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Vineyard Gazette
Edgartown, Massachusetts
April 23, 2010     Vineyard Gazette
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April 23, 2010

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" ! ' !;  " !i] ]i ] i " laltimp llipumlKmllllqlJIlIHIIIONIImll TWO VINEYARD GAZETI'E, MARTHA'S VINEYARD, MASS. FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 2010 John Wightman THE SHOW GOES ON: MINNESINGERS PERFORM AT FANEUIL HALL IN BOSTON WEDNESDAY. 'o Grounded Minnesmgers Stay in Tune John Wightman was along for the ride -- on the Minnesingers' trip to Prague, that is. Mr. Wightman is the husband of Jan Wightman, the director of the choral group at the regional high school that was headed out on its every- other-year trip to perform abroad last week, when the giant cloud of volcanic ash out of Iceland forced the closure of every airport in northern Europe. Hun- dreds of thousands o fair travelers were stranded, including the Minnesingers, who wound up stuck at Logan Airport in Boston. What follows is Mr. Wight- man's account, written to the Gazette this week After two years of fund-raising, four months of evening, Saturday and Sun- day rehearsals, and months of intricate planning and coordination, 28 Mar- tha's Vineyard Regional High School Minnesingers and their chaperones boarded the ferry in Vineyard Haven bound for Prague in the Czech Re- public. Suitcases packed with personal clothing, sound equipment and show costumes were loaded on the ferry and a group of well-wishers and supporters gathereo send thdor'the x- perience Of a lifetime, venues Wdre " place to perform.their well-rehearsed show, An American Celebration, for the European audiences. Spirits were high, the emotion was electric, the stu- dents were excited and full of antici- pation of the days and nights ahead in Prague, described as the most beautiful city in the world and a mecca of musi- cal and cultural history. And then the cell phone rang. A volcano in Iceland was erupting, air travel in and out of the heart of Europe was totally disrupted, and in- ternational air travel was in chaos. The group was instructed by the tour com- pany to proceed to the airport and wait for further instructions. The bus arrived at the departure area and the long wait began. Would they go? Would they be delayed? Would they turn around and go back to the Vineyard? As the time passed, the information of the effects of the volcanic cloud be- gan to trickle in. The students waited anxiously though with a positive at- titude that it would all come together. The bags and equipment remained on the bus. The bus sat at the departure area. The driver, Bonnie, was in communi- cation with her boss, Jimmy. They were committed to the group's situation and would do whatever it took to support their needs. Kudos to Jimmy and Bon- nie. The wait got longer. Anxiety in- creased by the minute, and yet the Minnesingers remained positive, enter- tained themselves by singing, and gave each other moral and emotional sup- port. A Boston TV station showed up and seized the opportunity, filming the Minnesingers singing for the crowds-- a James Taylor song, Lonesome Road, and belting out the words "never mind feeling sorry for yourself." The clip appeared on the evening news with an interview with their direc- tor and leader, Jan Wightman (who is also my wife), then appeared the next day on Good Morning America. MEanwhile, the status of the tn: ;gTe. _ morandfneea.'! Th  'tiadnts remained s01C,sJpportVe of each other and: behaved as profes- sionals, displaying attitudes that would put many adults to shame. The group was then instructed by the tour group to go to the Courtyard Inn Hotel and stay the night. Maybe things would be worked out in the morning. In the hotel, these young profes- sional performers, still holding out hope that their tour would get back on track, represented the Vineyard and their school with behavior and dis- cipline that far surpassed what would be expected from a group of teenag- ers in any situation. They performed in the hotel. They thanked the hotel employees for their efforts. The ho- tel staff came to the chaperones and commented on how well-behaved and courteous they were. Kudos to these young adults. In the end, the long-awaited per- forming tour to Prague was canceled. The kids took the news better than OCEAN PARK REALTY, INC. Box 182, 69 Circuit Ave, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557 508-693-4210 e-mail address: EASY LMNG IN VH Walk to beach and town from this Vineyard Haven condo. Located in the Causeway Harborview Association complex with community pool and common areas. This first floor two bedroom condo has been updated with hardwood floors and new appliances. Enjoy the carefree living of a condominium association with a high rental potential. Offered at $319,000. Call Lisa Lucier 508-274-0311. ISLAND INN CONDO Spacious, bright condo at the Island Inn has cathedral ceilings and is located just a short walk to State Beach and the center of Oak Bluffs. Features lots of open space surrounding with community pool and on-site tennis courts. Strong rental operation, but owner may use for 2 weeks each year at no cost and pay half the going rate, for any other usage. Offered at $179,000. Call Alan. expected. Jimmy came to the rescue and sent a bus to the hotel to get the Minnesingers troupe back to the ferry and ultimately back to