News in Brief
New Year in moderation
A cool, crisp, clear New Year's Eve provided a perfect backdrop for Vineyard Haven fireworks and Island revelers who ushered out 2006 in relative quiet, to the relief of Island police officials.
"People were apparently being very responsible," said Tisbury police chief John Cashin as he checked for weekend reports. "We at the police department appreciate that, and we're delighted that everybody had a good, safe holiday."
Despite being one of the only two towns where revelers could visit a bar and order a glass of champagne, Edgartown proved to be calm this New Year's Eve. Police chief Paul Condlin said the downtown area, where the Wharf hosted packed crowds until midnight, was relatively calm throughout the night.
One motorist was arrested for drunk driving early Monday morning on Meshacket Road, and another arrest occurred around the same time, 6:15 am, for disorderly conduct on Barnes Road Extension, Chief Condlin reported.
Chilmark police chief Timothy Rich described everyone as "well-behaved," and police chief Randhi Belain said Aquinnah celebrated quietly.
"We heard after the fact about some parties, but nothing we had to respond to," said West Tisbury police chief Beth Toomey. "We did some motor vehicle stops and had a very high profile the whole weekend, which I think helped."
In Vineyard Haven, Last Night, First Day events sponsored by the Tisbury Ambulance Association went off successfully, according to one of the organizers, Melinda Loberg. "We had a lot of great activities, and families really got out and enjoyed them," she said.
Those who purchased buttons could pick and choose from a jammed day and evening of events, topped off by a spectacular 25-minute fireworks display over Vineyard Haven Harbor by David Kelsen Sr. and the C.R. Pyro company, made possible by a donation from Ernie Boch Jr. and his family.
More than 100 people enjoyed a New Year's cruise around the harbor aboard a New England Fast Ferry, with transportation and crew donated by the company. Stop and Shop Supermarket donated the food.
Paul Watts, Bank of Martha's Vineyard senior vice president, won the Last Night, First Day raffle grand prize, a round-trip to Boston for him and a guest courtesy of Cape Air with hotel accommodations and dinner at the Hyatt Harborside Hotel.
The weekend's only casualty was the Zany Hat Parade, canceled Sunday because of rain. "Save your ideas and elaborate on them and embellish them for next year," Ms. Loberg urged.
Emergency medical technician coordinator Jeff Pratt, Crocker Inn owner Jeff Kristal, and Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce staff member Linda Dellatorre also helped plan and coordinate the Last Night, First Day activities. The Chamber of Commerce, Martha's Vineyard Times, Outerland, and MVOL also contributed to the event, along with Comcast, Cumberland Farms, and Cronig's Market.
Photo by Ed Jerome
Islanders complete MMA captain's course
The Vineyard has a new crop of captains. Last week, 10 Islanders completed a five-week, 100-ton master's course offered on-Island by the Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay.
Back row, left to right: Ted Saulnier, Patrick Ruel, Doug MacLeod, Debbi Otto, Steve Warriner, Andrew Flake, D.J. Pothier, Mass Maritime Academy instructor captain James Jackson and Don Eber.
Front row, left to right: Program coordinator Ed Jerome, Will DeBettencourt and Steve Baccelli.
New Year's day bow thruster breakdown delays SSA
The New Year began on a sour note for the Steamship Authority (SSA) and vehicle drivers waiting in Vineyard Haven and Woods Hole. The ferry Martha's Vineyard, the largest boat in the fleet, failed to make two trips Monday due to a problem with the vessel's bow thruster that was complicated by wind conditions.
The thruster, a small engine whose propeller is housed at the bow and mounted athwartships, is used to create sideways thrust to assist in turning the ferry when docking. It is particularly helpful for a large vessel docking in heavy winds.
Last week, the thruster on the Martha's Vineyard failed, creating problems for the single-ended ferry, which must rotate 180 degrees when leaving Woods Hole and docking in Vineyard Haven.
