News in Brief
Noticeable erosion at South Beach left fork
Seasonal beach erosion, part of the natural cycle along South Beach, was significant this winter, particularly in the area known as left fork.
Visitors to the area of South Beach at the end of Katama Road have been surprised by the amount of beach erosion that occurred over the winter.
Jo-Ann Taylor, a coastal planner with the Martha's Vineyard Commission, provided The Times with some insights into what is a natural dynamic along the Island shoreline.
Ms. Taylor told The Times, "Erosion at left fork has been intense during this past winter. Some of the missing sand should be sitting just off the beach, and will find its way onto the beach with the prevailing southwesterly breezes of summer. There should be some return of the missing beach, in time to greet the returning beachgoers.
"However, the long-term prognosis for this spot isn't very good. Standing facing the ocean, notice that there is much more width of beach on the right (toward Gay Head) and much less width to the left, towards Norton Point Beach. That's because Norton Point Beach, unlike the beach at left fork, is a barrier beach that can roll back into Katama Bay and keep its form in the retreated position. Long-term, the beach at left fork can only erode."
Letter to parents outlines prom protocol, Breathalyzer test
A letter outlining this year's new protocol for getting into the prom, which includes a Breathalyzer test, will be sent to parents of high school juniors next week from Peg Regan, Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) principal. Parents of students in other classes who will be attending the prom as dates or guests will be notified as well.
Ms. Regan said the letter explains the high school's new policy requiring students to pass a Breathalyzer test in order to be admitted to the junior prom at Outerland on May 6, and why school officials are taking this precaution.
"We want to ensure that no one is under the influence or drinking before prom, and that it is a safe and sober event," Ms. Regan said.
In addition to the Breathalyzer test, students will be required to provide an emergency contact number before admittance to the prom, Ms. Regan added.
"We also are requesting parents to be on duty that night so that we have a cell or land line number where they could be reached that evening if there's a problem," Ms. Regan explained. "We are making them partners in ensuring this night is a safe night for all the kids. We need to be as vigilant as we can be."
The high school purchased two Breathalyzers at a cost of about $350 each to enable school officials and chaperones to test the students more quickly on their way into the prom. The tests are not intrusive and involve blowing into the machine like a whistle.
Two colored lights on the machine, red and amber, indicate the presence of alcohol. A green light, indicating no alcohol present, is the only acceptable reading for prom-goers. The Breathalyzer wand also is designed so it can be waved over an open container to check the contents for alcohol.
In addition to the high school's precautions during prom season, Ms. Regan said the Alcohol Beverages Control Commission (ABCC) plans to launch a new state initiative this spring, as well. The "Cops in Shops" program will place ABCC investigators or local police officers in liquor stores in various communities on prom nights and graduation nights to guard against illegal alcohol sales to minors and purchases by adults for minors.
"We're trying to avoid underage drinking, either by adults purchasing alcohol for minors or by minors using fake IDs," said Natacha Dunker, ABCC state outreach coordinator. "If underage persons are caught using a fake ID, we may call their parents first, right there from the parking lot."
Land Bank buys Chilmark meadow, Chappy beachfront
The Martha's Vineyard Land Bank has bought an 8.5-acre sheep pasture off Middle Road in Chilmark and 12 acres of woodland and beach on Chappaquiddick in Edgartown.
Both new purchases, announced yesterday, abut existing Land Bank properties and will be used to augment existing trail systems.
"The Land Bank continues to look in all quarters of the Island for appealing properties," said James Lengyel, Land Bank executive director, " and these two properties on opposite ends of the Island both have attractive qualities. One protects farming, and the other allows more public access to the shoreline."
The Land Bank bought the Chilmark pasture for $915,985 from Roland and Susan Kluver, who have been leasing the grassland for sheep-grazing, a use which the Land Bank will continue. The pasture abuts the Land Bank's 90-acre Tiasquam River Reservation, purchased in 2004. Preliminary management goals call for the installation of a trail and maintenance of the scenic view from the public road.
The 12 acres of woodland and beach on the North Neck Road in Edgartown was bought for $2 million from Peter Plumb, Cynthia Hubbard, and Nancy Knapp. The property fronts on the Edgartown Outer Harbor for a length of 230 feet and is adjacent to the Land Bank's 235-acre Three Ponds Reservation.
Preliminary management goals call for the installation of a trailhead and trail to the beach, as development of a connection between the property and other trails in the reservation.
