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Lee Heyman (right), along with captains (left to right) Aubrey Ashmun, Olivia Ogden and Sydney Davies, discuss strategy during a critical timeout in the second period. —Photo courtesy of Robin Davies

On Friday afternoon the Martha’s Vineyard varsity girls field hockey team lost to Medway, 2-1, in double overtime to officially end their season. Senior star Aubrey Ashmun gave the Vineyarders a 1-0 lead with 42 seconds remaining in the first half through a penalty stroke. Aubrey, who has been the backbone of the team with 10 assists, scored her first goal of the season. Sophomore goalie Julia Bettencourt was remarkable, standing on her head to keep shots out of her net. Julia came up huge with 14 saves and is now the number 1 ranked goalie in the EAC.

The ninth-seeded Vineyarders were disappointed after Medway scored with just over four minutes left in the game, then again in the second overtime to end their season. But coach Lisa Knight was tremendously proud of her team; “This team has been exceptional all year… Even though we lost, there can’t be a regret from any of those girls.”

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Martha’s Vineyard wide reciever James Sashin catches a Mike Mussell pass, which ended with a touchdown, on the first drive of the game. – Photos by Michael Cummo

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) Vineyarders ran big plays early and often to beat the Bourne High School Canalmen, 41-6, Friday night at Dan McCarthy Field in Oak Bluffs.

After stifling Bourne on downs in the game’s opening possession, senior quarterback Mike Mussell unleashed a 39-yard strike to a wide-open sophomore James Sashin for the score barely two minutes into the tilt. James Sashin added the first of his six extra points for a 7-0 Vineyard lead.

The Vineyarders took over on downs after the ensuing Bourne possession and on the first play from scrimmage, junior back Jacob Cardoza scored on an 80-yard burst up the middle for a 14-0 lead as a thin Halloween night crowd was settling into their seats shortly after MVRHS cheerleader Oshantay Waite sang the national anthem.

Vineyard running back Jacob Cardoza scoes a touchdown.
Vineyard running back Jacob Cardoza scoes a touchdown.

The rejuvenated Vineyarder squad (3-5), which has won three of its last four games after an 0-4 start, has been piling up impressive numbers over the last two weeks. On Friday night, Mike Mussell was 5 for 7 passing for 158 yards with three TD passes as well as receiving a touchdown pass from James Sashin. Mike has 14 TD passes thus far this season.

Juniors Jacob Cardoza and Ben Clark each scored twice. Ben Clark had 117 yards rushing to lead the team. Jacob Cardoza, with 101 yards rushing, also eclipsed the single season reception yardage record (576 yards) set in 1992 by Albie Robinson.

The first half offensive onslaught continued with a 40-yard pass from Mussell to Cardoza and a 64-yard catch and run by Jacob Cardoza. Bourne scored on a 28-yard run by Dylan Kehoe. The point-after failed and the teams headed to the locker room with the Vineyarders leading 27-6.

Ben Clark closed out the Vineyarder scoring in the second half with TDs in the third (24 yards) and fourth quarters (66 yards).

Head coach Donald Herman, who has endured the worst start (0-4) in his 29 years on the Vineyard sidelines, said he was heartened by the effort on Friday night.

“Yeah, we had some big plays,” he said. “It’s nice to see that we are starting to figure some things out. We were able to take advantage of some of the defensive schemes that Bourne was playing, but the important thing was that our kids executed well.”

Asked for his takeaway from this game, he provided the following assessment. “We are on track to being where we want to be, one step closer to a 6-5 winning season. We’ve won three of our last four and we have three games left and a lot of work to do to get there.”

While the Vineyarder offensive production was impressive on Friday night, Mr. Herman had kudos for his defense and the kicking game, featuring sophomore James Sashin whose punting work was impressive, including one booming 40-yard kick into a stiff wind.

Some fans came to the game dressed in Halloween costumes.
Some fans came to the game dressed in Halloween costumes.

Bourne produced an effective running game which kept the quick-strike Vineyarders offense off the field for extended periods of time. Longtime Vineyarder fan Richard “Stoney” Stone, sitting gamely atop the bleachers in frigid conditions, offered this appraisal. “I think Bourne has had more time of possession than we have,” he said.

In truth, Bourne did run the ball effectively against a Vineyarder defense that bent but didn’t break, coming up with big plays to stop the Canalmen four times on downs, including one series in which the Vineyarders tallied tackles for lost yardage on three consecutive plays.

“We’ve got an excellent linebacking corps,” Stoney said. “Austin Chandler (15 tackles to lead the defense Friday night) is having a fantastic season with Ben Clark, David Macias. Luke DeBettencourt, Andy DiMattia (14 tackles on Friday night) had very strong games.”

He noted that David is the only senior in the group. “We started some sophomores on Friday and we’ll start them again,” he said.

Which bodes well for the future? “We need numbers. Overall the numbers  are low,” he said. In fact, the Vineyarders suited up only 28 players on Friday night to face a 1-7 Bourne team with only 23 players in uniform.

At halftime, a passing Bourne fan agreed. “It’s tough. You know, most of our kids have been playing together since Pop Warner and they’ve kept playing into high school,” he said.

The Vineyarders play next Friday at Joseph Case High School in Swansea. The game against an 0-8 Cardinal squad begins at 6 pm.

They meet Bellingham High School at home on November 14 before hosting Nantucket for the annual Island Cup matchup at 1:30 pm, Saturday, Nov. 22. The schools’ JV teams play at 10:30 am.

