Authors Posts by Tony Omer

Tony Omer

Tony Omer

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After 55 years in the restaurant business Chef Jean Dupon still has a smile and a twinkle in his eye. — Michael Cummo

After working in restaurants for 55 years, French chef Jean Dupon is retiring. On Sunday, October 12, he will close the doors of Le Grenier, his signature second-story restaurant on Main Street, Vineyard Haven,  where he has been the chef for 36 years. Le Cave, his two-year-old French style bistro, downstairs from Le Grenier will close September 8.

He has a purchase and sale agreement for the building and a deposit in hand from Steve Bowen, owner of neighboring sandwich shop Waterside, The Blue Canoe on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven, and a restaurant, Parkside Market in Falmouth. The sale is scheduled for November 28. Mr. Bowen told The Times he plans to open a seasonal, family style, old school Italian restaurant upstairs in May called La Soffitta. “We are trying to maintain some continuity with Le Grenier which means attic in French,” he said, “la soffitta is attic in Italian.” He said he will probably open a year-round casual eatery downstairs.

“I just turned 71 and I’m done,” Mr. Dupon said to the Times recently, in  his locally recognizable French accent. “Even if the sale does not go through, I will shut it down and wait until something happens. I do not want to spend another winter like last winter here on the Vineyard.” Referring to the harsh weather, he said, “It was horrible.”

He plans to spend part of the year on the Vineyard where his three grandchildren, his son Jean-Marc Dupon, and daughter-in-law live, and where he will be closer to his daughter and two grandchildren in Malden. He will spend part of the year in Florida with his two sisters.

“I will miss the customers,” he said. “It is really rewarding when you have made something that contributes to somebody’s happiness and satisfaction, especially here when they are on vacation.”

He has served celebrities and the families of presidents but never a president, and once had to ask two well-known comedians to leave because they were so rude to their dates.

“I have met many, many people,” he said. “I am dealing with three generations now. Grandchildren of people I served years ago are now eating here. I have so many memories. I have kept all my reservation books for the last 25 years and many of the entries bring back memories.”

At 16, while a high school student and soon after his family moved to Malden from his native France, Mr. Dupon got his first part-time restaurant job at the French restaurant where his stepfather found work. “When we came here I was the only one in the family that spoke any English,” he said. “The only place to work when you only speak French in this country is in a French restaurant where people speak French.”

He worked in a half dozen or so French restaurants in the Boston area, gaining experience until becoming a chef for some of Boston’s finest establishments. He eventually opened his own restaurant called Fromages Import, a small cheese and gourmet food shop in Harvard Square where he sold 250 types of cheese and cooked lunches.

In the late 1960s Mr. Dupon received a phone call from Martha’s Vineyard from an Eleanor Pearlson, a realtor who owned Tea Lane Associates, an up-Island real estate business. “She must have been in my shop,” he said, “but I didn’t know her. She talked to me about the Vineyard for about a half an hour and asked me if I would consider opening a shop on the Vineyard. I had never been to the Vineyard.”

“I drove down. She met me at the ferry. I spent the whole day with her. It was March. I don’t remember seeing another car on the roads the entire day. She showed me Martha’s Vineyard like I have not seen since. I fell in love with the Vineyard.”

That day he signed a lease with Ms. Pearlson for space in a building she owned near Beetlebung Corner in Chilmark, where the Chilmark Tavern is now.

That summer, he opened a shop similar to the Cambridge shop and operated it for five summers, while camping in a tent at Webb’s Camp Area, an Oak Bluffs campground that closed in the late 1990s.

“What was there not to like about summers on the Vineyard, Jungle Beach, Lucy Vincent Beach? I was in my twenties, separated from my wife. It was beautiful, free this and free that. How can you not enjoy that?” His parents managed the Cambridge shop while he was on the Vineyard.

In 1973 Mr. Dupon opened a full service French restaurant in Lexington called Le Bellecour, the same year he got his American citizenship, which he needed in order to get a liquor license. He gave up the shop on the Vineyard. “I don’t even remember living during the five years I had Le Bellecour. It was work, work, work. I got sick of it.”

He sold the restaurant, bought a trailer and spent the next seven months with a friend traveling the entire outline of the United States, 70,000 miles. “I thought about living on the West Coast, but I came back east because of my family and kids.”

A friend from Boston Mr. Dupon had introduced to the Vineyard, Tony Matta, bought the Vineyard Haven building and opened Le Grenier in 1978. Mr. Matta asked him to run it. “I took the job. A girlfriend and I used to go to the beach every single morning. It was paradise. One time we took a picnic to Lucy Vincent beach we got back after a little wine and too much sun. I fell asleep on the floor about three in the afternoon. At six I heard a knock on the door. People were lined up to eat. I never did that again.

“By the next year I had the reputation as the best restaurant on the Vineyard.” He signed a five-year lease that ended in 1985 when he purchased the building and the business from Mr. Matta.

