The Block Island Times

In Case You Haven't Heard

By Fran Migliaccio | Jul 01, 2012

Block Island everywhere

Congratulations to Avery Kirby on the issue of a patent for his Independence Walker! On June 12 Avery, his son Chris Kirby and attorney Peter Saxon flew to Washington, D.C., to visit the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where they had an interview with a supervising primary examiner. Another examiner was brought into the interview via Skype from his home in Atlanta, Ga. Chris Kirby explained the Independence Walker to them and showed a model built by Avery’s other son, Tom Kirby, of an invention similar to Avery’s. Peter, who orchestrated the meeting, said later, “It was quite a dog and pony show. They usually don’t get an attorney applying for a patent, and they never get a model to play with. In the end, we were successful in getting the patent issued. Avery made everyone there feel so good; the patent examiners never get a human interest story like this. Avery told them he really wants to help veterans and other people who need his walker, and they said, “Are you really going to make these by hand and sell them?”

“I hope so,” said Avery, adding, “This is the best thing that’s happened to me that I can remember.” By the end of the day the inventor was quite tired, and was rolled in state to the elevator on the supervisor’s chair.

Congratulations to Narragansett Firefighter Charles LaCoste! At the Narragansett Town Council meeting of June 4, Narragansett Fire Chief James J. Potter presented Unit Citations to Lacoste and Lieutenant Paul Bowe for their daring water rescue of two fishermen on October 11, 2011. Also present was Captain Peter Taylor, Incident Commander on the day of the rescue. An account of the rescue appeared in this space last March.

Not to miss

A benefit for Meg Millea Snyder will be held Saturday, July 7, 5 to 8 p.m., on Captain Nick’s front porch. Families and children are welcome; donations will be accepted at the door. The purpose is to lend needed support to Meg, 35, who has been diagnosed with breast cancer and is currently undergoing treatment. She is the daughter of Rosemary and Dan Millea. To aid in raising funds, raffle tickets are being sold at Essentials (in the lobby of the National Hotel) for $5 each or five for $20, with a number of large prizes to be won.

ConserFest will be held on July 12 this year, beginning with a beachside stage at the Town Beach at 11 a.m. From 4 to 6:30 p.m., the Summer Deck stage opens at Yellow Kittens, and from 9:30 p.m. to 1 a.m., the festival moves inside to Kittens’ main stage. ConserFest was started in July 2008 to support land conservation and environmental consciousness through music and art, with proceeds donated directly to land conservation efforts in Rhode Island.

The Farmers Market has a number of new vendors and among them last Wednesday was chef and Club Soda owner Rick Lysik, selling homemade BBQ rub and hot sauce with a hand-lettered sign proclaiming that proceeds from sales were dedicated to daughter Ella’s college fund. How could one resist? When asked, Rick said the hot sauce was medium hot, but it is authoritatively hot, not sweet, and quite wonderful with beans and rice, for example. Would go with many other things besides. Highly recommended.


Happy anniversary to Steve and Becca Hollaway, who celebrated 34 years of marriage on June 24.

Happy anniversary to Kathy & Bob Hiza of Beacon Hill Road on the occasion of their 55th wedding anniversary on June 22. Kathy has been a heart patient at Yale New Haven Hospital since mid April and has been transferred to Gaylord Rehabilitation Center. The Hizas plan to return to Block Island in early August for a family reunion, and the rest of the summer season.

Happiest anniversaries to Ginger and Dave Milner, who celebrate their 23rd on July 4; Evelyn and Richard Vargoshe who will celebrate 63 years of marriage on July 9; and Denny and Trudy O’Toole, whose anniversary is July 10.

