News in Brief
Edgartown selectmen want Jenney Lane lines buried
Edgartown selectmen denied a request from NStar Electric Monday to install a utility pole to supply electricity to the Jenney Lane affordable housing development. Instead, the board instructed NStar to put the utilities underground.
NStar representative Linda Coutinho said the riser pole was needed to bring the electrical supply across Pine Street, and wiring would then go underground for the development.
Selectman Margaret Serpa questioned the request, saying she wants all utilities to go underground. Board chairman Michael Donaroma and highway superintendent Stuart Fuller agreed, saying they preferred underground utility lines. Mr. Fuller said they would not cost that much more than the poles.
The board also approved a merit evaluation and a two-step promotion for accountant Kimberly G. Kane, based on the recommendation of the personnel board. The selectmen commended her work also. Ms. Kane will have worked for the town 20 years in February.
Last week, the board approved a reappointment and merit evaluation for animal control officer Barbara Prada. She was also commended for her efficient work habits.
Mark Morris was reappointed to the Martha's Vineyard Commission.
The selectmen will begin hearings on the budget for the next fiscal year on Jan. 3.
Historian David McCullough honored in White House ceremony Friday
W. Bush bestows the 2006 Presidential Medal of Freedom honor on David McCullough during ceremonies Friday, Dec. 15 at the White House. "This chronicler of other times is one of the eminent Americans of our time. The nation owes a debt of gratitude to a fine author and a fine man," said the President. Photo by Eric Draper
President George W. Bush presented Pulitzer Prize winning author and West Tisbury resident David McCullough with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civil award, at a ceremony in The White House, Friday.
Mr. McCullough was one of 10 recipients. The award recognizes individuals who have made "an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, or to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors."
The official citation read: "One of our Nation's most distinguished and honored historians, David McCullough has taken his own place in American history. His books have earned him the respect of general audiences and scholars alike and have received numerous awards, including two National Book Awards and two Pulitzer Prizes. The author of rigorous works on Harry Truman, John Adams, and the young Theodore Roosevelt, he is one of our foremost authorities on the American Presidency. The United States honors David McCullough for his lifelong efforts to document the people, places, and events that have shaped America."
Prize winning architecture
Photo by Ralph Stewart
On Tuesday afternoon a gingerbread house in a snow globe built by Patrick Flynn of Oak Bluffs was judged to be the winner of the Dukes County Registry of Deeds gingerbread house contest. All titles were consumed on the spot.
Alert trooper's arrest
leads to cocaine stash
A State Police officer who stopped to check on a car partially parked in the road, on Sunday night, Dec. 10, in Edgartown, discovered that the driver was wanted by New Jersey police on a charge of credit card theft. A search of the surrounding area turned up 60 grams of cocaine, police report.
According to a police report, about midnight, trooper Robert Branca was patrolling in Edgartown when he came upon a Volkswagen Jetta with New Jersey license plates parked partially in the road at the intersection of Woodhaven and Saddle Club Road. As he stopped the car, he saw two men walking out of a wooded area adjacent to the car.
Trooper Branca checked the identities of the two men and the female driver, Azuredee L. Wyche, 31, of St. Albans, N.Y. A check of Ms. Wyche's license revealed that it was suspended and she was wanted in Monmouth County, New Jersey for credit card theft in the amount of $15,000 police said.
Trooper Branca arrested Ms. Wyche on a charge of being a fugitive from justice. The two men were allowed to leave on foot.
A later search of the area by Edgartown police officers Will Oteri and Michael Snowden, who had arrived to assist officer Branca, resulted in the discovery of a plastic bag containing 60 grams of cocaine with an estimated value of $6,000 said police. According to State Police Sgt. Jeff Stone, head of the drug task force, the bag was examined for fingerprints as part of a continuing investigation.
Ms. Wyche was arraigned Dec. 11 in Edgartown District Court on fugitive from justice charges and transported to the female holding facility in the Barnstable House of Correction. On Monday, New Jersey police arrived to take her back to New Jersey.
Sergeant Stone said Island residents should notify police whenever they observe any suspicious activities in their neighborhoods.
Oak Bluffs resident will lead charter commission
William F. O'Brien 3rd of Oak Bluffs, a retired lawyer and New York State Supreme Court justice and a long-time summer resident who recently retired to the Vineyard, was elected chairman of the Dukes County Charter Commission at its first meeting, which was held on Dec. 14 at the MV Transit Authority conference room in the Airport Business Park.
The meeting was convened under the leadership of charter commission member Mimi Davisson of Oak Bluffs, who received the largest number of votes in the Nov. 7 election.
Joseph E. Sollitto Jr., clerk/magistrate of the Dukes County, administered the oath of office to members of the study commission. The elected officers will serve for a three-month period and until successors, if any, are elected at a subsequent meeting of the commission.
