News in Brief
Short of a quorum a third time, Aquinnah will regroup
There was no Aquinnah special town meeting last Wednesday night. For the third time in two weeks, not enough voters showed up to make the 40-voter quorum and the trend is not encouraging.
On Oct. 24 the town was eight voters short. Two days later the town tried again, and only 24 voters showed up. The third time was not the charm. On Wednesday 25 voters turned up, leaving the town 15 votes short of a quorum.
Selectmen have not announced if or when they will try again.
The seven-article special town meeting warrant included a bylaw that gives the town the authority to require builders to install alternative sources of energy in houses over a certain size, a vote on school funding formulas, and a vote to endorse town efforts to promote the development of a distributed antenna system for providing cell phone service by working with West Tisbury and Chilmark.
ArtCliff Diner will reopen soon
ArtCliff Diner on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven gets a new porch. Photo by Ralph Stewart
Hungry patrons of the ArtCliff diner on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven will soon have a dry place to wait for a table. Contractor Gino Mazzaferro of ICMC Inc. told The Times last week that renovations under his direction will soon be completed, and he expects that owner Gina Stanley will be serving omelets shortly thereafter.
Remodeling includes the construction of a front porch roof and replacement windows. The roof, the whole width of the building, will shelter patrons waiting for a place inside the popular and often full restaurant. On rainy Sunday mornings in particular, the line waiting outside has always been a testimonial to Gina's cooking. Now if there's a wait, it will be dry. New double-hung windows have replaced the old 1950s-style plate glass, and bring the appearance of the building more in line with others in the neighborhood, Mr. Mazzaferro explained.
Teen sentenced to five years probation for rape
Dukes County Superior Court Judge Judith Fabricant found a Norwell teen guilty of rape of a child without force and sentenced him to five years probation. Michael G. Gomez, 19, was originally charged with rape of a child with force, stemming from an incident last summer in Oak Bluffs.
In addition to probation, Judge Fabricant ordered Mr. Gomez, at his sentencing last week, to register as a sex offender, have no contact with the victim or her family, and barred him from visiting Martha's Vineyard without approval from the probation department.
Assistant district attorney Laura Marshard asked for jail time during the sentencing last Wednesday, while Mr. Gomez's lawyer, Robert Jubinville, asked that his client be excused from registering as a sex offender. Both the victim and her grandfather were in court for the sentencing and asked that the defendant serve jail time.
"The district attorney's office is pleased with the detailed nature of the probation conditions," Ms. Marshard said yesterday.
Mr. Gomez was originally scheduled to be tried by a jury during this fall Superior Court session, but waved his right to a jury last month.
According to reports at the time, Mr. Gomez met the 14-year old Oak Bluffs girl at "Teen Night" at the Atlantic Connection nightclub on Circuit Avenue last July. When the girl left the club around 11 pm, Mr. Gomez lured her into Ocean Park where he raped her.
Seventeen at the time of the incident, Mr. Gomez was arrested shortly after the victim reported the attack to Oak Bluffs police on the evening it occurred.
Oak Bluffs health board supports restaurant closing
The three members of the Oak Bluffs board of health declared their support of the action taken on Oct. 25 by Shirley Fauteux, their health agent, to close the Bangkok Cuisine Thai Restaurant on Upper Circuit Avenue.
Health board members Linda Marinelli, William White, and Patricia Bergeron stood by Ms. Fauteux in a Nov. 7 letter to Oak Bluffs resident Chip Mitchell, who was in the restaurant for lunch that day, observed Ms. Fauteux's action, and sharply criticized it in a letter to the editor of The Times. The health board sent a copy of their letter to Mr. Mitchell and to The Times.
Ms. Fauteux visited the restaurant at lunchtime that day, and found that the owner, who holds the safe food handler permit for the business, was not at the restaurant. She ordered Bangkok Cuisine closed immediately. The patrons in the restaurant at the time were ordered out. Ms. Fauteux told The Times that she had had several conversations and made it clear to Bangkok Cuisine that a food handler certificate holder must be present when the restaurant is open and serving food.
Chamber promotes Vineyard at tourism conference
Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce executive director Nancy Gardella and manager of tourism services Linda Dellatorre attended the Global Forum and Marketplace hosted by Tourism Massachusetts on Oct. 24 in Boston.
The keynote speaker was newly elected governor Deval Patrick, who said that it is important that the United States provide a more robust marketing program to compete for tourist dollars in the international marketplace.
Graham Bell, director of American Airlines sales in the United Kingdom, stated there has been a decline of 11 percent in leisure travel between the UK and Massachusetts, which is in line with the overall decline of 13 percent in international tourism for the country, according to a chamber press release.
Ms. Gardella said The Global Forum provided the opportunity to meet with representatives from 13 nations and to promote Martha's Vineyard as a destination for all travelers interested in the East Coast. She said this is the first of several similar forums and trade shows over the next several months at which the Chamber will represent Martha's Vineyard as a premier destination.
