Facebook photos lead to alcohol charges
For several months, Chilmark Police received reports of drinking parties attended by underage teens at a Welles Way residence, occupied by Beach White, 20, of Chilmark, and owned by his parents. But it was a tip about a young person's Facebook page, with 56 photographs taken at a New Year's Eve drinking party that provided the information needed to make an arrest.
Chilmark Police chief Brian Cioffi said that after receiving a tip he looked at the photos on the Internet and recognized the location of the party and a number of underage teens in possession of alcohol.
Shortly after police went to the house on January 4, Mr. White arrived home. Armed with a search warrant, police entered the house where they found a scale with what appeared to be traces of marijuana, and bottle of whiskey and vodka.
"Inside the barn, I estimated over one hundred beer cans and more than a dozen empty liquor bottles, both up and downstairs," Sgt. Jonathan Klaren wrote in his police report.
Police arrested Mr. White. He was arraigned in Edgartown District Court on a charge of possession of liquor by person under age 21, and selling/delivering liquor to a person under age 21.
Veteran Edgartown police chief announces retirement
After 33 years with the Edgartown Police Department, the last 15 as its chief of police, Paul Condlin announced his retirement Monday, effective August 7 this year.
The chief appeared before the town selectmen, accompanied by his wife. "I can't believe the time has finally arrived," Chief Condlin said. "I brought my wife, Linda, with me, my wife of 30 years. She's been very supportive, put up with many, many phone calls in the middle of the night."
Selectmen said they expect to appoint Lt. Tony Bettencourt, who has served as second in command, to be the next police chief. Mr. Bettencourt also attended Monday's meeting.
"He's been working, being next in line, for a number of years," Michael Donaroma, chairman of the selectmen, told The Times on Tuesday. "He's worked his way up the ladder." Mr. Donaroma said he does not expect the town to conduct a search to replace Chief Condlin.
In a letter to selectmen dated January 7, Chief Condlin said he "will be forever grateful" for having had the opportunity to serve the town as a police officer for the past 33 years.
Mr. Condlin took what is often admiringly described as a low-key community-focused approach to policing. He offered to help smooth the transition to the next police chief.
"I had the honor to be here when you were appointed," selectman Art Smadbeck told Mr. Condlin. "It seems like just yesterday. It's been an incredibly good experience."
"You've earned your retirement," selectman Margaret Serpa said. "Enjoy it."
"We hate to see you go," chairman Michael Donaroma said. "But we certainly accept the offer to be of assistance during the transition."
In other business, selectmen accepted a petition with more than the required 10 certified signatures to put an article on the town meeting warrant asking voters to raise and appropriate $4,068,621 to expand the Edgartown Free Public Library.
Ribbon cut, questions persist on drawbridge
A host of dignitaries cut a ribbon for the ceremonial opening of the temporary Lagoon Pond drawbridge Friday. Among those attending were Mark Forest, chief of staff for Congressman William Delahunt, and Chris Adams, Cape and Islands representative for Mr. Delahunt. Also on hand were representatives from Dukes County, the Oak Bluffs selectmen, Mass Highway, the Lagoon Pond bridge committee, and the Martha's Vineyard Commission.
Bridge committee chairman Melinda Loberg said she received generally good reviews for the bridge, which actually opened two days earlier. When asked how many times she has fielded questions about why two bridges are being built, she said "millions," with a laugh.
"We said the same thing," Ms. Loberg said, speaking of the committee. "We spent a year saying why can't you build one bridge?" She said a temporary bridge was necessary because the old drawbridge was in such poor condition that the committee did not feel confident it would last until a new permanent bridge was built. If it failed, it could fail in the up position, or the U.S. Coast Guard could require the bridge to remain up for boat access to Lagoon Pond. That would force vehicle traffic to take long detours. "The Island couldn't tolerate that," Ms. Loberg said. "Maybe for a couple of weeks, not two years."
The committee did not want to build the permanent bridge where the temporary bridge is now, because it would require sharp turns going on and off the structure.
Ms. Loberg said it is always a risk that state funds for construction of the permanent bridge could be pulled back, but she said money is budgeted for the project.
"They've assured us every step of the way," Ms. Loberg said. "It's a matter of trusting what they say, because there's not much else you can do, and keeping the pressure on."
Construction workers cut the old Lagoon Pond drawbridge into pieces small enough to be lifted by a heavy crane. The crews should begin removing the bridge parts today.
Zapped squirrel responsible for brief power outage
Power went out briefly just after 7 am Monday morning in several areas of the Vineyard. A squirrel stepped where it should not have and short circuited a transformer on a main power line on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road.
Tisbury Police happened to be passing by and witnessed the unlucky squirrel meet its demise and interrupt the morning routine of many Islanders.
