County manager vote delayed
County commissioners delayed a decision to fill the vacant county manager position at their Nov. 20 meeting. The commissioners briefly discussed whether they should offer a higher salary and re-open the search.
The commissioners called in three candidates for interviews earlier this month. They are Thomas Bernardo of Chatham, Troy Clarkson of Falmouth, and Russell Smith of Aquinnah.
After hearing accounts of reference interviews and background searches done by the commissioners, only two, chairman Paul Strauss of Oak Bluffs and Roger Wey of Oak Bluffs, said they were ready to vote for a candidate.
The other four commissioners attending - John Alley of West Tisbury, Carlene Gatting of Edgartown, vice-chairman Leslie Leland of West Tisbury, and Tristan Israel of Tisbury - voted to delay the decision in order to continue gathering information about the candidates. Commissioner Leonard Jason Jr. of Chilmark, who previously was critical of the search process, did not attend.
"We're under no gun," said Mr. Israel. "Obviously we need someone the sooner the better, but we're not under the gun."
"We don't have to be tied to these three," said Ms. Gatting. "I personally tonight could eliminate two of the individuals, not because they aren't very qualified on paper, but because I just don't think they are a fit for this Island. I'm also reminded that we had two other very qualified candidates in that list of 12 that we wanted to interview, but that had to drop out of the process because the money offered simply wasn't sufficient to allow them to move here. I might ask us to visit at the next meeting" she added, "if we need to broaden the spectrum of candidates a bit, to consider adding more money onto that position. I know that's a controversial topic, but I feel pretty strongly that to get a qualified person, we may need to do that."
The commissioners scheduled a meeting for Dec. 5, at 5 pm, where they could vote to hire a county manager, postpone the vote again, or re-open the search.
Deon's restaurant damaged by fire
West Tisbury firemen extinguished a blaze at Deon's restaurant in North Tisbury Sunday night, but not before significant fire and smoke damage had been done to the roadside structure.
Fire Chief Manny Estrella said firefighters responded to a 9:50 pm alarm. The restaurant had served meals that evening and closed up at 8:45, the chief said. The fire started in a shed to the left of the building, when looked at from the road.
It was a part of the building familiar to many Islanders, because for years it was a walk-up ice cream stand. The shed was badly damage, the nearby kitchen suffered smoke and heat damage, and the restaurant dining room was damaged by smoke, according to the chief. Chief Estrella's crew subdued the blaze and left at midnight.
One firefighter was injured, breaking through a window. He required 16 stitches to close the resulting cut.
Massachusetts State Police, sent from the office of the state fire marshal, were at the scene earlier this week, investigating the cause of the fire. They have not yet determined how the blaze began.
Tisbury FinCom approves police department positions
Tisbury's Finance and Advisory Committee (FinCom) recently approved funding for two promotions within the police department, according to Chief John Cashin.
The funding for a lieutenant's and a sergeant's position through June 30, 2008, amounts to about $18,000, according to FinCom chairman Muriel Mill. Chief Cashin brought the request to the FinCom at the recommendation of the selectmen, represented at the meeting by Selectman Tristan Israel.
Mr. Israel said the lieutenant's position is not a new one, but rather one that has gone unfilled since former Police Chief Theodore Saulnier was promoted from the lieutenant's position to chief. The Tisbury police department currently is down by two officers.
"Maybe down the road there may be a discussion about increasing the department, but that's not on table right now," Mr. Israel said. "We have to take a look at the whole financial picture, which we're doing now, and balance that with what our needs are."
He added that the sergeant and lieutenant positions are intended to offer some incentive to Tisbury police officers that have remained with the department for a long time. Chief Cashin said he intends to fill the positions from within the department.
Adding a sergeant's position, with primarily supervisory duties, will increase the number of sergeants to three, Chief Cashin said. The lieutenant will act as second in command and assume the Chief's duties when he is off-Island or unavailable. The lieutenant also will help with paperwork, inspectorial services, and community policing, Chief Cashin said.
Islander in service
After The Times published a listing of Islanders currently on active duty in military service last month, Andrew and Peyton Berry of Vineyard Haven e-mailed an update about their son, Lieutenant Junior Grade Mason Berry, U.S. Navy.
Lieutenant Berry, a 2004 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, flies the MH-60S Knighthawk, a multi-mission Navy helicopter used in search and rescue, ship-to-ship vertical replenishment, personnel transfers, and special warfare applications.
He is currently deployed with the HSC-25, Detachment 1, on board the USNS Shasta, an ammunition ship that supports the Kitty Hawk aircraft carrier battle group in the Pacific, delivering ordnance to and from the carrier in support of the strike aircraft.
