Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In light of the devastating fire on Main street Vineyard Haven, I think it would be a great civic gesture if NStar would find a live circuit that could be used for a temporary feed to the Bunch of Grapes clock. This would provide an instant symbol of renewal, both for the town and for the owners that have lost so much.

Robert D. Woerpel

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

One critically important point in the Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s decision to tear down the Moujabber garage and approve a proposed addition was the commission’s emphatic stipulation that this was a ceiling on the size of the proposed plan; that the three town boards (Copeland, Cottage City Historic and the zoning board of appeals) now had their jobs to do, and they can certainly further reduce the height, width, depth and all-around square footage of the proposal, which is still an outsized, view-blocking structure. Quite possibly it also violates the zoning bylaw.

The MVC did their job and set a limit, and then very appropriately lobbed responsibility back to the town to finish the job. The town of Oak Bluffs now has a chance to reverse the mess created when it allowed the garage mahal to be illegally built in the first place. Through a lot of hard work and strong political will, we’ve all come a long way since that time.

Belleruth Naparstek

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I felt I had to stand up for Matt Poole who coached the Vineyard under-11 boys soccer team with me this year. Our Vineyard team, the first to ever reach the state championship level in this age group, played their heart out and lost the final to a Cambridge team which clearly belongs in Division 1, not Division 2 soccer.

In his hometown paper, Coach Poole did make light of one Cambridge player’s abilities — abilities, by the way, that no other player in the tournament could come close to matching. Whether this Cambridge mother realizes it or not, the size, physicality and talent of this player was not just something the Vineyarders noted, it was the talk of every team in this age group at the tournament.

Here are some simple facts: the Vineyard allowed just 11 goals against them during the entire 14-game season; we lost to Cambridge 7-0. Looking at both the 2007 and 2008 season-ending tournaments, with nearly 400 teams playing 1,200 games, the Cambridge under-12 Division 2 team scored more total goals than any other team. A record like that would quickly tell most people that the Cambridge team is not being adequately challenged in Division 2 and should have elected to Division 1 play.

We teach our kids a number of things, including trust in the system. We tell them to always give their best effort, to have faith in the system, whether on the field or off and, in the long run, you will succeed. Your good luck will balance out your bad luck.

But something didn’t quite work in this last game. And it wasn’t the adults who pointed it out, it was the 11-year-olds on the field and on the bench. To them, it didn’t seem fair, and while we continued to boost the system in place, it felt more like we were spinning than truth telling.

Take a look at our team picture and you’ll see faces that bring five different languages to every practice. Our diversity is one of our strengths and a tremendous source of pride. Perhaps Coach Poole’s off-handed joke to his hometown paper was too easily mistaken for something else. That’s unfortunate because this was, in fact, a magical season none of these boys or I will ever forget.

Esteban Aranzabe

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I felt compelled to write today after I drove by the Oak Bluffs harbor this morning. I am sick and tired of hearing how the Monster shark tournament doesn’t generate money on the Island. If anyone has been paying attention to the marina this summer, you would have notice a lot of empty slips except the Fourth of July weekend and even that following Monday morning the marina had many open slips. And this morning I saw not a one. The people of Oak Bluffs voted for the shark tournament to continue. As voters and taxpayers, of which the income to the marina helps offset town expenses, we need to take a stand and let our selectmen know that what they are doing regarding this tournament or any other shark tournament could very easily run these tournaments out of town and to another venue. And let me tell you that there are towns out there willing to give an arm and a leg to have the money in their coffers.

To the selectmen of Oak Bluffs: remember the voters not only voted for the shark tournament but for you as well.

Tammy Deese

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I sent the following e-mail to the Associated Press:

I just read your release published on about the man charged with lying about spotting great white sharks on Martha’s Vineyard.

Here is a true story about a real sighting from last week prior to the false report.

I am a Martha’s Vineyard resident of 50 years. I held a U.S. Coast Guard captain’s license for 20 years taking people out on fishing charters all around the Vineyard.

