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News in Brief
Vineyarders testify and lobby for housing legislation
Paul Watts, Senior Vice President of Bank of Martha's Vineyard (right), presented a check for $50,000 to Tim Walsh, Martha's Vineyard Hospital chief executive officer at a ceremony yesterday that was attended by hospital and bank staff, and local business leaders. The money is to support the construction of a new community hospital.
As the local fundraising effort moves into high gear, hospital officials said the check is one of the largest donations so far from an Island business.
"As a longstanding member of the Island community, Bank of Martha's Vineyard has seen first hand, the dramatic change in our Island", says Mr. Watts. "Our staff is comprised of year-round Islanders who rely on the quality care the Hospital provides. Like all Islanders, they are excited that the physical facility and technology, will soon match the excellent care they currently receive."
Hospital leaders are currently engaged in a campaign to raise the $42 million they say is needed to build a new hospital on the current site. They are more than halfway to that goal.
"Funding of the new facility is solely dependant upon the generosity of the Island community; individuals and businesses alike. We are hopeful others will take note of such a generous contribution and find the means to follow the Bank of Martha's Vineyard's lead," said Mr. Walsh.
Those interested in helping in this effort can contact the Hospital Development Office at 508-693-4645. For more information on Bank of Martha's Vineyard, call 508-696-4400.
Five airport commissioners down, county reopens search
Having laid waste to the Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission, the Dukes County commissioners put out a call for volunteers interested in filling five vacant seats on the seven-member airport commission. As of press time yesterday, five had answered the call, including several with extensive aviation experience.
The applicants are: Constance Teixeira of Vineyard Haven; Donald Ogilvie of Vineyard Haven; James Craig of Edgartown; David Moore of Edgartown; and Paul Adler of Chilmark.
On Jan. 19, Dukes County manager Winn Davis issued a press release titled, "Community-minded citizens still needed for variety of appointed positions."
"Due to a variety of reasons," Mr. Davis wrote, "the Dukes County commissioners have re-opened their aggressive search for talented, dedicated residents to fill a wide range of important volunteer positions as airport commissioner and associate commissioner for elder affairs."
Six days after reappointing Jack Law of Oak Bluffs, who had been the airport commission chairman, and Les Leland of West Tisbury, a county and airport commissioner, to the airport commission, the county commissioners called a special meeting on Jan. 17 and rescinded the appointments.
That action prompted the immediate resignations of veteran airport commissioners Frank Daly of Tisbury and William Mill of Tisbury. Another vacancy already existed following the decision of T.J. Hegarty, county rodent control agent, not to seek reappointment.
In a telephone interview after issuing the press release, Mr. Davis said he did not think the actions of the county commissioners in rescinding their previous appointments and the resignation of two commissioners would affect the county's renewed search for volunteers.
"I am hopeful that people will see this, not as it is portrayed by some, but as an opportunity to get involved with a group that will conduct itself according to the rules," said Mr. Davis. "I really don't see anybody walking away from us yet."
Mr. Davis said two people had already submitted letters of interest in serving on the airport commission, which has the statutory authority for the care and custody of the airport. He initially refused to provide The Times with copies of those letters. Mr. Davis said he wanted to keep the names private until the applicants had checked with the state ethics commission to see if there would be any conflict.
The Times filed a formal public records request claiming that Mr. Davis had not properly cited an exemption that would permit him to refuse to release the letters. On Monday, The Times notified Mr. Davis that an appeal of his refusal was filed with the Secretary of State's public records division.
On Tuesday, Mr. Davis faxed copies of letters from five applicants, stating in a cover sheet, "I am releasing the five applications we have received thus far, while not conceding that I am required to do so release [sic] at this time, but because they have completed their application and the conflict issues have been resolved."
The application deadline for the airport commission is 4:30 pm, Friday, Feb. 10.
Tribe-town discussions to continue in Aquinnah
Aquinnah selectmen and leaders of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) met publicly for the first time last week to discuss a draft memorandum of understanding (MOU) designed to set up a process to resolve conflicts over land use issues. In the face of numerous questions and lackluster support from many town residents for a document that emerged from behind closed doors after two years of negotiations, town and tribal officials decided to punt.
