Oak Bluffs selectmen and the town finance and advisory committee (FINCOM) met on Tuesday to deliberate year-end transfers to cover department shortfalls for the 2014 fiscal year (FY14). The combined boards unanimously approved $99,868 in transfers, which will be paid from the town general fund, the town reserve fund and by inter-department transfers.

The police department ($14,342), building inspector ($23,624), and highway department ($44,755) carried the largest shortfalls. The police department deficit is due largely to military leave and sick leave and should be substantially reduced in FY15 with the recent hiring of a new full-time officer, according to town officials. The building inspector shortfall reflects a change in budgeting procedures, not a loss in revenue.

The highway department overages were due to snow removal costs from the unusually stormy winter.
“These are routine, year-end cleanup items,” town administrator Robert Whritenour said in an email to The Times. “We’re very pleased that the amounts are far smaller than in previous years, although budgets remain very tight. This shows good stewardship of funds by department heads.”

In other business, the selectmen voted unanimously to hire West Tisbury building inspector Ernest Mendenhall on a part-time basis until a new full-time inspector is hired to replace retiring Oak Bluffs inspector James Dunn. Mr. Whritenour said the search for a new inspector, which began in June, has yielded few qualified candidates and that he has asked state officials to assist with the search.

Mr. Whritenour said the move to the Island has deterred several qualified off-Island candidates. “If anyone out there is a certified building inspector or knows a certified inspector, we have full-time or part-time work available,” Mr. Whritenour said to the MVTV camera. To the agreement of the board, selectman Michael Santoro suggested that the town consider increasing the building inspector’s salary, currently around $68,000, to attract highly qualified candidates.


Matthew Tucci was arrested Tuesday after after a drug task force investigation.

For the second time this year, members of the Martha’s Vineyard Drug Task Force have arrested Matthew P. Tucci on charges that include dealing heroin. The latest arrest of Mr. Tucci, a convicted sex offender and drug dealer, was Tuesday on Seaview Avenue Extension in Oak Bluffs.

Matthew Tucci.
Matthew Tucci.

Drug task force officers that included Edgartown Detective Sgt. Chris Dolby were watching as Mr. Tucci walked toward the Island Queen ferry. “I started jogging towards Tucci and observed Det. Sgt. Dolby call Tucci’s name and take control of this right wrist,” wrote Oak Bluffs police Det. Jeff LaBell, lead investigator, in his police report. “I observed Tucci was attempting to swallow something and was gagging as he was doing so. Tucci continued to gag and attempted to swallow an object in his mouth, which officers believed to be drugs. I continuously told Tucci he was under arrest and to put his hands behind his back. He refused and was attempting to pull his left arm under his body. After a brief struggle, I was able to get his left wrist into a handcuff, followed by his right wrist.”

Mr. Tucci did eventually swallow the object in his mouth according to the police report. Police later recovered a backpack they believed belongs to Mr. Tucci. Inside police found 11 individually wrapped bags of a tan powder they believe was heroin. Police arrested Mr. Tucci on a subsequent offense of possession of heroin with intent to distribute, failure to register as a sex offender, and resisting arrest. In 2002, Mr. Tucci was convicted of raping a 15-year-old girl on Martha’s Vineyard, and ordered to register as a level 3 sex offender. He served a five-year prison term for that crime. He lists his address as Boylston, but police said he lives on the Island for extended periods of time, which would require him to notify police of his whereabouts, under the sex offender law. On March 19, police arrested Mr. Tucci in Oak Bluffs, and charged him with dealing heroin. On March 6, Mr. Tucci walked out of the Dukes County House of Correction. A little more than one year earlier, on January 23, 2013, Edgartown District Court Presiding Justice H. Gregory Williamsrevoked bail for Mr. Tucci following his arraignment on charges of dealing heroin and failing to register as a level 3 sex offender. At the time, Mr. Tucci was also free on bail from Worcester District Court, where he also faced heroin dealing charges. Mr. Tucci was sentenced to 2.5 years in the house of correction, 18 months committed. The Worcester charge netted him a one year sentence.

An earlier online version of this story incorrectly reported Mr. Tucci was arrested as he stepped off the Island Queen. He was arrested as he walked toward the ferry landing. Also, the rank of Mr. LaBell was incorrectly reported as officer. He is a detective on the Oak Bluffs police department.

Sengekontacket pond. — Photo by Steve Myrick

A brief rainstorm in the early hours of Thursday morning, July 10, was just enough for shellfish wardens to extend the temporary ban on shellfishing in Sengekontacket Pond, until at least Tuesday, July 15.

Rainfall measured 0.28 percent overnight, according to Edgartown shellfish warden Paul Bagnall.

Sengekontacket Pond was closed on July 5, when Hurricane Arthur delivered heavy rainfall across the Island.

Under an agreement with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF), shellfish wardens are required to close the pond to shellfishing in July when rainfall exceeds 0.2 inches. In August, the standard is more lenient: the pond must be closed when rainfall exceeds one inch. In each case, the pond must remain closed to shellfishing for a minimum of five days.