the Vineyard where many of the same people, and more, greeted the would-be travelers. For the next three days, the group stayed on notice to see if anything would change. The Minnesingers' par-. ents group met through the days and nights trying to sort out the logistics.As the news of the global disaster became more clear, they all realized how lucky they were to be home, safe and sound, unlike the millions of people around the world who are suffering the fallout from this totally unprecedented and bizarre phenomenon. But the beat goes on.The Minnesing- ers are finding ways to make the best of everything. They performed at Faneuil Hall in Boston on Wednesday at noon before an appreciative crowd. Rehearsals will continue once school vacation is over, and then the Min- nesingers and their support group will bring this incredible performance to the entire Island for all to see. An American Celebration will in- clude traditional choral selections, American jazz and Motown favorites. It would be so terrific for these hard- working, talented performers to see our Island community in the audience at the Performing Arts Center on Sat- urday, May 8 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 9 at 3 p.m. to experience the dedication, hard work and endless hours of re- hearsals invested in this production. I have been most fortunate to have traveled with the Minnesingers over the past 12 years as they introduced their shows to Denmark, Lithuania, Germany, England, Ireland, and Aus- tria. They always rose to the task as performers, ambassadors and young adults. On this abbreviated tour, they rose above it all and really blew me away. Other School Trips See Ash Disruption The Minnesingers' was not the only school-sponsored overseas trip upended by the volcanic ash that closed most of Europe's air space last week. Another Martha's Vineyard Re- gional High School group was on its way to London on a school exchange when the travelers were grounded instead in Dublin. After a few days, the group made their way to England by ferry and ground transport until eventually their host families greeted them -- before dawn, days after ex- pected. Vineyard schools superintendent James H. Weiss said the school has travel insurance that is expected to cover all the unforeseen hotel and transport expenses for the group. "I don't even think we will have to pay that bill [before getting the reim- bursement]," he said. Those students are expected home as scheduled to- night or Saturday mgrning, he said. The global traveF disruption had no impact on another regional high school group that went to Spain, Mr. Weiss said. That group is also sched- uled to return this weekend and had not been advised of any changes to their flights. A group from the Martha's Vine- yard Public Charter School departed Logan Airport Tuesday afternoon as planned for a trip to Italy. School ,director Robert Moore reported the students and chaperones had arrived safely in Rome and were last known to be eating grapes and salami on a side road across from the Vatican. Commission Approves Changes at YMCA Site The Martha's Vineyard Commission last Thursday unanimously approved a laundry list of changes to the new YMCA building off Edgartown-Vine- yard Haven Road, including a walking bridge, outside basketball court, cov- ered pavilion and temporary irrigation system. The 35,000-square foot YMCA on a five-acre property across from the regional high school is planned for opening next month. Paul Foley, development of regional impact coordinator for the commission, reported last week that the YMCA of- ficials have an agreement to tie into the Oak Bluffs sewer system, and he said plans are in the works for a new ultra- violet light system instead of a Myox purification system for the swimming pool. The outdoor changes approved last week ha,e the support of both Mar- tha's Vineyard Community Services, and Island Elderly Housing, which abut the new facility. RE - ELECT TRISTAN ISRAEL FOR TISBURY SELECTMAN SERENITY Vineyard Haven waterfront. Deep-water dock & mooring - 4100 sq. ft. tradi- tional home - 4 bedrooms & 4 baths - 2 thousand feet of patios & decks plus a screened-in porch - includes 3 bay carriage house with 800 sq.' ft. finished 2nd floor & attached greenhouse all on over 1 acre landscaped grounds. Reduced to $2.99 million - Trustee (508) 560-2824. Lots in Bailey Park Need Town Meeting Vote, Counsel Says By JIM HICKEY Acting on the advice of town counsel, West Tisbury selectmen on Wednesday agreed to schedule a spe- cial town meeting in early June, where voters will be asked to allow the town to convey three lots in Bailey Park to private homeowners or a group such as Habitat for Humanity or the town affordable housing trust. Located off Great Plains Road off Old County Road, Bailey Park in- cludes three substandard lots that were taken by the town in tax foreclosure in 2007. The area is now planned as an affordable housing project; in 2008 the town agreed to spend $45,000 in Community Preservation Act money to develop three units of affordable housing there. One lot will go to the Island chapter Habitat for Humanity, which plans to move a building owned by the Mar- tha's Vineyard Savings Bank on State Road in North Tisbury to the site for conversion to a home. There has been some back and forth discussion and disagreement between selectmen and the town affordable housing committee over bid specifica- tions, ground