News in Brief
Photo by Ezra Blair
Oak Bluffs firefighters extinguish basement blaze
Oak Bluffs firefighters extinguished a fire in the basement of a house on New York Avenue Tuesday morning, after a passing motorist saw smoke coming out of the bulkhead and called 911.
Dennis Alley, Oak Bluffs fire chief, said that the fire ignited after the homeowner lit an old floor furnace on the first floor of the house, and a piece of burning material accidentally fell down into the basement.
"Some burning piece of material, probably a piece of paper, made its way down to the basement where it landed on pile of clothing and bedding and other material that was stored down there," said Chief Alley.
Because the fire had very little oxygen in the basement, it became very smoky as it smoldered. Chief Alley said a passing motorist saw the thick black smoke coming out of the bulkhead and called 911.
When firefighters arrived on the scene, the fire had created a heavily oxygen-depleted environment.
"Basically the fire had starved itself for air," said Chief Alley. "If we had showed up and just opened up the bulkhead it would have poured oxygen into the basement and the flames would have taken off. We very quickly could have lost the whole house."
Firefighters who arrived on the scene knew better than to flood the basement with fresh air. They proceeded carefully into the basement with water hoses and were quickly able to extinguish the smoldering blaze.
Chief Alley commended his firefighters.
"They did a great job," he said. "They were real careful, and got out of a position that could have lost the whole house. They approached it in exactly the right way."
Chief Alley said that the fire caused very little damage to the house.
He said the incident should be a lesson for other homeowners. "You have to be real careful this time of year with furnaces and heaters, and all those things," he said. "You also have to be careful with what you're storing in and around your house. Some of this stuff can be very flammable."
Federal funds support
new Island hospital
Senators Edward M. Kennedy, John F. Kerry, and Congressman Bill Delahunt have announced that the final budget for the Department of Energy contains $750,000 to assist with the construction of the new Martha's Vineyard Hospital. The bill is expected to pass the House and Senate shortly, and be signed into law. Last year, Senator Kennedy, Senator Kerry, and Congressman Delahunt secured $500,000 for the development of the new hospital facility.
"This new hospital facility is desperately needed on the Island, and we are excited to expand our abilities to serve the people of Martha's Vineyard," Tim Walsh, CEO of the hospital said this week in a press statement issued by Senator Kennedy's office. "I am grateful to Senator Kennedy, Senator Kerry, and Congressman Delahunt for their leadership."
Mr. Walsh is to meet this evening with the Martha's Vineyard Commission to describe plans for the new hospital, the subject of a current campaign to raise $42 million to build a new three-story facility with a state-of-the-art diagnostic center and a holistic healing center for inpatient, outpatient, emergency, women's, laboratory, and surgical services.
The new 150,000-square-foot facility will include 19 private rooms, three intensive care beds, three nursing beds, three observation beds, three new operating rooms, and an expansion of existing emergency department examining rooms from 10 to 22.
It's anticipated that the new facility will also provide additional space for doctor's offices, staff housing, and hospital administration. The project is proceeding in phases, and the old hospital — including the old cottage hospital — will eventually be demolished.
Land Bank buys 2.8 acres around Toad Rock
The Martha's Vineyard Land Bank has agreed to buy 2.8 acres off Moshup Trail in Aquinnah, according to a press statement released yesterday. The sellers are David and Betsy Wice, and the price is $600,000.
The property includes two interesting natural features, the Land Bank statement says. The first is Toad Rock, a boulder which has long figured in Wampanoag cultural history. The second is a 70-foot high hilltop rising out of the heathland off Moshup Trail; from this promontory the Atlantic Ocean may be seen, with Nomans Land Island in the distance.
The Land Bank says preliminary management goals call for the installation of a trailhead off the public road, plus a loop trail. The promontory abuts conservation land owned by the town of Aquinnah and the Vineyard Conservation Society.
Members of the public with any questions about this acquisition may attend one of the Land Bank commission's regular Monday evening meetings or one of the meetings of the Aquinnah town advisory board.
FARM Institute hosts
a shingling party
The FARM Institute at Katama Farm will host a Shingling Party this weekend, Nov. 19 and 20, from 10 am to 4 pm on both days. Island residents and visitors of all ages are invited to Katama Farm, 14 Aero Road, for two days of shingling the FARM Institute's new classroom, and horse and cow barn restoration. The institute is a teaching farm that educates and engages children and adults in sustainable agriculture through the operations of a diverse working farm.
FARM communication director Rob Goldfarb says the days will not only be a chance to meet, eat, and work with Islanders, but also a chance for helping hands to learn some new skills working with expert shinglers and carpenters.
The FARM Institute encourages people to bring food that may be shared with six other people. Please bring hammers and paint brushes if you have them. Activities for the younger ones will be provided by Melinda Rabbit Defeo, the FARM's education program manager who teaches the weekly after-school and field trip programs there.
The Farm offers Island residents an opportunity to be a part of the classroom, literally. Adults and children who come out will also be given the opportunity to write their names on the shingles and be a part of the classroom forever, Mr. Goldfarb promises.
Scheduled shingling party activities include: shingling classroom and horse barn; cow barn cleaning; good eating; and activities for children (planting daffodil bulbs).
