Authors Posts by Nelson Sigelman

Nelson Sigelman

Nelson Sigelman

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In this 2013 file photo, filmmakers David Heilbroner, left, Wes Craven, and Mr. Craven's wife Iya Labunka attend the eighth annual Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival.

Wes Craven, the famed writer-director of horror films, and a longtime seasonal resident of Martha’s Vineyard who lent his support to Island film festivals and the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center, died Sunday at his home in Los Angeles. The cause was brain cancer, according to published reports. He was 76.

A longtime summer resident, he moved to the Island full-time three years ago, where he had a home, first in Vineyard Haven and later West Tisbury, before returning to Los Angeles for work and health reasons.

Wes Craven is probably best known to film buffs as the creator of Freddy Krueger, the legendary nemesis from the teen horror flicks. Mr. Craven wrote and directed the original “A Nightmare on Elm Street” (1984) as well as “Scream” (1996) and its sequels. But in 2000, the former college professor made a very different kind of film, “Music of the Heart,” starring Meryl Streep as real-life New York City teacher Roberta Guaspari, who brings music to the public schoolchildren of Harlem. The film earned Meryl Streep an Academy Award nomination for best actress.

In June 2004, Mr. Craven appeared at a fundraiser screening of the film at the Chilmark Community Center.

Mr. Craven told MV Times interviewer Brooks Robards he picked “Music of the Heart” for the fundraiser, because, he said, it is the “gentlest film I’ve made.”

But Mr. Craven was best known for horror. Mr. Craven’s first feature film was “The Last House on the Left,” which he wrote, directed, and edited in 1972.

He invented the youth horror genre again in 1984 with the classic “A Nightmare on Elm Street,” which he wrote and directed. Mr. Craven claimed to have gotten the idea for Elm Street when living next to a cemetery on a street of that name when growing up in the suburbs of Cleveland, according to the Hollywood Reporter. His five “Nightmare on Elm Street” films were released from 1984 to 1989.

Similarly, Mr. Craven’s “Scream” series was a box-office sensation. In those scare-’em-ups, he spoofed the teen horror genre. His success in a film genre geared to gore did not reflect the man, Richard Paradise, Martha’s Vineyard Film Society executive director, told The Times Monday after hearing about the death of Wes Craven.

“He was a very gentle and intelligent man,” Mr. Paradise said. “You would not think on meeting him that he was the creator of Freddy Krueger, or given to conjuring up dark, nightmarish images.”

Mr. Craven had recently written and was to direct the “Thou Shalt Not Kill” segment for the Weinstein Co.’s “Ten Commandments” mini-series for WGN America, according to the Hollywood Reporter. He is listed as an executive producer of “The Girl in the Photographs,” which will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival next month.

Wesley Earl Craven was born Aug. 2, 1939, in Cleveland. His father died when he was 5. Raised in a strict Baptist household, he graduated from Wheaton College with degrees in English and psychology, then earned a master’s degree in philosophy and writing from Johns Hopkins. He briefly taught English at Westminster College, and was a humanities professor at Clarkson College, where he was a disc jockey for the campus radio station.

He wed Iya Labunka in 2004, his third marriage. Survivors also include his sister Carol, son Jonathan, daughter Jessica, grandchildren Miles, Max, and Myra-Jean, and stepdaughter Nina.


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Police said the thieves stole medication and computer equipment from two houses sometime Thursday afternoon.

Oak Bluffs police are investigating two break-ins. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

Oak Bluffs Police are investigating two home robberies on Thursday. The break-ins took place between noon and 10 pm while the occupants were not home.

Thieves broke into a house on Prospect Ave. by cutting open a screen on an open first floor window. The only item reported stolen was prescription medication, police said.

That same day thieves entered a house in Waterview Farms, off Barnes Road by pushing in a window screen on an open crank-out window, police said. The burglars stole a computer and an iPad.

