News in Brief
Island building inspector charged with assault
Leonard Jason Jr., the building inspector for Edgartown and Chilmark, was charged with assault with a dangerous weapon after an incident that occurred at the Edgartown courthouse last month. He has been arraigned and is awaiting a probable cause hearing.
"I haven't done anything wrong," Mr. Jason said in a telephone conversation yesterday. He declined to comment further.
According to the details provided by Edgartown Police Sgt. Kenneth Johnson, who read from the police report, Mr. Jason walked into the courthouse around 10:30 am on March 22, to meet with a lawyer about a matter related to his position as building inspector. He walked through the metal detector, which is positioned at the front door, with an unopened folding knife in his left hand. The attendant supervising the metal detector spotted the knife and asked Mr. Jason to empty his pockets and go though again, according to the report.
Mr. Jason complied, but kept the knife in his hand while walking through the metal detector a second time. He walked toward the woman and dropped the knife in her hand. She gave him a receipt for the knife and said he could pick it up upon his departure, according to the report.
On his way out of the courthouse, the two had some words, and the woman said she did not recognize Mr. Jason and felt fearful of him, Sergeant Johnson said.
A courthouse official called the Edgartown Police, and Mr. Jason was subsequently summonsed and charged.
West Tisbury selectmen Glenn Hearn (left) and Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter (right) presented outgoing selectman John Early with a commemorative gavel at the weekly selectmen's meeting yesterday. Photo by Ralph Stewart
West Tisbury says "thank you" to John Early
Immediately after the meeting the town hosted a party in the Agricultural Hall in honor of Mr. Early, who decided not to seek an eleventh term this year. In addition to his 30 years as a selectmen, Mr. Early, a builder, has served on several elected and appointed town and Island boards and is a member of the West Tisbury volunteer fire department. Look for more detailed coverage in next week's issue of The Times.
School committee ready
to revisit assessments
Superintendent of schools James Weiss advised the regional high school district school committee at a meeting Monday night to be prepared for the possible rejection of the high school budget by voters at town meetings the next night. And indeed Oak Bluffs voters did just what Mr. Weiss warned they might.
"If one member town does not approve the budget as assessed and certified, it is enough to make the school committee have to start the process all over again," Mr. Weiss said. Taking his advice, the committee scheduled a meeting on April 24 at 7 pm for budget discussions, if necessary.
On Tuesday night, Oak Bluffs voters did reject the high school budget. The school committee now has 30 days, until May 10, in which to submit a revised budget to the Island towns. Then the towns have 45 days from that time to hold a special town meeting to vote on it.
Principal Peg Regan provided an update on the South Coast Conference's decision to kick Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) out of the league. She said she and Mr. Weiss are working to keep league status for one more year for seniors in the class of 2008. She also has been meeting with other principals and athletic directors in another district to explore options.
In other business, three residents who live on Tori Lane in the Deer Run neighborhood near the high school asked the school committee to consider another site for a 100-foot wind turbine recently erected behind the school, because of its visual impact and possible noise issues. The wind turbine is expected to generate a small amount of electricity for the high school and provide educational opportunities for science classes.
Mr. Weiss said he would like to talk with the neighbors and then conduct a site review with the school committee members, to be discussed at the next meeting on May 7.
The regional high school district's accounting of its excess and deficiency fund has been sent to the state department of education for certification, Mr. Weiss said. The up-Island towns' amounts were certified last week, and he expects the rest to come through possibly this week.
Syringes found in courthouse lead to arrest
Edgartown Police arrested a man who drew the attention of Dukes County court officers after he attempted to pass through the courthouse security checkpoint on the morning of April 2, carrying a hypodermic needle police allege is consistent with drug use.
According to information provided by Edgartown Police, Robert J. Muzik, 56, of Oak Bluffs did not appear well and was unsteady when he entered the courthouse about 10 am. A court officer felt what she thought was a syringe in his jacket and observed him drop a syringe filled with a liquid on the floor.
Edgartown Police were called and found Mr. Muzik sitting in a Ford sedan with the engine running behind the courthouse, in what appeared to be an impaired state. Police observed the end of a syringe sticking out of his sweatshirt pocket.
Police arrested Mr. Muzik for possession of a class A substance and operating under the influence of drugs.
According to the police report, during his arraignment, Mr. Muzik became upset and unruly and had to be restrained "at which time he repeatedly spit on court officer Flynn."
