Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The recent controversy regarding the abuse of Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation meadowland and trees in bartered exchange for mowing services is very troubling. While I do not condone this practice, I believe an honest error in judgment was made. My family and I have had the pleasure of getting to know Dick Johnson over the years, as we are longtime supporters of Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation. We know Dick has a sincere interest in land preservation and stewardship, and he is very ecologically-minded. We do not believe he would intentionally allow the gross abuse of Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation land. When he accepted full accountability for his recent actions, acknowledging his mistake, we should take him at his word and accept his apology. For many years, he worked tirelessly as head of Sheriff’s Meadow to preserve our Island. Rather than vilify him for one errant action, we should thank him for his years of service because Dick is among the many who have dedicated their lives to make the Island a better place for future generations. Imagine how developed the Island would be without Sheriff’s Meadow’s conservation efforts. There is no question, the damage done to the Caroline Tuthill and Priscilla Hancock properties is reprehensible. There should have been better oversight. Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation and Mr. Hoff should make full and immediate reparation to those properties, funded by whoever was the beneficiary of the misdeed. Going forward, Sheriff’s Meadow leadership has indicated they have put strict safeguards in place to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Their actions will speak louder than their words. While this incident may be difficult for many of us to forget, it is time to forgive.

Jonathan Blum



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Thank you for your continued coverage and support of our men and women serving our country. However, it needs to be cleared up once and for all that Vineyard Haven’s American Legion Post #257 is the one that organizes the welcome homecomings for our soldiers, funerals, Memorial Day parades and they also began the absolutely beautiful and honorable Avenue of Flags in Vineyard Haven.

These volunteer men and women give up their lunch hours, switch days off from their jobs, and attend these events, rain, shine or in freezing weather to honor their fallen comrades.

Please give the credit where the proper credit is due.

Phyllis Williams

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We recently had a surprise visit from two MotMots.

We have an old tree stump in the yard, and we dug a deep, wide hole around the stump in the hopes of pulling it out. No way! So periodically, the neighbor, who cooks with wood, comes over with his axe and chops off a few chunks.

Back to the MotMots: this is the national bird of Nicaragua and is the most exquisite bird I have ever seen — about 17 inches long and with feathers that shimmer brilliant turquoise blue, lime green, yellow, orange and black. The tail is like a long black pipe cleaner with a tuft of turquoise blue feathers at the end.

The MotMots, two of them, both looking identical, have been sitting in the avocado tree, looking down into this hole with the tree stump, day after day. I looked into the hole too and could not see anything remotely interesting down there. Then I noticed two tiny caves up in the sides of the hole. I am assuming that they put their eggs there, but what is keeping them warm? I am hoping that something happens soon, because it is the rainy season now, and those poor MotMots just sit there keeping the faith. I will keep you posted. All you school children look up MotMot on the Internet.

Hugs from Nicaragua.

Muriel Laverty

Sinua, Nicaragua


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

With typical Vineyard generosity, more than 100 people arrived at our West Tisbury home on a sunny, picture-perfect May 25, to help launch my new book Island Home: Why People Come To Martha’s Vineyard And Why They Stay. Some were friends of ours, some were friends of the 14 Islanders featured in the book, and some were strangers who heard about the book party and came to join the festivities. Thanks to all of you. Thanks, too, to Debbie White of Seaside Celebrations who donated a tent to help make the day more special. The biggest thanks of all goes to the wash-ashores whose interviews were printed in the book and who were honest and brave enough to share their stories with me. Armen Hanjian, director of the Island Food Pantry, was present with his wife Vicky (one of those interviewed in the book), and the next day I was able to share the profits of the day with him. The season of many other Vineyard celebrations and fund-raisers is about to begin. I know that those functions will be met with the same spirit and generosity as ours was.

Elaine Pace

West Tisbury