From 1981 to 1992 Mr. Dupon also ran the French bakery downstairs called La Patisserie Francaise. “Wow, we were so successful,” he said. “We were the only place that made croissants on the Island. I remember one Sunday we did over 2,000 croissants by hand. I once had five bakers.”

The two businesses were a success. He paid off the building in 2005, bought a house on the Island, and satisfied a lifelong passion to learn to fly. He bought a plane which was destroyed in a crash on an Oak Bluffs beach three years ago when a he ran out of fuel due to a faulty gauge near the end of a trip back from Hyannis. He and his passenger walked away unscathed.

“I sometimes kid that I am Afro-American,” Mr. Dupon said. His father was in the free-French Air Force in Dakar, Senegal, then French West Africa when he was born in 1943. After the war, the Dupon family lived in Dijon and Lyon. Tragically, Mr. Dupon’s father was killed in a car accident. The nine-year-old Jean was a passenger in the car, and after a two-week recovery in a German hospital the young Dupon was sent to the first of two French military schools.

“The first military school was awful. The second military school was an air force school and I loved it. That was when I decided I wanted to be a pilot.”

He was pulled out of school against his will when the family moved to Malden, where he spent three years at Malden High School.

At 18, Mr. Dupon applied and received a provisional acceptance to the United States Air Force Academy. “I even had a room assignment,” he said. “A week and a half before I was scheduled to report the SAT scores came in,” he said. “I scored in the high 700s in chemistry, math, physics. In English I got a 450. Half the words I had never seen in my life and that kept me out. I was so depressed. I decided if I couldn’t fly I wouldn’t go to school. If I had known what it meant to go to MIT or Harvard I might have tried. I didn’t know.”

He married at 19 and soon became the father of a girl, nine months to the day from the date of their wedding, he said.

“This has a been a hard life, the restaurant business is really hard, a lot of hard work,” Mr. Dupon said, “but it is all I really know how to do. I quit the business twice. Once I parked cars in Boston for six months. I began to miss it. I love to cook, but I was fighting it. It is like an addiction.

“The restaurant business is hell on a family life unless the two of you are really made for it, and it’s in your blood — although there will always be problems. The restaurant business is always a love-hate relationship.”

He said that the upside of the restaurant business is pleasing the customers, and the relationships he has developed with employees over the years.

“Many employees have gone through these portals,” he said. “Some of them, because of their experience here, have become chefs.

“When I used to work under French chefs, they were the worst — old men with attitudes. Most of them drank a lot and would treat you like dirt and some it rubbed off on me.

“I remember one time, I was quite young, 19, I was in charge of lunch and there was a Canadian waitress in her fifties who was like a mother to me. We had a disagreement and I hit her with a chicken. Tears poured from her eyes. I went over and hugged her and we both cried. That day I swore I would never treat an employee like I had been treated by other chefs.

“This has been my philosophy here. I may be the chef, or whatever, but I will do the dishes or serve a customer. In my restaurant we are all equal, this has been the most rewarding part of what I do.”

“When I started I was so shy you couldn’t get me out of the kitchen. I would never talk to a customer. I would step out the back door rather than have to meet a customer, but that has changed 180 degrees. I am now willing to talk about my life and my work and I am ready to move on.

“I will miss the customers and my employees.”

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Agreement with abutters to old police station building is reached.

West Tisbury's solar panel array is poised to begin drawing power from the sun. (Photo by Susie Safford) — Susie Safford

The West Tisbury solar voltaic panel project at the old town dump is nearing completion and is awaiting NSTAR to plug it in, town administrator Jennifer Rand said at the selectmen’s meeting on Wednesday, August 27.

“We are now going to enter a holding pattern waiting for NSTAR,” she said. “It can take as long as NSTAR feels like taking.” Ms. Rand said there is a deadline NSTAR is supposed to meet that she thinks is about 60 days, and she hopes the connection will happen in that time frame.

Selectman Richard Knabel expressed frustration over the length of time it has taken to complete the project. A change in electrical contractors was required after the first contractor hired went out of business.

“Theoretically this should have been on line on July 1,” he said. “So we are losing revenue while they take their time.”

Ms. Rand agreed but said, “It is all moving forward, and it is very exciting.”

In other town business, selectmen agreed unanimously to changes Peter and Beatrice Nessen proposed to an agreement under which the town now maintains a septic system for the old police station, which was built on a lot so small and so close to the Mill Pond, that the septic system was sited on an adjacent residential lot owned by the Nessens with the condition that the lot would only be used for the police station.

Police vacated the small, 1,000 square foot building, their home since 1974, when they moved into a new $2.5 million, 5,600-square-foot headquarters at 454 State Road in North Tisbury, behind the Public Safety Building, in March.

An agreement to change the name of the building from the police station was first on the list.

“Building by the Mill Pond,” suggested chairman Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter, a police sergeant. That name was quickly dismissed by his two associates. No decision on a new name was reached.