One of my close friends who also is a longtime Vineyard captain was fishing in tandem with a well-known and respected charter captain (not the lying captain in your news release) off the west end of the Island last week, well before the false sighting report that closed beaches temporarily.

This credible charter captain observed a great white shark with an estimated length of 17 feet swimming on the surface next to his trolling vessel for a few minutes.

In addition, I and others in my party observed a large seal swimming just outside the shore-break of Katama South Beach (Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard) during the week prior to the false great white shark report. Seals have been practically unknown on the Vineyard during my life, but they recently have colonized sand bar islands near the Vineyard and Nantucket. Believe me: where there are seals, there are great white sharks.

In addition, there is a well-documented case of an 11-foot juvenile great white shark being trapped in a nearby Elizabeth Islands saltwater pond two or three years ago (see Vineyard Gazette and Martha’s Vineyard Times newspaper archives.)

Besides, has anyone ever heard of the Vineyard-based Oak Bluffs Monster Shark Tournament held every July? If not, check out the recurring documentary on ESPN television.

The comments attributed to the police in your story are misleading and eerily reminiscent of the town council president’s denial of a “shark problem” in the movie Jaws (I remember very well the summer of 1974 when the film crew was here). You commit serious errors of omission by failing mention great white sharks have always been in Vineyard waters and their numbers and proximity to shore have increased as the seal population has increased. I suggest a follow-up article to provide balance and perspective.

In my opinion, swimming at the following Vineyard beaches currently is higher risk for great white shark attack than in the past: East Beach (Chappaquiddick Island facing Nantucket), South Beach (facing the Atlantic Ocean) and Gay Head Beach (facing the Elizabeth Islands). The Joseph A. Sylvia Beach that was one of the locations closed in response to the false great white shark report is a less likely habitat for great white sharks. Ironically, this beach was the shooting location for most of the movie Jaws.

While I acknowledge statistics say shark attacks are extremely rare, I, for one, am choosing to eschew the random comfort of probability theory in favor of avoiding the catastrophic result of being on the wrong end of the odds and not swimming at the aforementioned beaches for the duration of this summer.

If you wish to verify the actual great white shark report I have related with the firsthand witnesses, please write me back and I will see if they are willing to go on the record.

Stanley B. Arend 3rd

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We would like to thank the crew of the tri-town ambulance in Chilmark who came to my rescue on June 20, promptly, efficiently and with care transporting me to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital.

Also thanks to the entire emergency room nursing staff on June 20 as well as the staff on June 23. On June 23, Dr. Sean Kelly made a prompt decision to airlift me to Falmouth for immediate surgery, and I was taken by ambulance later to Beth Israel Hospital in Boston for further surgery.

Now to address the Vineyard hospital’s management. We have an aging permanent population on this Island. In this case, a pacemaker device machine was not available here. Not only the elderly but others of all ages wear pacemakers. Proper equipment could have eliminated the expense and trauma of airlifting.

It is necessary to appropriate funds for the diagnostic tools prior to any building of four walls. This is about saving lives, not about a showcase of a building.

Richard F. Potter



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The board of directors of the Martha’s Vineyard Boys’ and Girls’ Club should be embarrassed by the actions taken on Monday in which the Second Hand Store was closed, and the dedicated workers and volunteers fired. The abrupt treatment of the store personnel was both unprofessional and disrespectful. The public humiliation of these individuals was not deserved, and the decision to close the store for weeks during the summer season highlights that there is not sound business sense involved.

Darlene Kelly and Penny Townes are year-round Islanders with roots that go back generations. They understand what makes the Island so special. It is not the famous connections or wealthy visitors, but the day-to-day caring for each other that makes this community strong. Darlene and Penny welcomed customers into the store and made all feel like family. Under their governance, the store was run efficiently and unpretentiously. It was a fun place to look for bargains, and it also helped many Islanders to outfit their families and their homes with used, but still usable items. During the winter months, it was one of the few busy spots in Edgartown to meet up with friends. There are other summer boutiques in town for people to wander. The Second Hand Store was more like stopping by a neighbor’s kitchen to share news, and a place where, if you found something you wanted, you could afford it. It’s acceptable to raise the prices a bit to keep up with costs, but there is no need to ruin a very good thing.

