News in Brief
Photo by Ezra Blair
The closure of the Lagoon Pond drawbridge this week caused a ripple effect of traffic congestion in Oak Bluffs and Vineyard Haven.
MassHighway closed the bridge Tuesday morning for repair work. The bridge is scheduled to be reopened tomorrow.
While the bridge has been impassible, other roads and key intersections have become clogged with traffic, causing backups worse than those during even the busiest summer weekends.
The Oak Bluffs police department stationed an officer at the notorious blinker light intersection on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in an attempt to keep traffic flowing more smoothly. But even with the officer directing traffic, at peak times lines of cars backed up for miles on the Tisbury side of Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road.
MassHighway officials said that the work on the drawbridge was needed to repair sections of the asphalt deck.
Eric Abell, MassHighway spokesperson, said that the repairs were required to "patch up some trouble spots that were caused by general wear and tear." He added that the work is proceeding on schedule and should be completed in time to reopen the bridge Friday morning.
The work to the drawbridge comes two weeks after the Massachusetts Highway Department commissioner said that the state will move ahead with plans to replace the drawbridge with two bridges - first with a temporary structure and later with a permanent bridge.
Work on the temporary bridge is expected to begin this fall. When it is complete, the existing bridge will be removed and a permanent bridge will be built in its place.
School calendar set
The Island's school committees recently approved a calendar for the 2006-2007 school year, according to a press release from James Weiss, superintendent of Martha's Vineyard Public Schools.
Next year's calendar again represents "the traditional approach," with school starting after Labor Day on Sept. 7, 2006 and three vacations scheduled for December 25-Jan. 1, 2007, February 26-March 2, and April 16-20. The last day of school will be June 19, 2007 (if no snow days are used) or June 26 (with five snow days).
In an effort to respond to the travel needs of students, parents and staff over the Thanksgiving holiday, officials added an extra day off. Schools will be closed from Wednesday, Nov. 22 through Friday, Nov. 24, 2006.
Parent/teacher conference release days will be added to the calendar at a later date.
Disciplinary action cuts girls hockey trip short
The Martha's Vineyard junior varsity girls hockey squad's weekend off-Island road trip was cut short after three students were discovered smoking marijuana in a hotel room Friday night.
The JV team played at Acton-Boxborough on Friday evening and was scheduled to play against the Pomfret School in Connecticut on Saturday. The three students, all minors, were caught smoking marijuana during a stopover at a local hotel after supper, according to Peg Regan, Martha's Vineyard High School principal.
Ms. Regan said the team coach and chaperones handled the matter, and police were not involved. The coach cancelled the Saturday game, and the team returned early to the Vineyard.
Glen Field, school athletic director, said the issue is an internal school matter that concerned juveniles and was being handled according to school policy.
Ms. Regan said the school would hold disciplinary hearings for the three students, none of whom was identified by school officials.
Medivan Boston trips
will cost $20
Beginning March 1, the Martha's Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) will charge $20 per person, per trip for Medivan services to Boston-area medical facilities.
The Boston Medivan trips are currently a free service that the VTA offers.
Lois Crane, VTA administrator, said that the Island councils on aging used to fund the service, but that the transit authority now shoulders the cost of the Medivan.
Ms. Crane said that due to higher fuel prices and increasing insurance costs, the VTA board of directors voted recently to begin charging for the Boston Medivan services.
Ms. Crane said that the $20 per person fee will not cover the entire cost of the service, but that will help make it more cost effective.
Ms. Crane said that anyone who cannot pay the fee should contact their local council on aging or other Island social service agencies who can provide financial assistance.
Medivan service to Boston leaves on the 7 am boat every Tuesday and returns to the Island on the 5 pm ferry.
Aquinnah fails to reach quorum on second try
Blame it on a lack of controversy, or the January exodus to warmer climes, but for the second time in a row Aquinnah fell 10 votes short of quorum at a special town meeting Jan. 25.
Aquinnah voters were asked to return to the town meeting floor last Wednesday after failing to achieve a 40-voter quorum on Jan. 17 to take up a revised set of zoning bylaws designed to allow for cellular telephone companies willing to use a wireless communication system that does not rely on high towers.
Town officials will try again sometime in February, but they have yet to set a date.
Voters are being asked to create a special wireless overlay district that would allow for the placement of equipment at the town landfill needed to operate a distributed antenna system (DAS), a less obtrusive wireless communication system that uses fiber optic cable and a network of short antennas, which are most often placed on telephone poles in strategic locations.
The special town meeting warrant asks voters to amend the zoning bylaws to allow for antennas in the town's Wireless Overlay District that do not exceed 70 feet and allow for the installation of antennas on existing utility poles or poles installed for that purpose.
Windemere ends year
with modest profit
Despite continuing financial pressures common to nursing homes in the state, the Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center managed to squeak into the black with a $3,958 profit in 2005.
Tim Walsh, Martha's Vineyard Hospital chief executive officer, presented the year-end financial statements at a meeting of the hospital board on Saturday, Jan. 28. Windemere is owned by the hospital, which is in the midst of a $42 million capital campaign to finance construction of a new hospital facility.
