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Oak Bluffs

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The newly formed streetscape master plan committee seeks opinions and ideas in person and in cyberspace.

Anyone with ideas on improving the Oak Bluffs business district can weigh in at the DSMPC website OBdowntown.com. — File photo by Ralph Stewart

The recently formed Oak Bluffs Downtown Streetscape Master Plan Committee (DSMPC) held its inaugural outreach events on July 23 and 24, to elicit opinions from visitors and Islanders alike on how to revitalize downtown Oak Bluffs. Members of the eight-person committee manned tables outside the post office and next to the town information booth both days, giving out surveys and listening to all comers. On Wednesday evening there was a public visioning meeting at the Oak Bluffs library and on Thursday morning, members of the business community gathered at Union Chapel to share their views. Both meetings were moderated by consultants from the Horsley Witten group.

The new logo of the Oak Bluffs Downtown Streetscape Master Plan Committee.
The new logo of the Oak Bluffs Downtown Streetscape Master Plan Committee.

“It was a wonderful experience,” Gail Barmakian, DSMPC member and Oak Bluffs selectman, said in a phone interview with The Times. “We were trying to get a wide cross-section of people and I think we were very successful at that. It didn’t matter if they were visitors, seasonal residents, or Islanders, people have a passion for this town. But you have to draw them out. You can’t just say ‘fill this out.’ You have to engage.”

Ms. Barmakian said an overriding theme was that cleaning and repairing downtown should be a top priority. “People were saying that we have to clean it up,” she said. “Clean and repair but not change the character of the town. We had to preserve the unique character of the town.”

“We dished out roughly 350 surveys during the day,” DSMPC member Brian Packish said in a phone interview with The Times. “So far we’ve gotten about 200 back between the website and the ones we handed out.” Mr. Packish, a landscaper and chairman of the planning board, said the public visioning meeting on Wednesday night exceeded his expectations. “The meeting room was packed,” he said. “People were excited. A lot of them stayed and talked in the parking lot after the meeting.”

Mr. Packish said signage, or “wayfaring” in urban planning parlance, was a much discussed topic. “There’s definitely a need for better wayfaring,” he said. “When you rely heavily on tourism, the tourists need to know where to locate the bathrooms and how far they are from the Campground, and what direction to go.” Mr. Packish said signs for pedestrians that give the walking time to destinations was a popular idea.

Ms. Barmakian agreed. “Signage from both ferry terminals is really lacking,” she said. “It also places a burden on the police because they have to spend so much time giving directions.”

The well attended town visioning meeting produced a number of constructive ideas for improving the Oak Bluffs business district.
The well attended town visioning meeting produced a number of constructive ideas for improving the Oak Bluffs business district.

Mr. Packish said a park and ride for employees in the downtown area was a popular solution for the summertime parking woes, and that the dingy downtown appearance was a recurring theme. “Overall, town cleanliness was definitely a big issue,” he said. “A lot of people feel there need to be more trash barrels and more pickups.”

Duncan Ross, DSMPC member and the de facto representative for the Friends of Oak Bluffs, also said the Wednesday night meeting was particularly productive. “It was good for the people on the committee because we weren’t in any of the working groups,” he said. “We just walked around and listened to the ideas.”

A former selectman and retired teacher, Mr. Ross said that one of the better ideas he heard was to create parking for downtown employees on the streets that border Waban Park. “I thought that was a brilliant idea,” he said. “It’s a simple solution to a problem that has persisted for a long time.”

In a phone interview with The Times, John Tiernan, co-owner of the Dockside Inn, said he pitched a similar idea at the Thursday morning meeting he attended with other town business owners. “I suggested wrapping Waban park with head-in parking, like we have at Ocean Park,” he said. “You could give employees hanging tags, they could walk into town and know they’re not going to get a ticket. You could have maybe 200 parking spots there. You’d have 20 disgruntled homeowners, but 12 of them rent their house out during the summer anyway.” Mr. Tiernan added that parking around Waban Park could also increase flow to Pay Beach and the Inkwell which in turn could also create business for new vendors.