Representatives from the Massachusetts Health Connector, Vineyard Health Care Access, and state representative Tim Madden held a joint press conference at the Dukes County administration building on Friday to hammer home one point — the time is now for uninsured Islanders to get insurance, and for insured Islanders to get a health insurance check-up. The next open enrollment period starts November 15, and everyone who is in Health Connector coverage, or was placed in temporary coverage over the last year needs to reapply if they still want to be covered by insurance through the Commonwealth.
“Our mission is to connect people to comprehensive and affordable health insurance,” said Ashley Hague, deputy executive director of Massachusetts Health Connector (MHC). “Our number one goal is to ensure our current members are able to transition without a gap in coverage.”
Ms. Hague stressed that everyone who has coverage through MHC, also known as “The Exchange” or “The Marketplace,” or who was placed in a temporary plan in the past year, needs to submit a new application. Open enrollment concludes February 15, 2015. Since 2006, by law, with some exceptions, all residents of Massachusetts were required to have health coverage that met state standards. For those residents not covered by an employer or commercial health plan, the state created an agency, the Massachusetts Health Connector, to act as a broker for qualifying insurance plans.

When the ACA, also known as Obamacare, went into effect on October 1, 2013, the Massachusetts health care plan was required to retool and offer ACA-compliant plans though ConnectorCare, a new website, which did not work.

Gov. Deval Patrick recently said the new website is being fixed at a total cost of $254 million, which is $80 million, or 46 percent, more than initially projected, according to a recent report in Commonwealth magazine.

Ms. Hague said the technological glitches that plagued the Commonwealth Health Insurance Connector Authority last year have been resolved, and the new website, MAhealthconnector.org, will have a simpler, shorter application that can be done in one sitting. The website also has a list of health insurance “navigators” and certified application counselors. Each state has a navigator program, which is required by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Navigators work one-on-one with local residents to guide them through the stultifying requirements and shifting options in health insurance today.

Island navigators
Last May, Sarah Kuh, director of the Vineyard Health Care Access Program (VHCA), applied for a grant to fund VHCA navigator training and  and to subsequently qualify as a state navigator for Dukes County. In August, VHCA was selected as one of five new navigators in the state. There are 15 navigators statewide. Now, trained specialists at VHCA can advise the insured and the uninsured, small businesses owners, the self-employed, and seasonal workers. The multilingual staff can assist all Island residents, including members of the Wampanoag tribe. All four of the VHCA client services staff, Ms. Kuh, Mary Leddy, Maria Mouzinho, and Vani Pessoni, are Certified Massachusetts Navigators.
“I want to give a big shout-out to Sarah Kuh,” Representative Tim Madden said. “Her passion for the job, her commitment to the job, and her thoroughness on the job is incredible. A lot of people put in grant applications, but very few are awarded. Having someone on Island that people can actually sit with and help them through it, step-by step, makes a huge difference.”
“It’s very exciting to be included in the navigator program because we feel like we’ve been navigating for decades,” Ms. Kuh said. “It’s not just filling out a form. It’s understanding the implications that go along with it. We look at the different programs, their benefits, how to use the insurance, and what happens if you need to see a medical specialist or behavioral health professional. Hopefully the people in the community know they can come to us with any questions or problems: that is what we’re here for and we’re happy to help.” Ms. Kuh added that there are hundreds of Vineyarders who need to reapply to keep their insurance.

“While we encourage people to seek out assistance from navigators, we also encourage them to make appointments with them ahead of time,” Ms. Hague said. “We had situations where there were lines out the door, and while that’s a great thing, it’s probably not efficient for anybody.”

Mass outreach
Ms. Hague said in the coming months, the Health Connector program is launching an extensive outreach campaign. “We’ll be sending postcards and letters in the mail so we ask people to please read their mail from the Health Connector,” she said.

In addition to newspaper and radio advertisements, people will also be notified by phone, and some will be notified in person by outreach staff who are planning to make over 200,000 home visits. There are three groups the Health Connector is targeting with its outreach program. One group is the 100,000+ people in the Commonwealth Care or Medical Security plan.

“I am becoming more familiar with the Island and high percentage of seasonal employment here, so this plan is significant,” Ms. Hague said. “The plan was supposed to be closed last year but will be closed January 31, 2015. Subscribers in that group must submit a new application by January 23.”

Another group, individuals in temporary Medicaid, will have their coverage end in three phases. Coverage for the different sub-groups will end January 15, February 1, and February 15. Each group will be repeatedly notified of their respective deadline, Ms. Hague said. The third group being targeted is the 40,000 who successfully enrolled through the website and by phone last year.

“That group is probably the trickiest to help, because they already did this, and might not think they have to reapply,” Ms. Hague said. “But we need the most up-to-date information, address, age, and number of dependents, in order to get them the right benefits and to get the most generous benefits we can.”
Ms. Kuh said that for a single person to qualify for ACA subsidy, the income cutoff would be around $45,000 a year. “Sometimes people don’t know that they’re eligible for help and they’re paying way more for insurance than they can really afford,” she said.
“It’s really important for people to just check and see,” Ms. Hague said. “Even if you’re already insured through your employer, you might be able to take $50 a month off your commercial premium.” She added that people who weren’t eligible for Commonwealth Care last year may be eligible for subsidy under the ACA, which has a higher income cut-off.  Under the ACA, people earning below 400 percent of the federal poverty line may be eligible for assistance.

According the the Department of Health and Human services, the poverty line for an individual is $11,670, so an individual makingunder $46,680 is potentially eligible for health care subsidy. “Most of the people in our health care reform since 2007 are people working,” Ms. Hague said. “Just because you have access to employer sponsored insurance and you were previously crowded out from enrolling in a subsidized program through the state, doesn’t necessarily mean that’s the case now, so just check and see.”
“There’s also Mass Health Premium Assistance,” Ms. Kuh said. “For a family or person making under 300 percent of the poverty level, Mass Health can pay their share of their employer insurance premium. “It’s not easy to get but when you can, it’s a huge financial help for families,” she said.
Appointments at VHCA can be made by phone at 508-696-0020, or on the website mvhealthcareaccess.org or at the office at 114 New York Ave. in Oak Bluffs. To kick off the open enrollment period on Saturday, November 15, the VHCA office will be open from 12 noon to 2 pm to answer questions and to make consultation appointments.