The amended agreement includes a requirement to provide an annual report of water flow to insure that flow to the septic system stays below a limit now set at 45 gallons a day, and a reevaluation of the 45 gallon limit to determine if it is a reasonable limit that does not strain the septic or adversely affect the Nessens’ property. The agreement also limits parking on the town-owned lot to three cars.

The selectmen plan to issue a request for proposal (RFP) to rent the old police station after the new agreement is finalized and several other issues are ironed out.

One concern is whether to replace the furnace, another is to decide on the rental conditions. Selectman Cynthia Mitchell said that it is important to establish conditions that are in the best interests of the town. Last month, a committee appointed by the selectmen to study the building’s use recommended that the building be leased to a nonprofit group.

Two soundproofing issues were also on the Wednesday night agenda. Ms. Rand reported that she had received an approximate price of $20,000 to install two-inch-thick sound-damping panels in the town hall to help reduce the level of distracting noise generated in the offices, an expenditure that she said would have to go before the town at town meeting. Selectmen decided to address the issue more thoroughly at the next meeting.

Also sound-related, Ms. Rand said that Animal Health Care had reported that it had completed the installation of soundproofing designed to help reduce the noise of barking dogs in the facility’s kennel adjacent to Martha’s Vineyard Airport. The dog noise had generated complaints from residents of a nearby subdivision who brought their complaints to the selectmen and asked for relief.

The meeting ended with what has become an annual seasonal event. Mr. Manter presented Mr. Knabel, who was unable to attend the Fair for the second straight year, with an Ag Fair tee-shirt he had purchased for his fellow selectman. Mr. Knabel expressed surprise that the shirt was the correct size.

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There’s a gem in the woods of West Tisbury. Just don’t tell too many people.

Mike Gambone and Donnie Morgan manage Hostel International USA's Manter Memorial Hostel in West Tisbury, the Vineyard's only hostel. (Photo by Michael Cummo) — Photo by Michael Cummo

The Manter Memorial Hostel on the Edgartown Road in West Tisbury is surrounded by lush trees that have all but hidden it from the road. But travelers from all over the world have no trouble finding the Vineyard’s sole hostel, according to co-managers Donnie Morgan and her husband, Michael Gambone. This year, the couple will provide accommodations for close to 3,000 people before the season is over.

MCOH0033.JPG“By far the majority of our guests are from the United States,” Ms. Morgan said. “The Vineyard can be a difficult place to get to.” But Mr. Gambone pointed out that they have guests from all over the world; many European travelers who are experienced hostelers often make reservations well in advance for trips with stays in hostels throughout New England, including the Vineyard and Nantucket.

The hostel also hosts bike groups, Scout troops, and programs for the FARM Institute and other local organizations that bring in people from off Island. Now and then, there’s even a wedding.

Dan Usher, a longtime hosteler, talks with Sally Denais, who was visiting a hostel for the first time. (Photo by Jamie Stringfellow)
Dan Usher, a longtime hosteler, talks with Sally Denais, who was visiting a hostel for the first time. (Photo by Jamie Stringfellow)

On a recent summer morning, guests mingling over breakfast in the big common room included a man named Russ Kane, who’d ridden his motorcycle from Wethersfield, Conn., and praised the “clean rooms, breakfast and the full kitchen available to us.”

Paul Metzler, from Chicopee, had parked his car in Falmouth and put his bike on the ferry. There were close to a dozen guests at the hostel for the African American Film Festival, including two women, Jalisa Goodman and Kim Townes, who spoke about the camaraderie among guests, and that “filmmakers could mingle here, unlike in a stuffy hotel in a city.” The night before, half a dozen of the film festival guests decided to go to a party in Oak Bluffs together. Kim, a Hampton College alumnus, joked that it was “actually sort of treasonous” that she had made friends at the hostel with Jalisa, an alum of Hampton arch-rival Howard University.

A typical dorm room at the Manter Hostel.
A typical dorm room at the Manter Hostel.

It was the first time that Sally Denais, an elegant middle-aged woman from Nahant, had ever stayed in a hostel. She’d spent previous Vineyard visits in a timeshare. “This is great!” she said. “The rooms are comfy, and okay, I sleep in a bunk bed, but I like my bunk bed.” She reported being surprised after going out to a party with three “girls” she’d met and returning to the hostel, not a raucous dorm room, but to complete quiet. “The other girls in my room were like mice!” she said. “Just sleeping lumps in their beds!”

There's plenty of seating in the common room.
There’s plenty of seating in the common room.

Sally, who confided she’d packed popcorn and cookie mix to make later in the kitchen, had just met Dan Usher, who has stayed in hostels all over the world and the country. “You never have to travel alone,” he said, as he and Sally stood at the counter with coffee, sharing travel tales. “In hotels, you don’t meet people the way you do in hostels.” After sharing their enthusiasm for hostels, and in particular the Manter hostel, Ms. Denais and Mr. Usher had second thoughts about letting a reporter know “how great the place is. We’re not sure we want you to write about it!”