A neighbor told police that he saw two males leaving the house at approximately 5:45 pm, Thursday in a dark colored Toyota Prius. The driver of the Prius was described as a white male, approximately 17-years-old with brown hair and wearing a flat brim baseball hat. The second male was described as white, approximately 6 feet tall with a thin build, blonde hair and well tanned.
Anyone with any information is asked to contact Oak Bluffs police by calling the station at 508-693-0750; or the anonymous tip line at 508-696-0303; or on the department’s Facebook page.


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Bill Lawson, 63, of Oak Bluffs died peacefully at home on Sunday morning, August 9th in an east wind and on a rising tide.

Bill Lawson
Bill Lawson

He was born a block from the beach in Scituate and save for a few youthful cross country adventures, never strayed far from the sea.  Over the years he lived in Vancouver, Mexico, the Florida Keys and Puerto Rico. He met his wife and started a family in Mattapoisett and the Chesapeake while living aboard the S/V Phoenix.

Hurricane Bob brought them to the Vineyard in 1991 where Bill spent the next 24 years as a boat builder, marine mechanic and charter captain. He will be remembered as a spinner of yarns, an irreverent humorist and a man who said what he thought.

He leaves his wife Jane and four children: Savannah,  James, and Alex of Oak Bluffs, and Sara Beth Barwise and her wife Ana of Pine Grove Mills and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as well as four siblings, Mary Ann, Robert, Sandra and Lawrence.

Bill treasured his friends and family in the Island community who were so tremendously supportive in his last Vineyard summer.

He was predeceased by his parents, Kay and Bill Sr., and by his true soul mate, Spot, a feisty Jack Russell who steamed ahead to the great offshore just 9 days before him.

Memorial contributions to the amazing folks at Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard would be lovely.

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— File photo by Ralph Stewart

The Oak Bluffs Police Department Wednesday asked for the public’s help in locating Gary Wallace out of concern for his welfare.

Gary Wallace. – Photo courtesy of Oak Bluffs Police Department
Gary Wallace. – Photo courtesy of Oak Bluffs Police Department

Police said Mr. Wallace is 48-years-old, 6 feet tall and weighs about 170 pounds.

He was last seen wearing dark colored shorts and a faded red t-shirt, police said.

Anyone who sees Mr. Wallace is asked to call the Dukes County communications center at 508-693-1212.

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The lawyer for embattled airport manager Sean Flynn said Dukes County commissioners are behind the removal effort, which could prove costly.

Members of the Martha's Vineyard Airport Commission met August 13 without their airport manager present. – Photo by Catey McCann

Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission chairman Myron Garfinkle of West Tisbury appeared to have spoken too soon when he announced last week that airport manager Sean Flynn would step down as part of an amicable separation agreement.

Lawyer Harry Beach of Norwood, who represents Mr. Flynn, said his client plans to remain, and any effort to end his contract prematurely would only lead to costly litigation.

Mr. Beach also accused the Dukes County Commissioners, the appointing authority for the airport commission, of being behind the effort to oust Mr. Flynn as part of a long-running battle to bring the airport to heel.

In a telephone conversation Friday, Mr. Garfinkle invoked the careful guidance he said he had received from lawyers, and said, “We are in the process of negotiating an amicable separation.”

Mr. Garfinkle said assistant airport manager Deborah Potter is now managing the airport. He said the best professional search firm would be hired to guide the airport commission in its search for a new airport manager.

In an email to The Times Tuesday, Mr. Beach provided a different version of Mr. Flynn’s status.

“The Airport Commission re-appointed Mr. Flynn as airport manager for a three-year term that began July 1, 2015,” Mr. Beach said. “Just as he has successfully done since 2005, Mr. Flynn intends to serve as airport manager through the current contracted period, ending June 30, 2018.”

In his email, Mr. Beach also referenced the most recent decision in connection with the county’s continuing effort to exercise control over its appointed airport commission. In a decision handed down on June 8 in Dukes County Superior Court, Justice Cornelius J. Moriarty II found for the airport commission on all points.

The ruling was unequivocal. The county commissioners, County Manager Martina Thornton, and County Treasurer Noreen Mavro Flanders may not interfere in airport affairs.

