Printable Version | Email This Story | No comments posted.

News and Views from Other Islands

Monday, March 31, 2008 1:17 PM EDT

Familiar hand at Chappaquiddick ferry helm

MARTHA’S VINEYARD — A Chappaquiddick ferry deckhand and pilot for many years is the new owner of the ferry, the sole transportation link for the residents of the tiny island off the east end of the Vineyard. The Vineyard Gazette said the price was $3 million and included two boats and a 75-year lease of the town-owned ramps and slips.

The previous owner had offered the service to the town for $3 million but a study committee could not reach consensus.

Crime in paradise

VANUATU — Crime of every sort is out of control on this Pacific isle of paradise and why, more than 27 years after independence, do the police have no fingerprint technology available to them? asks the Vanuatu Daily Post.

“The police need help quickly. The government must stop talking . . . and do something or Vanuatu will become a paradise for criminals.”

Building surge on the Vineyard

MARTHA’S VINEYARD — The six island towns issued permits for construction of 227 single family homes in 2007, 61 more than in 2006 and the highest number in four years, Vineyard Gazette reported. The values of new construction permits showed that home builders planned to spend 60 percent more on building in 2007 than in 2006.

However, building inspectors believe the increase is not a trend but includes a year-end rush to beat building code changes, as well as the ability of the wealthy to build regardless of the state of the economy.

The island construction numbers were a contrast to the region’s plummeting building economy. On Nantucket, new starts dropped 20 percent last year.

Tide power plant to be rebuilt

VINALHAVEN, ME. — The coast of Maine once had dozens of tidal power installations. A group is now looking to rebuild Vinalhaven’s largest tidal power station, located in Carvers Harbor, according to Working Waterfront.

The tidal dam once housed three turbines that ran granite polishing stones, a sawmill and a bellows for a blacksmith shop. It ran two shifts every day, on each ebb tide. Salt water was impounded by heavy doors that would open on the flood and close when the water started out. This arrangement held back the power of the water, thus extending the usage time.

This dam will be rebuilt with funds from a state-funded program, Efficiency Maine. The project was proposed by The Ocean Energy Institute of Rockland in collaboration with a neighboring motel proprietor. The plan is to first rebuild the granite dam, then solicit engineering ideas from regional colleges for turbine design. Any power generated will be donated back for municipal needs.

Town, trucker negotiate land trade

NANTUCKET — The town and a trucking firm are negotiating a land swap that would give the town a 4.5-acre pondside site in a residential area and give the trucker a 10 to 12-acre area near the airport, the Inquirer and Mirror reported.The trucking operations on the current site are in dispute before the Zoning Board of Appeals. The trade is expected to go before the spring town meeting. It would be a step toward the town’s goal of creating an industrial zone east of the airport, and relocating industrial businesses from around the island to that site.

Maine islands help invalids

When a person becomes invalided on Maine’s islands, a Deer Isle woman told Working Waterfront, “everybody … is like family: you take care of them whether you like them or not.” On Swan’s Island recently, members of the four churches provided help between nurse visits for a widow with Alzheimer’s. An off-island son employed a dozen island women to care for his mother who didn’t want to leave the island.

Some islands use their health centers to offer day care. Islesboro has a six-bed elderly/assisted living facility that takes day patients until the last boat, as does Vinalhaven’s eight-bed assisted living home. Chebeague Island has a seven-bed residential care facility and a project to keep ailing islanders in their houses. Deer Isle’s Island Nursing Home has an adult daycare program.

Residents of Deer Isle, Isle au Haut and other islands off the East Penobscot Bay peninsula coming to the mainland for the day will soon be able to leave family members and friends at a daycare facility in Blue Hill while they run their mainland errands.

Wind farm an international issue

OUTER HEBRIDES — When the Scottish government said it was “minded to refuse” the 181-turbine wind farm proposed on Lewis Island, largest of the Outer Hebrides islands, the European Union expressed “surprise and dismay,” the Stornoway Gazette reports.

The problem for the Scottish government is that the site is a “special protected area” of peatland, of great importance to European birdlife. Public opinion on the island runs against the project and the decision is pending.

But the islands, which have fierce winds, have been looked to as a major source of renewable energy, which the EU is pledged to promote. The proposed project would be the largest wind farm in Europe.

Park rules could deter public events

MARTHA’S VINEYARD — Public events need to obey restrictions on the use of Oak Bluffs parks, the town counsel told the Board of Selectmen, according to the Vineyard Gazette.

Neither the funding plan for the Boston Pops concert this summer nor the use of a big tent for the annual Monster Shark Tournament meets the covenants established when the parks were given to the town, he said.

Onshore sites eyed for wind power

NANTUCKET — While plans and studies for offshore wind farms continue, the town Energy Study Committee wants to study the potential for land-based wind power generation, the Nantucket Independent reports. The committee has submitted an application to the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative for a study of 10 government-owned sites.

