Edgartown library aims for new, less costly expansion
Increasing costs and a difficult fundraising environment prompted Edgartown library trustees to regroup and rethink plans for an ambitious library expansion project in a meeting this week.
Cost estimates for the project have increased substantially since plans were made in 2007. The library has raised nearly $1.5 million from private donors, but would need to raise $5.4 million more by June 15, in order to qualify for $4.6 million in state grant funds needed to finance the project.
"When they built the school, they went through several iterations of design," said trustees board chairman Patricia Rose. "With public buildings that sometimes happens."
At its meeting Monday, the library board voted to withdraw a town meeting warrant article asking voters for more than $4 million to move the project forward. Instead, they will ask voters for $300,000 for architectural, engineering, and other related expenses to re-evaluate the design.
The retrenchment means the library will lose the ability to use the town's $3.5 million contribution as matching funds. The town voted to purchase the abutting Captain Warren House, which was integrated into the original plans.
"There's a three-year limit from the date the town purchased the property," Ms. Rose said. "We will not be able to use that. If we can come up with a building design that costs less, that may soften the blow of losing the $3.5 million."
Spring races for selectmen begin to take shape
There may be snow outside, but spring and the Island's election season are on the way. As deadlines approach for candidates to submit nomination papers for elections scheduled in April and May in the six Island towns, three incumbent selectmen have announced they will not run for reelection, and three have said they will.
In Tisbury, veteran selectman Tristan Israel confirmed he plans to run for re-election to a three-year term. Marion Mudge, town clerk, said the deadline to submit nomination papers with 20 signatures of registered voters is 5 pm, March 9. She advised that it is best to provide 25 to 30 signatures, in the event that some are disqualified.
Last month, Kerry Scott, Oak Bluffs selectman announced that she would not seek re-election. Two townspeople have submitted nomination papers, but the town clerk would not identify the candidates pending certification of signatures. The deadline to submit nomination papers is 5 pm, February 25.
Wanda Williams, Edgartown town clerk, said selectman Michael Donaroma has submitted nomination papers. Asked if any other candidates had stepped forward, she said, "Not yet." The deadline to submit nomination papers is 5 pm, February 23.
Diane Powers of West Tisbury will not seek re-election. That decision prompted former selectman and current assessor Cynthia Mitchell to step forward. The deadline to submit nomination papers is February 23.
Chilmark selectman J.B. Riggs Parker has made no secret of his desire to step down from the board of selectmen when his term ends. The deadline to submit nomination papers to the town clerk is March 24.
Spencer Booker of Aquinnah told The Times yesterday he plans to seek re-election. The deadline to submit nomination papers is April 7.
Nomination papers available, deadlines outlined
Candidates running for seats in Congress, the legislature, or statewide offices this fall may now take out nomination papers, Secretary of State William Galvin announced Monday. The state primaries are on September 14 and the election is on November 2. Other than the statewide and legislative races, voters later this year will elect sheriffs, county commissioners, district attorneys and members of the Governor's Council, which screens judicial nominees.
Candidates for district and county offices must submit nomination papers by April 27 for certification, with signatures due with the state elections division by May 25. Party candidates for federal and statewide office have until May 4 to submit papers locally and until June 1 to file with the state. Non-party candidates for federal and statewide office must file locally by August 3 and with the state by August 31.
Warrant set in Edgartown
Edgartown selectmen approved the annual town meeting warrant Monday. The warrant includes 66 articles and seven Proposition 2.5 questions for voters to consider on April 13.
The warrant asks voters to fund a 2-percent cost of living increase for town employees. Last year, on the recommendation of selectmen, the personnel committee, and the financial advisory committee, voters authorized no cost of living increase. Those raises were reinstated beginning in November 2009 by vote of a special town meeting.
Among the other articles to be debated is a measure to increase the room occupancy tax from four to six percent. Another would impose a three quarters of one percent tax on meals. These "local option" taxes were created in state legislation last year, as a way to allow towns to raise additional revenue. The selectmen set Tuesday, Feb. 16, for a public hearing on the proposed local option taxes on meals and hotel rooms. The hearing will begin at 4 pm at town hall.
