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The Oak Bluffs School continued to show improvement in the latest round of MCAS test results.

MCAS tests scores released Friday place the Oak Bluffs, Chilmark and Edgartown schools at level one, the highest of the five state designations within which schools are required to meet their educational goals.

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, West Tisbury School, Tisbury School and the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School landed at level two, meaning they failed to meet their performance goals, but continue to demonstrate progress and improvement.

MCAS exams are the state’s standards-based student assessment program. Last spring, tests in English language arts (ELA) and math were administered statewide to students in grades 3-8 and 10, and science and technology/engineering to students in grades 5, 8, and 9/10.

Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools (MVPS) James Weiss described the test scores as a “mixed bag,” in a press release issued Friday afternoon.

“First, Oak Bluffs, Edgartown and Chilmark remain level one schools, with strong Progress and Performance Indices (PPI),” Mr. Weiss said. “The high school remains a level two school. For the first time, Tisbury and West Tisbury are level two schools.”

Under a new accountability system put into effect in 2012, all schools with sufficient data are classified into levels one to five, with the highest performing in level one. The designation is based on a school’s progress and how well it meets growth targets, relative to other schools across the state that serve the same, or similar grades.

A total of 424 of 1,615 schools statewide, or 26 percent, are classified as level one for meeting their performance benchmarks, including gap narrowing goals. Another 854 schools, or 53 percent, are classified as level two, for not meeting their gap narrowing goals or for MCAS participation of less than 95 percent.

Mr. Weiss said although the Tisbury School dropped to a level two school, it continues to make progress in its overall performance.

“At West Tisbury, the upper grades have shown progress with more than 95 percent of students at or above proficient in English Language Arts; however, it did not show the amount of growth needed to continue as a Level 1 school,” he added.

Although designated a level 2 school for the second year in a row, Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) is above target in English Language Arts for closing the achievement gap, Mr. Weiss said.

“It will need to focus on writing to see significant growth going forward,” he said. “In mathematics, it has made progress but still remains below target.”

PARCC impact

Mr. Weiss also pointed out that MCAS scores differ this year in that some students were exempt from the 2014 spring tests in ELA and math because their schools participated in a new assessment field test, Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers (PARCC). No scores were released for the PARCC ELA and math tests, which are being considered as a replacement for MCAS.

“Last year saw all the elementary schools piloting the new PARCC tests in some grades, and we are unsure what impact those pilots had on overall scores,” Mr. Weiss noted. “The MCAS results focus upon closing the gap between all students and the various sub-groups. Since all Island schools are all high achieving schools, the amount of growth needed to remain on target is difficult to reach.”

Highlights and next steps

Among the highlights of the MCAS results, Mr. Weiss said, Oak Bluffs School demonstrated significant growth in some of the demographic subgroups, with the high needs category at a PPI of 85.

“The school continues to make progress in mathematics and writing, receiving bonus points for moving students from needs improvement to proficient,” Mr. Weiss noted. “ At Edgartown, the school remains solid in both English Language Arts and mathematics, with an overall PPI of 84.”

Mr. Weiss said school staff have just begun their review of the MCAS results and much work remains to be done.

“Under the direction of assistant superintendent Matt D’Andrea and the individual school principals, staff across the Island will look closely at what the MCAS data shows us and adjust instructional strategies where needed,” he said.

Charter School results

Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School (MVPCS) director Bob Moore spoke with The Times Friday afternoon about the MCAS results. “There are some results we’re really pleased about, and there are areas which we need to pay attention to, which we are looking forward to,” he said.

“We’re really pleased in some areas, where many of our student scored in the advanced category in math and science,” he said. “Those are really indications that the work we’ve been putting in, particularly in the area of math, has been very helpful for our students.”

Among the highlights, 100 percent of students scored proficient or higher on grade 8 ELA , grade 10 ELA, and grade 10 science tests.

Mr. Moore said he had not reviewed all of the data yet, including why MVPCS was designated a Level 2 school for the third year in a row.

“I assume it’s because the growth we saw was good, but maybe not as good as expected at the state level,” he said.

Full MCAS results are available online at profiles.doe.mass.edu/state_report/mcas.aspx.

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The fire appeared to start in landscaping mulch and climbed quickly up the side of the vacant wood frame house.

An Edgartown firefighter is visible through the charred front window. photo by Michael Cummo.

Fire caused heavy damage to a house at 5 Dune Road in the Katama section of Edgartown Friday afternoon. Edgartown police and firefighters found the front of the building in flames when they arrived, shortly before 2 pm. The home was vacant at the time of the fire. There were no injuries.

Flames spread quickly up the front of the building. Photo by William Bishop.
Flames spread quickly up the front of the building. Photo by William Bishop.

Edgartown fire chief Peter Shemeth told The Times it appeared the fire started in landscaping mulch near the wooden landing leading to the front door of the 2.5 story wood frame building. He said the flames spread quickly up the exterior of the home.

“Everything is so powder dry right now, and the wind was going right toward the building,” Chief Shemeth said.

Volunteers firefighters responded quickly to the alarm. Photo by Michael Cummo.
Volunteers firefighters responded quickly to the alarm. Photo by Michael Cummo.

The Edgartown fire department responded with four trucks. The Oak Bluffs fire department was called to provide mutual aid and cover stations in Edgartown.

“It’s a hard day personnel wise,” Chief Shemeth said as the volunteer firefighters finished packing up equipment. “All these guys were working somewhere.”

Though the front of the structure was charred and smoldering from ground to roof, the interior of the home was mostly undamaged, except for smoke damage, according to Chief Shemeth.

Edgartown police were trying to locate and contact the owner.

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Island life on Vanuatu.

On the Island of Malekula, in the far away nation of Vanuatu, Vineyarder Laura Jernegan teaches English to children, and trains others to become teachers. (Courtesy Laura Jernegan).
Malekula is in Vanuatu. (Courtesy Google Maps)
Malekula is in Vanuatu. (Courtesy Google Maps)

Laura Jernegan was born and raised on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS in 2009. After graduating from American University in Washington, D.C., in 2013, she signed up for the Peace Corps and was posted to Malekula in Vanuatu in January 2014.

Sunday, Sept. 14, 2014.

Laura holds a baby on Malekula, in Vanuatu, where she's working with the Peace Corps.
Laura holds a baby on Malekula, in Vanuatu, where she’s working with the Peace Corps.