Mr. Lamson said the ferry was able to make most of its trips, but due to windy conditions on Monday it was unable to complete the 3:45 pm and 6:15 trips from Vineyard Haven. The SSA began running unscheduled trips with the freight boat to relieve the backlog, which included standbys, he said.
The Martha's Vineyard was able to make its 8:30 pm run to Woods Hole and 9:45 pm return. "That cleared everything up," said Mr. Lamson.
Tuesday, Mr. Lamson said the SSA is waiting for parts to arrive from England to fix the bow thruster.
Islanders brighten holiday for Coast Guard
Thanks to the generosity of Menemsha business owners, charter and commercial boat owners, and the up-Island community, the crew at U.S. Coast Guard Station Menemsha enjoyed a bountiful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day feast.
"This is my first Christmas here on the Island, and I was told it's always been a tradition that Islanders brought food down to the station on Christmas Eve," said senior chief Steve Barr, the officer in charge. "The crew certainly appreciated it. The sense of community is really nice, as well as knowing that we're thought of. You don't find that in a lot of places throughout the country where the Coast Guard is stationed."
The station operates like a fire department, Chief Barr explained, with boat crews on duty for 48- to 72-hour shifts. The station has 21 Coastguardsmen who serve in crew rotations of eight for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Chief Barr said when he stopped by the station on Christmas Day to spend some time with the crew, there was a variety of casseroles, turkey, ham, salads, fruit baskets, Chilmark Chocolates, desserts and more.
"We are very thankful for all of this," Chief Barr said, "and the fact it was very, very quiet this year, which meant that folks were safe." Fearing he might leave someone out in expressing his thanks, he wanted to make sure everyone who participated knows how much their efforts were appreciated.
Susan Burns Vincent has planned and organized the banquet every year. She started the tradition 11 years ago after the death of her father, who served in the military. "Our family got a letter from the President thanking him for his service, and I thought to myself, why don't people say thank you when you're alive?" Ms. Vincent said.
Knowing the Coast Guard crew would be spending the holiday far from home, and many of them on duty, she came up with the idea of providing them with a feast.
Ms. Vincent said she began calling people in Menemsha this year about the feast right after Thanksgiving. Although the bulk of the food was delivered on Christmas Eve, she made sure there would be enough so that when the next shift arrived a few days later, they would have something to enjoy too.
"A lot of people really enjoyed doing it, and I know the Coast Guard really appreciated it," Ms. Vincent said. "It warms everybody's heart, I think."
open again on Sundays
Cronig's Markets, both up and down Island, are now open on Sundays from 7:30 am to 3 pm. Calling it a "vote for family, community and our environment," Steve Bernier, Cronig's owner and proprietor, posted a letter at the stores in October announcing his decision to close on Sundays, from Columbus Day weekend through May.
This week, Mr. Bernier said feedback he received from his employees, customers, and the community at large convinced him to reverse his decision. "Watching everybody deal with the Sunday closings, the transient visitors, Islanders with company coming and going, employees managing the business, and regular customers, made me realize the difference between 18 years ago and today," he said.
"As much as I believe in what I was doing, I was imposing too much and saw the effects on everyone," Mr. Bernier said. "When you get down to the nitty-gritty, that's when you go, oops, I need to rethink this."
Photo by Susan Safford
Electric cable repaired
An NSTAR crew made repairs to one of the electric cables that serve the Vineyard. The work is being done at West Chop where the underwater cable from the Cape comes ashore. The damage occurred in December, and NSTAR employee John Ventura, who is overseeing the project, says repairs should be complete by the end of this week. The old cable is being replaced by one with an improved design and a higher capacity. Sheerin Construction Co. from Boston was hired to do the onshore dredging.
SSA members will hold first meeting of 2007
The Steamship Authority (SSA) members will hold their first meeting of the New Year Tuesday in Woods Hole.
