VNA benefit golf tournament Monday
Golfers have an opportunity to hit the links favored by President Barack Obama and help a good cause. Monday, the Vineyard Golf Club in Edgartown will host the Martha's Vineyard Savings Bank Golf Classic, a benefit for the Vineyard Nursing Association. Play begins at 8 am. Money raised will help support the VNA.
To make the event more affordable for Islanders, this year tournament organizers lowered the admission fee to $200 per player and lowered the sponsorships for greens and tees by $50 each. For more information, call 508-696-0785.
West Tisbury selectmen approve court action
Following a joint meeting with the town affordable housing committee, West Tisbury selectmen and housing officials last week voted to allocate $40,000 to help settle a lengthy court case brought in order to return a foreclosed West Tisbury house to the affordable housing pool for resale.
According to West Tisbury town counsel Ron Rappaport, the West Tisbury contribution from its existing affordable housing funds, along with $290,000 from the sale of the home, should be sufficient to reach a court-monitored settlement with Saxon Mortgage Services Inc., which had foreclosed on the property formerly owned by Shawn R. Cote.
In December 2007, the town filed suit in Dukes County Superior Court to wrest control of the house, built under the town's affordable housing guidelines, from the Texas-based mortgage lender. The town charged Saxon had engaged in "unfair and deceptive business conduct."
After Saxon moved the case from state to federal court, all efforts to sell the home were frozen while attempts were made to reach an agreeable settlement.
Further terms of the agreement stipulate that once ownership of the home returns to the West Tisbury Affordable Housing pool, the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority (DCRHA) is to quickly hold a lottery of potential purchasers and complete the resale within 90 days, according to Mr. Rappaport. The home is a two-bedroom contemporary log home built in 2003 that may require some interior renovation and the purchase of appliances.
The West Tisbury selectmen requested that the DCRHA give preferential consideration to eligible purchasers who are either West Tisbury residents or employed in West Tisbury as part of the lottery process.
In other business, representatives of the Massachusetts Bureau of Forest Fire Control presented the Nat's Farm Landowners' Association, represented by President Bill Skinner, new roadway signs to recognize the association's successful completion of the national "Firewise Communities USA" program to assess and reduce the threats of home and property fires. Nat's Farm is now one of two communities in the Commonwealth to have completed the process and maintained its certification.
Edgartown scallop season starts early
Edgartown's commercial scallop season is set to open October 15, giving local fishermen an earlier than usual start to the season. The initial two weeks of the season will be restricted to the outer harbor. Cape Poge Bay will be opened to commercial fishermen on November 2. Limits were set again this year at three 10-gallon washbaskets per day.
Shellfish constable Paul Bagnall expects a bountiful season. "We're looking at a real decent supply," he said. If he were a commercial fisherman, however, he said he would be concerned that the supply will push wholesale prices down. "Nantucket is looking good, and there's at least as many scallops on the Cape as there was last year."
The recreational scallop season will open October 1 for all Edgartown waters, with one exception. Family permit holders will not be allowed to drag for scallops in Cape Poge Bay until October 30.
The dates and limits came in the form of a recommendation from the town's shellfish committee after a public hearing. They were approved by a unanimous vote of the board of selectmen at their Monday meeting.
Interim U.S. Senator bill goes to governor
Gov. Deval Patrick is expected to sign a bill as early as today that will allow him to appoint an interim U.S. senator to serve until a January 19 special election.
The House last week approved the bill 97-58. The Senate voted Tuesday 24-16 in favor of the proposal to allow Governor Patrick to fill the seat left vacant when Sen. Edward Kennedy died on August 25.
Cape and Islands' lawmakers Representative Tim Madden and Senator Robert O'Leary voted in favor of the bill.
In 2004, the Legislature stripped Republican Gov. Mitt Romney of the power to appoint a senator in the event of a vacancy and established a special election procedure. The legislation the governor is expected to sign would reverse that appointment power, for interim senators, while retaining the special election.
Under the Massachusetts Constitution, laws take effect 90 days after they are signed by the governor; however, the Legislature routinely appends "emergency preambles" that put laws into effect immediately. However, such emergency preambles require the support of two-thirds of the members of the House and Senate. Neither branch passed the bill with a two-thirds majority. However, the Constitution also empowers the governor to bypass the Legislature by submitting a letter to the secretary of state declaring the law to be an emergency measure to protect "public peace, health, safety or convenience."
Like the House, the Senate adopted a resolution declaring the body to be against the interim appointee running in the special election. Although some lawmakers had pushed for such a provision to be in the bill, others worried that such a prohibition could be unconstitutional.
Republicans continued to hammer on the point that Democrats changed the law in 2004 to keep appointment power away from Republican Gov. Mitt Romney at a time when it appeared Sen. John Kerry could win the presidency. Back then, Democrats approved a bill for a special election process but rejected Republican proposals for an interim senator. Legislative Democrats also cast aside proposals for an interim senator in 2006.
Drunk driving charged after motorcycle accident
An Edgartown man faces drunk driving charges, after crashing his motorcycle on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road last week. The accident happened about 10:45 pm on Wednesday, September 16.
According to the police report, 40-year old Michael Jackson of Edgartown passed a vehicle at a high rate of speed, pulled back into the lane, but then rear-ended another vehicle. Police found the 2006 Buell motorcycle and Mr. Jackson lying in the road when they arrived. Mr. Jackson was transported by ambulance to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital for treatment.
Police will file charges of driving under the influence of alcohol, negligent operation, and speeding.
No one else was hurt in the accident.
NASA lit up the sky Saturday night
A NASA experiment was the source of a bright light clearly visible in the southern sky Saturday night.
