Axe throwing is coming to Oak Bluffs

Selectmen also hire a new shellfish constable and establish Civil War monument committee.

7
Selectman chose Charles "Chuck" Fisher as the town's new shellfish constable. — Brian Dowd

It may have taken some convincing, but J.B. Blau, operations manager of Sea Smoke Barbeque, and owner Daniel Sauer received approval Tuesday night to hold axe throwing at his restaurant.

According to Blau, axe throwing has become a growing trend at bars and restaurants around the country.

“It’s like cornhole, but instead of cornhole it’s axe throwing,” Blau said, as members of the public laughed. “It’s less dangerous than tennis.”

“Are you kidding me?” selectman Gail Barmakian said. Barmakian said she was unsure about mixing alcohol and axes.

Knowing it’s a new concept to the Island, Blau said he isn’t turning a profit, but wanted to provide something unique to draw people to his restaurant. Blau plans to set up two lanes for people to throw axes in. The lanes will be set up in an enclosure outside the restaurant, and a professional axe-throwing instructor will be present at all times.

In addition to teaching axe throwing, the instructors are TIPS-certified, and won’t allow intoxicated customers to throw axes.

“This is actually extremely safe,” Blau said. “There are these things where they have 30 lanes set up in a bar 10 feet away, and people do it and everybody’s OK.”

“Yeah, that’s in Oklahoma somewhere probably,” Barmakian joked.

Selectman Mike Santoro and Brian Packish abstained from the vote. Santoro owns restaurants and Packish owns property nearby.

 

Promoting from within

Oak Bluffs selectmen chose Charles “Chuck” Fisher as the new shellfish constable at the board’s meeting Tuesday night.

Fisher, who has been the town’s deputy shellfish constable for the past five years, will take over the job from longtime constable David Grunden. Selectmen whittled their choices down to Fisher and William Reich, Chilmark’s assistant shellfish constable, and interviewed both candidates during their meeting.

Along with improving equipment, vehicles, and having staff in uniforms, Fisher said his goal is to prioritize the shellfish department’s propagation and ecological programs, while also monitoring water quality.

“We need to focus on propagation,” Fisher said. “The more we can be on the water, the better the department will be.”

During his tenure under Grunden, Fisher was responsible for propagating, transplanting, and maintaining multiple shellfish species. He was also responsible for education in and enforcement of state and local laws and regulations. Fisher told selectmen he had gained valuable relationships with state and federal agencies through water quality testing. For Fisher, water quality is the biggest challenge the department faces, but he believes community outreach and education are the best ways to mitigate nitrogen loading, one of the main culprits behind poor water quality.

Selectmen expressed their admiration for both candidates, especially Reich who had grown up in Oak Bluffs and has a bachelor of science degree in environmental science, but said Fisher had the edge because he had been with the town for so long.

Since the majority of Fisher’s professional background does not involve shellfish experience, Packish asked how Fisher would plan to fit into the constable role.

Fishcer said he had gained a lot of knowledge in his five years at the department, and will continue to educate himself through collaboration with other Island shellfish departments.

After brief deliberation, each selectman expressed their choice. Barmakian and Packish both expressed their interest in Reich, but unanimously voted with Santoro, Jason Balboni, and Greg Coogan to appoint Fisher.

In other business, Oak Bluffs went back to the drawing board to address its need for a building commissioner.

Over the past several months, selectmen from Oak Bluffs and Tisbury held several joint meetings to discuss the possibility of sharing a building commissioner. The idea was to pool resources from both towns to attract a qualified candidate that had the required certification.

At their annual town meeting in April, Tisbury voters shot down the proposal, despite the backing of selectmen.

Town administrator Bob Whritenour said it was “unfortunate” Tisbury rejected the idea, but said selectmen should move forward with advertising a building commissioner position.

Richard Toole, the town’s representative on the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, told selectmen not to give up on a joint or even regional building commissioner.

Coogan agreed, saying the two towns should try again to establish the joint commissioner.

“It’s foolish for us not to work together,” Coogan said.

After unanimously voting to remove two plaques honoring Confederate soldiers, selectmen are in the process of establishing a Civil War statue educational information committee. The committee will be comprised of a veteran, a member of the NAACP, a museum employee, a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), a selectman, and potentially a student from the high school.

Barmakian said she was happy to join the committee as the selectmen member. Selectmen directed Whritenour to reach out to high school Principal Sara Dingledy and Superintendent Matt D’Andrea to see if a student would be interested in being a part of the committee.

The two plaques were removed last week, following the board’s vote. The town replaced the plaques with a piece of plywood cut and colored to resemble the plaques on the statue.

Selectmen appointed Coogan as the town’s representative on the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School funding formula committee.