Renovations at Cronig's Market
Cronig's Market owner Steve Bernier said this week that contrary to rumors he has heard, the construction materials in the Vineyard Haven supermarket's parking lot are for use in a renovation project at the back of the building.
"Rumors have it there will be a two-story parking garage out front," said Mr. Bernier with a laugh.
Plans were made about two years ago to rebuild a portion of the back of the supermarket building from the ground up, Mr. Bernier said. The project underwent review and was approved by the Martha's Vineyard Commission in August 2007.
"We're just getting to it," Mr. Bernier said. "It's been slow and difficult to get space to work in back there, and we had to put the steel out front because there was no place to store it." The renovation project also includes installation of an energy-efficient refrigeration system, and a new walk-in freezer and delicatessen refrigerator, he said.
We bent to wet snow, power lapses
A wind-whipped snowstorm Friday into Saturday brought down tree limbs and wires and resulted in scattered power outages.
NStar spokeswoman Caroline Allen said that over the course of the storm about 1,800 customers on Martha's Vineyard lost power. She said NStar was prepared with pre-staged extra crews.
"Thankfully, everyone who lost power was back on by Saturday night and the storm on Sunday only caused a few scattered outages across our system," she said.
Photo by Susan Safford
Photo by Susan Safford
Photo by Tim Johnson
Photo by Steve Myrick
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Packer Co. ends high priced fuel contracts
A little negotiation and a lot of good will are making for holiday cheer among county, town, and school officials across Martha's Vineyard. Earlier this year, many local governments and schools agreed to a contract negotiated by Dukes County manager Russell Smith, to buy fuel oil from the Ralph M. Packer Company. The price was $4.03.
In the past year, said Mr. Smith in a letter to participants in the contract, the regional bidding group has realized savings of more than $100,000.
This year, however, the price of fuel dropped dramatically after the contract was signed.
Following a series of negotiations, the Packer Company agreed to terminate the contract on January 1, 2009. Towns and schools may now purchase fuel oil from the Packer Company at the "spot" price, currently about $2.70 per gallon, until July 1, 2009.
"This should save us all money, unless the price spikes over $4.03 per gallon this winter. We are betting it won't," wrote Mr. Smith in the letter. "The county would like to thank R.M. Packer Co. for their willingness to renegotiate the contract and help the communities maintain their budgets."
Mr. Smith said local governments requested a fixed price in the contract, in order to budget accurately. He said next year he intends to negotiate a variable price based on an accepted price index.
Island shares in state energy efficiency grants
Martha's Vineyard is eligible to receive a share of $2.7 million in grants to finance energy efficiency improvements in municipal buildings, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles announced last week.
Grant awards include $58,467 for new heat pumps and motors at the Edgartown Wastewater Treatment Plant and $98,583 for insulation and energy systems tune-up at the Tisbury School.
The grants are funded with revenue from the auction of carbon emissions permits under the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a first-in-the-nation multi-state effort to cap and reduce power plant pollution that causes global warming, according to a press release.
"The Patrick Administration is committed to creating a greener energy future for Massachusetts," Secretary Bowles said. "In that spirit, we are partnering with cities and towns to fund projects that will save money and energy in public libraries, city and town halls, schools, police and fire stations and other municipal buildings across the Commonwealth."
Hospital wins top performer award
For the second year in a row Press Ganey, a national firm that specializes in quality care measurement and the improvement of healthcare institutions, last week recognized the Martha's Vineyard Hospital emergency department with a prestigious award.
The Martha's Vineyard hospital was named a Press Ganey 2008 Summit Award Winner for excellence in patient satisfaction in its emergency department. According to a press release, this year more than 1,000 large emergency departments were eligible for the award. Summit Award winners must rank in the top tier of patient satisfaction surveys for at least three consecutive years.
Hospital chief executive officer Tim Walsh and members of the hospital's senior management and emergency department team accepted the award at the annual Press Ganey National Client Conference in Grapevine, Texas. "To win this award two years in a row shows an outstanding level of professionalism and commitment to the highest quality of care," said Mr. Walsh.
Mink Meadows Golf Club offers reward
Mink Meadows Golf Club has offered a reward of $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of anyone involved in vandalism that damaged the course on the night of December 16. Contact the Tisbury police department at 508-696-4240 with any information.
The golf club also bought several surveillance cameras within a few days of the incident, with plans to install them by the start of this week.