Overall, Mr. Tiernan said he was encouraged by the Thursday gathering. “It was a great first meeting,” he said. “It was an eclectic crowd. which is representative of what Oak Bluffs is. I’m happy there were people like Peter Martell and Kerry Scott, along with some of the newer business owners like me. Peter doesn’t pull any punches. He’s a longtime steward of the town and he cares a lot about Oak Bluffs.”

Mr. Tiernan said that adding proper sidewalks and replacing the sagging, aging telephone poles with underground lines were some of the improvements that he hoped to see on Circuit Ave. extension. “One of my proposals has met a bit of resistance, but I think Circuit Ave. extension is perfect for cobblestones,” he said. “When you go to the North End in Boston or Portsmouth [New Hampshire] you see cobblestones, and you know you’re in a seaport. Edgartown does this, why can’t we? We can’t do the same old, same old. People joke about New Bedford but the downtown area is much better than Oak Bluffs, hands down, and they have much better signage.”

Mr. Tiernan said that as a hotelier, he pays 11.7 percent tax on every room charge and he questions how it’s spent. “Six percent of that tax goes directly to the town, yet we can’t clean up Circuit Ave. or fill potholes on Circuit Ave. extension,” he said. “I have no idea where that money goes. If the town can’t clean up the sidewalks on Circuit Ave., how about hiring a private contractor to power wash them? I’d pitch in for that.”

Mr. Martell, owner of the Wesley Hotel, said he was less than enthused by the Thursday business owners meeting. “The dog and pony show [by Horsley Witten consultants] doesn’t mean a lot to me,” he said. “I don’t need to listen for 15 minutes about how great they are at making signs. Oak Bluffs has plenty of signs. My big thing is to improve the beaches. They’re a disgrace. I don’t know why they’re [town officials] dragging their heels. You can have all the signs you want, but when people get off the boat and look at our beaches, they’re going to go somewhere else.”

Mr. Packish had a different take on the consultants’ contribution. “They really did a good job: they went door to door to every business in town, and their study was pretty comprehensive,” he said. The firm, along with Mr. Packish and DSMPC member Erik Albert, owner of the Oak Bluffs Inn, also run the committee’s active social media program, including the website OBdowntown.com and a Facebook page that already has over 800 likes. Surveys can still be completed on the website, until August 8.

“We want to hear from all Islanders, not just Oak Bluffs,” Mr. Packish said. “We’re open to good ideas.”

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The speed limit drops from 45 to 35 mph at the Edgartown-Oak Bluffs town line. — Photo by Nelson Sigelman

Two weeks ago, Oak Bluffs highway department work crews exchanged 45 miles per hour (MPH) speed limit signs for new signs that reduced the speed limit to 35 mph along Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road from the Tisbury-Oak Bluffs town line to the roundabout.

Oak Bluffs installed a 35 mph speed limit sign on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in place of the previous 45 mph sign.
Oak Bluffs installed a 35 mph speed limit sign on the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road in place of the previous 45 mph sign.

Michael Verseckes, deputy communications director for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT), which has the sole authority to change speed limits, told The Times that his agency did not authorize any change in the speed limit for that section of roadway.

“A regulatory speed limit sign can only be posted in support of a special speed regulation,” Mr. Verseckes said in an email to The Times. “Such regulations are reviewed by MassDOT and approved by the Highway Administrator and the Registrar of Motor Vehicles before they are installed.”

Mr. Verseckes said that MassDOT had not been aware of the signs. “They were not authorized,” he said in a telephone conversation with The Times. “Only MassDOT can change speed limits, as a matter of consistency.”

The 35 mph sign represents a drop in speed for motorists leaving Tisbury along the Edgartown–Vineyard Haven Road. Previously the speed limit increased from 35 mph at Hillside Village to 45 miles per hour and remained 45 mph until just before the roundabout, where it drops to 15 mph.

The change in the signs attracted the attention of Jamie Norton, a Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School mathematics teacher who owns a farm on Edgartown-Vineyard haven Road.

“It used to be a 45 miles per hour zone so I went over and asked them what they were doing, and they said the police had told them to put up the sign,” Mr. Norton told The Times.

Ask the police

In a telephone conversation Tuesday, Richard Combra Jr., Oak Bluffs highway superintendent, said he placed the signs at the request of the Oak Bluffs police department. “That was done at the request of the police department,” Mr. Combra said in a telephone conversation with The Times on Tuesday. “We put up signs right before the roundabout and after the high school.”

