News in Brief
Aquinnah special attends to housekeeping
With the busy summer crowds gone, Aquinnah voters will attend to their financial housekeeping at a special town meeting that begins at 7 pm on Tuesday, in the Aquinnah old town hall.
The 10-article warrant includes stabilization fund spending requests that total approximately $25,000 and a policy governing the sale of landlocked surplus land.
Jeff Burgoyne, Aquinnah town manager, said, "These are small but necessary measures, and it is important that voters turn out."
Voters will be asked to revisit an issue that arose at the annual town meeting in May regarding the disposition of a landlocked piece of property. After much discussion, voters agreed to authorize selectmen to sell the property, but only after seeking approval of the sales price at a subsequent town meeting.
Article five asks for approval allowing the town to reduce the minimum bid threshold of $600,000, approved at the town meeting held on June 19, for the sale of 3.6 acres. The change reflects the property's revised assessed value of $595,000.
Also up for a vote is a policy that when selling landlocked, surplus land, the selectmen give preference to land owners who abut and who have established legal access to the surplus land and who agree not to convey access or easement rights to third parties.
The town will ask voters to approve a new position, assistant to the harbormaster/shellfish constable. The new position is intended to provide coverage when the town harbormaster/shellfish constable is not available.
Dealer receives three-year prison sentence
Jeffrey Alley of Oak Bluffs, age 55, was sentenced to two and a half to three years in state prison on October 14, in Dukes County Superior Court, following his plea of guilty to drug dealing charges. He was charged with distribution of a class B substance, oxycontin, according to the court.
Mr. Alley, who already had a lengthy criminal record, was ordered to begin serving the sentence at Cedar Junction, the state prison in Walpole.
He was arrested on November 27, 2007, after an investigation prompted by citizen complaints. Also arrested that day was Michael Dunn of Oak Bluffs, age 38 at the time of his arrest.
The arrests prompted a series of meetings between law enforcement agencies and local medical professionals, seeking ways to combat a growing problem of prescription medication abuse.
New school buses to arrive
After three bid processes and a few bid protests, the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School district recently awarded a bid contract for $1,349,412 to purchase 16 Bluebird buses from O'Connor Bus Sales in Portland, Maine.
The cost of the bus purchase will be split between the regional high school and Up-Island school districts, public schools business administrator Amy Tierney said, with the high school's portion amounting to $854,646.
The 16 buses, which are 2010 models, include four 35-passenger mid-size buses, two equipped with wheelchair lifts, and twelve 77-passenger buses. Ms. Tierney expects delivery of the buses in early 2009.
In the meantime, two mini-buses to transport special education students, purchased last February, are due to arrive this week. Production of the buses was delayed by a steelworkers' strike, according to Ms. Tierney.
Driver charged after collision with VTA bus, car
Oak Bluffs police arrested 25-year old Benjamin Fogg of Edgartown late Friday and will seek charges of drunk driving against him, following a three-vehicle accident on Sea View Avenue in Oak Bluffs.
Police report that they responded to an accident report shortly after 11 pm, involving a VTA bus, a passenger car, and a pick-up truck. Two people in the passenger car were transported to Martha's Vineyard Hospital for treatment of minor injuries.
Police say they later located the pick-up, a 2005 Ford Ranger, on Circuit Avenue. They also located Mr. Fogg, who was arrested. In addition to drunk driving, Mr. Fogg will face charges of leaving the scene of the accident, negligent operation, and speeding. Police say this is the second time Mr. Fogg has been arrested on a drunk driving charge.
In a separate incident, Oak Bluffs police say a traffic stop resulted in the arrest of 62-year old Eric Warner of Vineyard Haven. They will seek charges of drunken driving and other traffic offenses against Mr. Warner.
Police say this is the third time he has been arrested for drunk driving.
Photo by Steve Myrick
Three win right to buy affordable Edgartown homes
Three Edgartown residents won the right to purchase brand-new houses in Fairview Village, a new housing development off Upper Main Street.
Maria Williams's name was the first drawn in a lottery held Tuesday during the Edgartown selectmen's meeting. She won the right to purchase a two-bedroom condominium.
"I was just overwhelmed, I don't know how to explain it," said Ms. Williams, who is a dispatcher at the Dukes County Communications Center. She plans to live in the house with her younger brother, Frank.