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Election day is Tuesday. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Martha’s Vineyard voters will join voters across the state to decide a spirited race for governor and four contentious ballot questions on Tuesday, November 4.

Locally, Island voters will fill seven seats on the Dukes County Commission, and nine seats on the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC). They will also take action on a non-binding ballot question which asks if our state senator should be instructed to vote in favor of legislation that would expand the radiological plume exposure emergency planning zone around the Pilgrim nuclear power station in Plymouth to include the Cape and Islands.

Up-Island voters will be asked to choose from among six candidates for five seats on the up-Island school committee.

A Chilmark ballot question asks voters to exempt borrowing for road repairs from the provisions of Proposition 2.5.

West Tisbury voters will be asked to elect a new town moderator to fill the position held for 23 years by Pat Gregory, who was murdered while vacationing in California last May. Dan Waters, development director of the Martha’s Vineyard Museum and a longtime resident of West Tisbury, is the only candidate on the ballot.

Polls are open in all Massachusetts cities and towns from 7 am to 8 pm. In the lead-up to next week’s election, Island political activists have been out in force in support of their candidates. Television viewers have been subjected to a barrage of campaign advertising, much of it fueled by Political Action Committees that have poured millions of dollars into critical races. On Tuesday, it is the voter’s turn to speak.

The governor’s race between Massachusetts attorney general Martha Coakley, the Democratic nominee, and former healthcare executive Charlie Baker on the Republican ticket, has attracted much of the attention in the November election.

Ms. Coakley (marthacoakley.com) of Medford, lists  jobs, education, health care, and civil rights among her primary issues, and she says she is dedicated to the principles of opportunity, fairness, and equality.

Mr. Baker (charliebaker2014.com) of Swampscott, is a former Secretary of Administration and Finance under Governors William Weld and Paul Cellucci, and former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care. His campaign is focused on issues that include economic growth, schools, and safer, stronger communities.

Stephen J. Kerrigan (D) (stevekerrigan.org) faces Karyn E. Polito (R) (karynpolitoforlg.com) in a race for lieutenant governor that has attracted little attention.

First-term incumbent U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey (D) (markey.senate.gov) faces a challenge from Republican Brian J. Herr ® herrsenate2014.com/.

Incumbent Congressman William Keating (D) (keatingforcongress.com) of Bourne is running for re-election from the Massachusetts ninth district, which includes Martha’s Vineyard. He faces a challenge from John C. Chapman (R) (johnchapman2014.com) of Chatham.

Maura Healey (D) of Charlestown (maurahealey.com) faces Republican John B. Miller (R) (millerforag.com) in the race to replace Ms. Coakley as attorney general. Ms. Healy is a prosecutor in the state attorney general’s office and a former professional basketball player. Mr. Miller, of Winchester, is a civil engineer and attorney.

Longtime Secretary of State William Galvin (D) (billgalvin.org) faces a challenge from David D’arcangelo (R) (davein2014.com).

In the race for state treasurer, Deborah B. Goldberg (D) of Brookline (debgoldberg.com) will square off against Michael Heffernan (R) of Wellesley (mikeheffernan2014.com). Ms. Goldberg is a former Brookline selectman and former executive at Stop & Shop, which her family founded. Mr. Heffernan is a technology entrepreneur and former banking executive.

Auditor Suzanne M. Bump (D) faces a challenge from Patricia S. Saint Aubin (R) (patriciasaintaubin.com).

In local elections, Daniel A. Wolf (D) of Harwich (danwolfforsenate.com) faces Ronald R. Beaty (R) of West Barnstable (beatyforstatesenate.blog.com) in the race for state senate in the Cape and Islands district. Mr. Wolf is the founder and CEO of the regional airline Cape Air. Mr. Beaty identifies himself as a tea party candidate.

State representative Timothy R. Madden (D) of Nantucket (timmadden.com) is running for reelection unopposed.

District attorney for the Cape and Islands Michael D. O’Keefe (R) of Sandwich (daokeefe2014.com) seeks reelection to another term. Mr. O’Keefe was first elected in 2002.

He is opposed by Richard G. Barry (D) of Cotuit (richardbarry.org), a former Barnstable town councilman, and former assistant district attorney.

Dukes County Commission

The County of Dukes County was established in 1683, as part of the province of New York. It was annexed by the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1691.

During the Republican administration of Gov. William F. Weld, county governments across the state were eliminated by state lawmakers who argued that county government, with its historic roots in Colonial times, was old-fashioned and had outlived its usefulness. Despite the abolition of most county government across the state, Dukes County, the Island’s only form of regional government, managed to survive under a specially written and adopted county charter.

The seven elected, unpaid members of the Dukes County Commission exercise general legislative powers. They preside over a county government led by a paid county manager who has full control over the administration of county services.

Martina Thornton is the current county manager.

Although included in the county budget, the Sheriff’s Department, the Registry of Deeds, both headed by elected officials, and the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, statutorily under the control of the county-appointed airport commission, have independent sources of revenue.

The only County department or services over which the county manager exercises direct authority is veteran’s services.

Most of the money for county services directly under the control of the county manager comes from individual town assessments, which are based on real estate valuation. Taxpayers are often unaware of the amount because it does not appear as a line item on annual town meeting warrants.

The county general fund budget for fiscal year 2015 that began on July 1 is $1.702,199 million. Assessments to the six Island towns, plus Gosnold, total $491,739. Edgartown shoulders the largest part of the burden, $179,386, or 36 percent.

The county commissioners’ most direct influence over Island affairs rest with their authority to appoint Martha’s Vineyard’s representative on the Steamship Authority board and the members of the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission, which by statute is solely responsible for the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, the state’s only county-owned airport and business park.

