News in Brief
Island Home generator puts crimp in schedule
A five-mile backup from the Bourne Bridge that added to the stress level of travelers headed to Woods Hole and a generator problem on the Island Home ferry that created a lengthy delay combined to make for a hectic Saturday afternoon at the Steamship Authority (SSA) terminal in Woods Hole.
Wayne Lamson, SSA general manager, said a faulty wire in a generator attributed to a factory connection delayed the boat, but no trips were cancelled. The 3:45 boat did not leave Woods Hole until approximately 5:20 pm, he said. The ripple effect led to subsequent delays for later reservation holders, but there were no cancellations.
Mr. Lamson said that the lifts decks were not needed, but that option was available. He said the problem was quickly fixed and overall the new ferry has performed well during its first busy summer season. "The boat has been running really well and we are all pleased with how the Island Home has performed," he said.
Two-day sales tax holiday is this weekend
Sales tax will take a two-day summer vacation on August 11 and 12, under a bill signed into law by Governor Patrick last Thursday.
For those who have been waiting to buy that new air conditioner, gas grill or any other item costing less than $2,500, the two-day tax holiday exempts the Massachusetts five percent sales tax. A customer may purchase multiple items tax-free as long as each item costs $2,500 or less. There is no upper limit on the tax-free amount on each purchase and separate invoices are not required.
However, that does not mean that when an item exceeds $2,500, the sales price is reduced by the threshold amount. For example, a $3,000 item will be taxed on the full amount, not just the amount that exceeds $2,500.
Clothing purchases present another complication, however, as clothing ordinarily is not taxed unless the sales price exceeds $175. However, on the sales tax holiday, if a bride-to-be purchases a wedding dress for $2,550, for example, the amount subject to tax will be $2,375.
Excluded from tax-free shopping are motor vehicles, motorized boats, utility payments, tobacco products, telecommunications services, gas, and meals. However, that still leaves mopeds, motorized bicycles or vehicles incapable of speeds in excess of 12 miles per hour available to purchase without sales tax, as well as canoes, kayaks, rowboats and other type of watercraft with no mechanical propulsion.
For special orders or Internet orders that involve a later shipping date, items that are paid for in full sometime on August 11 or 12 will be exempt from the sales tax.
The law also provides a safeguard for indecisive shoppers, allowing them to purchase an item during the sales tax holiday and later exchange it for the same or a similar item at the same price. No tax is due, even if the exchange takes place after August 12.
This marks the fourth consecutive year for a sales tax holiday, which department of revenue officials estimate cost the state about $16.9 million in lost revenue last year. They expect the total will increase to about $17.5 million this year.
Burglars fail to break into Sovereign Bank safe
Edgartown police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) are investigating a break-in and failed attempt to open a safe inside the Sovereign Bank on Edgartown Road at the Triangle on August 2.
According to police, an alarm call went off for the bank's night deposit box at 11:36 pm Thursday night. Police officers responded as quickly as possible after finishing other calls and arrived at the bank at 12:16 am, said Edgartown police lieutenant Tony Bettencourt. The officers checked the premises and found the night deposit box secure.
Because the alarm in the bank building did not go off, the officers did not enter the bank. However, they did look in the building, and when everything appeared to be fine, they left, Lt. Bettencourt said.
Soon after the officers left, the alarm company received a signal from the vault alarm indicating a power failure.
At 8:16 am Friday, a bank employee called police to report that someone had broken into the bank during the night. Lt. Bettencourt said that someone entered the bank by breaking a window that was screwed shut on the back of the bank building opposite the MSPCA facility next door.
"It is our belief that when officers checked the night deposit box, there was someone inside the building somewhere," Lt. Bettencourt said. "After the police officers left the scene, someone tried to deactivate the alarm itself by pulling the power plug."
The would-be burglar or burglars cut wires to the bank's video surveillance cameras and the vault alarm, and attempted to break into the night deposit box safe on the inside of the building by the drive-through area. The safe looked like someone had banged on it with some kind of tool and been unable to open it, although the handle was broken off, Lt. Bettencourt said. Another larger locked safe appeared to be untouched. Nothing was taken, although a money from a change tray at a teller's station was spilled on the floor.
In accordance with banking procedure, the Sovereign Bank personnel called the FBI and agents from the Lakeville office responded, Lt. Bettencourt said. Partial fingerprints were obtained and the incident remains under investigation.
