Stolen cash returned to Alley's, Garcia's
All of the money stolen August 18 from Alley's General Store and Garcia's Deli in West Tisbury was turned over to police last Thursday and returned to the stores.
"The money was returned anonymously," said Sgt. Dan Rossi, who led the investigation into the burglaries. "Every penny."
Sgt. Rossi said an individual who he would not name returned the cash directly to police last Thursday, after the money was given to the individual. A total of $810 was stolen from Garcia's Deli, and $171 was taken from Alley's.
Sgt. Rossi said he conducted extensive interviews with many people during the investigation. He had suspects in mind, though he said he did not have enough evidence to seek formal charges. While the investigation remains open, Sgt. Rossi said new evidence would be needed to move it forward.
Sgt. Rossi said the investigation, combined with pressure from those concerned about the two West Tisbury institutions, led to the return of the money.
"It was community policing at its best," he said, "when you form a partnership with the community to solve and deter crimes. Somebody got back to someone and they realized the error of their ways."
Sgt. Rossi said there was no damage to the stores. "The good part about this is that both places, prior to the money being returned, already took steps to secure their stores better," Sgt. Rossi said.
Swimmer suffers injuries off Philbin Beach
Jaemon Gillies, 40, of Vineyard Haven was transported to Massachusetts General Hospital after he suffered serious back and neck injuries while bodysurfing off Philbin Beach in Aquinnah Sunday.
Tropical storm Danny swept up the East Coast and passed over Martha's Vineyard Saturday bringing torrential rains and high surf, much to the delight of the Vineyard surfing community.
Mr. Gillies was among those riding the waves Sunday. About noon John Patton, a seasonal resident of Aquinnah, was with his family on the beach watching the waves when he noticed a boogie board wash up on the beach.
A short time later he saw two surfers use the boogie board to help Mr. Gillies out of the water and up on the beach. Mr. Patton spoke to Mr. Gillies who said he was fine.
"I realized he might actually not be fine," Mr. Patton told The Times in a telephone call Tuesday.
Due to the lack of cell phone reception Mr. Patton went to the parking lot and used a pay telephone to call 911 at 12:15 pm.
Aquinnah police officer Ryan Natichioni and Sergeant Paul Manning along with Tri-town ambulance personnel responded to the beach. Anticipating the possible need to transport Mr. Gillies off the beach Sergeant Manning arrived on the department's ATV.
Ken Gillies of Vineyard Haven said his son's injuries included a fractured vertebrae and ribs and punctured lung. He said his son is expected to return home this week in a brace and will need a lot of care.
Mr. Gillies said that if it were not for the people who helped, his son would likely not be alive. He said most people never think that a day of surfing could end with such severe injuries.
Greenpeace masquerades as MV Times
Representatives of Greenpeace USA, the national environmental organization best known for protesting commercial whaling, distributed a four-page message to President Obama, on August 27. On casual inspection, the Greenpeace publication displayed a nameplate that resembled the masthead of The Martha's Vineyard Times.
The nameplate suggested the familiar blue Times logo, but on closer inspection, it said, "The Martha's Vineyard Future Times." The Greenpeace USA name appears in small print on the bottom of the page. Inside the tab, the reader finds the Greenpeace message regarding global warming and alternative energy sources.
On Thursday morning, The Times office received calls and visits from readers and newsstand proprietors curious about the unfamiliar publication and wondering why Greenpeace had resorted to masquerading as The Times. One woman said she supported much of what Greenpeace does, but objected to this tactic.
In a telephone conversation last Thursday morning, David Pomerantz, a Greenpeace field organizer, said the publication was meant to be a "thoughtful and clever" way to look at the future choices faced by the Island and the country. Asked why Greenpeace had decided to masquerade as The Times, he said the intent was not to mislead anyone and that it should have been obvious to any reader after five or ten seconds that it was not The Times.
Asked what he would think if another organization were to use a slightly altered version of the Greenpeace logo to deliver its message, Mr. Pomerantz said he could not envision such a thing happening.
"Our readers should know that this hoax was not a Martha's Vineyard Times publication," Times managing editor Nelson Sigelman said in an update posted on mvtimes.com, "and we are certainly not complicit in tricking people this way. We regret the confusion it may have caused our readers."
Writing in a blog entry on the Greenpeace website, Mr. Pomerantz said, "a dozen Greenpeace volunteers from Massachusetts stepped off the ferry on to the Vineyard, armed with several thousand copies of a spoof newspaper we produced, "The Martha's Vineyard Future Times.
"At a glance, the paper looked like the popular Martha's Vineyard Times newspaper, but our edition was dated to August 27th, 2020. On the front page, it told the story of what Martha's Vineyard could look like if President Obama embraces the clean energy revolution we need... On the back page, we see the grim consequences of inaction.
"When tourists and residents received the newspapers from our activists," Mr. Pomerantz added, "quizzical looks often gave way to a laugh or a 'thank you' for helping to spread the word."
According to one store clerk, not everyone was pleased with the lobbying effort along Main Street in Vineyard Haven. She said at first shop owners said yes when asked to allow the flyers to be placed in their shops because they thought it was The Times, but they were then surprised to find it was not. She described the tactics and volunteers as "obnoxious."
