News in Brief
Taxi rates approved
by Tisbury selectmen
Following a public hearing and discussion with Tisbury taxicab company owners, the Tisbury selectmen recently approved a set of maximum cab fares for travel from the Steamship Authority terminal in Vineyard Haven to and from some of the most requested Island destinations.
During discussions with cab company owners regarding fares, selectman chairman Tristan Israel told them that he thought the fares should be standardized in fairness to Island visitors. The approved rates still allow for competitive pricing by setting the maximum fares cab drivers will charge.
The fares for two people traveling from and to the SSA Vineyard Haven terminal include the following: Edgartown (South Beach area) $25, Aquinnah (Gay Head cliffs) $60, Chilmark (Squibnocket Pond area) $45, West Tisbury (Chilmark line) $22, Tisbury (up to the West Tisbury line) $12, and Oak Bluffs (to the big bridge) $15.
Reduced electricity rates from Cape Light Compact
Starting with January meter reads, electricity supply prices for Vineyard and Cape Cod residential and commercial customers will be reduced 10 to 13 percent from rates over the past year, according to a recent press release from Cape Light Compact (CLC) and Con Edison Solutions.
The rates through July 2007 meter read dates for residential customers drop from 12.92 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) to 11.652 cents per kWh, and from 13.37 cents per kWh to 11.671 cents per kWh for commercial customers. The rate for industrial customers will be reduced from 14.38 cents per kWh to 12.871 cents per kWh, in effect from January through March 2007.
The rate reductions affect only the supply portion of electric bills handled by CLC. NSTAR is responsible for delivery and transmission charges.
"We brought the residential rate down in July to 11.99 cents, and now it is going down to 11.652," said compact administrator Maggie Downey. "We're going to be re-pricing in July. We've changed our procurement process from a single point of purchase to portfolio management. We've been responsive to what we've learned about the industry in terms of how things have changed."
The CLC, a regional energy services organization made up of all 21 towns in Barnstable and Dukes counties, works with the combined buying power of the region's 197,000 electric consumers to negotiate lower electricity prices.
The CLC also delivers a range of services to the Cape and Vineyard, including energy efficiency programs, energy education in local classrooms, programs that encourage energy conservation, and consumer education initiatives. One program, for example, offers homeowners and businesses free energy audits followed up with recommendations for ways to control and/or reduce energy consumption.
According to a CLC press release, ConEdison Solutions, a subsidiary of Consolidated Edison based in White Plains, N.Y., is one of the nation's largest and longest operating investor-owned energy holding companies.
SJC declines to force
anti-gay marriage vote;
Island legislators differ over issue
Yesterday, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) dismissed a lawsuit filed by outgoing Gov. Mitt Romney and 10 other plaintiffs, which charged that legislators undermined the state constitution by recessing the Nov. 9 constitutional convention without voting on a gay marriage ballot initiative.
The SJC held that the court does not have the authority to force the legislature to vote on the measure, but the court acknowledged that lawmakers evaded their obligation to take a vote. The legislature reconvenes Tuesday.
Opponents of gay marriage say a decision should be left to voters. In order to get a referendum question on the 2008 ballot to ban gay marriage by amending the state's constitution, 50 legislators must to support the initiative in two consecutive sessions. Supporters of the amendment gathered 170,000 signatures to invoke the constitutional amendment process, which will be ended if the legislature decides on Jan. 2 not to vote.
State Rep. Eric Turkington, who represents Dukes County, opposes the ballot initiative. He voted to postpone the vote until Jan. 2.
"Now we're facing something that satisfies only one side, and I'm not voting for that," Mr. Turkington said in a recent telephone conversation.
State Sen. Rob O'Leary, who also represents Dukes County, voted not to recess in November. He said the legislature should have taken a vote.
"We have an obligation to take this up and take a vote," Mr. O'Leary said in a telephone conversation yesterday. "We have every right to vote our conscience at that point, but really what was unfolding here was an effort to avoid a vote. And I don't think that was appropriate."
Mr. O'Leary said he is against amending the constitution to ban gay marriage, and if it came to that, he would vote accordingly.
