News in Brief
Harbor View Hotel to be closed for renovations
The Edgartown board of selectmen approved the Harbor View Hotel's request Monday to close all of its operations from Oct. 21 to mid-May 2008 in order to do extensive renovations to its restaurant and kitchen, and interior work on rooms.
"It is far more efficient to shut down for one winter, and not try to keep open," said Sean Murphy, attorney for the hotel owners.
All of the hotel's operations will move for the seven months to the Kelley House, which also is owned by Scout Real Estate Capital Limited Liability Corporation. The Harbor View will make arrangements for groups and events to move to the Kelley House during that time, he said.
Mr. Murphy also asked the selectmen to keep the hotel's year-round liquor license active during the renovations. He said he would have an exact reopening date when he returns to the board in November to renew the liquor license.
The renovations will be the second phase of three planned for the Island's largest hotel property by the new owners. Scout Real Estate bought the two hotels in December from First Winthrop Corporation for $45 million. The hotel did a multi-million renovation to its lobby, porch and cottages in the winter and spring.
A third phase of more extensive renovations to the exterior of both hotels will not require closing either hotel, Mr. Murphy said. He told the selectmen he will apprise them of those plans before making a formal presentation to the zoning board of appeals and the Martha's Vineyard Commission this fall.
The Harbor View, which first opened in June 1891, overlooks the entrance to Edgartown Harbor and Edgartown Light and comprises 10 buildings, 130 rooms, a swimming pool, and a restaurant. The Kelley House, at Water and Dock streets in downtown Edgartown has six buildings, including a restaurant and 60 rooms.
In other business Monday, the selectmen approved a request from Outerland restaurant and nightclub for a year-round liquor license. Brad Stevens, general manager of the facility, said he expects it to be open three to four nights per week during the winter, serving a takeout bar menu from 6 to 8:30 pm.
The owners will return to the selectmen at a later date with a request to close for about six weeks for renovations. Outerland has been operating as a seasonal facility through December, but the selectmen decided in July not to grant extensions for seasonal restaurants' liquor licenses.
Political imposter arrested at Coast Guard station
A 31-year-old Florida man, who appeared at a fund-raiser for Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards Friday night in Chilmark wearing allegedly false credentials, was released from custody Tuesday following his arrest Saturday morning on six charges at the U.S. Coast Guard station in Menemsha.
Michael S. Duga Jr., 31, of Coral Springs, Fla., pleaded not guilty in district court Monday to six charges and was released from the county house of correction Tuesday on $2,500 bond, Major Durwood Araujo said. He is scheduled for a court appearance on Sept. 7.
Charges by Chilmark police against Mr. Duga in connection with the Coast Guard incident included breaking and entering a dwelling in daytime, breaking and entering in daytime to commit a felony, larceny from a building, two counts of trespassing, and possession of marijuana. No charges have been filed in connection with Mr. Duga's appearance at the Edwards fund-raiser.
The bizarre series of events involving Mr. Duga began when he arrived Friday evening at the Edwards fund-raiser at the home of Alex MacDonald in Chilmark in a Chevrolet Suburban, which police said he borrowed from Robert Duffy in Aquinnah, where he was staying. Mr. Duga identified himself at the fund-raiser with a badge and photo identification as chief of staff of former Sen. Max Cleland (D-Ga.), according to the police report.
He then sat down to work at the table where people were buying tickets, and appeared to be working normally, according to Angie Siecker, 31, Mr. Edwards's finance chief of staff, whom police interviewed on Saturday. No one asked police to remove Mr. Duga, according to a report by Chilmark police officer Blaze Montelo, who was working at the event. Mr. Montelo said he observed Mr. Duga leaving the event with Senator Edwards in a car headed for Martha's Vineyard Airport.
Mr. Duga was next sighted at 7:50 am Saturday when the Coast Guard reported him to Chilmark police as a "suspicious person" on the property. Coast Guard officer Jarrett Dube told Chilmark police officer Jeffrey Day that Mr. Duga had entered the boathouse, looked through some paperwork, and made some telephone calls without permission. Coastguardsman Dube's I.D. badge was found later in the Suburban.
When officer Day first approached Mr. Duga, he said he appeared to be "very excited" and intoxicated. A breathalyzer test showed him not to be intoxicated.
Further police checks revealed that Mr. Duga has a criminal history in Florida, including possession and sale of narcotics and carjacking, according to officer Day's report. The checks also found that the Suburban was owned by Philip Pratt of West Tisbury, who said he had loaned the car to Mr. Duffy, who in turn, let Mr. Duga borrow it Friday night.
In a search of the vehicle, police found a small amount of a substance confirmed as marijuana, as well as material from Mr. Edwards's campaign, including badges, stationery, and campaign itineraries.
Mr. Duga told police he entered the Coast Guard barracks to show the chief officer how unsecure it was. He said he had observed 27 security deficiencies at the station.
Coast Guard senior chief Stephen Barr asked police to deliver a no trespass order to Mr. Duga to prevent him from entering the Menemsha Coast Guard property, but he left the local charges to the Chilmark police, according to the police report.
