West Tisbury: Town history and traditions

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— Kyra Steck

It has been another golden week of warm days. We could use some rain, as the ground is quite dry, but it’s hard not to enjoy a string of lovely days. Everything is turning green, the soft greens of new leaves, wrapping trees and bushes in a froth of chartreuse against the blue sky. Lilacs, dogwoods, rhododendrons, azaleas, magnolias, and viburnums are bursting into bloom. It all seems to happen so quickly every year.

At their weekly meeting last Wednesday, the selectmen unanimously chose Greg Pachico to become West Tisbury’s new fire chief. Our current chief, Manny Estrella, is retiring at the end of June. Greg joined the department as a young man, and has served as an assistant chief for the past several years. He will do a great job. Congratulations, Chief Pachico.

There were two other final candidates, Marques Rivers and William Choate. The selectmen thanked them both, as do we all.

A bit of Fire Department history, Greg will be only the fifth chief since the department was officially named and Station I was built in the early 1950s, by then–Chief Arnie Fischer Sr. Bill Haynes became chief in the mid-1980s. John Cotterill came next, followed by our current Chief Estrella.

The former Fire Station II on Old Courthouse Road was torn down last week to make room for new units of affordable housing. Bill Haynes made a video of the building coming down. He will make the video available, part of the archive of our town’s history.

Bill’s other bit of news during our phone conversation was that there will be an Ag Fair this summer. He said the Ag Society was still discussing the details, and that it may look a little different from fairs past, but planning was definitely in the works.

A reminder that our annual town meeting and election will be next week, on Tuesday, May 18, at the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. There will be a brief special town meeting that will begin at 4:50 pm. The annual will begin at 5 o’clock. You can find the warrant at bit.ly/wtwarrant.

There will be three check-in entrances into the Tabernacle. Masks will be required in the Campground and at the meeting. There will be limited handicapped/elderly parking around the Tabernacle circle, within Trinity Park, and on Dukes County Avenue. There will be no parking at Sunset Lake this year. If you need a ride to the meeting, call Jen Rand at 508-696-0102.

The election will follow on Thursday, May 20, at the Public Safety Building here in West Tisbury, to vote on one ballot question. Polls will be open from 11 am to 7 pm.

One of the wonderful results of pandemic sequestration has been our acquaintance with Zoom. It has been amazing to be able to attend lots of events from the comfort of my living room sofa. I have taken webinars about dementia care from world expert Teepa Snow and others, art classes at Yale, art exhibitions that take my fancy, gardens across the country, events in my hometown in Connecticut, fabulous live music concerts. There are loads of how-to videos for craft projects I have been able to use at work. Yes, it’s different from being in a room with other people, taking energy and opinions from their presence, but it’s still pretty amazing. I hope a lot of these opportunities will remain available as our world reopens.

Last week I attended a talk by Tim Boland, a preview of the Polly Hill Arboretum’s upcoming plant sale. There will be many native Vineyard plants available that have been propagated at the Arboretum, native plants that are more drought-resistant, that attract birds and other pollinators, and even plants that deer tend to leave alone. After years of disappointment or constant watering, and spraying with deer repellent, it might be nice to try something different and hope for better, easier/simpler results. The online plant sale began May 10.

I also attended Nancy Shaw Cramer’s current exhibition of her beaded compositions and tapestries at the West Tisbury library’s Virtual Gallery. It is beautiful, as is everything Nancy does. Her combinations of textural papers, subtly colored shapes, and tiny beads invite close exploration. Take a look at wtlibraryvirtualgallery.org.

Students of Alison Shaw and Sue Dawson’s advanced photography mentorship class are exhibiting their work at Field Gallery. You can see some of the work online, but even better is going in-person to the gallery. Nothing compares with real eyes exploring real art.

Diana Braillard is putting together an email list to let people know about Zoom programming while Howes House remains closed. To get on the list, contact coa-clerk@westtisbury-ma.gov. You can take a virtual tour of the Wang Theater on June 3. Another interesting opportunity on Zoom.

Mike mowed our lawn for the first time this year. Our place looks like a park. It reminds me of a comment Nelia Decker made years ago about her garden always looking its best at this time of year, before the weeds came up. Indeed.

If you have any West Tisbury Town Column suggestions, email Hermine Hull, hermine.hull@gmail.com.