Michael Durand, NStar spokesman, said a squirrel climbed to the top of a pole and came in contact with a couple of electrical connections. That contact, Mr. Durand said, caused a protective device to operate, interrupting power to 5,400 customers for between three and 20 minutes.
"Most of the affected customers, 3,500, got power back within six minutes because we were able to reroute power to them using other equipment," Mr. Durand said. "Power was restored to the remaining customers when a crew arrived to reset the protective device."
Island contractors pass on Chilmark housing project
Despite a concerted effort to help local builders get the necessary state certification, Chilmark officials know of no Island contractors that have qualified to bid on the Middle Line Road affordable housing development.
According to executive secretary Tim Carroll, three local electricians are expected to be certified shortly, but he knows of no heating and air conditioning, plumbing, painting, or roofing sub-contractors who are qualified to bid.
The Middle Line Road project, located on 21 acres off Tabor House Road, includes six rental units built and owned by the town, and six single family houses, to be owned by lottery winners who will be responsible for planning and building their own homes.
Anyone who works on a municipal project must be certified by the state Division of Capital Asset Management (DCAM). The process involves documenting the contractor's financial standing, experience, and bonding.
Mr. Carroll said the town had divided the $1.6 million project into three parts, hoping that three small projects would allow local contractors to qualify. But the town doesn't know of any contractors ready to bid.
"The Middle Line Road construction advisory committee discussed the situation," Mr. Carroll said, "and decided that unless there were local bidders appearing miraculously, we were going to have to go back and bid it the old way, as one project for $1.6 million."
The town hopes to begin construction on the project April 1, and still holds hope that some local contractors will be involved.
"If they are about to get certified we could delay the project," Mr. Carroll said. "But if we don't know anybody who is about to be certified, we're going to have to go forward, and all the jobs will go off-Island to an off-Island contractor. We're making one last plea for any general contractor that might be in the process of getting DCAM certified, or think they can get certified in the next month, to let us know."
Last summer, the town sponsored a workshop with state officials and insurance representatives designed to help local contractors and subcontractors understand the process of getting certified. Mr. Carroll said 75 people came to the session, but very few followed through. "People said they were applying for certification, but it comes down to the New Year and we find that there's only one Island general contractor that's certified."
Six Chilmark affordable homesites up for grabs
Fourteen candidates will compete for six affordable homesite lots in Chilmark's Middle Line Road development. The competition occurs in a complicated lottery based on income and preference, to be conducted in Chilmark on Tuesday.
Six of the contestants are preferred - that is, people who live, work, or have volunteered in town. The remaining eight are Island residents who also meet affordable housing criteria, including an annual family income of less than 150 percent of area median Dukes County income.
Each successful candidate will receive a 99-year lease on one of the six lots. The Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC), which has jurisdiction over this affordable housing plan, requires that two lots, one third of the total, be awarded to persons who earn less than 100 percent of the AMI, regardless of preferred status. That requirement has opened the lottery to both preferred and non-preferred candidates.
"It is a fairly complicated procedure, but it is necessary to meet the guidelines (for affordable housing)," J.B. Riggs Parker, chairman of the Chilmark selectmen, said this week of the lottery plan.
The 7:30 pm January 19 meeting will begin by awarding rights to a homesite to the only applicant who is both a preferred candidate and earns less than 100 per cent of AMI. Then, five applicants who are not preferred candidates, but earn less than 100 per cent AMI, will draw for another lot.
The remaining four lots will be awarded by lottery from the remaining pool of five preferred candidates. The fifth preferred candidate will become the first alternate and the remaining seven non-preferred candidates will draw to determine their ranking as alternates, according to Mr. Parker.
The Middle Line Road project includes six rental units to be built and owned by the town, as well as the six single-family houses built on the lots awarded by lottery. Each lot recipient must pay the town $20,000 to cover its costs.
Chilmark ballot features Prop 2.5 question
Chilmark voters who go to the polls Tuesday will be asked to exempt from the provisions of Proposition 2.5 the amounts required to pay for the bond to be issued to construct three affordable housing duplex rental buildings in the Middle Line Road affordable housing project.
In December, voters at a special town meeting authorized selectmen to borrow $1.4 million, and appropriate $600,000 from Community Preservation Act funds to build the duplexes.
Kerry Scott will not seek reelection in Oak Bluffs
Kerry Scott said Tuesday that she will not seek reelection to a third term as selectman. She offered her selectman colleagues at the regular meeting no explanation for her decision, but she said she got satisfaction and great pleasure out of serving as a selectman.
"I've done a lot of thinking, a lot of soul-searching," Ms. Kerry said. "Whatever gifts I brought to the table have been returned to me over and over and over again, in terms of satisfaction, the people I've been able to help, the things I've been able to accomplish."
