Chris Manning named Gay Head Lighthouse keeper

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The Aquinnah select board appointed Chris Manning as the new Gay Head Lighthouse keeper following longtime keeper Richard Skidmore's recent retirement. — Michelle Hopkins

Following a recommendation by the Gay Head Lighthouse advisory board, the Aquinnah select board appointed Chris Manning as the Gay Head Lighthouse keeper and Isaac Taylor as assistant lighthouse keeper.

In July, former lighthouse keeper Richard Skidmore retired abruptly after serving as lighthouse keeper for more than 30 years.

At their regular meeting Tuesday, board chair Gary Haley said he believes the two appointments to the positions should be switched, with Taylor being the main lighthouse keeper and Manning being the assistant.

“[Taylor] should be the lighthouse keeper — he only lives minutes away. I would prefer a person that’s right there if anything went wrong, or if the light went out for whatever reason,” Haley said.

He stressed that his decision is based on proximity to the lighthouse, and has nothing to do with qualifications or whom he believes can perform the primary job function better.

“The [advisory board] has chosen those two, and they are both qualified, of course,” Haley said.

Board member Tom Murphy said he respectfully disagreed with Haley, and suggested that the lighthouse advisory board spent a great deal of time and effort to put the recommendation together. “The five people on that committee know more about that lighthouse than we as a board do. They have come to a unanimous decision that it should be [Manning] as the main lighthouse keeper and [Taylor] as assistant lighthouse keeper,” Murphy said. “I would strongly support whatever recommendation the lighthouse committee makes.”

The motion to appoint Manning and Taylor passed with Haley as the dissenting vote.

In other business, Aquinnah will hold a special town meeting sometime in November to continue appropriating funds for two major capital projects — the retrofitting of town offices and major repairs at the town hall, and the construction of comfort stations and facilities at the Gay Head Cliffs.

The town has already appropriated some of the design money, but needs more in order to finish the process. “Within the next few weeks to a month, there will be three schematic designs developed that will be presented to the public for consideration,” town administrator Jeff Madison said.

The select board also authorized a letter written by Madison to be sent to the state legislature regarding support of a moped ban on-Island.

“I think it’s appropriate in light of recent events,” Haley said.

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