Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I was heartened to read of the Vineyard Nursing Association plans to bring a Medicare-certified hospice program to the Island. Twice in the last several years I’ve watched the families of friends of mine make the gut-wrenching decision to move their dying loved one off-Island for lack of end-of-life medical care here that would be covered by their insurance.

These people, my friends, your neighbors, were forced to spend their last days away from their homes, away from their family and friends, because there was no Medicare-certified hospice care on the Island. Families sometimes have to choose between bankrupting themselves paying for private care or exporting the dying to an insurance-covered program off-Island. This is a horrible choice that no one should have to make. It is not the death with dignity we strive for in a civilized society.

My support for the VNA proposal in no way denigrates the work of the volunteer-run Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard. I’ve also watched as these selfless volunteers provided countless hours of care and support in the most difficult circumstances to help a family provide that dignified death. Hats off to these people. Helping another person die is the noblest act imaginable. It’s just that in some circumstances, whether due to the nature of the illness, the frailty of the patient or the finances of the family, it’s not enough.

I don’t understand why we have to choose between the two. Can’t we have insurance-reimbursed end-of-life medical care and hospice volunteers to help the patient and families? In this crucial matter, can’t we for once get over the turf wars and find a way to work together?

Ebba Hierta

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The recent appointment of Sen. Robert O’Leary as Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Education is a big win for the Cape and Islands. It’s also a victory for everyone who cares about high-quality early education for young children and families in Massachusetts. As former chair of the higher education committee, the senator supported scholarship programs that enabled early educators to obtain bachelor’s degrees. He also voted in favor of the commonwealth’s groundbreaking universal pre-kindergarten legislation last year.

Martha’s Vineyard Community Services has operated Early Childhood Programs (ECP) — a recipient of one of the Massachusetts Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) Classroom Quality grants — since 1972 and remains committed to providing children and their families with the foundation they need to succeed as they prepare to enter the educational system.

On behalf of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, I am pleased to express our support publicly for Sen. O’Leary’s appointment. With new leadership in Washington, D.C., and here at home, the time for universal access to high-quality early education has come. We are looking forward to working with Sen. O’Leary to ensure that the children of Martha’s Vineyard, and Massachusetts as a whole, receive the quality early education they need and deserve.

Debbie Milne

Vineyard Haven

Debbie Milne is director of early childhood programs at Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It seems once again Tisbury citizens must bring to the attention of the Vineyard Haven Post Master concerns we have about post office issues.

Before it was about his flying the American flag and the POW/MIA flag in a terribly shredded condition; then some of us had to complain and get some unpatriotic war protesters removed off federal land.

We now have to ask him if or when he plans to remove or paint over the graffiti on that U.S. Post Office building which was vandalized sometime between 4 p.m. on Jan. 31 and noon Feb. 1.

I happen to think we have seen enough of that mess and just leaving it is adding to the deterioration of that area between the post office and the Thrift Shop.

Tisbury has a greatly appreciated beautification committee, and to see that area daily splattered with graffiti when we get our mail is quite depressing.

Our town has been plagued enough lately with major drug busts, robberies of old men on Main street and a few other incidents.

It would be nice if everybody, including the post master, would do just a little to keep some sections of our town from looking like we live in a Third World country.

If this wasn’t such a serious issue the punishment would not be [as follows]: “Under Massachusetts general laws for a conviction for defacing a building with spray paint is punishable by up to two years in jail, and a minimum fine of $1,500, plus the cost of cleaning up the graffiti. Offenders also face suspension of their driver’s license for one year.”

Woody Williams

Vineyard Haven

and Port Royal, S.C.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This very inconsiderate and un-thought-out law about the thrift stores and the lead containing items being thrown into the landfills makes no sense at all! There is a sign on the Martha’s closet consignment store that says they had to close immediately, and would not accept or sell anything! That was the nicest and most well-run store of that kind that I’ve ever had the pleasure of shopping in, and I’ve been in many. And the two thrift shops! How will they get through this? Those stores give so much back to the Island! What a complete waste! In the last six months, since the economy worsened, I know people who are donating and buying in the thrift and consignment stores, who never would have before. A service so needed here, and everywhere. Please contact all the politicians you can, to try to at least amend this law.

Couldn’t you put a sign in the stores saying “Buy and use items at your own risk”?

The Dumptique will be busier than ever, but then maybe they’ll have to close, too.

Debbie Magnuson

West Tisbury