News in Brief
State unveils 2-1-1 for non-emergencies
The Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency (MEMA) and the Council of Massachusetts United Ways (COMUW) have agreed to utilize Mass2-1-1 as the Commonwealth's primary telephone information call center during times of emergency when immediate police or medical attention are not required. The easy-to-remember 2-1-1 telephone number will be utilized as a resource for human service and public safety/disaster response and planning agencies, according to a press release. It was designed, in part, to reduce the number of non-emergency calls made to 9-1-1.
Currently Mass2-1-1 operates its call center Monday through Friday from 8 am to 8 pm with the ability to activate 24-7 during times of emergency in the Commonwealth. More information is available at www.mass211.org.
Send Edgartown's eighth grade to Washington, D.C.
With your generous help, Edgartown School eighth graders will make an educational visit to Washington D.C. this year. The cost of the trip is $33,000, and to defray that cost eighth graders, their parents, and the school staff have made plans for a 2nd Annual Mid-Winter Silent and Live Auction.
The gala evening is tomorrow, Feb.1, at the Oyster Bar & Grill, on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs, from 6:30 to 9 pm. The value of all items donated for the auction is tax deductible, and organizers will provide confirmation of the donation.
Fire destroys vehicle in Vineyard Haven
Tisbury police and firefighters responded to a car fire late Saturday night at the intersection of Franklin and Spring Streets.
According to the police report, the first officer on the scene, shortly after 11 pm, saw flames coming out of the engine compartment. He determined there was no one inside the 1996 Chevrolet Cavalier.
The fire spread quickly from the engine to the passenger compartment, with flames rising about 30 feet above the vehicle, before firefighters were able to extinguish it.
After firefighters put the fire out, police say the owner of the vehicle returned to the scene. He was identified as 29-year old Rodrigo Dos-Santos of 20 Wick Way in Vineyard Haven.
Mr. Dos Santos told police that his car started to smoke, so he shut it off and got out. He said he tried to push the vehicle out of the intersection, then ran to the police station for help.
Emergency medical technicians at the scene checked Mr. Dos-Santos for smoke inhalation. He refused further treatment, and then left on foot.
Former police chief Peter Williamson laid to rest
A fresh blanket of snow covered the ground outside Our Lady Star of the Sea Church in Oak Bluffs as a line of police officers in dress uniform stand at attention waiting for the hearse carrying the body of former Oak Bluffs police chief Peter Williamson to arrive.
Family and friends crowded into the church Monday to remember the widely respected former police officer. Mr. Williamson joined the Oak Bluffs police department as a summer officer in 1961. He was appointed chief in1966 and retired in 1993. An obituary prepared by the family will be published in a later edition of The Times.
High school principal finalists announced
Superintendent of schools James Weiss released the names of four finalists for the principal's job at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School (MVRHS) yesterday. The announcement followed interviews of five semi-finalists last week.
A high school principal search committee recommended Arthur C. Arpin, C. Stephen Collins, Eileen M. Coppola, and Stephen Nixon.
Mr. Nixon, the only local candidate, has served as the regional high school's assistant principal since 2004 and on the faculty since 1998. This week, 65 of the high school's faculty and staff members indicated their support for Mr. Nixon as their next principal in a letter to the editor to The Times (Page 15).
Mr. Arpin serves as principal of the Connecticut Baccalaureate Academy in East Hartford, Conn. Mr. Collins, the former principal of Quaboag Middle High School in Warren, Mass., is currently unemployed. Ms. Coppola works as the Associate Director for Research at the Center for Education at Rice University in Houston, Tex.
Mr. Weiss said that he planned to present the principal candidates' names to the All-Island School Committee at a meeting last night. At the Martha's Vineyard Regional High School school committee's meeting next Monday night, Mr. Weiss said they will formalize dates for school visits by the principal candidates and their interviews before the school committee.
Martha's Vineyard Regional High School principal Margaret (Peg) Regan submitted her letter of resignation last September, effective at the end of the school year in June. The school committee agreed with Mr. Weiss's recommendation to find a new principal by using an in-house search committee, which included representatives from school administration, the school committee, faculty, students, and parents. Twelve candidates applied.
Edgartown tax bills will be delayed
Edgartown had planned to mail third quarter tax bills at the end of December, but a delay in the revaluation process for fiscal year 2008, which began on July 1, 2007, has set that schedule back, according to a press release from the Edgartown tax collector and the Edgartown board of assessors.