leases and other details associated with the project. Early this month selectman decided to refer the matter to town counsel Ronald H. Rappaport to be sure that all was be- ing done according to law. And it turns out there was a glitch. In a letter to the selectmen last week Mr. Rappaport said because the af- fordable housing committee does not have the power to convey property, a special town meeting will be required in order to transfer the Baily Park lots. "The 2007 vote [to authorize the tax taking] did not specifically authorize a sale: therefore, such a vote is now required.., the [affordable housing committee] does not have indepen- dent statutory authority to convey land," Mr. Rappaport wrote. "It appears we need to have a spe- cial town meeting," said selectman Richard Knabel. A date was set for June 9. Selectmen began the meeting by welcoming Cynthia Mitchell back to the board after an eight-year absence, and also voted to elect Mr. Knabel as the new chairman and Jeffrey (Skip- per) Manter 3rd as vice-chairman. Library Pay Dispute Unsettled By JIM HICKEY After three legal opinions and ongo- ing disagreement among town boards, Aquinnah selectmen on Tuesday de- cided to send the issue of whether library employees are eligible to re- ceive holiday pay back to the newly- reconstituted personnel board. The issue dates back to last summer when the personnel board decided that the library staff-- director Jenny Christy and two other employees -- should be paid for holidays they were not scheduled to work in the form of compensatory time, much like other employees already receive. At the time there were questions about whether library employees were eligible for holiday pay because they work three days a week (the library is open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday), and because they work between 20 and 40 hours a week, making it unclear if they are part-time or full-time employ- ees. The personnel board decided they should receive holiday pay. The mat- ter was referred first to labor counsel Michael Gilman, who consulted town counsel Michael Goldsmith, who con- suited attorney Jack Collins, an expert on labor issues. All three said library employees were not eligible for holi- day pay, even though they are consid- ered full-time employees, because most holidays do not fall on days the library is open. "The library employees are telling the town they are entitled to comp time during weeks when other full-time employees receive paid holiday time -- e.g. Monday, Memorial Day -- even though the library employees are not required to work on that day, being a Monday," Mr. Goldsmith wrote in an e-mail. Library employees are now ask- ing for the town personnel bylaw to be amended to allow holiday pay for them. At the selectmen's meeting this week Jim Newman said he would like to see an article placed on a town meeting warrant to decide the question. "We should try and get some closure to this, instead of letting it drag on," he said. The personnel committee is in tran- sition as two members resigned last year; two new members have been appointed to take their place but have not been sworn in yet. Selectman Camille Rose said the "personnel committee must review the proposed changes before an article is placed on the town meeting warrant. "Our personnel bylaw requires the personnel board to make a recom- mendation. They need to do it. Because that's the law now in this town ... two of them haven't even been sworn in. They've never read the bylaw. You can't do this overnight," she said. Mr. Newman disagreed. "We are putting up roadblocks to getting this done ... this is an issue of treating the library staff the same way every other library on thJsland does," he said. Ms. Christy said there are two issues: whether the bylaw should be amended and whether library employees are eligible for holiday back pay. She said library employees have been treated unfairly. "I'd love an answer why is it that the library staff has to suffer withheld benefits because of a badly written bylaw, but everyone else up to this point hasn't," she said. Land Bank Revenues The Martha's Vineyard Land Bank reported revenues of $144,812.92 for the business week ending on Friday, April 16, 2010. The land bank receives its funds from a two per cent fee charged on many Vineyard real estate transactions. Much of the land bank revenue last week came from the town of Chil- mark, where two transactions resulted in $81,658.00. In Oak Bluffs, three eligible transactions yielded $17,752.62. Three transactions in Edgartown were subject to the fee, bringing in $16,662.04 in revenue, and in Aquin- nah one eligible transaction generated $13,500. One transaction in Tisbury resulted in $12,314.26 and one in West Tisbury, $2,926.92. The land bank uses its revenues to purchase and manage land for purposes of conservation, preservation and passive recreation. To date the agency has participated in the purchase of more than 2,985 acres of Vineyard land. Beetlebung Corner Chilmark 508-645-3533 PRICED TO SELL Motivated seller has priced this 5 bedroom, 4.5 bath home with a lower level in-law apartment to sell immediately. Quiet master suite with private bath, entertainment room on the third level and spacious enclosed porch for extended year round living. A white picket fence leads to the large back- yard which is fully fenced, perfect for small children and pets. Exclusive 5595,000 ,  I F ' I I t I P I