Fire wipes out fish factory, island power

TRISTAN DA CUNHA — Fire has destroyed the fish processing plant and knocked out the engine that generated power for island homes, the Tristan Times reports. While a new engine was rushed from Cape Town, a standby generator was pressed into service. The island administrator issued rationing orders so as not to overtax it.

Power was turned off from 6 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. Internet and TV service were suspended; telephones were out of service when electricity was off. The Island Store was closed, except for those with essential needs. Candles and salt (used to salt down meat that had been in freezers) was rationed. The island pub was open only from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

The Fish Factory was built in 1966 to replace one disabled by lava flow from a volcanic eruption. Since the fishing season had ended, the fire had little immediate effect on the island economy.

Students arrested in window-smashing spree

MARTHA’S VINEYARD — Oak Bluffs police arrested two regional high school students, 17 and 18, who they said used rocks to smash the windows of four cars and a building window during the opening night of the school production of “A Chorus Line,” according to the Martha’s Vineyard Times.

According to the police, the two teens had been drinking, attended the performance and left to continue drinking. School officials suspended the boys for one week. The boys and their parents agreed to make full restitution.

Bar Harbor Chamber takes issue with USA Today

BAR HARBOR — The Chamber of Commerce is bent out of shape about the way USA Today bent the town’s new cruise ship passenger limit out of shape, according to the Bar Harbor News.

After Town Council voted to replace its two-a-day limit on cruise ships with a limit on the number of passengers off-loaded per day, a USA Today travel writer wrote that the town is “fed up” with cruise ships.

Not at all, said the Chamber’s executive director. “There wasn’t one day all of last year that the new passenger cap would have limited the number of passengers in town. . . . The intent of the (passenger cap) was to give the town more flexibility . . . based on the capacity of the downtown, not a random two-ship limit.”

A facelift for island town centers

ISLE OF MAN — The island has a thriving economy but shabby town and village centers, so the government has allocated $16 million to upgrade them, the Isle of Man Examiner reports.

In Douglas, the largest town, pavement clutter on the main commercial street is to be removed and new stone pathways, coordinated street furniture and shelters together with public artworks are to be installed. Similar makeovers are scheduled for other tired-looking towns and villages.

Artificial cobble to be tested as fish habitat

NANTUCKET — The Siasconset Beach Preservation Fund (SBPF), fighting to stem the erosion of bluffs on the east end of the island, has won approval for a 12-month cobble mitigation study, the Nantucket Independent reports. Purpose of the test is to see if the 105 acres of natural cobble habitat that its beach nourishment project is expected to erase could be replicated with no loss of prime fishing grounds off Sankaty.

The SBPF proposal calls for 2,904 cubic yards of quarried cobble rock and concrete reef balls to be placed on three one-acre plots 400 feet to 600 feet offshore, and three more one-acre plots of rock 1,000-1,200 feet off shore. The artificial cobble is to be monitored to determine if the marine vegetation and animals that grow in the natural cobble habitat off Sankaty will thrive in the pilot mitigation plots.

EPA fines oil supplier

MARTHA’S VINEYARD — The company that is the island’s major source of fuel oil was fined $78,000 by the Environmental Protection Agency for violations of the Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Prevention Act, the Vineyard Gazette reports. The agency said the company’s spill prevention program fell short of requirements, and it failed to have proper containment around its tanks.

The company’s troubles with EPA began with a 2000 inspection and include several citations since then.

Students challenged to keep dances alcohol-free

SAN JUAN ISLAND, WASH. — If high school students want to have dances, they’re going to have to come up with a plan to guarantee those events are alcohol-free, the San Juan Journal reports. The school board cancelled all dances until it hears from the student body.

“Teachers were receiving a lot of complaints from parents and community members about students drinking at the dances,” the school board student body representative said.

Deep cut in Hebrides ferry fares

WESTERN ISLES, THE HEBRIDES — The Scottish government has slashed ferry fares to the mainland by as much as 50 percent as part of a pilot program for other Scottish islands, the Stornoway Gazette reports. Immediately, residents of the Shetland and Orkney Islands, north of Scotland, protested because their fares will not change.

The national transport minister announced that a Road Equivalent Tariff, a calculation of the costs of traveling an equivalent distance by road, will be used to set rates. The purpose is to boost island economies and “tell people it is worth staying in these islands,” he said.

Ferries come from three mainland ports to seven island ports. It now costs about $150 to take a car in the summer on the most direct route to Stornoway, the major town of the isles, a trip of two hours, 45 minutes, with two boats a day in the winter.

In October the fare will fall to about $72.


Reader Comments


Check out our photo gallery for more images »

Previous Headlines

March 31st, 2008

Link to Tide Charts at MainHarbors.com
Link to local weather information

Sponsored by:


Email Alerts

For local news delivered via email enter your address: