News in Brief
Post office extends hours
Postal customers can take advantage of extended hours at the Vineyard Haven post office this weekend to pick up mail and ship packages, as well as all other retail services offered on weekdays.
On Saturday, Dec. 16, the lobby and retail services counter will be open from 9:30 am to 3 pm, and on Sunday, Dec. 17, from 10 am to 1 pm. Customers also will be able to pick up packages at the lobby door until 4:30 pm on Sunday.
On Saturday, Dec. 23, the post office will be open its normal retail hours from 9:30 am to 1 pm. All post offices will be closed Sunday, Dec. 24, and Monday, Dec. 25, except for express mail delivery.
Joe Massua, Vineyard Haven postmaster, suggests that customers mail packages as early as possible and promptly pick up packages when notified. "We're probably getting 800 to 900 packages a day, and we're running out of room," Mr. Massua said.
Fast Ferry donated
for New Year's Eve cruise
The New England Fast Ferry Company will donate the vessel they use on the New Bedford-M.V. run for the Tisbury Ambulance Association's New Year's Eve Fireworks Cruise. Guests who board the fast ferry will be greeted by a taco bar - this year's theme - and more for a front-row view of the fireworks launched over Vineyard Haven harbor. This is the fourth consecutive year that the company has donated the fast ferry for the evening at no charge.
"Giving back to the community is one of our core values," Fast Ferry president Mike Glasfeld said in a recent press release. "Like the volunteer EMTs who answer the call, we believe in responding to community needs."
The Tisbury Ambulance Association charges $35 a person to board the ferry on Sunday, Dec. 31, and all proceeds go back to the community to help fund programs to bring additional volunteers into the organization's ranks, raise funds for education, and support volunteer EMTs in need.
The boat sets sail at 7:30 pm from the Steamship Authority dock in Vineyard Haven, and cruises around the harbor between East Chop and West Chop. Guests have an unobstructed view of the fireworks, which shoot off just after 9 pm over the harbor.
Tickets can be purchased in advance at the Chamber of Commerce on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven. The ticket price includes music and tacos aboard the boat, as well as a Last Night, First Day button that allows entrance to various events throughout the holiday weekend.
Search for Picton Castle sailor discontinued
The Coast Guard has discontinued its search for Laura Gainey, a 25-year-old sailor aboard the three-masted barque Picton Castle. Ms. Gainey was lost overboard during a severe gale Dec. 8, when Picton Castle was about 475 miles east of Cape Cod. Ms. Gainey, who had sailed aboard the vessel on earlier trips, was the daughter of Bob Gainey, the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team. Mr. Gainey is a member of hockey's hall of fame.
When Ms. Gainey was lost, Picton Castle was bound from Lunenberg, Nova Scotia, on a six-month passage to the West Indies. Ms. Gainey had been aboard Picton Castle earlier this year when the barque sailed to Nova Scotia from South Africa.
Picton Castle has been a frequent visitor to Vineyard Haven, and several Vineyard sailors have served as crew. The barque takes about 35 trainees who pay and work for their passages on the year-long, round-the-world voyages. Trainees learn seamanship, navigation, and boat handling, and they hoist anchor and handle sails, scrub the decks, and work in the galley.
Oak Bluffs selectmen create mediation committee
At the Oak Bluffs selectmen's meeting Tuesday, the board created a committee to mediate discussions between the hospital construction team and landowners whose properties abut the hospital. With a handful of neighbors in attendance, town administrator Michael Dutton introduced the idea of a committee as a go-between throughout the proposed two and a half year construction phase.
Mr. Dutton, selectmen Kerry Scott and Ron DiOrio, and building inspector Jerry Wiener were appointed to the committee Tuesday night. They are looking for at least two neighbors to join as well.
The board also voted to accept various meeting minutes, and gave the go-ahead for Mr. Dutton to engage in negotiations with GPI, a contracting company from Stoneham that was selected to work on the Lake Avenue project. The project is led by the Joint Transportation Committee and will redesign the walkway that winds from the Steamship Authority Dock down to Nancy's Snack Bar.
The board's next meeting will be on Jan. 9.
Medical interpreter service looking for translators
This February, the Island Medical Interpreter Service will sponsor a training course for people interested in medical interpreting. The service is run through Island Health Inc., and contracts directly with the Martha's Vineyard Hospital, which requests a translator when needed.
The 48-hour course will be taught by a trainer from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and will take place over six days. The fee is $380 and applicants must be fluent in both English and Portuguese.
The service began in April after results of the Martha's Vineyard Brazilian Health Study were released. Program director Miryam Gerson said the study showed that a combination of financial and language barriers deterred many non-English speaking Islanders from utilizing health care on the Island more fully.
Program translators work in 12-hour on-call shifts, from 7 am until 7 pm and vice versa. For more details, contact Ms. Gerson at (508) 693-5090.
Veterans wreath ceremony
A special Wreaths Across America ceremony honoring the nation's veterans takes place today at noon in Oak Grove Cemetery on State Road in Vineyard Haven.
Dukes County Veterans Agent Jo Ann Murphy will place wreaths provided by the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, at the base of military service flags at the cemetery. At the same time, the ceremony will be taking place in more than 200 veterans cemeteries and monuments in all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
For the past 15 years, the Worcester Wreath Company has provided 5,000 wreaths to place on headstones at Arlington National Cemetery. The company added the Wreaths Across America project this year, with the help of Maine Civil Air Patrol (CAP) units, to remember veterans who died, honor those who serve, and teach future generations that freedom comes from great sacrifice.
Ms. Murphy invites everyone to join Island veterans, schools, and U.S. Coast Guardsmen stationed at Menemsha in observing this special event. Those who cannot attend are asked to participate by observing a moment of silence at noon today.