Also on the warrant is an article asking voters to spend $250,000 for a new ambulance, and $75,000 for a restoration of Memorial Wharf.
Selectmen reluctantly agreed to include an article for additional funding for the Dukes County Health Access program. Though praising the work and acknowledging the need for the program, selectmen Margaret Serpa and Art Smadbeck objected vigorously to the funding formula used to assess costs among the six Island towns.
"This is the last year I will agree to that," Ms. Serpa said. "I understand it's a worthwhile program. They need to find some other funding to keep this program going."
"What we're paying," Mr. Smadbeck said, "is far in excess of what the other towns of the county are paying, more than double."
In other action, personnel administrator Marilyn Wortman asked the board to consider eliminating the most expensive health plan offering, from town employee choices for coverage. Ms. Wortman said many employees had already switched to lower cost plans.
Haiti relief drive scheduled
The Martha's Vineyard Fish Farm Haiti Project is organizing a relief drive from Tuesday, Feb. 16, to Saturday, Feb. 27. The Project will be collecting money and donations of specific items that will be flown to Haiti as soon as possible.
With the island's rainy season approaching, large emergency relief tents are the first priority, according to a press release. The Project is also seeking the donation of a generator, tarps, rope, blankets, sheets, and towels in excellent condition, medical equipment and supplies.
Sun Island Delivery and Self Storage and Barnes Moving and Storage are donating storage space and transportation for the Haiti Relief initiative, organizer Margaret Pénicaud said. For more information, call 508-693-0368 or go to www.fishfarmhaiti.org.
Former West Tisbury teacher sentenced
Daniel K. Johnson, 43, was sentenced on January 22 by Judge Joseph I. Macy to 2.5 years in a house of correction, with one year to be served. The balance of the sentence will be suspended for four years of supervised probation.
In December, Mr. Johnson was convicted on 10 of 13 counts of assault and battery, providing alcohol to minors, and providing obscene material to minors, following a two-day trial before Edgartown District Court Associate Justice Macy. Mr. Johnson's bail was revoked, and he has been jailed since his conviction. Witnesses at the trial described Mr. Johnson's Vineyard Haven home as a safe place for underage students to drink and party.
The case began on the night of December 9, 2008. Tisbury police went to the unmarried Mr. Johnson's Mariner Road home armed with a search warrant and information that the West Tisbury School industrial arts teacher provided alcohol to students and hosted parties where young people drank.
Judge Macy imposed a sentence close to the recommendation of Cape and Islands District Attorney Laura Marshard, who asked for 1.5 years served, with five years of probation.
A group of Mr. Johnson's family and friends was in the courtroom for the sentencing. The parents of several children who testified in the trial expressed their desire to have Mr. Johnson punished for his crimes.
Also addressing the court was school superintendent James Weiss. He spoke for the up-Island Regional School District, and especially for West Tisbury School principal Michael Halt, a Marine Corps Reserve officer recently called to active duty in Afghanistan.
"We would request of the judge that there be a significant consequence for the violation of trust Mr. Johnson had with the students and staff of the West Tisbury School," Mr. Weiss told the court.
Police seek missing bags from SSA luggage cart
Before boarding the 6:15 pm Steamship Authority (SSA) ferry in Woods Hole Tuesday evening, Leonard Fogg of Edgartown placed two shopping bags filled with new clothes and gifts from his daughter on the luggage cart. They were gone when he went to retrieve them after the boat docked in Vineyard Haven.
Mr. Fogg said it took him a few extra minutes to walk off, since he had undergone minor eye surgery in Falmouth that afternoon. To add insult to injury, he was looking forward to eating a grinder from Subway - which he had tucked inside one of the missing bags.
An SSA agent told Mr. Fogg he recalled seeing someone remove the bags, which were labeled "Kohl's," from the luggage wagon. Mr. Fogg reported his loss to the Tisbury Police Department.
Police Chief Dan Hanavan said his department is reviewing the SSA's security camera footage to see what happened. In the meantime, he said, "If someone took Mr. Fogg's bags by mistake, please return them to the Steamship Authority or the Tisbury Police Department."
Oak Bluffs selectmen approve seawall rehab
Oak Bluffs selectmen endorsed rehabilitation of the crumbling North Bluff seawall at their regular Tuesday meeting. The unanimous approval will enable town officials to seek grant funding for the project, which will repair the wall up to12.5 feet.
