Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The story about the Edgartown Great Pond Estuaries Study was an excellent summary of a problem that has been (visibly) developing for years. Omitted, however, is the contribution of acid rain to nitrogen loading (see Wilcox Report to the Martha’s Vineyard Commission circa 1998?).

Also omitted in discussion of reduction of loading was any mention of nitrogen-removing technology for septic systems. Reportedly, addition of this capability to on-site systems could significantly decrease nitrogen output. If so, the board of health might make this a condition for permitting all new systems as well as requiring retrofitting existing systems. Assuming similar benefits from either approach, cost comparisons might favor one or the other.

And finally, intercepting the plume has been considered by the Great Pond Foundation. Whether or not enough nitrogen is being converted to ammonia nitrogen, thus rendering it less of a threat, has not been sufficiently studied. Given the stakes, perhaps a return to studying feasibility of extraction and using the effluent for spray irrigation, for instance, is warranted.

Dr. Burton A. Fleming



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to Paul Diodati, director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries:

The practice of yo-yo jigging for large striped bass came to the forefront during the recent Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby. Most likely you are aware that the practice involves the insertion of one or more lead or leadlike weights into a large menhaden. A hard steel rod, wire or wooden skewer is added for stability and a hog ring is used to close the mouth of the bait. Commercial striped bass anglers utilizing this method usually rig many baits in advance of their time on the water. The bait is fished by affixing the entire rig to the angler’s line and lowered to the bottom and jigged or yo-yoed in a manner that causes it to act like an injured bait fish. It is an extremely effective method for catching larger striped bass, but many times during a fight the rigged menhaden will fall off only to be ingested by other fish in the school. Often, a very large fish will break free from the angler.

In both instances the entire rig including the lead weights and skewer, is trapped in the stomach or soft tissue of the striper creating a blockage and/or health hazard to the fish as well as the consuming angler, and in commercially caught striped bass, the fish-consuming public. (The derby fish in question had more than one and a half pounds of lead in its digestive system.) Also, as most if not all of these fish are fecund females, damage to the brood stock contributes to an overall increase in total mortality rates.

As an organization, the Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association condemns the practice of yo-yoing, believing it to be harmful to the resource, the environment and the consumer of the fish. We request that the Massachusetts Department of Marine Fisheries take immediate action to permanently ban the use of the technique or any derivative thereof, by both commercial and recreational anglers.

The Martha’s Vineyard Surfcasters Association was founded in 1989 and consists of more than 200 individuals and families. The stated purpose of the organization is to encourage the sport of surfcasting and interest in sport fishing; to gather for entertainment and good fellowship; to promote and uphold sound conservation practices and laws, and to see that these laws are properly enforced and carried out by members; to further good sportsmanship; and to see and protect public access to fishing areas on Martha’s Vineyard.

Jeff Sayre

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On Nov. 3 we were scheduled to have our AACDP fundraiser at the Hebrew Center, but 70-mile-an-hour winds and three inches of rain seemed inauspicious. We set up anyway, hoping against hope that the storm would abate, when the electricity went out forcing us to cancel.

How lucky we were that the Hebrew Center was available the next Saturday, and all the plucky, goodhearted people that had volunteered their time, resources and energy were willing to do it again. So with one full dress rehearsal under our belt, we knew exactly how to proceed the next Saturday, and brought in $3,000 for the Zambian children at the Upeme Home and the Mama Bakhita Center for Disabled Children in Livingstone.

Many thanks to all who helped with this event. It was a lovely and successful communal effort. Together we are waging peace.

Marsha Winsryg

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Baseball is very important here in Nicaragua! There are four national teams, and once you become a member of a team, you are a member for life. There are no annual tryouts, so many of the teams consist of older men with beer bellies playing for years and years. All the young wanna-be players, all those 19-year-old talents, have no chance to be on the team unless a player dies.

When they play, the stands are mostly empty, and since the towns have trouble paying the electric bills, it is not uncommon for the lights to go out right in the middle of night games. I think the electric company, Union Fenosa, watches the games and waits until it is a tie game, bases loaded and then . . . the lights go out.

So to spice up the games, which have been lagging in public interest, several teams have baseball players from the USA come down to play with them for the three or so months until the season begins again in the states.

Jimmy Hurst from the states has come down to play for the team San Fernando. Mr. Hurst is 6’6” tall, 275 pounds, and had to have a special uniform made for him. Up at bat, he hit the ball so hard, it sailed out of the little stadium more than 400 feet, to hit a school and put a hole in the tin roof. He has become an instant hero to many little boys who want to know if all the men in the USA are that big! And, everyone on the team is so impressed with Mr. Hurst’s physical condition. I do love this country.

Muriel Laverty

Sinua, Nicaragua

Muriel Laverty is a Vineyard resident who transplanted to Nicaragua a few years ago. Her letters from abroad appear regularly in the Gazette.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Holiday cheer visited Martha’s Vineyard Community Services last Tuesday when students from the West Tisbury School arrived with teacher Marsha Curtis and parent Candy Webster to deliver 40 Thanksgiving baskets to be distributed to families in need.

It is always moving for everyone to see the students proudly stewarding the baskets to the different agency programs where they are distributed to Island families.

We share heartfelt appreciation with Marsha, Candy, organizer Robyn Maciel-Wingate and the students they inspired. We hope that they all take great pride in the fact that they made a big difference in the way 40 Island families enjoyed Thanksgiving this year. Beyond the lovely meals provided, the knowledge that they care is sure to bring great warmth to the holiday for those they helped.

We also express our gratitude to our mystery donor — a kind gentleman who slipped in quietly again this year with a number of Reliable Market gift cards for distribution to families in need. We are very grateful to all who have reached out to help our neighbors as the holiday season begins.

Julia Burgess

Vineyard Haven

Julia Burgess is executive director of Community Services.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We have no worries with kids like these:

Ann Hoyle from the Edgartown School invited me to speak to her group of eighth graders recently about renewable energy and how it related to the future of Martha’s Vineyard.

I have never been so impressed as I was with these kids — they were attentive, probing, thoughtful and wise beyond their years. While much credit is due to the kids, a tremendous amount is due to Ms. Hoyle for their guidance.

We discussed geothermal systems (both hot rock and solar), the ideal gas law (the hows and whys of geothermal heat pumps), nuclear power, wind turbines and how the Island Plan serves as a road map toward a sustainable future for the Vineyard.

We discussed the progressive goals of the town of Aquinnah in its efforts to lead the green revolution here on the Vineyard. Presently, the kids brought up the push/pull of private versus public resources and how to fairly benefit from a common resource such as the wind. Next thing I knew, we were discussing the Cape Wind project and how that fit into the public/private model.

They were also very interested in solutions locally to move us in the right direction. I described our vision that we have presented to the charter school for a net zero, carbon neutral facility — through the use of a wind turbine, geothermal heat pumps and an electrolyzer the school would eliminate fossil fuel use, enjoy yearly revenue from the sale of green electricity and use hydrogen generated from the wind to power their school busses. All using off-the-shelf parts, all doable right now.

I told them to keep up the good work — I said this has got to be the single most exciting time of our lives — we have an enormous problem (global warming and peak oil), we have tremendous solutions (wind turbines, solar collectors and heat pumps) and we have kids ready to put these solutions to work.

Thank you Ann Hoyle, our future is in good hands.

Brian Nelson

Vineyard Haven