About town

The Medical Center has received a fine gift, thanks to the efforts of nurse practitioner student Terri Maine, who has just completed seven weeks of clinical rotation at the Medical Center with resident Nurse Practitioner Liz Dyer. While here, Terri defined a need for an EKG machine. She mentioned it to a board member, and was eventually told a stipulated amount of money to work with in locating a used EKG. Terri, who has worked at Rhode Island Hospital for 23 of her 26 years in nursing, called contacts at the hospital and asked for help in locating a used, affordable machine. When she described the need, she was actually given an EKG machine in excellent working order, and it is now in place at the Medical Center. On its first day of use, three EKGs were performed. Maine trained Medical Center personnel, and Dr. Peter and Cindy Baute, in use of the machine. The new EKG gives a continuous readout and a clearer picture than the older style equipment that the Medical Center depended on. Terri is the niece of Bob and Mary Lu Fallon of West Side Road.

Word has come from Margie Comings, who has been busy transplanting daffodils, of the Marathon Bridge group. The nine bridge teams played bridge throughout the winter months, and awards were presented at a potluck luncheon on June 7 at the Comings house. Taking first place was Team 9, Mary Sue Record and Martha Wilson. Second place winner was Team 5, Barry Saxe and Leslie Parsons. The “booby” prize went to Team 3, Becky Ballard and Marcy Mazzur, who had so much fun that they will play together again next year! Since director Margie Comings feels that every team has improved a tremendous amount and that all are therefore winners, all players went home with a “goody” bag. Other bridge players in this year’s group were Arlene Tunney, Lynne Holden, Pat Doyle, Joan Ballard, Claire McQueeny, Dottie Graham, Marianne Mellor, Jane Scranton, Sara McGinnes and Pam Hinthorn.

Teams for next year’s Marathon Bridge will be formed in August, so if you are interested give Margie Comings a call at 466-2163.

Spotted on-island recently was Stanley Drucker, who in the course of his distinguished musical career was clarinetist with the New York Philharmonic for 61 years, and the orchestra’s principal clarinetist for 49 of those years.

Another notable seen around lately is comedian, actor and writer Steven Wright. Among Wright’s many projects is a short black-and-white film that he made in 1999, “One Soldier,” partially filmed on Block Island. Horses from Rustic Rides Farm were used for a scene featuring Wright with horses on the beach.

Many will know from the picture on last week’s front page that the 180-foot barque Picton Castle was anchored in Old Harbor June 21. The tall ship was on her way to Bristol, R.I., and during her layover on Block Island she was visited by Ila Manner, Kim Woodward and Judy Tierney, who were able to take a ship’s tour. Out of Lunenburg, Novia Scotia, the vessel is a training ship with berths for 40 sail trainees, offering voyages to the South Pacific via the eastern Caribbean and Panama Canal.

All creatures

Have a care for wildlife as you travel our roads. In the past week, I have twice stopped my vehicle and briefly stopped traffic to pick up Eastern Painted Turtles and place them safely in the grass. There are also ducklings about; I’ve stopped several times as five tiny ones and their parents meander across High Street.

Other gentle creatures that browse along roadways are muskrats. Not to be mistaken for the smaller, swift-moving Norway rats, muskrats are slow-paced, semi-aquatic, vegetarian rodents important to wetland ecosystems. They pose no threat — please be careful of them!

Finally, honeybees are gathering nectar from white clover now, so have a care where you step, and bear in mind that insecticides are fatal to these hard-working pollinators of most of the world’s food crops.

Of cakes and candles

Belated happy birthday returns to Betsey DeMaggio, whose birthday is June 23, and to Malcolm Greenaway, whose special day is June 24. A very belated happy birthday to Bob Dalrymple, whose birthday we missed on May 28.

Happy upcoming birthdays to Peter Gempp, July 2; Dick Plumb, July 6; Monica Hull Shea and Monique Batchelder, July 9; Al Goodman and Jim Stevenson, who share a birthday in the same year on July 11.

Let us know what’s happening! Visiting relatives, special occasions, updates on friends near and far, projects… Deadline is Tuesday morning, and Fran can be reached at 466-2892 or

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