Under the county charter, there cannot be more than two county commissioners elected from each town, but there is no requirement that each town have a county commissioner. County commissioners are elected for two-year terms.

The county commissioners

All seven seats are up for grabs on the Dukes County Commission.

The election ballot lists the names of four candidates, all incumbents, leaving three slots open to write-in candidates. Christine Todd of Oak Bluffs, an incumbent who failed to get on the ballot, and Gretchen Tucker Underwood, a newcomer to Island politics have announced write-in campaigns.

Ms. Underwood, who moved to the Island from Wellesley, said she wants to be engaged in the community and is interested in issues that affect seniors.

The name of longtime county commissioner Lenny Jason Jr., Edgartown and Chilmark building inspector, does not appear on the ballot. Mr. Jason, who was most recently re-elected as a write-in with 30 votes, told The Times he is not running an active write-in campaign. Mr. Jason declined to confirm whether he would serve, if elected as a write-in.

Two-term county commissioner Tom Hallahan is not seeking reelection.

The following names appear on the ballot.

John S. Alley of West Tisbury, a former selectman, has long been active in local government. He served on the airport commission for more than 30 years until the county commission declined to reappoint him earlier this year.

Leon Brathwaite II of West Tisbury is seeking his second term on the county commission. He is the former chairman of the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination under Governor Michael Dukakis.

Tristan Israel of Tisbury was first elected to the county commission in 2007. He owns a landscape business and is a Tisbury selectmen.

David Holway of Edgartown was appointed to fill the term of Melinda Loberg who resigned in August. He is a Democratic party activist, and president of the Quincy based National Association of Government Employees union.

Martha’s Vineyard Commission

On Tuesday, voters must make the biennial selection of the nine elected members of the Martha’s Vineyard Commission (MVC).

Nine candidates appear on the official ballot, which instructs voters to vote for not more than nine candidates. All but two of the nine currently serves on the commission.

Seeking reelection on the November 4th ballot are Clarence “Trip” Barnes of Tisbury, Christina Brown of Edgartown, Joshua Goldstein of Tisbury, Douglas Sederholm of West Tisbury, and Linda Sibley of West Tisbury. Fred Hancock of Oak Bluffs and James Vercruysse of Aquinnah are MVC appointees seeking to become elected members of the commission. Abraham Seiman of Oak Bluffs, a retired health care administrator who serves on numerous town boards, and Robert Doyle of Chilmark, a retired substance abuse counselor involved in public health advocacy and addiction counseling are the only new candidates.

How it works

Established in 1974, the MVC is a regional land use planning and regulatory agency with broad powers to oversee and permit developments of regional impact (DRI) and develop regional regulations for areas approved as districts of critical planning concern (DCPC).

The MVC includes 21 members, either elected by Island voters or appointed by elected officials, on or off Island.

Nine commissioners are elected by Vineyard voters in elections held every two years. Six are appointed on an annual basis by the selectmen of each town. The Dukes County Commission appoints one MVC member on an annual basis. The governor, or a member of the governor’s cabinet, appoints five commissioners, but only one of those may vote.

The nine elected MVC members are chosen in an at-large, Island-wide vote. Residents of one town may vote for candidates from other towns, but at least one commissioner, and no more than two, must be elected from each town.

For example, if the candidates with the three highest vote totals are from the same town, only two will be elected to the MVC. If a candidate with the lowest vote total overall were the only candidate from that town, he or she would be elected.

The MVC exerts a strong influence on the Island economy and infrastructure. It does this by shaping and permitting, or denying, projects referred to the commission as developments of regional impact (DRIs), and in the creation of districts of critical planning concern (DCPCs), which towns can adopt to provide an overlay of regulatory control on top of local zoning bylaws.

Ballot referenda

There are four referendum questions on the ballot, all initiated by citizen petition.

Question 1 would eliminate a provision of state law which ties the state gas tax to the Consumer Price Index, which, in effect, automatically adjusts the gas tax for inflation.

A “yes” vote would eliminate the provision, a “no” vote would leave the law unchanged.

Question 2 would extend the bottle deposit law to cover all liquid drinks except milk, alcohol, baby formula, and medicines. Currently, water, iced tea, and sports drinks are exempt from the bottle deposit.

A “yes” vote would expand the bottle law to cover more beverage containers, a “no” vote would leave the law as it is.

Question 3 would essentially repeal the 2011 law allowing for casino gambling in Massachusetts. Under the new law, the Massachusetts Gaming Commission has already awarded licenses for a slot machine facility in Plainfield, a casino in Springfield, and a casino in Everett. The law allows for one more casino in southeastern Mass and opens the way for a tribal casino.

A “yes” vote would prohibit the commission from awarding more casino licenses, and prevent casinos awarded licenses from opening. A “no” vote would make no change in the gambling law, allow casino construction to go forward, and new licenses to be awarded.

Question 4 would entitle people who work for Massachusetts companies with 11 or more employees to earn up to 40 hours of paid sick time per calendar year. Employees of smaller companies could earn up to 40 hours of unpaid sick time. Question 4 would allow an employee to use earned sick time for an illness or injury to themselves or close family members; to attend routine medical appointments for themselves or close family members; or to address the effects of domestic violence against themselves or a dependent child.

Workers could earn one hour of sick time for every 30 hours worked.

A “yes” vote would establish earned sick time for employees. A “no” vote would leave current state law covering sick time unchanged.

Town Voting Locations

Polls open at 7 am and close at 8 pm.

Aquinnah Old Town Hall; Chilmark Community Center; West Tisbury Public Safety Building; Tisbury Public Safety Facility; Oak Bluffs Public Library meeting room; Edgartown Town Hall meeting room.