When he arrived at work on the morning of December 17, club superintendent Matt Crowther discovered deep tire tracks encircling the flag on the first green, apparently left by a vehicle that drove onto the course on the night before.
On December 18, he and other grounds crew members re-sodded the damaged area. "You can't go and putt on it yet - it will have to knit in, but at least it will get us through the winter, and then we will reassess it and see what needs to be done next spring," Mr. Crowther said.
SSA battles economic head tide
Steamship Authority traffic figures, as of the end of November, show the boatline barely stemming the vicious economic head tides, although revenue figures for the first 11 months of the years are doing a little better.
Year-to-date passenger traffic for the Vineyard is up 1.5 percent, but a sharp decline in traffic to and from Nantucket resulted in a nearly flat performance for the line as a whole, up just one tenth of one percent compared to the same period a year ago. The story's the same, or just about, for auto traffic through November: up seven tenths of a percent for the Vineyard, down 3.2 percent for Nantucket, for an overall one tenth of a percent gain. For freight (measured as trucks), traffic was off a tenth of a percent for the Vineyard, but 7.4 percent for Nantucket. Overall, for the line, truck traffic is down 2.5 percent.
Thanks to a spring rate hike, inspired by the price of vessel fuel, which was then high and rising, revenue for the line as a whole through nine months is up four percent for passengers, 2.4 percent for autos, but down 1.3 percent for trucks.
Fall has been difficult for the boatline. In August, freight revenue fell (down 8.3 percent year over year) and continued to under perform in September (down 1.4 percent), October (down 7.4 percent), and November, when freight slouched 14.3 percent.
For the line as a whole, passenger revenue fell 6.4 percent in September, compared with September 2007) but rebounded in October and strengthened in November. Auto revenue, the biggest contributor to Steamship Authority income, also dropped in September (8.5 percent), strengthened in October (3.6 percent), but showed no change over 2007 numbers for November.
Environmental police share Island duties
The Massachusetts Office of Law Enforcement (OLE) has shifted staff to accommodate budget cuts and personnel changes. As a result, environmental police are now assigned to Martha's Vineyard on a rotation basis.
For the past several years, Environmental Police Sgt. Pat Grady was assigned specifically to the Vineyard. Lisa Capone, OLW spokesperson, said budget cuts and staffing demands have led to a change.
Ms. Capone said that Sergeant Grady was reassigned to the Outer Cape in mid-October, to accommodate staffing changes in the OLE, due to state budget cuts necessitated by the current difficult economic situation. "The OLE is absorbing these budget cuts by cutting all overtime except for emergency situations (search and rescue missions, for example), reassigning personnel to reduce fuel use and costs, and canceling previously planned purchases of new vehicles," she told The Martha's Vineyard Times via email. "By making these changes, the OLE is able to maintain important services to the public such as patrolling parks and forests and enforcing fish and game and boating and recreational vehicle laws on Martha's Vineyard and across the Commonwealth."
Sergeant Grady and several other officers are being assigned to Martha's Vineyard on a rotating basis. Ms. Capone said that at least one officer has been on duty on Martha's Vineyard every day since the start of the deer shotgun season and the Vineyard will continue to receive coverage by EPOs, "albeit not one specific officer at this time."
Lights, but no fireworks in Tisbury
Unlike years past, there will be no fireworks on New Year's Eve in Vineyard Haven, as part of Last Night, First Day events hosted by the Tisbury Volunteer Ambulance Association (TVAA).
"It's expensive, and we decided to take the strain off of our generous donors," TVAA president Melinda Loberg explained at the Tisbury selectmen's meeting last week.
Instead of fireworks, Ms. Loberg said TVAA plans a "light up the night" event on December 31, at Tisbury Marketplace on Beach Road, featuring light displays made by people in the community. At 9 pm, which Ms. Loberg referred to as "the Vineyard version of midnight," she said a "mystery ball" would be dropped from the top of Tisbury's ladder truck.
Other Last Night, First Day activities on December 31 and January 1 include entertainment at various Vineyard venues, a black tie ball at Saltwater Restaurant, and the traditional crazy, zany hat parade. (See next week's Times for more details.)
Local NAACP branch elects new officers
The Martha's Vineyard branch of the NAACP announced the election of officers and executive committee members on December 14. They are: Laurie Perry-Henry, president; Marie B. Allen, first vice president; Carrie Tankard, second vice president; and executive committee members Rev. Marcia Buckley, Donalexander Goss, Herbert Foster, Francine James, Vera Shorter, and Elaine Weintraub.
