News in Brief
Photo by Virginia Vogt
Tisbury house fire Saturday
kills family pet
An unattended woodstove caused a fire that ripped through the basement of a Tisbury house and killed a family pet early Saturday afternoon, Tisbury fire officials said.
Jason Peringer, the owner of the house located on Fairfield Avenue, off Franklin Street, returned home at approximately 1:30 pm to find thick smoke billowing out of the house. He called 911.
Firefighters were able to remove his dog from the smoke-filled building but were unable to revive the animal.
The ranch-style house suffered extensive fire damage, according to emergency officials.
"While it is ultimately up to the insurance company, my estimate is that the structure is going to be a total loss," said John Schilling, Tisbury fire chief. "The main support-carrying beams that hold the first floor were destroyed."
Oak Bluffs firefighters assisted Tisbury firefighters in the cleanup work.
James Rogers, assistant Tisbury fire chief and fire investigator, said that it is important to be vigilant when heating with woodstoves. "This should be a reminder that unattended woodstoves can be dangerous," he said. "People should keep their chimneys clean all the time, and make sure that they don't have any ignitable material in the area of the woodstove."
Mr. Peringer could not be reached for comment.
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Annual NAACP dinner honors Dr. King
Deborah C. Jackson, C.E.O. of the American Red Cross of Massachusetts Bay, was guest speaker at the Martha's Vineyard NAACP's annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Membership and Awards Dinner at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown Tuesday night. Branch president Marie Allen welcomed the large crowd assembled at the festive dinner and recalled the legacy of Dr. King, "a champion of social justice." In her blessing, Rabbi Caryn Broitman of the Martha's Vineyard Hebrew Center said, "American freedom depends on how well we can hear the words" of Dr. King.
In her inspiring keynote address, Ms. Jackson, who has owned a home here since the 1970s, shared memories of Dr. King and recalled his quote: "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere." Ms. Jackson recounted stories of the Red Cross's Hurricane Katrina relief effort and the plight of the many "poor, elderly, disabled, and mostly black New Orleaneans" whom the agency strove to rescue. She commended the work of the many volunteers who traveled to the ravaged area. Much work remains to be done, she said, and in the spirit of Dr. King, help to the people of the devastated areas must continue.
Also on hand was NAACP New England Conference President Juan Cofield, who presented the Vineyard branch with an award for raising more money for Katrina survivor relief than any other regional branch.
United Methodists unite
The four United Methodist Island congregations have each voted to form the United Methodist Cooperative Parish of Martha's Vineyard. (UMCPMV). The decision was taken at each congregation's annual charge conference, Friday and Saturday.
The decision to join in a cooperative structure came after representatives of the four congregations had met and researched the matter for 18 months.
According to Dianne Norton, chairman of the steering committee that did the research, the four churches will retain individual identities, raising their own money, caring for their own buildings, and holding Sunday worship services as they do now.
All Methodist buildings are in fact owned by the Methodist Conference, which the congregation at the Lambert's Cove UM Church discovered when the conference decided to close the Lambert's Cove church and sell it with the parsonage next door.
The most obvious change under the new covenant is that two pastors will serve the four churches, where three are now employed.
By joining together, the members of UMCPMV will attempt to sustain current outreach efforts, such as the Monday community suppers at the Whaling Church and efforts to provide water for a community in Malawi through Church World Service. They will also attempt to "add new programs designed to meet the physical and spiritual needs of the community at large," according to church members.
Finalists named for Edgartown School principal
The search committee for a new principal for Edgartown School recently named three finalists - Elana Aitken, G. Paul Dulac and Lisa Sheffield - from a field of six candidates interviewed on Jan. 5 and 6.
The three candidates are vying for a position left vacant by principal Ed Jerome's retirement in November 2005 after 26 years. The salary range for the job is $97,000 to $110,000.
Ms. Aitken, an Edgartown summer resident for 25 years, is the clinical director of the Hampshire Educational Collaborative in Northampton. Her experience in education includes classroom teaching and special education.
Mr. Dulac, currently the interim principal at Edgartown School, was named to the post by the Edgartown School committee effective Aug. 15, 2005, through June 30, 2006. He also served as interim superintendent of Martha's Vineyard Public Schools following the departure of former superintendent Kriner Cash.
Ms. Sheffield, a resident of Wellesley, is an adjunct professor at Ashland University in Ohio. She teaches a variety of educational workshops, in keeping with her advanced degrees in educational leadership.