Correction: An earlier version of this story included incorrect county assessments. Those figures have been updated. Also, John Alley is not the town’s postmaster. He is the postmaster for Alley’s General Store. And Rob Doyle, candidate for MVC, is a retired substance abuse counselor. Mr. Jason was previously elected with 30 write-in votes, not 10 votes as originally reported.

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File photo by Janet Hefler

Call it the only race in town. With no local electoral contests, the six-way race for five seats on the Up-Island Regional School District (UIRSD) school committee is shaping up as the only contest.

Voters in Aquinnah, Chilmark, and West Tisbury will elect five people to four-year terms. There are two names on the official ballot and four declared write-in candidates. The three candidates, one from each town, who receive the highest vote totals in Tuesday’s balloting will each represent his or her town. The two candidates who receive the next highest vote totals will be elected as at-large members regardless of where they live.

The race is complicated by the fact that no Aquinnah or Chilmark resident is on the ballot. Those races will need to be decided by write-in votes.

The person who receives the highest total of write-in votes will be considered the winner. If that person declines to serve, the position is declared vacant and the selectmen and school committee meet to select someone to fill the seat.

Town clerks will not only need to decipher names, but they will need to track down a candidate’s town, if voters fail to provide that critical information.

Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter and Michael Marcus are running for reelection from West Tisbury and appear on the ballot.

Mr. Manter, a police sergeant, has served on the UIRSD school committee since 1998. He has also served on the West Tisbury board of selectman since 2003. Over the years Mr. Manter has served on numerous town boards and committees, including the finance committee where he has carved out a role as a fiscal conservative. He currently is a member of the town’s Parks and Recreation Board, Council on Aging, and Dukes County Advisory Board.

Mr. Marcus is a real estate and tax specialist who works in the institutional real estate arena. His three children attend West Tisbury School. Mr. Marcus was elected to the UIRSD school committee in 2010 and currently serves as its chairman. He is on an interview and search committee to choose a new school superintendent.

There are four declared write-in candidates.

Roxanne Ackerman is running for reelection as a write-in candidate from Aquinnah. Ms. Ackerman, a librarian and commercial fisherman, has been a UIRSD school committee member since 1983. She is Aquinnah’s representative on the regional high school committee, serves on the budget subcommittee and school library improvement plan committee and is also is a member of the superintendent’s office building committee.

Kate DeVane is running as a write-in candidate from West Tisbury. Ms. DeVane, the mother of nine-year-old twins, works as a landscape coordinator for Donaroma’s Nursery and Landscaping Services. A former elementary school teacher, Ms. DeVane is a member of the West Tisbury School Advisory Council. She is also the co-chairman of the Parent Advisory Council on Special Education and the president and co-founder of the Island Autism Group.

Robert Lionette is running for reelection as a write-in candidate from Chilmark. Mr. Lionette, a chef at Morning Glory Farm, was appointed to the UIRSD school committee in 2012 by the Chilmark selectmen. He currently serves as its vice-chairman and also on the personnel subcommittees of the regional high school and all-Island school committees. Mr. Lionette’s son attends Chilmark School.

Theresa Manning, a write-in candidate from Aquinnah, is a co-coordinator for the Dukes County Youth Task Force, a coalition of over 50 community members that promotes community-wide health and wellness for youth and families to reduce substance use and other risky behaviors. Ms. Manning has a son who attends West Tisbury School, and two step-children, now adults, who attended Island schools.

The areas outlined in yellow have been identified as possible locations for sand mining. The areas outlined in purple are located in federal waters.

Bruce Carlisle, director of the state office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) came to the Island on Wednesday to present an overview of the newly released, 206-page 2014 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan (OMP) and to hear questions and comments from Vineyard residents.
The public hearing held at the Katharine Cornell Theater was sparsely attended, but many of the attendees who braved the stormy evening stood to speak their minds. The hot topic was offshore sand mining to bolster beaches that are losing their battle against erosion.

Shoring up the beaches
Massachusetts is one of the few states on the east coast that prohibits offshore sand mining, but state and federal agencies, in addition to the CZM, are advocating a change in policy. “Offshore sand mining has been a recommendation from several other higher policy level entities including the Coastal Hazards Commission (CHC) in 2007 and the Climate Change Adaptation report issued by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EOEE) in 2011,” Mr. Carlisle said Wednesday night.
The 2009 OMP recognized that the mining offshore sand could help mitigate beach erosion, but did not designate specific areas that could be mined. The 2014 OMP has designated “primary resource areas” in Massachusetts waters and in federal waters for a small number of potential pilot projects over the next five years. One of the largest primary resource areas is between the north shore of Martha’s Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands.

“We’re focused in on medium and coarse grain sand as beach compatible sand, and avoiding gravel and cobbles that have more implications and connections with fisheries resources than medium and coarse grain sand.” Mr. Carlisle said, adding that there was extensive input from the United States Geological Survey in identifying the sand resource areas. After that, the CZM identified areas to avoid because of potential damage to fisheries per the input of the MAssachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries (DMF), and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). Infrastructure uses and navigational traffic were also included in the calculus.

“We chose the areas where sand mining would have the least amount of impact and the least amount of conflicts,” Mr. Carlisle said. One criterion of the pilot projects is that the mined sand must be used on public beaches. Mr. Carlisle said that the CZM does not have the authority to determine which beaches will receive the mined sand.

“While it is outside of the jurisdiction of the plan, the beach nourishment projects will be subject to other review and permitting under state, federal and local regulatory programs,” he wrote in a follow-up email.

House divided
Public comments on offshore mining were wide ranging.

Stanley Arend of Oak Bluffs suggested that rather than shipping sand mined from a large offshore facility, a smaller project should be considered for beach nourishment at the Inkwell, where so much sand has collected just offshore, and the water is knee deep for more than 200 feet off the low tide mark.