MCOH0043.JPGThe building, named to honor Islanders Lillian and Daniel Manter, who built the hostel in 1955 and ran it for many years, is operated by Hostelling International USA (HI USA), a nonprofit founded in 1934 to promote international understanding of the world. HI USA owns and operates 50 hostels and is affiliated with Hostels International, which oversees over 4,000 hostels worldwide. The Manter hostel is open to travelers between mid-May and mid-October. As with hotels, most reservations may be made online on their website. Hostels range from urban high-rise buildings with hundreds of beds, to scenic and more remote locations like the one in West Tisbury.

The Manter Hostel has look and feel of a rural summer camp, with a big communal kitchen and dining room, and a large living room but with the added benefit of a decidedly un-camp-like Wifi. It has 67 beds for visitors, in rooms including singles, doubles, and mixed dorms, and accommodations for staff in a variety of combinations, many of which can be changed according to need.

Only travelers, meaning no locals, may rent, in keeping with hostelling’s mission, and may only stay for a total of one week during a season.

The Manters based the Vineyard hostel on a model developed in Europe, first catering to traveling students and youth who once were required to  arrive on public transport, bicycles, or foot. It is the first hostel in the United States that was deliberately built for the purpose, and it has been used as a model for many hostels built since.

Curfews and wake-up calls were once the rule, and it was common for hostels to keep log books where travelers would leave messages to those following in their footsteps about places to go and things to see in the area as well as critiques of hostels visited.

“We no longer have curfews or wake-up calls,” Mr. Gambone said with a laugh, “and have not had a logbook in about 15 years. Travelers now communicate with each other via social media on their cellphones.”

The hostel’s mission is to serve travelers of all ages. “We’ve had no age limit since the 70’s and 80’s when most hostels dropped ‘youth’ from their names,” he said. “Basically if you are old enough or young enough to handle a dormitory and a bunk bed you can stay in a hostel.”

And Manter, as with all hostels, now welcome guests via any mode of transport. There is even parking for guests’ cars.

In addition to co-managing the hostel, Ms. Morgan is also regional manager and Mr. Gambone is maintenance engineer for the Northeast Region of HI USA, which means they oversee the running of seven hostels in New England and New York.

Ms. Morgan loves to travel, so when she left a 20-year career as an educational administrator in Virginia, she took several long trips around North America, the United Kingdom, and Europe. “I stayed in hostels for months at a time. Managers would invite me to work after I had developed a sense of what the hostels were all about,” she said. She was not entirely unschooled in the hospitality business, having been responsible for residence halls as a college administrator.

She met Mr. Gambone at Randolph-Macon college when she was about to graduate and he had embarked on one of his first jobs as a college professor. They kept in touch over the years, and both married others. He cycled through a number of jobs over the years, picking up a variety of skills, rebuilding homes, becoming an electrician and even an electrical inspector. Twenty years after they first met, both of their marriages had ended. Mr. Gambone visited Ms. Morgan, who was working for a hostel in Buffalo, and their relationship became more serious.

In 2000 and 2001 Ms. Morgan worked as a seasonal employee at the Vineyard hostel and in 2003 returned to the hostel in Buffalo. After a long distance relationship, Mr. Gambone eventually joined Ms. Morgan in Buffalo; the couple came to the Vineyard in 2010 after a couple of seasons on Cape Cod.

They have experienced a consolidation of the Hostel organizational structure in the last couple of years from one where many hostels were owned and managed by local nonprofit boards to a nationwide organization of hostels with a national board with more standardized rules. Ms. Morgan said that there are several for-profit, much smaller companies unaffiliated with HI USA that operate on a similar model to theirs in the United States.

They open the Vineyard hostel first each year, and only after making sure the staff of five to six is in place. Once the annual town health and building inspections are complete, they oversee the opening of their other hostels. Both Ms. Morgan and Mr. Gambone said that by far most visitors to the Vineyard hostel have a wonderful time.

“One reason our guests have such a good experience at the hostel is because they have such a good experience on the Island,” Ms. Morgan said. “They find people on the Vineyard to be very friendly and helpful. They love the bus system and how helpful the bus drivers are. In most areas of the country where there is a youth hostel no one is aware where the hostel is, but that is not the case on the Vineyard. Here everyone knows where the hostel is. Islanders built it and that helps make it a unique place and quite different than other hostels.”

Information on the Manter Memorial Hostel can be found on their website, Reservations can be made by phone or online (the preferred method), just like most any other hotel. Beds rent for $35 a night during the week most of the season, $39 a night during August, and $42 a night on weekends for members of Hostel International, $3 more for non-members. Membership costs $23.