Fish and Wildlife Service offers virtual tour of Nomans Land
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has developed a virtual tour for Nomans Land Island National Wildlife Refuge.
The Navy transferred the 640-acre island and former military bombing range three miles south of the Vineyard to the Fish and Wildlife Service in 1997.
After discontinuing target practice, the Navy performed a cleanup of the 628-acre island, which included an effort to locate and disarm unexploded shells and remove contaminated soil.
At the time, the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), which claims rights to the island, pressed for a more extensive cleanup and a supervisory management role over the island. The town of Chilmark, which also claims ownership of Nomans Land, and Island conservationists opposed any further cleanup that would make the island safe for human visitation.
According to a press release, the virtual tour provides the public with the opportunity to visit the refuge by viewing short video segments. The tour provides information about the island, its history, habitat, and management.
The tour can be found at http://www.fws.gov/northeast/nomanslandisland/tour.html.
"This is an exciting opportunity for us to use new technologies to give the public a chance to experience the National Wildlife Refuge System any time of the year from any location, " said Elizabeth Herland, manager of Nomans Land Island NWR.
"People will be able to see and learn about an area that is inaccessible because of safety and wildlife concerns."
The Nomans Land Island NWR is part of the Eastern Massachusetts National Wildlife Refuge Complex. For more information on the Fish and Wildlife Service, go to: http://www.fws.gov.
Tisbury Business Association vice president Amy Levine drew the winning Tisbury Holiday Giveaway ticket from Santa (a.k.a. Ken Garde). Photo by Uta Kloss
Tisbury and Oak Bluffs merchants sponsored two holiday sweepstakes events this year, awarding the first prize winners $1,000 each.
At a drawing held in the Capawock Theatre courtyard last Saturday at noon, Tisbury Business Association (TBA) vice president Amy Levine drew the winning Tisbury Holiday Giveaway tickets from Santa (a.k.a. Ken Garde). Despite the rain, about 15 people gathered round to watch and sing "Jingle Bells."
The second place prize is the only one left unclaimed since last week. The winning ticket, no. 835473, given out at Educomp Office Supplies, must be presented at Kennedy Studios, 66 Main Street, Vineyard Haven, to claim the $500 prize.
Oak Bluffs Association president Dennis daRosa presented a $1,000 check to Ruth Bowers, winner of the Oak Bluffs Santa Sweepstakes. Photo by Bob Glover
Uta Kloss of Kennedy Studios organized and managed the event for the Tisbury's Main Street merchants group, under the sponsorship of the TBA. Twenty-nine Vineyard Haven businesses participated in the event by purchasing more than 30,000 sweepstakes tickets to hand out to customers and patrons, which paid for advertising and the prizes.
In Oak Bluffs, Ruth Bowers of Vineyard Haven won the grand prize of $1,000 in this year's Santa Sweepstakes, sponsored by the Oak Bluffs Association (OBA). Rich Garcia and Annette Marell of Oak Bluffs won $100 each as runners-up.
Santa Claus drew Ms. Bowers' winning ticket last Thursday night while she dined with friends at Pomodoro Pizzeria on Circuit Avenue. Ms. Bowers received a hug from Santa and a check from OBA President Dennis daRosa on the spot.
Twenty-seven Oak Bluffs businesses supported the Santa Sweepstakes this year. Proceeds from the raffle will go to the Island Food Pantry.
The Tisbury selectmen rescheduled this week's Tuesday meeting to next Tuesday, Jan. 2, at 5 pm in the Katharine Cornell Theatre in Vineyard Haven. The selectmen plan to begin a review of town department budgets.
The following, from Laura Gliga, with a happy holidays greetings, clarifies information published in the High School View: "In a recent article on the High School View page, there was some confusion about the Red Stocking connection with the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS). The gift giving at MVRHS is not the official Red Stocking, but just an informal way for our staff and friends to make Christmas happen for those students who would otherwise miss the joy of receiving a gift.
"While Red Stocking refers older siblings to us, we are not really an official part of that wonderful organization."
The credit for a photo of the Tisbury selectmen on Page 5 in last week's paper should go to Larry Gomez, owner of Greenwood House Bed and Breakfast in Vineyard Haven.