Mr. Lengyel said members of the public with any questions about these acquisitions are encouraged to attend one of the Land Bank commission's regular Monday evening meetings or one of the meetings of the Chilmark or Edgartown town advisory boards.
Tisbury police chief loses public records request appeal
In a letter to Ted Saulnier, Tisbury' chief of police, Alan Cote, the state supervisor of records, said the town did not have to provide Mr. Saulnier with a copy of executive session meeting minutes during his contract negotiations with the Tisbury selectmen.
Mr. Saulnier had requested copies of the minutes from John Bugbee, Tisbury town administrator, under the provisions of the state public records law, which allows access to all public records but allows for specific exemptions including negotiations. Mr. Bugbee refused the request, and Mr. Saulnier filed an appeal with Mr. Cote.
"As your contract with the town does not expire until June 30, 2006, the town contends there will be further opportunities for negotiation to extend your contract and the disclosure of the executive session minutes may interfere with future negotiations," wrote Mr. Cote.
Chief Saulnier's three-year contract ended on June 30, 2005, after he and the selectmen failed to reach an agreement on salary. Under the terms of the contract, Chief Saulnier was entitled to one year's notice, allowing him to stay on the job until July 1, 2006.
Although the possibility of resuming negotiations remained open, no meetings took place between last June and January of this year, at which time Mr. Bugbee notified Chief Saulnier the selectmen were officially ending negotiations.
The selectmen began advertising for a police chief in March and plan to schedule interviews of prospective candidates over the next several weeks.
Chief Saulnier said he cannot understand why his public records request was denied, since he is working under an expired contract and was officially notified negotiations were ended.
Mr. Bugbee said that although Chief Saulnier's contract expired, the records must remain confidential for the entire year that he remains in his job.
"If we made the documents public and then started negotiations again, it would jeopardize our position as negotiators. That is why those documents aren't being released, until June 30 is up," Mr. Bugbee said. "That's why the state sided with us. Even though the selectmen said no more negotiations, they will hold to that date, because that is the official expiration date."
ATB chairman Foley resigns
Anne T. Foley, chairman of the Massachusetts Appellate Tax Board (ATB), has resigned her position, effective in five months, according to a report in the Boston Globe last week. Ms. Foley has been the presiding officer in William Graham's appeal of his recent West Tisbury real estate assessments. The Globe reported that Ms. Foley has been at odds with her four fellow board members, who have threatened to strip her of her administrative duties.
Mr. Graham, who owns 234 acres off Lambert's Cove Road assessed at more than $50 million, asserts that his 2003 and 2004 assessments were too high. Ms. Foley, appointed recently as chairman of the ATB by Gov. Mitt Romney, assigned herself rather than a more experienced board member to the Graham case.
The case turned out to be the longest-running residential appeal in the history of the ATB, lasting 36 days spread over four months and compiling thousands of pages of testimony and over 450 exhibits.
Although all five ATB members will vote in the final decision, if the presiding officer leaves before the matter is adjudicated, the case would probably have to be retried. The town has spent more than $200,000 in its defense so far.
Ellen Hutchinson, who represents the town before the ATB, told The Times, "I have no reason to think that the length of case contributed to Chair Foley's decision to submit her resignation. She is staying on for five months; I have to think she is staying on in order to finish the work she started, including the Graham case."
The Globe reported that Thomas H. Trimarco, Governor Romney's secretary of administration and finance, asserts that Ms. Foley was hounded out of office by her four fellow commissioners who, he said, resisted the reforms and changes she was trying to make.
Keep on moving
Thanks to a generous donation from the Martha's Vineyard Hospital Auxiliary, the residents at the Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Oak Bluffs are enjoying a year of exercise classes with Lisa Amols.
Annual gravity car race update
The organizers of the second annual Moshup's Challenge Gravity Race in Aquinnah, scheduled for Sunday, April 16, are busy making preparations.
Race organizers said they will hold a race pre-registration on Saturday, April 15, from noon to 4 pm, at the Gay Head beach parking lot just off the Aquinnah Circle. Organizers need volunteers to help out (call Matt Merry at 508-776-2065).
The first annual gravity car race last April turned into a welcome end-of-winter event that drew a crowd of about 2,000 spectators to watch a fleet of 28 hometown gravity racers careen two at a time down Moshup Trail.
Fire destroys greenhouse on William Street
A fire destroyed the greenhouse behind Carol Chapman's house on William Street in Tisbury around 8 pm on Tuesday night. Ms. Chapman said she is very grateful to a passerby who knocked on her door to alert her.