Information about Sengekontacket closings and reopenings is available on the Oak Bluffs web site, by calling the Oak Bluffs Shellfish Department (508) 693-0072, or the Edgartown Shellfish Department (508-627-7570).

Shellfish wardens post red flags and signs at both big bridge and little bridge when the pond is closed.


The Oak Bluffs Downtown Streetscape Master Plan Committee (DSMPC) will hold the first in a series of outreach events designed to give the public a voice in the ongoing efforts to revitalize the Oak Bluffs business district on Wednesday and Thursday, July 23 and 24. On Wednesday, from 7 to 9 pm, there will be a public visioning meeting at the Oak Bluffs Library. Consultants and DSMPC members will again be on hand to give an overview of the Downtown Streetscape Master Plan and to hear ideas from the public. Topics of discussion will include, but not be limited to, ways to improve streets, sidewalks, lighting, parking, vehicle /pedestrian/bicycle circulation, landscaping, and wayfinding, according to a press release.

On Thursday, the DSMPC will hold an informal open house at Union Chapel from 9 am to 12 noon to gain more input from the public and to discuss the suggestions presented at the public visioning meeting. Attendees can drop in at any time.

In addition to physical improvements, the DSMC will conduct market analysis to determine ways to increase business, enhance commercial development and to embrace the distinctive natural character of the town. Public opinion on these topics is also invited.

Meeting updates will be posted on the DSMPC website, www.OBdowntown.com.  People can also weigh in by taking a five-minute survey, also available on the website. For more information, contact Brian Packish at OBDowntown@gmail.com.


NSTAR renewed its warning this week about scammers who call residents and businesses owners to say the utility company will shut off their power unless payment is made immediately after two Martha’s Vineyard residents reported attempts by a man named Donald to cheat NSTAR customers.

“While the scammers keep changing the scenario they use to pressure customers into making hasty, often large payments to keep the power on, the scheme to get the money remains basically the same,” NSTAR spokesman Michael Durand said in a press release. “A caller tells the targeted customer the only way to keep the power on is to pay quickly using a card or, in the case of some customers, a money transfer.”

Penni Conner, senior vice president and chief customer officer at Northeast Utilities, NSTAR’s parent company, advised customers not to divulge any personal information or make payments by phone. “If any of our customers suspect someone is making a false claim about being a representative of NSTAR, they should end the call immediately and notify us at 1-800-592-2000,” she said.

NSTAR representatives do not demand instant payment over the phone. Customers can verify they are speaking with an NSTAR representative, who will always be able to confirm the name of the account, the address, and the exact past balance due, by asking for some basic information about their account. “This is a nationwide scam that has been going on for years now,” said Mr. Durand.

CONNECT to End Violence stages an annual event at the sea wall on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven. — MVTimes File photo

Updated 10 pm, Wednesday

CONNECT to End Violence, a program of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, invites men to stand on the seawall between Vineyard Haven and the Lagoon Pond drawbridge Sunday to demonstrate against domestic violence.

“Any men who care about a woman and oppose violence against women are invited to stand on the seawall from 11 am to 2 pm on Saturday, July 19, in honor of that woman and as a demonstration against domestic violence,” CONNECT to End Violence program director Jennifer Neary said in a press release to The Times. “Domestic violence is commonly thought of as a women’s issue when in fact it is a human issue that impacts both men and women. The majority of batterers are men, however, the majority of men do not batter. The Seawall Event serves as a powerful visual display of good, like-minded men taking a stand against violence towards women.”

There is no registration. “Men can show up at any time and stand for 15 minutes or the full three hours,” Ms. Neary said in a telephone conversation with The Times. CONNECT will sell Seawall Event tee-shirts at the event for $10 each to raise money for counseling and advocacy services. This is the third year in a row Connect has sponsored the seawall event.

Connect to End Violence served 202 clients and provided court advocacy for 99 at the Edgartown district court in fiscal year 2014, according to CONNECT counselor and court advocate Heather Arpin. “Many of these clients were provided court advocacy services on various occasions,” she wrote in an email to The Times. “Every person’s needs look a little different depending on their circumstances.”

In a telephone conversation with The Times, Ms. Arpin said that one in four women living in Massachusetts will experience domestic violence at some point in their lives. “From what I’ve seen working on Martha’s Vineyard, that is definitely true here,” she said.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the demonstration would take place on Sunday. The demonstration is Saturday.


Edgartown police said a Falmouth man arrested on two separate charges of operating under the influence of alcohol in the past two months struck a utility pole Monday evening, then fled the scene.

Police Tuesday issued a summons to Daniel Moraga, 32, of East Falmouth for leaving the scene of an accident, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license, marked lanes violation, and speeding.

