News in Brief
Oak Bluffs police uproot basement pot farm
Oak Bluffs police and fire personnel arrived at a house on 9 Beacon Avenue at 5 pm New Year's Day, in response to a report of a fire and domestic violence.
When police arrived they found no fire. What they did find, according Lt. Tim Williamson, was a marijuana growing operation in the basement of a house rented by Robert H.C. Seaton 3rd.
The woman who placed the call told Sgt. Michael Marchand she reported a fire because she thought it would attract a quicker response from emergency responders. During an investigation of the domestic violence complaint, police officers saw evidence of a marijuana growing operation sufficient to apply for a search warrant, according to the report.
Police transported the woman to Martha's Vineyard Hospital, for evaluation and treatment in connection with the alleged assault.
In the meantime, police secured the house and applied to Superior Court clerk Joseph Sollitto for a search warrant, which was granted at 6:30 pm. Oak Bluffs police assisted by State Police Sgt. Jeff Stone of the Martha's Vineyard drug task force conducted a search.
Police found a makeshift room with approximately 70 marijuana plants, grow lamps, a propane generator and a ventilation system. Police also found and seized a .22 caliber rifle, ammunition, and $868.
Police arrested Mr. Seaton, 29, on charges of domestic assault and battery; possession of a firearm and ammunition without an FID card; improper storage of a firearm; and cultivation of marijuana.
Mr. Seaton was booked at the Dukes County Jail on New Year's Day and held on $5,000 bail pending arraignment yesterday.
Island police report 2008 off to a quiet start
Police around the Island reported a quiet New Year's Eve.
"We maintained the same watchful eye that we always do," said Tisbury Police Chief John Cashin said. "There were no OUI's [operating under the influence] and nothing holiday-related, except perhaps the occasional noise complaint."
"It was pretty quiet all around," said Edgartown police officer Tom Smith, who said there were no holiday related arrests in Edgartown.
Many Islanders and visitors joined Last Night, First Day events, sponsored by the Tisbury Ambulance Association (TBA), in association with Ernie Boch Jr. and family, the Chamber of Commerce, Outerland, MVOL.com, New England Fast Ferry, and The Martha's Vineyard Times.
Activities held in several locations around Vineyard Haven started at 11:30 am on Dec. 31, culminating in a spectacular fireworks display at 9 pm, produced by American Thunder Fireworks, from Eastville Beach over Vineyard Haven Harbor.
"Ernie Boch Jr. contributed enough to cover our fireworks show, which he has done for a couple of years, and we would not be able to have the fireworks without his contribution," said TBA president Melinda Loberg, who also serves as a Tisbury emergency medical technician.
About 65 guests enjoyed the TBA Fireworks cruise aboard the New England Fast Ferry. "Sam Koohy, the general manager at Stop & Shop in Vineyard Haven, donated all food for fast ferry cruise - he's also a great supporter of ours," said Ms. Loberg. Although she did not have a final count of how many admission buttons were sold, she said she thought the numbers were about the same as the past few years.
Marc Carullo and Sara Mae Bavarro of Sandwich dropped into the Main Street headquarters to purchase buttons, before getting some dinner and catching the free bus to Outerland.
"Our plans backfired, so last minute, we thought we would head over here," said Mr. Carullo.
"I was just researching on the Internet, came across it, thought it would be fun to come over on the boat, do something different," said Ms. Bavarro.
Owner Jani Gardner opened Fourway Inn at 3 pm so visitors could see the giant Christmas tree and play with the model train displays. She thought the crowds were larger than last year.
"At 3:05 pm, they were at the door," said Ms. Gardner.
The guest register showed a roughly equal mix of local and off-Island visitors. People from Holliston, Massachusetts, Newburgh and Niskayuna, New York, Burlington and West Hartford, Connecticut signed in.
Ms. Gardner offered only one New Year's prediction.
"We'll do this again next year."
