News in Brief
Police clock Honda Civic at 121 mph
Edgartown police officer Geoffrey Phillips was parked in his police cruiser off Airport Road near the Martha's Vineyard Airport runway late Saturday night when he clocked a vehicle traveling at a speed of 121 miles per hour (mph) on his radar unit.
The vehicle, a red 2006 Honda Civic driven by Devin Church, 20, of West Tisbury, sped by the parked cruiser and turned into the airport business park, according to the police incident report.
Airport Road, also called Barnes Road, is a straight 2.4-mile stretch that bisects the state forest and connects Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road and Edgartown-West Tisbury Road. The posted speed limit is 45 mph.
Officer Phillips stopped Mr. Church by Airport Mobil, a gas station located in the business park. "When asked why he was going so fast, Church responded that he was going to his girlfriend's house," officer Phillips wrote in his report.
Two Edgartown and one State Police officer arrived to assist with the stop and a search of the vehicle. Police found two small bottles of Baileys Irish Cream and a bottle of Heineken beer in the center console. A small quantity of marijuana was scattered across the passenger side floor, according to the police report.
Police arrested Mr. Church. He was cited for negligent operation of a motor vehicle, minor in possession of alcohol, speeding, and a seat belt violation.
In a telephone conversation Tuesday, Edgartown police Lt. Tony Bettencourt said that 121 mph is the highest speed the department has ever clocked.
Coast Guard honored
The men and women of United States Coast Guard Station Menemsha were honored on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives February 14 with remarks from Rep. William Delahunt, the congressman whose district covers Martha's Vineyard.
Rep. Delahunt congratulated the unit for winning the Sumner I. Kimball award, an exceedingly difficult test of readiness awarded to Station Menemsha rear admiral Timothy Sullivan.
"On the Vineyard, the Coast Guard is an important part of the community," said Rep. Delahunt. "Those who first served as life savers came from the island, and are part of a very proud tradition that began here years ago. Today, those who serve in Station Menemsha are not just representing a federal agency, but are very much members of the community, honoring the proud tradition of service that the people of Martha's Vineyard hold dear. In the early 1990s it was in danger of closing, but the people of Martha's Vineyard rallied to save it. In recent years, it became a full-time station and - time and time again - has proven its importance."
The congressmen entered the names of senior station chief Steve Barr, and all the men and women who serve at Station Menemsha, into the congressional record, along with a feature article about the unit, published in the January 31 issue of the Martha's Vineyard Times.
DMF public hearing takes up new limits on scup, fluke
The Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) will hold a series of public hearings next week to accept comment on proposed changes to commercial and recreational fishing regulations.
The proposed regulatory changes would affect several species sought by recreational and commercial Island fishermen. Those include black sea bass, scup, fluke, and striped bass.
DMF has the authority to enact fishing regulations for species caught in state waters but must do so within the regulatory and quota framework set by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC), the 15-member body responsible for managing species along the East Coast. Failure to comply with ASMFC guidelines can result in federal sanctions.
One proposed change would affect the harvest of scup, a small fish popular with jetty, pier, and party boat fishermen. In order to comply with new ASMFC commercial and recreational harvest levels, DMF is proposing to amend possession limits, season lengths, minimum sizes, and/or allocated quotas.
Proposed recreational changes include a reduction of the possession limit from 25 to 10 fish and an increase in minimum size from 10.5 to 11 inches.
Fishermen aboard party boats would see a possession limit reduction of 50 to 45 fish only during a limited spring period, after which the limit would be 10 fish.
Another popular Vineyard recreational fish and important commercial species is fluke, also known as summer flounder. DMF is proposing a number of changes that would affect commercial seasons and quotas.
DMF will hold a public hearing at 6 pm Tuesday at the Annisquam River Marine Fisheries Station in Gloucester and Wednesday at the Radisson Plymouth Harbor in Plymouth. Comments may be submitted by email until 5 pm Thursday. For more information, go to www.mass.gov/marinefisheries.
Island students win at Falmouth Academy science fair
Four Vineyard students who attend Falmouth Academy took home awards from the school's 20th annual all-school science fair last Friday. The 200 students who participated in the science fair presented their hands-on projects and defended their research before a group of more than 100 judges that questioned them, evaluated their presentations, and wrote extensive comments.
At the evening awards ceremony, students and families enthusiastically applauded the winners, who included upper school students Kinsman Maynard of Chilmark, Emelia Armstead of Edgartown, and Jenna Bernstein of Chilmark; and middle school student Truda Silberstein of West Tisbury.