Patricia I. W. Moore West Tisbury was elected vice chairman; Richard R. Knabel of West Tisbury, treasurer; and Holly Stephenson of Tisbury, clerk.
The organization and structure of the Charter Commission will be discussed at its next meeting on Jan. 4, also at the Transit Authority conference room, at 5 pm. The meeting will end no later than 7 pm. All meetings are open to the public.
West Tisbury approves Land Bank plan for barrier beach
After listening to the worries and objections of a group of Tisbury Great Pond riparian owners and their representatives, the West Tisbury Land Bank advisory board Tuesday unanimously approved a management plan that provides the first public access to the barrier beach.
The beach would be accessible only by boat to no more than 28 visitors at any one time, pursuant to a deed restriction imposed by the sellers. The management plan allows for activities that include swimming, shellfishing, and fishing.
In November 2004, the Land Bank announced it had bought four 50-foot-wide lots totaling approximately 1.9 acres on the barrier beach for $320,000 from Anthony, Eliza, David and Mia Lewis. The Land Bank's use of an agent in the transaction - to mask the agency's interest in the land - sparked a howl of outrage from the sellers, who are now unhappy with the Land Bank's plans to provide public access.
The management plan provides the public with coveted towel space on a very exclusive stretch of beach normally accessible only through a locked gate. The going price for a key to that gate and deeded rights to a sliver of beach is approximately $300,000.
Those slivers add up to a long stretch of beach to the west of the parcel the Land Bank acquired. They are owned by members of the Quansoo Beach Association (QBA). The barrier beach property is opposite the Land Bank's Sepiessa Point property, which provides public boat access to the pond and the beach.
James B. White of Concord and Chilmark, QBA chairman, asked that the Land Bank provide adequate monitoring and enforcement and clearly mark the Land Bank's boundaries. Mary Jane Pease asked how people would be identified as having come from Land Bank property.
Bill Haynes, a plumber and Land Bank advisory board member, said it was not necessary to identify them, only to count them. Mr. Haynes said that all of the complaining about 28 people was a "shame," when on many days he had looked to the east and the west and not seen a soul.
West Tisbury selectmen mull tribe road designation
West Tisbury selectmen postponed action Dec. 13, on a request by the Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah to add seven of the town's roads to the Indian roads inventory.
"It seems as if we're not giving away anything if we do this," executive secretary Jen Rand told the board. "It seems clear we would still own the roads."
The main question she and the other Island administrators had during a recent meeting was whether there was a way to get out of the program if they wanted to later on, she said.
All six Island boards of selectmen received letters recently from county engineer Stephen Berlucchi explaining the Bureau of Indian Affairs program. Mr. Berlucchi asked the selectmen's permission for their towns to be added to the "Indian roads inventory."
The funds are administered through the Federal Highway Administration. Under a matching grant formula, the money can be used to pay for a portion of road repairs and new road construction, both on tribal lands and in areas associated with tribal lands.
So far, Tisbury, Oak Bluffs, and Aquinnah have given the permission. Chilmark is waiting to see what West Tisbury does, Ms. Rand said, and Edgartown selectmen sent the matter to its town counsel. She suggested the West Tisbury selectmen wait to see what he recommends for Edgartown before making a decision. The board agreed to hold action.
Ms. Rand provided the board with the preliminary figures on next year's town expense budget. She recommended the number of annual town reports printed be increased from 500 to 550 at a cost of about $4,500 since this year's reports had run out during the summer.
She said she will have the complete town expense budget ready for the board's approval this Wednesday. Ms. Rand also reported that the new restrooms in Town Hall were completed for under the $37,000 budget.
In other business, the selectmen reappointed Jim Powell to the Martha's Vineyard Commission.
They also observed a moment of silence for Raymond Houle, former town assessor and shellfish constable, who died Dec. 10.
SSA vehicle driver
in gas pedal mishap
A Steamship Authority vehicle driver and his passenger narrowly escaped a catastrophic exit from the Islander during the loading of vehicles for the Islander's 1:15 pm departure from Woods Hole for the Vineyard on Tuesday, Dec. 12.
According to Wayne Lamson, SSA general manager, the first car being loaded on the ferry suddenly accelerated, veered off the center lane and struck a chain across the exit at the bow end of the double-ended vessel and the partially closed door. Both air bags deployed.
An employee was slightly injured. He was taken to the hospital and released. The driver, who was not identified, said his gas pedal got stuck, Mr. Lamson said.
The accident did not cause delay, and the driver and his passenger decided to continue on their way.
Photo by Ralph Stewart
MV Drive for Life
off to a good start
Skidz School instructor Gerry Bowman talks to teen drivers about learning life-saving driving techniques at the MV Drive for Life program Monday night.
About 130 teens and many parents and community members attended the kick-off meeting for the MV Drive for Life program Monday night at the regional high school.