At about 7 pm, Monday, police responded to a report of an accident on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, where they found a heavily damaged late model Dodge Challenger off the roadway at the corner of 9th Street. Witnesses told police the driver entered Edgartown-Vineyard Haven road from a side street, accelerated quickly and lost control of the vehicle.

“The vehicle had sustained heavy front end damage, the front airbags had been deployed and the windshield had a spider fracture on the passenger side,” Officer Jeff Trudell wrote in his report. “The force of the impact had caused the telephone pole to fracture in half.”

Witnesses said the driver fled into the nearby woods.

Officer Trudel checked a home on 18th Street where he knew Mr. Moraga was staying with his girlfriend, but could not locate him. He then began a search of the wooded areas with Buster, his K-9 partner, but still could not find Mr. Moraga.

At 2:30 am, Tuesday morning, Mr. Moraga phoned Edgartown police and admitted he crashed the vehicle after he had a fight with his girlfriend, and fled because he was nervous about the two open cases in Edgartown District Court. According to police, Mr. Moraga was arrested in May and again in June for driving under the influence of alcohol.


A seasonal Lambert’s Cove resident, Mr. Rebay was a scholar of Italian literature.

Looking west from Tashmoo jetty Makonikey Point is in the distance. — Photo by Nelson Sigelman

Cape and Islands District Attorney Michael O’Keefe identified an elderly man found floating off West Tisbury in Vineyard Sound early Monday morning as Luciano Rebay, 86, of 155 Gay Head Avenue in Tisbury off Lambert’s Cove Road.

Luciano Rebay
Luciano Rebay

Mr. O’Keefe told The Times late Tuesday that foul play is not suspected and the probable cause of death is drowning. He said the office of the medical examiner now has jurisdiction and that office would determine the official cause of death.

Just before 7 am on Monday morning, a Vineyard charter captain notified the Coast Guard that he had spotted a dead body in the water off Makonikey Point in Vineyard Sound about a half-mile northwest of the Tashmoo Pond opening.

Mr. Rebay was fully clothed and was carrying no identification, police said.

The Coast Guard retrieved the body, which was brought to the office of the State Medical Examiner and State Police were notified.

A longtime seasonal resident of Lambert’s Cove, Mr. Rebay was the Giuseppe Ungaretti Professor Emeritus of Italian literature at Columbia University in New York City. He walked the beach regularly, according to one neighborhood resident.

“After receiving his Ph.D. at Columbia in 1960, Giuseppe Ungaretti Professor in Italian Literature Emeritus Luciano Rebay began a long and fruitful career as a teacher and scholar at his alma mater. Jo Ann Cavallo, Chairman of the Department of Italian at Columbia University said in an email to The Times. “He taught a range of courses, primarily on modern and contemporary Italian poetry but also on lesser-known poets writing in dialect. Prof. Rebay also served the university outside the classroom in various capacities, most prominently as Department Chair, Director of Columbia’s Casa Italiana, and as a member of the University Senate.  His knowledge of Italian literature was deep, his commitment to university life unwavering, and his citizenship exemplary.”

According to his family, there will not be an immediate memorial service.

Looking west from Tashmoo jetty Makonikey Point is in the distance. — Photo by Nelson Sigelman

Updated 12:20 pm, Tuesday

A man found floating in the water dead early Monday morning has been identified as an 86-year-old Martha’s Vineyard resident, a State Police spokesman said Tuesday.

Because official positive identification is still pending, State Police have not released his name.

“There is no indication of homicide,” State Police media spokesman Dave Procopio told The Times. “The investigation is ongoing as to whether the victim fell into the ocean accidentally or intentionally entered the water, and, if so, why.”

The elderly, white male was fully clothed and was carrying no identification, police said.

Just before 7 am on Monday morning, a Vineyard charter captain notified the Coast Guard that he had spotted a dead body in the water off Makonikey Point in Vineyard Sound about a half-mile northwest of the Tashmoo Pond opening.

The Coast Guard retrieved the body, which was brought to the office of the State Medical Examiner and State Police were notified.

Martha’s Vineyard DOT superintendent Ed Panek watched as a crew prepared the Seeker to be hauled up Beach Road early Tuesday morning. — Photo by Nelson Sigelman

Beach Road in Vineyard Haven is expected to be closed between Five Corners and the Lagoon drawbridge from about 5 until 6 am on Tuesday so crews can tow Seeker, the 90-foot-long, 24-foot-wide unfinished wooden scow schooner, from the lot next to The Times building east to a lot on Beach Road in front of warehouses owned by Ralph Packer.

The move was originally scheduled to begin at 8:30 am Tuesday morning. A sign cautioned people to expect traffic delays beginning at 9 am. Concerned about the disruption of traffic flow at that time, local officials pressed the state Department of Transportation (DOT), which is responsible for permitting the move, to reschedule the move at an earlier hour.

DOT Island superintendent Edward Panek spoke to his superiors and convinced them that an early morning move would be the best scenario. Mr. Panek said state police will be out redirecting traffic during the move, which he said should not take more than one hour.