News in Brief
Photo by Danielle Zerbonne
Islanders protest plans
for Iraq troop increase
Approximately one dozen war protesters, many holding signs, gathered at the busy Five Corners intersection in Vineyard Haven late Thursday, one day after President George W. Bush announced plans to increase U.S. combat troop levels in Iraq in an effort to quell sectarian violence.
The demonstrators included West Tisbury school committee member Marshall Segall, who held a sign reading in part, "W. Don't send our principal to kill people in Iraq."
The sign referred to West Tisbury School principal Michael Halt, a lieutenant colonel in the Marine Corps Reserves who was called to active duty and left this weekend. He will serve as a military advisor to a group of Seabees charged with building combat outposts and schools and rebuilding infrastructure in Iraq.
At a school committee meeting last week, Mr. Segall balked when asked to support a motion granting Mr. Halt military leave. The motion, and another by which the committee agreed to pay Mr. Halt the difference between his military and school pay, were both approved.
Tisbury School 5th-grader wins geography bee
Knowing where the state of Tabasco is located brought victory to fifth-grader Barra Peak as the winner of the 2007 Tisbury School Geography Bee last week.
Barra and eighth-grader Patrick Long squared off as the finalists with a hard-fought tiebreaker round of 11 questions. The deciding question was, "The state of Tabasco, which means 'damp earth,' has a long tradition of agriculture in which country north of Guatemala." Barra correctly answered, "Mexico."
Sixth-grader Rayne Bick and seventh-grader Liam Wallace were the champions for their grade levels.
After winning the bee, Barra took a written test and will be notified by the National Geographic Society if she is eligible for the state competition. State winners will compete in the national geography bee finals in Washington, D.C., on May 22-23.
Horse virus concerns
spur call for vigilance
Concerned about recent outbreaks of a deadly neurological horse virus in Florida and Connecticut, the Martha's Vineyard Horse Council (MVHC) this week called on the human members of the Island's horse community to take protective measures to ensure the safety of Island horses.
The horse council has asked owners and riders to observe a three-week voluntary quarantine and maintain strict cleanliness when interacting with horses to protect against equine herpesvirus type 1, also known as rhinovirus. There has been no known report of the disease in Massachusetts.
An outbreak of rhinovirus in the heart of Florida's exclusive horse communities in December led to voluntary and mandatory quarantines in that state and six horse deaths.
According to a Dec. 31 report in the Palm Beach Post, the outbreak began on Nov. 29 and was traced to five horses from Europe that arrived in Wellington for that town's 10-week Winter Equestrian Festival and polo season, which begins next week.
But a more recent outbreak of the disease among horses at the University of Connecticut and at a veterinary clinic in Fairfield was a little too close for comfort for members of the Island horse set.
Island veterinarian Dr. Steven Atwood said that Vineyard horses are probably not at any risk, but to the extent that people do move back and forth between barns, and off- and on-Island to horse shows and barns on the mainland, it will not hurt to take precautions.
The virus is spread through the air, primarily by horse "sneezes," according to the Palm Beach Post. It can be carried on shoes, clothing, and tools but cannot be passed to humans.
Seabird monitoring program needs volunteers
Volunteers are needed to help monitor the health of seabirds on Martha's Vineyard.
The Martha's Vineyard Senior Environmental Corps and Mass Audubon at Felix Neck are teaming up with the Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine's Seabird Ecological Assessment Network (SEANET) to organize and train volunteers to survey designated beach areas and collect data on bird mortality.
Participation in the project requires volunteers to walk stretches of beach once or twice a month in search of dead birds and record their findings.
Tufts faculty members will teach volunteers how to identify and measure any specimens they find and provide tips on general survey protocols at a training session from 4 to 6:30 pm on Saturday, Jan. 20, at the Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary.
"Because seabirds are so sensitive to petroleum and other pollution, they are excellent indicators of environmental health," wrote Julie Ellis of the Tufts department of environmental and population health. "The surveys our volunteers conduct are important because they will help us detect diseases and contaminants that threaten both animal and human health."
Noting that regular die-offs of common eiders have occurred on Martha's Vineyard over the past few years, Ms. Ellis added that she hopes more people will join the SEANET team to help document the timing of these mortality events and determine the causes. She suggested that school science classes might want to get involved in the project, as it provides a good way to get students of many ages involved in field research.
