News in Brief
Tisbury police investigate downtown break-ins
A batch of break-ins in homes on Vineyard Haven's upper Main Street have Tisbury police puzzled and concerned, police Chief John Cashin said this week.
In addition to the four break-ins, the Tisbury police also are investigating a burglary at the Wrap and Roll Café at 40 Beach Road, in the Shell gas station building.
Reports of the five incidents, which ran the gamut from destruction of property to burglary, all came on the morning of Dec. 28, starting at 7 am, Chief Cashin said. The house break-ins appear to be related, with entry gained by someone kicking in the back door at residences at 71 Main St., 265 Main St., 257 Main St., and on Juniper Lane, according to the chief. None were occupied at the time.
Although nothing was reported missing, Chief Cashin said he will not know for sure until the homeowners who were absent inventory their belongings. "It's kind of strange that someone kicks in a door and doesn't do anything - thankfully, we were lucky that they didn't," he said. "Who knows what the motivation was."
At the Wrap and Roll Café, one of the exterior doors was pried open with some kind of a tool and a safe taken, which contained an unspecified amount of money. The burglary likely involved more than one person, given the weight of the safe, Chief Cashin said.
All of the incidents are still under investigation. In the meantime, Chief Cashin said he has increased patrols in the area. Anyone who has any information that might help his department make an arrest should call him at 508-696-4240. Calls will be kept confidential.
Chief Cashin told the Tisbury selectmen about the break-ins and burglary at a meeting last week. When asked about the delay until Jan. 3 in making the public aware about the incidents or notifying The Times with the news, Chief Cashin said he had been away on vacation.
Edgartown students face off in geography bee
Eleven Edgartown School students will compete in a National Geographic geography bee next Tuesday at 9 am in the school gym. The public is welcome to attend.
The group of contestants includes the winners of classroom competitions in grades four through eight. The champion of Tuesday's school-wide contest will then take a written test and will be notified by the National Geographic Society if he or she is eligible for the state competition. State winners will compete in national geography bee finals in Washington, D. C., on May 20-21. The championship prize is a $25,000 college scholarship.
This will be the 20th annual geography bee held at Edgartown School, according to fifth grade teacher Gary Smith, who has run the competition for three years.
High school committee votes budget a second time
At a special meeting last Thursday night, the regional high school committee reopened discussion on the district's fiscal year 2009 (FY09) budget approved in December and voted 7 to 1 in favor of an amended version reduced by $16,000. The bottom line of the FY09 budget now stands at $12,243,408, a 7.98-percent increase over the FY08 budget, as compared to $12,259,605 and an 8.13-percent increase.
As superintendent of schools James Weiss explained this week, the school committee had to take a second vote on the budget due to a procedural oversight on Dec. 3 when the first vote was taken.
Although the school committee members voted 5 to 4 in favor of certifying the FY09 budget that night, they later realized that Massachusetts law and Department of Education rules require that a regional school district budget must be approved by a two-thirds majority vote.
At the Dec. 3 meeting, school committee members were divided on the issue of funding a facilities manager position Mr. Weiss had proposed adding to his staff. A motion made by committee member John Bacheller of Tisbury to eliminate the facilities manager position was defeated by one vote. The school committee subsequently split along the same lines on the vote to certify the budget, narrowly approving it by 5 to 4.
At last week's school committee meeting, after hearing similar opposition to the facilities manager position, Mr. Weiss offered to drop it from his budget, at a savings of about $16,000. "Clearly that was becoming a focus of negative energy, and it just made sense to get the budget passed and move forward, and that is what we did," he said.
Although committee member Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter made a motion to keep the $16,000 in the FY09 budget to restore funds cut from the music and guidance departments, the school committee, with one member absent, voted 7 to 1 in favor of certifying the reduced budget amount.
The Island towns' assessments have not yet been determined, pending state statutory assessments from the Massachusetts Department of Education later this month.
Dead leatherback turtle found on South Beach
Members of the Oak Bluffs shellfish department and Mass Audubon's Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary removed a dead leatherback turtle from South Beach Monday morning.
The turtle was sent by ferry to Woods Hole where representatives of the Cape Cod Stranding Network picked it up. A necropsy will be completed to determine the cause of death.
According to information found on the Mass Audubon web site (www.massaudubon.org), adult leatherbacks migrate from the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean to feeding grounds near the Arctic Sea where they feed extensively on jellyfish. On their way south in August and September, they often stop in Cape Cod Bay where they occasionally get entangled in lobster pot line.
When the water temperature nears 50 degrees in the fall sea turtles, reptiles whose body temperature is determined by the environment around them, become cold-stunned. Their blood circulation and other body processes slow down, they are unable to swim, and are at the mercy of the wind and currents.
Mass Audubon says it is very important to recover stranded turtles, dead or alive. The research is intended to help solve some of the mysteries surrounding sea turtles and increase the chances of success in rehabilitating stranded turtles for release back into the wild.
Oak Bluffs police chief named association president
Oak Bluffs Police Chief Erik G. Blake was sworn in yesterday as the new President of the Southeastern Massachusetts Chiefs of Police Association.
The association is comprised of police chiefs and police executives from 96 cities and towns in southeastern Massachusetts.