Around 5:30 am the sounds of roosters, dogs, and church bells combine to create the surprisingly peaceful melody that prompts me out of bed every morning. After a little stretch and a few minutes of enjoying the sounds of the morning from my hammock, I unzip my mosquito net and touch my feet down to the cool concrete floor.

My day has begun. From there I turn on some tunes — these days it’s usually Ayla Nereo or the Velvet Underground — and head out to my bush kitchen to build a fire so I can boil water and make some coffee. From there my day will go in a variety of directions, but never fails to provide new adventure, a few laughs and the ever-present reminder that my life on Malekula — the second biggest island in the archipelago nation of Vanuatu — is really, really great.

This is how I start most of my days in Vanuatu, but one Sunday morning I was motivated to go for a run that ended up taking me on an adventure that truly encompasses the life, culture, and beauty that exists everywhere on this island paradise.

Laura Jernegan and friends. (Courtesy Laura Jernegan).
Laura Jernegan and friends. (Courtesy Laura Jernegan).

After climbing out of my hammock — Peace Corps gave me a mattress, but I prefer sleeping in my hammock — I changed into my culturally appropriate running gear (long pants and a T-shirt), laced up, and headed out to the road. There’s one road that runs through my village connecting my community to Lakatoro, the provincial center on Malekula — approximately two and a half to three hours in the back of a truck, Monday–Friday only. The road is dirt and full of holes and stones of varying sizes, so as I run I have to be sure to keep my eyes on the ground or else suffer another fall that will be just as painful and embarrassing as the first. It’s hard to do anything in Vanuatu without everyone in the village, or even island, knowing. While this sounds like an affront to privacy, it’s really not. Lacking the ability to communicate constantly and affordably as in the United States, “coconut wireless” carries news of births, deaths, family updates, and scandals that often get skewed throughout the villages and islands of Vanuatu.

For example, in May I purchased a goat from a nearby village. I live in the middle of a coconut plantation, so I figured the goat could just live in the plantation, frolicking with the other goats and enjoying all the grass it could want for two years. Before I leave I will ask one of my host brothers to help me kill it, and we will all roast it on the beach as a farewell dinner. I didn’t mention my goat purchase to the other volunteers on my island, but about a month later I got a call from one telling me that I was the talk of his village (which is about a five-hour truck ride south) — the white girl from Northwest Malekula who bought a goat. I find this endearing because I know that the only reason that this story got around was because the idea of a white girl buying a goat was actually one of the craziest things that happened recently and everyone wanted everyone else to know.

By the end of one recent Sunday, Laura had four eggs given to her by locals she'd seen on her walk/run around the island of Malekula.
By the end of one recent Sunday, Laura had four eggs given to her by locals she’d seen on her walk/run around the island of Malekula.

So I run with my eyes on the ground to make sure I don’t fall — wanting to avoid the painful scrapes more than the rumors — and decide to go see one of my host sisters. My sister, Makenah, is pregnant, and her husband is currently working as a seasonal laborer in New Zealand — a popular and very fruitful option for Ni-Vanuatu men (and some women) who are able to save up enough for the plane ticket — so she ends up working much harder to clean, cook, and take care of her 3-year-old, Samio, than an 8-month-pregnant woman should. I arrive at her house in about 15 minutes, where she greets me by handing me a freshly picked mandarin and telling me that I work too hard.

My favorite, and perhaps the most important, element of Vanuatu culture is called storian (literally story-on). To storian you simply spel (rest) and chat about anything and everything. Men and women in Vanuatu work very hard, taking care of their gardens, which provide all the food they could ever need, from avocados and mangoes to yams and cassavas depending on the season, to raising sometimes as many as nine children, so when they take the time to spel they just relax on a mat woven from natangura leaves and talk. Sometimes there is big news from the capital, but most times storian focuses on the weather, work being done in the village, or coconut-wireless messages about who is getting married or news of a new truck that will be servicing our village.

This Sunday morning the storian focused on me telling my sister not to work too hard and her telling me how excited she is for her husband to come back. Of course we also talked about how it hadn’t rained in a few months, and how excited we are for the rainy season to come to fill our rain tanks with drinking water and bring life back into our crops. After about an hour of storian I decided it was time to head back and get on with all the chores I had to accomplish before the end of the day. As I was about to begin running back to my house, my sister ran into her kitchen and came back with two freshly laid eggs. Eggs make me really excited, because if I want to buy them I have to ride into Lakatoro and pay about $10 round-trip, so when someone gives me eggs it’s a good day. Of course, acquiring these eggs meant I wouldn’t be running back home, so instead I made a pouch out of the front of my T-shirt and carefully walked through the coconut plantation and out onto the main road with two local eggs in tow.

A few minutes down the road I ran into one of my brothers-in-law and was swiftly carried into another storian session. He asked me if I would be willing to help his daughter apply for scholarships to go to university in New Zealand or Australia. She is currently in secondary school at one of the best schools on Malekula, and has been at the top of her class for the past few years. She is passionate about becoming a doctor, and is ready to work hard to achieve this goal. As the sole “whiteman” in the village, I am part of conversations like these often, and my responses are always the same. Of course I’m glad to help in any way that I can, but that’s all I can do — help. As a Peace Corps Volunteer I’m a partner in sustainable development; unfortunately, I can’t just make money appear. My primary assignment is as an English language teacher/teacher trainer, but I am glad to help with anything that my community wants. Luckily the people in my community understand this because I am the fourth Peace Corps Volunteer they have had, so they know that whatever kind of project we venture in on, they are equal partners. This is important for ownership as well as accountability, because once I am gone, the projects I work on need to continue — sustainability is the only goal.

After another 45 minutes of storian with my brother-in-law, ending with me telling him I would be calling my program manager in the Peace Corps office to ask him about scholarships to study abroad, I got ready to head back home. As I was turning to go, he asked me to wait. He ran into his kitchen and came back with two freshly laid eggs. I laughed to myself at how beautifully humorous this was, added them to my T-shirt egg pouch and headed back down the road. Now that I was cradling four eggs, I took my time walking back home. About 30 minutes later I arrived at home. It was now 9 am.

What should have been a casual 30-minute run ended up being a 2.5-hour run/walk adventure filled with family, good storian, and the acquisition of four freshly laid eggs. Long Vanuatu laef hemi olsem nao — in Bislama, “In Vanuatu, life is like this.” Whenever I go anywhere, I try not to have an agenda or a time limit. When walking to the well to get water, I always leave time for spur-of-the-moment storian, and when I walk to school in the morning I am always sure to leave at least 15 minutes early so I can stop to chat with anyone I meet along the way. Understanding “island time” is the key to success in Vanuatu, and is encompassed in the local saying Sipos yu ras bae yu kras, or “If you rush you will crash.” Don’t rush things — if it’s important, it will happen.