Firing of lacrosse coach questioned
During the public discussion session at the meeting of the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School District school committee, Monday, David Morris of Oak Bluffs questioned the firing of Peter Ferrini as lacrosse coach at the high school.
Mr. Morris said that he had heard that the firing was linked to parental complaints, and that the coach was too aggressive and yelled loudly from the sidelines, including at his players. He asked school principal Peg Regan, to tell him and the public the real reason for firing Mr. Ferrini.
Ms. Regan replied that it was difficult to talk about personnel issues, especially in the setting of a televised meeting, but, she said, "It was my decision and mine alone."
Ms. Regan added that she had nothing but respect for Mr. Ferrini and that her decision was based on her own experience with him, not that of a parent. She offered to meet with Mr. Morris to discuss the matter privately at another time.
Asked for comment by The Times, athletic director Mike Joyce observed that if coaches were fired for yelling loudly there would be no coaches left at the school, indeed, no athletic director either. (Mr. Joyce is also the coach of the varsity boys basketball team.) He said that he supports Ms. Regan in her decision.
An advertisement for applications by persons interested to fill the post of "Boys Varsity Lacrosse Coach" appeared in the Times on Nov. 2 and 9. The March 1 edition of The Times reported Mr. Joyce's announcement that John Stabile had been appointed to the position.
Reached by telephone and offered the opportunity to comment, Mr. Ferrini told The Times that he might have something to say at a later date, but did not wish to comment now.
from race at final hour
Chip Mitchell, one of three candidates for a seat on the Oak Bluffs board of health, withdrew from the running Tuesday in order to advance the candidacy of David Caron, a pharmacist at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital.
The contest is now between Mr. Caron and incumbent Linda Marinelli, a former selectman and a well-known political force in town.
Mr. Mitchell said he made his decision after receiving frequent phone calls from people who were worried that he and Mr. Caron would split the opposition votes, and that neither one would have enough support to overcome Mrs. Marinelli's core group of supporters.
"Just because of the sheer volume of calls that I got, I felt it was in the town's best interest to pull out," Mr. Mitchell said. The last day to officially withdraw from the race was March 14, so Mr. Mitchell's name will still appear on today's ballot. He said Mr. Caron's technical training and experience as a pharmacist makes him a good fit for the board.
The board of health has been one of the few hotly contested races this election season. Signs for all three candidates can be spotted on lawns around Oak Bluffs.
The polls will be open from 10 am to 7 pm today at the town library meeting room.
Meet the candidates
at Tisbury forum
A Tisbury candidates' forum at 7 pm on April 12 at the Senior Center on Pine Tree Lane will offer voters the opportunity to hear statements from those running for public office and to ask them questions.
Tisbury's annual town election takes place on April 24. In the town's only contested race, Jeffrey Kristal will challenge long-serving incumbent Tristan Israel for a three-year term as selectman.
Aquinnah selectman's seat is up for grabs in May
The May 9 election in Aquinnah will have one contest, a head-to-head battle for one seat on the three-member board of selectmen.
Landscaper Carlos Montoya and Wampanoag tribal natural resources ranger Spencer Booker will vie for the seat held for the past 12 years by Michael Hebert, who decided not to seek reelection.
The outcome of the contest is expected to figure in the calculus that affects tribal-town relationships and political decision-making in the Island's smallest town, home to the federally recognized Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head. No tribal members now sit on the board of selectmen.
Beating the heat
Island organizers are planning a series of local events on Saturday as part of a "National Day of Climate Action," a grassroots effort organized by a Middlebury College professor to draw attention to the effects of climate change.
The national day is part of a larger effort titled "StepItUp2007." The goal is to push Congress to cut carbon dioxide emissions 80 percent by 2050, according to the campaign's web site www.StepItUp2007.org.
Island events will include a cliff walk at Lucy Vincent Beach where the effects of climate change will be discussed and a demonstration at Five Corners by local students from 9:30 to 11:30 am complete with banners, speakers, and music.
For more information, call Megan Ottens-Sargant at 508-645-2776 or Sharon Strimling Florio at 508-696-6960.
for Mildred T. Nash
A graveside service for Mildred Texeira Nash, who died on March 23, in Washington D.C., will be held on Saturday, April 14, at 1 pm, at the Oak Grove Cemetery, Pacific Avenue, Oak Bluffs. The Rev. Jerry Fritz will officiate. Arrangements are under the care of Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Oak Bluffs. A complete obituary will follow in a later edition of The Times.
pushes lobster skyward
Depending on the size of the tasty crustacean, the price of a lobster resting in one of The Net Result fish market's tanks now costs between $15 and $17 per pound.