When combined with gifts, Windemere ended 2005 with a total gain of $57,821. That was a drop from the previous year when Windemere ended the year with its first-ever profit for a total gain of $149,881.
John Ferguson, chairman of the hospital board and president and chief executive officer of Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey, said that as tiny as the surplus is, it is the second one in a row and comes as good news. "I congratulate Tim Walsh and the staff for running a wonderful institution," said Mr. Ferguson, a West Tisbury seasonal resident. "This is a tough business."
Mr. Walsh said operating Windemere in the previous year was indeed a struggle, particularly after the nursing home removed two beds to comply with state requirements. He gave credit to Ken Chisholm, Windemere administrator, and the rest of the staff. "It is remarkable they were able to stay in the black," he said.
The budget statement showed net revenue of $5,278,889, primarily made up of $2,691,255 in Medicaid payments, $835,549 in Medicare A payments and $1,633,958 in private pay, which includes payments received from private insurance companies.
Not surprisingly in the labor-intensive nursing home industry, salaries ($2,788,650) and employee benefits ($812,732) accounted for a large part of Windemere's total operating expenses totaling $5,491,084.
Not much is expected to change this year, according to Windemere's draft 2006 fiscal year budget that shows modest increases across the board and a $5,613 profit for a total gain of $40,928.
In other news, Mr. Walsh said that the hospital board credentialed Nancy Gilroy, an acupuncturist, who will now be able to treat patients in the hospital.
No-show school bus on Tisbury/West Chop run
A driver mix-up resulted in a no-show school bus for high school students on the Tisbury/West Chop route Tuesday morning. "The original driver was absent, and someone else was asked to do the run and did not do it," explained Amy Tierney, assistant to the superintendent for business affairs.
The backup driver was reported to have a family medical emergency off-Island, which may have accounted for his absence, Ms. Tierney said. "Jim Flynn [the Martha's Vineyard Public Schools transportation manager] is looking into it to find out what did happen," she said.
Unfortunately, the driver's absence was not noticed during the bus drivers' morning sign-on starting at 6 am. "There was some sort of miscommunication, and we have taken some steps to resolve that, to make sure it does not happen again," said Ms. Tierney, who happens to live along the bus route. She called Mr. Flynn to report the school bus had not arrived.
The sound of kids at the bus stop every morning acts as an alarm clock for Ms. Tierney, who can hear them from her bedroom window. "They are usually gone by 7:10," she said. "I realized at 7:20 they were still there, and that I should be up and they should be gone," as if they'd completed their duty as the human equivalent of an alarm clock's snooze button.
She phoned Mr. Flynn, who dispatched a replacement bus, but by the time it arrived, most of the students had left the stop. Some parents probably did not know about the bus problems, because their children walked or got rides with other students. Their tardiness was excused when they arrived at school, Ms. Tierney said.
Mr. Flynn was unavailable for comment.
Two schools awarded collaborative grant
The Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School (MVPCS) and the Chilmark School have been awarded a $28,000 grant through the Massachusetts Department of Education for a collaborative project on differentiation, i.e. teaching children with diverse educational needs in the same classroom.
"The grant gave us an opportunity to collaborate with another school, and we selected Chilmark School because they are similar to us, in that there are mixed aged groups in the classroom," said Bob Moore, MVPCS principal.
Diane Gandy, Chilmark School principal, said she is excited about the project. "We have five students from Russia who are with us, and students with learning challenges, not to mention that all students have special needs. We are trying to get to the bottom of how students learn, and support them through different learning activities."
Susie DiRubio, charter school special needs administrator, wrote the grant proposal. The grant pays for the project's coordination and administration, as well as stipends. Nineteen educators will participate, including six from Chilmark and 13 from the charter school.
The 19 educators involved in the project will take part in four Saturday workshops at the charter school starting in February and ending in May. The first workshop is scheduled for Feb. 11, 8 am to 3 pm. One of the grant's requirements, Ms. DiRubio said, is to produce a handbook detailing usable practices of differentiation for submission to the department of education.
Teachers also will complete their own classroom projects and will visit each other's classrooms for observation and peer consultations.
"This will give teachers the opportunity to discuss students in their classes, and some of the things they have done to help provide their students with an opportunity to be successful in the classroom," said Ms. Gandy. "It takes a lot of brainstorming. To have so many of us together in one room will be a great opportunity."
Ms. DiRubio said that differentiation is one of the charter school's professional development goals this year. "Whenever I do grants like this, I like to do things that will enhance our practice, not add to the burden of our practice," she said.
Bank of Martha's Vineyard donates to housing fund
Russel Hodson which he plans on sticking with next year.
Paul Watts, Bank of Martha's Vineyard senior vice president, and attorney Marcia Mulford Cini (left), a member of the bank's advisory board, present a check for $10,000 to Emily Levett, Island Affordable Housing Fund executive director.
The money will be used to provide funding assistance to year-round homebuyers under the soft second mortgage program, according to a press release.