"This couldn't go to better kids," said Kelly Hess, a family friend. She said the two have faced a difficult period, after the death of their father about two years ago.
Winning the right to purchase a one-bedroom house was Evet Hines, who lives and works in Edgartown.
The third name drawn was James Dropick's. Mr. Dropick of Chappaquiddick, a field worker for the Martha's Vineyard Land Bank, is also a volunteer firefighter and emergency medical technician.
All three were given preference in the lottery because they live or work in Edgartown. Seven people qualified for the drawing; five received preference. All of the applicants have gone through an extensive qualifying process. They will purchase the houses at prices based on their income. The prices range from $132,000 to $162,000.
The Fairview Village development contains three market-rate and three affordable units. Jay Morton, a seasonal resident of Edgartown, is the developer.
"It's a great feeling," said Mr. Morton, moments after the drawing. "From day one, the whole mission was doing something for Martha's Vineyard. A lot of super people are getting a great home."
Mr. Morton has already begun work on another development on High Street in Edgartown that will include two market-rate units and two affordable units.
Kris Kolligian, president of Precision Built Inc., is supervising construction of both developments.
Sovereign Bank sold to Spanish interest
Sovereign Bank, including its Vineyard unit, the Bank of Martha's Vineyard, has agreed to be sold to Banco Santander, a prominent European bank based in Madrid.
Banco Santander, which already owned nearly one-quarter of Sovereign, will pay $1.9 billion for the shares it does not already own, according to the Associated Press.
According to the Boston Globe, several large depositors withdrew money from Sovereign last week. State treasurer Tim Cahill told the Globe he quietly withdrew $300 million in state funds. The town of Oak Bluffs was among those withdrawing deposits, according to finance director Paul Manzi.
Sovereign Bank executives insisted that the Philadelphia-based bank was relatively healthy, but fell victim to fallout from the failure or forced sale of other large banks in recent weeks.
Sovereign was hit with large losses associated with rising mortgage delinquencies. Its stock lost nearly two-thirds of its value this year. In the third quarter of the year, the bank said it lost $982 million. In the same period last year, it earned $58 million.
Oak Bluffs acts on home business
Oak Bluffs selectmen approved a home business license for Luke and Robyn Gurney at their Tuesday meeting. Mr. Gurney recently purchased a boat and gear for a commercial fishing operation. He stores some equipment and bait at his home, and repairs some gear there.
At a hearing last month, neighbors abutting the Gurneys' 21 Worcester Drive home complained of hundreds of lobster traps stacked on the property, and early bait deliveries.
Mr. Gurney said he has since found a new storage area, and disputed claims of early deliveries. He has agreed to fence in a 12' x 24' area where he stores other gear and bait.
Mr. Gurney conceded he should have applied for a home business permit, but said he did not know about the new regulations.
Selectman Kerry Scott raised objections, but later joined her colleagues in a unanimous vote to approve the license.
"This is clearly outside the home business regulations," said Ms. Scott. "I feel that what you're doing is so important, I can support this."
In other business, chairman Ron DiOrio said the town's community development committee is reviewing the town's automobile policy. "In light of spending over $100,000 for fuel, we may want to look at that going forward," he said.
The board also approved a plan to install solar electric panels on the roof of Our Market. Rob Myers, representing South Mountain Company, was asked how the panels will look once installed by his company. "Inspiring, I hope," he replied with a wry smile. He said the panels will be installed parallel to the roof, and will be less reflective than windows.
Selectmen hold annual Menemsha review
The Chilmark selectmen will review the 2008 Menemsha summer season at their regular Tuesday evening meeting.
The annual review often includes a discussion of regulatory issues and other activities that occur in the small fishing port community. The meeting begins at 7:30 pm.
Your help is needed
A fund has been established for the benefit of Sally (Habekost) Sylvia, daughter of Priscilla and Fred Thifault of Vineyard Haven. Ms. Sylvia has been diagnosed with a serious medical condition that will require surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and an extensive recovery period.
Ms. Sylvia is the manager of Martha's Vineyard Sun Self Storage, Sun Island Delivery, Martha's Vineyard Cape Cod Trailer Storage, and Old Colony Management Storage. Ms. Sylvia's family has appealed for tax deductible donations, which may be made to the law office of attorney George Brush, in the name of You've Got a Friend, P.O. Box 1317, West Tisbury, MA 02575. Include Ms. Sylvia's name in the memo section of the check.