News in Brief
State Police enforce truck weight limits at Lagoon Pond Bridge
A team of state police pulled over trucks Wednesday morning as they crossed the Lagoon Pond Drawbridge, part of a effort to enforce weight restrictions on the deteriorating structure.
In a letter, the Lagoon Pond Drawbridge committee, a citizen planning group, had asked state and town police to strictly enforce the existing speed limits and weight limits to avoid overloading the bridge. The letter also asked that truckers, particularly those carrying loads approaching the bridge's capacity, voluntarily follow an alternative route via Vineyard Haven-Edgartown Road to Edgartown, or Barnes Road or County Road to Oak Bluffs.
The committee's goal is to prevent the premature closing of the bridge, which is to be replaced by a temporary bridge, and then finally, by a permanent bridge.
The bridge is currently rated for the posted weight limits of 12, 15 and 24 tons for 2-, 3- and 5-axle trucks, respectively. Engineers have recommended decreasing the weight and speed of vehicles using the bridge, in order to limit the stress on the decking and approaches, according to the committee.
For more information, visit the Martha's Vineyard Commission web site (www.mvcommission.org), search for "drawbridge."
State requires carbon monoxide detectors
A new state law goes into effect tomorrow requiring homeowners to install carbon monoxide (CO) detectors on every level of the home and within 10 feet of each sleeping area and in habitable portions of basements and attics.
Also starting tomorrow, fire departments will be required to inspect all residences for carbon monoxide detectors upon sale or transfer.
Although the law was signed last November, the new CO detector regulations were not drafted until February by the Board of Fire Prevention Regulations, giving homeowners and fire department officials little time to respond.
The law applies to anyone owning residential property, regardless of size, that contains fossil-fuel burning equipment, such as natural gas, gasoline, wood, coal, propane, kerosene and charcoal, or has an attached or enclosed garage.
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that results from incomplete combustion of fossil fuels. High levels can cause loss of consciousness, followed by brain damage or death.
Regulations for larger buildings, such as hotels, inns, B & B's, boarding houses, and nursing homes, are still under development.
For more information, a consumer's guide to Massachusetts requirements for carbon monoxide alarms is available online at www.mass.gov/dfs.
Endowment Fund pledges $25,000 to hospital campaign
The Permanent Endowment Fund for Martha's Vineyard will give $25,000 to help build a new Martha's Vineyard Community Hospital, which is now in the midst of a campaign to raise $42 million.
At a meeting on March 23 the Endowment fund board voted unanimously to make the pledge to the hospital's capital campaign in annual contributions of $5,000, primarily from the James P. Cahen Fund.
The Cahen Fund was established with a gift of $5,000 in 1923 for the purpose of supporting health care services for the residents of Martha's Vineyard.
"There is no more important way to meet the needs of the Vineyard population, both seasonal and year-round, than by supporting the hospital campaign," said Deborah Hale, endowment fund chairman. "We are very excited to be able to make this pledge and to support one of the most crucial projects to take place on this Island. The endowment fund has never made a single donation of this size."
The Permanent Endowment Fund provides annual grants and scholarships in excess of $150,000 each year to students and non-profit organizations. To learn more, go to www.permanentendowmv.org or contact Gail Craig, administrative assistant, at 508-627-3754.
Tisbury voters breeze through special meeting
Although lack of a quorum delayed the start of Tisbury's special town meeting Tuesday by half an hour, voters managed to rustle up the magic number of friends and neighbors by cell phone. Philip Hale received a standing ovation when he walked through the door, the 100th voter. Voters made up for the delay by breezing through the warrant in 40 minutes, approving each of the 12 articles unanimously.
Article 12, a formula-based spending plan for the passenger ferry embarkation fee revenues, drew the most discussion. John Bugbee, town administrator, with the approval of the selectmen and town's Finance and Advisory Committee (FinCom), proposed spending 20 percent on beautification around the Steamship Authority area, 25 percent on safety equipment and operations, 20 percent on infrastructure and 35 percent on capital expenditures.
Passenger fee legislation signed into law in 2003 added a 50-cent fee on each one-way passenger ticket, payable to the town where the trip originated, to mitigate the impacts of ferry service on the town. Tisbury will receive $276,182.50 this year.
Voters asked how the percentages were derived and why the expenditures from the fees would not reduce the town's tax rate.