"In the last few years, the Island Affordable Housing Fund has gained momentum in helping households into homeownership. With the assistance of our Island banks, we now provide a variety of financial assistance packages to year-round Islanders," said Ms. Levett.
For more information or to make a donation, contact the Island Affordable Housing Fund at 508-696-0943.
to elect delegates
Island Democrats will meet across the Island Saturday to elect delegates to the Massachusetts Democratic Convention to be held on June 2 and 3 in Worcester.
Convention delegates vote to nominate candidates 0for U.S. Senate, Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, and Treasurer. Candidates who receive 15 percent on the first ballot for each office will be included in the primary ballot in September.
Democrats registered to vote by December 31, 2005 are invited to attend a Democratic Caucus in Chilmark (9:30 am, Chilmark Community Center), Edgartown (9 am, town hall), Oak Bluffs (10 am, Senior Center), Vineyard Haven (6 pm, Senior Center), or West Tisbury (1 pm, Howes House).
The town of Aquinnah will not hold a caucus this year, according to a press release from the Democratic Council of Martha's Vineyard (DCMV). The release said that each town is allocated the number of delegates and alternates it may send to the convention, which in most towns is two or three delegates divided between male and female candidates. Each town can also send add-on delegates in youth (age 18-35), minority, or disabled categories. Candidates must be present at the caucus in order to be elected.
For more information, call Cathy Brennan, DCMV secretary at 508-693-7305.
Attention, all artists
The town of Tisbury is sponsoring a contest to choose original artwork created by its residents for the cover for this year's town report. The contest is open to submissions of all art forms except photography.
"The entry should focus on capturing the natural beauty, quaint history and moments of celebration that Tisbury has to offer," said John Bugbee, town administrator, the contest's creator.
The winning submittal will be chosen by a five-member committee and printed on the cover of the town's annual report and posted on the town's website and in all of the town's public buildings.
The town report also will be entered into a statewide contest held by the Massachusetts Municipal Association.
Entry forms and the official rules are available at town hall and also on the town's website at www.tisburygov.org.
Contest entries should be dropped off at the Tisbury town hall in the shellfish/harbormaster office no later than Feb. 22 at 4:30 pm. For more information, call 508-696-4203.
Reynolds, Rappaport adds two partners
The Edgartown law firm Reynolds, Rappaport & Kaplan, announced this week that Cynthia Glazier Wansiewicz and Michael A. Goldsmith have been made directors of the firm.
Mr. Goldsmith has been an associate at the firm for five years. His practice is concentrated in municipal law and civil litigation. He is a graduate of Princeton University and Northeastern University School of Law.
Ms. Wansiewicz joined Reynolds, Rappaport & Kaplan in 1999. Her practice is concentrated in real estate law. Ms Wansiewicz is a graduate of Wellesley College and Boston College Law School.
Habitat for Humanity seeks Island family for new house
Habitat for Humanity of Martha's Vineyard is seeking a family for a three-bedroom home that will be built this winter.
Habitat for Humanity builds and sells homes at no profit or interest with and for people who could not afford one. Homeowners are chosen on the basis of their level of need, ability to repay a non-interest bearing mortgage and willingness to provide "sweat" equity hours. Religious affiliation is not a factor.
To qualify, applicants must not own adequate housing and have an annual income between $20,130 and $53,680 for a family of four.
Applications are available in town halls and libraries Island-wide and in some business locations. They must be completed and returned to the Habitat for Humanity office by March 4. For more information, call 508-696-4646.
Scholarship applications invited
Scholarship applications for graduates of Martha's Vineyard Regional High School already enrolled in or returning to college are available for the following: Bradford & Dorothy Church Memorial, Elmer Hobson Deloura Memorial, Mary D. Coles Foundation, Dr. David Rappaport Memorial, Betty Ann Lima-Bryant Scholarship, Martha's Vineyard Horse Council, Dorothy West Scholarship, Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce Jim Lambert Memorial, The Cape Cod Assoc. Scholarship, MV Vision Fellowships (application deadline, 1/30/06), Permanent Endowment Fund for Martha's Vineyard Scholarship (Dr. Clement N. Amaral & Vera E. Amaral Scholarships, James S. Rego & Violet M. Rego Scholarships, Carolyn A. Secor Scholarships, Albridge C. & Margaret Righter Smith Scholarships, Lumina/Darrell Scholarship Fund, Anne Madeiros Kent Scholarship, Harriet N. Goldberg Scholarship provided by Boston Seaman's Friend Society).
Applications can be picked up at the high school guidance office or from the school's web page at www.mvrhs.org/guide.
The Fourth Grade Theater Project performance by the Tisbury School students will be held at the Vineyard Playhouse on Saturday, Feb. 4, at 3 pm and again at 7 pm.
In a review of Margery Benjamin's poetry collection, "Song Spinner," published on Jan. 12, included an inaccurate day for Ms. Benjamin's poetry reading. Ms. Benjamin will read selections from her book at the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore this Friday, Feb. 3, at 7:30 pm.