salary adjustments based on new job grades set by the town human resources board.

A total of 85 people, or 9.2 percent of the town’s 918 registered voters, attended the special town meeting.

Esther Burgess’ acts of civil rights leadership are acknowledged in new civil rights documentary.

The late Esther Burgess, long time Vineyard resident, was one of four women who traveled to St. Augustine in 1964 and were subsequently arrested. – Photo courtesy of AugustineMonica Films

In the long and often violent history of the civil rights movement, the city of St. Augustine, Fla., is not often mentioned. But a months-long series of events and actions there, which involved Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and other civil rights leaders, actually played a pivotal role in the passing of civil rights legislation.

A new documentary, Passage at St. Augustine, by filmmaker and journalist Clennon L. King, shines a spotlight on a piece of history which Mr. King refers to as “arguably the bloodiest campaign of the civil rights movement.”

On Feb. 7 at the Howes House in West Tisbury Mr. King will unveil the preliminary cut of the film, which has been 20 years in the making. The first-time screening, with an introduction by Mr. King, is sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Martha’s Vineyard.

Mr. King was invited by League member Julia Burgess, whose mother was interviewed for the film. The late Esther Burgess was one of four women (the only African American) who traveled to St. Augustine in 1964 and were subsequently arrested.

In 2003, Mr. King made the trip from Washington, D.C., where he had interviewed a former New York Times journalist, to the Vineyard specifically to interview Ms. Burgess. “I flew into Logan and overnighted it at South Station,” he said in a phone interview. “On my return the buses weren’t running, so I hitched a ride back to Boston.” The journey paid off. Mr. King, who interviewed dozens of those involved in the actions, was very impressed with the former Bostonian: “I had a huge amount of respect for Esther Burgess, this Canadian transplant.”

Among the other women who traveled to Florida in 1964 was the mother of the sitting governor of Massachusetts. “But Mrs. Burgess was the one who showed a rare leadership,” said Mr. King. Ms. Burgess passed away less than a year after the interview.

The footage sat on a shelf for more than a decade while Mr. King pursued various career paths, including positions as a video and print journalist for, among other media organizations, WGBH and the Boston Globe.

Previously Mr. King had screened rough cuts and footage from the film, but he was unable to raise money to complete the documentary until his brother stepped up and offered some of his winnings from a Powerball windfall.

In order to remain true to his vision, Mr. King taught himself film editing and finished the project in record time — partly at the urging of his girlfriend, and partly to meet the deadline for the Vineyard screening.

The one-hour documentary features a number of contemporary interviews with many of those involved, plus lots of 1960s footage, and archival interviews with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other key players, such as Andrew Young and C.T. Vivian. The film also includes interviews with members of the opposition, including Klansmen and the daughter of the segregationist sheriff.

“I approached this film very much through a journalist’s lens to give balance,” said Mr. King. “I was able to get access to the other side. As a journalist, what I’ve specialized in is getting interviews that no one else could get,” he said.

Mr. King’s father was a lawyer for the Reverend King. The younger Mr. King previously worked for former U.S. congressman and mayor of Atlanta Andrew Jackson Young, who was was a member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference during the 1960s and was a supporter and friend of Dr. King’s.

“I come by the subject matter honestly,” said Mr. King, adding, “It’s not uncommon for a journalist to fall in love with a story. For me it was always St. Augustine.”

With the aid of the archival footage, the documentary unflinchingly depicts powerful but graphic scenes such as civil rights foot soldiers being beaten by Klansmen and cops, a white hotel owner pouring acid into a swimming pool in which protesters were holding a wade-in, and other shocking events that have helped stamp those involved with the civil rights movement as fearless heroes.

This fascinating film will shed some light on an all-but-forgotten yet crucial piece of civil rights history. Mr. King refers to the St. Augustine movement as “the catalyst by which the Civil Rights Bill [Civil Rights Act of 1964] was passed.”

“The Senate fought it tooth and nail in one of the longest filibusters in history. It was not passed until July of 1964. After JFK’s death, [the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.] needed a campaign to fan the flames to get this bill passed. The fires of Birmingham had cooled. It was because of the bloodiness of St. Augustine that the bill got passed.”