Several acts at the Katharine Cornell Theatre, especially a belly-dancing show, generated a standing room only crowds, Ms. Loberg said. This year's Crazy Zany Hat Parade on New Year's Day drew the most parents and children she has ever seen, she added.
Edgartown CPA committee welcomes public comment
The Edgartown Community Preservation Act (CPA) Committee will finalize a slate of projects to recommend to voters for funding with CPA money, pending a public meeting at 5 pm on Jan. 10 at Town Hall.
A press release from the committee states that the members are focused on selecting projects that reflect the will of the voters, as noted in a questionnaire and in comments made at previous town meetings.
Edgartown's CPA committee welcomes public comment prior to the final submission of the CPA funding requests in mid-January in a warrant article for the 2008 town meeting.
The applicants, projects, and funding amounts tentatively chosen by the committee for the 2008 warrant article include: Dukes County Regional Housing Authority, $42,000 for rental conversion; Habitat for Humanity, $68,550 for the South 10th Street project; Island Affordable Housing Fund, $50,000 for a Second Mortgage Program; Federated Church, $150,000 to the Steeple Fund for restoration of historic structures; Martha's Vineyard Museum, $20,000 for an historic structures report on Cooke House; Town Selectmen, $20,000 for restoration of the front elevation of Town Hall; Katama Airfield Committee, $200,000 for construction of an historically appropriate replacement hanger; Assessor's Office, $15,000 to rebind and preserve old record books; Town Clerk's Office, $30,000 to rebind and preserve old record books; and Open Space reserve account, $125,000 for future use.
The funding amounts for all proposals are within the allotted funds approved by voters at the 2007 annual town meeting. CPA funds are raised through a three-percent property tax surcharge and matched with state funds. Projects selected for funding with CPA money require no additional money from town residents.
Tisbury CPA committee picks projects
Renovation and repairs at Tisbury's town hall and irrigation for Veterans Park are among projects chosen by Tisbury's Community Preservation Act (CPA) committee to receive fiscal year 2007 CPA funds.
Following hearings in early December to consider spending requests, the committee met at the Tisbury Senior Center on Dec. 17, and voted to allocate $576,249 toward seven projects, which include: Tisbury town hall, $96,750, and the Tashmoo Spring building, $96,750, for renovations and repairs; Sail MV, $32,750, to build four flat-bottomed wooden working skiffs; Veterans Park, $96,750 for irrigation; Helm Home Loan Fund, $96,750; Bridge Commons affordable housing project, $96,750 for extending a water line; and Dukes County Regional Housing Authority Rental Assistance Program, $44,750.
"This was obviously our second year in the process, and I think we learned from some of the issues that we had last year, particularly those of timing and in terms of communication with the public," said CPA committee chairman Robert Wheeler this week. "I think things went very well and that we came up with a good allocation of the funds that were available to us, and they are in projects that I think can be meaningful to the town."
On Monday, Mr. Wheeler submitted the CPA funding requests in an article to be included on Tisbury's annual town meeting warrant.
CPA funds are raised through a three-percent property tax surcharge and matched with state funds.
At least 10 percent of the CPA funds must be spent or reserved for later spending annually for projects relating to three community preservation purposes - historic preservation, open space, and affordable housing. Because Tisbury's committee did not receive any requests for open space projects, Mr. Wheeler said that $84,374 was left in the open space reserve fund, which carries over until it gets spent.
The committee also allocated $14,995, for administrative expenses, which includes a salary for administrative assistant Marni Lipke.
Driver escapes serious injury in State Road crash
West Tisbury police and the Tri-Town ambulance responded to a one-vehicle accident early Wednesday afternoon on State Road near the Agricultural Hall.
West Tisbury police charged the driver Kara Peters, 24, of Edgartown with negligent operation of a motor vehicle and a marked lanes violation.
Skid marks on State Road indicated that the vehicle, traveling toward Tisbury, went off the right side of the road, skidded back across the road, through trees along the west side of the road, and came to rest on its side in the field next to the Agricultural Hall.
