Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I’m writing in response to your Nov. 21 editorial titled Educating Children Early.

The current national fiscal crisis has begun to hit Massachusetts, leaving the state budget $1.4 billion out of balance. Gov. Deval Patrick responded to this deficit swiftly, implementing a sweeping fiscal action plan to close the gap. The magnitude of the challenge, however, required very difficult decisions that affect many programs and services upon which citizens rely — and no area of state government could be spared completely.

At the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care (EEC), this meant reducing rates paid to providers, reducing funding for a variety of important initiatives and consolidating administrative functions across the state. Compounding the challenge, these actions came on the heels of strict, new limitations that EEC had to place on access to financial assistance for eligible, new families. These restrictions were not due to budget reductions, but were a result of significantly increased demand for these services from families increasingly feeling the impact of a slowing economy.

The challenges faced by Martha’s Vineyard — in early education and other important programs supported by the state — are being faced by communities all across the commonwealth. But amidst these challenges there is reason for encouragement for believers in the wisdom of investing in quality early education. Instead of instituting across the board budget cuts that would hit all areas of state government equally, Governor Patrick took a more deliberate and strategic approach, protecting education in general — and early education in particular — from the larger cuts assigned to other state agencies.

What this means is that EEC is still able to continue to serve families currently receiving financial assistance, and continue to provide access to our most vulnerable, including those on transitional assistance and those involved with the Department of Children and Families. It also means that, despite the challenging fiscal climate, the commonwealth will continue to make progress in building a first-class education system, starting with pre-kindergarten.

Indeed, as you stated, education is worth fighting for. Even in the current environment, that is exactly what Governor Patrick is doing.

Amy Kershaw


Amy Kershaw is acting commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Early Education and Care.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was submitted to the Edgartown Community Preservation Committee on Nov. 13.

As requested at the meeting on Thursday Nov. 6, 2008, we put together a business plan to support the application by the Edgartown old school building re-use committee to turn the building into an arts center, which includes a multipurpose theatre.

We propose to create a nonprofit called Studio Creations to renovate the old Edgartown School into a place for Island arts organizations.

This attached business plan for studio creations is an overview. In the coming weeks we will put together a more detailed business plan to submit for your consideration.

We are confident that the vision of studio creations to turn the old brick building into a thriving artistic center to enrich the lives of the people of Martha’s Vineyard is the best use of the town’s historic treasure.

If you have any questions or require any other information, please feel free to contact me.

Donna Swift



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to the Oak Bluffs selectmen.

As a lifelong sailor I’ve been fortunate to visit many marinas and ports during my travels. Never in my life have I encountered anyplace like the Oak Bluffs marina.

Fortunately a lifelong family friend, John Rose (a 39-year-old man who has suffered more tragedy in his young life than many) found his way to the Oak Bluffs marina. In 1996 the tragic crash of TWA flight 800 took the life of his mother and twin sister. Since that time he has found solace in alcohol.

John arrived in Oak Bluffs early in July and it quickly became apparent to harbor master Todd Alexander that John had a problem with alcohol addiction. A few of us who have observed John’s life for many years had occasion to speak with Todd. He knew that John was not without those who care about him, and Todd was quickly added to that list.

Over the next several weeks it was obvious that the problem was worsening and John was hospitalized in September after suffering a seizure. Upon his return to the boat the situation only worsened. Todd and Sgt. George Fisher kept a watchful eye on John and, upon determining that intervention was the only course which would save John’s life, did so with the involvement and blessing of family and friends.

Make no mistake about it. John L. Rose is alive today because Todd Alexander and Sgt. George Fisher decided John didn’t have to die. Without their intervention John would have been another senseless tragedy, most likely the victim of drowning while intoxicated. John has concluded 30 days at the Bridgewater State Hospital. His boat has been pulled and winterized by Phil Hale at the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard with Todd’s assistance. John returned to the boat to get his clothes, and then traveled to Ohio to hopefully move forward with his life.

But today he does so with the knowledge that people care about him. People that, a few short months ago, he didn’t even know. While I know that John’s future rests solely in John’s hands, I know with equal conviction that John would not have a future were it not for the efforts and actions of Todd Alexander and Sgt. George Fisher.

Those of you who live in Oak Bluffs probably know all that I have briefly told you about these two individuals. What I hope you realize is that they are not only invaluable additions to your community, they are ambassadors for your fine community to the world at large (in Todd’s case, that is a large world indeed!).

Kyle Kopecky

Chagrin Falls, Ohio