Mr. Bugbee explained that last year, Tisbury voted to spend the fee revenue on a new ladder truck for the fire department. In order to address as many areas of town improvements as possible, Mr. Bugbee came up with the formula-based plan, which is a one-time approach that can be amended as needed from year to year. Any remaining funds will be reallocated next year.
Ray LaPorte, chairman of the selectmen, explained that the state has strict parameters for spending the money and does not allow fees to be used toward reducing taxes. The article passed unanimously. At next week's annual town meeting warrant, voters will address the actual expenditures of the embarkation fee revenue.
Using the town's customary lottery system to decide the order in which articles would be addressed, moderator Deborah Medders drew article nine first, and ended the evening with article one. The final voter count was 106, about 3.9 percent of the town's 2,709 registered voters.
Tisbury police officer Frank Williams dies
Frank Williams of Edgartown, 49, a Tisbury police officer, died unexpectedly on Monday. Mr. Williams, the father of two daughters and one son, was due to retire from the police force after 19 years on Saturday, according to Ted Saulnier, Tisbury police chief.
"He was a highly decorated veteran officer," said Mr. Saulnier. "I can't say enough about him. He will be missed."
Funeral information was not available as of The Times publication deadline. For information regarding services, please visit The Times web site or the Chapman, Cole & Gleason website at ccgfuneralhome.com. A full obituary will follow in a future edition.
TTOR proposal to
manage Norton Point
waits for county action
Inaction by the Dukes County manager could doom a proposal by The Trustees of Reservations (TTOR) to take over management of Norton Point Beach from the country at least for this year.
Following a series of discussions and with the support of Edgartown officials and local fishermen, The Trustees, a private conservation organization that now manages extensive beachfront on Chappaquiddick, at a meeting on March 10 presented a draft memorandum of agreement to Winn Davis, county manager, to manage the beach. Three weeks later the county manager and county commissioners have still not taken any action and time is running out.
Chris Kennedy, TTOR regional director, said he is nearing the point where there would not be enough time to complete the necessary preparations to effectively manage the beach and a decision will have to be made on whether to go forward. He said the Trustees must make commitments to summer staff, delineate shorebird habitat, acquire equipment such as fencing and vehicles, and make agreements to remove a decade's worth of beach debris.
"There are a lot of things that have to happen before we roll into Memorial Day, and they can't happen overnight," said Mr. Kennedy. "We need at least six weeks to be able to do all this."
Mr. Kennedy said that he called Mr. Davis on Monday to check on the status of the contract and the county manager said that he had been very busy and had been waiting for Noreen Flanders, county treasurer, to return from vacation. Mr. Kennedy said Mr. Davis said he would get back to him in a few days. As of yesterday afternoon, Mr. Kennedy said he had not heard from Mr. Davis.
Late yesterday afternoon, Mr. Davis returned a call from The Times. Asked about the status of Norton Point, Mr. Davis said, "Chris [Kennedy] brought me a revised budget, maybe a week ago. We are working that through and then we will sign off on that." Mr. Davis added that as far as he was concerned the county is still on course to turn over management of Norton Point to TTOR
The three-mile strip of county-owned barrier beach that links Katama to Chappaquiddick provides an important transportation route and recreational resource. The beach is also considered to be prime nesting habitat for protected shorebirds.
Over the years county beach management has proved to be inadequate, resulting in lengthy closures to protect nesting shorebirds and a beach littered with debris. The Trustees plan includes setting up an air station, cleaning up the rusting metal posts that litter the beach, providing full-time ranger coverage, and shorebird monitoring.
TTOR has a record of successful shore bird monitoring and beach management on its properties. The nonprofit state conservation organization already owns and/or manages approximately 12 miles of beach and more than 800 acres on Chappaquiddick, extending from the county's Norton Point beach to the tip of Cape Poge.
Land Bank rebuffs advisory board on hospital land deal
The Martha's Vineyard Land Bank commission is not interested in any deal to provide land for the Martha's Vineyard Hospital (MVH) to relocate. Nor is the hospital, which plans to rebuild on its current site.
The unwelcome idea originated with Richard Coutinho of Oak Bluffs, a member of the Oak Bluffs Land Bank advisory board. At a meeting on March 7, Mr. Coutinho made a motion that the Land Bank consider providing land for the hospital. The motion passed 3-1, with two members abstaining.