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West Tisbury volunteer fireman Bruce Haynes sprayed foam to extinguish the remnants of a brush fire that broke out in a wooded area on Beaten Path in West Tisbury Tuesday. — Tony Omer

West Tisbury firefighters early Tuesday afternoon responded quickly to a report of a brush fire in a wooded lot on Beaten Path in West Tisbury and doused the flames before they could spread.

Firefighters sprayed foam on trees and soaked the ground to put out the smoldering brush fire that sent smoke wafting through the rural neighborhood just west of the Tisbury town line off State Road.

The fire was contained to less than a half acre. Two brush trucks, including one new truck on its maiden voyage, a tanker truck and about a dozen firefighters responded.

Fire chief Manuel Estrella said he responded to a call reporting smoke in the area of Buttonwood Farm Road next to Beaten Path about 1 pm. The trucks began to pull away less than an hour and a half later. He said the cause of the fire had not been determined.

Boat mechanic Keith Maciel, owner of the property where the fire started, said a tenant who rents an apartment above one of his two garages had a party on Saturday night. There was a large barbeque fire built on the ground in a parking area near the location of the brush fire, he said. The charred edge of the underbrush was within two feet of the edge of the area used for the barbeque.

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At the Grey Barn Farm event Sunday, 200 invited guests competed for five houses in a demonstration of the severity of the crisis. — Randi Baird

More than 250 invited guests gathered at the Grey Barn Farm on State Road in Chilmark Sunday morning on a beautiful Vineyard summer day under a huge tent to support the Island Housing Trust (IHT), a nonprofit that creates affordable housing on Martha’s Vineyard.

Grey Barn Farm owners Eric Glasgow and Molly Glasgow, sponsors of the event, which included a sumptuous brunch, welcomed the guests and said that finding housing for their summer help was the farm’s biggest problem.

Owners Eric and Molly Glasgow welcomed guests to the Grey Barn Farm on Sunday.
Owners Eric and Molly Glasgow welcomed guests to the Grey Barn Farm on Sunday.

IHT executive director Philippe Jordi told the assembled guests that IHT has developed a multi-faceted approach to creating affordable housing that has produced over 60 affordable homes in its eight years, relying on a model that uses inexpensive long-term land leases, while building affordable energy-efficient homes for sale and for rent. Mr. Jordi emphasized the continuing need for more affordable housing. He said that IHT is now working on 15 units and has set a goal of 100 homes by the end of 2015.

To give people a sense of the housing crisis on the Vineyard, IHT volunteers handed out 200 envelopes that contained fictional housing applications based on real people. The applicants included teachers and health care workers, construction workers and retirees, retail employees and landscapers.

Mr. Jordi said that these 200 would be competing for five available homes, a scale similar to what the 500 families on the IHT waiting list face.

“Why is there such a housing crisis on the Vineyard,” Mr. Jordi asked, ”when there are as many houses as there are people?”

He said that second homes account for 53 percent of all Island homes, and that 25 percent of all homes are rented seasonally for an average of $2,500 a week and only 5 percent of Island housing is multi-family housing. “It’s no wonder that you are not able to find something that you can afford as young person or couple living on a modest income or a senior living on a fixed income,” he said.

He provided examples of people who hold down steady jobs but cannot find affordable housing and asked those in the audience whose housing applications described similar people to stand.

Former IHT board member Victoria Haeselbarth, an Edgartown social worker working with senior citizens, recounted her own story of raising a child on an income not big enough to buy or rent an adequate home until she was given a chance to buy an affordable home.

“I am extremely honored to have the opportunity to stand before you and ask for your support to make a donation to Island Housing Trust,” Ms. Haeselbarth said. “Every homeownership and rental opportunity requires between $100,000 and $200,000 in grant funding. IHT’s goal is to raise $1,000,000 annually in order to increase affordable housing for Island residents.”

She asked people to read over the donation forms that were handed out and pointed out the opportunity available to donors to increase the impact of their donations. She said that not only are donations over $1,000 tax deductible but they would also qualify for the state’s community investment tax credit that would return 50 percent of their donation from the state. “I ask that you give until it feels good,” she said.

Many envelopes were returned. Mr. Jordi told The Times that he would not know how much had been pledged for a week or two.

“We are grateful for the support of over 160 individuals, businesses, foundations, and Island towns this past year,” he said, “and we are proud to acknowledge that over half of our donors are year-round residents.”

He said IHT’s goal is to raise $1 million with the help of the Community Investment Tax Credit program, and to leverage these funds to secure competitive state grants for rental projects.

For more information on IHT, call 508-693-1117.

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On Their Way reacquaints MV Times readers with people who grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and have moved on to establish themselves in careers on or off Island. We are looking for young people who have distinguished themselves by their accomplishments in the arts, business, in social services, in the military, in academics, in fact in any meaningful way. We welcome your suggestions.