The search committee has done its work, and now it is up to the school committee and the superintendent to select from three very good candidates, said David Rossi, a committee member and chairman of the All Island School Committee.
On Tuesday, the Edgartown School committee met to discuss scheduling another round of public interviews with the three candidates and narrowing the choice to one. James Weiss, superintendent of Martha's Vineyard Public Schools, will make the final selection of a principal in consultation with the school committee.
Mr. Rossi said that the committee hopes to make a selection by the end of January, but they are under no time constraints to do so, since the new principal will not assume duties until July 1.
Island Theater will close for winter
The Island Theatre on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs will close for the winter this January rather than in February. Owner Benjamin "Buzz" Hall said the cost of heating the building coupled with diminished attendance led to the decision to close earlier than usual.
"We're just getting sky high heating bills," said Mr. Hall. "I'm basically telling people, see you in April."
Mr. Hall said that in his view the winter population has decreased, particularly the young people in the building trades who made up much of his audience.
Mr. Hall also owns the Strand Theatre in Oak Bluffs and the Capawock Theatre on Main Street in Vineyard Haven, which has been closed since October 2004 for repairs.
Reopening the shuttered Capawock has been the focus of discussions among Tisbury business and political leaders.
Mr. Hall said he is continuing to work on getting the theater reopened sometime this spring. He said the theater would be open fulltime.
"That is our little gem," said Mr. Hall, who described the operation as more a philanthropic enterprise than a money-making business. "I definitely want to get it open again," he said.
Tisbury selectmen to consider plans for police chief search
Although Theodore (Ted) Saulnier, Tisbury's chief of police, continues to work under an expired contract, plans for hiring his replacement have not yet been formalized by the town's selectmen.
However, the selectmen will begin considering their options soon, according to town administrator John Bugbee. "In the next few weeks, we will be taking a comprehensive look at the various procedures at our disposal and once that has been completed, the selectmen will have to decide on a course of action that will provide the town the best candidates possible," Mr. Bugbee said.
Chief Saulnier has been working under an expired contract since June 30, 2005. He and the selectmen met for several negotiation sessions before his contract's expiration date, but they were unable to reach an agreement on his salary, listed as $78,249.60 in the 2004 annual town report.
The selectmen voted not to renew Chief Saulnier's contract in late June. Under its terms, he can remain in his post for up to one year beyond its expiration. During that year, the chief also can seek to renegotiate the terms of his expired contract with the selectmen.
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Police stopped traffic on Barnes Road near the entrance to the Airport Business Park for approximately an hour and a half Jan. 11, when a truck carrying a section of a house jackknifed at approximately 3:30 pm.
Edgartown police said that Aaron Zeender of Aquinnah was towing a portion of a house when he lost control and drove onto the soft shoulder. The truck flipped over and dragged the trailer, which remained upright, across both lanes of traffic.
A crew was called to remove the trailer and house, and traffic resumed just before 5 pm.
The house, which was being moved from Oyster Watcha Road to a new site in Vineyard Haven, was placed on the side of the road near the Airport Business Park until it could be safely removed.
Police said that the house exceeded the weight limit of the trailer, which may have contributed to the accident. They also noted that road conditions at the time were somewhat slippery.
Alex Nugent wins geography bee at Edgartown School
In April 2005, Pope John Paul II's funeral procession crossed St. Peter's Square in which small European country?
Seventh-grader Alex Nugent's answer to that tie-breaking question won him first place in Edgartown School's geography bee on Wednesday, held in the school gym.
Ten classroom winners in grades four through eight squared off in the competition run by Gary Smith, a grade five teacher. After a fierce five rounds of questions, only two contestants remained, Warren Gowell and Alex Nugent, who provided this answer to the tie-breaking question: The Vatican.
The classroom winners included James Cleary (4H), Lucas Thors (4G), Brian Hurley (5S), Jack Wallace (5Y), Warren Gowell (6H), Sam Devanski (6M), Alex Nugent (7C), Danielle Cleary (7P), Hayley Pierce (8F), and Ray Perry (8T).
After winning his school's geography bee, Alex will take a test to see if he qualifies for a trip to Washington, D.C., in May for the national competition.
Registered Democrats in Oak Bluffs will caucus on Feb. 4 at 10 am at the Oak Bluffs Senior Center to elect four delegates and two alternates to the 2006 Massachusetts State Convention. Delegates are, to the extent possible, equally divided between men and women.