Shelly Edmundson, is a Tisbury resident and doctoral candidate at the University of New Hampshire, where she studies channel whelks, also known as conch. She requested more study and communication with the fishing community.

“I work with a lot of the conch fishermen and their concern, and my primary concern, is the potential sand mining locations,” she said. “I think significant fishing areas are included in the potential mining areas. I’m very concerned with whelk habitat. They prefer sandy, muddy areas. They lay their egg strings in the sand. There’s just a whole realm of concerns associated with sand mining in general.”

Mr. Carlisle welcomed input from Vineyard fishermen and said that all mining would be done with consideration to the time of year to minimize potential interruption of breeding cycles.
Caroline Hunter of Oak Bluffs, a member of a recently formed citizen beach committee, told Mr. Carlisle about the much maligned dredge spoils that were put on Inkwell beach, and the public protests that ensued. She also read from a letter from the citizen beach committee. “We support the mining of offshore sand with the potential of providing high-quality replenishment material that preserves the quality and safety of our beaches,” the letter said in part.

Warren Doty, a Chilmark selectman and the founding president of two fishermen’s organizations, spoke against the pilot program off the Island’s north shore. “The reason the Massachusetts oceans act was passed was because the state considers the oceans a top priority,”  he said. “We are not improving the health of the ocean by digging up the benthic environment. I’m sympathetic to the people who want their beaches restored, but that’s not why we passed the Oceans Act.”

Mr. Doty said the designated area off the north shore is a rich fishery for the Island. He also said that small core samples taken during Ms. Edmundson’s studies have shown a fecundity of sea life that would be damaged with offshore sand mining. “The lab in New Hampshire can pick out 47 small living things you couldn’t even see,” he said, adding that mussel beds would also suffer. “It’s not going to help the health of our oceans and it’s not going to help our fisheries.”

The CZM will continue to hold public hearings in Massachusetts coastal towns during the 60-day public comment period.
Mr. Carlisle implored all Vineyarders to weigh in before the comment period ends at 5 pm, November 25.
The ocean plan draft is available online at the EEA website, www.mass.gov/eea/. Written comments should be sent to the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management, ATTN: Ocean Plan, 251 Causeway Street, Suite 800, Boston, MA 02114. Comments can also be sent by email to oceanplan@state.ma.us.

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Swans, an invasive species, have become a part of the Mill Pond landscape. —Photo by Michael Cummo

West Tisbury animal control officer Joan Jenkinson asked selectmen last week for their support to put a gate and fencing between the Mill Pond shoreline at the entrance of the Allen M. Look Memorial Park and the old police station building on the West Tisbury-Edgartown Road to protect wandering swans that have taken up residence at the pond.

Well-known for her tender and caring attention to all animals and wildlife, Ms. Jenkinson regularly feeds the swans and ducks that congregate on the scenic pond. In general, wildlife officials discourage feeding waterfowl for the dependency it creates on human handouts.

Ms. Jenkinson told selectmen last Wednesday that the gate would help keep swans and ducks from wandering out onto the road but also allow access for visitors.  “Now that the police station isn’t there, cars go faster than they ever did,” she said. “I would like some support on this because I and the police have had to pick up dead swans and dead ducks.”

Ms. Jenkinson is primarily concerned about one young swan, which she named Rocky, that is recovering from the bite of a snapping turtle. She took the swan to a veterinarian for surgery in August.  “I don’t want him going out into the road,” she said. “He is like a baby. He will fly away some day. I’m there twice a day and he waits for me right by the road.”

Ms. Jenkinson said that she and her husband, Pat, would pay for the materials and that Pat has volunteered to do the work.

Selectman Cynthia Mitchell and Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter agreed that ducks on the road are sometimes a problem. Mr. Manter said the town should pay for the gate, not the Jenkinsons. Selectman Richard Knabel said that he would not want a gate to keep people from using the park.

Selectmen said the gate proposal should be brought up before the Conservation Commission and the Historic District Commission before a decision is made.

Live pond

Ms. Jenkinson told The Times in a phone conversation that she feeds the swans and ducks that congregate on the pond at least twice a day, and that she is sometimes at the pond four times a day to check on Rocky. Volunteers fill in for her when she is away.

Although the waterfowl come to the edge of the pond when they see her car, she does not think she contributes to the traffic mortality problem. “The ducks would cross the road anyway to get to the Mill stream and Tisbury Great Pond,” she said.

Ms. Jenkinson said the feedings contribute to the scenic nature of the pond, which is created by a dam.  “If I didn’t feed them the swans wouldn’t be there,” she said. “We would have a dead pond. This is the entry point for the town. We don’t want a dead pond.”

She said she did not think the risk of wildlife dependency was an issue because she does not feed the waterfowl everything they need and they are still wild.

Ms. Mitchell told The Times that selectmen have not discussed the issue of feeding the ducks and swans at Mill Pond. “I have not given it any thought, not that it shouldn’t be discussed, necessarily,” she said. “The general sentiment is that it is kind of nice that Joan is doing it. No one in recent memory has ever objected to it. Not that there aren’t objections to be made.”

Ms. Mitchell said that the selectmen do not consider the feedings to be part of her job. “She and her husband, Pat, have gone over and beyond her job, especially taking care of the injured swan. It is a kind and wonderful thing. Her love of animals is one of the things that distinguishes her as an animal control officer.”

Misguided compassion

Birder and naturalist Matthew Pelikan, who writes a regular column for The Times about Island ecology, said the swans that have become a fixture of the Mill Pond landscape are mute swans, an introduced, non-native, species that competes very aggressively against native waterfowl for nesting real estate.

“Swans also feed heavily on submerged vegetation,” he said in an email to The Times. “Between their size and their long necks, which mean they eat a lot and can feed in deep water, they can damage populations of underwater plants, create opportunities for undesirable plant species to get established, and contribute to problems such as fecal contamination and loss of water clarity due to suspended sediment.”