Town officials said that once the revaluation is finished and Department of Revenue certification has been received the town can set the tax rate and issue the tax bills. The town expects to send out a combined third and fourth quarter bill at the end of March. Payments will be due 30 days from date of mailing.
Taxpayers may contact the tax collector at 508-627-6135 or the assessors office at 508-627-6140 with any questions.
Human error, mechanical glitch disrupt Steamship Authority service
A snowstorm, employee error, and a faulty bow thruster combined to create some big headaches for the Steamship Authority (SSA) and its passengers on Sunday and Monday.
Steamship Authority general manager Wayne Lamson said that the two-day ordeal began Sunday morning when the ferry Martha's Vineyard, scheduled to leave at 6 am, developed a problem with a bow thruster generator limiting the ferry's maneuverability.
The Coast Guard cleared the captain to leave for Woods Hole without use of the bow thruster but without passengers. The ferry sailed empty about 8 am, leaving some irritated folks behind.
Mr. Lamson said the problem was identified and corrected by noon, and the ferry resumed service. The lift decks on the Island Home were used to help alleviate backlogs.
As the snow began to fall and the wind picked up last Sunday, people arrived early anticipating cancellations, Mr. Lamson said. The last ferries to sail in both directions left at 7:30 pm, due to the diminishing visibility in heavy snow.
On Monday morning, the Martha's Vineyard experienced another electrical problem in the bow thruster generator. About the same time, Mr. Lamson received a call from the Island Home, which was tied up in Vineyard Haven, reporting that a four-inch pipe on the freight deck, part of the fire suppression system, had broken.
The Coast Guard allowed the ferry to sail back to Woods Hole with passengers but only after fire hoses had been laid out on the freight deck for use in the event of an emergency.
The freight decks can be raised and lowered when needed to provide additional capacity for 16 vehicles. As part of that process, deck hands must lower the ramp's side railings.
Mr. Lamson said that at some point Sunday the ramp was apparently raised with the railing in place, and that broke the pipe used to carry seawater in the event of a fire.
If there was anything good about Monday, it was that due to the snowstorm it was a slow travel day. The Martha's Vineyard was repaired quickly. The Island Home was running by the evening. Mr. Lamson said management would review lift deck procedures.
Services Saturday for Jennie L. Lana
Jennie L. Lana, 91, formerly of Lobsterville Road in Aquinnah died on Jan. 30, at Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. She was the wife of Albert J. Lana Sr., who predeceased her.
Visiting hours will be held on Saturday at 11 am, in the Chapman, Cole & Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, Oak Bluffs, followed by a graveside service at 1 pm in the Gay Head Cemetery, Aquinnah.
Donations may be made in her memory to Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, P.O. Box 1477, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557. Visit www.ccgfuneralhome.com for online guest book and information. A full obituary will appear in a future edition.
County advisors approve budget
The Dukes County financial advisory board endorsed a budget which funds only 50 percent of the county rodent control and health programs, and none of the county engineering program.
The county will ask towns, through articles on their town meeting warrants, to fund the rest of those programs with an expenditure over the amount they are already assessed by the county.
The advisors scheduled a public hearing on the budget February 21.
The budget covers fiscal year 2009, which begins on July 1, 2008. Expenditures for the general fund (which does not include the airport, water department, or wastewater treatment) are slated to increase 3.1 percent over last year, to $1.9 million.
Jeffrey "Skipper" Manter, the West Tisbury selectman who is that town's representative on the advisory board, was the only dissenting vote on the budget.
He advocated savings such as delaying the hiring of a new county manager, and requiring county employees to pay a larger percentage of their health insurance benefits. He also promoted establishment of an inter-municipal agency, similar to the financial structure of the Tri-Town Ambulance and the Dukes County housing authority to fund 100 percent of the health, engineering, and rodent control programs.
Health program advisors, employees, and several people who use county health services packed the small meeting room at the county administration building, intent on lobbying to keep the health programs alive, if the effort to shift funding to Island towns fails.
Four towns - Aquinnah, Oak Bluffs, Tisbury, and West Tisbury - have indicated they will include the county funding articles in their annual town meeting warrants. Edgartown has rejected the articles, and Chilmark has not made its plans known.
Chappy ferry deal done
Peter Wells has completed his purchase of the Chappaquiddick ferry from long-time owner Roy Hayes. The deal was completed and papers signed on January 28.