I am fully aware that costs of everything are increasing and it is necessary for organizations to make the most of opportunities to raise funds (the justification for the reorganization.) I sincerely hope that the Boys’ and Girls’ Club board of directors understands that any gain that might result from these recent actions may come at the expense of their reputation and respect in this community. We all care about maintaining a club that is safe and fun for the kids — but we also need to set positive examples for the children of fairness,  respect towards others, and service to the community.

Judith Baynes



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

To the boys’ and girls’ club board of directors: I can’t believe you people haven’t heard “do unto others as you want done unto you”? The way you people handled the firing of two wonderful, caring, employees and volunteers is terrible. Why no notice at all? I’m sure there were meetings. Common courtesy is to give two weeks notice. You didn’t even give them one day. Why didn’t you think about how you were treating these loyal employees, Island people whose families go back to when the Edgartown Boys’ Club originated?

They have devoted themselves to this club, and many people in this community. And you did this with no real clear explanation of why. I’m sorry the club wants to go in a different direction because you people should realize, if it’s not broken do not fix it.

I hope you reconsider and leave well enough alone. Ask townspeople if they want the Second Hand Store to make a change with new faces, people WHO might not know your name or your family history. I’m just so sorry you did this so abruptly — rudely too — to two of the kindest, most caring women in Edgartown.

I also hope you give them an apology for treating them in a way you’d never want yourself to be treated. Because of your actions I will no longer support the boys’ and girls’ club.

Judy Sylvia

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I have been coming to the Vineyard for about 30 years and my Mom lived on the Island until last year. While I was selling and trying to find homes for many of her precious items, I was directed to the boys’ and girls’ club Second Hand Store by several Island realtors, as well as several lifers here on the Island.

I had a terrible time finding homes for some of her more precious items — including books. Amazingly, all the libraries on the Island said they had no room and didn’t want them. I was shocked. The Chappy Community Center was wonderful and took some interesting items. But the Boys’ and Girls’ Club Store took anything I brought to them. I brought well over $1,000 worth of items. And when I went in with my last load, the whole store was full of my Mom’s household. It was both an eerie and wonderful feeling. The store owners whose names escape me, were wonderful, helpful, appreciative and just what one would want a thrift store person to be. They knew how to sell items and make you feel like you were finding gold.

So my only message to the boys’ and girls’ club board is no matter what the personnel issues were and the politics that pervade this Island, I believe you have made a huge mistake.

I personally will never entrust precious items to the store again. My understanding was that any profits, if there were any, would go to these boys and girls, and it also gave others on the Island at least one place where they might be able to afford something for their home.

I am a research analyst who has worked in many environments over the last 40 years. The biggest problem I have realized with hindsight is that folks don’t anticipate serious side effects to their actions.

So no matter what you decide from here — the damage is done. I will not donate anything more and would not be surprised if others have a similar reaction to your supposed attempt to change or upgrade this store. In my humble opinion it was just as it should be. It helped a lot of folks by providing items at very reasonable prices on an Island known for its expensive cost of living.

Patricia Herlihy

Boulder, Colo.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Regarding the recent boys’ and girls’ club thrift shop flap: I have been a daily visitor and shopper of the shop for years (since 1980) and have seen chaos reign before Penny Townes arrived on the scene. But since she has been there, and including the new manager Darlene Kelly, things work extremely well, i.e. pricing fairness, condition of store, atmosphere, availability of volunteers, attitude toward customers — all of it. Closing the store in the middle of summer, firing staff, despoiling years of good will among loyal customers — what is the board thinking?

Jackie Ronan