Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Is the Island’s special needs education program in need of special attention? Our community considers itself to be enlightened and engaged. We pride ourselves on inclusiveness. But is it to a fault? When it comes to special needs students who need all possible resources focused on them in a space designed for them, our school system may be failing.

The inclusion of some students in a general education classroom is a disservice, a failure to include that child in what all of us wants for our own — the best we can offer. When the system places a severely disabled child in a general education classroom it isolates that child from the atmosphere and resources he or she needs to succeed. It frustrates the child. It leaves him or her behind. It is heartless. When students have special needs it is up to our top-heavy school administrators to do some heavy lifting.

No Child Left Behind intends for every child to be provided with the tools the child needs to succeed. To fail to evaluate, set goals, track goals and constantly monitor and upgrade is to fail that child. It also breaks the law. To fail to place such a child in an environment where the child receives a meaningful educational experience is also a violation. Having endless meetings, failing to make decisions, ignoring the responsibility you were trained to assume is lazy and weak-kneed. At worst it is immoral not to do the best you can for those less fortunate.

Test and target, set goals, make the appropriate placement regardless of who protests — make progress. That’s education. Warehousing and babysitting are not part of No Child Left Behind nor are they part of the state’s special education program. It is in fact a denial of services and is actionable. James P. Hickey



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Facing a very important meeting in New Jersey on Sept. 25, my wife and I needed to arrange a ride to catch the 7 a.m. boat in Vineyard Haven.

Calling Stagecoach Taxi the afternoon prior to Sept. 25 we were assured that a 6:30 a.m. pickup would occur. However, 6:30 a.m. came — and went. Phone calls only reached an answering machine, so we trudged with baggage in hand out to the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road fully expecting to meet our cab on the way but to no avail.

Desperate, at 6:45 a.m. we stuck our thumbs out but cars streamed by, including a couple of cabs (not Stagecoach) which we tried to flag down, again to no avail.

Our day was about to implode when a green Suburban heading away from Vineyard Haven toward the Blinker turned around and came back. It was 6:50 a.m. and suddenly, thanks to this good person, we had a chance. Light traffic favored us and we slid from our savior’s vehicle with two minutes to spare.

We raced to the gangway and boarded only to realize that as we unloaded we never got the driver’s name.

A bit of inquiry has revealed that our day was saved by Rebecca Tinus, who told us she was on her way back from dropping her daughter for the 7 a.m. boat and that she could see the despair in our faces which led her to attempt our rescue. Perhaps it was a random act of kindness but we suspect that people who know her will not be surprised by her actions.

By the way, aboard the Sankaty the following day we phoned Stagecoach to ask what went wrong and why we were not picked up. They agreed it was their error and we suggested that they could go some way to rectifying their almost costly mistake by meeting us in Oak Bluffs and giving us a ride home. They said they would get back to us. Sadly, the call never came.

T. Michael and Larissa Flynn

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The board of directors and advisors of Vineyard House Inc., the Island’s only residential facility for men and women in early recovery from addiction to alcohol and drugs, would like to introduce Kathy Ferland, our new administrative officer, to the Vineyard community. Kathy brings rich and varied experience to the position as head of our operations and we welcome her aboard.

We are fortunate that the transition of leadership is a seamless one. Brian Mackey, retiring as our executive director, is leaving our organization and its program in peak condition. We look forward to his return as a board member in the near future.

As we celebrate our 10th anniversary this year, we urge anyone in the Vineyard community who is struggling with recovery or knows a friend or family member in trouble and needs a safe place to begin a life of sobriety, to contact Kathy Ferland at 508-693-8580 for information about our program.

We are grateful to everyone who continues to support this important work. The need, unfortunately, never ends.

Dana K. Anderson



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I would like to say thank you to everyone involved with the benefit Friday, Sept. 28, for my daughter Ella.

It is quite remarkable how the people of this community are so willing to help and lend support when someone is in need.

Friday’s music ran successfully thanks to my wonderful brother Erich and dear friend Don Groover. The collection of money was possible thanks to my lovely sister Talia.

The musicians on this are incredible, and I want to thank all of the musicians who came out to play and support my family. Five hours of music, unbelievable.

I am so grateful and proud that Martha’s Vineyard is my home. There is no place like it. Again, thank you, thank you, thank you.

Sabrina and Ella Luening



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We wanted to thank the Martha’s Vineyard Transit Authority and the Holy Ghost Society for supporting the new Martha’s Vineyard Hospital construction project by helping to provide a parking solution for the nursing home and the hospital. The Holy Ghost Society has provided space for the 75 employees to park .6 miles from the hospital. The VTA has begun to provide a shuttle service for our employees. This offsite parking solution provides sufficient parking for our patients and visitors. It is gratifying to have the community come together in support of the new hospital.

Ken Chisholm



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I just wanted to write a quick thank you to all that made the 2007 Oak Bluffs Columbus Day Road Race a success this past weekend. Although we were greeted with cold and windy weather more suited for November than October, over 190 runners and walkers braved the elements and the Island Affordable Housing Fund, affordable housing and historic preservation were the winners. The thousands raised for this event will go directly into the renovation and construction of the Bradley Square community development project in the heart of the Oak Bluffs arts district.

To all the participants and volunteers, whose warm nature and selflessness made this event a success, I have no doubt there were family commitments to keep, chores to do and the Patriots to watch, and you chose us. On behalf of the board of the Island Affordable Housing Fund, I thank you. We will see you next year bigger and better.

Pat Manning



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

My wife suffers from COPD. The abbreviation means chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. It means that she smoked too much for too many years. Now her breathing needs medical assistance. I installed a stair lift so she can get to our second floor, and so on.

Please inform your readers that smoking really does kill and that isn’t sudden; it means a slow death. Any smoker may as well buy the best health insurance policy or again suffer the consequences.

Jim Masek

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On Oct. 6, 1998 I had been working on my house in Oak Bluffs all day. I had a few beers, then I went out to dinner in Oak Bluffs. After dinner I made the rounds of the bars in Oak Bluffs had a couple of more beers. Then I got in my car and decided to drive home. The Oak Bluffs police followed me out of town and decided I should not be driving. At the time I thought it was the worst day of my life. Boy was I wrong. I decided right then and there that I would never drink again. The last nine years I consider the best years of my life. I want to publicly thank the Oak Bluffs police; they were very cordial to me and treated me with the utmost respect — something I think at the time I did not return.

Jim Cage was the officer that night. I want to thank him and the entire police department, the Dukes County Sheriff’s department and the employees at the Edgartown courthouse. There is life after alcohol.

Robert I. Reagan Jr.

East Chop and Medway