All of the members of the airport commission that originally brought that suit, with the exception of Norman Perry of West Tisbury, have been replaced on the airport commission, either because they stepped down or because the county refused to reappoint them.

Mr. Beach said, “Any effort by the county, acting through its proxy agents on the airport commission, to conclude Mr. Flynn’s employment prematurely will only lead to more litigation against the County and the airport commission. As Island taxpayers well know, the County consistently loses when it interferes with the management of the airport. In addition, with the court’s June 2015 permanent injunction, the County’s interference subjects the County and its agents to contempt citations and fines.”

In a telephone call Wednesday, Mr. Beach refused to elaborate on his reasons for accusing the county of calling the shots, or to provide any evidence that supports his claim. Mr. Beach said his statement speaks for itself.

“I have no idea where such allegations come from,” Dukes County Commission chairman Leon Brathwaite told The Times in a telephone call Wednesday.

Mr. Garfinkle could not be reached for comment on the allegations by Mr. Beach.

Mr. Beach previously represented Mr. Flynn in 2002 when the Dukes County commissioners and the county manager, Carol Borer, in a battle with the airport commission over salary-setting authority, refused to authorize the county treasurer to pay then airport manager Bill Weibrecht and assistant airport manager Mr. Flynn the full salaries agreed to by the airport commission. That lawsuit ultimately proved costly for county taxpayers when the judge found in favor of Mr. Weibrecht and Mr. Flynn and awarded damages.


FAA precipitated action

Mr. Garfinkle, a pilot and businessman appointed in March, makes no secret of his unhappiness with Mr. Flynn’s stewardship of the airport as it relates to a recent report by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which highlighted four areas of concern that included two points of noncompliance.

Asked why he had decided it was in the best interests of the airport to separate from Mr. Flynn, Mr. Garfinkle said Friday he was not allowed to discuss personnel issues.

Asked when the discussion of a separation began, Mr. Garfinkle cited an annual FAA inspection in May that highlighted a long-overdue aircraft rescue and firefighting (ARFF) building construction project, the lack of a wildlife management plan, poor employee performance, and inadequate runway markings that prompted what he said was a FAA letter of investigation.

“The main thread that began to unravel revolved around the FAA’s letter of investigation,” he said.

Mr. Garfinkle said the airport commission determined that the airport was not going in the right direction.

Mr. Garfinkle and vice chairman Robert Rosenbaum described the outstanding issues at an MVAC meeting on Thursday, August 13, after meeting a Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT) representative at the airport on August 11.

“The FAA made it clear that we have not made an effort to correct these noncompliance issues over a significant period of time, and in some cases in well over a year,” Mr. Garfinkle said, reading from a prepared statement. The airport is under an Oct. 15 deadline to address markings on the runway and create an adequate wildlife management program.


Conditions to meet

Airport manager Sean Flynn was not present at the meeting on August 13. On Friday, Mr. Flynn said he remains available to Ms. Potter “and the airport 24/7, as I always have been.”

Mr. Flynn is in the second month of a new three-year contract that took effect July 1, worth $138,882 annually. Under the terms of the contract, if the airport commission dismisses Mr. Flynn, the commission must pay him through the end of the three-year contract.

The commission, by majority vote, could terminate the contract for cause by meeting a number of conditions. The commission must give the airport manager 30 days notice of the vote, as well as time to correct any deficiencies identified. The commission must also conduct an impartial hearing at least 10 days before the scheduled vote.

In an email to The Times Friday, Mr. Flynn said it would be inaccurate to say he has decided “to step down.” Mr. Flynn said he remains committed to fulfilling the terms of his current three-year contract. “I will consider all my options as they present themselves, but at this time nothing has been presented,” he said.


New faces

The airport commission that voted to approve Mr. Flynn’s contract is not the airport commission that will preside over his departure.

Airport commission chairman Constance Teixeira and commissioners James Coyne, Denys Wortman, Norm Perry, and Beth Toomey approved the contract. Commissioner Christine Todd, who is also a county commissioner, and Rich Michelson, a former airport employee, voted against the contract.