Clennon King is pleased that he is finally able to fulfill a personal mission: “I had been entrusted with the stories of these people. Half of them are dead. I felt that I owed it to them and to history to have this story told.”

AugustineMonica Films presents Passage to St. Augustine at the Howes House at 9:00 am on Sunday, Feb. 7. A brunch will precede the screening, starting at 8:30 am. For additional information, call 508-693-3338 or email burgessjbb@gmail.com.

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A four-lane, 35-foot aluminum track stretched from the Chilmark Community Center stage to the edge of the foyer.

Cub Scouts from across Martha’s Vineyard squared off in the Pinewood Derby Saturday, an event that puts the theory of gravity and young imaginations, with a little help from Mom and Dad, to the test. The head-to-head competition was a race between miniature wood racecars down an elevated track set up in the Chilmark Community Center.

A four-lane, 35-foot aluminum track stretched from the community center stage to the edge of the foyer. Parents and Scouts lined either side and watched as the cars, propelled by gravity alone, sped down in heat after heat, to cheers of encouragement from the youngsters.

The cars varied widely in color and shape. Some sported aerodynamic fins, and others, tiny passengers. Many were fitted with recessed bolts or other bits of metal, not only to fine-tune balance, but to make it easier to trim the weight should a car exceed the official 5-ounce limit at weigh-in.

“All the cars start from kits that are all the same, containing a block of wood, four wheels, and four nails for axles,” Matthew Hayden, Island cubmaster, said in an email to The Times. “What they create with that block of wood is up to them, and only them. Very little, if any, parent help is allowed.”

“I wasn’t sure I was going to win or not,” said 9-year-old champion Linus Munn of Vineyard Haven. “I kinda thought on my sixth one [race] that I would maybe win it, ’cause I won every race.”

Linus’s winning car was a low-profile, royal blue racer (number 13). His father, Dan Munn, said 13 was Linus’s lucky number. Linus’s car took a week to build. Linus attributed precision sanding, careful weight placement, generous use of graphite, and a strategic hollow on the underside of his car as the technical elements that gave him a winning edge.

Brody Royal, a first grader from Edgartown, who according to his mother Jennifer was named after Chief Brody from Jaws, took second place in the Tiger Den group. He was proud of the first Pinewood Derby car he ever made, and readily described it. “Mine has stripes on it with a big number 2 on the front,” he said, bursting with excitement. “I couldn’t wait until the race started.”

Esther Hartmann of West Tisbury is Tiger Den leader. Brody, as well as her son, 7-year-old Ethan, are both in the den. She said she was proud of how diligently Ethan worked on his car to get it ready in time for the derby.

“Ethan designed, sawed, sanded, and completed his derby car independently with my supervision,” Ms. Hartmann said, “spending two Saturdays in a workshop and some time at home, totaling about 10 hours.”

Before his race began, Ethan admitted, he felt a little anxiety.

“I was a little bit nervous at first,” he said, “but then when I put the car on the track I wasn’t nervous.”

Six-year-old Quin Doyle of West Tisbury, also a Tiger member, crafted the fastest car of the den.

“My dad taught me a lot about following instructions and using tools, but I made the headlight and siren designs my way. It took a long time and a lot of steps to make my car,” he said. “The Pinewood Derby sure was a fun and exciting day. It was the first time I ever went to one, and my car won!”

“What I like about the Pinewood Derby is that from the day we give the boys the kit, they are already thinking about what they want,” said Mr. Hayden. “To see them work and struggle to get a car shape from that block, and then how proud they are when race day comes —the smiles on their faces and this glow of accomplishment — that from that point on I don’t think they care about winning or losing; just to see what they made run down that track is all they care about.”

John Freeman, the unit commissioner for the Cape and Islands Council of Boy Scouts of America, emphasized how enjoyable the derby had been, not just for the Cub Scouts but for their families too.