Asked if he was aware that MassDOT had not authorized the reduced speed limit, Mr. Combra said, “I’m not sure, I’d leave that up to Lieutenant Williamson or the chief.”

Lieutenant Tim Williamson said that after consulting with police chief Erik Blake he instructed the Oak Bluffs highway department to change the signs. “There was a huge lack of signage along that road,” he said in a telephone conversation with The Times. “I spoke with the chief and went out with the highway foreman to place some signs. We were aware that, officially, we can put up all the signs we want but we can’t enforce them without a speed study.”

Lt. Williamson believes he was acting on behalf of public safety. He confirmed that he had not sought MassDOT authorization.

“Maybe shame on us for not getting a speed study first, but I wanted those signs up to get people to slow down, to stop people from getting hurt,” he said. “We’ve had accidents there with the increased road use. There are trucks coming out of NSTAR and Goodale’s, year-round usage of the ice arena, elderly housing, the preschool, the YMCA, and of course the school zone. It’s so busy. I think it’s time we had that road restudied.”

Lt. Williamson said that the signs were not intended as a speed trap and that tickets along that road could be successfully appealed. “I haven’t told people to target anyone, to nail people, that’s not the intention,” he said. “We just want people to slow down in a busy area, and if someone got a speeding ticket there they could challenge it, since we haven’t had a speed study yet.”

Not the first time

This is not the first time that Oak Bluffs officials have expressed concern about speed along that section of roadway, or taken action on their own.

In 2001, acting on a joint recommendation of the Oak Bluffs police and highway departments, the selectmen asked the town’s highway department to lower the speed limit approaching the four-way blinker intersection from 35 mph to 25 mph.

But that plan was abandoned after Mr. Combra, then assistant superintendent, learned that he could not post new speed limits without following state procedures. At the time, Mr. Combra told The Times, “There is a process which the town is going to follow.”

One year later, a 30 mph speed limit sign and a “Do Not Pass” sign appeared on a single post at the bottom of a hill just before the entrance to Goodale’s sand pit. MassDOT, at the time called MassHighway, determined that the sign was not authorized. At the time, Mr. Combra said his department had not erected the sign and it was removed.

Before a speed limit can be set or changed, it must be approved by that agency based on set criteria. Otherwise, said one state highway official, towns might post speeds based on political or economic considerations — to deter commuters from passing through a community or to snare unwary motorists in speed traps, for example. Or in the cases of West Tisbury and Aquinnah in the late 1990s, reacting to pressure from local abutters.

According to state records, the roadway is a town road and is posted at 45 mph for 0.73 miles from the Tisbury town line, at which point the speed limit drops to 35 mph for the next 0.34 miles.

Requests for speed limit changes must be made to MassDOT, which usually requests that the town or city conduct a traffic count and speed study. The agency then makes a determination on the need for a change based on that data.

State speed limits are most often set based on a measurement known as the 85th percentile. The 85th percentile is the speed traveled by 85 percent of the cars using a roadway. Traffic engineers assume that 85 percent of the drivers travel at a reasonable and safe speed.

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Catch a movie and maybe a fish on Menemsha Beach Tuesday.

A chart-topping 180-pound bigeye tuna brought it in late Saturday afternoon by the crew of Mulberry Canyon is hoisted up and weighed in. — Photo by Michael Cummo

Updated 3 pm, Friday with news of Cape Poge beach closure

By most accounts, The Oak Bluffs Bluewater Classic (OBBC) held last weekend went off without a hitch. No shark heads adorned boats, no protestors provided targets for beer cans and if there were arrests I did not hear about it. Pretty tame now after the Monster Shark tournament swam out of town.

Damon Sacco of Bourne, owner and operator of Castafari Sport Fishing and organizer of the Hyannis Tuna Fest, was the organizer of the first Bluewater classic. Ted Rosbeck of Edgartown helped out.

Participants on the boat Mulberry Canyon pose next to their 180-pound Big Eye Tuna after it topped the charts on Saturday.
Participants on the boat Mulberry Canyon pose next to their 180-pound Big Eye Tuna after it topped the charts on Saturday.

