Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It is that time of year once again to thank the entire Vineyard community for enabling Red Stocking to provide food, clothing and toys to 345 children from 232 Island families. Last year we served 334 children from 230 families. While we expected a large increase in applicants this year due to the economic situation, the numbers remained almost exactly the same. This phenomenon may be explained by the fact that the families which we provide for are not those who are invested in the stock market and suffering direct losses. However, we may see an increase next year if unemployment continues to rise. Our contributions remained steady. The generosity of our supporters was sufficient to allow us to meet the needs of all our applicants. This year we expended over $30,000 on food alone and between $45,000 and $50,000 on clothing. Our toys are all donated by individuals and organizations both on and off-Island.

As is customary, each year we spotlight one group to especially thank. This year we would like to publicly acknowledge the Red Stocking advisory board members. Each year these eight members of the community are there to provide their piece of the puzzle so that this extensive effort can happen smoothly, efficiently and with good cheer. This is a very unusual, unbureaucratic board in that we meet only once a year to establish dates. Then each person does his thing and it miraculously culminates in December when over 4,000 individually wrapped items get distributed in a three-hour span.

Barbara Silvia, our treasurer, collects the money and pays the bills as well as doing a myriad of other tasks throughout the year. Patricia Carlet obtains and assigns books to each child . . . a bigger challenge this year without the Bunch of Grapes which has been so generous in past years. Gail Craig and Megan Morris organize the mountain of toys and ensure that they are wrapped and equitably assigned. Mike Joyce does a masterful job organizing the sorting and packing of each child’s gifts. Peg Goodale is the backstage manager ensuring that needed supplies are always available and cleaning up Grace Church after the rest of us. Shirley Robinson does much of the individual clothes shopping. Jo Weinberg, our newest member who replaced longstanding volunteer Marcella Provost, had her introduction this year by organizing diapers for 100 children under the age of two . . . a daunting task. They all pitch in to provide a send-off for the Harley riders in November, to ladle chowder at the Chowder Fest in December, and to run the Chili Contest in January. None seeks any recognition. They do their jobs efficiently, cheerfully and tirelessly. How lucky the Vineyard is to have such dedicated volunteers. We could not begin to do this job without them.

In addition, we very gratefully thank all our contributors, vendors, shoppers, volunteers, wrappers, the churches, the schools and the businesses who automatically come forth each year to do their part. We are humbled to be part of such an organization.

Kerry Alley and

Lorraine Clark,


Oak Bluffs and

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

My first day campaigning on the Vineyard, back in March of 1988, was windy and sleeting, and standing in front of the Oak Bluffs post office, I looked cold. At least, that’s what the owner of the small pastry shop nearby thought when he sent someone out with a steaming hot cup of coffee to warm me up.

And that was my first sign of how warm and friendly this Island I hoped to represent in the Massachusetts legislature was going to be.

In the 20 years since then, you’ve welcomed me to overnight in your guest rooms, your sofas, your B& Bs and your hotels. I’ve fished on your beaches, clapped for your sunsets, moored in your harbors, attended your town meetings, ridden in the back of your pickup trucks, hiked through your forests, biked on your bike paths, been bitten by your mosquitoes, swam at your beaches, argued with your editors, gone to your graduations and spoken at your funerals.

If the Steamship Authority gave frequent flyer miles, I’d have earned them. The only thing I haven’t ever done is bring my car over. I never needed it — I always knew I could count on the goodness of friends, or of strangers, to get me wherever I needed to go.

Starting in January, I will no longer be your state representative (being succeeded, I am glad to say, by an islander, albeit from the other island, with 10 years experience advocating for your issues, by my side, on Beacon Hill.)

But I live just three minutes from the Woods Hole ferry dock, the boat schedule is still in my wallet, and my sailboat knows the way to Vineyard waters. So I will not be a stranger. Thank you for sharing this wonderful place with me. Every time I return, I know I will be among friends.

With great appreciation.