Mr. Pelikan said that actively encouraging the local swan population “doesn’t make much sense ecologically.” He pointed out that many states and municipalities in the Northeast are taking measures to control mute swan populations. “In particular, given the evident concern in West Tisbury about the health of the Mill Pond, encouraging a mute swan population there is a puzzling course of action,” he said.

Mr. Pelikan said feeding waterfowl, a practice banned in neighboring Rhode Island, “accustoms the birds to viewing humans as a resource, which can lead to problematic behavior such as aggression toward humans and it encourages the waterfowl to congregate at much higher density than they normally would, and in different places, altering their social interactions, facilitating the spread of disease, and increasing their local impact on vegetation.”

Decisions like the those concerning the Mill Pond are made often on an emotional rather than a rational basis, Mr. Pelikan said, adding that while he respects the compassion that is behind efforts to protect one swan, encouraging the persistence of swans around the pond is “a misguided approach.”

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A newly installed security camera recorded a woman pocketing money and led to her arrest in connection with several thefts from cash boxes.

At the Grey Barn farmstand, meat, cheese and produce are sold on the honor system. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Updated at 12:15 pm, Wednesday, October 29.

Chilmark police Sunday arrested Sasha Wlodyka, 37, of State Road, Chilmark, in connection with a series of thefts of cash from money boxes and produce from the Grey Barn and Farm off South Road, and Mermaid Farm and Beetlebung Farm on Middle Road in Chilmark.

Ms. Wlodyka was booked at the Dukes County Jail Sunday night and released Monday on $1,000 bail. She is scheduled to be arraigned in Edgartown District Court on Friday, October 31.

Chilmark Police Chief Brian Cioffi said he could confirm the arrest but would not comment on the details while the investigation remains active and arraignment is pending. Police arrested Ms. Wlodyka on three counts of larceny over $250 on a single scheme and one count of forgery and uttering in connection with alterations she made to ledger sheets.

“Our department worked hard on this case which reflects on the quality of life in our community,” Chief Cioffi said. “At the end of the process, our goal, as always, is to see that the victim is provided with appropriate restitution.”

Eric Glasgow and his wife, Molly, own Grey Barn, a small-scale certified organic farm located just past the West Tisbury town line where they raise cows, pigs, and chickens and produce a variety of products, including two types of cheese, meat, pork, eggs, and raw milk, all of which are sold at their farmstand.

In a telephone conversation Monday, Mr. Glasgow said the farmstand operates on an honor system. Visitors are asked to record what they take on a ledger sheet and leave payment in a cash box. He became aware that someone was stealing from the farmstand in August when product inventories, ledger entries, and cash did not add up. While some discrepancies are to be expected due to honest math mistakes, he said, “if it indicates that there should be $400 and there is only $200, that’s a problem.”

As the thefts continued intermittently, Mr. Glasgow said, he became very annoyed and decided to do something about it. He ordered a security camera but got busy and delayed installing it. “And then of course, it happens again, and at that point I’m super angry at myself because I hadn’t even managed to install the camera,” he said.

Saturday he and his son spent the better part of the morning installing the camera. That evening when he went out to collect the money he saw that a ledger sheet on which he had transcribed some customer comments was missing and the money appeared to be off.

“I went and viewed the footage, saw the perpetrator and called the police,” Mr. Glasgow said. “They were able to take the information they got off that and figure out who it was and make an arrest.”

Mr. Glasgow said the recording shows that Ms. Wlodyka’s young daughter was present in the farmstand Saturday as she took bills out of the cash box, he said.

“It is a rather disheartening thing to see the crime taking place in front of a young child,” Mr. Glasgow said.

Mr. Glasgow said it is difficult to calculate exactly how much was stolen because Ms. Wlodyka, a frequent farm stand customer, removed the original ledger sheet and replaced it with a doctored sheet.

Mr. Glasgow said he appreciated the response of the Chilmark police. “The surveillance video was pretty conclusive, but they obviously made pretty quick work out of figuring out who it was since I didn’t immediately recognize the person.”

Mr. Glasgow said the entire episode is regrettable and reveals that the Vineyard is not immune from the type of petty crime that is more often associated with the mainland. “We like to believe that we can have an honor box and people are not going to steal,” he said. “Unfortunately it did not play out.”

Chief Cioffi said at this point he has no credible evidence that the Sunday night arrest of Ms. Wlodyka is related to a string of nighttime thefts in Chilmark and West Tisbury during the first week of September, in which entire cash boxes were stolen from Mermaid Farm on Middle Road, North Tabor Farm on North Road, and the flower stand on the Menemsha Cross Road.

That same week, West Tisbury police were called to investigate break-ins at Leona’s Pet Supply and Fiddlehead Farm. In all cases, the robberies occurred sometime between the close of business on Tuesday and early Wednesday morning, according to police. Cash registers at both businesses were stolen and scales were also taken from Fiddlehead Farm.

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The second annual Artist's Ball at Dreamland featured music by The Natural Wonders of Cambridge. — Photo by Lynn Christoffers

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Michael Hunter as "Clockwork Geisha," an homage to Anthony Burgess'/Stanley Kubrick's "Clockwork Orange." — Photo by Lynn Christoffers

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Artists Danielle Mulcahy, winner of best mask, and Walker Roman. — Photo by Lynn Christoffers

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Greeters: Jenifer Parkinson, Jesse Alaimo, and Holly Alaimo, organizer of the ball. — Photo by Lynn Christoffers

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Michael Hunter as "Clockwork Geisha" with Gwyn McAllister as "Casper's Friend." — Photo by Lynn Christoffers

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Laurie Riley took best costume for her guise as a Fortune Teller. — Photo by Lynn Christoffers

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Julie Norman and Susan Pratt in colorful costume. — Photo by Lynn Christoffers


Halloween got a jumpstart on Sunday as Islanders gathered in costume at Dreamland for the second annual Artist’s Ball. The emphasis was not so much on witches, ghosts, and vampires as on creative get-ups, as evidenced by the prize winners. Artist Danielle Mulcahy’s fantastical feathered costume earned her the prize for best mask. Keren Tonnesen, who made up her face to match her intricately patterned vintage dress took home the best makeup prize, while Laurie Riley, decked out as a gypsy fortune-telling machine — complete with booth — won the grand prize for best costume.

