Chief Searle’s promotion appointments approved

Oak Bluffs select board hopes to limit entertainment requests, saying M.V. is ‘not the Jersey Shore.’

Oak Bluffs Police Officers Christopher Wiggin (left) and Jeffrey LaBell (right) were appointed to sergeant Tuesday afternoon. — Abigail Rosen

The Oak Bluffs select board voted to appoint acting Lt. Nicholas Curelli to lieutenant, in addition to approving the promotions of Officers Christopher Wiggin and Jeffrey LaBell to sergeant Tuesday. In his first appointments as chief of police, Jonathan Searle brought the promotions before the select board. 

Lt. Currelli, who holds a master’s degree in criminal justice, has served in the Oak Bluffs Police Department since 1999; 10 years as detective, eight years as sergeant, and as acting lieutenant following the retirement of Lt. Tim Williamson and the departure of Sgt. Michael Marchand, where he was praised by former Chief Erik Blake for “step[ping] up to the plate.”

“[Lt. Currelli] has been a tremendous asset to the department and myself during the recent leadership transition,” Searle told the select board. 

Sgt. Wiggin has served with the department as both a traffic and special officer before being appointed patrol officer in 2002. Searle said Wiggin “is a role model for younger officers.” Wiggin holds a master’s degree in criminal justice. 

Sgt. LaBell has been serving as a police officer for the past two decades, 15 years of which has been with OBPD. LaBell has served as detective and motorcycle officer, in addition to field training officer, and has worked on the Martha’s Vineyard Drug Task Force. Searle said LaBell is “a mentor in the department.”

“Each of them brings their own set of unique skills to the command staff,” said Searle, adding that he looks forward to working with them as chief.

The select board voted to approve a 15-day beer and wine license — the second half of an initial 30-day beer and wine license — requested by Martha’s Vineyard Sharks baseball team president and general manager Russ Curran. The request was first brought to the board in April, when select board members agreed to grant Curran half the days requested, with the intention of approving the second half contingent upon an assessment, to ensure compliance with the town, preceding the team’s 14th game of the season. Curran said not only have there been “no problems whatsoever” — this was confirmed by the town — but the Sharks are currently in first place.

Select board members advocated for the waiving of the license fee, which was subsequently agreed upon with the exception of select board vice chair Gail Barmakian, who noted the possibility of setting an unfavorable precedent.

In other business, Oak Bluffs library director Allyson Malik announced that the library will be extending its hours until 8 pm, beginning July 7. Additionally, through updated archives, the library has made available town reports dating back to 1890. The library will be hosting an open house on Saturday, July 9, to “celebrate all things library,” that will consist of food, music, games, and demonstrations from 10 am to 2 pm. The select board also voted unanimously to approve the appointment of Peter Lyons to the Oak Bluffs Library board of trustees for a three-year term.

After taking time to look into previous permits, the select board granted Lobsterville Bar and Grille owner Leslie Graham an entertainment license. The select board was informed that Graham had been issued same-language licenses for the past three years. 

A request from O.B. seasonal resident Imani Moody to host a private catered clambake for Wharton M.B.A. students with amplified music on Town Beach on July 3 was denied, as the select board was unable to come to a majority decision, with only three members in attendance at the time the agenda item was discussed. Select board member Brian Packish was the lone dissenter, although concerns were raised by all present board members; specifically, the possibility of setting a precedent by approving a private party in public space.

 “It’s exactly what we don’t need on our beach,” said Packish. This sentiment, being a common theme at Tuesday’s meeting, was prompted by the increasing number of entertainment license requests. 

Select board member Jason Balboni expressed his unease with approving events “that take away from public space,” in addition to events with “amplified music that other people have to listen to whether they want to or not.”

“I don’t want us to get to a point where every weekend, every day, there’s another event going on. One of the things that’s amazing about Martha’s Vineyard is its natural beauty,” he said, adding, “It’s not the Jersey Shore.”

Meanwhile, town administrator Deborah Potter informed the select board that at the most recent finance and advisory committee meeting, she suggested a onetime stipend for Oak Bluffs staff members, which the finance committee ultimately denied. 

The proposed stipend, according to Potter, would be a distribution of $140,000 — part of what was returned from the school — to 80 town employees. 

Potter said the stipend is meant to give town employees “a little bit of extra assistance for a variety of factors that are going on this year and the past year.”

Potter said the town is experiencing “a revolving door of people leaving,” due to their salary, and that the “onetime transfer” of funds would be to signal appreciation of the staff.

“It’s a lot of money,” said Barmakian, adding the stipends should be an item at a town meeting, as it is “outside” of what the select board typically considers. Regardless, the select board agreed to have Potter return to the finance committee and relay their approval.



  1. Why must selectman Balboni make a point by degrading another resort town? Some people really enjoy the Jersey Shore. Get over yourself.

  2. Balboni may need reminding, MV played host to its own vacuous “reality show”, called The Vineyard, inspired by the same NJ resort he is disparaging.
    Hypocrisy Of The Year Award does indeed go to the Oak Bluffs Selectman.

  3. Just a clarification that the OB Library will be open until 8PM on Thursdays – not every day of the week.

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