In keeping with the changes to the SSA's enabling legislation that expanded the board and added voting members from New Bedford and Barnstable, New Bedford member David Oliveira will assume the chairmanship.
The agenda is expected to include a discussion of the fall 2007 schedule and a policy change that would allow more flexibility for passengers who purchase 10-ride coupon books.
The current policy restricts the use of the coupon book to the individual purchaser. The proposed change would allow anyone to use a coupon from a book.
SSA general manager Wayne Lamson said the change would be more convenient for passengers and companies, which must now purchase a book for each employee.
The board will also discuss the purchase of new equipment for the SSA parking lots. Mr. Lamson said the boatline wants to explore technology that would allow people to exit from the lots without time-consuming delays.
That could include card readers that open a gate on approach for pre-paid vehicle customers and a way to pre-pay for parking while on a ferry.
There will also be a report on current capital projects, including the soon-to-be delivered Island Home.
Mr. Lamson said the new ferry is scheduled to begin sea trials next week. Once completed, the boat will begin its voyage from the Mississippi shipyard where it was built north to the SSA's Fairhaven facility. The trip is expected to take between six and ten days, depending on the weather.
What will become of the venerable Islander after 57 years of service? Although there are no immediate plans, eventually it will be sold, but its ultimate fate remains uncertain. The vessel may be worth more as scrap than as a boat, said Mr. Lamson.
Tuesday's meeting begins at 9:30 am in the Candle House at the Woods Hole Biological Marine Laboratory.
Edgartown boy is Sail MV raffle winner
The winner of a Vanguard Sunfish raffled off by Sail Martha's Vineyard was Kyle Altieri, 12, of Edgartown. The proceeds from the raffle, which began at the Agricultural Fair in August and ran until Christmas in Edgartown on Dec. 9,, raised almost $9,000 to support the Island nonprofit's sailing and rowing programs.
Fred Raskin dead at 58
Fred Raskin, a former corporate executive who briefly served as Steamship Authority chief executive officer, died at his home in Andover on Dec. 15, at the age of 58.
In the fall of 2001, then SSA general manager Armand Tiberio resigned. Acting on earlier recommendations, the SSA members upgraded the title and salary range of the job and hired a professional search firm to find an executive capable of running a $65 million ferry business that serves five communities.
The board ultimately chose Mr. Raskin, and in April 2002, he signed a six-year contract at an annual salary of $170,000 per year.
Mr. Raskin and his wife began house hunting on Cape Cod. Within a few weeks, Mr. Raskin, who was commuting daily from his house in Andover, north of Boston, told his wife to put the search on hold.
Mr. Raskin ended his brief tenure at the Steamship Authority (SSA) on July 28, 2004 a little more than two years after it began.
In an interview with The Times after leaving the boatline, Mr. Raskin said that the circumstances that would ultimately lead him to depart were evident from the first day he began work in his office in Woods Hole.
From his start at the public authority, Mr. Raskin, the former president and chief operating officer of a $300 million marine transport company, found himself at odds with Grace Grossman, SSA Nantucket member, and Galen Robbins, the embattled Falmouth member and board chairman, when he resisted their efforts to exercise control in areas he thought were the purview of management. Vineyard member Kathryn Roessel remained Mr. Raskin's strongest supporter.
Mr. Raskin said that on his very first day, Ms. Grossman called and asked him to fire several members of management, including Jim Swindler, director of operations, and Wayne Lamson, the boatline's long-time treasurer, who was named general manager following Mr. Raskin's departure.
During that time, Mr. Raskin often found himself caught in the political crossfire and behind-the-scenes battles waged among the Falmouth, Nantucket, and Vineyard SSA members, much of it inspired by the effort to add New Bedford service. Mr. Raskin was at the SSA helm when the board expanded from three to five voting members with the addition of Barnstable and New Bedford representatives, and he negotiated the contract that inaugurated private fast ferry passenger service between New Bedford and the Vineyard.