It has been only eight months since I arrived in Vanuatu, but my experiences have already instilled invaluable positive changes in my overall mental and physical well-being that any other post-graduate experience just could not compare to. I will probably never speed again in my life — whether it be while driving, spending time with someone, or deciding on the next step in my future. Whatever I would be rushing to do can wait — being careless of the opportunities or dangers on the road along the way can only lead to accidents and missed opportunities.

I came to Vanuatu with the typical Western development-worker mentality that it was my job to change my community, forgetting that with this I would be changed as well. Life isn’t always easy, but when I have to struggle is when I learn the most. This isn’t something specific to my life in Vanuatu; it’s something I believe we must acknowledge every day, wherever we are, so that when our time on earth is over we can be confident that whatever we did, we did it right — without regrets, avoidable accidents, or missed opportunities. Laef hemi olsem nao.

A conversation with Laura Jernegan

Tell us about the Peace Corps application process. You apply online, then wait to be contacted for an interview. After the interview you get a nomination, and then wait to hear where you’re being sent, what kind of work you’re going to be doing, and when you’ll be leaving. You don’t have much control over any of these things, except for your work/volunteer experiences, which funnel you into a job placement. I was at work at Katama Airfield in July 2013 when I received an email saying I’d be going to Vanuatu in January 2014.

How’s the weather? Can you drink the water? Weather is subtropical — really, really hot and rainy from November to March, then still very hot but dry from March to November. My drinking water comes from rain tanks at my school, but the only other rain source is a well where everyone else in the village goes for water. Once our rain tanks are dry, I use the well water but filter it through a water filter given to me by Peace Corps.

Does anyone there know where Martha’s Vineyard is? No, but it’s always great when they ask where I’m from and I get to tell them I’m from a small island too. I joke that growing up on an island prepared me for life on Malekula, but really that would be far less than accurate. Besides being used to taking a boat or plane to get home, not much could have prepared me for life here. They are always astounded when I tell them that no, my island doesn’t have coconut plantations or papaya trees everywhere, or that the water is pretty cold most of the year, so swimming isn’t an everyday thing. Being able to share information about my life on Martha’s Vineyard has been a really special part of life here because for Ni-Vanuatu people, it’s hard to think about life on any other kind of island. My connection to the Vineyard has only intensified since settling into life on this very beautiful but very different island paradise, but I know that it will last for the rest of my life.

Follow Laura’s story at laurajergs.wordpress.com.

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Local merchants say they’ve invested in tighter security systems and training to combat costly thefts.

Local merchants say they have turned to security cameras, training, and antitheft systems to deter shoplifting in recent years. (File photo by Ralph Stewart).

On a recent morning, Ivana Mihaylova sat in Edgartown District Court, dressed stylishly in a black dress with light pinstripes. Three things looked a bit out of place on the attractive 22-year-old woman, a native of Macedonia, who listed her current residence as Hyannis. First, her hair was a bit disheveled. Second, she had an expression of tired bewilderment. Third, she had handcuffs around her wrists and shackles around her ankles.

Ms. Mihaylova spent the night in jail, awaiting arraignment on a charge of shoplifting.

Tease-clothing-outlet-inside.JPGLess than 18 hours earlier, according to a police report, Ms. Mihaylova and a friend wandered into the Tease Clothing Outlet at 10 Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs. She removed several items from the racks, and entered a fitting room to try them on. She left the fitting room, got more clothes, and went back to try those on. She returned most of the items after leaving the fitting room, went to the register, and paid cash for an inexpensive key ring, according to Harry Datta, co-owner of the clothing store. Though he realized Ms. Mihaylova came out of the fitting rooms with one less item than she went in with, no crime was committed until she left the store. He confronted her outside the store, and called police.

“Mihaylova subsequently left the store wearing a tank top that she did not pay for under her outer clothing,” Officer Chris Wiggin wrote in his police report. “I was informed that Mihaylova was still wearing the item. The tank top was valued at $10 and was no longer saleable. Mihaylova told me that she had forgotten she was wearing the tank top when she left. I found this to be implausible.”

Denial factor

Officer Wiggin arrested Ms. Mihaylova and took her to the Dukes County Jail for booking.

Some elements of this shoplifting case are classic examples of how shoplifters steal, and how they get caught. Many shoplifters pay for some items, and steal others in the same visit. Multiple items in multiple trips to a fitting room are a classic technique.

Other elements of the case are more unusual. When confronted by the store owner, and later by police, Ms. Mihaylova was unusually recalcitrant. The owner told police that Ms. Mihaylova’s friend tried to convince her to return the item she had taken. “The unidentified woman offered to pay for the item that her friend had taken and repeatedly asked her to give it back prior to police arrival,” Officer Wiggin wrote.

Ms. Mihayla refused, and even after she was placed in handcuffs, seemed oblivious to the trouble she was in, according to the police report.

“Mihaylova expressed no remorse and only seemed concerned with her travel arrangements,” Officer Wiggin wrote.

Mr. Datta said he often calls police to deal with shoplifters. In this case, he said, because of the low value of the item stolen, he would probably have not called authorities if Ms. Mihaylova had returned the item.

“She was wearing the tank top, and she still told police she didn’t take it,” Mr. Datta said.

In court, still apparently a bit confused about the whole ordeal, Ms. Mihaylova stood when the clerk called her name for arraignment. Presiding justice H. Gregory Williams asked her if she was willing to settle the case that day. The prosecutor agreed to dismiss the charges upon payment of $50 in court costs. A court officer stepped forward to remove the handcuffs, and Ms. Mihaylova walked downstairs to pay the fees and walked out of the courthouse.

Security works

Several merchants interviewed said they have taken measures to prevent shoplifting in recent years, including installing security cameras, training staff, and using anti-theft tagging devices on merchandise.

“It used to be a big problem,” said Ann Soper, owner of Nell and 20 Main, neighboring women’s clothing stores on Main Street in Edgartown. “But we have security cameras now, and the word got out.” Before the new security measures, she remembers chasing shoplifters down the street, and once encountered a professional shoplifter who was caught after stealing hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise from several stores.

Sheila Allen Styles, who owns a women’s accessories shop in Edgartown, originally installed cameras to keep an eye on her small shop while she or her staff were working in an office at the rear of the narrow store. Several monitors throughout the store show views from eight prominently displayed security cameras, easily visible to customers.