Lieutenant Berry participated in Operation Talisman Saber, a month-long military exercise involving the U.S. and Australian navies. His squadron also conducts medical evacuations from Iraq to Kuwait, where Lieutenant Berry may be deployed next spring. His parents said they are hoping he will be home for a visit after the holidays and before his next redeployment.
Camp-Meeting Association names general manager
The Martha's Vineyard Camp-Meeting Association has announced the appointment of Robert E. Clermont as the new general manager/executive director for the association. The Campground and Tabernacle are National Historic Landmarks. William McConnell, general manager for the past six years, announced his retirement in early September, effective Nov. 30.
According to a press statement from Craig Lowe of the Camp-Meeting Association, Mr. Clermont brings 35 years of business management and community involvement experience to the association. He and his family have been residents of Edgartown for the past 19 years. During this time, Mr. Clermont served first as the general manager, then owner/president of Adventure Rentals Inc.
Mr. Clermont is a past board member of the Martha's Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, charter member and past president of the Rotary Club of Martha's Vineyard, member of the Joint Transportation Committee of the Martha's Vineyard Commission, and past board member of the Tisbury Business Association.
"While we are excited about this announcement," Mr. Lowe wrote, "we would be remiss in not thanking William McConnell for providing six years of excellent leadership for the association."
Police arrest pair in drug deal
Members of the Oak Bluffs police, State Police, and the Drug Task Force watched Tuesday at 3 pm, as Jeffrey Alley, 54, and Michael Dunn, 38, both of Oak Bluffs, did what police believe was drug business in town. Police arrested both men and jailed them. Bail was set at $1,000, and arraignment was yesterday.
The arrests concluded a two-month investigation, prompted by complaints from community members describing what they suspected was drug activity.
Mr. Alley, a "subsequent offender," according to police, was charge with distribution of a Class B substance, Percocet, and conspiracy to violate drug laws. Police also seized $868 from Mr. Alley.
Mr. Dunn was charged with possession of a Class B substance and conspiracy to violate drug laws
"Virtual" retirement community seeks contractors
A new service aimed at helping older Vineyard residents remain in their homes is in the final planning stages. It will provide a "virtual" community of support for people who need help with transportation or household services.
Called Vineyard Village at Home, the telephone service will refer older residents to available services on the Island, and if those services are not available, will help find local contractors who provide quality services at a reasonable cost.
Organizers are calling for contractors who can provide home maintenance and repairs, housekeeping and cleaning, lawn maintenance, gardening, snow removal, transportation, meal preparation and delivery, and educational seminars.
Those who want to provide services, in cooperation with Vineyard Village and other existing medical and social services, may contact Polly Brown at 508-693-3245, or write to her at P.O. Box 1356, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.
Ms. Brown, a well-known community activist, heads Vineyard Village, Inc., the non-profit formed to operate the new service.
Once contractors are organized and in place, the organization will be launched and begin providing services.
In addition to Ms. Brown, the directors include Michael Loberg, a year-round Vineyard Haven resident, and three others with expertise in retirement communities. David Roush is a seasonal resident of Oak Bluffs who is the principal owner of a company that manages retirement home and nursing homes. Edward Hingham, a seasonal resident of Chilmark, is on the board of Beacon Hill Village, the organization that served as a model for Vineyard Village at Home. John Schneider, a long-time Island visitor, is a retired banker who serves on the board of retirement community in Cleveland.
The group's mission is to provide services, and eventually, a continuing care retirement community on the Vineyard, so that residents do not have to move off the Island for needed services.
VOLF holds annual meeting
The Vineyard Open Land Foundation (VOLF) held the annual meeting of its board of overseers on Nov. 24, followed by the annual meeting of the board of trustees at the Mary P. Wakeman Conservation Center auditorium.
The board reviewed progress VOLF has made to restore its cranberry bog at Cranberry Acres to organic production, including a walking tour of the bog. According to a press statement in advance of the event, which was open to the public, VOLF is currently focusing on restoring its cranberry bog as an educational demonstration of organic cranberry agriculture and wetlands protection. VOLF also plans to restore the existing cranberry processing barn to a working cranberry museum with staff offices. VOLF is continuing its campaign to raise funds for the bog and building restoration.
For 37 years, the Vineyard Open Land Foundation's mission, according to the statement, has been "to preserve the natural beauty and rural character of Martha's Vineyard by acquiring, planning and managing strategic parcels of land. VOLF is unique among the Island's conservation organizations in that it accomplishes its mission by creating and implementing sensitive land plans which preserve the Island's natural resources while providing for a limited amount of human usage.
"In addition to the establishment of 16 conservation communities, VOLF's professional involvement has resulted in the preservation of over 2,019 acres of prime agricultural lands, wildlife habitat of all sorts, archaeological sites, extensive frontage along ocean and ponds, public views along highways, and public recreational lands including beaches and trails. VOLF also protects rare species."
