Oak Bluffs hires Bob Whritenour as town administrator

Interim and now permanent Oak Bluffs town administrator. — Photo by Steve Myrick

Oak Bluffs selectmen agreed Tuesday to appoint Bob Whritenour as town administrator. Mr. Whritenour has served as the interim administrator since September 1.

The decision followed a search process that took approximately three months and included interviews with four other candidates. In the end there was little surprise. During his interim tenure, Mr. Whritenour earned high marks for righting Oak Bluffs financial ship.

Selectman Mike Santoro had objected to the search process at first. He offered a different perspective at Tuesday’s meeting.

“After the first session of interviews, I changed my mind,” Mr. Santoro said. “Doing the process made me even more aware that we have the best candidate.”

Mr. Whritenour said he was honored to serve the town. “Oak Bluffs is a beautiful town, a charming town, and I see nothing but upside,” he said. “I’ll work real hard to fit into the direction the board wants to go.”

Also Tuesday, selectmen approved a request from the Portuguese-American (P-A) Club to host the “Run to the Rock,” a charity event planned by the Martha’s Vineyard Harley Riders on August 13. The event, which organizers expect to draw about 700 motorcycles, had been held on private property in West Tisbury.

Police chief Erik Blake requested that the group hire five detail officers, and operate as a ticketed event, with a limit of 1,000 tickets. He also requested that the group limit attendance to only those riding motorcycles, and make periodic announcements about being respectful of P-A Club neighbors.

In other action, selectmen said they have asked their independent auditor to take a close look at the financial operation of the wastewater department, in light of financial irregularities discovered at the Edgartown wastewater plant that forced the resignation of plant manager Joe Alosso. Mr. Alosso has served a dual role as plant manager in both towns.

Mr. Santoro also raised the possibility of examining the governing structure of the Oak Bluffs wastewater department.

“I’m concerned about the wastewater commission and how it’s operating,” Mr. Santoro said. “Is the commission the way to go? Should we be doing something different? I think that needs to be done sooner rather than later.”

Selectman Gail Barmakian, who is also a wastewater commissioner, acknowledged that a January 26 vote that she helped engineer to eliminate the plant manager’s position was improper.

“We didn’t have the power to do it,” Ms. Barmakian said. “I want to assure the public that we are taking a proactive approach with all the measures we have taken.”