Ms. Scott has been in the minority on several 4-1 votes over the past year and repeatedly clashed with other selectmen and town officials. She made it clear she will remain, as she described it, an advocate for her hometown.
"I'd like to serve again if you'll have me," Ms. Scott said. "I expect to stay in the public arena in some way, shape, or form."
A packed meeting room applauded when Ms. Scott finished her announcement. Of her colleagues, only chairman Greg Coogan commented.
"I'm surprised to hear that, but I know you won't go far," Mr. Coogan said.
In other action, the selectmen appointed Ron Hancock to a one-year term on the Martha's Vineyard Commission. A resident of Oak Bluffs for more than four years, and a summer visitor for 30 years, Mr. Hancock is active in the East Chop Association.
The board approved a new parking configuration for spaces near Nancy's Restaurant. The restaurant will have three parallel parking spaces reserved along the harbor, instead of parking a trash truck, bottle truck and personal vehicles across the public sidewalk.
Also, on the advice of town counsel and others, the board agreed to adopt a recommendation from fire Chief Peter Forend to establish a mandatory retirement age of 65 for volunteer firefighters. Mr. Forend said the change will satisfy requirements of liability insurance.
OB terminal cost rises
The cost of the Steamship Authority's (SSA) Oak Bluffs terminal project is expected to increase by approximately $500,000, due to the expense of replacing and protecting the ticket office building's foundation.
Boatline members received a report on the project Tuesday at the January monthly meeting. The building's foundation cracked during the removal of the old terminal building, and a new foundation must be built.
SSA general manager Wayne Lamson told The Times the original foundation was built without reinforced concrete. He said the new work will include stabilizing the bank. "Why put a new building on an old foundation?" Mr. Lamson said.
In May, then Massachusetts transportation secretary and Oak Bluffs seasonal homeowner James A. Aloisi Jr. announced that the Patrick administration would provide money from the federal stimulus package to help the boatline complete the third phase of the entire project whose expected total cost is $15 million.
In other news Tuesday, the SSA members approved the addition of lift decks to the motor vessel Eagle, used mostly on the Hyannis-Nantucket run, during the vessel's $7.8 million mid-life refurbishment, scheduled to begin in late December and take three months to complete.
Asked about the public discussion that accompanied the addition of lift decks to the Island Home, Mr. Lamson said that given the current economy and the distant Island's limited schedule, Nantucketers welcome the additional capacity.
State House News Service: Senator Reid sets swearing-in process for new senator
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to seat a new Massachusetts senator as soon as results of a January 19 special election are certified and Vice President Joseph Biden is available to administer the oath of office, a Reid aide told the News Service Monday.
Under that process, the winner of the special election between Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley, Republican state senator Scott Brown, and Independent Joe Kennedy won't take the new job until at least January 29, when local and state officials stop accepting overseas and military ballots and finalize the results.
Although in 2007, special election winner Niki Tsongas was rushed to Washington and sworn in despite the lack of formal certification, a spokesman for Secretary of State William Galvin said the Senate would not permit such a move. At the time, Mr. Galvin sent a letter to the House asserting absentee ballots wouldn't change the outcome of the election and that Ms. Tsongas could therefore be seated immediately.
An aide to the Secretary of the Senate said the Senate requires official certification unless members vote to waive the rule, a move she called "very unusual and very rare."
But a campaign spokesman for Mr. Brown said that what worked for Tsongas should work for the winner of the Senate's special election.
Mr. Kirk has indicated that he expects the Senate to take a final vote on a compromise health care bill before President Barack Obama's State of the Union address, slated for either late January or early February.
Chilmark, West Tisbury sponsor free dental clinic for seniors
Vineyard Smiles, a mobile dental program of Island Health, Inc. and the Vineyard Health Care Access Program, will travel to the Up Island Council on Aging (Howes House) in West Tisbury on Friday, Jan. 22.
The program provides free dental care to seniors who lack regular access to dental care. The towns of Chilmark and West Tisbury sponsor the program through the Vineyard Nursing Association.
Licensed dental hygienists from the Forsyth Institute will provide an oral exam, cleaning and fluoride treatment.
The clinic will be held from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm. Registration forms are available at Howes House. If the form is completed by Tuesday January 19, Vineyard Smiles staff will call to schedule an appointment time. Drop-ins will be first-come, first-served.
For more information, call Sarah Kuh, Vineyard Smiles director, at 508-696-0020, ext. 11.
Island businesses invited
The Martha's Vineyard Times has invited Island businesses to a presentation of the newspaper's new online directory features today, from 4 to 6:30 pm, in the conference room of the Mansion House in Vineyard Haven.
For information, call a Times ad sales representative, or contact us.