Oak Bluffs ZBA held in contempt
Superior Court Justice C. Brian McDonald last week issued a summary judgment holding the Oak Bluffs zoning board of appeals (ZBA) in contempt. Judge McDonald awarded legal fees to Carla and Neil Rolde, who sued the board over a dispute that began in 2003.
The Roldes had asked the ZBA to enforce zoning laws against their neighbors, Kerry and Mary Caldon. The Roldes charged that the Caldons were building a guesthouse on their Barnes Road property, although a building permit issued by Richard Mavro, then the Oak Bluffs building inspector, allowed only a garage with storage space.
For five years, the case has traveled a tortured path through the courts, the ZBA, and the Oak Bluffs building department.
Judge McDonald ruled that the ZBA did not conduct a proper hearing on the matter, as required by law.
The judge's order requires the ZBA to schedule a hearing within 60 days of his December 19 ruling, to determine whether the Caldons violated zoning laws.
"The board will obviously comply and hold the required hearing," said Michael Goldsmith, the attorney who represented the town of Oak Bluffs. "We disagree that anything the board did rises to the level of contempt."
Attorney Dan Larkosh, who represented the Roldes, called the judgment a vindication. "All my clients wanted was a fair hearing," said Mr. Larkosh. "It was unfortunate that the legal maneuvering of the ZBA and the town's lawyers resulted in a colossal waste of town resources."
The judge said in his ruling that he will award appropriate legal fees and costs to the Roldes, as sanctions for the board's non-compliance.
Mr. Larkosh submitted documents asserting that his clients have incurred $34,151.52 in legal fees, a figure that may be disputed by the town. The judge has asked for more detailed billing records, which Mr. Larkosh submitted this week.
Town manager Michael Dutton noted that none of the town officials involved in the original dispute are still involved. New members have been elected to the ZBA, while the board's assistant and Mr. Mavro, are no longer employed by Oak Bluffs.
Alley's adding farm stand
Construction of a farm stand is underway adjacent to Alley's General Store in West Tisbury, with plans to offer local growers a seven-day venue for fresh and organic produce by spring.
On the site of the former West Tisbury Bike Shop, the stand will operate during the summer season as a service to growers and Alley's shoppers. "The Farmer's Market at the Grange Hall is wonderful and probably preferable, given the parking and the experience for shoppers, but it is open only on Wednesday and Saturday mornings," said Chris Scott, executive director of Martha's Vineyard Preservation Trust, which owns Alley's.
Mr. Scott said the farm stand is intended to serve customers and allow growers to expand their businesses. "If local growers know they have another seven-day outlet, they may be able to grow more produce," he said. "We don't expect the Farmer's Market to be affected but if it is, we'll address it. Perhaps we won't sell produce when it's open."
Currently, Alley's provides produce from Morning Glory Farm on a small table inside the general store, manager Rhonda Backus said.
The Preservation Trust operates nine historic Island venues, including the Grange Hall in West Tisbury, the Whaling Church in Edgartown, and the Flying Horses in Oak Bluffs.
Vineyard man receives Health Hero Award
Dr. André E. St. Germain of Vineyard Haven recently received an oral health hero citation at the Tufts Dental Facility Serving Special Needs Patients located at the Wrentham Developmental Center. Dr. According to a press release Dr. St. Germain is fondly known to his patients and colleagues as "the saint," and has worked with the special needs population for 32 years, providing dental services to individuals living in the community and at various developmental centers.Martha's Vineyard Glassworks provides online gallery
Packer Co. recognized for sales excellence
RM Packer Co. of Vineyard Haven has received Mutual Oil Company's Platinum Pinnacle Award for Excellence.
The award represents sales excellence and is awarded annually to Mutual Oil's top dealers. Steve Shaer, Mutual Oil's executive vice president, and Jonathan Shaer, Mutual's vice president, presented the awards during ceremonies at Foxwoods Resorts, which representatives of RM Packer Co. were unable to attend.
"We are proud to recognize RM Packer Co. as one of the most successful Mutual Oil dealers. The hard work and dedication of their employees was a key factor in helping them earn this award, and we look forward to working with them in the years ahead," Mr. Shaer said.
Headquartered in Brockton, Mutual Oil is the largest independent gasoline distributor in New England. Since its founding in 1942, the company has grown to become a major distributor of Citgo, Valero, Getty, Exxon, Gulf, Shell, Sunoco, and Mobil brands throughout New England.
Stop & Shop aids hunger campaign
The Stop & Shop stores in Edgartown and Vineyard Haven raised $10,244 as part of the Stop & Shop supermarket company's record-breaking year with Food for Friends.
Stop & Shop's 19th annual Food for Friends campaign surpassed its $1 million goal for 300 local hunger relief organizations throughout the Northeast, according to a company press release. "Food for Friends demonstrates our commitment to being a reliable partner to the communities we serve," said Stop & Shop's Mark McGowan, senior vice president. "During these difficult economic times we are working harder than ever to fight hunger in our communities."
As part of the Food for Friends campaign, each Stop & Shop store sold paper turkeys at checkout in $1, $3, and $5 denominations. The turkeys could be personalized by each customer and were displayed throughout the store. All of the funds raised by Stop & Shop is being donated to local and regional hunger relief organizations.
Supplemented by an additional donation per store from Stop & Shop corporate, the majority of the funds raised in Edgartown and Vineyard Haven will go towards Christ United Methodist Church/Island Food Pantry, with the remainder going towards State and regional food pantries.
Anthony Holand of Tuck and Holand metal workers in Vineyard Haven was recently asked to participate in a sculpture project for the NFL's Super Bowl in February. Asked to make a sculpture for the Pittsburgh Steelers, Mr. Holand had the football shape custom made in Pittsburgh, and hand-hammered laces made from bronze rod. The sculpture will be on display with 11 others in Tampa, Fla.. at the media center for the Super Bowl. After the game, Mr. Holand's sculpture will be auctioned off and Habitat for Humanity will receive 70 percent of the proceeds.
Dukes Academy adds new courses
Dukes Academy, a real estate school located in Vineyard Haven, will add courses designed to help real estate professionals confront socioeconomic issues confronting the marketplace. These include courses on foreclosures and commercial real estate basics, according to instructor and Academy owner Robert Sawyer. For more information, call 508-696-1900.
Glassworks opens online store
Martha's Vineyard Glassworks in West Tisbury announced the opening of its online gallery and store at www.mvglassworks.com. For more information, call 508-693-6026.
State House News Service
Cape Wind wins Chapter 91 okay from State
Underwater electric cables stretching three miles offshore to the proposed 24-square-mile wind farm in Nantucket Sound have earned state Department of Environmental Protection approval under the statute protecting waterways and tidelands.
DEP signed off on the submarine structures, Cape Wind said yesterday. In its press release, Cape Wind quoted a DEP letter stating, "the Department determines that the proposed project serves a proper public interest which provides greater public benefit than detriment to the public's rights in said tidelands."
Cape Wind spokesman Mark Rodgers said the decision "moves the project one step closer to its final approval."
Home sales, prices fell steeply in November
Home sales and home prices plummeted in November, according to new data from two market observers, and one of them is predicting the trend will continue for "quite some time" as repercussions of the autumn stock market collapse reverberate.
The Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported a 21.8 percent dip in home sales last month, compared to November 2007, down to 2,339 from 2,991. The Warren Group showed a similar decline, registering an 18.4 percent decline, to 2,620 from 3,211.
Both reports showed an even steeper decline in condominium sales of about 27.5 percent. The precipitous drop came after two straight months of gains over sales during the same period in 2007.
Single-family home prices fell 16.7 percent to $275,000, according to MAR, and about 14.2 percent to $283,000, according to the Warren Group. "The slow sales volume in November reflects what was happening in the late summer and early fall when most of these sales transactions were being negotiated.
Fear and panic gripped consumers as the stock market tanked and financial firms and other companies reported heavy losses which caused many would-be homebuyers to pull back," said Timothy Warren, CEO of The Warren Group, in a statement. "A similar sales picture is likely to emerge in the next two months, which means the price declines we've been seeing won't level off for quite some time."
In the December 18 article "Nell Coogan is new state rep's rep," the name of Ms. Coogan's late father was misspelled. The correct spelling is Edmond G. Coogan. Also incorrectly reported was Ms. Coogan's residency. She lives in Oak Bluffs.
The caption that accompanied a front page photo in last week's Times incorrectly identified the young lady sitting on Santa's lap. She is Isabella Campo.