Town administrator Michael Dutton said state officials have advised the town to submit a comprehensive grant application, seeking funding for beach nourishment, groin rebuilding, and possibly dredging, because each is affected by the deteriorating seawall.
Also on the agenda Tuesday was a plan to refurbish the clay brick bathhouse near the Steamship Authority terminal. Parks commissioner Nancy Phillips and architect Stephanie Mashek outlined plans to rebuild the facilities, add a family bathroom, and make everything accessible for the disabled. Several selectmen worried that the proposed construction schedule would interfere with the summer tourist season. Even an aggressive schedule would not have the project completed until August.
Selectmen also approved a new business permit for the Hertz Corporation, to begin operating the car rental business at 31 Circuit Avenue extension.
Harbormaster Todd Alexander outlined a plan to award six harbor slips to year-round Oak Bluffs residents by lottery, at a discounted rate. "It's allowing people who don't normally get to use the harbor, because it's fairly expensive, to use it," he said.
Selectmen approved the plan, as well as a series of rate hikes for harbor moorings, and fees for commercial boats. Fees for transient boaters, which make up the largest portion of revenue, will not be increased.
By a 4-1 vote, selectmen approved a plan for utility infrastructure for Lake Avenue. After rejecting the first plan, NSTAR and town officials collaborated on a plan to put wires underground from the harbor back to the information booth, while wires would be on poles above ground for the rest of the project.
High school orientation night for parents
Parents of eighth-grade students are invited to the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) on February 16 for an information night designed to help them ease their children's transition as incoming freshmen next fall.
The event starts at 6 pm in the Performing Arts Center lobby with a meet and greet session with MVRHS administrators and registration for EdLine, an online site for student and school information.
A program follows, with brief presentations by the principal, assistant principal, guidance director, athletic director, and other staff members, and a question and answer period.
Eighth-grade students are welcome to attend with their parents.
Group effort to restart Café Moxie rebuilding
Paul Currier and Michael Ryan, the owners of Café Moxie in Vineyard Haven, expect to resume rebuilding the popular Main Street restaurant that was destroyed by fire on July 4, 2008.
Late last year, the Tisbury electrical inspector ordered work on the project halted because the third floor of the building would be within 10 feet of a power line, a building code violation. Now, a concerted effort by the Tisbury Department of Public Works, NStar and property owner Ann Nelson to help the builders find a solution has met success.
Mr. Currier said the solution is to run the problematic power line through an underground conduit. Ms. Nelson provided a necessary easement for a power box, he said.
Mr. Currier said he plans to be open this summer. The owners were prepared to begin rebuilding last spring, but at the request of selectmen they put off any construction activity that might disrupt Main Street until after the busy summer months.
Plans call for a three-story building with a food prep area in the basement, a dining room on the Main Street level, and two apartments on the floor above.
Go green, recycle clean at Tisbury drop-off station
A changing of the guard recently occurred at Tisbury's local drop-off station off High Point Road, next to the landfill.
George Costas, who worked as the attendant since 2005, retired and returned to Brazil, according to Tisbury Department of Public Works (DPW) director Fred LaPiana.
Bryan Gibson is the new attendant, assisted by Barbara Flanders as a temporary employee on the weekends.
Along with new personnel has come stricter enforcement of policies regarding items dropped off for recycling.
"We will be occasionally inspecting loads to make sure there is no trash in with recyclables," Mr. LaPiana said. Contaminated loads cannot be sold and the town loses money.
"Our new contractor, Bruno's, is diligent in making sure recycled materials are as marketable as possible," Mr. LaPiana said. "Our responsibility as a community is to make sure we deliver goods that have been properly sorted, so that our contractor can continue to get the best possible prices in the marketplace."
As a reminder, Mr. LaPiana said that plastic, metal, and glass recyclables may be comingled, but should be clean. Only corrugated cardboard may be recycled. Cardboard should not be mixed in with newspapers, which may be placed in brown paper bags for recycling.
"We appreciate everybody's effort to try to recycle," Mr. LaPiana said. "It saves the town money, as well as helps the environment."