A total of 25 boats entered the contest. In an email, Mr. Sacco said the 2014 Oak Bluffs Bluewater Classic raised over $14,000 for charity. Proceeds went to the Island Autism Group and the MGH Colon Cancer Research Fund in memory of Kevin Glynn, he said.

Sixteen billfish — four blue marlin and 12 white marlin — were released. One bigeye tuna was landed, as were “a ton of yellowfin and mahi-mahi.”

Captain Al Gagnon of Brennans Grin took first place. Second place went to Captain Ted Rosbeck of Bad Martha. Captain John Galvin of Mulberry Canyon was third.

The biggest tuna was an 180-pound bigeye landed by Mulberry Canyon. Most billfish points went to the crew of Brennans Grin with two blue marlin. Mr. Sacco said there were 46 yellowfin tuna caught up to 95 pounds.

Steve Morris, owner of Dick’s Bait and Tackle in Oak Bluffs, participated in the tournament. Steve told me, “It was definitely a lot calmer. Not a lot of yahoos. The guys were nice and it seemed like they were just here to fish.”

The banquet was held at Dreamland. Everybody seemed to be really happy with it, Steve said.

Steve said offshore fishing is an addiction and he admitted he is “totally hooked.”

The tournament weigh in attracted a crowd of spectators to Oak Bluffs harbor.
The tournament weigh in attracted a crowd of spectators to Oak Bluffs harbor.

He explained, “You never know what’s going to be out there, a white marlin or a bigeye tuna, there’s so much out there to catch. We spent the night out there, we turned the lights on and there were squid and bait all around the boat. You just never know what’s going to be out there.”

I suggested it might also be scary to be a little boat in a very big, dark ocean far from land. Steve laughed. “This is true, this is true, that’s why you go in a big boat.”

Steve said they put the lines out Friday night to try and catch a swordfish. Crewmembers took turns sleeping. “There’s usually someone up tending the rods,” Steve said.

“And looking out for a Korean oil tanker?” I asked.

“Well you stay out of their way, for sure,” Steve said.

But they were not alone. They were part of a small fleet all hooked on offshore fishing. That is part of the fun, he said.

First bass of the summer

Matthew Strem of Edgartown holds a 15 pound striped bass he caught Friday night on his new fishing rod.
Matthew Strem of Edgartown holds a 15 pound striped bass he caught Friday night on his new fishing rod.

While the big boys were fishing offshore, Matthew Strem, 10, of Edgartown was trying out his new bass rod on South Beach with his mom and dad. On Friday night Matthew caught his first striped bass of the summer. It was 34.5 inches long and weighed in at 15 pounds.

His mother Lynn provided the details: “We drove on to the beach and used squid on his new bass fishing pole, bottom fishing. Matthew was the first one that night to catch a bass. He was so excited he couldn’t wait for dad to get the tape measure to see if it was a keeper. And it was, 34 inches long and weighed 15 pounds. It was also about 11 pm that night. He caught his fish and reeled it in all by himself, but I wasn’t surprised because Matthew has been fishing for a long time, catching many different fish. Nothing compares to the look on his face when that fish came ashore and it was a huge bass.”

Matthew did very well to land a bass on the beach in the surf. It is no easy task. It takes timing to ride the fish up on a wave. Better yet, he caught a bass. Most reports describe tough fishing for stripers from the shore. Congratulations.

Movie night on Menemsha

All fishermen should be concerned with the state of our oceans. On Tuesday night, fishermen will have an opportunity to learn just how concerned they ought to be — and go fishing.

Documentary filmmaker Bob Nixon, a seasonal resident of Chilmark, and Fisher Stevens have produced a new documentary, MISSION BLUE, which describes the life of oceanographer Sylvia Earle. The filmmakers will show their film at 8:30 pm, Tuesday on Menemsha Beach in conjunction with the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival. The event is free.

Bring popcorn for the film and a fishing rod for later.

Dennis Harvey offered this description in a review for Variety Magazine: “A compelling human-interest hook and spectacular underwater photography are the highlights of Fisher Stevens and Robert Nixon’s documentary.”

Mr. Harvey said, “The majesty and imperiled status of the world’s aquatic life are vividly captured in “Mission Blue.” Fisher Stevens and Robert Nixon’s documentary also serves as a biographical portrait of internationally renowned oceanographer and eco-activist Sylvia Earle, whose trailblazing career and inspiring ongoing efforts provide compelling human interest, while Bryce Groark’s spectacular underwater photography offers eye candy aplenty.”