Ms. Teixeira, Mr. Coyne, and Mr. Wortman are gone. Ms. Teixeira and Mr. Coyne unsuccessfully sought reappointment to the airport commission by the Dukes County Commission amid a long-running battle between the county commission and the airport commission for control of the county-owned airport.

In March, the county commissioners voted to appoint Mr. Garfinkle, Mr. Rosenbaum, and Trip Barnes to three-year terms on the airport commission, bypassing the two incumbents.

The county vote continued a purge of the airport commission that began with the ouster in April 2014 of Ben Hall Jr. of Edgartown and John Alley of West Tisbury.

In their stead, the county appointed Ms. Tod, and Mr. Mickelson, a sharp critic of Mr. Flynn. The county later appointed Beth Toomey, a former interim county commissioner, to a vacated seat.

Norman Perry of West Tisbury is the only remaining member of the airport commission that initiated the lawsuit that was ultimately decided in favor of the airport commission.

In a telephone conversation Wednesday, airport commissioner Norman Perry said he did not know the status of Mr. Flynn. Told that Mr. Beach had accused the county of being behind the push out the door, and asked if he agreed with that assessment, Mr. Perry said, “Yes.”

Mr. Perry said Mr. Flynn was a good manager, and had always been on top of airport issues. He said any deficiencies cited in a recent FAA report were not cause to terminate his contract.

Mr. Perry said that over the course of his tenure on the airport commission, and during its battles with the county, he had witnessed a degree of personal animosity unlike anything he had ever witnessed while serving as police commissioner for 12 years in Connecticut. “I’ve never seen politics like this,” he said. “It’s just been ongoing, and it’s unhealthy, and I’m shocked.”


Local preference

Mr. Flynn began working at the Martha’s Vineyard airport in 1993 as the security coordinator. In 2000 he was hired as the assistant airport manager, and in May of that year he was appointed the acting airport manager, after former manager Bill Weibrecht quit, following a long dispute with Dukes County officials who refused to pay him the full amount stipulated in his employment contract.

The airport commission voted in December 2005 to name Mr. Flynn manager. In selecting Mr. Flynn for the job, the airport commissioners spurned the four candidates selected by a professional consulting firm.

Mr. Flynn, who by many accounts has done a good job as the acting airport manager, was the least experienced out of the five candidates vying for the airport manager job. However, what one airport commissioner called “the Island factor” gave Mr. Flynn a key advantage.

Not everyone agreed on the importance of the Island factor.

Norman Perry, then an airport commissioner, voted in favor of the other finalist.

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A fishing columnist does what it takes to make up for a lost tide.

Fresh clams over a bed of linguini topped with chopped tomatoes cooked with basil and garlic were the reward for a morning spent raking clams. Photo by Nelson Sigelman
Tom Robinson rakes up clams in Tashmoo. Photo by Nelson Sigelman
Tom Robinson rakes up clams in Tashmoo. Photo by Nelson Sigelman

The August 20 print edition of The Times republished the August 13 tide chart. My good friend Cooper Gilkes alerted me in a phone call, with some degree of glee, to what he thought was a mistake on my part.

“Hey, check out your tide chart,” he said with a laugh. “You got your dates mixed up?”

Sure, we published the wrong tide chart. But it was no mistake. It was intentional, and it was done as a public service at the request of the vacationing President Obama, who emailed me on deadline day.

For those of you unfamiliar with the tide cycles, the gravitational pull of the moon on the Earth’s oceans causes tidal change.

For those of you unfamiliar with gravity, it is what causes beer to wash down your throat and not out your nostrils — unless you drink too many beers, which relates to a different law of physics.

High tides occur 12 hours and 25 minutes apart. Generally speaking, tides change about 45 minutes each day, meaning if high tide was 1 pm on Thursday, it will be about 1:45 pm on Friday, and next Thursday it will be low a little after 1 pm.

So why was this important to President Obama while he was on vacation? Well, most of us have heard of the educational initiative known as “No child left behind,” but few people know about “No fisherman left behind.”

