News in Brief
Man arrested for
lewd behavior in Tisbury
Blake Richards, a 37-year-old Tisbury resident, was arrested March 21 by Tisbury police, on charges of open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior, following an investigation of a report filed by a woman about an incident that took place in her office last week.
According to a police report obtained by the Times, last Thursday, Mr. Richards, a computer technician, was working on a computer in the victim's office in the building on State Road that houses the Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Martha's Vineyard and Dukes County Regional Housing Authority. The woman alleges that after Mr. Richards asked permission to close the door to her office, he made sexually explicit remarks to her and exposed himself. The victim also reported that Mr. Richards called her twice after the incident, once at work and once on her cell phone, questioning her about her reaction to what he did.
The woman reported the incident to the Tisbury police on March 20 this week. Next day, Detective Mark Santon stopped Mr. Richards on Franklin Street. Mr. Richards agreed to be interviewed at the police station and subsequently was arrested.
"Based on the victim's report, we arrested him and charged him with a count of open and gross lewdness and lascivious behavior," Police Chief John Cashin said. "Some people don't report incidents like this right away, because they don't even realize they have been victims of a crime. For that reason, I hope that anybody that reads about this, if they've had problems with this individual or anybody else, will talk to us."
Chief Cashin said the incident remains under investigation. "Mr. Richards has since been arraigned in court, and is due back in court on May 11," he said.
In addition to working as a computer technician, Mr. Richards is a member of the Tisbury Fire Department's Haz-Mat team. Fire Chief John Schilling said yesterday that he is aware of Mr. Richards's arrest, and that Mr. Richards is on an unpaid leave of absence from the department.
When asked if he was aware of any other incidents of this type of behavior by Mr. Richards, Chief Schilling said, "At this point in time, I would prefer not to comment any further on the matter."
Theft of furnace from Morgan Woods has officials incensed
The theft of a small gas furnace last Wednesday from one of the new units at the Morgan Woods affordable housing complex in Edgartown has the builders and town officials upset and on guard.
Valued at $2,700, the small furnace was removed from one of the buildings farthest from the 12th Street entrance, said Marilyn Wortman, administrative assistant to the Edgartown homesite committee and administrator for the affordable housing committee. "We're very upset," she said Wednesday. "Why would you steal from something like this? It's just sad."
She added that whoever took the furnace knew how to unhook it. Town building inspectors have been alerted. The furnace is only large enough for a small home, she said.
The Community Builders, the Boston-based contractor and manager of the 60-unit, $15.7 million development, has offered a reward for finding the culprit, but Ms. Wortman said they aren't saying how much the reward is. She indicated that security at the site also has been stepped up, but did not want to give details. Everyone at the site has been put on alert, she said.
The stolen furnace is a Burnham, model number SCG3PI-TS. Anyone with information is asked to call Edgartown Police at 508-627-4343.
Morgan Woods, nine years in the planning, has been touted as the Island's first large municipally developed affordable housing project. Construction on 12 acres off Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and South 12th Street began last June and is ahead of schedule. Prospective tenants are being interviewed now with the occupancy for some expected in May.
Hart Plumbing & Heating is the local contractor for that aspect of the project.
Tribe-town MOU is signed
In a ceremony Tuesday night followed by a potluck supper, representatives of the Wampanoag Tribe and the town of Aquinnah signed a 12-page "Intergovernmental agreement on cooperative land use and planning between the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah) and the town of Aquinnah."
The signing ceremony ends a long-running effort to create a framework for avoiding future court battles over the limits of tribal sovereignty and the extent to which the tribe must comply with town permitting. A lawsuit over a small shed constructed without a town permit on Menemsha Pond reached the state Supreme Judicial Court (SJC), which ruled against the tribe.
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Menemsha Texaco gas
is a relative bargain
With the cost of regular gas hovering around $3.26 a gallon at many Island stations Tuesday, this sign at Menemsha Texaco caught the attention of photographer Ralph Stewart, who promptly filled up his car.
A quick survey Tuesday of Island stations revealed that a gallon of regular was $3.27 at the Citgo station in Vineyard Haven; $3.27 at Tisbury Texaco; $3.24 at Airport Mobil in Edgartown; $3.27 at DeBettencourt's Service Station in Oak Bluffs; $3.29 at Jim's Texaco in Oak Bluffs; $3.29 at Depot Market in Edgartown; and $3.15 at Up-Island Auto in West Tisbury.
By contrast Falmouth Gulf on Depot Ave. in Falmouth was selling a gallon for $2.63. According to AAA (aaa.com), the state average for a gallon of regular gasoline in Massachusetts was $2.57 and $2.61 for the Barnstable-Yarmouth area.
