Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Thank you for the editorial about the Edgartown Great Pond in the Nov. 30 edition. Your concerns are right on target and mirror what many of us have been worrying about for a long time. The Massachusetts Estuaries Project report that is coming out is finally quantifying some of the problems and hopefully that will lead us toward effective solutions. All of our great ponds are in trouble; Edgartown Great Pond is just the one on the front burner right now. All the great ponds have issues of human intrusion into what was up until recently more or less pristine habitat. Issues ranging from power boats to light intrusion to rip-rapping the banks are all important and need to be addressed. The way we look at the ponds needs to shift until we are all viewing them as the public treasures they are and protecting them accordingly. The issue highlighted by your editorial is water quality and it is a good place to start.

We have enough information to clearly see that we are causing a serious imbalance in the ponds. The question is do we have the political willpower to really address the problems. Your editorial suggests the board of health as the key to dealing with nitrogen from septic systems. Islandwide the boards of health may be the key to enforcing our solutions, but first we need a bylaw in each town limiting the release of nitrogen into the watershed groundwater of each pond. This is not the responsibility of the various boards of health; it is the responsibility of the boards of selectmen. This is a political decision. Should we protect the great ponds even if it means making it more costly, difficult and sometimes impossible for people to build the things they want in the watersheds of the great ponds?

Chris Murphy



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I would like to express my gratitude for your words regarding my father, Jonathan Sawyer, from the editorial page of last week’s Gazette. A Linotype Man to the End was very well written and captured his career at the Gazette perfectly.

Dad always spoke fondly about his years at the Gazette and I know what a positive influence Mr. and Mrs. Hough had on him as a young man. While he was able to adapt to changes in printing technology over the years, the linotype machine and hot metal printing were always his love and passion.

During this sad time for our family, your editorial was a nice read and much appreciated.

Tom Sawyer



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent from the chairman of the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby to Paul Diodati, director of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.

I know you are very aware of the growing concern that many folks have about the inhumane yo-yoing technique being widely used by many commercial striped bass fishermen. Although the derby banned the technique in our tournament three years ago, this year we experienced firsthand, fish coming to our weigh scale carrying significant amounts of lead in their stomachs. Even more importantly, we now know that many stripers are ingesting large amounts of lead and carrying it in their stomachs for undetermined periods of time. Commercial fishermen often retrieved their weights from the fish before the fish go to market by reaching deep into the fish’s stomach to take back the weights to be used again. This makes it extremely difficult for any fish market to know if a fish ever had any lead in it. In addition, often when fishing with a bait with lead in it, the hooked bass may not ingest the whole bait and it falls to the ocean floor for another striper to ingest and the cycle continues.

For nearly two decades, the Martha’s Vineyard Striped Bass and Bluefish Derby each year has been donating between 5,000 and 7,000 pounds of fresh filleted fish to the senior centers in each of the towns on the Vineyard. The largest amount of donated fish is striped bass. However, now, because of our concern for the health of our senior citizens, our policy will be to cut open all donated striped bass and any found with lead in them will be discarded. Our senior centers and health departments on the Vineyard are equally concerned and we urge you to address this potentially dangerous health issue for all of us in the commonwealth who eat these fish.

If lead is banned in paint, toys, birdshot and many other products, one can only imagine the potential health hazard it could cause if lead goes undetected for an extended period of time in the millions of pounds of Massachusetts striped bass eaten each year in the commonwealth.

We understand the difficulty changing regulations and the issues surrounding the implementation of alternatives to lead, but the derby, its 3,100 participants and the derby committee members are ready to help you solve this important issue. We would be glad to meet with you in Boston or here on the Vineyard to share our thoughts and concerns at your

earliest convenience.

Ed Jerome



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Regarding the obituary for Vineyard nurse Judy Hatt. Judy was a wonderful neighbor on Davis Street and always truly good person.