In a phone interview Wednesday, Mr. Wells displayed the good humor that has earned him many friends among his Chappaquiddick neighbors.
"Yesterday was my first day of ownership, and nothing exploded or sank," Mr. Wells said.
Mr. Wells began working on the ferry as a deck hand in 1966, and became a captain in 1974. Though he has extensive experience at the helm of the ferry, he says he intends to proceed slowly with the business side of the operation, making few changes.
Since a powerful April 2007 storm opened a cut in the beach that once connected Chappy to Katama, the small ferry provides the only vehicle access to Chappaquiddick. At public hearings earlier this year, some residents expressed concern about the ferry's operation, including rates, schedules, and long staging lines.
New passport regulations
A change in passport regulations set by the United States Department of State beginning Feb. 1 will effect families with teenagers who plan to travel. According to Nelia Decker, passport agent at the West Tisbury Public Library where she also is children's librarian, any young person under the age of 16 must have consent from both parents in order to obtain a new passport or renew an existing one. Ms. Decker said that in the past this rule applied to those younger than 14. West Tisbury Library Director Beth Kramer is also a passport agent.
The stringent regulation calls for both parents or legal guardians to be present with their child when the application is filed. Provisions exist for notarized documents to be submitted when a custodial parent/guardian cannot be physically present.
Ms. Decker said it is important for families to take note of the new age regulation since some schools schedule international travel during winter and spring months and some students will likely need passports.
A second change will increase rates. Also effective February 1, an adult passport will cost $75, up from $67, and a child's passport (under 16) will cost $60 instead of $52. These prices do not include a $25 local processing fee, reduced from $30, a standard amount set by the government.
According to Ms. Decker, the agency estimates that applicants will receive their passports in the mail in four to six weeks. Applicants may pay an additional $60 to receive expedited processing, shortening delivery time to three weeks. An additional $32.50 will pay for Express Mail shipment if desired.
Ms. Decker added that a passport card is now available, primarily useful for those frequent travelers who live near U.S. borders. Priced less than a regular passport booklet at $20 for adults and $10 for children (not including the $25 fee), the wallet-sized card allows travel to Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean only. It is not good for air travel, so would cover only ground or water transportation. Those with valid passports only need to pay $20 ($10 for children) for a passport card and no additional processing cost. Ms. Decker noted that these new products will not be available for delivery until this spring.
Applicants must present a driver's license and birth certificate or old passport, and supply two photos taken by a professional passport photo agent such as Mosher's Photography in Vineyard Haven or Vineyard Photo in Edgartown. Children must have a birth certificate and their parents must have a valid driver's license or other form of state-issued identification with photograph.
Application forms may be downloaded from travel.state.gov and brought to a local passport processing location technically known as an acceptance facility. Or they may be obtained at the time of application.
Vineyarders may apply for passports at any of the three acceptance facilities: the West Tisbury Public Library (508-693-3366), the Tisbury Post Office (508-693-2818) or at the Dukes County Courthouse, Superior Court office in Edgartown (508-627-4668). Applications are processed during regular business hours but it is advisable to call ahead.
Matthew Stackpole joins Mystic Seaport
Matthew Stackpole of West Tisbury will join the Mystic Seaport in Mystic, Connecticut, Monday as major gifts officer. Mr. Stackpole, a descendant of whalers himself, will help lead a fundraising effort to finance the restoration of the whaleship Charles W. Morgan, which is a celebrated exhibit in the museum's vast collection.
Mr. Stackpole resigned as executive director of the Martha's Vineyard Museum, effective Dec. 31, 2007. He had been the museum's professional leader for nearly eight years.
The Charles W. Morgan is the last surviving wooden whaling ship. Built in 1841 in New Bedford, the Morgan had a successful 80-year whaling career. She made 37 voyages before retiring in 1921, and was preserved as an exhibit in South Dartmouth. In 1941, she was moved to Mystic Seaport, where each year thousands of visitors walk her decks and hear the fascinating story of her career. Mystic is about to haul Morgan out of the water at its seaport shipyard for a three-year restoration project.