“One of the reasons is deterrence,” Ms. Allen Styles said. “I have eight cameras.”

Suzanne Jakel, manager at the Boneyard Surf Shop in Edgartown, said in recent years the store began using electronic security tags, which are fastened to merchandise. The tags are removed when customers pay for the items, but if clothing with a tag still attached goes out the door, an alarm sounds. The security measures have significantly cut down on shoplifting.

“We tag everything,” Ms. Jakel said. “It’s really not a problem.”

Mr. Datta, co-owner of Teaze Clothing Outlet, trains his staff to be watchful and count the number of items taken into fitting rooms, but he said security systems are too expensive and time consuming for his business.

“We get shipments of 100 dozen, 200 dozen T-shirts,” Mr. Datta said. “It would take two or three days to tag them all.”

Shoplifting 101

Shoplifting is defined broadly under current Massachusetts law to include taking merchandise out of a store, concealing merchandise with the intent to steal, or altering or switching price tags. An unusual provision of the law defines removing a shopping cart from a store premises as shoplifting.

A law enforcement officer can make an arrest for shoplifting if, in their judgement, there is probable cause to believe the crime occurred. The law says if a merchant makes an accusation of shoplifting, that counts as probable cause, and is justification for an arrest.

Massachusetts law provides for a wide range of sentences if convicted of shoplifting. For stealing goods worth less than $100, a court may impose a fine of up to $250. For a second offense, the fine is a minimum of $100 but not more than $500. For a third offense, a shoplifting conviction is punishable by a fine of up to $500, and up to 2.5 years in a house of correction, or both.

For shoplifting goods worth more than $100, even a first offense, a court can issue a fine of up to $1,000 or a jail sentence of up to $2.5 years.

A merchant may also sue a shoplifter in civil court, and receive punitive damages of $50 to $500, in addition to the actual damages, such as the cost of merchandise stolen.

Ms. Mihaylova’s case involved a relatively small amount of stolen merchandise, and the court had no indication of previous offenses. Similar cases are often settled with similar dispositions. But there is no standard disposition, according to Cape and Islands First Assistant District Attorney Michael Trudeau. Each case is handled differently.

“A recommendation for the resolution of a criminal case is made after an assistant district attorney makes a complete and thorough review of all relevant and available case information that is provided in police reports, victim/witness statements, and the probation department,” Mr. Trudeau said in an e-mail statement. “Additional factors that are taken into consideration when arriving at an appropriate sentencing recommendation are the overall nature and circumstances of the offense, the defendant’s criminal record or lack thereof, the potential penalty that the statute allows for and whether the property was recovered.”

Stealing statistics

According to the Massachusetts State Police Crime Reporting Unit, the number of shoplifting cases on Martha’s Vineyard has declined in recent years, from 47 cases known to police in 2009, to 23 cases in 2013. The statistics are voluntarily reported by local police departments, and do not necessarily represent convictions for shoplifting. Though it is difficult to quantify, research shows most law enforcement statistics significantly underreport the number of shoplifting incidents. In many cases, especially if shoplifters agree to return the merchandise and it is still saleable, merchants do not call police. In many cases, shoplifting crimes are not discovered until the shoplifters are long gone, and merchants assume police can do little about it.

The National Association of Shoplifting Prevention is a non-profit group whose mission is to raise awareness, provide assistance to courts and communities, and conduct research into the causes and solutions of shoplifting.

According to the association’s research, there is no such thing as a “typical” shoplifter. Men and women shoplift in about equal numbers, and most, about 75 percent, are adults.

Only about 3 percent of shoplifters are professionals, who steal as part of an organized effort and resell the stolen items at a profit, but professional shoplifters account for about 10 percent of the total losses.

Habitual shoplifters steal once or twice each week, on average, and get caught only once in every 48 times they shoplift. Only about half the cases are turned over to police.

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Martha’s Vineyard Hospital donated a house that will be used to fill a critical gap in addiction and mental health treatment on the Island.

Community Services executive director Julie Fay and hospital chief executive officer Tim Walsh stand in front of the new home of the community crisis stabilization program.

In what health professionals describe as a major step forward in providing care for Islanders in crisis suffering from substance abuse and mental health issues, Martha’s Vineyard Community Services (MVCS), will establish an on-Island community crisis stabilization program (CCSP) on the grounds of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

Tim Walsh, hospital chief executive officer, confirmed to The Times the hospital will donate  the “red house,” a former residential property located in front of the main hospital building that currently houses the billing department, to Community Services, the Island’s umbrella social services agency.

A CCSP treats patients in acute distress due to addiction or mental health issues for the first 24 to 48 hours of a crisis. It’s a less restrictive and voluntary alternative to inpatient psychiatric hospitalization. The goal of a CCSP is to stabilize the patient, to give clinicians time to chart an appropriate course of action, and to find the resources with which to implement it, according to treatment specialists.

“It’s going to be a huge resource for the Island,” Juliette Fay, Community Services executive director, told The Times. “When somebody is in crisis and needs evaluation, instead of going to the emergency department they’ll come to the red house. There will be individual therapy rooms, a group therapy room, crisis-stabilization beds, clinicians that are tied to emergency services, and also staff from our New Paths program.”
Currently when MVCS gets a call on the 24-hour hotline, a clinician is sent to the hospital emergency room to make an evaluation and determine if the person needs to go off-Island for inpatient care. Ms. Fay said the CCSP will spare people in crisis the cacophony and chaos of a busy emergency room.

“The emergency room staff has been wonderful, but a busy ER is not a good place to try to calm a situation down,” she said. “Consequently we have a very high rate of hospitalization. Right now, on the Island, 60 percent of the people we evaluate in the ER get hospitalized; off-Island it’s somewhere between 12 and 15 percent.”

A CCSP is not a detox facility, but the treatment it provides can potentially help an Islander avoid the onerous ordeal of going to an off-Island clinic.

“We don’t have to do an evaluation right away,” Ms. Fay said. “24 hours or 48 hours of crisis-intervention activity can forestall an evaluation and come up with a plan B, which is not going off-Island. Often when people are in the ER, that’s just the beginning of the ordeal. Our clinicians then have to start calling inpatient facilities, and finding an open bed is not easy. Once they find a bed they have to arrange an ambulance to the ferry, an ambulance on the ferry, and an ambulance to meet the ferry on the mainland to take the patient to the facility, which could be in Springfield or the Cape or Boston, you don’t know.”
A CCSP can also save valuable hospital resources. Currently, it’s not uncommon for a patient who could be treated in a CCSP setting to stay in the hospital ER for several days before a bed is found at an off-Island facility. During this time, patients who could be starting treatment in a CCSP are in a state of limbo, and often the patient requires 24-hour supervision from hospital staff or law enforcement personnel.