Rita Minor

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to the kind man, Ned Rice, who both rescued and returned my kayak over Thanksgiving weekend. It seems the kayak had floated out to sea on a full moon high tide. Each time I venture out I will be offering thanks to Mr. Rice for restoring my faith in people on the Vineyard.

Anne Pardo

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On Wednesday, Nov. 28, Oak Bluffs celebrated its annual tree lighting. And, once again it seemed to be bigger, brighter and warmer than ever.

From start to finish, which at best is 45 minutes, the message was hope, good cheer and an abundance of grins from ear to ear. The tree, donated by Jardin Mahoney, was spectacular and the Vineyard Haven Brass Ensemble created a caroling mood that was perfect. Selectmen chairman Kerry Scott, at the playing of Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, threw the switch to a hefty chorus of oohs and ahs.

The celebration continued at the Arcade game room with an upbeat musical rendition of popular holiday songs by the StingRays, plenty of hot chocolate served by several cheery volunteers and enough red felt reindeer antlers atop little ones’ heads to provide Santa with a cheery welcome.

His arrival aboard an Oak Bluffs fire truck caused quite a stir. Youngsters of all ages were eager to catch a glimpse of the jolly guy as he greeted the crowd, wishing all a Merry Christmas. He thanked the gathering for their gifts of food for the Island Food Pantry, which his helpers loaded onto the truck and, off into the starry night he flew.

And so, another traditional tree lighting is history and, thanks to the many participants, a good time was had by all.

A special thanks to the Oak Bluffs Highway Department for all their good work in lighting our town, to the parents of the Parent Teacher Organization who baked cookies and brought the children and food donations, to the Friends of Oak Bluffs for red velvet bows all over town, to the Vineyard Brass Ensemble and the StingRays for giving us such great music, to the Oak Bluffs Fire Department for bringing Santa, to Jardin Mahoney for the tree, to Mark Crossland for our tree-lined harbor, to the Arcade Elves (led by Robin) for their gracious hospitality and hot chocolate and to all the folks who came to celebrate the holiday and special feeling of community that an event like this brings to us all.

Renee Balter

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Heartfelt thanks to all who helped with my fundraiser on Nov. 17. I cannot properly convey my appreciation for your support. Particular thanks to Eleanor and Harry and the Martha’s Vineyard Agricultural Society, Kevin Ryan and Martha’s Vineyard Savings Bank, Money Shot, Richie and Jim’s Package Store, the dozen or so friends who helped set it all up and break it all down, and, of course master of ceremonies and primary encourager Trip Barnes.

Wish me good fortune in Florida this year, and maybe we’ll do it again in the spring.

Robyn Hanover

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As a practicing Roman Catholic for 79 years in the diocese of Boston and Fall River, and as a Democrat, I resent my bishops’ categorizing the Democratic party as hostile to opponents of abortion rights and stating that it “borders on scandal” for Catholics to vote for candidates for public office who would uphold the legal right, protected by the U.S. Constitution, for an individual woman to have an abortion. To be pro-choice is not to be pro-abortion. I have yet to meet a pro-choice person who would advise or encourage a woman to have an abortion.

Our state and federal legislatures do not even vote for or against abortions. It is, therefore, not a true political issue. Cardinal O’Malley did, however, provide a list of true political issues about which he admits the Republican party, Republican legislators, at both the state and federal levels, and Republican voters oppose the positions advocated by the Roman Catholic Church and its present and past popes: namely, immigration, capital punishment, the economic issue of poverty and homelessness and the war in Iraq. Would the cardinal also categorize the Republican party’s hostility to the church’s position on these true political issues as bordering on scandal?

Joseph Sequeira Vera

Oak Bluffs

and Cambridge

The Vineyard Gazette welcomes letters to the editor on any subject concerning Martha’s Vineyard. The newspaper strives to publish all letters as space allows, although the editor reserves the right to reject letters that in her judgment are inappropriate. Letters must be signed, and should include a place of residence and contact telephone number. The Gazette does not publish anonymous letters.