Martha's Vineyard News Briefs
Food, fuel and utility assistance
The Friends of the Up-Island Council on Aging has established a fund to assist elderly Up-Island residents who need help with food, fuel, or utility bills this winter.
The fund will be administered by the staff of the Up-Island Council on Aging at the Howes House in West Tisbury. The Up-Island Council serves residents of West Tisbury, Chilmark, and Aquinnah.
The fund will supplement state and federal funds usually available through the Up-Island Council. Applicants must meet the age, income ,and other restrictions for state or federal assistance.
The Friends want to be sure that elderly Up-Island residents don't suffer this winter if state or federal funds are limited because of the weakness in the economy, according to Betty Farrow, president of the Friends.
The Friends of the Up-Island Council have helped out the Howes House where town funds were not available for maintenance or improvements. Most recently, the Friends purchased a new sound system for the first-floor meeting room.
Small town, big money
Chilmark is the "most expensive small town in America," according to a list compiled by Businessweek.com and released this week. The criteria, though somewhat arbitrary, measured the ratio of median home prices to population.
According to the magazine website, with a population of 953 full-time residents, and a median home sale price of $2,237,000, Chilmark earns top billing.
Most of the 32 small towns on the list are in summer resort locations or wealthy enclaves near a large city.
Two of the towns, Water Mill, New York, and Hidden Hills, California, had higher median home prices, but also claimed many more year-round residents.
In an unusual statistical twist, Chilmark had the second lowest median household income on the list, at $41,197. Only Haleiwa, Hawaii households earned less, according to the website.
Tisbury, SSA, Coastwise Packet in mooring dispute
The Tisbury selectmen agreed Tuesday to write to the Steamship Authority and the Department of Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) emphasizing the importance of keeping the Black Dog Tall Ships schooner Shenandoah moored in Vineyard Haven Harbor, as an asset to the town's tourist trade and commerce. The Steamship Authority has pressed the Corps to have Shenandoah's mooring moved, to allow ferries more room as they approach the boatline's south slip.
Morgan Douglas, general manager of the Black Dog Tall Ships, asked the selectmen for their support in response to a November 10 letter from the Corps making clear that the Corps may suspend the Shenandoah's mooring permit if the schooner's owner cannot come up with a plan to adjust the current mooring or move it to increase the width of the channel the ferries follow to the south slip. The issue between the SSA and Shenandoah's owners goes back decades.
The Corps letter, addressed to Mr. Douglas and his father, Capt. Robert S. Douglas, repeated persistent concerns raised by the Steamship Authority (SSA) over what it calls the safe navigational clearance needed for the Island Home to enter the south slip. In response, the Army Corps of Engineers letter explained that the Shenandoah's owners will have to address the SSA's concerns by finding an alternative mooring location or by using a modified mooring design. It neither works, the Shenandoah's mooring permit will be suspended.
"The Steamship Authority is asking for the mooring to be moved a vessel length - 150 feet," Mr. Douglas explained. "What they're asking for will require either moving the Shenandoah altogether out of the harbor or displacing town moorings."
Mr. Douglas said as he understands it, the Corps has no choice but to respond to the SSA's complaint and suspend the Shenandoah's mooring permit. "I can appeal it, but at this point, I don't think there is much we can do," he said. "This is not just about the Shenandoah and the Steamship Authority - it could be Gannon and Benjamin and Martha's Vineyard Shipyard moorings affected."
The selectmen agreed that they would like the Shenandoah to remain in the harbor. While selectman chairman Denys Wortman was sympathetic to Mr. Douglas's argument, he suggested that the family try to compromise with the SSA by making an offer to move the mooring 50 feet.
Mr. Wortman told Mr. Douglas he spoke to SSA Vineyard member Marc Hanover last week. "He is extremely open to having both sides try to work this out," Mr. Wortman said.
Mr. Douglas said he hopes to meet with all parties involved next Thursday.
"I think the Steamship Authority needs to be somewhat compromising on this, too, because they could be adversely affecting the commercial interests of our harbor," selectman Tristan Israel said.
In looking at possible options, Harbormaster Jay Wilbur said he agrees it would not be possible to move the mooring 150 feet. He said he also checked into the possibility of using a helix mooring with elastic banding instead of chains. However, Mr. Wilbur expressed doubts about whether one would work for the Shenandoah, plus it would be costly, possibly as much as $30,000.
Mr. Douglas said he thought it also would be helpful for the Harbor Management Committee to provide input to the ACE. However, Mr. Wilbur said the committee already has discussed the matter and suggested that he take it up with the selectmen.
Islanders, bank targeted in recycled telephone scam
A sophisticated telephone scam intended to trick Island residents into transmitting sensitive information about their bank accounts that appeared in October has reappeared.
Islanders late Sunday and Monday began receiving a recorded message in which they were told that there was a problem with their account. The message requests the account holder to key in their account number, card expiration date, and personal identification number (PIN).