A rocket launched from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia at 7:46 pm Saturday spewed exhaust particles above the Earth. The result was a bright light that expanded to the shape of a cone and then began to dissipate as a cloud of particles.
A Black Brant XII Suborbital Sounding Rocket was launched to study the Earth's highest clouds, a NASA spokesman told CNN. The light came from an artificial noctilucent cloud formed by the exhaust particles of the rocket's fourth stage about 173 miles high.
CNN reported the lights sparked a flurry of phone calls to authorities and CNN affiliate stations from New Jersey to Massachusetts.
Natural noctilucent clouds are found in the upper atmosphere as spectacular displays that are most easily seen just after sunset, according to a NASA statement published earlier in September. "The clouds are the highest clouds in Earth's atmosphere, located in the mesosphere around 50 miles altitude."
Noctilucent clouds, also known as night-shining clouds, were first described in 1885, two years after the massive eruption of Krakatoa, a volcanic island in Indonesia, sent a plume of ash and debris up to 80 km into Earth's atmosphere, according to a NASA press release issued last year describing a proposed experiment. The eruption affected global climate and weather for years and may have produced the first noctilucent clouds.
Bridge Housing Corporation capitulates
Bridge Housing Corporation (BHC) announced this week that its 14.8-acre Bridge Commons affordable housing site off State Road in Tisbury is for sale. BHC plans to target firms and organizations that specialize in affordable housing development in marketing the sale of the property.
The Bridge Housing Corporation, a small non-profit organization composed primarily of local religious groups, had been working since 2002 on a plan to build Bridge Commons, a Chapter 40B affordable housing project with 22 houses for sale off State Road just east of the Scottish Bake House.
"It is with great frustration and disappointment that the Bridge board has made this decision," executive director Dick Mezger said in a phone call yesterday.
Mr. Mezger said the delays in the legal process involved with abutters, plus extra expenses, the carrying cost of the project, the change in the mix needed for affordability requirements, and declines in grant money, left the BHC with a big site purchase coming due and no money.
"We have to do something to satisfy our lender, but we would still really like to have affordable housing on that site, and anybody with any ideas about any kind of collaborative or other approach, we would dearly love to hear from them," Mr. Mezger said.
"That would give us something that would take our lender out, and they'd be happy, and it would also keep it affordable, if possible," he added. "We're just doing the necessary business activity of dealing with our financial situation in a responsible manner, but that doesn't mean that we don't want to do affordable housing."
For further information or suggestions, contact Mr. Mezger at 508-693-3637.
Oak Bluffs special town meeting warrant set
At their regular meeting Tuesday, the Oak Bluffs selectmen set an eight article warrant for the October 20 special town meeting. The first article, and the reason the meeting was called, would revise the current budget downward by a total of $499,145 reflecting layoffs, reduced hours, job consolidation, or unfilled positions for five town employees and school employees. It also reflects reduced benefits costs for the eliminated positions and reduced spending in the expense accounts of several departments.
Voters will also be asked to approve $19,985 to hire a part-time human resources specialist. That position may be filled by one of the employees who was recently laid off.
Another article asks voters to transfer $225,000 from the resident home site account, to provide funding to finish the conversion of the old library to affordable housing and retail space. The total cost of the project is now estimated to be about $900,000. The project is currently out to bid.
Another article asks that $250,000 be transferred from the ambulance reserve fund to enter into a five-year lease purchase agreement to buy a new ambulance.
During her selectman's report, Kerry Scott again raised objections to the layoff of town employees. Though she conceded she voted for the cost reduction plan, she criticized the layoffs. She referred to a letter sent by the elected members of the board of health, objecting to the layoff of the health department's administrative assistant.
"This is one of those things I wish had been handled differently," Ms. Scott said. "The board of health is elected. The board of health was not consulted about these changes." She said she is concerned about an increased workload in the health department.
Chairman Greg Coogan responded to the criticism. "I don't think we're leaving them without assistance," he said. "There are going to be struggles. There are going to be adjustments that we have to make because we haven't traveled down this road before."
Island entrepreneur pursues Ice Buddy market
About three years ago, Pamela Norris Norwood, an entrepreneur with Island ties, asked students at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School to help her devise a marketing plan for her new product, Ice Buddy.
Ms. Norwood came up the concept of a portable system for storing medications, ice, water and food in emergencies in April 2005, months before the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Designed with two separate modules, Ice Buddy's top portion, called MedMate, is a cooling unit that provides storage space for medications, medical supplies, and food.
The Buddy Bag below holds a seven-pound bag of ice, a standard size sold in grocery and convenience stores. Although a special lining slows down melting time, as the ice does melt, the water can be accessed for drinking via a spigot.
The high school students who worked with Ms. Norwood in 2006 analyzed advertising costs, designed marketing surveys, suggested media outlets, and created advertisements as a class project. In a recent email, Ms. Norwood said it has been a long road since then toward getting Ice Buddy into the marketplace.
As Ice Buddy System's chairman and chief executive officer, Ms. Norwood has lined up manufacturers in New Jersey and Virginia that are waiting to begin mass production. She also found a plant in Georgia she hopes to purchase, so her company can begin its own manufacturing of Ice Buddy Systems. However, the economy has made it difficult to find major investors, Ms. Norwood said.
"Hopefully, it will not take another Hurricane Katrina, a 9-11 type of incident or an H1N1 pandemic to enable production to begin," she said. "In the meantime, we continue to let the government and investors know we are here ready to serve, and time will tell who will step forward to champion the cause for saving lives."
Although not yet mass-produced, Ice Buddy Systems are available for purchase online at icebuddysystems.com. Introductory prices are $250 for the Buddy System, $195 for the Buddy Bag only, and $65 for MedMate only.
For more information, visit the website or call (301) 367-4519.