Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission, along with the towns and other public entities, is very concerned about how to deal with the current budget crisis. Like the towns, we are getting information about the severity of the budget crisis almost daily. The MVC foresees major reductions in grants and other income, and is prepared to reconsider our budget as we get more information.

As required by law, we adopted a budget last week. However, the commission agreed not to certify the assessments to the town for another few weeks, to allow for reconsideration.

The budget adopted by the MVC has an overall budget reduction of almost nine per cent, and we managed to keep the increase in assessments to the towns to under one per cent. Based on information received from the towns over the past few weeks, our proposed salary increases were in line with what the towns were considering. However, this situation is rapidly changing and the commission is prepared to consider amending its budget to make sure that our salary adjustments remain generally in line with the towns and other entities. Each organization structures its salaries differently, so we will be looking at all increases that town employees will receive, including steps, longevity, merit, cost of living, etc. Our aim is to shoulder our share of the load in these troubled times, while making sure that our employees are treated like other public servants on the Vineyard.

Ned Orleans

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Our democracy is under attack again. Question number two on the state ballot in November asked the people of Massachusetts to decriminalize marijuana in our state with a $100 civil fine for possession of one ounce or less. Sixty-five per cent of Massachusetts voters said yes to decriminalize marijuana; 349 of our 351 cities and towns said yes and every county in the state said yes.

Cape and Islands district attorney Michael O’Keefe was quoted as saying, “This is what happens when people are allowed to vote on issues.” Excuse me, but is this not a democracy? I have always understood that voting is my right; the basis of our country was built upon the right of the American people to vote on issues of importance. Were you not elected by a vote of the people you were supposed to represent? This same question relates to all of our elected officials, our courts, its officers and our police. This is not a police state or a dictatorship; it is still a democracy. Over half of Americans live in states that have legalized or decriminalized marijuana. Michigan voted in November to legalize medical marijuana in every town and county in the state. What do our Massachusetts police not understand? There are 34 states out of 50 that have respected the rights of the people and decriminalized or legalized marijuana and hemp for recreational, medical or agricultural use.

To our police chiefs, elected officials and court officers, I would like to remind you that you work for the people of Massachusetts, not we for you. To the public, please educate yourself: Google Norml.com (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and learn the truth about marijuana prohibition. And the collateral damage done to the families of the 20 million Americans arrested and imprisoned since 200 for marijuana related offenses. Remember, marijuana reform is no longer a political liability but a political opportunity (68 per cent of the voters in Dukes County think so). Please do what is right regardless of the pressure you feel from above or below. Oppression, fear and deceit are not the way to lead the people. Honesty, integrity and respect is.

Jeff Thompson

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This has been a difficult time for a lot of people; giving to those in need has been more difficult.

Sally Sylvia holds a full-time job and was selected two years ago for an affordable home, but this may all change because of accumulating medical bills and everyday living expenses.

On Feb. 5 she will be having major liver surgery at Mass. General Hospital and will be without work for two months recovery.

Your tax deductible donation (no matter how small) will be greatly appreciated. Donations can be made to the law office of attorney George Brush in the name of You’ve Got a Friend, P.O. Box 1317, West Tisbury, MA 02575. (Put Sally Sylvia’s name in the memo section of the check.)

Thanks in advance.

Patty Kirwin

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Thank you to the men and women who responded to my 911 call of Jan. 15. You came at suppertime, in the snow and cold, to rescue this beautiful, old home which was filling with smoke after the fireplace damper fell closed and could not be reopened.

Joanie Condlin and Chuck Cummens calmed me and my little cairn Lily, while what seemed like all of Edgartown’s police and fire crew vented the smoke, cleaned out the fireplace and left the house in mint condition.

I am proud of your service and shall always be grateful to you.

Claudia L. Rogers



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I would like to thank the quick response of the Tisbury police department and the Tisbury fire department for their work at 54 Main street on the evening of Jan 2. I am grateful that police noticed that the pipe had burst and immediately contacted the fire department, which stopped the water flowing and prevented further damage. Thank you.

Louisa Gould

Vineyard Haven •


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As we prepare to leave the board of directors of Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard as required by our term limit policy, we want to thank the community for embracing, supporting and sustaining this wonderful Island organization. Connected to and integrated with the worldwide hospice movement, our local licensed hospice brings compassionate end of life assistance with decision-making, care and bereavement support to our friends and neighbors here on the Vineyard. This is and will continue to be our primary and singular focus. As we (reluctantly) take our leave of our official duties on the hospice board, we are confident in the strength, professionalism and genuineness of the staff and board who will carry on this valuable work. And we look forward to joining all of you in the comfort of knowing that Hospice of Martha’s Vineyard will be there for us and our families when we need it.

Sofia Anthony and Melinda Loberg

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Scottish Society of Martha’s Vineyard would like to thank all who helped make our annual Robert Burns dinner such a success. We would especially like to thank all the people and businesses who contributed to our raffle and to thank the Harbor View Hotel for a great meal and auctioneer Trip Barnes for again humorously separating us Scots from our money — no easy feat. See you all next year.

Steve Ewing



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Over several years I have observed the Canada geese and the smaller look-alike brant in Ocean Park. This reminded me of when my Dad, over 80 years ago took me to a gunning camp near South Beach that bordered Edgartown Great Pond. (I was about 12 years old and now I’m 94.)

The camp was owned by Clarence Hayden, Clayton Hoyle and Tom Williston. They were all businessmen from Oak Bluffs. Mr. Hayden owned the Island House. Mr. Hoyle owned a dry goods and sporting goods store in the three-story Herald building (now the one-story Reliable building). Mr. Williston owned a gas station and vulcanized tires in a shop near where Terry McCarthy now does business.

George Flynn had a gunning camp almost directly across the pond from our camp near an area called Swan Neck. Mr. Flynn would invite his wealthy city friends down for several days of hunting. One time we drove by his camp and noticed many dead geese attached to a shed. It almost looked as though the small shed was shingled with geese.

Now back to our camp at Edgartown Great Pond and near South Beach. Many friendly live geese were staked nearby and wooden decoys were set out.

The camp had a small lookout on its roof. It was accessible from inside the camp. The lookout had a comfortable chair inside where he could sit and also see any activity in the pond or sky.

Outside was a large pen with a ramp, and a retractable top that could be opened by the camp’s lookout. In the pen, there were young geese called flyers. The flyers would leave the pen when the top was opened and attract the flying geese. Within the pen was a cage with an adult goose that would honk continuously so that the flyers would remember to come back to their pen.

In time the government stopped this entire method of hunting migratory birds. The staked geese and all of the flyers had to be released. Today many of the geese descendents stay on Martha’s Vineyard year-round. Have they inherited some genes from their elder relatives or is our climate getting warmer?

Robert T. Hughes

Oak Bluffs