The statement adds that VOLF planning has also "incorporated the need for affordable home sites. VOLF pioneered the 'Island resident lot program' whereby beIow market, reasonably priced homesites were made available to Island residents."
VOLF is IRS qualified, accepts gifts of land and conservation restrictions, and currently owns, manages, and holds conservation restrictions on 343 acres of land across the Island.
Vineyard students receive $1,500 "shade" grant
This group of former West Tisbury School students, who are now at the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, was chosen from among more than 500 entries to receive a $1,500 grant from the Melanoma Foundation of New England. As part of Kari Cioffi's West Tisbury eighth grade math class last year, they made a television spot using a math equation to emphasize the danger of overexposure from the sun, with Island beaches as a backdrop. The grant will be used to create shade at the West Tisbury School. Pictured from left to right are teacher Kari Cioffi, students John Philpott, Mattie Pennington, Griffin Gardner, Sidra Dumont, Genevieve Hammond, Megan Dreyer, Jessica Kelleher, Sarah Johnson, Jesse Fogg, Crystal Miske, Molly Fischer, Niki Alexander, Greggory Aquino, and West Tisbury School principal Michael Halt.
Wind deductible hike affects homeowners
Vineyard homeowners face a significant change in Fair Plan insurance requirements for wind or hail damage deductibles. The Fair Plan, a state-operated insurer that is the only insurance option for many Island homeowners, has received approval to raise the minimum deductible for wind or hail damage from two to five percent of the policy face value.
"That's adding insult to injury," said state Rep. Eric Turkington. "You can detect a pattern here. The insurance companies, and the Fair Plan is no exception, are all about off-loading risk. You pay them more and get less."
The change, which is scheduled to take effect on Dec. 15, would mean a homeowner insuring a $500,000 property would be responsible for the first $25,000 in damage caused by wind or hail. There will be no corresponding reduction in the insurance premium, unless the homeowner makes substantial structural fortifications to mitigate wind damage.
Rep. Turkington, who, along with state Sen. Robert O'Leary, has met regularly with state insurance commissioner Nonnie Burnes, said he was very annoyed about the way the increased minimum deductible was approved and announced. "We've been meeting with the insurance commissioner once or twice a week," he said. "This never came up."
According to the insurance commissioner's most recent report on the Massachusetts insurance market, hail and wind claims increased significantly in 2006, accounting for 21 percent of all claims. In 2005, wind and hail damage accounted for 14 percent of all claims.
Though no named hurricanes or tropical storms hit the region directly, the report says three "relatively minor catastrophic events" struck Massachusetts in 2006, while two "catastrophic events" struck in 2005.
Both Mr. Turkington and Mr. O'Leary sit on the Special Commission on Homeowners Insurance, which is scheduled to deliver a twice-postponed report on Nov. 30, recommending reform of property insurance regulations.
The insurance commissioner is now reviewing a request from the Fair Plan to increase the cost of insuring Cape and Island property by 25 percent. Ms. Burnes's decision is due sometime next year.
The Fair Plan increased premiums by 25 percent last year. That increase is being appealed by the state attorney general, and is now under review by the state's highest court.
Cape Light Compact program receives award
Cape Light Compact's (CLC) "Solarize Our Schools" project has been awarded the Interstate Renewable Energy Council's Annual Innovation Award for 2007.
CLC, in partnership with the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative (MTC), placed a 2 kilowatt-hour photovoltaic system on schools in each town on the Cape and Martha's Vineyard, with the exception of West Tisbury and Aquinnah, whose solar electric systems were placed on the town library and fire station, respectively.
CLC and MTC accomplished the "Solarize Our Schools" project by offering a bonus grant fund to pay for solar panels in the hometown schools of residential customers who enrolled in a green program, which provides electricity from renewable energy sources, from January to April 2006.
CLC is a regional energy services organization made up of all 21 towns of Barnstable and Dukes counties.
Patricia A. Mathews
Patricia A. Mathews of Vineyard Haven and East Providence, R.I., died on Nov. 27 at the Martha's Vineyard Hospital. Her funeral service is pending. Please call Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home in Oak Bluffs at 508-693-1495, or visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com for updated information.
Tea for two or more
The English Butler Tearoom at 29 Winter Street in Edgartown now offers more tea and sympathy than usual, expanding its business hours to 12 to 5 pm, seven days a week. Tea-for-one starts at $6.50 on the new winter menu.
Owner Alison David said this will be the first year the store will remain open through New Year's Day, offering special events such as a Boston tea party on December 16. Ms. David recommends making reservations ahead. "We're open to suit for adult and children's parties, as well," she added.
The English Butler also offers a "Scandal Party" for four, delivering everything needed for a special evening at home including a foot-soak, tea, and chocolate. Call 508-627-1013 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to make reservations for tea time or special events.
