Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Tomorrow, Saturday night, March 29, is Lights Out Martha’s Vineyard from 8 to 9 p.m. We encourage every Islander to participate by turning out lights for this one hour to raise awareness about energy conservation.

At last count, 59 different Island groups, including our hospital, Steamship Authority, chamber of commerce, schools and towns, in addition to individuals and families, are all committed to turning out non-essential lighting for this hour. Please let us know you will participate at Join us in this national and world-wide event at

Nationally, the lights on the Golden Gate Bridge and the Sears Tower will be turned out for this event. If they can do it, can’t we?

We invite everyone to turn off power strips, radios, televisions, computers, small appliances, outdoor and indoor lights, washing machines, dryers, dishwashers and hot water heaters.

Bring your flashlights to Felix Neck Wildlife Center in Edgartown at 7:30 p.m. for singing and a night walk, or go to bed early, or get out the candles and party. Let’s see how much electricity we can save by turning out our lights. NStar is hoping to track our electricity usage before, during and after this event.

As part of this event, Cape Light Compact will be donating one free compact fluorescent light bulb per person (as supply permits), at Five Corners in Vineyard Haven this Saturday morning and at The Triangle in Edgartown Saturday afternoon.

Please remember to “turn out” between 8 and 9 p.m. this Saturday.

Nan Doty



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I met Sarah Kuh, director of Vineyard Health Care Access, almost a decade ago, when she and a band of volunteers were stationed in what is now the Healthy Additions building, next to Cronig’s in Vineyard Haven.

Sarah had amazing ideas and plans — in two languages — for much needed health care access for Vineyarders. Her dream gradually became an amazing, caring, effective and successful Vineyard program. Sadly, this year, funding for her dream is wobbly.

So, as you settle into your town meeting seat, nodding to friends, and scanning the numerous warrant articles, please take time to circle the Vineyard Health Care Access Program article. And then vote for the funding to keep it alive.

Vineyard Health Care Access might not be around next year.

Evidently the county has a budget shortfall, and is asking the towns to contribute to the access program’s funding. Dukes County has provided one-third of the total budget. This year, that’s $90,000, divided among our six towns, out of the program’s total budget of $275,000. The remaining funding comes from unpredictable grants.

And that vital funding is the lifeline to medical care for an enormous number of Vineyarders — who have no health insurance — and who have needs which are so much bigger than Band-Aids. The Vineyard Health Care Access Program assures them access to programs and resources, and hope.

Director Sarah Kuh and her remarkable staff, guide members daily through the labyrinth of details on contacting specific medical practitioners and services. And they follow up to see that, indeed, you did get to that doctor, or test, or important appointment. They help fill out the plague of forms that set up mental roadblocks, or take unavailable time, or are simply a major challenge, especially if there is a disability. Simply put: they make sense of health care — they make it seem doable.

They have the patience to get you enrolled and stay in systems that were there all the time, but never seemed user-friendly. We read about programs available for our maladies, always in language which boggles the brain, heart and soul. The staff can translate all of that for you.

The Vineyard Health Care Access Program figures it out for you, and countless others, who avoid getting much-needed medical care, because of travel distances, or the lack of knowledge that help is even available at all, or simply not understanding that the Vineyard Health Care Access Program exists.

While many community groups, friends and neighbors, town leaders and other generous people have always shown remarkable support, we are now in a time of crisis.

The lower-income people of the Vineyard need your votes. Please stand up and vote for them at your town meeting.

Health does not play the waiting game. Health is, by necessity, right now. Hopefully you have your health, and will share your good fortune with those who do not. Please vote yes for the Vineyard Health Care Access Program funding.

Jani Gardner

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am writing in response to the letter of Dick Mezger, president of the Bridge Housing Corporation. In his letter, Mr. Mezger claims that the extension of water up State Road to the Bridge Commons affordable housing project was requested by the Martha’s Vineyard Commission and the Tisbury Zoning Board of Appeals.

But taxpayers, who will be asked this spring at town meeting to approve a community preservation grant of $96,750 for this public water project, need to know the actual facts.

Public water is to be brought up State Road, not at the request of the commission or the zoning board, but because of state regulatory requirements concerning water, wells and sewage disposal.

The site of the project on State Road, opposite the Assembly of God Church, lacks enough area to allow septic systems and wells for a project of this density.

During the initial commission hearings, which began in February 2003, the Bridge Housing representative presented a plan approved by the commission staff, which was in direct violation of the Massachusetts regulations mentioned above. This flaw in the plan was pointed out in testimony by a licensed hydrologist and geologist hired by an abutter.

At this point the abutters assumed that BHC would lower the density of the project to conform to state regulations. But they did not. Instead, Bridge Housing decided to bring water up State Road from the public water supply at Tashmoo.