Mr. Obama, who I am told likes to watch cable fishing shows, is concerned that fishermen are losing their ability to add and subtract — basic math skills that he thinks are important if we are to compete with fourth graders in China.

He said if I would publish the same tide chart, fishermen would be forced to add 6.5 hours to the tide listed in The Times tide chart.

He also said something about national security issues and the need to confuse anyone trying to approach Farm Neck Golf Club from the sea while he was playing golf, but I am not at liberty to discuss that part of his request.

Saturday morning, about 9 am, I called Tom Robinson to see if he might be interested in looking for some bonito. Tom said he had to go see some clients about tree work in the morning, and he planned to go clamming in Tashmoo later in the day. Tom was planning a trip to upstate New York later in the week, he said, and he wanted to bring a bushel of clams, always a big hit with his landlocked friends.

He had a plan. Get his half-bushel limit on Saturday, and get another half-bushel, the start of a new week, on Sunday.

“When’s low tide?” I asked.

“Late afternoon,” Tom said. “Why?” he said, sensing something amiss.

“I hope you didn’t use our tide chart,” I said. “We published last week’s.”

“You’re kidding, right?” Tom said, knowing my sense of humor and not guessing that I was acting under the direction of the president.

Tom is good at math.

“Then I should be clamming right now,” he said. “I don’t believe it.”

But Tom could not go clamming. He had appointments to make.

I tried to explain why we had published the same tide chart. Tom was not buying my story.

Sunday morning, about 9:30 am, I went clamming with Tom and turned over the better part of my half-bushel to him. It seemed like the patriotic thing to do.

I did retain a couple of dozen clams for dinner. That night we ate some on the half shell. In my view, fresh clams should never be lathered with cocktail sauce, horseradish, or any condiment. Why obliterate the inherent, salty yet subtle taste of a fresh clam? It is wrong. The most I will allow is a squeeze of lemon.

The next night I sautéed some garlic in olive oil in a saucepan and added chopped-up fresh garden tomatoes, chopped basil, chives, salt and pepper, and a half-cup of starchy water from a boiling pot of linguini. While that simmered, I sautéed the clams in a pan with some olive oil. Once the clams opened, I took a few large spoonfuls of the pan broth and added it to my sauce. I arranged the clams around a plate and put the linguini in the middle topped with the sauce. It was delicious, and well worth the effort it took to rake up the clams and the embarrassment of having to concoct a story to make up for printing the same tide chart twice.


Sengy update

“We hauled it,” Edgartown harbormaster Charlie Blair told me Tuesday. He was referring to a junk boat and trailer left at the Ocean Heights landing. He took another boat belonging to the same fisherman and left it in the man’s yard.

The landing and surrounding areas are considerably cleaner now, as they should be. Charlie is determined not to let them backslide. Mooring permit requirements will be enforced, and this fall all boats and kayaks will need to be removed by Oct. 1, he said. “That goes for all our landings,” he said.

Year-round storage that turns into year-round trash will no longer be allowed. To his credit, Charlie admits that his focus on the busy harbor caused him to overlook some of the areas off the beaten path.

In policing, the “broken windows” approach considers the effect small crimes have on the overall neighborhood. Charlie’s renewed approach to the landings and his efforts to crack down on those who treat these public spaces like private dumps is a positive trend.

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Harold G. Hall, Jr., 86, died on Monday, August 24, 2015 at his home in Edgartown surrounded by his family.

He was the husband of Claire (Nickerson) Hall and father of Stacy, Nick and Greg Hall.

Visiting hours will be held in the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown Road, Oak Bluffs on Thursday, Aug 27 from 5 to 7pm.

His funeral service celebrating his life will be held on Fri., Aug. 28 at 1pm in the funeral home officiated by Rev. Arlene Bodge with a gathering following at the family home. According to his wishes he will be cremated.

Donations may be made in his memory to the Boys’ and Girls’ Club of MV, PO Box 654, or to the Edgartown Library, PO Box 5249, both in Edgartown, MA 02539.