Chief Blake is a graduate of Martha's Vineyard Regional High School and rose through the ranks of the Oak Bluffs police department. He is a former vice president of the police chiefs association.
Chief Blake said he is excited about the opportunity and leadership challenge. "During my tenure as President, I hope to further the efforts of the Association along with other police executives in the region," he said, "working together in our unified effort to make our respective communities safer and more secure places to live and work."
Times changes today
Nelson Sigelman of Tisbury has been named managing editor of The Martha's Vineyard Times, the newspaper's editor announced this week. Mr. Sigelman has been news editor for several years. The managing editor's job is new, and Mr. Sigelman is the first person to occupy the position. Mr. Sigelman joined the paper in 1988 as an advertising salesman, then added the role of fishing columnist, then news reporter, shedding his sales job, and finally news editor, before stepping up to the new job.
The newspaper also announced changes in the production department and a redesign of the ad portions of the newspaper's print edition.
"Nelson is just the man for the job," Times editor Doug Cabral said. "He knows news gathering, and he knows all the other parts of this newspaper's operation. Most important, Nelson knows the Vineyard, its issues, communities, and its people. He's vigorously devoted to newspapers and their important role in communities such as ours, and he likes to find things out and then publish what he and his reporters have found, which is the heart of the matter, after all."
In other personnel shifts, Tara Kenny has been named production manager. She takes over from Susie Safford, the longest serving Times staff member, who, along with photo editor Mae Deary and sports editor Don Lyons, joined the paper between its founding in 1984 and its conversion from broadsheet to tabloid in 1987. Ms. Safford continues as the lead member of the production team, but she will shed responsibility for scheduling, training, and production work flow.
"Susie is, and has been since the paper's founding, a guiding hand in our success," Mr. Cabral said. "In small organizations like this, shifting some of the weekly burden and finding places for promising newer staff members to develop their leadership skills leads to shifts that in the end strengthen and enhance the organization's performance and its ability to meet new challenges. We know we are very fortunate for both the long-time, dedicated support of veteran staff and the promising qualities of newer staff members."
Ms. Kenny, a graphic designer with skills on both the print and the web side of the paper, will manage the production department and its allied web development and production responsibilities.
Readers of the Martha's Vineyard Times print edition will notice some other changes in this morning's paper. The advertising portion of most News, Calendar, and Community pages have been arranged in six columns. Until now, the arrangement followed a five-column format. The change will accommodate a change in the way The Times describes, accounts for, charges, and displays advertisements. Called display advertisements, these commercial messages will now be based on modules, each one/sixtieth of the print page. Advertisers will select the number of modules and their arrangement, as desired. The modular arrangement is designed to enhance the impact of advertisement and give advertisers greater design flexibility.
West Tisbury selectman suggests town business park
At their first meeting of 2008, the West Tisbury selectmen discussed how best to make use of town-owned lots adjacent to land now used for the West Tisbury transfer station off State Road.
The lots are in an area zoned for light industrial use. The town has leased lots to businesses in the past and the expiration of one of those leases precipitated the discussion.
Selectman Glenn Hearn said creating a light industrial park is a good idea. He told his colleagues at the Jan. 2 meeting that an industrial park would provide needed income for the town and help support business. He cited the successful Martha's Vineyard Airport business park as a model.
"I don't think we need to support a lot of businesses, but some will be very interested," Mr. Hearn said. "As you all know, industrial area is very limited... and this would help the community and the town."
Selectman Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter expressed concern over the proximity of the two lots, 9.3 acres and 4.4 acres, and the nearby residential subdivision of Island Farm. Mr. Manter also asked about any existing deed restrictions.
Mr. Hearn said that the discussion is preliminary but that the land is usable under certain conditions for different purposes. A future proposal could find its way onto a town meeting warrant.
In other business, parent Deborah Mayhew asked selectmen for their help and guidance in the effort to prevent cuts to the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School's music department budget. Ms. Mayhew said that the main concern of the group of parents, students, and community members she represents is the reinstatement of a full-time music teacher position, reduced to a part-time position in next year's budget.
Ms. Mayhew proposed that that all six Island towns be asked to fund the other half of the full-time salary, $27,000 in total. "Martha's Vineyard is a very arts oriented community as a whole.... As we bring this to their attention, we receive a huge amount of support from parents of high school music members or not," she said.
The selectmen suggested Ms. Mayhew's group either look into grant opportunities to raise the necessary funds, or look to place an article on the town meeting warrant through a petition article. They explained that all six Island towns would need to support the measure.
Ms. Mayhew stressed that her group did not wish to pit itself against the athletic department or any academic department. "It's hard to find anything to cut in that budget," she said. "We know it's an ongoing battle. If we lose this half-time position, we won't get it back."
A story published in the Jan. 3 edition of The Times, "DMF agrees to examine 'yo-yoing' issue," reported that Mr. Domurat is a member of the Martha's Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby committee. Mr. Domurat was a member of the committee. He resigned in August after a two-year tenure.
The second to last paragraph in a letter to the editor by Scott Terry published on Dec. 20 and referenced in the same story should have read, "If I use a head with no skewer, am I yo-yoing?"
The Times changed head to lead. Mr. Terry was referring to a fish head.