Taxpayers who will be asked to approve this use of their money need to be aware of the facts.

Barbara Babcock

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I want to extend my condolences to the staff of the Visiting Nurse Service. I can imagine the range of thoughts and feelings you must be having after receiving a terminal diagnosis about your jobs, and being given only three months to live in a home care agency that for many of you has been your work home for years.

Knowing the reasons why your agency was closed does not diminish the shock and confusion about losing your jobs. May you be comforted in your grief by knowing that you have made a remarkable difference in the lives of many patients and families.

Thank you for the privilege of having been a colleague and a past co-worker; I have personally and professionally experienced your dedication, expertise, and compassion. May you feel the fullness of the contributions you have made to the Vineyard over all these years.

Kathy Fitzgibbon

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am opposed to beer and wine sales in Tisbury.

The main reason that I am opposed is that we do not know how beer and wine sales will affect Tisbury and I am concerned that the overall effect will be negative.

I and others who oppose this proposed change are not advocates of prohibition. We simply prefer the way Tisbury is at present.

Comparisons are made between Tisbury and Edgartown and Oak Bluffs to convince us that alcohol sales in restaurants will be good for our town businesses, but Main Street, Vineyard Haven is more active year-round right now than downtown Oak Bluffs or Edgartown. Perhaps alcohol sales in restaurants will give seasonal business an advantage over year-round businesses.

Fundamentally I and many other residents of our town like Vineyard Haven the way it is right now. That is why I live in this town. It is quieter and calmer than Oak Bluffs and Edgartown in the summer, but more active than either in the off-season.

One of the great positives of the Vineyard is that each town has its own character and tradition. No one would confuse Edgartown with Oak Bluffs with West Tisbury with Vineyard Haven. All towns have their own histories. There is a value to a town holding on to its history and its identity. Part of what contributes to Vineyard Haven’s unique character is that for more than 150 years there has been no sale of alcohol in the town.

Change can have non-intended consequences. The risks of negative consequences do not make this proposed change worth it.

I hope that the citizens of Tisbury will vote down the proposal to sell beer and wine in our restaurants.

Henry Nieder

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It is very difficult to have confidence in town government if the elected representatives constantly voice their displeasure with and intolerance of other duly elected or appointed officials. The criticism is rarely constructive and it questions that official’s otherwise sound judgment.

And no town government runs smoothly if these personal prejudices dominate public proceedings and lead to a refusal to work with other departments.

I hope anyone running for office realizes how much his or her intransigence reduces the effectiveness of local government and that this negative mindset changes before the coming election.

Harriet Barrow

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

To Lynne Irons:

Thank you for your statement on child labor in your recent gardening column.

Here is a companion piece to your poignant illustration, written by Sarah Norcliffe Cleghorn, 1810-1865:

The Golf Links

The golf links lie so near the mill

That almost every day

The laboring children can look out

And see the men at play.

Margaret Logue



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

When are we going to end our Iraq madness? Five years of killing have left 4,000 Americans dead, 1 million Iraqis dead, more than 40,000 Americans injured, and 4.5 million Iraqis homeless.

We must tell Representative Delahunt and senators Kennedy and Kerry to oppose all additional funding, except that for safely bringing our troops home.

Chris Fried

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Vineyard is missing. Actually, this is the second time it has disappeared. No, this is not some wondrous magician’s trick or a thick bank of fog which has rolled in from the sea. We are talking about a sign.

Less than two years ago, our daughter and son-in-law surprised us with a handcrafted wooden street sign shaped like the Vineyard. It had our name and street number in brass letters. We proudly hung it on chains from a bracket mounted on a tree at the start of our driveway. As we live on a private road, it was helpful to those trying to find our house and a joy whenever we saw it. It was ripped from its chains and taken Easter 2007. 

Though we hestitated to ask for another, our daughter and son-in-law crafted a second one and shipped it from Washington state where they live. We had it hung about a month ago. It was ripped from its chains and taken March 16, Palm Sunday.

We are saddened by the sign’s loss and all the effort that went into its creation. But, we are more saddened that the Vineyard has someone who feels the need to take something which has little monetary value, but clearly sentimental value. And, take it twice.

The Vineyard is missing. Missing more than just a sign.

Alden and Barbara Besse

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I want to thank Julia Rappaport for her incredible article about this year’s Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival. It’s obvious how much time and effort she put into creating such a visual piece. She captured the spirit of the weekend, accurately describing the various elements that helped to make the eighth annual Vineyard film festival a magical experience: the filmmaker panel discussion, the free program for kids at the Chilmark library and the amazing local panels on farming and affordable housing.