“It was clearly a fun family event,” he said in an email to The Times. “Families from all over the island took part. Parents had the opportunity to talk with other parents in an easygoing social atmosphere. The Packs’ adult leadership did a great job planning for the event, and then kept things running smoothly. The Cubs and their families had a great time that they will remember for years.”

Ms. Hartmann said scouting is a positive activity. “My inspiration for becoming a den leader was the opportunity to provide my son, Ethan, and other boys his age with an educational program that develops self-assurance, respect for other people and independence,” Ms. Hartmann said. “Cub Scouts is a program filled with adventure, a program that provides exciting indoor and outdoor activities.”

Linus Munn beat racers from four Island dens to win the derby. Oliver Larkosh of West Tisbury fielded the second-fastest car overall, and was the fastest among the Webelos. The other den winners were Eli Friedman of Bear Den, William Thorton of Wolf Den, and Quin Doyle of Tiger Den. Every scout that participated received a trophy, ribbon, or medal.

For more information about the Martha’s Vineyard Cub Scouts, contact Matthew Hayden: 774-563-9694, or matthayden123@gmail.com.

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Martha's Vineyard Hospital. —Photo by Michael Cummo

One check from generous donors Shelley and Allan Holt of Chilmark and Washington, D.C., brought Martha’s Vineyard Hospital’s end of year campaign to raise enough money to purchase a state-of-the-art digital tomosynthesis (3D mammography) unit to a successful conclusion.

As a result, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital will begin providing 3D mammography in the spring of 2015, according to a press release issued Monday.

Digital tomosynthesis produces a three-dimensional view of breast tissue that helps radiologists identify and characterize individual breast structures without the confusion of overlapping tissue. “This means earlier cancer diagnoses, and fewer false positives requiring fewer callbacks, thereby reducing patient stress and anxiety,” said Dr. Deborah Hall.

“I am grateful to Shelley and Allan Holt and all of our contributors who joined in support of this effort,” Tim Walsh, Martha’s Vineyard Hospital president and CEO said. “Thanks to them, we far surpassed all our hopes.”

The fundraising appeal received great support from across the Vineyard community, and then, out of the blue, Timothy Sweet, chairman of the board of trustees, received a call from Mrs. Holt offering to fully fund the quest to raise $400,000 to bring 3D tomosynthesis to Martha’s Vineyard, hospital director of development Rachel Vanderhoop said.

“I was totally speechless,” Mr. Sweet said. “Allan and Shelley have already given very generously to the construction of the new hospital, and now they were offering to help again. We can’t thank them enough for their continuing generosity and community spirit. Their gift will provide the Island with the most advanced diagnostic breast care available today.”

The largest clinical study done to date on Hologic 3-D mammography was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association on June 25, 2014. Led by Dr. Sarah M. Friedewald of the Caldwell Breast Center at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., the study found that screening by means of digital breast tomosynthesis, or 3-D mammography, detects 41 percent more invasive cancers than traditional mammography.

“Now the women of Martha’s Vineyardhave access, without leaving the Island, to the latest and best mammography equipment for the detection of breast cancer,” said Mrs. Holt.

As a result of the Holts’ generosity, the hospital is now working to fund the Philips Heart Monitoring system. This new monitoring system allows the transfer of vital signs in real time into the electronic medical record, according to a press release. This reduces transcription errors and instantly provides current information to anyone viewing the record.

Ms. Vanderhoop has been contacting donors to the 3D campaign in the hope that they will consider redirecting their gift to help fund the purchase of this advanced technology. “Everyone I have spoken with has been incredibly thankful for the Holts’ gift, and supportive of our request regarding the heart-monitoring system,” she said.

In June 2012 the Holts helped fund the purchase of Thimble Farm in Oak Bluffs by the Island Grown Initiative for $2.6 million.

Mr. Holt is a managing director and co-head of the U.S. buyout group at the Carlyle Group, a global alternative-asset manager with $203 billion of assets under management across 129 funds and 141 fund-of-funds vehicles, according to its web site.

For more information, contact the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital development office at 508-693-4645.

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More than two feet of snow in some spots left emergency responders and road crews stretched to the limit.

