Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This past weekend I was well into a long bike ride on the Vineyard as I turned onto Edgartown-West Tisbury Road heading toward Edgartown. The road is straight and has a good shoulder to ride on; the speed limit is 45 mph. There is also a bike path along this road. I’m not a big fan of bike paths if I’m on a long ride, and I’m even less keen on this one, which does not have a divider line, is at times very steep and twisty, and is sporadically clogged with distracted riders going much slower and riding two, three and even four abreast. When I’m averaging 20-plus mph, I will ride on the road — if there is an adequate shoulder — instead of the bike path. (Beach Road does not have a good shoulder so I use the bike path on that road.) I consider it a matter of safety not to ride on the bike path at that speed, both for me and the slower riders on the path.

Well, after turning onto this road in West Tisbury, I was immediately harassed by drivers honking and yelling at me to get off the road and onto the path. One driver in a pickup, with a large pit bull in the front cab, actually tried to run me off the road — but thought better of it when he saw another truck behind him.

Considering how universally agitated each driver was that I wasn’t on the bike path, I thought that there must be a sign somewhere banning bikes from the road. I saw no such sign. What is the deal? The level of animosity that I experienced in a 20-minute period was disturbing. Drivers were really angry that I dared to ride on their road. I’ve been a taxpayer in Massachusetts a long time and I like to think I have a right to use any road in a lawful, safe and responsible manner. I am no spring chicken, and I’ve logged tens of thousands of miles over the years on a bike. It was over 25 years ago that someone last tried to run me off the road with a pickup truck (that episode involved the butt-end of a baseball bat and not a pit bull). I thought times had changed. I can’t say that I will rush back to the Vineyard anytime soon — I feel it would just be a matter of time before someone succeeded in taking me out on that road. I’m sorry to say that there are simply too many people that hate bike riders on the Island. I have great memories of the Vineyard going back to the 1970s, and I never thought I’d associate the word hate with Martha’s Vineyard. But believe me, I felt it on Edgartown-West Tisbury Road.

James Paterson



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to former Tisbury police chief John Cashin.

Thank you for your honesty, your integrity, your courage and your sense of humor.

You, more than anyone I have ever met, epitomize the best of public service. It has been a pleasure and a privilege to have served with you.

Best personal regards.

Marion A. Mudge

Vineyard Haven

Ms. Mudge is the Tisbury town clerk.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On behalf of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), we would like to extend our deepest thanks to all who made the Wampanoag Environmental Health Consumer Expo 2009 a resounding success. Despite the competition with some stunning weather on the day of the expo, nearly 300 people made their way through the exhibit hall and 175 attended the speaker presentations offered throughout the day. There was a palpable and friendly buzz in the air as exhibitors and attendees alike shared their knowledge, questions and ideas regarding myriad issues related to environmental health and the particular ways we, as Islanders, are affected by these issues.

So hats off to the Harbor View Hotel staff and management for excellent attention to detail and courteous and congenial assistance all around. Chef Levon’s melon elixir samples served as a delicious and refreshing pick-me-up at midday. Thanks to Pro-tek for their (forgive me) sound expertise and assistance with all things audio-visual. Where would we have been if not for the overwhelming response from our exhibitors that this was indeed something the community wished for and needed? Thank you all for the great efforts made to provide such a beneficial and generous presence, providing information and resources to help all of us to make better informed and healthier choices for ourselves, our homes and our environment. To our speakers, thank you for going the distance and condensing so much thoughtful and expert information into such time-limited slots. We are so fortunate to have your dedication working in these fields every day. Thanks to the Tisbury Printer for their mammoth efforts with our promotional materials and to the other local businesses that provided help along the way. Thanks to the Harvard School of Public Health and Urban Habitat Initiatives for consulting services. A special appreciation to those organizations and businesses that were unable to attend but offered door prize donations, in their stead.

We hope to see you all and more next year! Until then, keep supporting local farms and businesses that are working so hard to create a cleaner, safer and healthier place for all of us.

Ron MacLaren

and Cynthia Robinson



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Tisbury police department is the Vineyard’s most serious problem this week (May 2 issue, lead editorial). I’m not so certain of that. How about the serious financial problems Oak Bluffs faces (headline, “Awash in Red Ink”) — or the carefully considered and I think praiseworthy decision of hospice as a positive move to be featured?

We have lived year-round in Tisbury for 20 years now, and have never had any issues whatsoever with policing.

Interestingly, the May 29 front page does point out, the now terminated Chief Cashin (always cordial when we’ve seen him downtown) had similar fault to find in his last post, we are told. As for a “hush-hush” meeting with just one Tisbury selectman and the police, that new selectman is a lawyer, and the best qualified to hear what problems may remain before Mr. Wasserman looks into the situation. Our selectmen are as human and hard-working as any; I noticed Edgartown’s fine leaders had to express consternation about their beach problems this week.

Let’s do what we can to keep spirits up throughout the Vineyard, and not overdo the fault-finding, as if it would rectify matters in one town or the other.

Leigh Smith

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In light of the recent articles regarding insurance changes on the Vineyard, the Duke’s County Health Council has prepared answers to a few basic questions.

Q: I have heard that the contract between Martha’s Vineyard Hospital and Boston Medical Center Health Net is being cancelled as of June 30, 2009. Is this true?

A: Yes, BMC Health Net and the hospital were unable to reach an agreement.

Q: If I have BMC Health Net Plan coverage through Commonwealth Care, what should I do?

A: The state’s Commonwealth Care Connector has an open enrollment period every year. The Connector will be notifying members this week about the open enrollment period and will be sending you information about what health plan networks are available on Martha’s Vineyard. Each member is directed to select the health plan of their choice. To make the selection, members are asked to call Commonwealth Care Customer Service Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There is also a way to make your selection online or to mail in your choice. If you don’t respond, the Connector will assign you to a health plan available on Martha’s Vineyard. Either way there will be no interruption in your coverage.

Q: If I need to go to the hospital after June 30, will I be covered?

A: Yes.

Q: If my insurance is automatically switched to another plan, can I keep my current doctor(s) and health care providers?

A: Most likely. Nearly all primary care providers participate in all of the plans currently offered on the Island. Check with the Commonwealth Care Connector to determine if your current providers are included in your plan’s network.

Q: Who can I call for more information?

A: Commonwealth Care Connector, at 1-877-623-6765, or on the Web at; Martha’s Vineyard Hospital financial counseling service at 508-693-0410, extension 248, or Vineyard Health Care Access Program at 508-696-0020.

Dedie Wieler

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The new store manager, Deb Alpert-Sylvia and her amazing staff of the Edgartown Boys’ and Girls’ Club Second Hand Store, deserve a big pat on the back for a job well done.

Often during my lunch hour, I’ll take a short stroll down to the Second Hand Store, keeping my eye out for a much-needed dresser and other small treasures I might find. I felt the need to write this letter after the many times I’ve witnessed what this staff goes through on a daily basis. I’m so amazed at how well they handle the hundreds of distractions that occur — I often even forget what I am looking for! Everyone is always greeted by an immediate smile when they walk through the doors, and regulars are known by their first names.

Even with the enormous piles of daily donations, constant inquiries from customers about pricing, and a continuous need to stock shelves with new items, track inventory and price items, the staff still manages to smile and make everyone’s day a better one.

Deb and her new staff have worked really hard at improving and reorganizing the entire store and it shows. It’s always a pleasant experience shopping here and a big thank you is well deserved. Keep up the good work, and hats off to a job well done.

Karen Altieri