This has been a landmark year for the festival. As I stated in this year’s film bill, I recently realized that the Martha’s Vineyard Independent Film Festival has never been independent. In fact, we have always sought to embody the interdependence that defines this Island’s community. So we dropped the word independent from the festival, returning to our original name.

And this year we finally have a managing director and a real office. We will show more than 60 films this year, including films for children in both the winter and the summer. We also have 50 local businesses alongside more than 250 annual members and supporters who help sustain our efforts. Not to mention the extraordinary volunteers and individuals who donate their time, couches, chocolate, houses, talent, creativity, and spirit to the growing festival family.

Thank you Julia, the Gazette, and Martha’s Vineyard. I am truly grateful and humbled to call this Island home and to be a part of this community.

Thomas Bena


Thomas Bena is founder and producer of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This letter is being sent to Sen. Edward Kennedy:

Dear Senator Kennedy,

I am writing to you today to express my rage, disappointment, frustration and sense of helplessness all occasioned by the action of our president in vetoing the bill to eliminate the procedure called “water boarding” as a technique to obtain information from a suspect or suspects of providing or planning actions which have been or might be of serious danger to the security of our country.

I do not know what the definition of the word torture may be but I do know that obtaining information perceived to be of value to our intelligence agencies by means of the application of physical, mental or emotional incredible and extreme pain and suffering under any and all circumstances is abhorrent to me and, I believe, is equally abhorrent to other individuals or groups of people in most of the nations of the world.

To be openly accused in the use of torture by the government of the United States puts us on the same level as the very worst of those countries which we self-righteously condemn for their actions at every hand. Yes, it may be that this technique may give us the answers that we want but here, I stress, the fact that these answers may in themselves be the direct result of extreme pain and suffering but not necessarily of truth. No man or woman can resolve not to give way under extreme fear or pain or emotional distress and I am utterly ashamed of our country openly refusing to disavow such investigatory techniques. Is there nothing that can be done to override the president’s veto of this bill?

I realize that the time is short (thank God) before his term is over but even the threat to bring a bill of impeachment before the Senate would show the President, the people of this country, and so many millions of people throughout the rest of the world that it might conceivable tip the scales for impeachment or at least for resignation. This is a serious matter of which I am fully aware but I felt it was a subject that I could not avoid bringing to your attention and I feel better for having done so.

Thomas Hale

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I saw in the Gazette last week of the death of Shirley Adams and this morning a flood of memories came to me. I had been a summer visitor for many years but in 1991 I decided to make my year-round home here. Shirley and her friend Barbara Barstow were instrumental in making me feel at home on the Island full-time. (Instrumental is a good word. Shirley played the cello and Barbara the violin in the Rhode Island Symphony!)

I first met Shirley on Fridays at the Federated Church in Edgartown where David Hewlett had his wonderful organ concerts. The people brought their own lunches and David provided coffee. It was a great way to meet fellow music lovers. Shirley told me about the community solar greenhouse and I have been a member, planter, dead-header and weeder ever since. She was chairman of the group, an avid gardener and good organizer.

She told me about Meals on Wheels and before I knew it she was showing me her up-Island route and I was driving on an alternate day, meeting new people who were living courageous lives often by themselves. I did this for 10 years but Shirley and Barbara did it for at least 20 years and were honored by a party at the hospital.

I remember one time when I was driving the route after a snowstorm I got stuck in a road off Tea Lane. I called Shirley to find out what I should do. In a short while, she and Barbara appeared and showed me how to back up and slowly steer out of the heavy snow. Shirley seemed always to be there when she was needed.

Before I met Shirley, she and Barbara operated a restaurant in their home on the hill. Both were excellent chefs and enjoyed the people who came there for their lemon chiffon pie and other delights. Shirley made a wonderful cranberry and orange preserve which I still make.

I remember at a later time sitting on the porch overlooking Vineyard Haven harbor and watching the fireworks on Fourth of July. What a treat!

To raise money for the solar greenhouse, Shirley organized a group of women to make a quilt to sell at the farmer’s market. Some of us were not professional quilters like Shirley and Barbara so sometimes Shirley would accept some squares cheerfully and gratefully, take them home and redo them. She also provided the materials and the design. This endeavor went on for several years helping the solar greenhouse.

I will miss that intrepid white-haired lady and her surviving long-time friend who helped me see the Island in many new ways.

Jane L. Brown

Oak Bluffs

The Vineyard Gazette welcomes letters to the editor on any subject concerning Martha’s Vineyard. The newspaper strives to publish all letters as space allows, although the editor reserves the right to reject letters that in her judgment are inappropriate. Letters must be signed, and should include a place of residence and contact telephone number. The Gazette does not publish anonymous letters.