Bank officials advise customers to never provide account information over the phone unless they initiate the call. To verify whether a call is legitimate, call your bank or visit its website, using phone numbers or Internet addresses from your bank statement or account documentation. Do not call back a number provided over the phone, or click on a link in email.
For more information on protecting your identity and financially sensitive information, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains a helpful website. The page with advice to avoid phone and e-mail scams is onguardonline.gov/topics/phishing.aspx.
You can call the FCC at 1-877-ID-THEFT (1-877-438-4338) to file a complaint about identity theft.
If you have been the victim of a scam, file a complaint at the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) by email at www.IC3.gov.
The bank moved quickly to head off the scam by posting an alert on its web site. (mvbank.com/Fraud-Alert.asp)
Forum scheduled for nonprofit leaders
The Martha's Vineyard Donors Collaborative (MVDC) will host the first of what it hopes will become a regular meeting for Island nonprofit Executive Directors from 4:30 to 7 pm Thursday, December 11, at the Hebrew Center in Vineyard Haven.
Peter Temple, MVDC executive director, said all Vineyard nonprofit leaders are invited to join their peers to discover ways to help each other, to explore opportunities to collaborate and to address common problems.
According to a press release there will be a brief presentation on changes in federal and state reporting requirements, including the new IRS form 990, which impacts all nonprofits, regardless of size. Smaller groups will be formed to brainstorm new ideas or find solutions to common problems said Mr. Temple.
"We conducted a survey of Island nonprofits to see what services we should provide to help in these difficult times and found tremendous interest in a gathering like this," said Mr. Temple.
There is no fee and refreshments will be provided. For more information or to RSVP, email Peter@mvdonors.org or call 508-645-3690.
Athearn headed back to Martha's Vineyard Commission
Jim Athearn will return to the Martha's Vineyard Commission as the appointee of Edgartown selectmen. Selectman voted the appointment unanimously at their Monday meeting. Mr. Athearn, the proprietor of Morning Glory Farm in Edgartown, fell short of winning an at-large seat in the November 4 election with a write-in campaign. Though he was the top vote getter in the previous election, Mr. Athearn did not file his nomination papers in time for a re-election bid, and his name did not appear on the ballot.
"I apologize for coming to you in this way, instead of getting properly elected," said Mr. Athearn.
Selectman Michael Donaroma, a former commissioner, asked Mr. Athearn to focus on the concerns of the Edgartown elected officials. "We hope you can represent the town," said Mr. Donaroma. "We get to appoint somebody who will take the interests of the town to the commission."
Also at Monday's meeting, selectmen granted a letter of support to the Falmouth Ferry in its bid to increase its passenger limit from 90 to 100 passengers. The company, which operates five trips per day from Falmouth Harbor to Edgartown Harbor in the summer season, needs approval from the Steamship Authority in order to increase its passenger load.
"We feel we can accommodate small bus groups, and still serve our regular passengers," said Paul Porter, who spoke for the ferry line. "Those who ride our ferry tend to stay in the downtown area. We do not expect a spike in traffic."
Remember someone you love
This year marks the Martha's Vineyard Hospital Auxiliary's 25th anniversary of its Tree of Lights fundraiser to benefit the hospital.
Every December, a tree at the hospital is lit with hundreds of lights, each one donated by an individual in honor or in memory of a loved one. As construction of the new Island hospital continues, this tradition endures.
The tree lighting ceremony will be held on Wednesday, Dec. 10. The Martha's Vineyard Hospital Auxiliary invites the public to join the festivities beginning at 4 pm in the main lobby of the hospital.
Lights may be purchased for $15 each. Perpetual lights may be purchased for a donation of $150. All contributions are tax deductible. Checks should be made payable to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital Auxiliary and mailed to: Martha's Vineyard Hospital Volunteer Office, P.O. Box 1477, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557 or dropped off at the volunteer office at the hospital. For more information or to download a contribution form, go to mvhospital.com/tol.
Cape Wind ruling expected soon
The federal government is expected to release its final report on the environmental impact of a proposed wind farm in Nantucket Sound in a matter of days, perhaps as early as next week. Energy Management Inc., developers of the Cape Wind project, expect the report will put a critical stamp of approval on the controversial energy project. The Mineral Management Service, part of the Department of Interior, is the federal agency conducting the review.
Cape Wind also needs approval from other state and federal permitting authorities before it can move forward.
"By the end of the winter, perhaps February or March, we hope to complete the permitting process," said Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for Cape Wind.
The Project plans call for 130 wind turbines to be located on Horseshoe Shoals, about nine miles northeast of Martha's Vineyard.
The December issue of 55 Plus incorrectly reported that the Ladies' and Men's Luncheon Holiday Party at the Oak Bluffs Council on Aging, scheduled for 12 noon Friday December 19, costs $5. There is no charge.