The convention will be held June 2-3, at the DCU Center in Worcester. At that time, Democrats from across the state will gather to endorse candidates for the office of auditor, treasurer, attorney general, secretary of the Commonwealth, lt. governor, governor, and U. S. senator. The names of those candidates who receive 15 percent of the state convention vote will be placed on the Sept. 19, Democratic primary ballot.
For more information, please contact the Democratic State Committee at 617-776-2676 or the Oak Bluffs Committee Chair at 508-693-0371.
West Tisbury awards affordable lots,
At the West Tisbury selectmen's meeting last week, dozens of would-be home owners watched intently as executive secretary Jennifer Rand reached into a black top hat to draw the three winners of the chance to buy one of three affordable house lots off Deep Bottom Road.
There were 13 names on blue slips in the first drawing, which was limited to candidates with 10 years of residence in West Tisbury. Because candidates could qualify in as many as four ways, there were many more slips than names. The winners were Jessica and John Miller.
Twenty-four names were on 71 yellow slips in the second drawing, including all those who did not win in the first drawing. The winners of the other two lots were Michelle Aluia and Noah Richard, and Joe and Hester Capece.
Ms. Rand went on to draw all the names in both drawings in order to establish the order in which runners-up would be called upon in the event that the winners are unable to meet their obligations. If there is a difficulty, according to affordable housing committee member Ernest Mendenhall, it is likely to be bank financing. Although all candidates are theoretically prequalified by a bank, it has happened in other towns that a mortgage does not, after all, get approved.
The Dukes County Housing Authority (DCHA) handled the qualification and selection process, delivering the blue and yellow slips to the selectmen's meeting in sealed envelopes. Before the drawing, Michael Colaneri, chairman of the West Tisbury affordable housing committee, thanked the DCHA, Kent Healy, Vineyard Land Survey, and White-Lynch Construction, as well as Peter Rosbeck, whose Deep Bottom development provided the lots to the town.
At the same meeting, the selectmen unanimously voted to appoint Susan Phelps and Leslie Eaton as at-large members of the town committee which will recommend to voters how the funds generated by the Community Preservation Act should be spent. The other members of the CPA committee are Dale Julier (DCHA), Al DeVito (finance committee), Caroline Locke (affordable housing committee), Peter Rodegast (conservation committee), Eileen Maley (planning board), Sean Conley (historical commission), and Bruce Keep (parks and recreation board).
They also unanimously appointed architect Robert Schwartz, county engineer Stephen Berlucchi, and builder Peter Rodegast to an expanded town hall building committee. The returning members of the committee are Glenn Hearn, Skipper Manter, John Early, Lanny McDowell, Ernest Mendenhall, and Ann Fisher.
Auto accident on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road snaps utility pole
The driver of a 1996 Chevy Astro minivan veered off the road and struck a utility pole on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road across from the Edgartown National Bank branch office about 6 pm on Wednesday last week.
The pole snapped, causing showers of sparks, according to witnesses. A few residents in nearby neighborhoods reported brief power outages, although NStar spokesmen said none were confirmed. Tisbury and Oak Bluffs police officers closed a portion of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road for about an hour and a half until the pole was secured.
The driver, Fabio Dos Santos of Oak Bluffs, age 25, and his passenger, Josemar Boldrine, also of Oak Bluffs, suffered minor injuries and were transported to the hospital, where they were treated and released.
Mr. Dos Santos told Tisbury Police officers that he veered off the road when he reached down to pick up a compact disc off the floor of the car.
The minivan was damaged on the left side, center. Theodore Saulnier, Tisbury's chief of police, said speed did not appear to be a factor, as there were no skid marks on the pavement. Mr. Dos Santos was charged with negligent operation of a motor vehicle and operating without a license.
The Tisbury fire department, Tisbury ambulance service and Oak Bluffs police department also responded to the accident and provided assistance.
Falmouth Academy hosts annual scholarship exam
and open house
Falmouth Academy will host its annual scholarship exam and open house at the school on Saturday, from 9 am to noon. All students interested in applying to the school for the 2006-'07 school year are invited to take the exam. Students and parents will have the opportunity to participate in a panel discussion led by a group of academy students and explore the schools' facilities.
Falmouth Academy is a small, academically rigorous, college-prep school for students in grades 7-12. According to a press release the school is guided by teachers who believe that students willing to work hard can meet the demands of a challenging core curriculum that explores English, history, science, mathematics, foreign language, and the arts.