A Secret Service agent and a state police officer also interviewed Mr. Duga, but they pressed no charges, Chilmark police said.
Tisbury police to target speeders as school starts
With school opening on Sept. 6, the Tisbury Police Department plans to step up enforcement against speeding drivers and to improve traffic safety at Tisbury School.
"I'm going to have officers out there, and I am giving fair warning that they will be writing tickets to enforce speeding laws - that will be their sole purpose," Chief John Cashin said in a phone call on Tuesday. "I would ask the good people of Tisbury to leave a few minutes early to avoid speeding and to drive safely."
Chief Cashin said he will assign police officers and extra hires to additional radar surveillance all next week to catch speeders in the area around the school and also along the main thoroughfares where children walk to and from school.
He also plans to set up a new traffic pattern at Tisbury School at the main entrance on Spring Street by using cones to create a single lane along the semi-circular drive where parents drop off and pick up their children. Otherwise, the chief said, some parents pull around stopped vehicles and allow their children to exit or enter their cars in the middle of the travel lane.
"We will mark off areas to prevent cars from doing that," Chief Cashin said. "If it takes longer, I apologize, but our overall goal - getting children back into school and getting them there safely - is worth any inconvenience. We have to supplement the missing judgment of children."
MVC approves proposed new YMCA facility
The YMCA's proposal for a new facility crossed the finish line at the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) meeting on August 23. The commissioners unanimously approved the YMCA's plans to build a 35,000-square-foot building across the street from the regional high school on Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road.
The MVC's land use planning committee (LUPC) met on August 20 for a second session of a post-public hearing review and voted to recommend approval of the project with conditions, in addition to a list of offers made by the YMCA. The LUPC also added a "findings of fact" which included detailed requirements regarding wastewater and the final storm water management plan.
The question of whether the project should utilize a geothermal energy system rather than an oil-fired heating system had proved a sticking point during public hearing sessions. However, during the LUPC's deliberations, the commissioners agreed they would not make a geothermal system a condition for approving the project. Instead, they made it a recommendation that the YMCA reassess its geothermal cost comparison study to ensure that a final decision on an energy system is based on full and accurate information.
In regard to affordable housing, the YMCA offered to contribute $7,100 to the Dukes County Regional Housing Authority for a rental conversion program every year for 10 years, to be used for their employees exclusively in perpetuity. The Y also will provide a minimum of $80,000 a year for subsidized memberships to Island families that qualify or are likely to qualify for affordable housing.
Now that the project has been approved, YMCA leaders are ramping up fund-raising efforts to raise an additional $2 million to reach their goal of $11 million before beginning construction, so no debt is incurred.
"We've probably raised another $500,000 to $700,000 so far - we're tantalizingly close," YMCA executive director John Clese said in a phone call yesterday. He said that concerns that a financial shortfall would push back the startup of construction in November by a year might not be warranted.
"We think we will be able to start building the facility as soon as the money is raised," Mr. Clese said. "If we raise the rest of the funds we need by December and it's a mild winter, we may be able to push forward instead of waiting a whole year," Mr. Clese said.
Early goose season begins with a bang on Tuesday
Members of the Island's resident flock of geese are in for a rude awakening Tuesday morning when the Massachusetts early goose hunting season begins one half hour before dawn.
From Sept. 4 until Tuesday, Sept. 25, licensed hunters are allowed a bag limit of five birds per day. The season is designed to reduce flocks of geese that feed year-round in communities across the state and no longer migrate.
"Data collected from agency goose banding activities this summer indicate the early goose hunting seasons have kept populations stable in the central and western parts of the state," said MassWildlife's waterfowl project leader H. Heusmann. "In the eastern part of the state where there are more restrictions on hunting activities, goose flocks continue to grow."
Instead of moving north and south with the seasons, as they once did, non-migratory geese stay in one area throughout the year, fouling fields, golf courses, water bodies, and school yards, and causing significant agricultural damage. Local shellfish wardens said that geese are partly responsible for the high coliform levels that led to a summer ban on shellfishing in Segekontacket pond.
Goose hunters must have a hunting or sporting license, and state and federal waterfowl stamps.
Oak Bluffs drops fine against garage owner
Oak Bluffs building inspector Jerry Wiener withdrew a violation notice this week against Allan "Buddy" de Bettencourt that would have imposed an $18,300 fine for failure to construct a fence on his property by a July 1 deadline.
Mr. deBettencourt received a letter dated August 24 from Oak Bluffs town counsel Michael A. Goldsmith stating that in view of the steps he had taken to repair and maintain the fence, Mr. Wiener decided not to pursue the matter.
On Monday, Mr. deBettencourt and his attorney, Daniel Larkosh, along with Mr. Goldsmith and Mr. Wiener, attended a hearing before assistant clerk Thomas W. Alfonse of the New Bedford District Court to hear Mr. deBettencourt's appeal. The hearing was continued from July 30, at which time Mr. Wiener notified the court that his attorney would be unable to attend and requested a postponement.