Collaboration pays off

Ms. Fay, Community Services staff, and board members began discussing the need for a CCSP about a year ago.

“We thought if we had access to a crisis-intervention program we could probably cut our hospitalization rate in the first year,” she said. “We thought if we could do it at the hospital, that would be ideal. About four months ago, Tim Walsh offered us the red house, and things really came together.”

“Initially, Community Services wanted to set up in the old hospital building, but that was problematic for the Medicare reimbursement process,” Mr. Walsh told The Times.

Mr. Walsh said the question was how to provide a venue that would work but be separate and accessible: “Having the red house where everything is separate, and where we can keep all the expenses separate, is a better solution for us.” Mr. Walsh invited MVCS representatives to inspect the red house at the beginning of the summer. “They thought it was a really good fit. With that, we started trying to accelerate our own renovations in the old hospital so we could get the billing department in there as soon as possible. We have a lot of balls in the air, like renovations to the dialysis unit, but we’re hoping that we can be out of there by December, January, so we can hand it over to Community Services and if they’re ready to start something, they can.”

Getting ready

MVCS will be ready, according to Ms. Fay. “We have a private donor who has made funds available to do the startup,” she said, adding that she has also met with commissioners from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and Department of Mental Health (DMH) to obtain additional funds and to navigate the bureaucratic maze.“We may have a volunteer architect, but we haven’t finalized that yet,” she said.

Estimated renovations will take two to three months, during which time MVCS staff will be trained in crisis-intervention stabilization. “It’s a very different model from what is used in emergency rooms,” Ms. Fay said. “You work proactively with individuals and family members about how to keep somebody safe in the community instead of going off-Island for inpatient care.”

The CCSP will be staffed on an as-needed basis. “We don’t think there will always be someone in the red house, but when someone is, we are committed to provide 24/7 staffing,” Ms. Fay said.

Contrary to the usual ebb and flow on the Island, the winter and spring will be the busiest time for the CCSP. “Our busiest time is January through May; that comports with a seasonal economy, the dark months,” she said.
If all goes as planned, the CCSP will be operational before the dark months on the Island have passed.

“You have to give all the accolades to Julie,” Mr. Walsh said. “I’ve been an advocate for a crisis-intervention center for years, but she really pulled it all together and made it happen.”

Ms. Fay said MVCS still needs funding to keep the momentum going for the CCSP. Donors can contact her at 508-693-7900.

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Lee Hayman celebrates after the first Martha’s Vineyard goal in a game against Westport Tuesday. —Photo by Michael Cummo

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School varsity girls field hockey team came out with guns blazing Tuesday afternoon against the 0-2 Westport High School Wildcats, taking control of the game immediately. The ball did not cross the centerline into Vineyard territory until nearly six minutes after the start.

The Vineyarder girls displayed an awesome show of constant force throughout the game, maintaining tight pressure at the Westport goalie’s doorstep for most of the match. Averaging about one-minute intervals, the talented Vineyard offense was at the opponent’s goal area nine times from 22:37 to 11:48 in the first half.

At the first timeout, head coach Lisa Knight told her team, “I’m done watching the ball. Let’s get a goal right now. Right this second!” Lee Hayman was paying attention. She scored the first Vineyard goal at 10:00, assisted by captain Sidney Davies and Belle Dinning.

The quality passing, teammate field awareness, stick-handling skills, and the ability of the girls to maintain control of their drives were on display throughout the game. “This is a very cohesive group, and they have great chemistry,” Ms. Knight told The Times. “They know each other’s moves — if one girl is going down the side, someone else is going to be there for her.”

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Kylie Hatt dribbles toward the Wesport High School goal. —Photo by Michael Cummo

At halftime, the Vineyard led 1-0. “Don’t be lazy — it’s only one goal! We need to find the hot spots and find the open net,” Ms. Knight told the team.

Assistant coach Beth O’Connor advised the girls, “There is no defense, the net is wide open — the goalie comes out to play so take advantage!”

The players were listening.  Just after a minute into the second half, Belle Dinning had a strong drive down the field and scored the second Vineyarder goal at 29:02, with an assist from lightning-fast Lee Hayman. Captain Aubrey Ashmun was an absolute standout at center. Her stick work and ball control were instrumental in keeping the ball in Westport territory. Kylie Hatt had an incredible stop to keep a play on offense, and Iris Albert was strong on defense.

With 8:23 left in the second half, Megan Piche bulldozed down the field, leading to the third Vineyarder goal by Gabby Hoxie. Just three minutes later, there was an accidental “pop-in” by a Vineyard player into the Vineyard net, giving Westport its first and only goal. With 2:26 left in the game, Lacey Dinning exhibited some masterful plays, and scored the Vineyarders’ fourth and final goal.

The varsity record is now 3-1, with the only loss to Dennis-Yarmouth Regional High School, a Division 1 team and last year’s state champions. The Vineyarders only lost that game 0-1, which Ms. Knight said “was a moral win for us.” The other two victories were against Maynard High School (4-1) and West Bridgewater High School (1-0). Ms. Knight told The Times, “When you play at the varsity level, you play to win, and that’s what we’ve been doing.”

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Sydney Davies chases the ball. —Photo by Michael Cummo

If not for the accidental opponent goal, Vineyard starting goalie Julia Bettencourt would have had a shutout. Julia told The Times post-game, “I thought it was a great game. I think we got [the ball] down the field a lot and were around the [other] goal.”

“Everyone played smart hockey with good passes and positive energy,” Assistant Coach Beth O’Connor told The Times at the game’s conclusion. Ms. Knight continued to The Times, “Today was an opportunity to get some players in who may not get as much [playing] time, and they stood up and fought and did a great job! It’s [also] nice to see more than one girl scoring goals, as today there were four different people who scored.” This included the Dinning sisters, Belle and Lacey, scoring one goal each, which, Ms. Knight said, “is a nice thing to see.”

Ms. Knight added, “I’m really lucky; I have a deep nucleus of seniors and I have tremendous captains. I’m the lucky one to be out on the field with them.”

Varsity girls field hockey has the next two games at home — one Thursday Sept. 18th against a tough Bishop Stang High School of North Dartmouth at 3:00 pm, and one Saturday Sept. 20th against Notre Dame Academy of Hingham at 11:30 am.