A complete obituary will appear in another edition of this paper.

Visit for online guest book and information.


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This MH-65 Coast Guard helicopter waited in the SSA standby line Tuesday unable to fly away.

A United States Coast Guard MH-65 Dolphin helicopter at the start of an unglamorous trip back to its home base on the back of a trailer in the standby line at the Steamship Authority’s Vineyard Haven terminal Tuesday attracted a considerable amount of attention from travelers happy to get an up-close look at the versatile aircraft.

The helicopter is based at USCG Air Station Atlantic City, and was on the Vineyard as part of the Coast Guard security detail for President Obama, which included two small boats and one cutter stationed in Vineyard Sound off his vacation rental.

Under normal circumstances, the crew would have flown the helicopter back to its home base, but when the aircraft developed vibrations, the wiser course of action was to truck it to Air Station Cape Cod for further transport home.

The crew assigned to the helicopter happily answered questions from passersby as they waited in standby from about 6 pm, anticipating boarding an 8:30 pm ferry.

The H-65 helicopter is certified for operation in all-weather and nighttime operations, with the exception of icing conditions, according to the Coast Guard. The H-65 has a maximum speed of 175 knots and a range of 290 miles. It carries two pilots, a flight mechanic, and a rescue swimmer.

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Fortunata P. ‘Nata’ Metell, 90, died on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 at her home at Aidylberg Way in Oak Bluffs. Visiting hours will be held in the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown Road, Oak Bluffs on Friday, Aug 28 from 5 to 7pm. Her funeral mass will be celebrated Sat., Aug. 29 at 12 noon in Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, Massasoit Avenue, Oak Bluffs. Burial will follow in the Oak Grove Cemetery, State Road, Vineyard Haven. Donations may be made in her memory to the Good Shepherd Parish, PO Box 1058, or to Island Elderly Housing, 60-B Village Road both in Vineyard Haven, MA 02568. Arrangements are under the care of the Chapman, Cole and Gleason Funeral Home, Edgartown Road, Oak Bluffs. Visit for online guest book and information.

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The PWC is the latest in a string of donations Mr. Boch has made to the Island community.

In this file photo, Ernie Boch Jr. stands in the lot he owns and hopes to deveop on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Seasonal Edgartown resident and philanthropist Ernie Boch Jr., president and CEO of Subaru of New England, has donated the $8,300 the Aquinnah Fire Department needed to purchase a personal watercraft that can be used for water emergencies in Aquinnah and surrounding towns.

Fire Chief Simon Bollin said the versatility of the personal watercraft (PWC), which can be launched right from shore, is important when responding to emergencies off some of the town’s more secluded beaches on the Atlantic side of the Island.

The department had use of a Kawasaki PWC last summer under a company public-safety loan program, but was unable to secure funding to purchase the machine at the end of the season.

Chief Bollin said he was searching for funding and came across Mr. Boch’s email. He sent an email to Mr. Boch in which he described the department’s need and the purpose of the PWC. “Within two days after that, I had a check from him, and went and picked up the machine,” Chief Bollin said. “Now it’s a piece of equipment we have in our arsenal.”

Chief Bollin said the Environmental Police will conduct a joint PWC training exercise this fall with the up-Island fire departments.

“On behalf of Subaru of New England, I’m delighted to assist the town of Aquinnah and the Aquinnah Fire Rescue Squad in the purchase of a personal watercraft,” Mr. Boch said in a press release. “This new machine will ensure the safety of Martha’s Vineyard residents and thousands of tourists for years to come. Growing up, I spent summers on the Vineyard swimming in these waters; I know how important water safety is.”

There will be a brief ceremony at the Aquinnah fire house Thursday at noon, where Mr. Boch will speak about his donation. 

Mr. Boch is well known for his generosity on Martha’s Vineyard, which has included funding a new rescue boat for the Edgartown Police Department, funding a new police vehicle for the Island K-9 officer, funding the Tisbury eighth grade trip to Washington, D.C., and allowing the use of his property for a boat-building educational project for three years, two years longer than planned.