Drunken man rescued from Oak Bluffs drink
State Police lieutenant Rick Kelley and his wife Pat, a West Tisbury School teacher, live in a house on Oak Bluffs Harbor. Few of the houses that surround the harbor are occupied this time of the year.
Robert Seaton is lucky the Kelleys were at home at about 11 pm Monday night, when Mr. Seaton fell into the frigid 39-degree water of Oak Bluffs Harbor and struggled to stay afloat.
Details about how Mr. Seaton's plunge occurred are sketchy, but there's no doubt that he owes his rescue to the Kelleys, who heard his faint cries for help.
While his wife called 911, Lieutenant Kelley, who works on the mainland, ran to the water and took hold of Mr. Seaton's arm. Oak Bluffs police officer James Morse responded to the call. When he arrived, Pat Kelley was waiting outside.
"She shouted to me, 'He's in the water by Our Market. Rick's got him,'" wrote officer Morse in his report.
Mr. Morse requested an ambulance and drove into the parking lot of Our Market, a package store located on the corner of the harbor.
Mr. Kelley had made his way out on a finger pier and had a grip on Mr. Seaton's left arm. Officer Morse went to assist, and together the men were able to lift Mr. Seaton from the water.
Lieutenant Tim Williamson told The Times that, considering the time and water temperature, Mr. Seaton might have drowned had it not been for quick action by Rick and Pat Kelley. "How he ended up in the water is kind of a mystery," said Lieutenant Williamson.
According to the police report, Mr. Seaton "displayed obvious signs of extreme intoxication."
He initially told officer Morse that he "was riding his bike and fell into the water." He later said he did not remember how he ended up in the harbor, but during an examination in the emergency room he said he was pushed into the water.
In a follow-up to the accident, police officers Morse and Sgt. Michael Marchand said Mr. Seaton had been at a friend's residence "prior to his swim in the harbor." The officers spoke with the friends, who said Mr. Seaton had been drinking all day prior to his visit to them. They denied there was any associated drug use. Mr. Seaton told the police officers he and his friends spent the time "just chillin' out," according to the report.
Oak Bluffs police are familiar with Mr. Seaton. On New Year's Day, police responded to a domestic violence call at a house Mr. Seaton rented and found a marijuana growing operation in the basement.
On that occasion, 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.
Tisbury selectmen want SSA bus shelter
Tisbury selectmen Wednesday agreed on the need for a shelter for the busy Vineyard Transit Authority (VTA) bus stop adjacent to the Steamship Authority (SSA) terminal. The more difficult questions concerned size, cost, design and permitting requirements for any structure.
The three Tisbury selectmen met with SSA general manager Wayne Lamson and VTA administrator Angela Grant at 9 am to discuss the shelter and other parking and bus related issues.
With no plans or even an agreed upon design, the conversation was somewhat general. The participants discussed the attributes of various designs including a three-sided shelter, a roof with some type of roll-up sides and a basic roof on posts.
By way of an example, Ms. Grant said the VTA bus shelter in front of the skate park opposite the high school cost approximately $2,800.
Selectman Tom Pachico endorsed a minimalist approach. "Auger four to six holes and put some posts in it," suggested Mr. Pachico.
Mr. Lamson was asked if the SSA would pay a share of the still undetermined cost. Mr. Lamson said the bus shelter is the type of project that fits the intended use of embarkation fee money.
The legislatively imposed 50-cent surcharge on one-way ferry passenger tickets generates considerable money for the SSA's port towns. The law requires that the money be used only for mitigating the impact of ferry service on the city or town. Those uses include providing harbor services, public safety protection, emergency services or infrastructure improvements.
The selectmen agreed to take a closer look at the bus shelter site and determine how big a structure was needed. Selectmen Tristan Israel said he would also ask the committee to recommend how to use the estimated $245,000 in available embarkation fee revenue to put aside up to $20,000 for a shelter.
Tashmoo Spring building committee solicits ideas
The Tashmoo Spring Building Preservation Committee invites community members, groups, and organizations to a public outreach meeting and brainstorming session on March 5, 5-6:30 pm, at the Tisbury Senior Center. RSVP at 508-696-4202 or to JJL@gis.net.
The Tashmoo Spring Building, built in 1887 as a pumping station at the head of Lake Tashmoo, is undergoing exterior renovations and interior structural restoration, scheduled for completion in June 2009. Building plans include a conference room, office, and exhibit room, which will include an existing cistern that could be used as part of a marine life exhibit.
The preservation committee is hosting the March 5 meeting to solicit ideas from the public about future uses for the building, which has potential as a cultural, historic, scientific and educational resource for the community. So far, suggestions for what should be housed in the building include an aquarium, interactive marine science, history exhibits, a summer campsite, and a non-profit organization's office and exhibit area.