The Huffpost Live is an online video streaming news/interview network that focuses on celebrities and current events, highlighting stories that appear on the parent website Twenty-three-year-old Melora Armstead of Edgartown now lives in New York,where she is an associate producer for the show. “One of the few times that an interview stopped everyone in my office was when the English comedian Russell Brand was on,” Ms. Armstead said, “because truly, the entire interview was insane. It got crazier and crazier.”

As an associate producer one of her jobs is to help line up questions for the guests, often celebrities with online viewers.

“I get to do something different every day. We are responsible for producing one or two segments every day, so we are constantly working on a range of different topics, from politics to celebrity, to lifestyle. No two days are the same. There’s always something exciting happening.”

The Huffington Post hired Ms. Armstead soon after she graduated (magna cum laude) from Northeastern University in May of 2013, with a major in communications — concentrating in media studies — and a minor in production. She took courses in television studio production and producing for the entertainment industry, as well as in media culture and society and public speaking.

Her job is just the type of work she hoped she would find after graduation,  Ms. Armstead said. She is pretty sure she got the job based on the strength of her resumé, which includes working as a videography intern with the New England Conservatory, filming live sports as a production intern with the Northeastern University athletics department while maintaining statistics and scores using onscreen graphics and setting up instant replay segments, working as production assistant and online content intern on the WGBH radio Forum Network, contributing to the website’s social media presence. She served as the head casting intern at Boston Casting and worked with the casting director for a television pilot for ABC’s Boston’s Finest. She also worked as a production assistant for a TV comedy pilot called MV Blues, filmed on the Vineyard.

When she was ten, in 2000, Ms. Armstead’s parents purchased the Arbor Inn in Edgartown and her family moved to the Vineyard from New Jersey. She entered the sixth grade at the Edgartown School soon after. She lived in the inn with her younger sister Emelia and her parents. Her father, Kenneth Armstead, is a portfolio manager with a Boston financial services company and her mother, Lorna Giles, is a trained architect who runs the inn. Her parents met while students at MIT.

“My sister and I were happy to make the move to Martha’s Vineyard,” she said. “We used to vacation there and we liked the idea of moving to our favorite place.”

Growing up in the inn had a good side and a bad side, Ms. Armstead said. “I enjoyed meeting the variety of people who came through during the summers, but it was hard to fight with my sister because we couldn’t make much noise.

“I remember as a kid we had to be really quiet all the time so as not to disturb the guests, but luckily we started going to camp or working in the summers so we weren’t cooped up all day. We got to meet the guests sometimes, which was nice, and it’s cool seeing the guests that come back year after year.

“On busy days my sister and I used to help put out and clear up breakfast and/or do some light cleaning. I got to see what it looks like firsthand to own and run your own business.”

Ms. Armstead spent two summers with the Island Theater Workshop (ITW) summer program when she was a pre-teen. “Not necessarily memories I want to repeat,” she said, “but all the kids at the camp were really close during the summer, and it was always a lot of fun to gather backstage before a show. It was really exciting. It was my first introduction to theater, which for a while made me want to become an actress, but then when I started applying to colleges I realized I’d rather be behind the scenes in production work.”

As a teenager, she worked summers scooping ice cream at Mad Martha’s and had a job at the Flying Horses Carousel, worked at Brickman’s, interned at WMVY radio, and babysat. She spent her high school years commuting to Falmouth Academy, where she took drama as an elective class and was in the annual school play.

Her current job fits her goals. “I knew I loved television and the entertainment industry, so I figured if I could still have a hand in informing and entertaining people in some way, that would be the best job I could possibly have,“ Ms. Armstead said.

“I hope to still be producing 20 years from now. Either in online media, like I am now, or some sort of television, my first love. I definitely think HuffPost Live is innovative in the way we merge informative segments with community and social media engagements, and I think in this digital age that this is the way of the future. If I’m able to keep producing work on any platform that informs and entertains and can utilize community and social media engagement in some way that helps enhance the content, that would be great.”

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— Mae Deary

Chairman of the West Tisbury selectmen Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter announced that Tuesday, September 16, is the deadline to submit nomination papers to the registrar of voters to fill the position of West Tisbury town moderator.

Voters will chose a new moderator at a special election on November 4 in conjunction with state elections. Tara Whiting, town clerk and registrar, said 20 signatures are required on the nomination papers. The last day to register to vote is October 15.

The special election is needed to fill the vacancy left by the murder of longtime moderator Pat Gregory on May 16 in northern California. Mr. Gregory, 69, and his hiking companion, a 76-year-old male friend from the small nearby town of Manton were just off heavily traveled Highway 36E, north of the county seat of Red Bluff in Tehama County, when they encountered a man who robbed and then shot them. There have been no arrests in the case.

In other town business Wednesday night, selectmen granted Animal Health Care Associates (AHC), located adjacent to the Martha’s Vineyard Airport, an extension to October 14 for the completion of work to add soundproofing material to its kennel facility in order to reduce the noise of barking dogs. The barking dogs have been a source of complaints from neighbors in the nearby Coffin’s Field subdivision.

