Cindy Sheehan brings anti-war campaign to Vineyard
Cindy Sheehan, whose son, Casey, was killed in Iraq in 2004, attracted national media attention for her protest camp outside the Texas ranch of former President George Bush in 2005. She now plans to carry her anti-war message to President Barack Obama on Martha's Vineyard.
In a press statement issued from her home in California, Ms. Sheehan said, "No good social or economic change will come about with the continuation or escalation of the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. We simply can't afford to continue this tragically expensive foreign policy.
Ms. Sheehan plans to arrive Wednesday and hold a press conference at 11 am at the Oak Bluffs School, which will function as the media center during the President's visit.
She and her local supporters, including members of the Vineyard Peace Council, plan to hold a peace vigil at 8 pm at the Ocean Park bandstand in Oak Bluffs that evening. She plans to speak about her efforts on Saturday, August 29, in the Katharine Cornell Theater in Vineyard Haven.
For more information, call Chris Fried of the Peace Council at 508-693-7741.
Bill Clinton makes Vineyard swing
Former President Bill Clinton made a surprise visit to Martha's Vineyard Monday. Mr. Clinton stayed on familiar territory during what one source said was a one-day stay.
Mr. Clinton walked along Main Street in Vineyard Haven just before 11 am. He stopped for a strawberry ice cream cone at Mad Martha's on Union Street, then stepped into Midnight Farm, an upscale retail store, before heading to Farm Neck Golf Course in Oak Bluffs for a round of golf with Vernon Jordan, a Washington lawyer and seasonal Chilmark resident.
Later that night, he reportedly attended a birthday party in his honor at the Chilmark home of Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen before departing the Island. Carly Simon and Ben Taylor provided the entertainment, one source said.
Neither Secretary of State Hillary Clinton nor their daughter, Chelsea, accompanied Mr. Clinton on his Island visit.
Ocean plan meets tsunami in Chilmark
Chilmark selectman Tuesday reacted angrily to provisions in the draft version of the Massachusetts Ocean Act that would allow large scale development of wind farms off Chilmark shores and changes in state law that could allow property owners to supersede local zoning restrictions and erect large land-based wind turbines.
The selectmen reacted to a presentation by Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) executive director Mark London and MVC coastal planner Jo-Ann Taylor.
MVC officials are concerned that the powerful land use permitting body would have limited authority over any potential developments.
"This is an outrage," thundered chairman J.B. Riggs Parker, "It's all about votes."
Mr. Parker said the state chose Chilmark because "it's as close to Rhode Island and as far away from the rest of Massachusetts as they could get." He said the state realized a paucity of voters in Chilmark could limit the town's ability to contest the siting.
On July 1, Massachusetts Energy and Environmental Affairs secretary Ian Bowles released a draft comprehensive ocean management plan for public comment and review. The draft plan would allow for small wind farms of 10 or fewer turbines off the immediate Vineyard coast and larger wind farms to be developed south and west of Nomans Land and west of Cuttyhunk.
Tuesday night, Mr. London also alerted selectmen to a new initiative by the Department of Energy Resources to override municipal authority on the siting of wind turbines on land in state cities and towns. He said the move, if successful, could result in 225-foot turbines on private land.
But selectmen were more focused on offshore turbines.
Selectman Warren Doty said that Nomans is a federal nature preserve. "Why are the birds in other places more important than the birds here," he asked rhetorically.
Selectmen advised Mr. London to use the MVC's political clout to move in a proactive manner to stop the siting of turbines off Chilmark. "You have a lot more power than we do," Mr. Doty said. "Occupy the political space now with a rational plan. Don't wait to react." Mr. Doty supported Mr. London's plan to enlist Island bird expert Allan Keith in the cause.
Mr. London said funds to mitigate impact on the community from wind turbines are available from the state. Selectman Frank Fenner, who sat in stony silence during most of the one-hour discussion, weighed in, saying, "The town of Chilmark is not for sale."
It was a long evening for Mr. London, Ms. Taylor and the selectmen. The MVC staffers gave selectmen an update on the recently released version of the Island Plan, a four-year planning effort. Mr. Parker was not impressed. "This is a grand compendium of our problems, but it is not a plan. When are we going to get a plan to deal with them?" he asked Mr. London.
Man charged with rape of student
Oak Bluffs Police Thursday arrested Saurabh Chhibber, 29, of Oak Bluffs on rape and indecent assault charges.
A college student working a summer job on the Island told police that Mr. Chhibber attacked her as the two walked near Central Avenue, according to court records.
Mr. Chhibber, owner of Island Authentics, a tee-shirt and souvenir shop on Circuit Avenue, was arraigned on a charge of rape and a charge of indecent assault and battery. Bail was set at $2,000. Mr. Chhibber, born in India, according to court records, was ordered to surrender his passport and have no contact with the victim.
