Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I wanted to thank Sara Brown and the Gazette for updating the public on the shameful progress the Providence VA is making in returning our VA outpatient clinic to the Island after over 12 years of successfully serving the Island veterans.
In addition to Sara’s reporting, credit must be given to Steven J. Henry at the American Legion National Headquarters in Washington, D.C., as Steven and the American Legion have been looking into our situation on the Island for almost two years now. In fact Steven and his representatives from Washington recently made an on-site inspection of the Providence VA and had a sit-down with the folks up there who are holding us up on this issue. They then came to the Island and reported their findings to us and to the Island press.
Carlene Gatting, all our county commissioners, Mr. Henry, and now Cong. William Keating, state Rep. Tim Madden and state Sen. Dan Wolf are all now diligently working on our behalf.
It also must be noted and remembered at election time that Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Scott Brown have ignored several requests that have been formally made to each of them from our veterans agent, our county commissioners and me seeking their assistance.
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I want to be sure the Island community is aware that a beloved institution of mine, the Martha’s Vineyard Family Center, which has been located at the high school for more than 15 years, is being asked to vacate the premises. I understand the reason for the move: The high school is discontinuing the early education vocational program and thus the adjacent Family Center no longer serves its function as a living lab for the students in the program. The move may be unavoidable, but keeping the Family Center alive and well is critical. What has been an amazing resource for Island families, where children play — year-round — in a safe, enriching environment and parents interact, sharing support and resources, either peer-to-peer or with the assistance of a trained facilitator, at no cost to them, may be threatened. Even when (and if) a new space is found for the Family Center, limited resources will have to be allocated to the move (the costs of rent, building, or rebuilding, for example). I worry that this might limit some of the wonderful programs that I’ve enjoyed in the six years since I moved to the Island and had my first child; programs like parenting and relationship workshops, field trips to the Farm Institute, Felix Neck, and the town fire station, puppet shows, music classes, baby and me exercise — and that’s only a sampling of all that the Family Center has offered since I’ve been here. What can we do? For now, spread the word. Share your thoughts and feelings about the Family Center and do your best to ensure it continues. It must!
A GREAT LOSS
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Sherry Winnette was a woman who personified the word patience. She was gifted with a calm and sensitive nature combined with a great sense of humor. Simply put, she loved children and they loved her. Although it was never coined, she was always a Grandma Sherry type. The kids reveled in her involvement and imagination. She was always the soft place to fall, but they stood at attention when she made a firm, but gentle correction.
I had the great pleasure to work with Sherry for many years at Project Headway Preschool. While we were always trying to meet the students’ education goals, Sherry was the “fun” teacher and the kids were naturally drawn to her. She was also the queen of toilet training and we often called out her name in need this year after she moved on to work at Community Services.
During summer school, we labeled one day a week as Science with Sherry. Sherry would start her science lessons with a song and dance with the kids . . . “I love science, I love science . . .” Sherry was greatly skilled at teaching science to kids as young as three years old. Her creativity was endless. Even though I knew she was happily employed at Community Services, I was lamenting the fact that I would not have her as a teacher for this year’s summer school.
Now I am lamenting a far greater loss. The passing of Sherry is a great personal loss, but an even greater loss to the children and parents of Martha’s Vineyard whose lives she touched, and even more so to those families she had yet to touch. May you rest in peace, Sherry.
GET A LIFELINE
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
I hope my experience, as outlined in this letter, may save a life or make the life of a caretaker, either the family or a professional, easier.
Last Dec. 30, as I was getting ready for bed, I was taking off the sock on my left foot, when dark red blood spurted out of my ankle. Apparently, I had knocked a scab off a sore which was over a vein and blood flowed out. I was in shock and did not have the wit to put my thumb over the sore and stop the bleeding. No, I am not on a blood thinner.
Fortunately the television upstairs was not on and my wife and son heard my frantic cries. My wife tried in vain to stop the bleeding while my son called 911. I vaguely remember being carried out of the house and then awakening at the hospital. My deep thanks to Dawn Gompert, Renee Lake and Heather McElhinney — the EMTs who took me to the hospital. I was there for four days.
In the hospital I could not have wished for any better and caring service than I received from Dr. Denise Fraser, my acute care nurses Daisey Pattison, Pam Knight, Sandy Welch, Susie Mathews, Chris Fielder, Mary Alice Capello and my CNA aides Cecelia Campbell and Shavika Norbega.
I was given blood transfusions. One good thing. I was told the new blood I received was better than the blood I had lost.
Having almost died — many thoughts ran through my mind as I lay in bed in the hospital. What if my wife and son had not heard me? Are my affairs completely in order? If not, fortunately there is time now.
My family had urged me, more than once, to get a device which in an emergency will contact a neighbor, loved one, or emergency services based on your specific needs. I now have one. Just push the personal help button and help will arrive.
Was it procrastination or pride that kept me from getting one sooner? Probably a bit of both, but what moved me was the shock of that close call with death.
