Rick Herrick>



A few years back a group of Island residents who were dissatisfied with the functioning of our county government petitioned their way onto the ballot and succeeded in establishing the charter commission. The purpose of the commission is to study the role of county government on the Vineyard. Its members include the eight current serving county commissioners and 15 elected members from throughout the Island.

The issues are important. On the one hand, the six towns on the Vineyard have a strong sense of independence. Many of the original petitioners for the charter commission want to see the county government abolished. It has little to do, they argue, and contributes nothing to the welfare of Island residents. Worse still, it adds a layer of unnecessary government. On the other hand, the consequences of getting rid of the county are enormous.

East Chop is fortunate to have Bill O’Brien as our representative on the commission. Bill was elected in November of 2006. As a retired county and supreme court justice from New York, Bill contributes needed expertise and wisdom to the commission’s deliberations. His reputation for integrity and fairness are legion.

Unfortunately for Bill, he thought he had retired to the Vineyard to play golf. Ironically, he has had to leave the Island to pursue that passion. His work on the commission has kept him very busy. Fortunately, it all ends in May of 2008 when the final recommendations are due.

David Stephens writes that brother John’s daughter Angie Brown and her husband Rush became the proud parents of a baby boy on Sept. 20. The newest member of the Stephens clan, William Coles Brown, is named after his great grandfather Coles Hegeman. Angie and Rush are both doctors in South Carolina. Angie’s sister Sarah is in the United States Navy, and is currently undergoing sonar training in San Diego. It is nice to have some news about the John Stephens family. We have missed them around here.

Meanwhile, David has recently changed jobs. He currently works as a litigation paralegal in a new law firm in San Francisco. Our ex-actor has exchanged drama on stage for that of the courtroom. His wife Anne designs and teaches on-line courses through Stanford University for their gifted youth program.

Finally, on a sad note, Harry Blake died after a long struggle with lung cancer on Oct. 12. He was 85 years old. Following a distinguished career in the Navy in World War II and with the harbor police in Boston, Harry came to the East Chop Yacht Club in 1973 where he was in charge of security and later served as club manager. He was a fixture at the yacht club for 30 years, earning the nickname of Flashlight Harry from the many East Chop teenagers he confronted after hours. He is survived by Ruth, his wife of 65 years, and a large extended family. We will miss him.