According to court records, the victim told police she was acquainted with Mr. Chhibber and encountered him at a local bar early in the evening of August 3. Late in the evening, near Oak Bluffs Harbor, she became upset about an unrelated matter and encountered Mr. Chhibber again. He offered to console her.
The victim said that they walked from the harbor front toward the Martha's Vineyard Campmeeting Association property. In an area described as quiet and dark, she told police that Mr. Chhibber sexually assaulted her, despite her loud demands to stop.
The victim told police she was able to escape Mr. Chhibber's grasp.
The victim spoke to police on August 12. She told police she delayed speaking to them because she was initially afraid and embarrassed.
Mr. Chhibber told police he walked with the victim in an attempt to console her, but denied touching or raping her, according to court documents.
Oak Bluffs police said their investigation remains open and active.
Two arrested on drug dealing charges
Oak Bluffs police arrested a man who is the ongoing target of a Martha's Vineyard drug task force investigation on drug dealing charges last weekend.
Nelio Maciel, 35, of Oak Bluffs was taken into custody in the early morning hours of August 15, after police on a routine patrol witnessed what they believe was a drug transaction. They said a search of Mr. Maciel's vehicle, parked near the municipal bathrooms off Kennebec Avenue, netted 22 plastic bags police believe contained cocaine, and a small quantity of pills police believe are Ecstasy.
After questioning, police searched Mr. Maciel's home at 203 Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, and discovered large quantities of drugs and cash concealed behind wall boards. A total of 221 grams of powder suspected to be cocaine and 22.5 grams of pills suspected to be Ecstasy were seized from Mr. Maciel's home and car. Also seized was $4,357 in cash. Mr. Maciel was arraigned in Edgartown District Court on two charges of narcotics trafficking. He was ordered held on $25,000 bail.
A short time later, very near the same Kennebec Avenue location, police observed Tyrell Patterson conducting what they believed was a drug transaction. Mr. Patterson fled when police tried to question him.
"At this time I engaged Patterson in a brief foot pursuit onto Circuit Avenue where Patterson fell to the ground, presumably due to the fact that his pants were around his knees," wrote officer Kevin Aldred in his report. After a search of the suspect, police say they seized three bags of marijuana and $1,120 in cash.
Mr. Patterson was arraigned in Edgartown District Court on charges of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, resisting arrest, and disorderly conduct. Bail was set at $400.
Police make arrest at Lake Tashmoo
Tisbury police arrested the 20-year-old driver of a pickup truck with a large quantity of alcoholic beverages at the town's Lake Tashmoo public beach parking lot last week. Six passengers in the truck, all of them also were under 21, were not charged.
The Tisbury Police Department had stepped up patrols at Lake Tashmoo last week after Department of Public Works (DPW) lifeguards reported finding the remains of illegal bonfires, trash, cans, and broken bottles at the beach. Officers on the midnight shift come in early and work a few extra hours to patrol the area, interim Tisbury Police Chief Daniel Hanavan said this week.
"We want to get the message out that we're not going to tolerate that behavior on the beach, because it's not fair to the other people trying to use it," he said.
At 10 pm on August 12, Sgt. Rodney Sylvia was patrolling Herring Creek Road. When a white Toyota Tundra traveling ahead of him stopped in the beach parking lot, he noticed wood pallets in the back, which are often used for bonfires, Chief Hanavan said.
Sergeant Sylvia reported that after the driver greeted him politely, he looked in the open back of the pickup with his flashlight where he also saw three 30-packs of beer and a bottle of Jim Beam bourbon.
Everyone in the truck appeared to be under the age of 21. According to Sergeant Sylvia's report, the driver, William Bardeen, age 20, of Dedham, denied that the alcoholic beverages in the back were his and also denied that he knew they were there.
Sergeant Sylvia, assisted by Officer Scott Ogden, arrested Mr. Bardeen, who was operating the vehicle.
The truck belonged to his friend, David Miller. When contacted by the police, Mr. Miller gave permission for one of the passengers, who were from Belmont, Concord, and Dedham, to drive the truck home. The alcoholic beverages were confiscated and thrown out, Chief Hanavan said.
Mr. Bardeen carried a false I.D. giving his age as 21, which was found in an inventory of his possessions at the Dukes County Jail, Chief Hanavan said. Police applied for charges against him as a minor in possession of alcohol and possession of a false I.D.
SSA defers to New Bedford on winter service
The Steamship Authority (SSA) met Tuesday in Oak Bluffs and decided to take no action on a request by the New England Fast Ferry Company to end winter high speed ferry service between Martha's Vineyard and New Bedford.
Company officials had asked the boatline members to modify its licensing agreement due to a sharp drop in ridership during the winter months. SSA management supported the request.
