Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Perhaps Capt. Buddy Vanderhoop’s choice of words and his efforts to diminish the population of cormorants sound a bit callous to many, but he has pointed out a very real problem the Vineyard and many other seaside communities are facing. (You mention that 24 states allow measures to control their cormorant population. Needless to say, landlocked states with no waterways have no need for regulations, so this number is obviously misleading.)

As everyone knows, Sengekontacket is closed for shellfishing for the second year, largely because of the fecal coliform of birds.

Despite the very sophisticated series of catch basins that filter storm water runoff in the southern end of Lake Tashmoo, the water is polluted by bird droppings and the herring run there has not been successful; the cormorants eat the herring as they try to swim up the run.

The presence of herring is very important since they provide food for larger fish. As these fish chase their prey, they increase water circulation — a crucial component of a healthy pond.

Without meaning to sound cold-hearted, I agree with Captain Vanderhoop. At some point, we have to set our priorities: are shellfish and feeder fish (herring) important? Do we want water clean enough to swim in? Is improved circulation of water and increased fishing a worthwhile goal?

The hundreds of thousands of cormorants in Lake Ontario and New York State and the millions of fish they eat should give fair warning.

Perhaps there are more humanitarian ways to cope with our overabundance of cormorants and Canada geese, but the issue is very real and it’s time we confront this problem aggressively, if we want to protect the bounty of our sea.

Harriet Barrow

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Congratulations to Mike Seccombe! Reading your article on the front page of July 31 issue of the Gazette is a real eye-opener in the middle of the debate of what to do with the great health care system of the United States.

The information in your article is somewhat shocking. It sounds like the reverse of the Big Bad insurance companies ripping off all of the policyholders.

The explanation and /or justification for the listed overcharges by the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital given by Tim Walsh is educational, like the term of “cross-subsidization.”

I for one would like to understand more about the influence of the emergency room as Mr. Walsh left it out from the list of reasoning.

I am also interested to know how can it happen in the state of Massachusetts where we have eliminated the need for “cross-subsidization” by implementing the new health care program.

In closing, Mr. Walsh or Mr. Seccombe could you please give us year-round residents some information about the future of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital under the proposed nationwide cost-reducing health care system?

Robert Fokos



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Your article on the cost of procedures at the Vineyard hospital is most welcome. In the summer of 2007 I dislocated my elbow in a fall while playing tag one evening with some of my grandchildren at our house in Vineyard Haven. I was taken by ambulance to the hospital where an attempt was made by emergency room personnel to reset the elbow . . . without success. I lay on a gurney in the emergency room overnight (no room offered) and my elbow was reset the next morning and I left the hospital.

The tab? Over $13,000, of which Medicare paid about $11,000.

Upon arriving back home in the Boston area I asked my primary care physician what that would have cost at MGH and he said, “No more than $3,000.”

Is it any wonder why our health care program in this country is in trouble?

Mason Buddy

Vineyard Haven

and Marblehead


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I was admitted to the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital on June 29. My recovery has been rapid, which I attribute to the proficiency of my surgeon and his assistant, and the fine care given me throughout my hospital stay.

The hospital staff was professional, attentive and always encouraging. The menu featured a tasty selection of entrees, a variety of fresh fruit and an unexpected mid-afternoon treat. The hospital ambience was pleasant with a view from my window of many birds attracted to a well-maintained bird feeder and small bunnies scurrying on the ground amid colorful flowers and shrubs. I cannot praise the hospital enough. It is definitely a 10!

Gloria Meltz

Avon, Conn.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

My ancestry goes back to Wexford in the mid 1800s.

I am led to believe that the Hillis family had a connection to the Haughton family.

I live in Northern Ireland and would love to know more.

Helen Black

Lurgan, County Armagh, N.I.