I know as I grow older, thoughts like this came to mind when offered help or advice: “I can take care of myself. Who are you to tell me what to do. I have been independent all my life. I appreciate what you are saying, but that’s for older people.”
Perhaps some of you have similar thoughts or know someone who has.
Pride in our ability to take care of ourselves is very admirable — but I found that being prideful may be fatal.
Sadly, even when people have this device I have heard the comments: “My father has one but he won’t wear it. My mother keeps hers in her dresser— she had an attack, forgot where it was and with much effort struggled to the phone and called for help. We begged my aunt, many times, to get one but her pride wouldn’t let her — we hadn’t heard from her, so we went to her home and found she had died from a fall.”
Hopefully my own experience shows how procrastination and pride can hinder you in getting a device such as I have. If you need one, particularly if you live alone, get it now. Don’t wait for a shock, with your blood, as I did.
Thanks again to my caretakers — family and professionals.
Life can be beautiful.
MILL POND DECISION
Editor, Vineyard Gazette:
There has been a lot of discussion and information lately about the West Tisbury Mill Pond, what to do about it, whether to dredge the pond and/or create a wetland at its headwaters or even, to remove the dam and allow it to become a stream running through wetlands and maybe a forest eventually. It is important, while the town studies this issue, and then votes how to proceed, that voters get the full story.
Voters agreed to spend up to $25,000 to have engineers study the pond and make recommendations as to how to best preserve and manage the pond. Carl Nielson of ESS Engineering presented his company’s recommendations in a presentation at the Howes House on Jan. 18. The presentation was videotaped by MVTV, and we will ask that it be replayed in the weeks before the annual town meeting.
In short, Mr. Nielson reported that the best way to preserve the pond, which is in an advanced state of eutrophication, (meaning it has lot of rich sediment which encourages growth of vegetation, algae mats etc.), would be to dredge the pond, “resetting” its environment, which would cost the town about $200,000. He offered an alternative, which would double the cost, but could be eligible for federal and state grant funding, which require 40 per cent in-kind matching funds by the town, but can be met in a number of ways other than actual cash commitments (e.g. volunteer time by the Mill Pond Committee, the town highway department, or town officials), possibly costing the town little to nothing beyond what we have already spent. That alternative would be to create a serpentine-shaped, pollutant-trapping wetland system at the top half of the pond in addition to dredging and making the other part of the pond deeper. A deeper, cooler part of the pond would be more hospitable to fish and add a diverse wildlife habitat. The created wetland would trap a lot of the sedimentation that collects in the pond. Some additional maintenance would need to occur possibly every five years or so, to remove accumulated sediment at the head of the pond, but would not be a huge undertaking. In order to receive grant funding, the town would be required to institute some best management practices such as improving the road runoff situation into the Mill Brook and pond and addressing other watershed issues.
The Mill Pond Committee has voted 6 to 1 to ask the town if we may engage Mr. Nielson’s company to assist us, at no cost to the own, in the application for funding for the dredging and wetland creation alternative. An article on the annual town meeting warrant asks for this permission.
Meanwhile, Prudy Burt, a member of the conservation commission who is acting on her own initiative, has asked two speakers to come and discuss the merits of dam removal. She also asked the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration at the Department of Fish and Game to do a site reconnaissance, preliminary evaluation and opinion of probable cost for dam removal at the Old Mill Pond dam in West Tisbury, which they did in June 2011 at no cost to the town. The report discusses some of the issues that would need to be addressed if the town wishes to remove the dam, namely, insuring flow to Factory Brook which feeds Maley’s Pond, a firefighting water supply source. It also discusses the possible need to build another bridge or culvert at the old dam’s outlet on the Edgartown-West Tisbury Road. The estimated cost for this project, though there also are some funds available to help, was $568,000. The report is available at town hall.
I trust the voters of West Tisbury will study this complex issue carefully and make an informed decision about the fate of the Mill Pond. Please continue to read, listen and think through the implications for ourselves and future generations. See you at the annual town meeting on April 10.
The writer is a member of the West Tisbury Mill Pond committee.
In recent months it seems we Islanders have been presented with a series of environmentally-sensitive proposals: solar panels for Cronig’s, wind farms, and most recently, the Mill Pond. Each of these weighs in on issues of Island sustainability — a word whose meaning has accelerated in a few short years from a fashionable buzz word to a moral imperative, and finally, to a matter of survival. A sustainable place is one from which the amount taken away and given back is in balance: it is self-maintaining and self-perpetuating, able to survive and thrive. The concept exists in concentric, ever expanding circles. As individuals and families, we try to be self-supporting, not to spend more than we earn. As an Island, we try to “live local” and recycle. As a country we search for ways to lower our carbon footprint and our dependence on oil. We are not sustainable as a planet if our natural resources are depleted beyond their ability to recover. This is our last defense. Sustainable streams have a part to play.