Ms. Peters was transported by ambulance to Martha's Vineyard Hospital. A West Tisbury police officer on the scene described her injuries as minor. There were no passengers in the SUV.
Dukes County Health Council seeks volunteers
Last week the Dukes County commissioners announced that they planned to make their annual round of appointments when they meet Jan. 9, in their first meeting of the New Year.
Those appointments include positions on the Dukes County Health Council, a coalition of community members, public officials, health practitioners and health organizations working together to promote community-wide health and wellness.
On the heels of that announcement, leaders of the health council this week announced openings for new council members in its consumer, public official, and health-care practitioner categories.
According to a press release, membership on the health council requires attendance at a monthly meeting and active participation in at least one of its committees, including: primary care, mental health and substance abuse, oral health, elder affairs, the Vineyard Health Care Access Program advisory Board, and the youth task force and rural health scholars advisory committee.
For more information, call Cynthia Mitchell, health council chairman at 508-693-5090 or Noreen Mavro Flanders, acting county manager at 508-696-3840.
The deadline to submit a letter of interest requesting appointment is 4:30 pm on Jan. 8.
County charter commission invites public input
Members of the Dukes County Charter Study Commission will hold a series of public meetings to help them decide which county government option for Dukes County to recommend to Island voters. The meetings will be held on Thursdays, January 10, 17, and 24, at 5 pm in the Oak Bluffs Senior Center.
In November the Commission narrowed the seven possible governance options down to four. Those options will be evaluated in-depth during the January meetings. According to a press release, discussion will focus on the potential functions and financing of county government, how each governance option could improve accountability of county government, and the legislative and political implications of the options.
The Charter Commission is expected to complete its work by May when it will publish a final report containing its recommendations for the future of Dukes County governance.
After nearly a year of study, on November 7 the members of the charter study commission voted overwhelmingly to take several choices available to them off the table. The commission members decided not to recommend: that county government continue as it is without change; that it be abolished; that it be abolished and replaced with a regional council of governments.
The remaining choices include a custom charter that would require legislative approval or one of three charter plans pre-approved by the state: a county manager form (the one we have now), a county executive form in which the voters elect a county executive as well as county commissioners; and the board chairman form in which the commissioners elect one of their own members to serve as the executive.
The DCCSC could choose one of the pre-approved charters and send it to the Secretary of State before August 6, 2008, so that it could appear on the November ballot next year. If approved by the voters, new commissioners could then be elected in the November 2010 election (the next state-wide opportunity) and sworn in Jan. 1, 2011, the earliest that Dukes County could have a new form of government.
No matter which form it selects, the DCCSC may also recommend to the county commissioners a model administrative code. That will also be discussed this month.
Cape Light Compact announces new rates
Cape Light Compact (CLC) and its electricity supplier, ConEdison Solutions, announced last week that electricity prices for Martha's Vineyard and Cape Cod consumers will be 11.100 cents/kilowatt-hour (kWh) and the small commercial rate 11.450 cents/kWh for electricity usage from January through July 2008 meter read dates.
By comparison, the rates in July 2007 through January 2008 were 10.990 cents/kWh for residential and 11.469 cents/kWh for small commercial. The new rates are approximately 14 percent lower than those in effect in January 2006, according to a press release from CLC and ConEdison Solutions.
The CLC, a regional energy services organization made up of all 21 towns in Barnstable and Dukes counties, operates the regional energy efficiency program and works with the combined buying power of the region's 200,000 electric consumers to negotiate lower electricity prices and other public benefits.
In the article "Manners matter at new school of etiquette", published in the Dec. 27 issue, we listed the start-up date for the first winter class incorrectly. It was not Jan. 1. The session runs from Jan.7-Feb. 9.
Also in the same issue, in an article titled, "Christmas retail buoys Vineyard merchants," Bowl and Board owner Garry Metter's name was misspelled.