Cape Poge beach closure

Cape Poge Wildlife Refuge is currently closed for over sand vehicle access from the Dike Bridge to the gut, Chris Kennedy, Trustees superintendent said Friday. “On Tuesday, two plover chicks moved from the outside beach, north of the Dike Bridge to the bayside trail to feed,” Chris said in an email Friday.  “The next day they moved back to the outside beach but now appear likely to continue moving back and forth between the narrows and East Beach. These chicks are due to fledge in two weeks but under state and federal law we will be required to keep all of Cape Poge closed until these chicks fledge. We encourage property users to call the 24 hour recorded beach hotline at 508-627-8390 for updated information. All of Leland Beach and Norton Point Beach are open for OSV access. Permits are required.”

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The Inkwell and Pay Beaches in Oak Bluffs have been reopened. — Photo by Alison Shaw

Oak Bluffs health officials Thursday morning reopened Inkwell Beach and Pay Beach in Oak Bluffs, closed since Tuesday because of high bacteria counts.

Oak Bluffs health agent Shirley Fauteaux told The Times that the results of water samples taken Wednesday from the two popular beaches along Sea View Avenue showed bacteria levels had fallen within the acceptable limits defined by state regulations.

The water tests detect enterococci, an indicator organism that signals the presence of more harmful bacteria. If more than 104 colony forming units per 100 milliliters of water (104 cfu/100ml) are measured in a single day water sample, the beach must be closed to swimming.

On Monday, tests shows the level of bacteria at Inkwell Beach as 450 cfu/100ml, but on Wednesday, the levels had fallen to 10 cfu/100ml.

On Monday, Pay Beach measured 581 cfu/100ml, and fell to 51 cfu/100ml in Wednesday’s test.

The Massachusetts Bureau of Environmental Health advises that swimming in polluted water can cause gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain, respiratory symptoms such as sore throat, cough, runny nose, and sneezing, eye and ear symptoms including irritation, earache, and itchiness, dermatological symptoms like skin rash and itching, and flu-like symptoms such as fever and chills.

Most of these symptoms are minor most of the time, but they can occasionally be more serious, especially in sensitive populations such as those with weakened immune systems, children, and the elderly.

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Seasons on Circuit Avenue, Oak Bluffs, has been vacant for several seasons. — Nate Horwitz

Seasons, the long dormant restaurant/bar located in the heart of Circuit Avenue, is showing signs of new life. Construction crews have begun work to remove the restaurant and bar equipment and to gut the interior of the 3,000 square foot structure. Bob Murphy, proprietor of Towne and Country real estate and co-owner of the building with James Ryan, his partner in AMR Vineyard Inc., said plans for the new use of the building are still evolving. “It will not be a restaurant or a bar, those two are out,” Mr. Murphy said in a phone conversation with The Times Tuesday. “We decided to keep things simple.”

Newly cleared space awaiting renovation.
Cleared interior awaiting further renovation.

Mr. Murphy said the newly renovated building will most likely be leased to one or several retail businesses, but plans are in the very early stages and they remain fluid.
“We’re taking the time to think it through. It’s too early to know what can go in there and what will work best until the space is cleared out,” he said. “It’s such a commanding location. We’ve been deluged with offers over the years. We’ve heard a lot of great ideas. Some people wanted half the space, some people wanted a third. We’ll see.”

Mr. Murphy said that no exterior work will be done until the downtown building moratorium ends on September 15. He expects the renovation to take three to four months. Oak Bluffs architect Chuck Sullivan, who collaborated with Mr. Murphy and Mr. Ryan on the Lookout restaurant, will design the yet to be named business.

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Oak Bluffs selectmen and the town finance and advisory committee (FINCOM) met on Tuesday to deliberate year-end transfers to cover department shortfalls for the 2014 fiscal year (FY14). The combined boards unanimously approved $99,868 in transfers, which will be paid from the town general fund, the town reserve fund and by inter-department transfers.

The police department ($14,342), building inspector ($23,624), and highway department ($44,755) carried the largest shortfalls. The police department deficit is due largely to military leave and sick leave and should be substantially reduced in FY15 with the recent hiring of a new full-time officer, according to town officials. The building inspector shortfall reflects a change in budgeting procedures, not a loss in revenue.

