Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As homeowners on Chappy, we want to express our complete and unrestricted support for Brad Fligor as a captain of the Chappy ferry.

We have known Brad since he started captaining the ferry. Of course he may not be the prettiest of the captains, but he sure is one of the most capable.

We have always found him to be respectful, courteous and most especially diligent about safety.

The true account of the what happened may never be known — we leave that to the investigating parties to determine.

But for Mrs. McLean to take the position she did was just one more example of the “I didn’t do anything wrong, I am a victim, It is the other guy’s fault,” mentality that has crept into our society.

Mrs. McLean, you were the driver. It is your responsibility to operate the car safely — and please don’t tell us that this was the first time you drove on the Chappy ferry.

Jozef and Sheila Sliwkowski



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Thank goodness all involved are safe. That said, as adults let’s take responsibility for our actions. In reference to the driver who did not put her vehicle in park when she drove onto the On Time, this error in judgment was hers alone. The boat travels at a severe angle to compensate for the current. Driving onto that little boat, there should be no question in anyone’s mind, you put your car in park, wheel chocks or not! That would be the responsibility of the person behind the wheel.

Kirk Sawmiller

Columbus, Ohio

and Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This letter is also being sent to town manager Michael Dutton and the Oak Bluffs selectmen.

I was shocked to read of the decision to eliminate lifeguards at Oak Bluffs beaches for summer 2008. Our beaches are perhaps the most heavily used on the Island, by summer and year-round residents alike, particularly families with young children.

Elimination of lifeguards will seriously endanger all those who use these beaches, a group that includes not only Oak Bluffs taxpayers, but seasonal visitors and residents from all over the Island who come to our beaches to swim and relax.

During the summer months Martha’s Vineyard is a resort Island. Shouldn’t the town welcome those who come to patronize businesses in town and also protect those who wish to enjoy our beaches?

I have been a summer resident of Oak Bluffs for over 50 years and I am a daily swimmer at town beaches. I am also a taxpayer 12 months a year on an Island where I spend two to three months annually, and like other summer residents my tax dollars are an important part of the town’s tax base. Our safety and enjoyment of the beach should be an important part of the town’s concerns as well.

What is the budgetary process that led to these proposed cuts? Isn’t there a public safety issue involved? What was your rationale for coming up with this decision? Where is the transparency in why these cuts are necessary? How was it decided to cut these services as opposed to others?

And while we are loath in America and on the Vineyard to acknowledge the elephant in the middle of the beach, what role does race play in this decision? Is it only chance that lifeguards are to be eliminated at the beaches in Oak Bluffs predominantly used by African Americans?

These are not rhetorical questions, but ones that demand answers. I look forward to a prompt response. I ask you to reconsider your decision to eliminate lifeguards and rethink the decision to cut funds for a seasonal position at the board of health and for the town tennis program.

I look forward to a prompt response to this letter.

Jill Nelson

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This letter is also being sent to the town manager of Oak Bluffs about eliminating lifeguards.

A few short years ago, Oak Bluffs reassessed all the property. We who live here (I have a seasonal home) gave to the town a boat load of dollars in property taxes — huge increases, all at once. I’m not sure how well the money was spent.

At the time, I didn’t believe that people in town management would really know what to do with that influx of cash. And here we are. God knows the new hires, the new positions, the grand projects dreamed up that now all require constant, consistent financial maintenance.

But lifeguards are now apparently extravagant. Lifeguards, in a beach community, whom we once could afford, we cannot. You now cannot squeeze out salaries for lifeguards — in a beach community — for two months. That salary you would say is wasteful? With this cost-saving measure, where would that salary money now go?

Don’t complicate Oak Bluffs. I don’t think we need more money. We need better money managers.

Rosemary Verri

Oak Bluffs

and Sudbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The tributes to Virginia Poole by Phyllis Meras and Peter McGhee in the Vineyard Gazette on March 14 are pieces of writing that she would surely admire and enjoy. I did, and that gave me some solace. These descriptions of a life and time now past are beautifully crafted — one a more specific history (a personalized obituary), the other a more general and subtle reference to loss felt deeply. Such expressions keep loved ones alive, so we will read them over and again and feel grateful to the ones who dedicated themselves to creating the record, telling the story.

One more salute — to Captain Poole who piloted his good vessel, Virginia, through the uncharted waters of the Parkinsons channel. Firm hand on the tiller, Everett kept Jini on course. He applied a gentle touch for delicate maneuvers. He was vigilant for changes in current and tide, skillful in handling bad weather when it hit, able in maintenance of equipment and provisions, clear in his direction of a loyal crew and inventive in the galley from which he stewed up a steady stream of nourishment.

When Captain Poole’s Virginia went down, Everett and his crew brought the people of the home port and neighboring towns to somberly witness the final resting place — silent there, save for the distant surf and a slight sea breeze in the cedars. The pastors alone spoke. Then our minstrel Merilee softly sang some familiar lines, and the sun shone brightly on our goodbyes.

Sally Scott Cook