Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I’ve scoured my e-mail list and shamelessly scavenged from all of my friend’s e-mail recipient lists, believing that the power of people and the Internet will work its magic to help my friend and fellow Vineyarder Hillary Landers, who suffered a spinal cord injury in the fall of 2006.

If you do not know Hillary, you really should. Over the years, you may have seen her riding her bicycle for miles around the Island, playing tennis, golfing, donating her time at charity events or showing real estate to prospective buyers as the owner of Lighthouse Real Estate. You may have seen her with her son, Jason, who is now in college. Perhaps you know her sister Sue, brother John or her mother who we affectionately call Betty Boop. Hillary is one of the most courageous people I know and a true lover of life. She always has been.

Hillary’s spinal cord injury is the result of a truly freak accident when she slipped down the stairs at her home while carrying a laundry basket from the third to the second floor. After spending over a year in rehabilitation at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital and extended care facilities, Hillary finally returned to her home in December of 2007. Many Island businesses and tradesmen worked very hard to make Hillary’s house accessible and homey. We are very grateful for all that has already been done.

Friends and family of Hillary are working hard to raise funds to help pay for the enormous costs of treatment, therapy and 24-hour care. Many of the costs associated with Hillary’s care are not covered by insurance. Many of the costs must come from out of pocket . . . and with a current estimate of over $1 million and rapidly escalating costs, these pockets need to be deep!

Fund-raising is not easy in these economic times but we have had a nice boost from a longtime season ticket holder who has donated three pairs of fantastic field box seats along the third base line for the Red Sox vs. Yankees series at Fenway Park on July 25, 26 and 27.

In order to make the most of this donation, we will be conducting a raffle among all contributors of $100 or more to the Hillary Landers Fund/YGAF, a qualified 501(c)3 charity administered at no charge by attorney George Brush and the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank.

Giving to help someone like Hillary just feels good. And we are especially pleased to be able to thank three contributors with the baseball tickets. The Red Sox-Yankees rivalry is one of the greatest in sports and Fenway Park one of the greatest baseball stadiums. If your name is drawn from the hat you are sure to have an unforgettable time. If not, you will be still be a winner for helping out a truly deserving person.

Won’t you please consider making a contribution of $100 or more? A Web site allows online donations via PayPal at Checks can be mailed to YGAF, care of George Brush P.O. Box 1317, West Tisbury, MA 02575, or dropped off at Lighthouse Properties in Edgartown or at any branch of the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank. Or call me at 508-693-4595.

Thank you so very much.

Susan Peltier

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

To the person who backed their vehicle into my MG convertible Wednesday evening, July 2, at Atria restaurant in Edgartown — I hope that you read this letter and contact me. Given the amount of damage to my car, you surely must have known that you struck something on your way out of the lot; it wasn’t exactly a nick. I would like you to know two things. First, I took note of the nearby cars when I parked and second, I acquired patron information from the restaurant for that evening (the reservation list, credit card information, etc.) and have forwarded it to the Edgartown police. It might take some time but . . . it would certainly be better for you to come forward beforehand.

But what really, really bothers me about this irresponsible and unkind act is that I had only recently acquired this car, which was a classic car in mint condition before you hit it. It was a gift from my mother. She died six months ago, at an early age, of cancer. She had received the car when her mother died, at an early age, of cancer. Do you see where I am going with this? It is a very sentimental car. To come out of the restaurant and see it smashed up completely destroyed me. I am shocked that you (or someone else in your party) didn’t think the right thing to do was to leave a note. Suffice it to say that you have made a very painful situation even more heartbreaking.

Me? I would not have made the same decision that you did. No way. I classify myself somewhere between an optimist and a pessimist. My view is that the world is flawed — but capable of being improved. In other words, I believe the world tends to become better and people aid its betterment. I hope you read this and see good reason to make things better.

Caroline Derrig

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Regarding Mark London’s article Island Plan in the July 1 edition:

As one who’s been stuck in traffic in Edgartown during “rush hour” (people on their way to or from the beaches, or running errands?), I find Mr. London’s article with its statistics scary. Fifty per cent (equals 9,000) more houses? While the land may be available, I see gridlock down the road. Even if the ferries control the number of automobile arrivals, people leave a car on the Island and pretty soon we’ll have mile-long traffic backups like on Route 128 in Boston. More public transportation will have to be the answer.

But more important, if an addditional 9,000 houses will be built, and at the present rate of 200 per year, the Vineyard would be built out in 45 years, possibly earlier. Which means almost wall-to-wall, or coast-to-coast, houses. With each new house carving a piece out of the landscape, we change the character of the Vineyard a tiny bit, the very character we aim to preserve.

So, how many tiny steps toward buildout are we ready to allow? How much “development” can there be until the character of the Island is changed forever? Where do we draw the line?