Neighbors object to daycare at church
A group of neighbors has raised objections to an application for a special permit for a home-based business on Ryan's Way in Oak Bluffs. Valci Carvalho applied for the permit to run a child daycare center out of the Assembleia de Deus Nova Vida, where he is the pastor. It will be used temporarily to relocate children from the Martha's Vineyard Hospital during its reconstruction phase. The children would return to the hospital daycare upon completion, director of human resources Ken Chisholm said at the meeting.
Selectman Ron DiOrio objected first on Tuesday at the selectmen's meeting, stating that since the church is tax exempt, it would not make sense to run a business from the same location. Selectman Kerry Scott expressed concern that the church had not been previously referred to the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC), as is standard procedure, she said. It became in church in June, according to town records.
Audience members said the daycare center would negatively impact the small neighborhood by increased traffic and wastewater flow, and selectmen agreed to research the situation and withhold approval until their next meeting.
Selectmen also granted temporary entertainment licenses - good until May 15 - to Farm Neck, Nancy's, The Oyster Bar Grill, the Lampost and Rare Duck, and the Island House. When the licenses expire, public hearings will be held in order to allow abutters to comment. The selectmen's next meeting is Tuesday, April 24.
Deer blamed for single car accident on Middle Road
An Edgartown man swerved to avoid deer crossing Middle Road in Chilmark, lost control on the soft road shoulder, and struck an oak tree. Chilmark police report that Carlos DeOliveira of Edgartown was unhurt, but his 2001 Mercedes was a total loss in the mishap which took place about 8 pm Monday. Officer Jonathan Klaren said the accident provided a good example of how a seat belt combined with a vehicle's air bag can prevent serious injury.
Speed was not a factor, police said, but weather conditions may have contributed. There was heavy rain, thunder, and lightening at the time.
Sharky's Cantina pays a $5,000 reward
Making good on the offer of a reward in connection with a burglary last year, a lawyer representing J.B. Blau and Josh Aronie, the owners of Sharky's Cantina, a popular Mexican restaurant on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs, delivered $5,000 cash to the Oak Bluffs Police Tuesday.
The reward was divided between two citizens who came forward with information that led to the arrest and eventual convictions of a 17-year-old and a 16-year-old from Oak Bluffs in connection with a string of burglaries in Oak Bluffs and Tisbury.
Lieutenant Tim Williamson of the Oak Bluffs Police said that an offer of a reward can sometimes help develop information in a case, and in this instance it spurred both individuals to come forward.
In addition to the reward, Mr. Blau thanked the two individuals. He said the restaurant now has a monitored security system.
Oak Bluffs boards approve hospital building plan
On Thursday, the Oak Bluffs zoning board of appeals (ZBA) approved a special permit for the Martha's Vineyard Hospital's $42 million expansion and renovation project. On Friday, the Oak Bluffs conservation commission added its approval.
Town approval is the last step in a long and expensive permitting process that began more than one year ago. In December, the Martha's Vineyard Commission ended a marathon review and approved the construction of a new Martha's Vineyard Hospital building on the hospital's current Eastville site in Oak Bluffs.
At the ZBA's request, the hospital lopped off five feet from a tower that forms a design element and allows natural lighting to enter the building. The conservation commission also had several requests, none significant, according to hospital chief executive officer Tim Walsh.
"It's been very smooth," said Mr. Walsh. "The Oak Bluffs officials have been easy to work with."
The last step in the town review process is a site review by the planning board and the issuance of a building permit.
Mr. Walsh said that pending state approval, some site work could begin next month.
On Saturday the newly expanded hospital board held its first meeting since the hospital formalized an agreement on March 1, making it an affiliate of the Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and a member of Partners HealthCare.
MGH president Dr. Peter L. Slavin; Ann L. Prestipino, MGH senior vice president for surgical and anesthesia services and clinical development; Dr. Andrew Warshaw, MGH chief of surgery; and Brent L. Henry, vice president and general counsel of Partners HealthCare System, joined the hospital board. The agenda was not especially distinguished, but the board's reconstituted membership was, Mr. Walsh said.
"It was just nice," said Mr. Walsh. "When you have John Ferguson (MVH board chairman) and Peter Slavin in the same room, that is an awful lot of experience and expertise."
Mr. Ferguson, a seasonal West Tisbury resident, is president and CEO of Hackensack University Medical Center in New Jersey. His often-stated goal is to make Martha's Vineyard Hospital the best rural hospital in the country.
Mr. Walsh said, "We continue to be fortunate as a community and benefit from the people who come here."
The meeting included an update on hospital finances. Mr. Walsh said the hospital, which ends its fiscal year this month, is on track to finish with a surplus. As of February, the hospital showed a gain from operations of $1.6 million, he said.
Team Black Dog won it all
Traveling clear across the country to do it, the Cape Cod Black Dog skaters beat a Rhode Island neighbor to win the 2007 Women's Division C Hockey National Championship. Based out of Falmouth and including women from the Cape and Islands, team Black Dog beat the Rhode Island squad 2-0, in the championship game Sunday in San Jose, California.
