Headline Makers

Good news is in awfully short supply these days, as a scan of any daily newspaper confirms. People are starting to wonder — is there anything left but bad news?

To that end we perused the Gazette over the last year looking for good news, and happily found plenty of it. And so what follows is a sampler of good cheer to end the old year.

There were new babies to make us smile, beginning with Emily Thomas Boyd, the first Vineyard baby of the year, born to Mary and Jonathan Boyd at the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital on New Year’s Day.

Democracy was alive and well on the Island this year. The beer and wine question in Tisbury failed by one vote and was subject to an historic recount that kept everyone on the edge of their seats until it ended with a dry verdict.

In November Vineyard voters joined the rest of the country in making history, turning out in record numbers for the Presidential election and overwhelmingly supporting Barack Obama.

And just last week Nell Coogan, a young attorney and daughter of a former Vineyard politician who died of cancer seven years ago, was named Vineyard legislative liaison by newly elected Cape and Islands Rep. Timothy Madden.

There was good news in business.

The Chappaquiddick Ferry was sold to a new owner and familiar face on that separated island: Peter Wells.

The fate of the Home Port restaurant engaged the people of Chilmark and beyond; the landmark restaurant was finally sold to the owners of the Menemsha and Beach Plum Inns, who will continue to run it as a restaurant. Long live shore dinners and homemade lemon meringue pie.

The former Ice House restaurant in North Tisbury, ruined last year by fire, was sold to two well-known Island restaurateurs who are rebuilding and plan to stay open year-round.

And from the ashes of the devastating Fourth of July fire on Main street Vineyard Haven, the Bunch of Grapes will be rebuilt and reopen under new ownership. Cafe Moxie, where the fire started, also found a benefactor and the owner has pledged to rebuild.

There was good news in education. Vineyard students continued to perform well — enrolling at top colleges, including ivy league colleges, in ever-increasing numbers, and performing better than most of their counterparts in the commonwealth on standardized tests.

There was happy news in the performing arts. Katie Mayhew, a sixteen-year-old from West Tisbury, dazzled the Island when she became a finalist in a contest for solo performers with the Boston Pops orchestra. Katie won the whole show and performed on the Esplanade in Boston on the Fourth of July. Bravo.

The high school football team had a stellar season, bringing home the fabled Island cup for a sixth straight year. And coach Donald Herman is nothing but good news — how he manages to come up with a winning team year after year is a wonder. For his efforts this year he was named coach of the year in the Mayflower League Large third division.

A number of Vineyard soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan returned home safely, including Michael Halt, the principal of the West Tisbury School, who had been called to active duty from the U.S. Marine Corps reserves.

The Joseph G. Moujabber garage controversy finally ended and the garage that caused so much conflict in the eclectic North Bluff neighborhood was torn down.

Finally, the Vineyard environment held its own against the constant pressures of degradation from pollution and over development.

The bay scallop population has begun to see some solid recovery, and aquaculture ventures are on the increase, from a pilot project on growing blue mussels in deep water to the continued success of the Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group Hatchery.

Jack Blake’s Sweet Petite oysters tied for third place in a regional oyster tasting competition in April.

Piping plovers, decimated and declared a threatened species just a decade ago, are on the rebound and breeding healthy numbers here. Ditto for the osprey.

And the Polly Hill Arboretum in West Tisbury celebrated fifty years of innovation in horticulture and botany, recalling the words of the late Dr. David Smith, who formally co-founded the arboretum in 1997 along with Polly Hill. He said:

“Not only will conservation improve the quality of life here, but now the question is whether there is going to be the leadership, whether the townspeople will pick up the baton and run with it.”

The question is still the same.