However, New Bedford member John Tierney asked the board to defer action until the next monthly meeting. Mr. Tierney said New Bedford Mayor Scott Lang and harbor development officials want to explore all options before ending the service. One possibility under discussion is the addition of a stop in Woods Hole that would attract more commuters.
In other action, management presented the draft 2010 summer and fall operating schedules. Wayne Lamson, SSA general manager, said there are no major changes.
The fall schedule would be extended to January 2, 2011 in order to accommodate holiday traffic. The Governor's last round trip of the night would depart ten minutes earlier. That change would allow the SSA to consolidate vehicles on the Martha's Vineyard when there is sufficient space, saving costs.
MVC approves hospital landscaping plan
Following a marathon review process, in December 2006 the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC), the Island's powerful regional permitting body, approved the construction of a new Martha's Vineyard Hospital building. That approval came with a list of 68 conditions that included a requirement that the hospital return with a landscaping plan subject to MVC approval.
On August 13, following a presentation by the hospital's landscape design team and discussion with hospital officials, the MVC unanimously approved the plan as presented with the caveat that the hospital team return for approval of its plans for signs.
The hospital is scheduled to be completed in January, 2010. The final regulatory hurdle is a requirement that the hospital come up with 60 additional parking spaces. "We are working on it," Tim Walsh, hospital CEO, told the commission members.
Landscape architect Kris Horiuchi of Horiuchi, Solien Landscape Architects explained that she had relied on a palette of native plants that would do well in the Island environment and provide screening, shade and color. The design includes shade trees and a roof garden containing low maintenance perennials.
Much of the hour-long discussion focused on the bike path, or multi-use path in MVC parlance, that now runs through the hospital grounds. MVC executive director Mark London expressed concern over the striping that now designates the path and the possible conflicts with vehicle traffic as the path winds around the hospital.
Mr. Walsh told Mr. London that the best solution would be to utilize the shoulder of the existing roadway. He said a hospital parking lot was no place for a path and reminded the commissioners of a previous accident in which an ill person hit the side of the building. "Those things happen in a hospital," he said.
Pedestrian, infant struck by van at Five Corners
Rocco DeMaio from New Haven, Conn., was struck by a van while crossing in the Beach Road crosswalk at the Five Corners intersection in Vineyard Haven on August 13. Mr. DeMaio was carrying his 17-month-old son at the time, while his wife walked ahead of them.
According to investigating police Officer Scott Ogden, Mr. DeMaio said the van knocked him and his son to the ground, and the van's front tire ran over his left foot. His wife turned to yell when she saw the van coming at them and slipped and fell.
All three were transported to Martha's Vineyard Hospital for evaluation. Interim Police Chief Dan Hanavan said this week that no one was seriously injured.
Diana Stewart of Vineyard Haven was the driver of the gray 2009 GMC Savanna van that struck Mr. DeMaio, Officer Ogden said.
According to his report, Ms. Stewart said she was stopped at the stop sign on Lagoon Pond Road, waiting to turn left onto Beach Street. As a Vineyard Transit Authority bus approached the intersection to turn left onto Water Street, Ms. Stewart said she thought that a car stopped behind the bus was waiting to let her turn.
As the bus cleared the front of her van, she continued turning left. She said she did not see Mr. DeMaio in the crosswalk and accidentally struck him.
Ms. Stewart was cited for not yielding to a pedestrian in a crosswalk.
Oak Bluffs wastewater expansion clears hurdle
State regulators notified Oak Bluffs on August 7 that plans to develop additional sewer capacity will not require an environmental review.
The Massachusetts Environmental Protection Agency (MEPA) concluded that the town's plans to add additional leaching beds to land near the wastewater treatment plant known as the Leonardo property will provide a net benefit to the environment, allowing the town to skip the long and costly environmental impact review.
The town will still need permits from local and state boards to develop the property. Agencies including the Martha's Vineyard Commission, the state's Coastal Zone Management agency, and the Oak Bluffs water district registered concerns, based on the project's location in the Lagoon Pond watershed, and near two public water supply wells.
The proposed expansion project would increase the town's daily sewer capacity to about 600,000 gallons, representing an increase of 62 percent.
MV Drive for Life testifies for "David's Law"
The state senate's Joint Committee on Transportation (JCT) recently held a hearing on a bill that would add a 5-percent surcharge to moving violations to fund driver's education classes in public high schools.
Based on a petition by Tom and Barbara Furino of Edgartown, the legislation, if enacted, will be named "David's Law" in memory of their son, a 17-year-old student at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) who died in a car crash in 2004 with his best friend Kevin Johnson.
After David's death, the Furinos founded the non-profit MV Drive for Life (MVDL) to promote driver's education and make it available to all teens.
Senator O'Leary helped the Furinos and MVDL draft "David's Law," based on "Joshua's Law" in Georgia. He filed bill 1945 with the state senate last January.
The Furinos, YMCA interim executive director and MVDL executive committee member Margaret (Peg) Regan, State Rep. Tim Madden, and MVDL board member Gayle Mone provided testimony at the July 30 committee hearing.
The Furinos and MVDL encourage everyone to write letters in support of the bill to the JTC chairmen, Steven A. Baddour, State House, Rm. 134, and Joseph Wagner, State House, Rm. 208, Boston, MA 02133.
Once the bill is reported out of the committee, it goes before the state senate for consideration.
Security arrangements restrict aircraft activity
By Michael Norton, State House News Service
Travelers depending upon general aviation to get to and from Martha's Vineyard for late-summer fun are tracking the potential threat posed by Hurricane Bill, but facing certain post-9/11 flight restrictions in play with the expected arrival of President Barack Obama this weekend for a family vacation.
"Not a very good thing for general aviation in the Commonwealth," Massachusetts Aeronautics Commission member Robert Cooper summed up Wednesday.
The commission is helping spread the word to airports all over the Northeast about a Federal Aviation Administration flight advisory, issued on Monday, aimed at ensuring the safety of the president. Special temporary flight restrictions (TFRs) will be in place from Aug. 23 until Aug. 30, but may be changed by the FAA with little or no notice. Violations of the rules "may result in the use of force," according to the advisory.
General aviation is the use of civilian aircraft for purposes other than commercial passenger transportation, for example, personal or business flights.
The rules require general aviation pilots to seek waivers for travel to the Vineyard three days in advance of planned flights, with aircraft destined for the Island to land first, for security clearance, at either Barnstable Airport, T.F. Green Airport in Rhode Island, or Westchester County Airport in New York. The FAA has designated those three facilities as the Vineyard's "gateway" airports for security screening. General aviation aircraft leaving the Vineyard must be security screened at that facility before departure.
For general aviation travel in an outer ring between 10 and 30 miles from the Vineyard - an area that encompasses Nantucket, Barnstable and New Bedford airports that see heavy activity in the summer - all aircraft entering and exiting the ring must remain in two-way radio communications with the air traffic controller and be on an active flight plan with a discrete beacon code assigned by air traffic control.
Sean Flynn, the manager of Martha's Vineyard Airport, said the restrictions might discourage some recreational air traffic, but most general aviation would be accommodated, as long as they follow the special rules. "It's not so restrictive that it's prohibitive," Mr. Flynn said. "It just takes more pre-planning on the pilot's part."
Bill Richardson, a veteran pilot and aviation planner with Jacobs Engineering, said that with President Bush's visit to the family's Kennebunkport home, Maine has already experienced post-9/11 presidential flight security, but the precautions will be new for most Massachusetts residents and visitors.
Flight restrictions associated with presidential travel have intensified since President Clinton vacationed on the Vineyard in the 1990s. "It wasn't as severe of an impact," Mr. Richardson said. "It's the way things are nowadays."
Flynn said airspace restrictions when the Clintons visited the Vineyard covered a two-mile radius around their residences and airspace up to 1,500 feet. For Obama, restrictions span 30 miles and airspace rising 18,000 feet.
"It's of a much greater magnitude in terms of the scope and size," Flynn said.
Regularly scheduled commercial passenger and cargo flights to and from the Vineyard face fewer restrictions than general aviation, as long as flight overseers follow Transportation Security Administration security protocols. Manager Flynn predicted Obama's visit would have "zero" impact on the Vineyard's commercial flights.The special flight rules kick in on August 23.
In addition, Katama Airfield will be closed during the week of the first family's visit because they do not possess the necessary screening facilities required under the TFR.
Oak Bluffs wants banner visit for Obama
The Oak Bluffs selectmen took steps Thursday to welcome President Obama to the Vineyard, and more specifically Oak Bluffs. Because of a scheduling conflict, the regular Tuesday evening meeting was postponed until Thursday, August 13. All four selectmen in attendance pledged personal donations to create and hang a street banner welcoming the first family.
Selectman Ron DiOrio displayed a poster created by the Oak Bluffs Association featuring a portrait of the first family, which is being offered for sale.
At the meeting Thursday evening, selectman Kerry Scott said that Michelle Obama and her two children were already on the Island and had dined in Oak Bluffs. According to news reports published in The New York Times, the Washington Post, and other newspapers, Ms. Obama was at the White House on Thursday, August 13. She hosted a reception for Sonia Sotomayor, the newest associate justice of the Supreme Court in the morning, and a ceremony in the afternoon to award the Medal of Freedom to 16 people, including Massachusetts Senator Edward Kennedy.
In other action, the board approved a business license for Ed McGill, owner of Waters of the World. The interactive aquarium at 56 Narragansett Avenue opened to visitors on August 14, the day following the selectmen's meeting.