Hospital auxiliary donates to new hospital
At a brief ceremony on Oct. 31, Martha's Vineyard Hospital Auxiliary treasurer Marilyn Wortman presented hospital chief executive officer Tim Walsh with a check for $24,700, the proceeds from the Edgartown House Tour and Tree of Lights fund-raiser.
The Martha's Vineyard Hospital Auxiliary has raised over $250,000 for the hospital since Prudence Look started the organization in 1921 and has committed more than $50,000 to the new hospital project.
The 2006 Tree of Lights ceremony will take place on Dec. 11 at 4 pm.
Grant supports history map collaboration
The Massachusetts Cultural Council has awarded a grant in the amount of $17,600 to the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School to fund continuing work on the Martha's Vineyard History Map Project.
The project is a collaboration of the high school, the Martha's Vineyard Museum, and the Martha's Vineyard Public Charter School, begun in 2004 with a three-year Learning Opportunities grant from the Institute of Museums and Libraries Services (IMLS).
According to a press release, the Martha's Vineyard History Map will improve and enhance the teaching of local and American history by using the resources of the museum library and collections to provide a forum to display student work and teacher resources online. The grant funds curriculum development by a team of five educators.
Once completed, a visitor will be able to view student interpretations in writing, art, and video of Martha's Vineyard history through the museum's web site at www.marthasvineyardhistory.org.
MVC sponsors workshop on agricultural commissions
The Martha's Vineyard Commission will host a workshop Tuesday for Island officials and members of the public on how to create an agricultural commission in order to develop community support for farming and represent local agricultural interests.
The workshop will include a presentation on agricultural commissions by Pete Westover, a consultant for the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources and discussion about the key farming issues that a commission might address.
The workshop is free of charge and will be held in the front meeting room of the Agricultural Hall in West Tisbury from 3 to 5 pm. People planning to attend are asked to call Christine Flynn at 508-693-3453 or email (Flynn@mvcommission.org) by Monday.
MVRHS school committee approves bus purchase
In a joint session during the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) school committee meeting Monday night, high school and Up-Island Regional School District (UIRSD) committee members agreed to buy 18 new buses by issuing $1.5 million in bonds with five-year maturities.
The fleet of buses will include 12 for the high school and six for up-Island. The committee members based their decision on how many buses and how to pay for them on the recommendation of the Martha's Vineyard Public School transportation subcommittee.
The subcommittee also presented four options for apportioning fiscal 2008 operating costs. The two regional school committees agreed on a plan, under which all of the school districts will share bus maintenance costs, including Tisbury and Oak Bluffs. This is an approach that has not been used before, because those two towns do not purchase or own the buses.
"The reason why we've always kept regional ownership is because of the high school and up-Island districts being regional," explained Amy Tierney, assistant superintendent for business affairs. "They receive regional reimbursement for transportation costs, whereas local school districts do not."
UIRSD committee member Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter, who is also a West Tisbury selectman, objected to the two committees taking action on a capital expenditure on the eve of elections in a "lame duck session."
"I think it's inappropriate to ram this through at this late date and at this late hour," he said.
In view of rising expenses, declining enrollment, and higher transportation costs, Mr. Manter said he thought the bus purchase should be discussed further at the UIRSD meeting.
MVRHS school committee chairman Susan Parker reminded him that the bus purchases were "old business" from a year ago. The decision on how to assess the costs must be finished in time to complete the high school budget by the first week in December, she explained.
Mr. Manter said he plans to discuss the issue again at the UIRSD's next meeting.
Financial assistance offered for pet owners
PAWS (Pet Adoption and Welfare Service, Inc. and SPAY (Society for the Protection of Animal Young) recently doubled the value of coupons pet owners can use to help defray the cost of spaying or neutering pets.
All Vineyard veterinarians will continue to participate in the spay/neuter program by accepting the coupons and several Island veterinarians have also agreed to offer a discount of spay/ neuter procedures initiated by PAWS and SPAY, according to a press release.
For more information, call Chele Reekie at 508-693-6614.
Bank of Martha's Vineyard assists Our Island Club
The Bank of Martha's Vineyard recently donated $3,500 to help provide free memberships for needy year-round Islanders to Our Island Club, a discount purchasing program that charges members an annual fee, a portion of which is donated to local charities.
Our Island Club matched the bank's donation and this joint effort will result in up to 88 free memberships being available to year-round Islanders, according to Geoff Rose, principal of Our Island Club.
"When you think about it, the people that can best use the benefits of the program generally do not have the means to participate" said Paul Watts, senior vice president of the bank. "We see this as a real winner for those in need."
For information about the Island Angel Program or personal membership, visit www.OurIsland Club.com or call 508-693-4541.