Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It is with a heavy heart that, after 13 years of providing post-mastectomy and lumpectomy products to Island women, I must close my doors this September. Throughout the years I have been in business I have maintained my professional credentials as a certified and accredited mastectomy fitter (CFm), and my status as a Medicare, and other insurances, provider.

A statutory requirement implemented by Medicare now mandates that not only must I personally be accredited and certified for the purposes of maintaining the highest professional standards and for Medicare billing, but now my facility must also be accredited. The costs associated with this additional accreditation, which have been set by a private, nongovernment accreditation organization, amount to much more than the remuneration for the goods and services I provide to a few, dear, Island women. Many of these cancer patients and survivors find mainland travel for these essential products difficult and costly.

I understand that the purpose of this legislation is to address problems with supplier standards industry wide. Unfortunately, for someone like me who, with a small, home-based business helping a few women each year, the associated costs will be far greater than the income. As a breast cancer survivor myself, I have always viewed this endeavor as a labor of love and a community service, not a profit-making enterprise.

I have tried to appeal to our Sens. Kennedy and Kerry with no success. Even a Medicare regional administrator tried to find a way to help. But there appears to be no way around the bureaucracy. There is no accommodation or flexibility for a rural, small-scale provider, in a generally underserved locale.

In a time when we as a society are closely examining health care, and seeking ways to expand its availability, it is unfortunate that a valuable service such as mine will be forced to close due to an overlay of newly mandated compliance costs, which in no way contribute to the quality of my patient care.

Francine Agnoli



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Let’s look at the bright side of President Obama’s possible future decision to pull the so-called public plan from the health reform bill and to substitute in its place a system of cooperatives. Why can’t these future health cooperatives, apparently modeled roughly on existing state-wide co-ops in North Dakota (which owe their existence to the progressive movement of 100 years ago) start off as acorns and then grow into mighty oaks of goodness for our country?

Cooperatives have a long and noble tradition in this and other countries. In 1956 in Mondragon, Spain, starting with 25 workers, a priest founded the Mondragon Cooperative in order to create jobs and to promote education. Now they’re making machine tools, appliances and about a third of Europe’s car parts and employ about 34,000 people all the while maintaining to some extent a mission to serve their employees and the surrounding community.

My grandmother in her dotage railed against her rest home for poor English usage in calling what was essentially the sick bay, the health center, which it was not because everyone in it was sick. Likewise today we call it health insurance even though it’s really sickness insurance. But a true health cooperative could take on the great mission and in addition to offering care and healing to those who become ill, it could serve the role as a health catalyst by promoting a good diet (yank the Pepsi machine and serve squash soup if you want our plan) and better living (plan to build sidewalks and bike paths and to zone for smart growth) and your town’s residents each get a blue ribbon and a chance to sign up for a good plan.

Why can’t we take these blue-dog-imposed co-ops and cause them to evolve to help us evolve away from obesity and toward health?

Nicholas Peck


and Chilmark


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to Rep. William Delahunt:

We have the best health care system in the world. People travel from all parts of the globe to receive the health care that most Americans have to come to expect. We agree that we must find ways to expand access to affordable health care to all Americans. But we must do it in a way that protects the health care of the vast majority of Americans, like ourselves, who are happy with their health insurance and want to keep their doctors. We believe that we can expand access to health care to the uninsured by empowering people — and helping them become prudent purchasers of health care — by using health savings accounts, tax credits and vouchers. Government-controlled health care will lead to long waiting lines, substandard care, and to the slowing of medical discovery.

We implore you, if ever in your career you would choose to be impartial and not go the party line, let this be the time. Although we strongly disagree with the direction Mr. Obama is taking our great country with the endorsement and assistance of his party, we’re convinced his nationalizing of health care will be the final nail in the coffin and bankrupt America.

Please stop passing legislation you haven’t read nor fully understand. But our real question is why are you and your fellow legislators exempt? Why are unions exempt? Why are federal employees exempt? Continued hypocrisy. If this plan is so great, then put everyone on it and we may begin to consider it seriously.

Jeffrey C. and Janice R. Wooden



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to President Obama:

I would like to share my thoughts with you about education in America. Here in Massachusetts, a significant amount of effort is put into exercising the program No Child Left Behind. We can all feel good about the extra focus put forth for those students that need special help in order to get a much-needed education.

