Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I have been reading about the VNA’s efforts to start a hospice and thought my experience with their agency might be instructive.

My wife, Joan, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late 2005. Following an operation, radiation and chemotherapy at Mass General, she returned home to Edgartown. Knowing that her prognosis was not particularly good, we contacted VNA and we used their services in caring for my wife. Their nurses, Cheryl and Sally, were just amazing and did a masterful of of telling Joan what to expect and how to deal with the symptoms of her terrible disease. Her time ran out at the beginning of 2007 and the VNA was at her side as they had been throughout the entire process. I simply could not have had better support for Joan than what the VNA provided.

I recognize that the Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard does good work. Clearly both of these organizations perform important and noble work. However, I believe, when viewed through the eyes of a patient’s family, the desire of VNA to expand their services to include hospice is a natural extension of the work they do every day. It was in my case.

In announcing their new service, the VNA is clearly looking at ways to enhance services for all. We all recognize that change can be very difficult —­ for people and organizations. However in the final analysis, if more health support services can be provided to the community, that is a good thing. If the fund-raising burden in our community can be reduced by having the two organizations join together, especially in these challenging economic t imes, then that too is a good thing. Overall we should applaud the efforts of the VNA to improve and increase services because in the end, it’s a good thing.

David C. Thompson



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

If we are going to have to live with so-called “beach erosion” projects like groins and jetties (Vineyard Gazette, March 20), couldn’t we at least require approval from (or compensation to) the abutters, and give permits with a sunset clause — that is, they have to be re-permitted every ten years? Plus, speaking from some sand-starved frontage in Chappaquonsett, how about making that retroactive?

Christopher Gray



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

What do you hope for when in March you have 60,000 culms of beach grass delivered and heeled in on Joseph Sylvia State Beach waiting to be planted by volunteers? The co-chairs of the Barrier Beach Task Force, Christina Miller of the Friends of Sengekontacket, Inc. and Russell Smith, Dukes County manager, can tell you: mild weather and lots of help.

On behalf of our organization we thank everyone who dug holes with metal dibbles and those who planted the beach grass stems and tamped down sand around them. By mid-afternoon row upon row of breach grass marched from the Little Bridge in Oak Bluffs to the fourth stone groin. Beach grass can withstand the beach’s temperature extremes and being battered by ocean storms. As it grows it sends out horizontal fibrous stems that trap grains of sand, building dunes, and protecting the road and inland.

It took the community to complete such a large planting: parents and children, eighth graders fulfilling their community service requirements, members of the MVRHS student council leadership team, town and county officials, the Cape and Islands Senior Environmental Corps, community corrections personnel, nonprofit organizations not only from the Friends of Sengekontacket but also from the Vineyard Conservation Society, the Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club, the Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association, staff from the Martha’s Vineyard Land Bank and Polly Hill Arboretum, professional landscapers, and many others. A special thanks as well to businesses who prominently displayed the Wanted posters. Also the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce for distributing hundreds of flyers through its members to educate people to the fact that despite the harsh coastal environment in which beachgrass thrives, it is vulnerable to human impact by being trampled.

As anyone who has ever planted beachgrass knows, stewardship of it becomes part of the beach experience. We are very fortunate to live where there are such beautiful beaches and where people are dedicated to protecting them.

Christina G. Miller

Russell Smith


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The citizens of Tisbury will be asked to consider once again at their annual town meeting, beginning on April 14, an amendment to a town bylaw first adopted in 1830 not to allow the selectmen to give license to anyone for the retail sale of “ardent spirits.” This action was taken upon a petition brought by Elijah Hillman, a leading merchant at that time. It was clearly his conviction, and of those who joined with him, that the selling of beer and wine in the town was not good for business.

Several inns stood then along the harbor shore, famous for their hospitality. An account of the generous fare offered even in 1811 at “Dr. Spalding’s Tavern,” the Mansion House, served only tea with dinner. None of these inns suffered or went out of business as a result of this action by the town. The town and its commercial activity continued to grow and prosper during the 19th and 20th centuries without the retail sale of any “ardent spirits.”

Once again, the citizens of Tisbury are given an opportunity to affirm the values and quality of life of our town and its harbor that makes our community at a time of leveling down so unique and special. It is time again to affirm that a future that is dependent upon the sale of beer and wine is not a future for the town of Tisbury.

Jim Norton

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Energy conservation starts at home. What kind of an example are we making by allowing 20,000 square foot homes, new town halls, police stations, libraries, fire stations and schools, in almost every town when one or two would be sufficient for the entire Island. I have a hard time feeling I am living on a “green” Island when I see such waste and poor planning.

Paul D. Adler



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I have known Tom Payette since we were both students in 1960. Last week’s Gazette reported that a Tisbury official accused him and his wife of “selfishness and insensitivity.”

I know Tom Payette to be one of the most generous and selfless people I’ve ever known. If necessary, I am certain that I could round up the signatures of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of others, who know Tom and would back up this praise.

I would characterize this Gazette reported depiction of Tom and Ginny Payette as truly unfair and nasty character assassination.

There was a time when the Gazette would have been more generous and sensitive.

Finally, the selectman quoted ought to consider taking a course on diplomacy. It may be a way to achieve better results.