For information on the school or to register for the exam, call 508-457-9696.
High school students invited
Nathan Mayhew Seminars will host an open house for high school juniors and seniors interested in college-level courses to be offered on-Island, at reduced cost and for college credit. The students' work will involve mentors, study texts, and evaluations. Students are invited to request courses that interest them. The gathering is Saturday at 9:30 am at the Seminars, on North William Street in Vineyard Haven.
Dukes County Bank
adds board members
The Dukes County Savings Bank this week announced the election of three new members to the bank's board of trustees. The board of corporators collectively represents the interests of the bank's depositors and each year elects trustees to oversee management of the bank, according to a press release.
The new trustees are Emily Bramhall of Chilmark, owner of Bramhall and Dunn in Vineyard Haven; Tim Walsh of West Tisbury, Martha's Vineyard Hospital chief executive officer; and Marc Hanover of Oak Bluffs, owner of Linda Jean's Restaurant in Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Steamship Authority member.
Chris Wells, savings bank chief executive officer, said that each year members of the board nominate local residents who they consider influential within the community. Mr. Wells said the new trustees have impressive backgrounds and credentials and would compliment the already diverse board.
Ship's Inn has new owners
Caleb Caldwell and Mary Ibsen of Oak Bluffs and Seattle, Washington recently purchased the Ship's Inn on Kennebec Avenue in Oak Bluffs.
The couple said that a thorough redecorating of the property is underway and the new business, renamed the Madison Inn, will open on May 1. Mr. Caldwell and Ms Ibsen also own the nearby Zapotec Restaurant and the Nashua House Hotel.
Bank of Martha's Vineyard appoints manager
Bank of Martha's Vineyard, a division of Sovereign Bank, announced the appointment of John Coskie as manager of business development for the Island.
Based in Vineyard Haven, Mr. Coskie is responsible for developing and expanding relationships within the business community, according to a press release.
"We are excited to hire local Islanders to fill key positions at the Bank of Martha's Vineyard," said Paul Watts, senior vice president. "John's experience as a senior manager coupled with his knowledge of the Island community will help us further meet the banking needs of the Island."
A year-round resident of Martha's Vineyard for more than 15 years, Mr. Coskie is actively involved in the community and has more than 20 years experience in a number of executive sales and marketing positions.
Local convenience store employees receive awards
Joseph McCarthy, manager of the Xtra Mart convenience store on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven won the community service award from the New England Convenience Store Association at the annual store operator awards ceremony held at the Beechwood Hotel in Worcester on Jan. 12.
At the same event, Cumberland Farms manager Anthony Hoang won the operations award.
Rooney and Company
Rooney & Company, a real estate office located on State Road in West Tisbury, announced that Grace Bochicchio has joined the real estate office and will be active in both sales and vacation rentals.
Ms. Bochicchio, a native of Miami, Florida, is a former college tennis champion and well-known Island tennis instructor. The mother of two children, she has been an active real estate agent since 1999.
Error on electric bills
While new electric rates will mean larger electric bills for most Islanders in 2006, some NStar customers saw their December bills jump prematurely.
Joe Soares, power supply planner for the Cape Light Compact, said that approximately 21,000 electric customers were charged a higher rate on their December bills. He said that NStar would credit anyone who was overcharged.
The Cape Light Compact recently signed a new 14-month contract with ConEdison Solutions, which provides the electricity that NStar delivers. The price per kilowatt-hour rose significantly, from 7.132 cents to 12.92 cents under the new contract.
Mr. Soares said the higher bills in December were mistakenly charged at the new rate that was not supposed to go into effect until after the New Year.
Mike Durand, a spokesperson for NStar said that anyone with any questions about their electric bill should contact NStar at 800-592-2000. Callers should have their account number available.
Judy Belushi Pisano wrote this week to clarify a statement in a Jan. 12 Calendar article about the Belushi Pisano Gallery. Ms. Pisano wrote, "We unintentionally misrepresented a recent Second Chance Award, for Vineyard singer Felicia Taylor, as a fundraiser 'to assist with career and medication expenses.' In fact, the money raised (largely through the work and generosity of caring friends) was not applied toward her career, but to bills accrued during her extended illness. I regret any misunderstanding this may have caused."
Joshua Paulson, a sophomore at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, is on the honor roll for the first quarter of the 2005-06 academic year. Mr. Paulson's name should have appeared on the honor roll list in last week's paper.