News in Brief
Island selectmen open discussions on school formula
The all-Island board of selectmen will hold a public meeting next Wednesday at noon in the conference room at the Dukes County Government offices to discuss the impacts of the state Department of Education's mandated aggregate wealth formula for allocating regional school district costs.
The wealth-based formula, to take effect this year, is a divisive subject for Island towns, as it has been for many across the state. The current regional formula agreed to and used by the six Island towns is based on enrollment. The state's new formula uses an "aggregate wealth model" for determining required local contribution amounts, with property values and personal income levels given equal weight.
The DOE projections for the towns' fiscal year 2008 assessments include decreases of $117,408 for Aquinnah, $29,395 for Edgartown, and $269,758 for Oak Bluffs, and increases of $122,992 for Chilmark, $223,483 for Tisbury, and $70,087 for West Tisbury.
The legislation requires school districts to use the state's wealth-based formula unless every town in the district concurs on a regional agreement.
Edgartown selectman Arthur Smadbeck, who helped organize next week's meeting, said he plans to ask the Island selectmen to consider keeping the old regional agreement in place for a year.
"In other words, go to your town meetings and ask the voters to vote in the system we've been using for all these years, the agreement that each town pays on a per pupil basis," Mr. Smadbeck said on Monday. "This system that is being imposed on us from the outside has had no Island discussion whatsoever - it throws out the window the concept of fairness that the original formula worked with, and it was done in a way that we don't have a lot of time to talk about it."
Mr. Smadbeck said he hopes that at the very least, the meeting will raise the Island community's consciousness about the subject.
"It's rushing at us like a freight train - at town meeting, we're all going to have to decide which way we're going to want to go," said Mr. Smadbeck.
Edgartown sets dates for commercial oyster season
The Edgartown selectmen Monday set the dates for the commercial oyster season on Edgartown Great Pond, from March 1 through April 30, as recommended by shellfish constable Paul Bagnall.
Mr. Bagnall said the season normally starts in January toward the end of the scallop season, but there is no scalloping this year. The fishermen will be allowed to collect up to three 10-gallon baskets per day, Monday through Friday, from 7 am to 4 pm.
Driver slams into Bank of Martha's Vineyard entrance
Lucelena Pereira, 26, of Vineyard Haven, told police that her 1995 Ford accelerated unexpectedly and slammed into the front entrance of the Bank of Martha's Vineyard, a branch of Sovereign Bank at the Triangle in Edgartown. She was not injured.
Edgartown police officer Chris Dolby said Ms. Pereira, who has been charged with driving without a license and driving to endanger, drove through a foyer support column and hit the bank's front door Friday. No bank customers or staff were injured, Officer Dolby said. Ms. Pereira is a Brazilian national.
Photo by Mae Deary
MassWildlife urges caution when venturing onto ice
MassWildlife is cautioning people to be careful when venturing out onto frozen ponds and lakes. Despite a recent cold snap the state agency said that the uneven temperatures that have prevailed so far this season means the condition of ice on the Bay State's water bodies "...is unpredictable at best and could be treacherous."
Outdoor enthusiasts are advised to carefully assess ice safety by using an ice chisel to chop a hole in the ice at various locations to determine its thickness and condition.
According to an ice safety chart, ice should be at least two-inches thick to support one person on foot; three inches for a group in single file; and five inches for a group of six to eight people.
Celebrity news spurs
A recent tidbit of celebrity news served up to the American public created a brief mystery at The Martha's Vineyard Times two weeks ago when the folks who monitor the Times web site traffic spied a jump of requests, 1,456 to be exact, for a story dating back to Dec. 30, 2004. The archived story continued to be hot item, generating 1,407 requests for the week of Jan. 22, just behind the Times webcam, which shows Vineyard Haven Harbor, and the classified ads in popularity.
The requested story was about the Ryan Mone hockey tournament and included a photograph of Shane Deary, a Martha's Vineyard Regional High School graduate, now living and working in New York City. But hockey was not the reason people were Googling Shane Deary.
On Jan. 19, the Associated Press reported that actress Keri Russell, whose screen credits include the television series Felicity and the movie Mission Impossible III where she starred opposite Tom Cruise, is expecting her first child with her fiancée, Mr. Deary.
The AP item reported that the couple had been dating for years and, according to Jill Fritzo, Ms. Russell's publicist, they have yet to set a wedding date.
Mr. Deary is the son of West Tisbury builder Chas Deary and Mae Deary, The Times' photo editor. Although Shane does not have a publicist his mother said this week, "Shane and Keri were successful in keeping it from the media so that they could surprise both families on Christmas Eve with an ultrasound picture of their baby. We are very happy for them and looking forward to becoming grandparents."
The town of Tisbury is sponsoring a contest to choose original artwork created by one of its residents for the cover for this year's town report.
The contest is open to submissions of all art forms, including photography. The entry should focus on capturing the natural beauty of the town, or its quaint history and/or moments of celebration. A five-member committee, appointed by Tisbury town administrator John Bugbee, will choose the winning submission. The artwork will be printed on the cover of the town's annual report, and posted on the town's web site and in all of the town's public buildings.