A grant request for funds to complete the renovation and restoration work has been submitted to the Massachusetts Historical Commission. Private donations are needed, as well, to supplement Community Preservation funds. Donations can be sent to the Tashmoo Spring Building Restoration Fund, P.O. Box 1239, Vineyard Haven, MA 02568.
Chilmark seeks approval of Middle Line Road access
Chilmark voters will be asked at a special town meeting to approve the purchase of two lots intended to provide safer vehicle access to Middle Line Road for future residents of a town affordable housing development.
The special town meeting begins at 7:30 pm on Monday, March 3, in the Chilmark Community Center. The three-article warrant culminates months of negotiations.
In February, selectmen announced an agreement to buy a .80-acre lot owned by Beverly Gillis Jaksa at a cost of $275,000, and an agreement with Walter Jenkinson Jr. and Blair and Keith Emin to purchase a .70-acre lot for $225,000.
The town-funded Middle Line Road project is located in a heavily wooded upland section of Chilmark. Plans call for a mix of three duplex rental units and six one-acre housing lots on approximately 21 acres.
During the initial permitting phase of the project, the Martha's Vineyard Commission (MVC) and the Chilmark planning board expressed concern regarding the entrance off Tabor House Road and asked the town to work to provide a safer access. The MVC approved the plan with a condition that the town provide improved access.
Selectmen said the new entrance would be safer because of the elimination of an embankment and blind spot present in the current entrance.
The first two warrant articles speak to the purchase of the two lots. The third article, contingent upon voter approval of articles two and three, asks voters to authorize selectmen to close the existing juncture of Middle Line Road and Tabor House Road.
Selectmen expect to present plans for the entire project at the annual town meeting this spring.
Windemere ends year in the black
The Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center (WNR) ended 2007 in the black. The positive news was delivered to the Martha's Vineyard Hospital trustees at their January board meeting.
In an industry beset by financial challenges, news of any profit is good news. "In this business," said hospital chief executive officer Tim Walsh, "it is exciting when you break even."
The cost for off-Island contract labor in the labor-intensive business has continued to be a drain. WNR paid $368,085 in 2007, a figure well above the $237,000 budgeted. Mr. Walsh said a nurse training program now underway is expected to reduce the need for skilled help.
The hospital's fiscal year follows the calendar year. In 2007 the Island nursing home had total operating revenues of $6,633,395. Total operating expenses were $6,403,103.
WNR showed an operating gain of $230,292. Gifts totaling $58,090 increased the bottom line to $288,382.
Despite the healthy number Windemere officials are not relaxing. The year end figures received a significant boost from a retroactive rate adjustment that increased the amount of reimbursement the state paid Windemere for nursing home care.
Windemere had an average daily population of 70 people. That number includes 10 people in the assisted living wing and 20 patients in the Alzheimer's unit.
Windemere did not do as well in 2006. The costs associated with the replacement of a rooftop air conditioning unit and the need to bring in temporary skilled help put the nursing home into the red. The facility ended 2006 with a loss of $92,868 that was reduced with gifts and other income to $13,834.
Cost-cutting, higher state reimbursements, and an emphasis on providing rehabilitation services have all contributed to the relative financial health of the once troubled institution.
In 1994, its first year of operation, Windemere lost $1.8 million and in 1996 filed for court protection under chapter 7 of the federal bankruptcy code. Windemere emerged from bankruptcy two years later but continued to struggle financially.
In 2004 Windemere ended the year with its first-ever profit for a total gain of $149,881.
Edey Foundation invites grant application
The Edey Foundation, created in 1988 by the late Maitland Edey of Seven Gates Farm, is accepting grant applications from nonprofit organizations engaged in conservation-related efforts on Martha's Vineyard.
Submissions that relate to ongoing conservation, energy, education, and scientific studies are welcome, according to a press release. In 2007 the foundation gave away $94,000 to 11 organizations engaged in a range of activities, including conservation advocacy, native plant propagation and water bird protection.
Proposals are due March 1 for funding in July 2008. For copies of proposal guidelines, contact Beatrice Phear at firstname.lastname@example.org
A story in the Feb. 14 issue of The Times, "Naomi Scott wins RHS science fair," incorrectly attributed second place winner Caitlyn Francis's interest in canned tuna mercury levels to her father. Her uncle Glenn Pachico is the fisherman who was the inspiration for the project.
A story published in the Feb. 14 issue of The Times, "Cape Wind seeks support here," incorrectly reported the distance from Nysted, Denmark, to 72 offshore wind turbines as 12 miles. In fact, the distance is six miles.