Eugene Defelice gets his booster shot at the Vineyard hospital. — Ray Ewing

Here are 10 of the stories that most engaged Vineyard Gazette readers in print and online in 2021:

1.     Coronavirus persists. The continuing Covid-19 pandemic dominated the news on the Island as elsewhere for a second year. It was a year of rising hopes and frustrating setbacks. As vaccines became widely available, the Vineyard rebounded for a nearly normal summer season, but the arrival of first the Delta and then the Omicron variants made clear that the pandemic is far from over. 

South Road in Chilmark was scene of haunting moped fatality in August. — Noah Asimow

2.     Red-hot real estate market. It was another record-shattering year for real estate prices on the Island, with total sales topping $1 billion for a second straight year.

3.     Fatal moped accident. A 20-year-old woman was killed and her companion was seriously injured late in the summer when their moped collided with a car on South Road. The first fatal moped accident since 2014 renewed calls for legislative action to ban moped rentals on the Island. 

4.     Obama’s birthday bash. A large private party to celebrate former President Barack Obama’s 60th birthday was scaled back amid criticism over its size and propriety as Covid cases began to surge again on the Island. 

Summer rental market exploded. — Ray Ewing

5.     Housing problems grow. Summer rental housing, always hard to find, was scarcer than hen’s teeth in 2021, due in part to the booming real estate market. A coalition formed to address the lack of affordable housing by creating a Martha’s Vineyard housing bank.

6.     Vineyard Trust imbroglio. The executive director of the Vineyard Trust resigned over irregularities in public funding requests for two of its signature properties, a new director was hired and its board pledged other changes to restore public confidence in the organization.

SSA website was attacked by cyber criminals in June. — Jeanna Shepard

7.     SSA website crash.  A ransomware attack took down the Steamship Authority’s reservation system for several days at the start of the busy summer season, causing confusion and delays.

8.     Trail cutting in state forest. The state moved to close and restore 25 miles of trails in the state forest that were cleared without authorization by the Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation. 

Late October northeaster battered the Island, knocking out power for days in some places. — Tim Johnson

9.     Hurricanes and Storms. In August, Vineyarders battened down the hatches ahead of Hurricane Henri, which ended up sparing the Island the worst of its wrath. But a powerful late October northeaster marked by hurricane-force winds canceled ferries, downed trees and knocked out power. 

10.  When does the Island reach capacity? Traffic, water quality, energy use, wastewater capacity, economic sustainability. These issues underlay many of the year’s top news stories. Reporter Noah Asimow’s story on the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s plan to study the Island’s carrying capacity put the many pieces together and attracted a wide audience.