Since initiating SEANET in Massachusetts in 2002, Tufts researchers have collaborated with numerous agencies and organizations to establish long-term seabird monitoring along shores reaching from New Jersey to northern Maine and Canada's Bay of Fundy. Researchers share information with communities and agencies to develop regional efforts to protect aquatic birds and habitats, as well as prevent and prepare for future emergencies, such as oil spills.
For more information and to register for the training, call Ms. Ellis at 508-887-4933.
hosts scholarship exam and open house
Falmouth Academy, an independent day school for college-bound students in grades seven to 12, will host an annual scholarship exam and open house on Saturday, Jan. 20, from 8:30 am to noon.
All students interested in applying to the school for the 2007-2008 school year are invited to attend. The open house event will begin with a panel discussion by some students about their school experiences and a question and answer session with prospective students and their parents.
Following the discussion, prospective students will take the scholarship exam. The top three scorers on the exam receive scholarship grants of $2,000 towards their first-year tuition at the school.
While the exam takes place, parents will view presentations from all of the Falmouth Academy faculty members. Parents and their children also will have the opportunity to tour the school's facilities, including a new 15,000-square-foot wing that houses a library, science labs, art rooms, and a computer lab.
To register for the exam, call the admissions office at 508-457-9696.
for Jesse J. Ferro
Jesse James Baptiste Ferro died Sunday in Falmouth. A visitation in the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown Road, Oak Bluffs will be held on Friday from noon to 1 pm. A graveside service will follow in the Oak Grove Cemetery, State Road, Vineyard Haven at 1:30 pm. Visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com for directions and an online guestbook. A full obituary will follow in a later edition of The Times.
Owners of Edgartown Books win dog photo contest
Ann and David LeBreton, the owners of Edgartown Books on Main Street in Edgartown, sent in the winning photo in a contest sponsored by Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Dog-owning booksellers were asked to submit a snapshot of their pet. The LeBretons submitted a photo of their yellow lab, Caleb.
The winning photo will be rendered into a line drawing portrait by artist Leanne Shapton and included in Cathleen Schine's latest novel, "The New Yorkers," scheduled for publication in May 2007.
Stop and Shop raises funds for the food pantry
The Island's two Stop and Shop markets collectively raised more than $4,000 for the Island Food Pantry through their annual "Food for Friends" program. The program raises funds through paper turkey sales and other events held at the stores. On a broader scale, the entire Stop and Shop company raised $1 million in their hunger support and relief efforts this year.
Patriot Boats' Quickwater returned to service
Patriot Party Boats, the small Falmouth ferry company that has proved to be a stalwart carrier of passengers and daily newspapers no matter what the weather, reported the return of the ferry "Quickwater" to its fleet.
According to a press release, the Quickwater underwent a major refit and repowering that included the installation of two John Deere diesel engines. New paneling, floor coverings, and lighting were also installed in the cabin.
Patriot Party Boats is a family-run business that provides regular passenger and freight service to and from the Vineyard in addition to 24-hour on-call service.
Over the years the company, which carries all the mainland newspapers to the Island on a 4 am run, has proved its mettle to Vineyarders by rarely canceling a trip, ensuring that the morning newspapers arrive.
For more information, call 1-800-734-0088.
Mansion House Health Club kicks off weight loss program
The Mansion House Health Club in Vineyard Haven has announced a new eight-week program called "I Lost it at the Club," designed to help club members succeed in fitness programs.
According to a press release, "It is designed to kick-start exercise programs of existing and new club members who might have taken time off for the holidays and want an informational, supportive and fun group to make their New Year's resolutions a reality."
The program, which will be led by the health club's professional staff, includes guest speakers, classes on a variety of topics and prizes awarded to individuals and buddy groups. "I Lost it at the Club" begins Tuesday and ends March 13.
For more information, call 508-693-2200 or go to www.mansionhouse.com.
The Jan. 4 issue of The Times reported that the Boston Globe had named the Vineyard's Kelsey MacDonald to the Atlantic Coast all-star field hockey team. Wrong. That Kelsey MacDonald is a student at Marshfield High School, as the Globe said. Our Kelsey MacDonald is a collegiate all-star soccer player at Plymouth State in New Hampshire.