Team Black Dog, formed last June, won all but one game, a tie, in regular season play. They beat two other Massachusetts teams to make it to the national tournament. Team Black Dog includes one player from Martha's Vineyard, home of the parent company. She is Sue Mead, who has run the paint store at Hinckley's Hardware for nearly 15 years.
Paul Strauss receives MACC award
The Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissions (MACC) named Paul Strauss of Oak Bluffs conservation commission member of the year at the nonprofit organization's annual conference on March 3 at Holy Cross College in Worcester.
According to a MACC press release, Mr. Strauss, a 12-year member of the conservation commission, "has demonstrated integrity, intelligence, and genuine commitment to protecting the natural environment of Martha's Vineyard."
The MACC credited Mr. Strauss, who is also a Dukes County commissioner, with "creation of the town's wetlands bylaw regulations, updating the open space and recreation plan, increasing the professionalism of the commission, and supporting diverse initiatives to preserve coastal and inland wetlands, wildlife habitat, historic parks, and public recreation access."
The Oak Bluffs conservation commission nominated Mr. Strauss for the award.
MACC awards recognize Conservation Commissions, Commissioners and their staff, government officials, citizen activists and others for important and long-standing efforts in protecting in the Commonwealth's natural resources said a press release.
The Oak Bluffs selectmen congratulated Mr. Strauss at their Tuesday night meeting.
Heritage trail receives state grant
Representative Eric Turkington announced the award of a $2,000 grant by the Massachusetts Foundation of the Humanities to the African American Heritage Trail of Martha's Vineyard. The grant will support the project "Linking Communities," a traveling historical exhibition and a tribute to four white West Tisbury women active in the civil rights movement and founders of the Vineyard chapter of the NAACP.
Information about the American Heritage Trail of Martha's Vineyard can be found at www.mvheritagetrail.org.
Photo by Ralph Stewart
Disposal Day fundraiser was a success
Old electronic equipment, from televisions to iMacs, piled up during Community Services' disposal day.
Last Saturday's Electronic Disposal Day was "wildly successful," according to Jan Hatchard of Martha's Vineyard Community Services. The equipment disposal fundraiser raised approximately $7,300 that will be used to use to upgrade community services' technology systems, she said.
Steve Beck, organizer of the event, said it was the most successful disposal day he had organized in Massachusetts.
Ms. Hatchard said that three trailers were needed instead of the predicted one to collect all the equipment. "Trip Barnes and Bruno's came to our rescue," she said.
were you driving?
A new mobile radar trailer will make it difficult for drivers in Tisbury to claim, "I didn't realize how fast I was going." The town recently bought a speed-monitoring trailer, which measures and displays an approaching vehicle's speed.
Last July, a group of Franklin Street residents petitioned the Tisbury selectmen to do something about enforcing the 30-miles-per-hour speed limit. In addition to calling for stepped-up police enforcement, the residents suggested the town purchase a speed-monitoring device.
The selectmen initially sought to join in an arrangement with Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, which share one of the radar trailers. However, the logistics proved unworkable, so the selectmen got the go-ahead from the finance and advisory committee in October to purchase one instead, for about $5,000.
With the radar trailer's arrival in early March, Tisbury police officers tested it and familiarized themselves with its setup and operation. Over the last few weeks, they set up the radar trailer in different locations, including in front of the Tisbury School on Pine Tree Road and along routes known as speeding hotspots, such as Franklin Street and Skiff Avenue.
"We're going to try and target some areas people in various parts of the community have expressed concerns about, especially as the weather gets nicer," said Tisbury Police Chief John Cashin. "As people get out more often in their cars, it is important to slow them down and increase their awareness, since there will be a lot more people out walking, as well."
Chief Cashin said the speed-monitoring device is more of a tool for making drivers aware of how fast they are driving than a deterrent against speeding. "It keeps people from going on auto-pilot and makes them alert to their surroundings," he explained.
Black Dog dinner will support
The Black Dog Tavern in Vineyard Haven will sponsor a $50-per-person, four-course dinner on Thursday, April 19, with all proceeds going to support the restaurant team's participation in the Boston Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, May 19-20.
Black Dog servers Meredith Marsh, Louise Norris, and Anatasia Smolnikov have committed to raising $1,800 and to walking the 39-mile, two-day route, according to a press release.
Black Dog vendors will donate food and beverages. Cooks and dishwashers will also donate their time in support of the walk.
For more information, call Martha Luce at 508-693-9223.
Landmarks realtor receives
Realtor Lynn Buder with Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate in Vineyard Haven recently received the Accredited Buyer Representation (ABR) from the Real Estate Buyer's Agent Council, Inc. The designation requires completion of specialized courses in buyer representation.
A news brief published March 22, "Island assessors announce recertification will take place," included an incorrect telephone number for the office of the Aquinnah assessor. That number is 508-645-2306.