Among other things, the draft MOU would have created an Aquinnah planning advisory board, set out a joint review and consultation process, provided for mediation in the event of disagreements, and maintained the right of either party to seek judicial review, in which case the tribe must waive the defense of sovereign immunity
The Jan. 18 meeting began with a presentation by Ron Rappaport, town counsel and architect of much of the language in the 11-page document, in which he described the principal concepts the MOU attempted to address. Mr. Rappaport suggested that both sides abandon the specific language and instead focus on finding common ground on which to build a new agreement.
On Wednesday night Mr. Rappaport said the MOU, as currently written, does not adequately address the issues at the heart of the matter. He suggested that the town and the tribe focus their discussions on a number of key concepts including: should there be a committee of town and tribal members to oversee projects; and if there is a disagreement between the tribal land use council and town boards, should there be an effort to mediate before the matter goes to court.
"What we don't want is to get hung up on the words," said Mr. Rappaport. "I think you should deal with these concepts, and that these concepts should be discussed."
He said that an open dialogue is key, and that the town and the tribe should take their time creating the best possible solution for both sides.
Donald Widdis, tribal council chairman, agreed. "I think once we begin to get to the essence of this talking relationship, whatever comes out of it will be more amenable to both sides," he said.
Tribe and town officials agreed to meet again on Feb. 22 to continue the public discussion.
Interviews set for Edgartown School principal finalists
The three finalists for the position of principal at Edgartown School - Elana Aitken, G. Paul Dulac, and Lisa Sheffield - will undergo one more round of public interviews on Feb. 9, 10 and 15. The candidates will be interviewed individually on the three dates at 6 pm at the Edgartown School.
The principal position at Edgartown School was left vacant by principal Ed Jerome's retirement in November 2005, after 26 years. After the interviews are completed, James Weiss, superintendent of Martha's Vineyard Public Schools, will make the final selection of a principal in consultation with the school committee.
The new principal will assume duties on July 1.
Oak Bluffs police department offers forum on sex offenders
Officer Carrie White of the Oak Bluffs police department will host an educational meeting for Island residents concerning registered sex offenders and the risks of sex crimes on the Island at the Oak Bluffs School community room on Jan. 31 at 6 pm.
Topics covered will also include tips for protecting children from becoming victims of sex offenders and the dangers sex offenders pose on the Internet.
All Island residents are welcome to attend. For more information, call the Oak Bluffs police department at 508-693-0750.
FARM Institute discusses Katama Farm plans
The first annual review of the FARM Institute's lease of Katama Farm was marked by overall support and approval from the Edgartown Conservation Commission at a recent meeting. The ConCom met with representatives from the FARM Institute on Jan. 12 to discuss aspects of the Katama Farm lease, and to review the FARM Institute's "2006 Farm Plan."
The FARM institute was first established in 2000. It moved from its original location at Herring Creek onto the Katama Farm property last spring.
The acronym FARM stands for Farming, Agriculture, and Resource Management. The institute's objective is "reconnecting children and the community with the culture of agriculture," according to the institute's web site.
Matthew Goldfarb, farm manager, said that a major current goal for the institute is to increase community involvement.
"It felt like it was a great validation to have such positive feedback from the conservation commission about our efforts to building a larger network of support," said Mr. Goldfarb.
Sam Feldman, a founding member of FARM and a director, said that the FARM Institute needs approximately $400,000 a year to support its current programs. "We have relied very, very heavily, on our board to support the farm financially, and the board has been extremely generous, but now, after our formative years, we need to get a broader base of support," he said.
According to the 2006 Farm Plan executive summary, "All buildings (new classrooms, horse barn, cow barn and outbuildings) and grounds will be remodeled, creating a safe, attractive and wholesome physical environment for the FARM." Work on the new classroom building, which began last fall, is expected to be completed by May 15, according to the 2006 Farm Plan.
In an article about the Rev. Robert Hensley in last week's issue, a photo accompanying the story should have been credited to Randy William Ash.
In an article about winter moths in the Dec. 29 issue, the photo identified as a female winter moth is actually a female fall cankerworm.