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Jason Lages, who netted a hat trick, dribbles through traffic against Bishop Feehan High School. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Silas Berlin wins a challenge. —Photo by Michael Cummo
Silas Berlin wins a challenge. —Photo by Michael Cummo

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School boys varsity team came out swinging against Bishop Feehan High School, and did not stop until the final whistle. Led by star Jason Lages, who notched five goals, the Vineyarders defeated Bishop Feehan 8-0.

Within the first four minutes, Jason Lages put one in the back of the net off an assist from Yannick Gonsalves. With quick passing, decisive movements, and the ability to push forward, Martha’s Vineyard dominated, and led 4-0 at the half. Brandon Dwane had a goal and two assists, and Nevin Wallis had one goal and one assist, all before halftime.

A composed Vineyard team emerged from halftime with the same spark, scoring a goal four minutes from restart. Jason Lages scored his third goal at the 50th minute, using fancy football to dribble past the Bishop Feehan keeper and slot it home. Gordon Moore added another to round off the decisive victory, bringing the Vineyarders to 3-1-1 overall and 1-0 in conference play. Keeper Joao Gonsalves earned his first clean sheet of the year.

The boys’ next match is at Somerset Berkley Regional High School on Thursday at 4 pm.

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After 20 years, Nancy Shaw Cramer, shown here with a painting by Leslie Baker, will close her Vineyard Haven gallery. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Shaw Cramer, the Island’s go-to gallery for contemporary art and crafts, has posted its closing sign after 20 years. The final day is Nov. 30, and most, if not all, of this Vineyard Haven gallery’s remaining holdings are on sale.

“Other people will come to the fore,” Nancy Shaw Cramer, who runs her second-floor Main Street gallery primarily by herself, says. “The problem is the scarcity of contemporary art on the Island.” Although Ms. Cramer invited the Island artists she represents to take over the gallery, turning it into a collaborative venture, they opted not to take that route. The result will be a major gap in the Island art scene.

Ms. Shaw Cramer, who grew up in Michigan and earned a degree in interior design— specifically space design — from Michigan State, began her career in art as a tapestry weaver. She became one of the top ten in the country, and sold more than 100 floor tapestries before opening her gallery. Her former husband’s career was in marketing, and as a result, she lived all over the country before settling on Martha’s Vineyard, where “the vibes were right.” She chose Vineyard Haven because she was living there and wanted to be able to walk to work. “I felt this to be a year-round town, unlike Edgartown,” she says. “I didn’t know anyone, but sometimes that can be an advantage.”

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Art is on sale at the Shaw Cramer Gallery, which closes permanently Nov. 30; shown is a sculpture by Heather Sommers. —Photo by Michael Cummo

“I love the puzzle,” Ms. Shaw Cramer says. “I’m a designer at heart, so figuring out the business, the display, working with all the personalities, and being part of the art community have been extremely satisfying.” She has also helped design programs for the Island Community Chorus, and helped develop Vineyard Haven as a cultural district, including its Friday night art walks.

At the start, when Ms. Shaw Cramer was planning the gallery, she looked for how-to books but couldn’t find any. Instead, she enrolled in a SCORE workshop at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School. SCORE is a national nonprofit organization for promoting small businesses. She found that her planning echoed the advice SCORE talks were suggesting. “It gave me an enormous boost in confidence,” she says. “I knew I was on the right track.” Although she took no salary, she ended the first year with all her bills paid. She listened to advice from friends, in particular that she needed to support her gallery, not the other way around. So her next step was to branch out, which she did by consulting on interior design planning for color and space and by making designer pillows. “I just hung in there,” she says. “And that brought in just enough.”

Initially, the Shaw Cramer Gallery filled a gap in the Island art community by concentrating on fine crafts: pottery, glass, weaving, jewelry, baskets, and sculpture, to name a few. Eventually, Ms. Shaw Cramer added painting to the gallery repertoire. “Six of the original artists are still with me,” she says. “A great number have been in the gallery for 10 years. Four hundred artists have been represented. It’s a big number.” As the gallery finishes its final season, there are 16 Islanders, including Ms. Shaw Cramer, represented, along with a number of off-Island artists.

Each year, Ms. Shaw Cramer tried to raise the bar and do better. The gallery’s success reflects that commitment to excellence. “This is a world of details,” she says. That includes finding the right location for displaying some artists, whether on a wall, a pedestal, or a shelf. She has always made sure that when a piece of art sells, something new goes into its place. Her new artists often served as a springboard of energy, and Ms. Shaw Cramer always made sure she showed them to the best possible advantage. Many galleries are closing across the nation, according to Ms. Cramer. She believes younger people are not necessarily opening galleries –– a business that requires a lot of work –– and that they don’t have the same interest in art as her generation. She thinks collaborative galleries will be the sign of the times.

“I’m sad about the end, but I’m very excited,” Ms. Cramer says. “I try not to think of the last day. That makes me sad. I try to remain upbeat.” Last winter she finished a tapestry, designed and sold nine wrap-around coats, and made 80 pillows. Those completed projects told her the timing was right. She anticipates four different kinds of work in her future. She’ll continue to make pillows and sell them at mini-trunk shows. “I’ve always sewn,” she says. “I find it peaceful.” Ms. Cramer will also continue to make signature clothing, like wrap-around coats and tunics. Rugs will be part of her work agenda, although she’ll use less complex designs. “That’s what I’m saying this year,” she says. She also is working on a new weaving design. “I’m going to work smaller to see if I can make this happen,” she says. “I’ll look for a national show that is exhibit-oriented. I’ll see if I still measure up design-wise. That would be very satisfying.”

Shaw Cramer Gallery may be closing in November, but that does not mean Ms. Cramer will walk away from the artists who have been her clients. “I worry about where my artists will go,” she says. “Next summer I’ll be doing a few mini-events, and some could involve other Island artists.” She will also continue to critique artists’ work. She’s looking forward to road trips, and plans to drop in on galleries along the way: “I’ll be seeing if the situation is right for any of the artists from the gallery.” And as if she didn’t already have enough projects planned, Ms. Shaw Cramer has written one screenplay and has plans for another.

So many of her friendships have developed from the artists she represents and from her customers. “They’ve been coming in to say goodbye to the gallery,” she says. “People who make things don’t usually retire. We just make different things.”