Second- and third-place also will be awarded, and the winning artwork used in the town report if space permits. All of the artwork submissions will be available for viewing at a selectmen's meeting following the announcement of the winners.
In addition, the town report will be entered into a statewide contest held by the Massachusetts Municipal Association. Tisbury's town report won second place in last year's contest in the category for towns with populations less than 5,000.
Entry forms and the official rules are available at town hall and on the town's website at www.tisburygov.org. Artwork should be in a format easily transferable to a cover (preferably on a disk) and must include an entry form.
Contest entries should be dropped off at the Tisbury town hall in the shellfish/harbormaster office no later than March 2 at 4:30 pm. For questions, call 508-696-4203.
Tisbury School hosts
The Tisbury School will host a "Share the Love" canned food drive at from Monday to Friday. Bring food to the school from 9 am to 3 pm. Donations will go to the Island Food Pantry to help families in need.
Louis' Tisbury Eatery closed
Louis' Tisbury Eatery in Vineyard Haven closed Saturday. Owners Douglas and Leslie Hewson, who also own Mediterranean Restaurant on Beach Road and cater private parties, said they could not agree on the terms of a new lease with the owner of the building and were sad to see the business close. "Being an integral part of the community was really important to us," said Ms. Hewson.
The couple has operated Louis' at 350 State Road for four years. Diners could pick up a homemade pizza or hearty dinner to go, or eat in the casual dining area. All gift certificates issued since May, 2003 will be accepted at Mediterranean.
The Hewsons said they have fond memories of contractors and neighbors stopping in for lunch on a regular basis. "We want to thank all the people that were great to us over the years," Mr. Hewson said.
Hospital meets TJC standards
The Martha's Vineyard Hospital announced this week that The Joint Commission (TJC), a national nonprofit organization that evaluates and accredits nearly 15,000 health-care organizations and programs in the United States, recently accredited the Island's sole hospital.
The organization's accreditation is based on the standards set for critical care access facilities and is good for three years. JTC accreditation is based in part on inspections by JTC representatives who appear unannounced.
Joint Commission accreditation is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization's commitment to meeting certain performance standards, according to a statement found on the JTC web site.
Dedie Wieler, hospital quality officer, said that JTC accreditation reflects on the past commitment to the community made by John Ferguson, hospital board chairman, to the quiet and unrelenting pursuit of excellence.
She said that Tim Walsh, hospital chief executive officer, and the entire hospital leadership have continuously supported and challenged the staff. "The accreditation award recognizes our hospital's ongoing dedication to complying with The Joint Commission's standards on a continuous basis and the incredible efforts of the entire staff in this regard," she said.
The Joint Commission is the nation's oldest and largest standards setting and accrediting body in health care. For more information, go to www.jointcommission.org.
Island Councils on Aging - YMCA deal is on hold
The Island Councils on Aging (ICOA) announced that there is no immediate plan to relocate its Supportive Day Program to the future YMCA facility. The program currently operates out of the Anchors Senior Center in Edgartown three days a week and the Tisbury Senior Center one day a week.
"Concurrent with the YMCA's recent announcement of its plan to precede with Phase I of its building program, the YMCA and ICOA have agreed that neither organization is prepared at this time to enter into a financial commitment that would enable them to proceed with plans that would include a space for ICOA and the Supportive Day Program in Phase I of the new Y facility," read a press release received by The Times. "Island Councils on Aging will continue looking at all options for future relocation and funding of its offices and the Supportive Day Program."
For more information, call Leslie Clapp, Director, Island Councils on Aging and Supportive Day Program at 508-939-9440 or John Clese, executive director of the YMCA of MV at 508-696-7171.
Edgartown approves SMF conservation restrictions
Edgartown selectmen Monday accepted a Sheriff's Meadow Foundation conservation restriction placed on a 9.23-acre property near Wintucket Cove off Edgartown Great Pond. The owners of the property are Andrew H. and Betsy G. Forrester. Under the restriction, approved by the conservation commission, the couple is allowed to build a main house up to 4,500 square feet and a guesthouse up to 900 square feet on 1.45 acres. A barn for organic agriculture and accessory and recreational structures will be allowed in another half-acre building envelope.
The addition of the new conservation area is significant, according to Lisbeth Jones of Sheriff's Meadow, because it links several parcels of surrounding preserved land. Those properties include another Sheriff's Meadow Foundation conservation restriction on an adjacent 15-acre parcel owned by the Forresters, the grasslands of The Nature Conservancy's Katama Plains Preserve and the pine barrens of the Manuel Correllus State Forest.
More than half of the property will remain in upland forest/oak woodland, according to the municipal certification of the restriction. Preservation of the property will protect 109 feet of frontage on Edgartown Great Pond, thereby adding to the adjacent 850 feet of protected shorefront on Wintucket Cove on the Forresters' adjacent property.
The cover of the Calendar section on Jan. 25 should have included the WMVY radio logo. The radio station has sponsored the Big Chili Contest for 21 years.
A story about the Big Chili Contest published in the Jan. 25 Times Calendar section ("Hot chili, warm hearts") reported that WMVY had hired buses for the event. In fact, Island Transport donated the buses and drivers, including those used to carry off-Island revelers between the Vineyard Haven SSA terminal and the Portuguese American Club, the site of last week's event.