Dog sled race champ joins team Black Dog
The Black Dog has added Lance Mackey, 2007 Iditarod champion, and his team of dogs from the Comeback Kennel to represent The Black Dog as part of its team of accomplished outdoor athletes.
Black Dog chief executive officer Rob Douglas recruited Mr. Mackey as part of an effort designed to appeal to a wide range of sports-minded customers, said a press release. Mr. Douglas said that Mr. Mackey, the three-time consecutive winner of the Yukon Quest, as well as the 2007 Iditarod champ, was the ideal athlete to wear heavyweight Black Dog Gear, and introduce the brand to sled dog racing fans in Alaska.
Lynn Buder earns professional distinction
Lynn Buder of Coldwell Banker Landmarks Real Estate in Vineyard Haven recently became a graduate of the Realtor Institute. The distinction represents 90 hours of advanced, in-class real estate training.
The Realtor Institute is a program of the Massachusetts Association of Realtors and meets the rigid standards set for such programs set by the National Association of Realtors, whose goal is to serve their clients and customers better through education and training in real estate.
Promotions at Bank of Martha's Vineyard
Bank of Martha's Vineyard, a division of Sovereign Bank, has named Kim Klaren as Chilmark Community Banking manager and Jim Irwin as Edgartown Four Corners Community Banking manager.
Ms. Klaren began her career in 1985 with the Martha's Vineyard National Bank, according to a Sovereign Bank press statement. During her 22 years, Kim has worked at all five branch locations and in the operations department. Kim has been at the Chilmark branch for 14 years where she has provided continuity and guidance to customers through two bank mergers and various leadership changes. Since September of 2006, Kim has been responsible for the day-to-day supervision of the branch. Kim has also been instrumental in overseeing the art exhibitions at the branch, which have become a popular Chilmark tradition.
Kim lives in West Tisbury with her husband, Jonathan, and her six-year-old daughter, Kelly, as well as her 10 year old chocolate Lab, Bruin.
Jim Irwin has been with the bank for more than three and a half years. During this time, Jim has worked as a teller, personal banking representative and acting head teller at the Vineyard Haven Drive Up. Jim was promoted to the Community Banking assistant manager at Four Corners in September of 2006.
Jim and his wife of 27 years, Lynn, have lived on the Island since 1993, in West Tisbury. Jim previously worked at the Vineyard Gazette, Seasons Restaurant, and the Black Dog.
Comcast names Southeast VP ...
Comcast, the Island's provider of cable, entertainment, and communications products and services, has named Dan Sullivan the new vice president of business services for Southeastern Massachusetts. In this newly created role, Mr. Sullivan will focus on expanding the company's business-class internet and TV services and deploying business-class digital voice, Comcast's innovative new digital telephone service for small and medium-sized businesses, according to a press release.
"I'm very excited about this opportunity to help local companies secure reliable high-speed Internet, voice, and video services from a provider they already know and trust," said Mr. Sullivan.
For more information about Comcast business class products and services, please visit www. comcast.com/business or contact 1-800-316-1619.
... and adds to high definition lineup
Comcast, the Vineyard's cable provider, announced last week that it has launched The History Channel, Discovery Channel and USA Network in High-Definition (HD), adding three more popular cable channels to its already extensive HD lineup.
Comcast now offers 31 HD channels and services, according to a press release. Comcast expects to add more HD networks and boost the amount of HD on demand content by the end of the year.
For more information about Comcast's HDTV service, customers can call 1-800-COMCAST or visit www.comcast.com.
Hutker firm adds new associates
Hutker Architects of Martha's Vineyard and Falmouth has announced the promotion of Gregory Ehrman and Mathew Schiffer to associate. Mr. Ehrman and Mr. Schiffer are being recognized for their exemplary design skills and outstanding project management, said a press release. Their contributions have kept Hutker Architects in the forefront of residential architecture on Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard and throughout New England.
Mr. Ehrman earned a Master in Architecture from Northeastern University and has been a project manager at Hutker Architects for seven years.
Mr. Schiffer is a registered architect and has been a project manager on Hutker Architects design team for the past five years.
For more about Hutker Architects visit www.hutkerarchitects.com
Local physician attends clinical symposium
Dr. Michelle McCrumb recently attended a five-day clinical symposium on advances in skin and wound care. Dr. McCrumb is a physician and surgeon at Heel & Sole Podiatry in Vineyard Haven.
The seminar covered new research in diabetes, vascular disease, biochemistry, and laboratory testing. Also covered were the latest advances in wound care, including stem cell research, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and new bandaging materials.
In last week's Calendar section story about the Gatchell family light display, we mistakenly reported that the total amount of money raised last year for the Island Food Pantry was $7,800. In fact, the correct amount was $780.