The highway department overages were due to snow removal costs from the unusually stormy winter.
“These are routine, year-end cleanup items,” town administrator Robert Whritenour said in an email to The Times. “We’re very pleased that the amounts are far smaller than in previous years, although budgets remain very tight. This shows good stewardship of funds by department heads.”

In other business, the selectmen voted unanimously to hire West Tisbury building inspector Ernest Mendenhall on a part-time basis until a new full-time inspector is hired to replace retiring Oak Bluffs inspector James Dunn. Mr. Whritenour said the search for a new inspector, which began in June, has yielded few qualified candidates and that he has asked state officials to assist with the search.

Mr. Whritenour said the move to the Island has deterred several qualified off-Island candidates. “If anyone out there is a certified building inspector or knows a certified inspector, we have full-time or part-time work available,” Mr. Whritenour said to the MVTV camera. To the agreement of the board, selectman Michael Santoro suggested that the town consider increasing the building inspector’s salary, currently around $68,000, to attract highly qualified candidates.

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A routine traffic stop took a dangerous turn when Leandro Miranda, 23, of Edgartown, tried to flee Oak Bluffs police by taking them on a brief, high speed chase through downtown streets, congested with holiday traffic, on the afternoon of July 4.

“It’s lucky nobody got hurt,” Oak Bluffs police Lieutenant Tim Williamson told The Times. “Any time someone flees it’s a dangerous situation. This was particularly dangerous. There were people everywhere in the downtown area where the chase ended.”

The chase began when Detective Jeffrey LaBell saw Mr. Miranda driving a car with a suspended registration on Dukes County Ave. Detective LaBell knew the car’s registration was suspended and additionally that Mr. Miranda’s license was suspended, because he had arrested Mr. Miranda for the same violations on May 1 in the same vehicle, according to the police report.

When Detective LaBell and his partner, officer Michael Cotrone, signaled Mr. Miranda to pull over, Mr. Miranda tried to flee, driving at high speeds, at times in the opposite lane, on Masonic Ave. and on Circuit Ave as he headed toward the downtown area, police said.

Police cornered Mr. Miranda when he pulled into the parking lot of Martha’s Vineyard Insurance at 97 Circuit Ave. Mr. Miranda fled on foot and was eventually tackled and handcuffed by officer Petrone.

The police report states Mr. Miranda smelled of alcohol and had two nip bottles in his possession, as well as a partially consumed 12-pack of beer in the car.

“This is the second time he’s decided to flee from police,” Lieutenant Williamson said. In February, Mr. Miranda also led Oak Bluffs police on a high speed chase and was eventually apprehended in Edgartown. “He knows he’s unlicensed and intoxicated and then he puts everybody in jeopardy,” Lieutenant Williamson said. “There’s going to be a litany of charges. We asked for high bail. He got $5,000 and posted it. We requested a dangerousness hearing, but I learned that can’t be done with a motor vehicle offense, so we made a motion to revoke his first bail. We haven’t heard from the court as yet.”

Mr. Miranda has been charged with OUI alcohol, failure to stop for police, resisting arrest, operating after license suspension, destruction of property under $250, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, operating with a suspended registration and marked lanes violation.

The owner of the car, Rogerio J. Almeida, was cited for allowing an unlicensed person to drive his vehicle. This is the third time Mr. Miranda has been arrested while driving Mr. Almeida’s car, police said.

On March 6, Mr. Miranda was arraigned in Edgartown district court on charges ofOUI-liquor or .08%, negligent operation of motor vehicle, unlicensed operation of motor vehicle, marked lanes violation, speeding, failure to stop for police, wanton destruction of property under $250.

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The shot heard 'round Oak Bluffs.

Marty Nadler and Charlie Nadler, resting up before the annual free-throw-for-Gio's. — Courtesy Charlie Nadler

Charlie-NadlerCharlie Nadler grew up on Martha’s Vineyard and graduated from MVRHS with the class of 2002. Until mid-March, he lived in the Los Feliz area of Los Angeles where he worked in the film and television industry and performed stand up comedy. He’s just relocated to New York City, where he will continue to muse about his life on and off Martha’s Vineyard in his weekly “From Afar” column.