Asked if he expected the price to drop anytime soon, Net Result owner Louis Larsen said, "No."
Mr. Larsen said he thought the price might drop slightly following Lent, but that was not the case. The price rose.
The global economy, supply and demand, and fishing industry practices are pushing lobster into the realm of high-priced delicacies.
Mr. Larsen said that there is little inventory and what there is gets shipped overseas to Europe where demand for seafood is high and the Euro is much stronger than the dollar. "Europe is a big player now," he said.
According to a report in the Cape Cod Times, Canadian and Maine wholesale lobster pounds did not stock enough lobsters in holding pens last fall to meet winter holiday demand.
Mr. Larsen said winter weather also limited the amount of lobsters available. The price may drop once local boats begin catching lobster, he added.
Mr. Larsen said that despite the stiff price hike people still want lobster if only for special occasions. "I'd stop carrying it, but people are still buying it," he said.
No summer MCAS retest this year
Citing low turnout and high cost, the department of education (DOE) recently announced a decision to pull the annual summer Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) retest for this year's graduating class.
Since 2003, the state has been offering summer MCAS retests to high school seniors and adults who failed their MCAS test. With an average turnout of 450 students statewide for the summer retest, officials said the summer numbers represent a fraction of participants compared to the thousands of students registered for the November and March retests.
According to the DOE, administering the retests costs $300,000. With 450 students participating, the average cost per student for the summer retest would be $600, compared to $31 for the November and March retests. State education commissioner David Driscoll said he will expand the number of testing locations starting in November 2007.
Traffic down, revenue up
At the end of the first quarter, Steamship Authority traffic was down across the board. Passengers, automobiles, and freight volumes fell compared with figures for the first quarter of 2006. The only bright spot was a 1.3 percent jump in automobile traffic between Nantucket and Hyannis, but a 1.8 percent drop in Vineyard Haven-Woods Hole auto traffic erased the gain.
At the end of March, Vineyard passengers were off one tenth of a percent, autos off 1.6 percent, and trucks (freight) fell 10.5 percent.
Nevertheless, reflecting the boatline's effort to offset falling volumes with rising rates, passenger revenue was up 8.1 percent, auto revenue rose 9.4 percent, and freight revenue jumped 17.2 percent.
The SSA's Vineyard auto traffic billed at regular rates rose during the three-month period by three percent, but excursion rate auto billings dropped 4.3 percent, resulting in the overall decline. Excursion rates are available to Islanders who begin their trips from the Vineyard.
Museum names interim editor of the Intelligencer
Matthew Stackpole, executive director of the Martha's Vineyard Museum (MVM), has announced the appointment of John Walter as interim editor of the Dukes County Intelligencer (DCI). Mr. Walter succeeds Arthur Railton, who, after 28 years as a volunteer editor, has retired from the position following publication of his book The History of Martha's Vineyard.
Mr. Walter and his wife, Jan Pogue, are co-editors and publishers of a book development company, Vineyard Stories. The company develops and produces non-fiction books about the Island, such as "Delish," a cookbook by Philip and Shirley Craig, and "A Painter at Sixty," a retrospective of the work of painter Allen Whiting.
A graduate of Northwestern University, Mr. Walter holds a B.S. in journalism. His long professional career as a journalist and newspaper editor includes having been executive editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and editor and publisher of the Vineyard Gazette.
As interim editor, Mr. Walter is responsible for producing four issues of the Dukes County Intelligencer during 2007. The Dukes County Intelligencer is the MVM's quarterly journal and has been published since 1959. In March, a special issue of the Intelligencer, The Arthur Railton Reader, was released, and Mr. Walter has just completed the spring edition of the DCI.
Edey Foundation awards $94,000 in grants
The Edey Foundation announced the award of 2007 conservation grants totaling $94,140 at the group's annual meeting last month.
The foundation, created in 1988 by the late Maitland Edey, awards grants on an annual basis to non-profit organizations engaged in conservation-related efforts on Martha's Vineyard, according to a press release.