Edgartown ready to hang up town hall phone system
Edgartown selectmen voted Monday to replace the phone system in town hall. The system is the source of complaints about dropped calls, poor connections, system failures, and unresponsive technical representatives. Town hall was without phone service for parts of two consecutive days in August, according to information technology manager Adam Darack.
Selectmen authorized Mr. Darack to seek bids and negotiate terms for a new communications system.
"In the end, we may be saving money," selectman Margaret Serpa said. "It's a big problem."
During one recent outage, the town took action at considerable expense. "It cost us a lot of money to bring in a temporary service," said town administrator Pam Dolby.
The 3Com Corporation system was installed five years ago, at a cost of $33,000. Mr. Darack expects the new system to cost less $25,000.
"We're going to get at least a five-year parts and labor warranty," Mr. Darack said.
West Tisbury selectmen dismiss taxi complaint
Following a public hearing last week, West Tisbury selectmen dismissed a complaint by Bluefish Taxi against competitor MV Taxi. The selectmen decided that the allegations of overcharging lacked plausibility. Selectman Richard Knabel said that what the board heard was hearsay, and there was no basis on which to take action.
Bluefish taxi owner Gary Davidson accused MV Taxi of overcharging, not using authorized rate sheets, and not displaying a rate sheet as required by town regulations. Attorney Dan Larkosh represented Mr. Davidson.
MV Taxi owner Morgan Reitzas admitted that rate cards were not displayed for a brief period while awaiting approval of new rates from the town, and he described the hearing as embarrassing for all concerned.
Two weeks ago selectmen approved a new rate schedule for West Tisbury-licensed cabs, and they said that they plan to revamp taxi regulations in the near future.
In other business, the board approved hiring Russell Ventura and James Neville as police officers to fill existing vacancies. Both men have attended the police academy, worked with the county sheriff's department, and have experience on Island police forces, Chief Beth Toomey told the board.
The town will temporarily secure more than a dozen windows in need of repair at the West Tisbury School and continue the repairs during the school year, selectman Dianne Powers told the board, summarizing a meeting she attended last week with school officials and the J.K. Scanlan construction company, which completed the project 13 years ago.
She said a "series of errors" resulted in the malfunction and that financial responsibility for the repairs has not been resolved.
Chilmark will review beach practices, zoning
Chilmark selectmen Tuesday placed two items on their fall agenda that are certain to stimulate discussion. Beach safety in October and three-acre zoning in November will be the topics.
"We're all worn out after a hurricane, a tropical storm and an eventful summer so let's catch our breath this month," selectman Warren Doty said, before proposing that police, firemen, EMTs, and members of the beach committee, Tri-Town Ambulance, and beach associations be invited to a public forum on beach safety at the selectmen's weekly meeting on Tuesday, October 6.
Mr. Doty said the discussion would allow the town and public safety agencies to review "how we did, what we learned" and discuss any needed changes in policy or protocols related to beach management, lifeguards, and emergency response. Two water related deaths occurred in August along remote Chilmark beaches.
Selectmen also agreed to ask the planning board to sponsor a public meeting in November to discuss the town's three-acre zoning policy. Mr. Doty noted that the new draft Island Plan encourages zoning review. "It's fairly popular among planners today that three-acre zoning is not good," he said. "They are teaching it at planning school. We think three-acre zoning has worked for Chilmark. There is the concept of smart growth so let's be smart in Chilmark and get 50 people in a room, review (policy) and see what's going on."
Chairman J.B. Riggs Parker suggested that the town also ought to review its policy, in light of rumblings about proposed changes in state law related to zoning.
In other business, selectmen plan to interview finalists for the town clerk job at their meeting on Sept.15.
The board approved a financial risk assessment report and office procedure manual submitted by town accountant Tom Wilson.
Selectmen approved a plan to complete edging several perimeter areas of the town hall parking lot with Belgian bricks at a cost of $3,000, which includes removal of metal edging now in place.
Finally, selectman Warren Doty gave credit to executive secretary Tim Carroll and assistant Nina Lombardi for scheduling a contractor certification workshop held August 27 at the Chilmark town hall. Mr. Doty said more than 50 contractors attended and learned the details of state certification for municipal projects and how to use help that is available for certification from state agencies. Selectman Frank Fenner thanked The Martha's Vineyard Times for its advance promotion and coverage of the program (August 20, "State regs frustrate small builders").
Edgartown Library Foundation puts on the dog
The Edgartown Library Foundation will sponsor a "Frankly, we love our library" day on Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 7 from 4 to 7 pm at the Katama Airfield.
The event is open to townspeople and the general public. The Right Fork Diner will serve up hot dogs, baked beans, hamburgers and make-your-own ice cream sundaes. In addition there will be field events, a climbing wall, pony rides, and airplane acrobatics.
Tickets - $12 for adults and $8 for children age 8 and under - are available at the Edgartown Library, Edgartown Town Hall, Edgartown National Bank, as well as at The Right Fork Diner.