The Tisbury Fire Department responded quickly, with several of the firefighters racing to answer the call in the middle of the town's annual meeting at the nearby Tisbury School.
Ms. Chapman said that when the unidentified man told her the shed behind her house was on fire, "I knew immediately it was the greenhouse. It was totally up in flames by the time I got out of the house, Ms. Chapman recalled. "It was literally like losing a best friend because I hang out there all the time."
The 10- by 16-foot aluminum greenhouse used gas heat and had electricity and running water. Ms. Chapman said she worked in the greenhouse on Tuesday until about 5:30 pm, but had not adjusted the heat at all. The fire marshall planned to investigate the scene on Wednesday to try to determine the cause of the fire.
Despite its proximity to the flames and melting plastic from the burning greenhouse, a hutch containing Ms. Chapman's nine rabbits remained untouched by the fire.
Wampanoag Tribe sponsors clinic on methamphetamine
The Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribal Housing Authority will sponsor a clinic on the dangers of the highly addictive methamphetamine, more commonly referred to as meth. The drug is often linked to violence, child abuse, and erratic behavior.
Jay Barton, an Oklahoma police officer currently working for the National American Indian Housing Council, will lead the two-day training clinic on Wednesday and Thursday at the Nathan Mayhew Seminars building on William Street in Vineyard Haven. The training is provided through a grant from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Mr. Barton, who is currently on leave, was the 1999 Oklahoma Police Officer of the Year and has been instrumental in battling the methamphetamine epidemic sweeping Oklahoma and rural areas of the country, according to a press release.
The clinic will include training specific to the New England area and provide information about the various types of mobile laboratories people use to manufacture meth.
"This could include the back of a pickup truck, the trunk of a car, or your neighbor's kitchen," according to a press release provided by housing authority.
For information or to reserve space, call the housing authority at 508-645-2711 and leave a name, telephone number, and the number of people who would like to attend the training.
Last week, The Times reported that Lisa Reagan and her two children were the first to call in a claim of having heard the first pinkletinks of the season behind their house near Crystal Lake in Oak Bluffs.
Normally, a second report of pinkletinks would not be news, but there is some value in noting that the tree frog's song has the ability to charm those whose gruff demeanors might appear impervious to such environmental delights.
Fred Mascolo, also known as Trader Fred, the large bodied cigar-smoking owner of the emporium of the same name, stocked with almost everything located at the Triangle, called The Times Sunday night and left the following message.
"I was just going to work on Sunday night at quarter after nine running into my office, and I heard the pinkletinks going for the first time across from my store in the swamp," said Fred. "I just wanted to report, this is the first time I heard it in Edgartown."
Lighthouse Properties welcomes Abbe Burt
Abbe Burt has joined Lighthouse Properties of Edgartown, as a full-time real estate broker. Ms. Burt has recently been in the forefront of Island-wide efforts to support affordable housing and brings 15 years of experience in real estate and 14 generations of Island ancestry to the job.
For more information, call 508-627-4424
Kelley House is named historic hotel of America
The National Trust Historic Hotels of America announced that the Kelley House in Edgartown was one of four new members.
To qualify for membership, hotels must be at least 50 years old, listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places or recognized locally as having historic significance.
The Kelley House opened its doors as a tavern in 1742 and served as a gathering place for locals and visitors and as a respite for generations of weary sailors, according to a press release.
"More and more people are seeking heritage and cultural experiences when they travel," said Thierry Roch, executive director of Historic Hotels of America.
For more information on the historic hotels organization, go to www.historichotels.org.
Shiretown Inn in Edgartown is sold
The fate of the Shiretown Inn on North Water Street, recently sold to an undisclosed buyer in Edgartown, remains unknown.
The Inn, along with the property at 30 Simpson's Lane in Edgartown was sold on March 30 for $6,750,000.
Tom Wallace of Wallace and Company in Edgartown, who brokered the transaction, would not name the new owners nor speculate on their future plans for the property.
The Shiretown Inn dates from 1795 and was owned by the Strimling Family of Lexington.
It includes two historic 18th century whaling captains' homes, the Shiretown Cottage and the new Sharon house, and the Coach Rooms.
The date of the West Tisbury special election, published in the 2006 Guide to Annual Town Meetings, is not Monday, May 15. It is Thursday, May 18, noon-8 pm.