Samantha Church, a former regional high school student, made a guest appearance at the event. Seated in a wheelchair, Ms. Church provided poignant testimony to teen drivers about the importance of wearing a seat belt. She is recovering from severe injuries she recently suffered when a drunk driver struck the car she was driving.
The program provided an introduction to accident avoidance school, known as "Skidz School," offered by the National Safety Council's Central Massachusetts Chapter in West Boylston. Through the MV Drive for Life program, an organization founded by Tom and Barbara Furino, up to 200 high school students will have the opportunity to attend Skidz School for $50 next spring.
Driving instructor Gerry Bowman grabbed the attention of his potential students with a colorful lecture, followed by a presentation on driving simulators from Van Flanigan, the general manager of education for Virtual Driver Interactive based in Atlanta.
Afterwards, teens and their parents took part in a discussion with Island police officers and first responders.
Tom and Barbara Furino coordinated and sponsored Monday night's program through MV Drive for Life, the organization they founded after their son David and his best friend Kevin Johnson died in a car accident in 2004. They plan to donate and raise money to buy a simulator for the regional high school. Contributions may be sent to MV Drive for Life/Furino, P.O. Box 3354, Edgartown, MA 02539.
Photo by Janet Hefler
New truck delights firefighters
Tisbury's fire department received an early Christmas present last Friday, with the eagerly anticipated arrival of the new Engine One pumper and HazMat truck. The $285,000 diesel fire engine replaces its 1981 predecessor, the last vehicle left in the department that runs on gasoline. The crew members on hand to check out to check out their new truck included, from left, Lt. Dan Feeney, Brian Flanders, Fire Chief John Schilling, Jared Meader, Richard Clark, Lt. Andrew Dickson, Capt. Glen DeBlase with his 16-month daughter Gabriella, HazMat leader Blake Richards, and the truck's retired captain, Les Leland.
Murray Frank honored by Health Council
The Dukes County Health Council has honored long-time former member and colleague Murray Frank by naming a University of Massachusetts medical student clerkship program after him.
With the permission of University of Massachusetts officials, the annual Martha's Vineyard community health clerkship will now be known as the Murray Frank Community Health Clerkship.
Mr. Frank led the efforts to establish the Vineyard clerkship with UMass Medical School four years ago. The Vineyard clerkship is one of many statewide group assignments designed to introduce UMass Medical School family medicine students to health-care delivery in real community settings.
"Murray saw an opportunity both to help young students and provide a resource to local health-care providers and organization," said former Health Council chairman Tad Crawford. "He made it the success it is today."
The clerkship program represented just one of many of Mr. Frank's contributions to local health care, according to Vineyard Health Care Access Program director Sarah Kuh. "As a leader of the Health Council from 1998 to 2002, Murray must be credited with having both the vision and the follow-through that helped lead to the creation of the Access Program as well as Island Health, and the rural health clinic," Ms. Kuh said in a Health Council press release. "He moved the Island's community health agenda forward like nobody else, and we will all miss him greatly."
Mr. Frank and his wife Joanna Gilman are moving to Boston in January. During the past 12 years they lived in West Tisbury, Mr. Frank served on several town and Island committees, including the West Tisbury planning board. Mr. Frank, who holds a Ph.D. degree in social policy from the Heller School for social policy and management at Brandeis University, worked at UMass in Boston before moving to the Vineyard.
Photo by Kathy Retmier
Wreaths across America ceremony honors veterans
Col. Ted Morgan (ret.) represented the U.S. Air Force in a wreath laying ceremony last Thursday at Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven to honor veterans all across America. Through arrangements made by Dukes County veterans agent Jo Ann Murphy, the Worcester Wreath Company of Harrington, Maine, provided six wreaths to Martha's Vineyard for a ceremony she led that took place simultaneously in more than 200 veterans' cemeteries and monuments in all 50 states and Puerto Rico at noon last Thursday.
Joining Mr. Morgan in laying wreaths by military service flags during the ceremony were representatives of the military service branches, including Jamie Craig, U.S. Navy, Woodrow Williams, U.S. Marine Corps, Peter Forend, Army National Guard, Kenny Ivory, U.S. Coast Guard, and retired Navy officer Tom Rancich in memory of prisoners of war and those missing in action.
About 30 community members and 30 Tisbury School fifth-graders attended the event, along several Island police officers, Tisbury town officials, and members of American Legion Post 257.
Photo courtesy of Flint Ranney
Iyanough on duty
The Steamship Authority's new fast ferry Iyanough rounds Brant Point on Nantucket at 12:40 pm Wednesday on its first run to that island.
The fast ferry replaces the boatline's breakdown-plagued fast ferry Flying Cloud on the run between Hyannis and Nantucket.
Linda Alley's delectable fruit preserves and flavored mustards are packed and sold under her New Lane Sundries label. A Dec. 14 article on the Vineyard Holiday Gift Shops mistakenly referred to Ms. Alley's company as Tea Lane Sundries.