Seven-year-old Henry Wansiewicz launches his sled off a man-made ramp at Tashmoo overlook on Wednesday afternoon. — Photo by Michael Cummo

After two days and nights of howling winds, driving snow, and way too much time watching snow live shots on Boston TV stations, Islanders began the massive job of digging out from an epic blizzard that dropped a blanket of snow over Martha’s Vineyard.

The cleanup begins: snowblowing on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. – Photo by Steve Myrick
The cleanup begins: snowblowing on Main Street in Vineyard Haven. – Photo by Steve Myrick

According to National Weather Service observers, the storm dumped 27 inches of snow in Oak Bluffs, and 20 inches of snow in Edgartown. The wind carved out random aberrations. Ocean Park in Oak Bluffs was blown nearly bare, down to the frozen grass. Six short blocks away, on Nantucket Avenue, police reported drifts topping eight feet at the height of the storm.

At 9 pm Monday night, northeast winds picked up to a steady 32 mph on the Island, lashing the shoreline with gusts of 44 mph. In the early-morning hours of Tuesday, winds peaked at a sustained 44 mph, with gusts recorded at 67 mph, a bit less than hurricane force. Martha’s Vineyard experienced blizzard conditions, sustained winds exceeding 35 mph and visibility frequently less than a quarter-mile, for 24 consecutive hours.

The temperature at the beginning of the storm was 31 degrees, but fell steadily to 15 degrees before the storm wound down. Driving winds forced the wind-chill factor to dangerous levels.

Aidan Zeigenhorn sleds down a hill in Lagoon Pond on Wednesday. – Photo by Michael Cummo
Aidan Zeigenhorn sleds down a hill in Lagoon Pond on Wednesday. – Photo by Michael Cummo

Coastal flooding was not as severe as feared, with salt spray washing over the seawalls near Farm Pond in Oak Bluffs, the causeway near the Lagoon Pond drawbridge in Vineyard Haven, and minor flooding on Dock Street in Edgartown, all spots frequently vulnerable to less severe ocean storms.

Colder than forecast temperatures made for lighter than expected snow, which helped keep power outages to a minimum. NSTAR positioned additional utility repair crews on the Island before the storm, but there were only a handful of outages. NSTAR reported seven customers without power in West Tisbury, and eight customers without power in Oak Bluffs, midway through the storm. Only two customers remained without power Wednesday morning.


Vasska Fondren, of Brickmans, plows the sidewalk on Main Street in Vineyard Haven on Wednesday morning. — Photo by Michael Cummo
Vasska Fondren, of Brickmans, plows the sidewalk on Main Street in Vineyard Haven on Wednesday morning. — Photo by Michael Cummo

On Wednesday morning, most main roads were plowed and sanded, but town highway crews struggled to clear secondary roads. Police scanners cackled with several calls for help from police and emergency medical personnel trying to check on elderly residents, who could not get through on unplowed roads.

In Vineyard Haven Wednesday morning, a three-foot ridge of snow divided Main Street into two barely passable lanes. At least two vehicles got stuck, blocking traffic for a short time. A Dukes County Communications Center dispatcher issued an advisory, asking fire trucks and ambulances to avoid Main Street.

“We have to contain the snow, so we can shovel it out of there,” said Tisbury department of public works director Glenn Mauk. “There is a lot of snow, and people driving makes it a lot harder for us.” A parking ban for Tisbury streets, which began at 6 pm Monday evening, was still in effect Wednesday morning.

First responders

Most drivers heeded a driving ban imposed as part of a state of emergency declared by Governor Charlie Baker, in effect from 6 pm Monday evening to midnight Tuesday. Even with few vehicles on the road, conditions still made it very difficult for road crews to work, and very difficult for first responders to get to people who needed help during the storm.

On Tuesday, firefighters were alerted to a call of a carbon monoxide alarm at a house on North Neck Road on Chappaquiddick. The 911 dispatcher reported that the responding firefighter had found the road impassable, “so he’s going to walk in.”

About one-half hour later, the firefighter reported back, “Nothing showing at that residence.”