Services scheduled for Jeanne Jeffers of Aquinnah
Jeananne Jeffers, 70, a fixture in Gay Head and later Aquinnah town hall, died Sunday at her home in Aquinnah. Ms. Jeffers served as assistant assessor and town clerk for 36 years until her retirement this year.
The Jeffers family announced that graveside services would be held at 11 am, Saturday, August 18 in the Gay Head Cemetery in Aquinnah. An obituary will appear in a future edition of The Times.
High school, YMCA wastewater solution approved
The Oak Bluffs wastewater commissioners last week unanimously approved separate plans for the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVHRS) and the YMCA that will allow both organizations to utilize the town wastewater treatment plant.
Wastewater facilities manager Joe Alosso said the wastewater commissioners approved the high school plan and approved a request from the YMCA to tie its proposed new facility, to be built across the street, into the high school's system.
Mr. Alosso said the high school plans to install a pump station to send wastewater for treatment at the Oak Bluffs facility. Another pump station will be installed at the treatment facility to pump up to 20,000 gallons per day of treated wastewater back to the high school's leaching field, located under the track.
"The high school has to do something," Mr. Alosso said. "Some of the public buildings on the property, such as the Rebecca Amos Institute and MVTV, don't have bathrooms. There also has been talk about putting the superintendent's office up there, and that can't happen unless they do something about wastewater."
The MVRHS school committee and land use subcommittee agreed with superintendent of schools James Weiss's recommendation to go with a system to pump wastewater to the Oak Bluffs facility rather than build a small package treatment plant on the high school grounds, which would require a full-time operator.
The high school's decision to forego a treatment plant will come as a relief to nearby homeowners who were concerned about having one close to their neighborhoods, Mr. Alosso said.
"If we get the high school to secure funding now, we would bid the project out and hope to have it operational prior to the school year starting in September 2008," Mr. Alosso said. The timing would work well for the YMCA, he added, which hopes to open its new facility in early 2009. The project currently is under review by the Martha's Vineyard Commission.
The Y has agreed to pay a minimum of $200,000 and a maximum of $300,000 towards the cost of construction and operation of the new wastewater system.
Four arrested for burglary of Edgartown house
Three men and one woman were arrested August 2 by Edgartown police on charges of receiving stolen property in connection with a burglary at a home on Cow Bay Road in Edgartown.
A caretaker discovered the house had been broken into and reported it to the police on July 31, according to Edgartown police detective Jonathan Searle. Several items totaling about $24,000 were missing.
Detective Searle said the police investigation led to the issuance of two search warrants, one for an apartment on Main Street in Tisbury and another for a rental vehicle. Some but not all of the stolen property was recovered as a result of both searches.
Police arrested David Cabral, 25, of New Bedford, Lance Gomes, 22, of North Dartmouth, and Kenneth Hurd IV, 20, and Siobhan Francis,19, of West Tisbury on charges of receiving stolen property greater than $250. The four were arraigned in Edgartown district court on Monday.
Additionally, police charged Mr. Cabral with trafficking cocaine, trafficking heroin, and possession of marijuana.
Detective Searle said the West Tisbury police and Tisbury police, and the Massachusetts State police, who handled the narcotics violations, assisted in the investigation. More charges may be filed depending on the results of the ongoing investigation, Detective Searle said.
Tisbury may reimburse
for stolen bike
With selectman Denys Wortman absent, Tisbury selectmen Tom Pachico and Tristan Israel moved quickly through the agenda of the Tuesday selectmen's meeting.
One issue that did generate a lively exchange between the two town leaders was the topic of commercial parking fees for the Park and Ride lot. Currently the town charges commercial vehicles over 20 feet in length $10 per day to park. Mr. Israel proposed that the selectmen charge companies that park multiple vehicles in the lot, irrespective of length.
Mr. Israel said multiple commercial cars under 20 feet operated by one company should also be charged, because parking multiple cars amounted to using town property for private business purposes.
Mr. Pachico said he also found the practice troubling, but he said he was also concerned with how it might be enforced. "Come up with a plan. If you don't, it's a two-hour debate," he said.
After some back and forth, the two Selectmen agreed to discuss the issue at an upcoming meeting.