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The "Rasputin's Revenge" pancakes from the Black Dog. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Before you bite into your next breakfast, do you know where it’s been? I’m not talking about your cook’s loose interpretation of the five-second rule. Nor am I suggesting that your food once shook hands with a molecule of gluten (for shame!) and didn’t wash. I won’t even discuss the farm whence your eggs came, and whether or not that farmer’s neighbor allowed the chickens to play in his yard. I’m talking about the metaphorical “been.” The big been. As in, does your meal have a history, a backstory, a name worthy of something other than “eggs and bacon”? If you’re eating at an Island restaurant, the Magic 8 Ball says: “Outlook good.”

Sure, there’re plenty of restaurants on Martha’s Vineyard where you can order eggs and bacon. Or two eggs and two strips of bacon, and so forth in various numerical increments. But this is a land of artists, and writers, and creative types who shun the straightforward. At many Island restaurants, you may have to read the fine print to know just what it is you’re ordering. There are a lot of geographical locations on the menu: Chops and Beaches and Katamas (which almost always have avocado — whether or not there’s a reason for that, Magic 8 Ball says: “Better not tell you now”).

The menu names get even weirder, but if you want to know why, the 8 Ball won’t tell you. Yes, there is a limit to everything, even omniscience. You’ll have to ask the cooks.

Biscuits in Oak Bluffs generally favors the straightforward menu items, until you scroll down and reach “The Stormin’ Norman” omelette. Owner Chris Arcudi says he named the menu item after a hyperactive childhood friend. “He was always storming around, so I called him Stormin’ Norman. I wanted to name a dish after him, and it has all the things he likes: bacon, ham, sausage, and onion.” ($7.99.*)

The Art Cliff Diner in Vineyard Haven has a few quirky names on its menu, but most of them are coded to the ingredients inside. The Smokin’ in the Shower, for instance, is a toasted bagel with smoked (get it?) salmon, red onion, tomato, cream cheese, capers, and a shower of lemon. ($10.50.)

Some menu items on the Vineyard have been around so long that the staff can’t remember exactly why they are called what they are called. Nadine Barrett, a server at Linda Jean’s, can confirm that the “Jacob” was named after one of the cook’s kids “back in the day when Linda Jean’s first opened. He would come in here and eat home fries with onion, tomato, broccoli, spinach and cheddar cheese all the time.” ($7.99.) The “Sampson” (two pancakes, two eggs & two sausage patties, $9.99) she wasn’t so sure about, but she believes it was the name of someone’s pet. “We’ve had a lot of menu items named after beloved animals and pets,” she said.

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“Bozo on the Bus”: poached eggs over French toast at the Black Dog. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Jeffrey Hefflin, fondly known by his staff as “Heff,” has been a cook at the Black Dog Tavern since 1986. He can remember the stories behind most of the menu items because he named them himself. After a stint in the military, Heff came to the Island to teach, but found himself drawn instead to a little shack called the Black Dog. “I saw the last of the old hippie days here. Back in the day we used to have stereo wars over Grateful Dead and Jimi Hendrix vs. punk rock.” Those days live on in the “Are You Experienced?” omelette with asparagus, mushrooms, and cheese. (Grass and shrooms are kitchenspeak for asparagus and mushrooms, respectively.) “They’d never let us play that type of music now,” Heff says, but he still gets to have an awful lot of fun with the menu. Here are a few of his favorites:

  • Bozo on the Bus: The “bus” in this breakfast is the French toast, which provides a sort of vessel for the poached eggs. The “bozo” used to be a customer’s name, but the customer — who definitely can’t be named now — complained and demanded to have his name taken off the menu. Heff obliged, and the next day “the so-and-so on the bus was off the menu, and the Bozo on the Bus was on.” ($9.)
  • Candy Ghost in the Big House: “Our friend got sent to Framingham for driving without a license too many times. It’s two poached eggs surrounded by four walls of French toast.”
  • Charley on the Fence: “Charley was a cook here one summer, and he was a little out of control. He crashed three cars that summer, and one was up on a fence. He’s since cleaned up his act, but he was rather infamous that summer.” (Omelette with mushrooms, onions, bacon, and melted cheese, $9.)

Wait, I’m sensing a theme here, Heff. Just how do you get your name on the Black Dog breakfast menu? “It’s usually something you’re not real proud of,” he admits. The menu is a way to immortalize the stories surrounding Black Dog customers and staff, a way to make sure what happens on Martha’s Vineyard stays — forever commemorated — on Martha’s Vineyard. Then sometimes, they just paint a funny picture.

  • Vlad Surfing the Net: “Back when the Iron Curtain fell, we had a bunch of Czechs come to the Island. Some of them worked here and some were our friends. Vlad was all into the Internet, he was just amazed by it. We couldn’t get him off the computer. I think that item was originally called Vlad has a Techno Party.” (Scrambled eggs with bacon, tomato, onion, and cheese, $8.)
  • Rasputin’s Revenge: “We had this dishwasher that looked just like Rasputin. Long hair, crazy, wild eyes. Every day he would eat strawberry chocolate chip pancakes. Dishwashers are either young kids, foreigners, or people that could have gotten a degree from MIT, but they dropped out. They’ve always got something a little wacky in their head.” (Small $6, large $8.)
The Black Dog's "Happy Heff": scrambled eggs with spinach, tomato, mushrooms, and cheese. —Photo by Michael Cummo
The Black Dog’s “Happy Heff”: scrambled eggs with spinach, tomato, mushrooms, and cheese. —Photo by Michael Cummo

Heff himself has made the breakfast menu hall of fame, twice, for his love/hate relationship with the morning shift.

  • Happy Heff: “They switched me to doing breakfast. I didn’t want to get up that early. I was doing lunch or dinner and I liked it because I wanted to go out at night. The happy Heff was kind of a play on my rather grumpy mood in the morning. It worked out well though, I’d much rather get up early and work now.” (Scrambled eggs with spinach, tomato, mushrooms, and cheese, $8.)
  • Crabby Heff: “They’re the same thing. The only difference is it has fresh crab in it.”

The next time you come across a funky name on a breakfast menu, don’t pass it over in favor of a list of ingredients. Ask your waiter. You might hear a funny story. And if you’re ordering from any of the above restaurants, you’ll surely get a breakfast that lives up to its name.

*Some menu items are specials, and their prices and contents are subject to change.

Weigh master Roy Langley slid open the door of the Derby weigh station at 8 am, Sunday morning and rang a handbell, signifying the start of the five-week contest. His grandson Nick Jerome, holding two bluefish, was first in line. —Photo by Lynn Christoffers

I set my alarm for 3:45 am. Technically, it would be morning but conceptually, it would be the middle of the night. Despite my misgivings at the loss of sleep and the zombie state it would induce, I was determined to look for a good striped bass on the first day of the 69th Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby that began at 12:01 am Sunday.