Also Tuesday, an anxious husband called 911 to report that his wife had left her vehicle and was on skis in the Long Point section of West Tisbury, intending to ski to the caretaker’s cottage at the Trustees property, but had texted him to say she felt like going to sleep. Rescue personnel responded, battling deep snow, and later reported that the woman had arrived.

An ambulance got stuck in the snow on a call to a residence on West Chop, and needed help from another emergency medical vehicle to get the patient to the hospital.

Quiet shelter

Unlike past weather emergencies, the Island’s emergency management directors coordinated resources to open one shelter at the Tisbury School, instead of separate shelters in each town. The shelter was mostly dark and empty early Tuesday morning, with only a few of the 30 cots used overnight. Two people sought shelter Monday evening, according to volunteer Brian Kennedy of Oak Bluffs. “We have 11 volunteers from the Island and four Red Cross staff on hand,” Mr. Kennedy told The Times on Tuesday morning. “We fed eight off-Island utility crews earlier in the morning.”


The storm prompted school superintendent James Weiss to cancel all Island schools on Tuesday, Wednesday and again on Thursday. Mr. Weiss said roads remained very slipper prompting him to cancel school a third day.

The Steamship Authority stopped running boats at 6 pm Monday evening as the weather worsened, and did not resume service until Wednesday morning.

Most businesses closed Tuesday. The few stalwarts included the Stop and Shop and Cumberland Farms.

The Dukes County courthouse was closed Tuesday and Wednesday, as were most Island town offices.

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Put on your game-day face, and shirt, and hat, and snacks.

Michael Snowden, Dave Rossi and Pam Dolby helped cheer the Patriots to victory at a recent playoff game. — Photo by Linley Dolby
Zoe Walpole finds that the Pats win when she wears her cap. – Courtesy Kate Walpole — Photo by Kate Walpole
Zoe Walpole finds that the Pats win when she wears her cap. – Courtesy Kate Walpole — Photo by Kate Walpole

Whether it is a special Mexican dip you must prepare, a beverage to be shared at exactly five minutes to kickoff, or a pair of socks you have to wear (or will never, ever wear again), game-day superstitions are nearly as important as the game itself.

Alexandra Taylor, Posie Haeger and Shannon Smith sport lucky Patriots caps. — Photo by Linley Dolby
Alexandra Taylor, Posie Haeger and Shannon Smith sport lucky Patriots caps. — Photo by Linley Dolby

In Patriots Nation, we hear Coach Bill Belichick repeat the phrase “Do your job” over and over, and even as onlookers from afar, that reminder resonates. Many of us feel that call to support our team in whatever way feels right. The neon lights will be on in my dad’s shed at 10 am on Super Bowl Sunday, my husband will be wearing a red throwback jersey, and I will have on the blue-striped — NOT red-striped — beanie with the Flying Elvis turned respectfully toward the east, as out in Arizona, our boys launch through much more rigorous preparations for the big game. So what are the rules in your house? I’ve reached out to some of our local fans for the scoop (as in “story,” not as in the Scoops! tortilla chips that absolutely have to accompany the aforementioned Mexican dip — wink, wink). Here’s what they had to say!

Tysean and Dreyden Thomas, West Tisbury, have their own Pats uniforms. – Courtesy the Thomas family.
Tysean and Dreyden Thomas, West Tisbury, have their own Pats uniforms. – Courtesy the Thomas family.

“Paul Moreau and I have a special portable Pats chair that comes out only for important games. It is placed in the center of the room during the game. Nobody sits in it. When there is a very important play, Paul will move to the chair. It brings Tom luck and guarantees he will make a successful pass.” —Hilary Grannis, Edgartown

“I always make chili on game day!” —Joanne Brine, Chappaquiddick

“I smoke or grill whatever our opponents are, like Ravens/wings, Colts/ribs, and of course, this week Seahawk!” —Dylan Morgan, Vineyard Haven

“I just cross my fingers and pray.” —Kate Walpole, Edgartown

“My ritual is skiing at Sunday River, three years in a row now. They have a Super Bowl party there, too!!! Go PATS!” —Stephanie Teller, Edgartown