Town administrator John Bugbee raised another parking issue on a smaller scale. He said the town's preparation for the Tisbury Street Fair last month included clearing Main Street. No parking signs were posted so that the street would be clear of parked vehicles for the evening.
Bicycles were not mentioned. Police were asked to cut a lock connecting a bike to a public bike rack on Main St. After the fair the police returned the bike and rack to the street minus the lock, he said.
When the bike's owner came to retrieve her bike, it was gone. She reported the loss the police.
At the meeting, Tisbury Police Chief John Cashin described the woman as "very genuine and very nice." She told police the bike was a gift from her father.
Mr. Cashin said that no sign was posted to notify people to remove their bikes from Main Street. He said the woman had not yet notified police how much the bike was worth, but he thought it was expensive.
The selectman will wait for Chief Cashin's report on the incident and see if insurance will cover the cost of the bike, said Mr. Bugbee.
Sewage holds pond association's interest
Sewage and how to get rid of it is one of those unpleasant realities of home ownership that people do not readily talk about. At the Lagoon Pond Association's (LPA) annual meeting on July 14, however, guest speaker George Heufelder made the unsavory topic the focus of an informative and humorous presentation.
Mr. Heufelder is director of the Barnstable county department of health and environment and oversees the Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Testing Center operated at Otis Air National Guard Base in Bourne. At the LPA meeting, Mr. Heufelder provided an overview of how on-site septic systems work and explained the differences among new alternative systems designed to remove nitrogen, including the systems' efficiency and cost.
Nitrogen is a nutrient byproduct of wastewater that enters Lagoon Pond through groundwater and promotes algae growth. Too much algae depletes the oxygen supply in the water, killing off fish and shellfish Mr. Heufelder said.
Contrary to what many people believe, Title 5 and non-Title 5 systems perform about the same, according to Mr. Heufelder. Each removes only about 17 to 20 percent of the nitrogen. However, he said, the "rigor and rigidity" of state regulations that require upgrades to Title 5 systems do not allow home owners to add on denitrification components to existing non-Title 5 systems, even though it would make the old systems as effective as Title 5 systems.
Breaking down nitrogen in wastewater primarily involves bacteria, he explained. In comparing the effectiveness of denitrifying systems, Mr. Heufelder cautioned that many factors must be considered. The cost-savings in purchasing one system are outweighed by the energy costs to run it, for example.
Results of the septic test center's results may be found on the web site www.buzzardsbay.org, Mr. Heufelder said.
The LPA is a non-profit organization made up of about 146 families and individuals who live in Oak Bluffs and Tisbury neighborhoods surrounding Lagoon Pond, whose goal is to protect the pond's water quality. Since it began in 1988, the LPA has been concerned about monitoring the health of Lagoon Pond. To that end, the LPA has funded an ongoing program for water-quality testing and has been instrumental in establishing pier guidelines to protect shellfish and eelgrass habitats and limit construction of private docks.
In other business at the annual meeting, the LPA elected John Wilbur of Tisbury as president, Martha Rich of Oak Bluffs as vice president, Peter Hefler of Tisbury as vice president, Don Hill, treasurer, and Betsy Cabana, secretary. The LPA's annual summer social takes place Saturday from 3-6 pm at the home of Denys and Marilyn Wortman on Hines Point.
Wedding ring waits
for owner to claim it
A wedding ring lost two years ago remains safe and secure in the vault of the Bank of Martha's Vineyard in Vineyard Haven. But employees would like to see it reclaimed.
A bank teller found the ring in a coin machine and put it away for safekeeping. Recently another employee placed a notice in the lost and found section of the newspaper in an effort to return it to its owner.
The thin gold band has an engraving on the inside that appears to read: "MMM to FBB 9-6-58." However, the second set of initials is worn and difficult to read.
For more information, call Sarah Omer at 508-696-4406.
A story in the August 2 issue of The Times, "Garage owner fights $18,300 fence fine," reported that Oak Bluffs building inspector Jerry Wiener took his car to Mr. deBettencourt's garage for a new inspection sticker on the morning of July 2. The vehicle referenced is owned by the town of Oak Bluffs.
A story in the August 2 issue of The Times, "Town grounds Chappy heliport developer," incorrectly reported that Janet Hathaway, chairman of the Edgartown resident homesite committee, lives on Chappaquiddick.