"He was a good person, and I was sad to hear that news," SSA general manager Wayne Lamson told The Times on Tuesday. Mr. Lamson said that Mr. Raskin, who was a trained lawyer and accountant, brought many skills to the SSA and never lost his sense of humor.
"He held you accountable but he was a good person to be around and made you laugh," said Mr. Lamson. "Unfortunately, things just did not work out."
Mr. Raskin leaves his wife, Lorraine, and two children, Elizabeth and Alex. A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Jan. 6, at 1 pm in the Chapel at West Parish Garden Cemetery in Andover. Relatives and friends are welcome. Donations in Mr. Raskin's memory may be made to Lahey Clinic Medical Center, Oncology Department, 41 Mall Road, Burlington, MA 01803. For additional information, visit www.burkemagliozzi.com.
Edgartown selectman Margaret Serpa, front, draws the winning tickets for the "I Love Christmas in Edgartown" raffle, while behind her, from left, Lisa Brouilette, raffle committee member, Deborah Westervelt, Christmas in Edgartown chairperson, and Christina Cook, secretary of the Edgartown board of trade, wait in anticipation.
Edgartown holiday raffle winners announced
The Edgartown Board of Trade held the drawing for the 2nd Annual "I Love Christmas in Edgartown" raffle on Dec. 23, during an open house at the Christina Gallery on North Water Street. Edgartown selectman Margaret Serpa again did the honors of drawing the winning tickets.
All three winners happened to be Edgartown residents this year. John Farrington won the grand prize, $1,000 cash, plus gift certificates and other prizes donated by more than 50 participating Edgartown board of trade members. Charlotte Klein won second prize, $500, and Nancy Highet third prize, $250.
Tisbury fire chief wants full-time position
Tisbury fire chief John Schilling presented his department's budget at a meeting of the Tisbury selectmen Tuesday night and asked that an article be placed on the spring annual town meeting warrant to make the job of fire chief a full-time salaried position and up the salaries of several part-time positions.
Mr. Schilling told the selectmen that the increasing demands placed on him as a result of state-mandated inspections and record-keeping are making the chief's position a full-time job. "I can't afford to continue this position the way it is," Mr. Schilling said.
As chief of the volunteer department Mr. Schilling, who operates an insurance company, receives a salary of $17,500.
Mr. Schilling told the selectmen that his business has suffered as a result of all the hours he must devote to his job as fire chief.
Mr. Schilling suggested a salary of $52,806, based on the town's wage and pay scale. He also proposed increasing the salaries for the two assistant fire chiefs and adding a deputy chief position. Mr. Schilling said having two assistant chiefs does not provide enough coverage when he is off.
The selectmen voted to approve Mr. Schilling's fire department budget but postponed a decision on his request for a salary article in order to discuss it further at their next meeting.
The selectmen reviewed several other town department budgets in detail, examining them page by page and quizzing department heads about increased costs. They advised department heads to stick to the Finance and Advisory Committee's request to keep budget increases to no more than 3.5 percent. Most budget increase requests were due to contractual salary obligations.
In other business, the selectmen said they plan to place an article regarding the sale of beer and wine in Tisbury restaurants on the annual town meeting warrant.
A story published in the Dec. 21 issue of The Times, "Tisbury selectmen keep port council post in-house," incorrectly identified the business selectman and town health agent Tom Pachico owns as Septic Solutions. The name of the business is Pachico Septics.
In a story published on Dec. 28, "Last minute male shoppers wage Main Street blitz," Heather Kochin's name and title were incorrect. She is the owner, not the manager, of Rainy Day on Main Street in Vineyard Haven.
A story published in the Dec. 28 issue of The Times ("West Tisbury employees report respiratory problems after working in old library") incorrectly reported that asbestos insulation was removed from the West Tisbury Town Hall. In fact, it was fiberglass insulation that was removed.