Mr. deBettencourt has operated his vehicle repair business and inspection station in the residential Worcester Avenue neighborhood under a special permit from the town since 1976. Under the special permit's terms, he is required to screen his business from abutting neighbors with a fence.
Mr. deBettencourt said he had replaced all of the original fence by the July 1 deadline, but had not completed one new section by the deadline. Mr. Wiener issued him a citation on July 2 fining him $300 a day retroactive to a previous deadline to replace the fence by May 1, set by the Oak Bluffs selectmen. Mr. deBettencourt received notice from Mr. Wiener about the May 1 deadline on May 15.
Mr. Larkosh argued that the fine is excessive. In an appeal of the fine filed in Edgartown District Court, Mr. deBettencourt claimed that the Oak Bluffs selectmen failed to specify the terms for compliance and did not properly communicate the deadline for completing the fence.
At Monday's hearing, Mr. Larkosh said that Mr. Alfonse explained that he felt he no longer had jurisdiction to rule in the matter, because the town was withdrawing the fines in full. He did, however, admonish Mr. Wiener and the town of Oak Bluffs for failing to provide timely notice for a request for continuance at the last hearing, Mr. Larkosh said.
In a letter he delivered by hand to Mr. deBettencourt this week, Mr. Wiener wrote that while he would not be pursuing monetary fines for the fence, should other violations of Mr. deBettencourt's permit arise, he would be forced to proceed with further zoning enforcement.
Mr. Larkosh said the letter from Mr. Wiener is threatening in tone and implies that his client erected the fence subsequent to the issuance of the fines when that is not the case. He said the fence was erected prior to the issuance of the fines.
Mr. Larkosh said that while he is happy with the result and the removal of the fines, he was not happy that his client had the threat of a hefty fine left hanging over his head for months.
Services scheduled for Derreck M. Coleman
Derreck Matthew Coleman, 24, of Vineyard Haven died Tuesday, at his residence. He was the son of Christine Coleman-Geddis of Vineyard Haven. His funeral service will be held in the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in Oak Bluffs on Wednesday, September 5 at 11 am. It will be officiated by Pastor Marcia Buckley. The burial will follow in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven. Visiting hours are on Tuesday, September 4 from 2 to 4 pm and 7 to 9 pm. Visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information.
Vineyard Tennis Center adds Power Plate technology
The Vineyard Tennis Center, Workout and Spa recently added Power Plate to the facility's equipment lineup. The exercise machines utilize vibration technology to increase circulation and stimulate muscles.
In the August 13 issue of Sports Illustrated, Seattle Seahawk's Pro Bowl quarterback Matt Hasselbeck said he used the machine to recover from a torn shoulder muscle. For more information, call 508-696-8000.
New school aims to improve manners
Heather Rogero of Vineyard Haven recently trained with Maria Everding, president and founder of The Etiquette Institute, an international organization whose mission is to instill confidence, self esteem and respect for others by blending the standards of traditional etiquette with contemporary manners, according to a press release.
She is now enrolling girls aged 5 to 12 for Fall Classy Little Ladies classes, which will be held at the Mansion House. For more information, call 508-693-5903 or go to
Sandpiper Realty adds new associate
Sandpiper Realty Inc. recently announced that Annie Murphy has joined the sales team and will be working directly with Sharon Smith Purdy, Sandpiper's principal broker.
Ms. Murphy is an Island native and brings to her new position an extensive knowledge of Vineyard history and the community.
L'Elegance features designs by South African artist
L'Elegance, a shop specializing in fine furnishings located on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs, will feature the traditional and contemporary designs of world renowned South African artist Esther Mahlangu this weekend.
Ms. Mahlangu works have been featured around the world and incorporate the boldly colored geometric forms based on the works of generations of Ndebele women.
Her adaptations of the distinctive highly colored geometric Ndebele designs have appeared on everything from cars to airplanes. For more information call 508-696-9002.
New general manager for Plum TV
Tina Miller is the new general manager of Plum TV's Vineyard station. Ms. Miller is best known as a restaurateur, chef, and author of Vineyard Harvest, an Island cookbook. She takes over for MacDara Bohan, who will head up the company's newest venture in Miami Beach.
Robert Sawyer participates in national meeting
Robert Sawyer of Dukes Academy recently attended the 2007 Pearson VUE National Job Analysis Committee Meeting for Real Estate in Philadelphia to update and improve the national section of the state real estate licensing examination.
A News in Brief report published on August 23 reported that two men were arrested in connection with a fight outside Sharky's Cantina on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs. The two men were not patrons, and the fight was not connected to the restaurant, police confirmed.
An item published in the News in Brief on Aug. 23 about the Tisbury selectmen's meeting incorrectly identified a police officer who resigned as Special Police Officer Richard Monaco. In fact, it was Police Officer Nicholas Monaco who resigned this month after attending the municipal police academy from September 2006 to February 2007.