Mr. Stackpole, a sailor all his life, including several summers aboard Shenandoah, as well as the former owner with his wife Martha of the schooner MYA, which they offered for charter, was irrepressible Tuesday, as he discussed his new assignment. In a way, he said, it is a wonderful opportunity to return to Mystic Seaport, which played a role in his and his late father's life. Edouard Stackpole of Nantucket, who died there in 1993, was a historian, novelist, and journalist, whose work focused on whaling. In 1951, he left Nantucket and his work there for the Inquirer and Mirror newspaper, to serve as curator of Mystic Seaport. He left Mystic in 1966, to return to Nantucket where he directed the Peter Foulger Museum, from 1969 to 1986.
Matthew Stackpole called his new job a "dream and a homecoming of sorts" that connects him to a part of maritime history that he loves, but also to an important theme in his family's history.
Before joining the Island museum, Mr. Stackpole had served as chief fundraiser for the Martha's Vineyard Hospital. In that job, he played the leading role in the fundraising and development of the Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Facility.
Tisbury's beer and wine bill moves to Senate review
Tisbury's beer and wine bill is making progress in the state legislative process, although it encountered a slight delay this week. With completion of a third reading in the state House of Representatives on Jan. 10, the bill was passed on to the state Senate where it underwent a first reading on Jan. 14.
The bill subsequently was placed in the Orders of the Day for the next senate session, scheduled for yesterday. Unfortunately, the session was canceled, according to Tisbury selectman Denys Wortman, who had traveled to the state house to meet with Rep. Erik Turkington about the bill's progress. In a phone call yesterday, Mr. Wortman said Russell Smith, Mr. Turkington's aide, told him that Tisbury's bill will be taken up again by the senate when the session is reconvened. However, exactly when the bill is taken up will depend on when it is pulled from those scheduled for consideration in the session.
The bill must undergo three readings in the Senate, and if approved, then goes to Gov. Deval Patrick for his signature. With the deadline for placing the question on the April 15 ballot coming up in about 6 weeks, Mr. Wortman said he and the his fellow selectmen are hopeful that the bill will be signed in time to put the question to voters on the April 15 town election ballot.
Vineyard unsung heroine nominations sought
If Unsung Heroine nominations from Edgartown, West Tisbury, Vineyard Haven, Oak Bluffs, and Chilmark are not received by the Massachusetts Commission on the State of Women (MCSW) by Monday, those towns will go unrepresented in this year's fifth annual Unsung Heroines of MA celebration.
The MCSW, an independent state agency that works to advance women of the Commonwealth to full equality in all areas of life and to promote their rights and opportunities, seeks to honor one woman from each of the Commonwealth's 351 cities and towns.
The Commission defines its Unsung Heroines as women who quietly, without fanfare, utilize their time, talent, spirit and enthusiasm to enrich the lives of others. In 2007, the MCSW honored Vineyard residents Patricia Begley and Marny Toole.
Anyone may nominate one or more women to be considered for selection as an Unsung Heroine. Nomination forms are available for download on the MCSW web site at www.mass.gov/women or by request at email@example.com. Completed nomination forms should be e-mailed to this address or faxed to 617-626-6530 no later than February 4.
Blood drive cancelled
The Martha's Vineyard blood drive scheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 29, at the Masonic Hall in Oak Bluffs, was cancelled when organizers discovered late Monday that the site was undergoing extensive renovations.
Sandra Alestra, who helped coordinate the blood drive with the American Red Cross, said the Red Cross called 75 people who were scheduled for appointments to inform them of the cancellation. Those who came in response to mailed flyers and announcements found a hand-written note on the door.
Ms. Alestra says the Red Cross has not decided when to reschedule the blood drive.
Kiddo's program helps shoppers make donations
Kiddo's children's store, in the Tisbury Marketplace, announced it will donate five percent of all purchases over $50 back to Island nonprofit organizations, preschools, child-care centers, or licensed child-care providers.
Owner Danielle Bailey said the new program, called Kiddo's Kares, reflects her committment to give back to the Island community.
"What we love about this program is that it's totally effortless for the customer and the organization. And it's the customer who decides where the donations will go," said Ms. Bailey.
To participate in Kiddo's Kares, shoppers need to ask for a Kiddo's Kares card. One hole will be punched for each $50 spent (tax not included). The customer designates where the five percent donation is to go according to a press release. The card stays in the store with the shopper's information, so that additional purchases, whether made in person or by phone, can build additional value.
At the end of each calendar quarter, Kiddo's will total the value of all punches on the cards and send checks to the designated recipients, along with a list of the donors' names. Phone and e-mail orders over $50 are included in the program upon request.