Peter Dreyer



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This letter was sent to the Boston Pops organization.

Katie, Todd and I are still absolutely aglow from our incredible experience with you over the past month. We feel we have a collection of marvelous new friends and we miss you all already. We very much look forward to seeing you all again in August here on Martha’s Vineyard.

First of all, as active members of a local nonprofit (Bravencore) that supports and fund-raises for the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School performing arts department, we thank you for conceiving of and executing the Pops high school sing off. This event is a fabulous way to provide opportunity and inspiration to high school students involved in the arts, as well as highlighting the importance and value of the arts to all students in our public schools. At a time when so many public schools across the nation are struggling to preserve arts departments in the face of budget cuts, having the professional arts community reach out and support the upcoming generation is especially important. Your event also brought together a large group of particularly talented and motivated kids who had an amazing experience meeting and working with each other. None of them will ever forget their experience, and I think some long-term friendships were forged.

Secondly, you were without exception a wonderfully kind, friendly, helpful, supportive and inspiring collection of people. You provided wonderful role models to all the kids who made it onto Symphony Hall stage over the past month. For many of them I am sure it was a first personal exposure to the best in our nation’s arts community, and for them to experience your kindness, dignity, caring and awesome talent and dedication was every bit as important — if not more — as the chance to win some recognition for themselves.

Finally, I thank you for the incredible experience my own child had with your organization. The growth I saw in her over the past month, artistically, emotionally, socially, as well as in her self esteem and belief in her self and her gift, has been priceless. The doors for her future that have been opened through the opportunity and recognition you provided are invaluable. Thank you each for being who you are, and for sharing yourselves with us.

Deborah Mayhew

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As a lifelong summer resident of Martha’s Vineyard, I was excited last weekend when I found out that my 12-year-old son’s Cambridge soccer team was scheduled to play against the Vineyard team at the Massachusetts Tournament of Champions. The Vineyard team is a year younger than the other teams in the division, but still had made it to the state finals — an impressive feat.

The Vineyard team played very hard, as did the boys from Cambridge. The heat was oppressive and our team was down to one substitute for both the semifinals and finals. Cambridge won the game and both teams cooled down over ice cream.

There was no coverage of the tournament in the Cambridge paper, so I eagerly looked forward to reading about the match in the Vineyard Gazette. However, several lines in your article in the July 1 edition bothered my whole family.

The article suggests that the game was won for Cambridge by one player. As any coach knows, it takes a team to win a game. As a group, Cambridge made it to the final game and all of the Cambridge players, whether playing defense or offense, contributed to the final win. It is demeaning to all the Cambridge boys who played so hard throughout the tournament to suggest that one player was responsible for the win. Would Coach Poole name his player who contributed the most to their loss? Of course not. Nor does Coach Poole name the Vineyard player who played the hardest, or is the most skilled. He stresses that, “the notion of team over individuals is vital.” In Cambridge we feel the same way.

Coach Poole is quoted as saying he does not mean to suggest anything “unseemly” in the matchup, yet he goes on to say some very unseemly things about one of the African-American players on my son’s team. His implication that this player is too old to be on an under-12 team is both unfair and outrageous. As Mr. Poole knows, every player must present a birth certificate in order to register for his team. Is Mr. Poole suggesting that the boy he mentions in the article somehow tampered with his document? To go on and comment on the boy’s physical appearance and to say that he “thinks he drives a cab in Boston during his spare time” is simply rude and perhaps racist. Would he have made this comment if the player had not been a person of color?

What lesson does Mr. Poole think he is teaching his team of 11-year olds? That it is okay to make fun of others to make yourself feel better?

The Vineyard boys should be congratulated on a great season’s record. They played a fine game. They kept their heads up and behaved like good sports. I wish Coach Poole had followed their example.

Betsy Morton



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Because I am such a fan of artist Elizabeth Taft’s paintings, I recognized immediately that it was one of Liz’s landscapes being help up for view by Francine Kelly in the photograph accompanying the article titled Auction Raises Funds for Vineyard Habitat. There was no artist attribution in the photo’s caption, but I thought others who know and love Liz’s talent, not to mention her generosity in donating to Habitat for Humanity, would also want Liz’s name mentioned in the photograph’s caption.

Jackie Mendez-Diez



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Instead of complaining about the high cost of gasoline, Americans would save money, oil and the environment if they would drive under 60 miles per hour, walk, bike, bus or train to destinations; use cloth shopping bags rather than plastic or paper; drink free tap water rather than water in plastic bottles.