I expect that fatigue and fishless nights over the next five weeks will deplete the reservoir of enthusiasm I had at the start of the Derby. But the Derby is a little like a Christmas present — there is plenty of excitement and anticipation while the present is still wrapped.

My preparations began Saturday afternoon after I returned home from hanging a deer stand, the first of several I expect to put up in the weeks ahead. The need to prepare for archery season, which begins one day after the Derby ends, is one of the many logistical hurdles I and many other Island fishermen face, that and the lesser responsibilities of home and the workplace.

The task had gone quickly, as the tree and I are familiar with each other. The bark still retained the scuff marks from the previous year, and I had little doubt I would shoot a deer from that spot. I approach every outdoor season — fish, deer, duck, goose, scallop — with a sense of optimism, not because I expect to reap a bounty but because I am happy to be here to enjoy it.

My plan for the opening day of the Derby was simple. I would put the small fiberglass dinghy I had bought for my wife Norma years ago, which had been resting comfortably upside down in our yard for years providing shelter for mice, into the back of my Nissan pickup. Tom Robinson and I would row across West Basin and cast eels into Menemsha channel before the sun rose. Low tide was 6:30 am. I figured we would have about one hour of productive fishing before the current went slack. I hoped one of us would hook a big striper and walk into the weigh station that morning.

A normal person might have greeted that plan with some degree of skepticism. But Derby fishermen are not normal. Tom asked what time I planned to pick him up. I said 4:15 am. “OK,” Tom said.

Before the sun went down I took my light, nine-foot surf rod out of the basement and put it on my truck. Coop built the rod, a birthday present from Norma with my name on it, more than 20 years ago. The reel is a classic Penn 704Z. It is more than 30 years old, but still has what it takes to wrestle a bass out of the surf. It felt right to begin the Derby with that outfit.

Norma is a Derby wife. By way of definition, she does not like to fish but she understands the Derby state of mind. She did not flinch at the sight of a bucket of eels and the noise of a running aerator in the basement. “Just don’t wake me up,” she said about my plan.

My alarm is set to WCAI, the local NPR station. I was concerned that at that hour the BBC would be reporting in hushed, knowing tones from some distant corner of the world. I worried an English accent might not have what it takes to jar me awake. But my internal Derby clock was all I needed. By 3:30 am I was up and tiptoeing out of the bedroom.

My clothes were laid out on the couch at the ready. I turned on the coffee pot and went downstairs for the eels. As I walked up the steps I imagined what would happen if I were to drop the bucket. The fishing columnist smiled at the thought of the story I might write. The would-soon-be-dead husband gripped the handle more tightly.

Tom was waiting when I pulled into the driveway. In fact, he’d been waiting some time. “I thought you said quarter of four,” Tom said.

There were half a dozen cars and trucks parked at West Basin when we arrived. A few guys were standing in the predawn darkness talking by the back of a truck. I assumed the other vehicles belonged to fishermen on the Lobsterville jetty. The Derby has begun in earnest, I thought,

The crossing was uneventful. The fishing was equally uneventful.

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Fishermen Jim Cornwell of Edgartown greets a well wisher at the Derby weigh station. —Photo by Lynn Christoffers

I caught one bass about 30 inches long and I hooked another smaller fish in the tail. Tom caught no fish. The sun rose and the wind picked up out of the north. By 7 am, I was rowing us with some difficulty, against the wind, back to the dock.

A north wind often triggers albies to feed off Lobsterville Beach and the jetties. Tom and I had brought rods rigged for albies in the event the fish were hitting.

Derby albie fishing is 96 percent waiting, talking, and casting without any evidence of fish, and 4 percent Red Bull–driven panic when the fish break. In the parking area, Phil Horton and Tim Sherren were comparing notes on the morning. Both fishermen had surrendered to the stiffening wind. Had they seen any albies, I asked. A few breaks here and there, but not enough to keep them battling the wind. The conversation all seemed so familiar, so Derby.

I stopped at the Scottish Bakehouse for a cinnamon bun, arguably the best on the Island and my reward, applying Derby logic, for getting up so early. MIke Stimola of West Tisbury was there. I had not seen Mike all summer and was happy to run into him. He had gone out after midnight and been rewarded, Mike said, with a nice striped bass.  He was on his way to weigh it in. We compared notes. I learned later that his fish weighed 19.59 pounds and earned him a third-place daily pin.

It was all so familiar, so welcome, so Derby.

Jason Graves brought his five-year-old daughter Ava and a 19.80 pound striped bass to the weigh station Sunday morning. —Photo by Lynn Christoffers
Jason Graves brought his five-year-old daughter Ava and a 19.80 pound striped bass to the weigh station Sunday morning. —Photo by Lynn Christoffers

Kids day is Sunday

The Kids Mini-Derby is Sunday, Sept. 21, from 6 am to 8 am at the Oak Bluffs Steamship pier. No casting skill is required, and a simple fishing rod will suffice. Simply bait a weighted hook with a piece of squid or sand eel and drop it to the bottom where, with luck, a hungry scup or sea robin lies in wait.

The mini-derby is strictly for kids old enough to hold and reel a fishing rod, through age 14. It is not for adults. No matter how bad you want your kid to catch a fish, do not fish for your kid. It is against the rules, it violates the spirit of the event, it irritates the people who follow the rules, it teaches your kid all the wrong lessons, and if that is not enough, you risk the embarrassment of being told all of the above by a Derby committee member in front of your kid.

It is also the one and only time fishing is allowed from the pier. The event is free, and open to all kids.

Lost fly rod

The Tisbury police are holding a nine-foot, Lamiglas Infinity fly rod turned in over the weekend. Identify the reel and reclaim the outfit. Tisbury police I spoke with expressed no interest in learning to use a fly rod. Most prefer to catch fish with their bare hands —  once it is battered and fried.

69th Derby Grand Leaders (as of Sept. 16)

Boat bluefish: Estey L. Teller, 13.38

Shore bluefish: Clinton A. Fisher, 13.34

Boat bass: Joseph E. Canha, 28.17

Shore bass: Tom E. Barber, 26.53

Boat bonito: Mike J. Balzarini, 7.58

Shore bonito: Kerry Leonard, 6.63

Boat albacore: Mason Warburton, 13.17

Shore albacore: Colin T. Britt, 9.84

(Daily, weekly, and division results are available atmvderby.com.)