Rosemary Haigazian, AHC attorney, requested a 30-day extension of the August 24 deadline. In a letter, homeowner Gary Friedman, representing Coffin’s Field neighbors, requested that selectmen only grant a seven-day extension.

Selectmen extended the deadline until October 14, 50 days, to reduce the likelihood that AHC would return for an additional extension. Ms. Haigazian said the materials for the work were delivered but that a health issue prevented owner and veterinarian Steven Atwood from doing the work he had planned to do with his son. A builder has been hired who will begin the work as soon as his schedule permits, she said. She added there was a delay in receiving permission from the airport commission, the holder of their lease.

Also Wednesday, town administrator Jennifer Rand said the Massachusetts department of transportation (DOT) will construct a sidewalk along both sides of a short section of State Road in front of the Howes House on one side and between the two entrances to the Alley’s Store parking lot on the other. She said that the DOT has indicated it will not be brick but either asphalt or concrete and that the town must agree to maintain the sidewalk after it is built. Selectman Richard Knabel said he would prefer concrete. Selectman Cynthia Mitchell and Mr. Manter agreed. They said that the sidewalk should end at the western end of the Howes House and not extend to the Field Gallery where it might reduce the number of parking spaces in front of the town-owned property.

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Zaneta Pavelka kicks back in a top by designer and former Vineyard resident Valerie Beggs. — Chandler Elizabeth Cook

A fashion show highlighting clothes and accessories by Martha’s Vineyard designers and a sale of art and collectibles are two annual events at the Chicken Alley Thrift Store this weekend.

Woodland Waders, modeled by Zaneta Pavelka, left, and Veronika Haragova, are designs inspired by the Island lifestyle. They were created by designer and former Vineyard resident Valerie Beggs.
Woodland Waders, modeled by Zaneta Pavelka, left, and Veronika Haragova, are designs inspired by the Island lifestyle. They were created by designer and former Vineyard resident Valerie Beggs.

Thrift Shop patrons are made up of three main groups, according to store manager Sandy Pratt. Donors; those who are looking for specific things, be it an article of clothing, place settings, books, or a decorative or collectible item to add to their collection; and those who stalk the aisles looking for treasures. Sunday, August 17, is a day for the treasure hunters at the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Thrift Shop, known as the Chicken Alley, located in Vineyard Haven.

Art and collectibles culled by staff from donations over the past year are offered to the public at the annual art show and tent sale from 1 to 5 pm. The show was originally the idea of art devotee Olga Hirshhorn of Vineyard Haven, benefactress of the Smithsonian Institute’s Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C., who has lent her support to this event since she first suggested the show as a way to raise money for Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, an Island nonprofit that provides a range of health and human services for the Island.

Needle Book Vol.2 Community Couture Fashion Show

The statuesque Noavakay Knight is marketing coordinator for Chicken Alley. The Vineyard Haven native is also a model and a dress designer who specializes in using recycled clothes and fabrics. When the tent was raised several years ago for the Chicken Alley art show a few days before the actual event, she thought she could put it to good use on one of the days it was just creating shade for the parking lot. Last year she organized the first Needle Book Community Couture Fashion Show. It was a success.

This Friday, August 15, 18 models will walk the catwalk showing off fashions by seven Vineyard designers at the second annual show. Each designer will show six pieces on the runway. A selection of vintage and designer clothing, shoes, and accessories will be on sale before and after the show.

Music will be provided by DJ Pretty Ninja and food will be available from the ArtCliff Food Truck. Not Your Sugar Mamas chocolate company will serve samples and treats for sale, and there will be a free photo booth.

In addition to Ms. Knight, the following designers will be represented.

Valerie Beggs, who developed Woodland Waders, a collection of Island inspired clothes, more than a dozen years ago when she lived on the Vineyard before moving to Pennsylvania to take a job as a designer for Woolrich. Retired from Woolrich, she now is a freelance designer of outdoor gear and backpacks. She is donating dozens of sample pieces from her personal collection, a retrospective of her three main lines of clothing.

Chrysal Parrot is a fashion designer and custom dressmaker who creates pieces that range from the historical to the whimsically contemporary. She works from her own boutique called Demi-Monde on State Road in Vineyard Haven.

Randi Sylvia and her mother Marlene DiStefano work from their Studioshop in the Arts District of Oak Bluffs. They are the design team behind the label Kenworthy that features looks influenced by cultures from around the world.

Karen Trotier, formerly Russillo, creates her unique fashions from her boutique, Menagerie, in Edgartown.

Beldan Radcliffe, who works out of Night Heron Gallery in Vineyard Haven, is best known as a printmaker and collage artist. Some of her work includes recombining recycled sweaters into wearable art. She calls these creations Upcycled Sweaters.

Sylvie Farrington is the creator of the popular Sylvie Bags, one-of-a-kind handbags and pillows made from authentic vintage fabrics. She works from her home in West Tisbury.