In a letter to the hospital, a copy of which appears as a letter to the editor in today's issue of The Times, Mr. Coutinho said he wanted the hospital to have the option of relocating.
On Tuesday, Liz Durkee of Oak Bluffs, chairman of the advisory board, said she did not know that Mr. Coutinho had sent a letter to the hospital's chief executive. Ms. Durkee said it was inappropriate for Mr. Coutinho to send the letter without first speaking to the other board members.
Asked to comment on the letter, Tim Walsh, MVH chief executive officer, said, "I will say what I've been saying. We can't afford to do it. It would add $20 -30 million, even without the cost of the land."
At a meeting on March 13, the Land Bank Commission, made up of one elected member from each town, voted unanimously not to consider the notion.
James Lengyel, Land Bank executive director, said the Land Bank Commission is aware that some members of the Oak Bluffs advisory board voted to consider offering land to the hospital should it want to relocate. Mr. Lengyel said the Land Bank has no interest in giving up any land. "When the Land Bank buys property, it does so because it cherishes it and wants it to be protected," he said.
Mr. Coutinho is not the only one busy imagining where the hospital might relocate. A Martha's Vineyard Commission subcommittee looking into the possibilities concluded in a draft report that there are two promising alternative sites on which to build a new hospital, and that it might be possible to relocate the hospital without moving Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, which is now physically connected to the hospital and shares hospital services.
The conclusions were contained in the subcommittee's 20-page draft report, dated Feb. 22, which was presented to hospital officials. The MVC report contained no financial analysis to support its conclusions.
Hospital officials have continued to insist that building on the current Beach Road site in Eastville is the only viable financial alternative, given the estimated cost of more than $70 million to build on a new site.
Following a lengthy review process, in December the Public Health Council (PHC), which has the authority to evaluate and approve the construction of new health-care facilities, approved plans for a new hospital that include the construction of a new building on the current hospital site. The hospital is currently in the middle of a campaign to raise $42 million.
The Vineyard from Down Under
Filming in the campground were (from left) Diane Smith, presenter, Jodie Falkenburg, campground tour guide, Rod Pollard, cameraman, and Christian Sergiacomi, soundman. Photo by Susan Safford
An Australian film crew was on the Island for a couple of days this week shooting footage for a popular Australian TV travel program, The Great Outdoors, which airs nationally in Australia and on various networks around the world.
They took advantage of the warm, sunny weather on Monday and toured the Island with Jeff Kristal, owner of the Crocker House Inn in Vineyard Haven where the film crew stayed. On Tuesday they filmed in the Oak Bluffs campgrounds and set up a staged tour with Jodie Falkenburg, the regular summer campground tour guide.
"It's like a picture postcard," said producer Vanessa Cole. "Every shot is charming, and there's no visible pollution," she added as the crew of four meandered through the campground while filming on their final day.
County government wants you
Four seats on the Dukes County commission will be filled in the November 2006 election.
Nomination papers are available from the Secretary of State only. Call 1-800-VOTE (8683).
May 2 is the deadline to submit completed nomination papers to the town clerk in the town where the signatures have been collected. Voters from any town may sign nomination papers, but each town requires a separate sheet. The early deadline is required because partisan candidates must run in the state primary election as well as the state general election in November.
Nomination papers must have 25 signatures of registered voters. Prospective candidates are urged to get additional signatures, because some who sign may be disqualified.
If the candidate is registered as a Democrat or Republican, signers must be from the candidate's party or un-enrolled.
Candidates must pick up certified nomination papers from offices of the town clerks and return them to the Secretary of State by May 30, 2006 (5 pm).
Town clerk hours are: Chilmark, 8-12 Mon.-Fri.; Edgartown, 8-4 Mon.-Fri.; Oak Bluffs, 8:30-4 Mon.-Fri.; Tisbury, 8:30-4:30 Mon-Fri.; and West Tisbury 8:30-1:30 Mon.-Fri.
Receipts from both the Office of Campaign and Political Finance and the Ethics Commission must accompany the certified nomination papers when they are returned to the Secretary of State. Specific requirements may be found at the Secretary of the Commonwealth's web site (or get the publication: Candidates Guide 2006). Information will also be in the candidate packet from the Secretary of State's office.