Times wins awards in press contest
The Martha's Vineyard Times won five awards in the New England Newspaper and Press Association 2009 Better Newspaper Contest. Award winners were named last weekend at the association's annual convention in Boston.
First-place award winners included a Ralph Stewart feature photograph and another taken by Susie Safford, in the general news photo category. About Mr. Stewart's shot, the judges wrote, "A well composed action photograph that shows the planning, placement, and ability of a photographer who knows how to achieve the shot that he wants."
Ms. Safford's fishing derby picture drew this comment from the judges: "The photographer captures the dedication needed - this photo was shot at dawn - to be competitive in the fishing world. It's beautiful how the photographer used the rising sun to capture a moment. It's not your typical fishing derby photograph."
A second place award went to Nelson Sigelman, Times managing editor, for a story about the hospital, entered in the health reporting category. "Hard to get people to talk when it comes to doctor-hospital conflicts," the judges wrote. "Writer did well in explaining the issue and drawing out from all sides the key issues at stake. Reader reaction indicates that the writer touched a nerve with the community in this report."
An article written by Times columnist Nis Kildegaard, "Music to Remember" won second place honors for arts and entertainment reporting. The judges wrote, '"Music to Remember' reminded me that every story doesn't have to be huge. A kind deed by a loving husband in honor of his late wife was nicely presented. It resonated, with the right amount of fact and heart."
And, second place honors went to Tim Johnson for a photo entered in the pictorial photo category. The judges observed, "An excellent job of capturing motion in a single frame. The birds and water combined are well composed and the monochromatic tones give this photo an oil painting feel. The patience in getting just the right photo is evident."
Apple recognizes West Tisbury School
West Tisbury School's computer education program has been selected as an Apple Exemplary Program for the 2009-10 school year as one of only 38 recognized nationwide.
Apple designs and manufactures consumer electronics and computer software products such as Macintosh computers, iPhones, iPods, and iPads.
The Apple Exemplary Program designation is reserved for educational programs that are model implementations of Apple products and solutions, according to a letter from Apple vice president of education John Couch to superintendent of schools James Weiss.
Only programs that have demonstrated a strong use of Apple technology in education and illustrate "best practice" qualities of a 21st century learning environment are honored in this way.
"In reviewing the great work that is under way at West Tisbury School, I was especially impressed by how students are using a variety of Apple technologies for collaboration, communication, and creation within the learning process," Mr. Couch wrote. "Your program serves as an example for other schools both locally and nationally."
Representatives from Apple will formally recognize West Tisbury School with a presentation at a future school board meeting, Mr. Couch's letter also said.
Sail MV offers traditional sail training on tall ship
Sail Martha's Vineyard, in collaboration with The Black Dog Tall Ships, will provide a traditional sail training program for 13- to 18-year-olds on board the 126-foot pilot schooner Alabama. Students will live and work on board and be exposed to the skills involved in sailing and living on a traditional sail-powered vessel as well as skills relating to basic seamanship over an intensive five-day program at sea. The first voyage will begin on July 12. Class size is limited to 24 students. The cost of the program is $600 for Sail MV members and $650 for nonmembers. For more information, call 508-696-7644 or go to sailmv.com.
In the Editorial, "What did the secretary see?", published February 4, the writer described the Cape Wind site as 25 acres in size. In fact, the Horseshoe Shoals site is 25 square miles.
Construction of Rebecca of Vineyard Haven, a 60-foot schooner built by Gannon & Benjamin in Vineyard Haven, was completed in three and one-half years, not 10, as we mistakenly reported last week, in a story about Island publisher Jan Pogue, headlined "In Business: Jan Pogue, success by the book." The schooner was launched in 2001. The three and one half years included 21 months of negotiations to free the vessel from federal bankruptcy proceedings, entered by the customer who initially ordered the schooner from G&B, so that her present owners could buy her and have her completed for them.
In a News story headlined "Census raising an Island army to count us", a paraphrase of information attributed to Barry Applebaum, local census office manager, as he described the challenges the Island population presents census takers, included the word "illegal" to describe members of the resident population whom the Census is anxious to tally. Mr. Applebaum referred to these residents as "foreign-born" or "uncounted," not as "illegal."