The work of jeweler Jessica Helen of Hawks House Jewelry will also be on display. Ms. Helen lives in Aquinnah.

2nd Annual Needle Book Vol.2 Community Couture Fashion Show, Sample Sale, and Boutique, Friday, August 15, 5–8 pm, Chicken Alley Thrift Shop, Vineyard Haven. $10.

Chicken Alley Art and Collectibles Sale, Sunday, August 17, 1–5 pm, Chicken Alley Thrift Shop, Lagoon Pond Rd., Vineyard Haven.  Proceeds from both shows benefit Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. For more information, call the Thrift Shop at 508-693-2278 or visit

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Two houses and all assets go to Island groups after the death of Lorraine Pinckney.

The Pinckney house.
Lorraine and Napoleon "Nap" Pinckney of Oak Bluffs left their two houses and assets to Island nonprofits.
Lorraine and Napoleon “Nap” Pinckney of Oak Bluffs left their two houses and assets to Island nonprofits.

Lorraine and Napoleon Pinckney moved to Oak Bluffs full time in 1996 after vacationing on the Vineyard for many years. Mr. Pinckney, a professor of microbiology, parasitology, and clinical chemistry at New York Community College, died in 2010 at the age of 90. Ms. Pinckney died in July at the age of 75. The couple had no children, but in spirit they adopted the Island.

Last week, several Island nonprofits learned that they were the beneficiaries of the Pinckney estate. The Island Housing Trust (IHT), an nonprofit that develops affordable housing, was informed that it would receive one of two houses the couple owned in Oak Bluffs.

The Pinckney estate left a second Oak Bluffs house to Island Elderly Housing, a nonprofit that manages affordable rental apartments for the Island’s low-income elderly and disabled. They left their personal property to Martha’s Vineyard Community Services. Other assets will be distributed to those groups as well as an Island nursing association, Ms. Pinckney’s brother, John Dombrow, told The Times in a conversation from his home in Apple Valley, Minnesota.

“They had no children and no heirs,” Mr. Dombrow said. “They were frugal and generous people who loved the Vineyard. I know they decided to leave everything to the Island several years ago.”

The Pinckneys moved to the Island after Mr. Pinckney, known as “Nap,” retired. Ms. Pinckney, a registered nurse, went to work for the MVCS visiting nurse service. She retired in 2008 but continued serving the Island community as a volunteer for Island Elderly Housing and the Meals on Wheels program.

The Pinckneys purchased a house in Oak Bluffs before moving to the Vineyard and purchased a second soon after they arrived. “They did most of the maintenance work themselves,” Mr. Dobrow said. “She was heavily into projects and tools. She was a charter member of the Handyman Club of America, and the Craftsman Club. She was also a volunteer with the Surgeon General’s Medical Reserve Corps.”

“It came as a complete surprise,” said IHT executive director Philippe Jordi. “We have no immediate plans to use the house. It will have to be inspected and assessed before we can even begin to think about what we will do with it. We are extremely grateful to both Nap and Lorrie Pinckney for their incredibly generous gift to the Island community.”

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Rykerr Maynard as Peter Pan, and Katie Feeks as Wendy. — Katrina Nevin

Wendy, Michael, and John will fly high over the stage following Peter Pan in the new production of the musical “Peter Pan,” based on the play by James M. Barrie, an Island Theatre Workshop (ITW) production.

From left: Jesse Seward, Brad Austin, Jim Osborn, Corrine deLangevant, and Bob Dusa rehearse for ITW's "Peter Pan."
From left: Jesse Seward, Brad Austin, Jim Osborn, Corrine deLangevant, and Bob Dusa rehearse for ITW’s “Peter Pan.”

The performance includes a cast and crew of more than 40 people, in which ITW has hired the flying masters from ZFX (Zealous Flying Effects), a flying company headquartered in Louisville, Ken., to build the necessary structures to send Peter and his adopted family high above the stage.

Islander Kevin Ryan, who directed last year’s extravaganza, “The Wizard of Oz,” is directing this year’s show, and New Yorker James Higgins is the musical director. Lee Fierro, director of ITW for more than 40 years, is artistic consultant for “Peter Pan.”

The large cast is loaded with skilled and accomplished actors and singers. The lead role of Peter is played by Rykerr Maynard, who played the scarecrow in last year’s show. Katie Feeks plays Wendy, Jesse Seward is Captain Hook, Jaiden Edelman is Michael, and Jared Livingston is John. Shelly Brown and Brad Austin play the parents, the Darlings.

“Peter Pan,” August 16–24 (no show August 20), 7:30 pm, M.V. Regional High School Performing Arts Center. Sunday matinees at 3 pm when the audience can meet and greet the cast. $22; $12 for children.

Special Preview Night: August 15, 7:30 pm, benefits Martha’s Vineyard Center for Living. $25; $12 children.

For more information, call 508-737-8550. For tickets, visit Tickets also available at the door.