Aquinnah invites residents to design workshop
What might an Aquinnah town center look like? Aquinnah officials and residents will ponder that question over a potluck dinner with an academic team from the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry on Friday evening, April 7.
Aquinnah has set aside Community Preservation funds to help develop a master plan for the use of the land behind town hall as a town center. To help with the planning process, the town recently engaged the services of faculty and graduate students from the Landscape Architecture and Planning programs at SUNY.
On Friday, from 5:30 to 8:30 pm, the town is inviting all interested residents to a potluck dinner and a design workshop with the SUNY team. "The workshop will include a variety of hands-on activities to identify community values and share ideas," according to a press release.
On Sunday, April 9, from 11:30 am-2:30 pm, the town will sponsor a light lunch, when participants will review and discusses design alternatives.
A steering committee made up of members of the town's Community Preservation Committee ((CPC) has been created to serve as a liaison between the town and the SUNY planning group.
For more information, call Carolyn Feltz, CPC administrative assistant, at 508-645-2304.
elects officers, hears reports
The Martha's Vineyard Red Cross elected officers and heard reports from six disaster services volunteers about their experiences while on assignment in the gulf coast region during the 2005 hurricane season at the chapter's annual meeting March 19 at the Oak Bluffs Library.
The volunteers who provided reports were: Cynthia Farrington of Edgartown who went to Lake Charles, Louisiana following Hurricane Rita; Dr. Basil Jones of Tisbury who went to Camp Edwards to help with Katrina evacuees; Bea Moore of Edgartown and Dee Rotondi of West Tisbury who went to Florida following Hurricane Wilma; and Tess Temple of Aquinnah and Michele Winnington of Chilmark who went to New Orleans.
Art Flathers, outgoing chairman, was recognized for his eight years with the local chapter, four as chairman. Also recognized were retiring board members Cathy and Ken Campbell of West Tisbury, Bruce Doten of Tisbury, Barbara Welsh of Oak Bluffs, and Grace Smith of Tisbury, who recently died.
Executive Director Deborah Medders recognized Eve Berry of Tisbury as the chapter's unsung hero for her volunteer time and effort assisting in the Chapter's office.
Tom Rancich of West Tisbury was elected chairman; Ann Hunt of Edgartown, treasurer; and Valci Carvalho of Oak Bluffs, board member.
Compact lowers municipal rates
The Island's schools, county and town facilities will pay lower electric bills, due to a 25 percent rate reduction announced recently by Cape Light Compact (CLC), a municipal buying group of Cape and Island towns. As a result the rate for municipal electric accounts will drop from 13.37 cents to 9.99 cents per kilowatt-hour beginning in April and ending in December.
Maggie Downey, Compact administrator, said CLC has been working with its energy supplier, Con Edison Solutions (CES), to monitor and take advantage of fluctuations in the current energy markets to reduce electric prices for the compact.
Ms. Downey hopes to secure similar discounts for residential and commercial accounts.
The compact is a municipal buying group of 21 Cape and Island towns representing more than 183,000 electric customers. It was formed to negotiate the best electric rate in the deregulated market. Because the 21 towns and two county governments cannot opt out of the compact, negotiating the municipal rate with a supplier is easier because their energy usage is considered a "committed load," Ms. Downey said.
Last November, due to surging energy prices worldwide, CLC announced steep rate hikes under the terms of a new 14-month contract negotiated with CES.
At that time, the compact told its customers that CES offered the lowest price of the three companies with whom they negotiated. Although the contract ensured that prices would not go higher in the next 14 months, Ms. Downey said if rates dropped, the compact could seek to negotiate a "blend" of lower energy prices with extended contract prices, as demonstrated by this week's municipal rate reduction.
Wearing a life jacket is the law
Mass Wildlife reminds kayakers and canoeists that state law requires that a Personal Flotation Device (PFD) be worn from Sept. 15 to May 15. Violators are subject to a $50 fine. After May 15, wearing a PFD is not required, but it must be in the craft.
According to Mass Wildlife, the majority of boating fatalities in Massachusetts involve small boats. In over 80 percent of recreational boating fatalities the victims were not wearing lifejackets.
State names two Island women as unsung heroines
The state Commission on the Status of Women named two Island women Community Unsung Heroines of 2006.
Jo Ann Murphy, Dukes County veterans' agent, and Betty Joslow, Aquinnah library trustee, were honored at a ceremony at the State House in Boston earlier this month. The two Island women were among 240 women from across the state who were selected for the honor.