It starts small. We are a small Island. We have a chance to do it right, and so far we have made some good choices. Prudy Burt has presented us with a wonderful, timely opportunity. There is more at stake in this proposal than simply bringing back the trout or saving the money needed to dredge the Mill Pond. It is a proposal which focuses on the future of our stream network, and by extension, the health and connectivity of our streams, springs and aquifer: the freshwater sources of Island life. Our livelihood, our plants, birds and animals depend on the quality of our streams. As a landscape architect, I have witnessed successful stream restorations, and know that the money for these projects exists. Water quality, endangered species and wetland preservation are important parts of our national agenda.
We speak proudly of the beauty of our Island. True beauty has integrity, or wholeness. Like character, it is more than skin deep, and like good health, it radiates from within. It is important to remain forward thinking in our outlook, and to view our streams in context as part of a life-supporting and sustainable system. Our Island streams are living waters, a web of connectivity knitting together and supporting habitats vital to the survival of the flora and fauna which provide us with so much pleasure and beauty. For this alone they deserve our care and concern.
When confronted with a choice, I try to choose that which is positive and life affirming. I would love to see a trout-filled stream at the base of my hill, bubbling with life as it winds its way to the sea just as it did so many years ago — and to know that as part of a dynamic, balanced system it will continue to do so for years to come. In a time when so many decisions seem ponderous, costly, and grave, this one sparkles with new life and excitement and best of all — possibility! Thank you, Prudy, for your efforts and initiative.
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
At a time when this country is struggling to redress a gap relative to other nations in the number of students seeking careers in science, I was disappointed in the Gazette’s scant coverage of the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School science fair. While the achievements of our young athletes merited a front page picture and extensive Page Three coverage, I leafed to the end of the main section and then almost to the last page of the second before I was able to find a small photo and bare-bones report that was little more than a list of the names of winning projects, with no account of the myriad imaginative and resourceful works that had been undertaken.
It’s not as if there were no new hooks on which to hang a substantial feature story. How extraordinary, for example, that two freshmen, Lee Faraca and Gordon Moore, were able to best all the upper classmen to take the grand prize for their project comparing the cost efficiency of wind and solar energy. Not only is this a classic underdog narrative, but as the Island grapples weekly with issues of wind mills and solar canopies, it might have been nice to learn what this excellent project was able to conclude about the two alternatives.
The number of entries also was news, since 233 students presented close to 150 projects, with another 60 involved in a wind turbine design contest. This was a record number of entries, requiring some 47 judges with relevant expertise. The Gazette’s pro-forma coverage slights the effort of the students, their teachers and the huge outpouring of community support represented by these specialists’ willingness and enthusiasm to be part of the science fair.
I rarely have cause to question the Gazette’s news judgment, but I believe you missed a great opportunity last week, and the community is the poorer for it. When the winners in the various categories take their projects off-Island to compete at the regional level, I hope the Gazette will send a reporter and give these kids the coverage they, and we, deserve.
FROM BOTH SIDES
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
As a native Islander and current resident of Marstons Mills, I can see both sides of the prolonged debate as to the proposed roundabout at the blinker. Living and growing up on the Vineyard, graduating from the regional high school in 1972 and now living off-Island allows me to be heard as a voice of experience in this matter.
Before one takes a stand on any issue it is best to have firsthand knowledge before spending huge sums of someone else’s money to fight for a cause. Roundabouts are attractive, aesthetically pleasing, and fit well into our desires to maintain beauty, safety and character of our local landscapes.
To attain firsthand knowledge and experience concerning roundabouts, an Islander can visit three in the town of Barnstable. The first is at the intersection of Route 149 and Race Lane near the Cape Cod Airfield. The second is at the intersection on Route 149 and Route 6. The third is at the Barnstable Recreation Center in downtown Hyannis. All three have eliminated areas of traffic congestion and unsafe conditions. Roundabouts are necessary because of impatient drivers unable to determine what to do at four-way stop signs.
Some residents of Barnstable were opposed to the first roundabout but now are very happy with the results. Maintaining the character of the Vineyard is and should always be foremost in our minds. Safety for residents, as well as visitors, should remain vital as well.
Stephen C. Place
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Dan Greenbaum in his letter on Feb. 17 has it right about the essential meaninglessness of a referendum on the roundabout question. The way the question is framed does not allow for an informed or reasoned judgment, or even for a nuanced one. But there is another point to be made: the danger of putting such questions directly to voters.
Our form of government is a representative one. We elect officials who we hope are qualified to make intelligent decisions on the issues that arise during their tenure in office. If we don’t like their decisions, we retire them — through the ballot box.
The roundabout-to-referendum issue demonstrates that our elected officials apparently do not have the courage of their earlier conviction, and are now trying to displace responsibility for the continuing imbroglio over this matter onto their constituents.
Bad idea. One need only look at the sorry state of government in California, lamed by referenda both fiscal and social, to understand why resolving consequential, complex questions through referenda isn’t Proposition 8, 9, or any other number. It’s simply Proposition Misbegotten.
I, for one, will abstain from voting in West Tisbury on this ill-advised referendum. I urge others to do the same.
Nicholas W. Puner