Rep. Eric Turkington



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

According to the minutes of the Dec. 15 Martha’s Vineyard Commission land use planning committee meeting, chairman Ron DiOrio expressed his “chagrin” to find Bradley Square still entangled in the regulatory process 15 months after he and his board of selectmen had “approved” this project. He then proceeded to describe the group who negotiated the compromise with the Island Affordable Housing Fund and Island Housing Trust as a “small minority pushing around the majority,” and added a few mean-spirited remarks about some of its members.

I wish somebody could explain why he felt he had to ride his high horse into battle, now that the fight he deserted is pretty much over. Does he still not understand that the people he is criticizing felt compelled to act because he and his board failed to?

The flaws in the project that our selectman spared no energy promoting were revealed almost a year ago when it became clear that those whose lives would be directly affected had been left out of the picture. Neighbors and abutters spoke up relentlessly, letters pleading for the town’s intervention were sent, and selectman Kerry Scott pressed the issue numerous times with her colleagues. Yet, Mr. DiOrio stubbornly ignored the warning signs and kept encouraging the fund and the trust and the regulatory commissions to steamroll over the most sensible objections.

His determination to ram Bradley Square down the neighborhood’s throat is what brought the Oak Bluffs Concerned Citizens Committee to life. Our sole objective was to do what the board of selectmen could have done six months earlier: give the neighbors and abutters a chance to be heard. Now the arsonist wants to blame the fire department?

If his spiteful comments were inspired by the town’s recent vote to maintain the Community Preservation Act funding for Bradley Square, he is clearly ignoring the history behind the defeated motion. When the concerned citizens committee was created, Mr. Muckerheide had already collected 100 signatures and the committee’s only goal in acquiring more signatures was to strengthen its negotiating position. Donny Muckerheide’s initiative to file “his” signatures in spite of the ongoing discussions was very unfortunate, and the citizens committee made it clear to the joint committee that it did not endorse this move. Our intention was to find alternatives, not to kill the project. When at the town meeting Mr. Lambert suggested a delay of the funding decision, his fear was that the vote would encourage the board to continue to sit on its hands (he was right).

The compromise plan resulting from the citizen committee’s action is far from perfect, but it addresses many of the neighborhood’s concerns. Yes, it does look like a parking lot, but this is unfortunately as good as it gets when less than half an acre is supposed to host that much activity without completely overrunning the neighborhood. The reality is that we private citizens had no other choice but to conduct our negotiations within the limits of a very narrow box.

No doubt better solutions are possible, but they are beyond the reach of an informal group like the citizens committee. Mr. Ron Mechur (a town planning professional) suggested to eliminate a building, preserve the Denniston church and provide affordable housing and commercial space at a smaller scale. This alternative would of course require a rethinking of the financial structure which, quite understandably, the fund and the trust has no incentive to engage in without the help of the elected officials who have the resources and the authority to find an equitable outcome.

The catch is that any form of dialogue or mediation initiated by the board would inevitably lead to the conclusion that its chairman hadn’t quite done his homework when he decided to aggressively promote the project. Unfortunately, such a minor display of humility seems too pricey for Mr. Chairman. For the past year, he preferred to keep himself and his team on the sideline, watching his constituents, the fund and the trust, the MVC and the zoning board of appeals waste their time in frustrating and unnecessary debates.

Judging from his performance at last week’s land use committee meeting, Mr. DiOrio obviously does not intend to change his attitude. So be it, but if he really is that concerned with the project’s delays, could he at least act as a selectman and spare us the petty comments? I know a few people as stubborn and inflexible as he, who are impatiently waiting for an excuse to pick a new fight and contribute to his “chagrin.”

Yann Meersseman

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Edgartown Library foundation wishes to thank the many merchants who contributed recently to our silent auction. We are pleased that the auction, held at the library in conjunction with the Christmas in Edgartown weekend, was a success. The proceeds will help us toward our goal which is to make our Carnegie library part of a vibrant downtown Edgartown.

Courtney Brady


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.