staying sober

Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We are writing in response to your recent story concerning a teacher in the West Tisbury school who allegedly provided alcohol to students and hosted parties where young people drank. We have no knowledge of the facts in this particular case but it seems clear that somewhere along the line alcohol was available and underage drinking occurred. The issue draws attention to the illegal use and abuse of alcohol by minors and their access to alcohol.

The youth task force is a program of the Dukes County Health Council, sponsored by Dukes County and funded with three major federal and state grants. Our goals are to persuade kids to postpone the age at which they begin drinking, to encourage them to drink legally and responsibly when and if they do begin, and to enlist parents and other adults in the community in assuring they do not — in any way — encourage children to use alcohol and drugs illegally.

Substance use and abuse by minors is a concern for the community. In addition to being illegal, current research has found that early use dramatically increases the risk of addiction. For example, 25 per cent of Massachusetts youth reported trying alcohol (more than a sip) before the age of 13 and 95 per cent of adults over 21 who were classified as having past year alcohol dependence or abuse started drinking before age 21, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

The greatest contributing factor to substance use and abuse by minors is access to alcohol. Results of the 2006/2007 youth risk behavior survey of Vineyard students in grades 7 to 12 found that most students who drank alcohol reported getting it from friends, asking someone of a legal age to buy it for them, or taking it from a parent or a friend’s parent. One of the most effective ways to reduce substance use and abuse by minors is to limit access.

Social access to alcohol (getting it from friends, asking someone of legal age to buy it, or taking it from parents) is one of the issues the youth task force is addressing. With the cooperation of Vineyard liquor stores the task force has conducted a “sticker shock” campaign. You may have noticed some of our stickers listing the consequences of giving alcohol to minors (Want to lose your license for 180 days? Want to go to jail for up to one year? Want to be fined up to $2,000?) on shopping bags and packages if you’ve purchased alcohol recently. You might be interested to know that the total amount of profit to the alcohol industry from underage drinkers was $3.6 billion in 2005 and the total amount of money made through alcohol sales to minors in Massachusetts was $564 million, according to MADD.

We invite all of you in the community to join us in supporting the seven out of 10 middle school students who have never tried alcohol. Contrary it some perceptions, most of our kids do not drink or use drugs; they know it is not necessary to use those substances in order to have a good time or enjoy a party.

Theresa Manning



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

A car is a car is a car.

Should I have the Corvette, the Lamborghini or the Maserati? Well those are lofty ideals, at best. But maybe I just need inexpensive transportation — economical, durable, versatile, reliable and somewhat comfortable.

Such a vehicle did exist in the not so distant past and it was made by GM. In fact it may have actually been America’s people wagon, (or should I say FolksWagon) and they sold like crazy.

A year ago, I visited a Chevy dealer and asked about this vehicle and was told that this auto was discontinued. Furthermore, I was told that this model in the past always sold out, people would line up to purchase them. Well, so much for staying with a winning idea. What was GM thinking? Let’s not go there.

This vehicle was, and is, the Chevy Astro and they are still on the road, running fine. Talk to an owner of one of these vehicles and plan to hear a long dissertation regarding their accolades. What loyalty, what passion, what patriotism. I have not heard one bad word about them.

Come on GM, stick with a winner and bring back the Chevy Astro. You probably have a plant somewhere that could start producing them right now. In fact, I’ll by the first one off the assembly line and please make mine the spartan model; I don’t need all the bells and whistles.

Ken Lay



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Recently it became necessary to provide long term care for my mother, Fannie Ramsay. Nearing her 102 birthday, she had been living in Rockland, Me. Most of the rest of the family — great-grandchildren, grandchildren and so on, live here on the Vineyard. When it was thought there might be an opening for her at Windemere, we wondered whether Oak Bluffs emergency medical services could help us by transporting a very elderly and frail person over such a distance. To our great relief the response of Fran Bradley, who was on duty the day I called, and Capt. John Rose, was immediate and affirmative. Arrangements for an ambulance and crews were quickly made.

Unfortunately, the accommodation available at Windemere was not suitable for my mother’s needs, eliminating the need for an ambulance transport, and a suitable place has been found for her in Maine.

The entire family, however, wishes to express our deep appreciation to Captain Rose, Fran and the entire Oak Bluffs ambulance squad.

How fortunate we are to be served by the men and women who are as dedicated and skilled volunteers give so much in providing both critical emergency medical and fire protection services for everyone who lives on the Vineyard.

David E. Smith and Family

Vineyard Haven