The following organizations received awards: $5,000 to Antioch University for coastal skunk research by Luanne Johnson; $10,000 to The FARM Institute, for educational programs; $1,500 to Friends of Sengekontacket for a dune protection education program; $4,000 to the Massachusetts Audubon Society for the Coastal Water Bird Program and $6,000 to the society's Felix Neck school-based natural history program; $8,500 to the Martha's Vineyard Commission Island Plan; $5,840 to Polly Hill Arboretum, The Nature Conservancy, Sheriff's Meadow Foundation Joint Conservator Project for native plant protection; $1,800 to Polly Hill Arboretum for the final phase of botanical investigation of Noman's Land island; $8,000 to The Trustees of Reservations for phragmites control; $27,000 to the Vineyard Conservation Society for public advocacy; $27,000 to the Vineyard Energy Project's building analysis program; and $2,500 to the Vineyard Open Land Foundation for land management.
For more information call Bea Phear at 508-693-3791.
Housing trust offers four affordable townhouses
The Island Housing Trust (IHT) is accepting applications from qualified applicants to purchase four townhouses in an affordable housing development located at 150 State Road opposite Morrice the Florist in Vineyard Haven.
The site was once the location for a sprawling ranch house owned by the late George Schiffer. His heirs wanted the property to be used for affordable housing and sold the house to IHT at a significant discount.
According to an IHT press release, the one-bedroom townhouse will sell for $145,000 to a qualified homebuyer earning no greater than 80 percent of Dukes County median income. That would place the income limit at $40,150 for a single person, $45,900 for two people and $57,350 for a family of four.
Three two-bedroom townhouses will sell for $208,000, $260,000, and $305,000 respectively to qualified homebuyers earning no greater than 100, 120, and 140 percent of the median income.
The 2007 median income for Dukes County for a family of four is $71,700.
Applicants must attend a Regional Housing Authority homebuyer workshop scheduled for Thursday, April 26. The application deadline is May 7. Call the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority at 508-693-4419 or the Town of Tisbury at 508-696-4200 to receive an application form.
Hospice reports on
a year's good works
At its recent annual meeting, Hospice of Martha's Vineyard reported that 91 percent of the organization's expense budget was directed to patient and family care and only nine percent to administrative categories. All of Hospice's income is from contributions, none from insurance or third party billing. Thirty-four percent of the income came from fundraising events, such as the Summer Soiree and Auction, Memorial Day Road Race, Butterfly Release, Handmade from the Heart for Hospice Christmas Bazaar, and events run by others, such as Kevin and Joanne Ryan's Reflections of Peace Christmas concert, the Harley Riders' contribution, the Second Annual All-Island Tennis Championships, organized by Mas Kimball and Hope Callen, a concert hosted by Vineyard Vines, and others.
Three percent came from grants and 28 percent from general donations and memorial gifts. The shortfall of 35 percent came from income from the endowment. The endowment is subject to a limitation on the funds that can be taken in any year, so to meet Hospice's rising expenses, the endowment must also grow, board members noted. Treasurer Ted Desrosiers delivered the financial report, and he announced that the organization met its budgeted income and expense categories.
Hospice president Sofia Anthony introduced a new social worker, Cheryl Lewis, who has moved to the Island from Pennsylvania to replace Trudy Carter, who is retiring after serving in that job for the last year and a half. Ann Ledden, RN, and Cynthia Barletta, RN, were also acknowledged for passing the certification test as Hospice and palliative care nurses. Marie Laursen has re-joined the nursing team. Twenty-six years ago, she was the first Hospice nurse on the Vineyard and also served on the Hospice board of directors. Her past experience with the organization makes her a most valuable addition to the staff. Kate Desrosiers will serve as administrative assistant to the organization.
Last year, for the first time, Hospice recorded more bereavement visits than nursing visits. More than 40 percent of those who turned to Hospice for help with their grief had not been associated with Hospice at the time of their loss. Hospice plans to continue to offer such help both individually and in groups, including a Caring for the Caregiver support group.
Hospice said good-bye to a longtime Hospice board member, the late John McClintock, and to the late Sally Coker, who had been an active and effective volunteer for many years. Emily Bramhall retired as required after serving two three-year terms. Karen Achille and Janet Willoughby joined the board of directors and Scott Gerstmar, Sloan Hart and Melinda Loberg were elected to their second terms.
At the board meeting following the annual meeting, Ms. Anthony was re-elected president, Nancy Whipple will be vice-president, Mr. Desrosiers will continue to serve as treasurer, Polly Brown will be his understudy, and Ms. Loberg will serve as clerk.
For help, call 508-693-0189. To contribute to the good work of Hospice of Martha's Vineyard, call the same number for credit card gifts or stock transfer information or send donations to Hospice, PO Box 2549, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557.