The main event of the evening was an audience participation art installation from the group Whatever the Outcome. Guests took turns placing pieces onto a huge magnetized board to slowly reveal a wonderful painting by Ms. Mulcahy of Vineyard legend Nancy Luce, the “Chicken Lady.” For the past three years, Whatever the Outcome has hosted similar events at venues around the Island.

For the second year in a row, Artist’s Ball organizer Holly Alaimo imported the band The Natural Wonders from Cambridge. Fronted by couple Gail Nickse and Fred Griffeth, the five member band kept the crowd dancing all night with a mix of classic rock and R&B hits. The Natural Wonders are a staple of the Boston club scene.

Ms. Alaimo said that this year’s party served partly as a farewell for choreographer Marla Blakey, a well-known Islander who is moving to Santa Fe.

The Artist’s Ball is one of the main events of the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce’s Fall for the Arts initiative — a month-long celebration aimed at promoting tourism and art on the Island. “It could not have been done without the Martha’s Vineyard Center for the Visual Arts,” said Ms. Alaimo, referring to the organization that helps fund many local arts-based projects.

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Sophomore lineman Zach Rydzewski tackles a Coyle & Cassidy running back.

A smaller, out-manned Marthas’ Vineyard Regional High School junior varsity squad showed up Monday afternoon and gave the Coyle & Cassidy High School junior varsity team all they could handle at Dan Patrick Field. The Vineyarders lost 7 to 6 in the coulda-woulda-shoulda game of the year.

Vineyard quarterback Zach Moreis returned the opening kickoff for a 65-yard touchdown run to give the Vineyarders (0-6 on the season) a 6-0 lead. The point after attempt failed. The Warriors answered late in the first half after returning an interception inside the Vineyard 5 yard line. Three plays and a kicked extra point later, the Warriors had a 7-6 lead that would stand up.

The Vineyarders played smart and inspired defense throughout a game that Coach Jason Neago described as “a significant game, a great effort and a turning point in our season.”

An important point, considering that Coyle & Cassidy employs a sophisticated offense, featuring a shotgun set for both the run and the pass. They use lots of misdirection and pitches in their run game and twice ran a double reverse to which Vineyarder defenders reacted well.

Running back Andrei Bernier runs for a huge gain against Coyle & Cassidy. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Running back Andrei Bernier runs for a huge gain against Coyle & Cassidy. —Photo by Michael Cummo

The Vineyard defensive line clogged the middle effectively against the run and created lanes for linebackers to get into the Warrior backfield to make five tackles, each for a loss. Zach Rydzewski, Colby Scarsella and Curtis Fournier had huge games on defense.

The Vineyard offense was more straightforward, with freshman quarterbacks Moreis and Adam Resnick on quarterback running draws and sweeps and sophomores Andrei Bernier and Elijah Matthews busting off-tackle and up the middle. Andrei was a horse on Monday, punishing defenders at the line, dragging linebackers and defensive backs with him for extra yards.

Moreis was an offensive key to Vineyard ball control, reading defensive formations and running for open space. In fact, he was off to the races on three runs until a last defender made a shoe-top tackle. In addition to TD-saving tackles by C&C defenders, the Vineyard coughed the ball up twice inside the C&C 10-yard line. Hence the coulda/woulda/shoulda perspective.

Both teams played hard-nosed ball, neither took a down off, and play raged up and down the field all afternoon. With only 15 Vineyarder players suited up compared with 28 C&C players, the question became whether the Vineyarders, playing both ways, would wilt under constant C&C pressure. Of particular note was the discipline with which the Vineyarders played in a penalty-free second half and only one in the game.

They did not wilt and had a chance late in the fourth quarter after stopping C&C deep in Vineyard territory with 1:32 left. Vineyard coaches and Moreis handled the clock masterfully, with the heady freshman once avoiding a sack to pick up yardage before making it out of bounds to stop the clock. The game ended with the Vineyarders in C&C territory and a C&C interception of a desperation pass with 30 seconds left.

Vineyard running back Elijah Matthews bursts through a gap in the Coyle & Cassidy defense. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Vineyard running back Elijah Matthews bursts through a gap in the Coyle & Cassidy defense. —Photo by Michael Cummo

In the post-game huddle, assistant coaches Chris Scarcella and DT Kaeka congratulated their squads before Coach Neago reminded the players that had a C&C rematch on November 17.

Speaking with The Times after the game, Mr. Neago said, “This was our breakout game, I feel. We brought it today. Intensity we’ve been looking for, start to finish. We have players who represent that. Cooper Bennett (a freshman wide receiver at 5 feet, 2 inches and 85 pounds): did you see the blocks he threw that sprung Zach for long gainers? That kid is the heart and soul of our team.”

Mr. Neago knows football players. As a product of high school ball in Massillon, Ohio, a football mecca, Mr. Neago, first-year Vineyarders’ JV coach, also played for the Air Force Academy for two years before a military career.

Both the Vineyard and Coyle & Cassidy varsity squads are looking to reload in 2015 after mediocre 2014 campaigns. The JV performance on Monday showed both schools that help is on the way.

The Vineyard JVs (0-6) have four games remaining, including the rematch with Coyle & Cassidy (3-4) in Taunton.