In a letter to Ms. Murphy, Gov. Mitt Romney and Lt. Gov. Kerry Healey wrote, "This remarkable accomplishment is a testament to your hard work, determination and creativity. We applaud your efforts to give back to your community in Vineyard Haven and improve the quality of life for those around you. With no expectation of recognition or praise, you have given of your time and talents, and your family and friends have much to be proud of in your generosity and compassion."
The Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women (MCSW) is an independent state agency that was created by the legislature in 1998 to promote equal rights and create opportunities for women. For more information about MCWS, including a complete list of the 2006 Community Unsung Heroines, visit www.mass.gov/women.
LWV holds candidates forum
The League of Women Voters of Martha's Vineyardwill hold a Chilmark Candidates' Forum on Tuesday, April 11, at 7 pm at the Chilmark Public Library.
The league forum will provide an opportunity for voters to hear statements from the candidates and ask questions on topics of special importance to Chilmark and the Island, according to a press release.
Chilmark will hold an election on Wednesday. April 26.
LWV sponsors forum for Oak Bluffs candidates
The League of Women Voters of Martha's Vineyard will sponsor a forum for Oak Bluffs candidates on Wednesday, April 5 at 7 pm in the Meeting Room at the new Oak Bluffs Library
The forum will offer voters an opportunity to hear statements from those running for public office and to ask questions on topics of special importance to Oak Bluffs and the Island, according to a press release.
Oak Bluffs voters go to the polls on Thursday, April 13.
with expanded dance floor
Lola's Restaurant on Beach Road in Oak Bluffs reopens for the season on Friday, April 7, with a larger dance floor and an entertainment lineup that begins with Jerry Bennett. On Saturday night, Lola's kicks off the season with a grand re-opening party in the bar, beginning at 9 pm, featuring free appetizers.
Lola's popular Sunday brunch begins on April 9, from 10 am to 2 pm. For more information, call 508-693-5007.
Bank of Martha's Vineyard unveils new "Island" bank cards and web site
Bank of Martha's Vineyard's new debit cards and ATM cards feature classic Martha's Vineyard scenes. The Edgartown Lighthouse appears on the debit card. The Gay Head Cliffs and lighthouse appear on the ATM card.
The Bank of Martha's Vineyard web site, www.BankofMV.com, is also new. The new site features local photos, staff directory, branch hours, upcoming events of interest to Vineyarders, as well as the link to online banking.
"These cards and web site reflect the beauty of the Vineyard and the pride we share with all who love the Island," said Paul Watts, senior vice president.
The new cards can be obtained by visiting any of the five Bank of Martha's Vineyard branch offices. Bank of Martha's Vineyard is a division of Sovereign Bank.
For more information, call 508-696-4400.
offers workshops in business skills
Islanders can learn a variety of business skills at two separate basic business workshops aimed at assisting potential and existing entrepreneurs.
The free workshops will be held at the Mansion House in Vineyard Haven on Wednesday, April 26, and are co-sponsored by The South Eastern Economic Development (SEED) Corporation, Martha's Vineyard Co-operative Bank, Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, Martha's Vineyard Commission and SCORE.
The first workshop, entitled "Learn the Fundamentals in Planning, Preparing For, and Financing Your Business" will be held from 8:30 to 11:30 am. Registration begins at 8 am.
The second workshop, called "Understanding the Purpose of Financial Statements and How They Can Help Determine the Health of Your Business," will be held from 12:30 to 3:30 pm.
Call Tamarah Barao at SEED Corporation at 1-508-822-1020 to register for either or both sessions by April 21, or for information.
SEED Corporation (www.seedcorp.com) is a nonprofit organization certified by the U.S. Small Business Administration. SEED works with other economic development and financing institutions throughout the region to ensure that individuals who are committed to owning and operating a small business in the region are able to get the assistance they need to be successful.
A story about the Martha's Vineyard Commission 2007 fiscal year budget published in last week's Times (Planning and payroll increases push MVC budget past $1.2 million mark) incorrectly reported that payroll costs had risen 53 percent over FY 2005's total of $683,319. In fact, the increase was 17 percent. The 53 percent increase reflected only the two-year increase in the cost of health and disability insurance, a part of payroll costs, which went from $82,167 to $125,500.