Two important events are on my calendar for Saturday July 12th. One is a comedy show — at Alex’s Place at the Martha’s Vineyard YMCA — where I will be on stage approximately three times as long as I have ever been on stage. I am not anxious in the slightest, because the second event is far more nerve-wracking for me; the annual foul shot competition between my dad and me.

I can’t recall exactly when it started, but it was sometime in the mid 90’s. We were in our driveway in East Chop and decided to shoot a free throw. The loser had to buy a large cheese pizza at Giordano’s. The inaugural loser was my father.

Next summer we decided to repeat the competition. The loser was my father.

We entered the third summer with a clean slate, and once again my father bought me a pizza.

This yearly David and Goliath battle leaves zero upside for me. “Obviously” is the go to response at Gio’s every time we report that I triumphed, because I have gotten a free pizza every single summer…

With the exception of one tragic loss almost ten years ago, which had to be one of the best days of my dad’s life. I couldn’t believe it; the Giordano boys didn’t believe me; luckily it hasn’t happened again.

But it will. And it causes me to lose sleep. My dad has not been missing by much the last couple years. He regularly hits the back of the rim – dead center. Last year the ball rolled around the hoop – seemingly for days – before popping out. The pleasure he gets from seeing me on the verge of a panic attack has become a fun consolation prize for him.

My worry this Saturday is that my dad tells me he has now been training regularly down in Florida; working on his form, anticipating greatness, and visualizing mozzarella cheese. Meanwhile, the last time I touched a basketball was last August’s victory against him. It’s a slippery slope and I can feel my heart rate elevating and just had a flashback to that losing year that shall never be mentioned again.

We have had several derivations of rules over time and finally settled on a fair set. Since my dad will read this piece — and I need to constantly refresh his memory so he doesn’t try to slip in any sneaky variations — I now present them in official form:

1.) We flip a coin. The coin flip winner shoots first.

2.) If First Shooter makes his foul shot, Second Shooter must make his foul shot or

buy a pizza. If Second Shooter also makes his shot, reset completely and shoot      again.

3.) If First shooter misses, and Second Shooter scores, Second Shooter wins a

pizza.

4.) If First shooter misses, and Second Shooter also misses, reset completely and

shoot again.

5.) After a sportsmanlike handshake, proceed to Giordano’s where Marty buys

Charlie a pizza.

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The much maligned dredge spoils, stored at the Oak Bluffs town cemetery after citizen outcry led to its removal from Inkwell Beach, has apparently found a final resting place. According to highway department supervisor Richard Combra, the material will be moved to an area of shoreline along East Chop to provide soil for beach grass. Mr. Combra said property owners will pay to transport the material.

Regarding the remaining dredge spoils at the Inkwell, Mr. Combra said that most of the material has been moved and due to the heavy use of the beach during the summer, it wouldn’t be practical to close it down for any length of time to remove more sand.

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Oak Bluffs selectmen voted unanimously at their regular Tuesday night meeting to appoint former Tisbury police officer Jason Marathas to the Oak Bluffs Police Department. Officer Marathas, a seven-year veteran in Tisbury received the Red Cross Professional Hero Award this year for jumping into Oak Bluffs harbor to help rescue a man who had fallen into the water and was struggling in the darkness to stay afloat. The board also unanimously voted to promote Oak Bluffs police detective Nicholas Curelli to the rank of sergeant.

Mr. Curelli has been an Oak Bluffs police officer since 1999 and a detective since 2004. “He’s the best detective on Martha’s Vineyard,” Chief Erik Blake said. “The rank of sergeant is the hardest promotion to attain. An outside company said he received some of the highest scores they have ever given.” Mr. Curelli and Mr. Marathas will be honored at a ceremony on Thursday at 12:30, in the library meeting room.

The selectmen also approved expansion plans and an additional liquor license for Coop de Ville. A 17-foot by 14-foot self-contained space will be built adjacent to the current restaurant, at the site of the former hot dog stand.

Shellfish constable David Grunden announced a pilot program that will enable non-residents to obtain shellfishing permits on weekends by making the permits available for purchase at local tackle shops. The program will start sometime before the 4th of July, Mr. Grunden said.