Lionel Spiro


and Brookline


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I appreciate the efforts that Mr. Snyder has made in bringing to light the expected unfunded liabilities and the risks to the tax payers (Towns Face $89 Million in Unfunded Liabilities, Gazette ,March 6). Efforts to put lipstick on this pig risk uncomfortable parallels with other financial disasters that we are currently witnessing (you name it, from Madoff to a host of banking failures). The selectmen should take notice!

Each town should be required to provide an independent risk assessment on the hidden costs borne by the towns, pension and health care obligations. By doing this, the taxpayers will be in a better position to make informed judgments on size and performance of government.

Further, there should be a standard of malpractice for consultants. The idea that the town pays for spurious analysis that is passed off as factual is ridiculous. The town should demand its money back for this trash.

J.P. St.Germain

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

For any of you who read the March 6 article about my work, I wish to clarify my intended point about doctors and lawyers. My brother is a fine lawyer, and many of my very best friends practice either law or medicine. We need these fine professionals when we get into trouble. I can recall multiple times when good medical care has saved my life.

Some of our very finest and most talented people choose the esteemed law and medical fields and they study for arduous years to become skilled professionals. Then, when we have problems, thank goodness, they are there to save us.

What I question is if we would not be better served to place a higher value today on prevention. Might we be better off to structure incentives so that more of our best talent is attracted to fields related to prevention? It seems to me that we need more good people to help us learn how to stay healthy in the first place rather than putting so much emphasis on fixing problems once we let them happen.

Carol Kenney

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I suspect that even now, nearly a week and a half since the American Cancer Society daffodils arrived on the Island, many of us are still enjoying them in bloom. They were exceptionally large and hardy this year and considering their long trip from Washington state in refrigerator trucks, it is amazing that they have lasted so long.

Celebrating Daffodil Days is much more than sharing beautiful flowers. It is about dedicated people like you sharing hope for a world free of cancer. This year, 1,200 bunches of daffodils arrived on the Island and every one of them was purchased. Those that were given to the hospital, nursing homes and senior centers were all paid for but were donated to these places for the enjoyment of others. Our schools, town halls, banks, offices and stores have been ablaze with beauty.

All of this was made possible by a dedicated team of volunteers who made the presales, delivered the daffodils and sold them at tables throughout the island. This year’s team included Kerry and Pat Alley, Betty Brady, Brad and Judy Clough, David Cron, Debbie Magnuson, Cherie Nunes, Roger Spinney, Joyce Stiles-Tucker, Bess Stone, Penny Uhlendorf, Susie Wallo and Marilyn Wortman.

The unsung heroes of the entire campaign are those that take the orders at their places of work, collect the money and turn it all over to the volunteer doing the presale. Without their help we could not accomplish what we do.

This has been a year of financial difficulties for so many people. Fewer daffodils were ordered than other years. I am sure it was a hardship for many to respond. In view of all this our team is filled with heartfelt gratitude to everyone that participated in the 2009 American Cancer Society Daffodil Campaign.

And my sincerest thanks to all.

Dorothy Bangs

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We would like to thank Peter Temple of the Martha’s Vineyard Donors Collaborative, Mary Moore of the Associated Grant Makers of Massachusetts, and the Tower Foundation for making the workshop on grant writing for nonprofit organizations possible. The two-day workshop, which was held at the Martha’s Vineyard Hebrew Center and in a computer lab at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, was thoughtfully planned and clearly presented. We were given practical and concise information with useful handouts on the art of grant writing and database research. We had the opportunity to try out our newly acquired knowledge on a computer with expert guidance which was particularly satisfying.

It doesn’t stop there. We now have free access to grant resource databases at the Oak Bluffs Library (previously only accessible in Boston), as well as free, individual follow-up support in the grant writing/seeking process. The potential benefits of this workshop and collaboration on our communities, both local and international, are far-reaching. Many doors of opportunity have been opened to all of us in the nonprofit sector. Thank you.

Margaret Pénicaud

Vineyard Haven

Carol Ambrozy

Athol and

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I have many people to thank for the success of Women Empowered’s dinner at Zephrus on Sunday, March 8. Thanks to the Gazette for the wonderful article written by Tom Dresser about Zephrus’ initiative to help the Island’s nonprofits. Women Empowered was pleased to be highlighted. It’s so important for the community to understand the free services that Women Empowered provides.

Thank you to the staff of Zephrus: Chef Lionette creating a wonderful menu, Tara Rose Macuch setting up a lovely environment; and Susie and Sherman Goldstein for coming up with this win/win opportunity, where the community was able to support a nonprofit and the restaurant was able to bring in customers.

And thank you to all of Women Empowered’s supporters who came out to dine with us, learn about the growth and changes in the program, and meet our board members, staff and volunteers. I’d also like to thank the members of the Vineyard community who dropped in and dined with us and learned more about International Women’s Day and Women Empowered.

We had a full house. Unfortunately some people could not get seated because they didn’t have a reservation. Some people did order take-out and so contributed the 20 per cent Zephrus was donating to Women Empowered.

We distributed nomination forms for our Empowered Woman of the Year special event. We will be honoring a woman who has helped empower the Vineyard community through her time, talent and treasure. We will be honoring her at the end of May at a date and venue that will be announced.

Sheila Bracy

Vineyard Haven