Contact Mr. Goldfarb at 508-627-7007. To learn more about upcoming programs and events at the FARM, visit www.farminstitute.org
Police link pair
to string of break-ins
Edgartown and Oak Bluffs police have charged two men who police said are responsible for at least five recent break-ins in Edgartown and Oak Bluffs.
Sean Wilcoxson, 18, of Edgartown was arrested and charged with breaking and entering. Oak Bluffs police also summonsed Mr. Wilcoxson to court on charges that include breaking and entering in the daytime, two counts of larceny of a firearm, two counts of possession of a firearm without an FID card, possession of ammunition without an FID card, discharging a firearm within 500 feet of a dwelling, and larceny under $250.
Both Oak Bluffs and Edgartown police have also charged Jeffery Sylvia, 17, of Oak Bluffs, with receiving stolen property.
Sgt. Kenneth Johnson of the Edgartown police department said that police are continuing to investigate the incidents, and he expects more charges to be filed.
Sergeant Johnson said that police have been investigating several break-ins that occurred over the last month. Most recently, he said, a house on Martha's Way in Edgartown was broken into on Nov. 7. In that incident, the thieves stole a bottle of change, an Ipod, and a backpack. The change bottle was broken, and there was blood at the scene, Sergeant Johnson said.
The day after the break-in, on Nov. 8, police received a call from an employee at Dukes County Savings Bank, who said that two young men were trying to cash-in a large amount of loose change.
Sergeant Johnson said that when police arrived they found pieces of glass mixed in with the change. One of the men, Mr. Wilcoxson, also had a cut on his left hand.
Upon searching Mr. Wilcoxson, police found an Ipod. The back of the music player had an engraving that included the name of the person whose Ipod had been stolen the night before.
According to Sergeant Johnson, upon questioning, Mr. Wilcoxson admitted to the robbery on Martha's Way, as well as to three other break-ins in the Katama area and a break-in in Oak Bluffs.
Oak Bluffs police conducted their own investigation into the Oak Bluffs robbery, which took place on Nov. 7. They have since summoned Mr. Wilcoxson into court on several charges.
While police said that Mr. Wilcoxson admitted to the robberies, he also gave police the name of an accomplice - Mr. Sylvia.
On Nov. 9, Edgartown police executed a search warrant at Mr. Sylvia's residence in Oak Bluffs. Sergeant Johnson said that police found a television and a DVD player that were identified as items taken from two robberies, in Oak Bluffs and Edgartown.
Janet Novak dies
Janet Morrice Novak, owner of Morrice the Florist, died Nov. 16, at her home in Vineyard Haven. A graveside service will be held on Saturday, Nov. 26, in Oak Grove Cemetery, Vineyard Haven at 2 pm, the Rev. Roger Spinney officiating. Donations may be made in her memory to Vineyard Nursing Association, PO Box 2568, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557 or to Hospice of MV, PO Box 2549, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. Arrangements are by Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs. Visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information. A full obituary will appear in a future edition of The Times.
Locker thefts occur
at Mansion House
Four women using the Mansion House health club facility reported an iPod, a portable CD player, and $30 cash were stolen from their four unlocked lockers in the women's locker room sometime between 4 and 6 pm on Nov. 2. The women reported the thefts to the Tisbury Police that day and the incident is under investigation, according to Theodore Saulnier, Tisbury's chief of police.
In a police report filed by one of the four victims with investigating officer Rodney Silvia, Mr. Silvia writes that he checked the health club's sign-in list to determine who was in the club at the time of the incident. The list contained sign-in times only. Many of the names on the list were illegible or scribbled, according to Officer Silvia, and as many as 50 people might have been in the club when the thefts occurred.
Officer Silvia also reports that Bud Raymond, manager of the Mansion House Health Club, said that while there are no signs posted suggesting the use of locks on lockers, brochures given to new members urge patrons to lock up their lockers, and both key and combination locks are available for purchase at the health club.
The Nov. 2 incident follows other thefts reported by health club patrons to the Tisbury police included cash stolen from the men's locker room on December 24 and 26, 2004, a sweater stolen from the women's locker room on Jan. 1, 2005 (later returned to its owner, according to Mansion House owner Susan Goldstein), cash stolen from the women's locker room on June 4, 2005, and the most recent incident on Nov. 2. All of the thefts were from unlocked lockers. The health club urges all patrons to secure their lockers, even for short visits.
Ms. Goldstein, owner with her husband of the Mansion House, Health Club and Spa, said, "When you consider the number of guests who use the health club, we feel we are doing a good job in warning members to use locks and in supervising the club." She estimated 5,000 to 6,000 people go through the health club in a calendar year. She said the incidents have been few and isolated, and the club has not seen an increase.
"Since January 1, there have been only two reports of money lost, and one sweater stolen. The sweater was returned. We hope that people appreciate how secure the Vineyard usually is, but all of us know that we should still take reasonable precautions against theft — in our homes, our cars, and our lockers."
In last week's Calendar section the caption under a photo of Judy Williamson and her family misidentified her grandson. His name is Max Ferro.
In a story about the skateboard contest in the Nov. 3 edition of The Times, we incorrectly identified a photo of Caleb Costas as Jacob Lawrence. Caleb, who was shown perfecting his moves before the event, also tied for third place in the 11- to 14-year-old competition.
Despite what we mistakenly reported last week, West Tisbury voters knew that their town meeting was last night, Wednesday, Nov. 16. We had jumped the gun by a day, referring to yesterday as Nov. 17.