In the event of rain, the event will be held on the following day, Tuesday. For more information, visit edgartownlibrary.org.
Island schools prepare swine flu response
As a new school year starts, many parents are understandably concerned about a possible outbreak of the H1N1 influenza virus, known as swine flu, superintendent of public schools James Weiss said this week. "They want to know what we've got in place, and I think we have some things that will keep people informed and help them make the right decisions," he said.
In an essay published this morning on the OpEd page of The Times, Mr. Weiss said school nurses have already met with local town health agents and other Island medical personnel on a regular basis to prepare and plan for a possible outbreak of the virus.
Health agents and the Vineyard Nursing Association also are discussing possible plans to hold flu inoculation clinics in the Island schools.
"We would be providing the space and we'll work with them, but we're not setting them up at this point," Mr. Weiss said in a phone call yesterday.
At the All-Island School Committee's (AISC) meeting on September 10, Mr. Weiss plans to request formal approval to appoint Dr. Michael Goldfein as a school physician, under a provision in the Massachusetts General Laws. Although Dr. Goldfein, the chief of primary care and a pediatrician at Martha's Vineyard Hospital, has unofficially served in that role for many years, Mr. Weiss said the increasing issues associated with the H1N1 virus warrant his formal appointment.
"The school physician serves as the district's official advisor and works with school nurses to provide appropriate medical support and advice," Mr. Weiss said. "This year I would expect him to advise us on a response to the H1N1 flu."
Individual schools have always included a small amount of money in their budgets for physician services, Mr. Weiss said. He plans to include the expense for a school physician, which he estimates at several thousand dollars, in his next superintendent's office/shared services budget.
A formal contract for Dr. Goldfein's services will be drawn up pending the AISC's approval.
Construction milestone at new YMCA
Construction workers added one of the final pieces of steel, and planted an American flag atop the structural framework of the new YMCA building Wednesday. The $11.5 million building is scheduled to open next spring. The project includes an aquatic center, wellness center with an adjoining dance/aerobics studio, a teen center, a child watch area, an outdoor play and camp area, a café, and administrative offices.
Benefit for premature Souza twins
Friends of the Souza family will hold a benefit Saturday from 4 to 8 pm at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury. Twins David and Jhonatan Souza were born a few months premature. David suffers from multiple handicaps and is receiving regular medical treatment in Boston.
Friends want to help lighten the family's financial burden. "We would like everyone to come out and enjoy a potluck dinner with music and children's games, and to make a donation if they can," said organizer John Hoff. For more information, call 508-696-0581.
Bridge construction to begin after Labor Day
Construction on Little Bridge and Big Bridge on Beach Road between Oak Bluffs and Edgartown will begin shortly after Labor Day. The bridges will be rebuilt by the Mig Corporation of Acton, which was contracted for the project by the Massachusetts Highway Department (MassHighway).
A large crane with a 200-foot boom will aid in the bridge construction. Ralph Packer, whose company R.M. Packer will help with the disposal of the old bridges, explained that the crane was transported to the Island last spring on a barge in modular pieces. Partially assembled on the barge, the crane's construction was completed once it reached its temporary home in R.M. Packer's yard.
Mr. Packer said that the construction is also on hold until 80-foot long concrete piles, which are also being transported via barge from Virginia, arrive on the Island on September 16.
According to Don Voghel, chief executive officer of the Mig Corporation, construction on the two bridges is scheduled to begin within the next few weeks, and it will be ongoing through the winter of 2010.
"What we need to do is work all through the winter, and right up to Memorial Day of next year," he said. "We will probably complete half of each bridge and leave traffic flowing, and use alternate traffic with temporary signals. Since it's the off-season for tourists, we expect to complete half of each bridge, and then go home for summer."
On the inconvenience that year-round residents may suffer as a result of the bridge construction, Mr. Voghel said, "We're going to staff it heavily to see what we can get done. We hope we have a good winter."
Wind turbine forum in Aquinnah on Wednesday
The Aquinnah Planning Board is sponsoring a public forum to discuss proposed wind turbine regulations at 6 pm on Wednesday, Sept. 9, at the town offices building.
The town's proposed wind energy bylaw addresses issues associated with the special permitting, siting, installation, and decommissioning of land-based private and municipal wind energy generating facilities.
Matt Pelikan, Islands Program Director for the Nature Conservancy in Massachusetts, will address the issue of the impact of wind turbines on migratory birds at next week's forum.
In a Letter to the Editor published last week, the contact number for Nell Coogan, Rep. Timothy Madden's local liaison, was incorrect. The correct number is (508) 693-3200. The number for Rep. Madden's office in Boston is (617) 722-2810.
A series of quotes in a report in last week's Times on the West Tisbury taxpayers meeting, "West Tis non-resident taxpayers make hay at town meeting," was incorrectly attributed to Nancy Accola. Also, assistant tax assessor Kristina West was incorrectly identified as Kristina Brown.
An article in the August 27 edition of The Times incorrectly identified the site of the Island's first African-American church as the home of minister O.K. Denniston. His name was Oscar E. Denniston.