Joseph Sequeira Vera

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Wow! It could not have been better. Our annual summer solstice celebration at the Polly Hill Arboretum was blessed with a halcyonVineyard day, a magical cast of puppeteers, storytellers, singers, a clown, a bagpiper, a spectacular flower show from the Dogwood Allee and more than 500 visitors of all ages who came to enjoy it. We served every last hot dog, potato chip and cookie, courtesy of Stop & Shop’s generosity and Sam Kouhy’s ordering and organizing skills.

All our volunteers who grilled the hot dogs, served the drinks, led the tours, manned the tables, and directed the parking were outstanding. We thank each and every person who donated to making this the best summer solstice celebration yet, including the weather gods who provided the sunny skies and cool breezes.

Our special gratitude goes to Sam Kouhy at Stop & Shop, to the Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank and to the Massachusetts Cultural Council for their sponsorship of this joyous annual event. For those of you who missed it, you are welcome to visit the arboretum and enjoy its beauty any time. There will be blossoms, but no bagpipers.

Cynthia Walsh

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It’s time to get it straight. It’s oil, right. So it ought be. First of all, it is no more an inalienable right or truth that we are all, at heart, Democrats, in the Greek sense, than we are all granted the inalienable right to own the minerals we happen to live over. We created this convention in a crude attempt to be fair. But as far as oil goes, which is no less important to the civilized world than fresh air, water, and food, we have every right to take what we need for our survival.

Also, let’s not get seduced by the nonsense of solar or alcohol or wind-powered energy. Too bad, but they don’t work. Sure, we should pursue the nuclear route, but that might take 50 or 100 years. The the solution is obvious: methane. It is everywhere. Everywhere. It is like sticking a straw into an orange — the juice is everywhere. The best is the frozen deposits on the sea floors, to where the great bane of any oxidative energy economy now is carbon dioxide, can be injected to the same sea floors, to linger forever as frozen dry ice.

So, let’s see it straight now. We should be in the Middle East, and securing for the civilized world the oil we need now, and let us pursue the methane economy that will provide for us our future.

Thomas Lubin



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This letter was sent to Jaques Gagnon, Trustee of the Alexandra MM Gagnon Foundation:

As the second year of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School peer outreach program comes to a close, I wanted to again thank you for providing the school with the funding to make this program a growing success.

In September 2007, we recruited 37 new student participants and four new teachers. After two years, we have trained a total of 78 students and eight teachers to be peer outreach workers.

This year the training component of the peer outreach program included a two-day adventure-based counseling program with included elements on the ropes course, our introductory two-day training for new participants that was facilitated by 10 seniors, a workshop conducted by Women’s Support Services, a stress management workshop and a suicide prevention workshop.

This year we added a community service component to the program. We encouraged students to volunteer when several opportunities presented themselves to us. In December, over 20 peer outreach participants volunteered with the Red Stocking Fund, helping to wrap gifts for needy children. We have two student representatives on the Dukes County Youth Task Force and two other representatives on a steering committee with Women’s Support Services. Several senior students were asked to facilitate discussions with the Oak Bluffs School anti-bullying congress (a student group modeled after our peer outreach program). Within our own school, the peer outreach group facilitated tours for all the eighth graders who will be incoming freshman in September and we were also asked by our school administration to provide tours for the vice principal candidates.

In addition to our ongoing recruitment, we also have plans for the fall to work with the Vineyard mediation group, the Alexandra Gagnon Teen Center and the Oak Bluffs School.

The enthusiasm and willingness of our young participants has allowed this program to gain an overwhelmingly positive reputation not only within our school community but also within the Martha’s Vineyard community as a whole.

Thank you again for your support with this program. It is clear to me that this program has been an asset to our current student population and I look forward to offering it to students for many years to come.

Amy Lilavois

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The opening of the Chilmark softball season was a dream come true. After the long, harsh winter 24 softball survivors assembled at Peaked Hill Stadium — a little rusty from the layoff but enthusiastic as ever. Wild throws to the first baseman were abundant. One spectator in the box seats took a screaming overthrow in the shoulder by the usually accurate Jim Wallen. A beautiful car parked in foul territory got its taillights punched out. Luckily, this errant throw was by the owner of the Mercedes, so there was no lawsuit. Finally, the frightened spectators in the box seats behind first base moved and the erratic throwing seemed to disappear. Steve Harrington from England threw out the ceremonial first pitch. He’s here to observe the game and bring back his findings to a new league he’s starting in Liverpool for slum kids. The highlight of the seven-inning affair (the game was won by Arlaw’s Outlaws 14 to three) was the one inning of relief pitching by 84-year-old Dan Pinck. He had perfected his under-hand knuckleball over the winter. Three batters popped out in rapid succession. He left the mound with thunderous applause from all. Next week he promises to show off his slider.

What gets me is how much everyone enjoys one another. It’s really fun out there. Hugs and high-fives all around. And to think this is only the beginning. See you next Sunday at 8:30 a.m.

Bill Edison