I am lucky enough to attend a very good public school on the island of Martha’s Vineyard. My school is unusual in that it has a program that allows more advanced students the opportunity to excel in their areas of interest. Since America is competing internationally, education will have everything to do with how we do in the future. This means we should make sure that in the future all of our schools provide special attention to those students who show special talents. If education in America is only a conveyor belt supporting the average or middle and never the advanced, we will have a hard time competing in a global economy.

Education in America will have everything to do with our ability in the future to create new technologies, new businesses and new jobs. We are told that in these financially difficult times, schools will have to cut back on spending. It seems to me that investing in schools, great teachers, and programs for gifted students is a good idea. It would be great to see more money put into our schools.

Jack Wallace



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In reporting August 14 on the Wednesday afternoon program Strike the Right Balance sponsored by the Charles Hamilton Institute for Racial Justice at the Harvard Law School, your story neglected to cover the important guidance derived from our past as presented in the Wednesday morning tribute to Prof. John Hope Franklin.

I would hope that with all the attention currently paid to President Obama, soon to arrive on the Island and to the unfortunate and brief episode between Prof. Henry Louis Gates Jr. and the Cambridge police, that your readers do, in fact, learn and appreciate the contributions of the recently deceased, internationally known Professor Franklin, an eminent scholar and historian knowledgeable about our past but equally sensitive to the pitfalls and opportunities of the present and the future.

The daylong program seemed to have been designed to inform us about this portion before we launched forth on an appraisal, no matter how insightful about the present and future; therefore not to have that complete coverage was a disservice to your readers.

Adelaide M. Cromwell

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Martha’s Vineyard Commission’s expensive, job-killing, anti-American, free market ideology and downright infantile meddling with projects best left to oversight by individual towns continues unabated.

Island residents cannot compete financially in a housing market when housing cost is based on the profitability of vacation rentals in residential neighborhoods. If state and local governments properly and legally assessed the transient rental business as commercial use, as defined in Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 59, section 2a, and we collected a 10 per cent rooms tax on all rentals of less than 90 days, residential property taxes could be cut in half and we probably could eliminate the CPA tax and the increase to the state sales tax. Tourists renting for $2,000, $10,000, $25,000, or even the Obamas’ $50,000-per-week rental do not pay rooms tax, avoid meals tax, and the owners of these accommodations do not even pay commercial valued property tax as required by state law.

The fact that the weekly rental, undoubtedly the largest part of the tourist accommodation business on the Cape and Islands, generates no taxes to pay for the cost of infrastructure demands created by the tourist industry is more absurd than ever when you look at our current economic situation. Instead we put an equal property tax burden on the elderly, the working class and the young people needed for a sustainable year-round economy. Consider that $5,000, or 10 per cent of a $50,000 one-week rental equals the annual property tax of two basic residential homes. Do you care if the property owner gets only $45,000 or the rental goes up to $55,000 for the week? I am sure neither party will suffer a loss of food on the table. Of course the broker gets 10 per cent of the action for doing the paperwork while those residents who are not beneficiaries of the tourist industry face ever-increasing taxes to pay the bills for the tourist industry’s infrastructure and the housing problems it creates. Go figure. It is about time the cause of the inflated value of resident housing and overdevelopment, with its costs and environmental issues, helped pay to correct the unsustainable situation it has created. It is time to demand real change lest we leave a legacy of land of the rich, home of the fool.

Tax rentals, not residents.

Donald N. Muckerheide

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am a senior Island resident who has lived with an extreme number of health challenges for years now and I would just like the community to know about the following people and all that they do for me.

I would like to thank Martha’s Vineyard Community Services for the wide range of services they have offered and provided to me — this comes with a special thank you to Jayne Beitman who has regularly listened and nourished my life with her guidance.

I would like to thank the Vineyard Nursing Association for their in-home compassionate care, for the Elder Services meals on wheels and for recently providing me with weekly homemaker services. This comes with a special thank you to visiting nurse Nicole Barlett.

A tremendous thank you is extended to Vineyard Health Care Access and Mary Leddy, who continues to work her way through an overwhelming amount of complicated health paperwork for me. There is no way I could do this on my own.

I want to thank the Oak Bluffs Council on Aging, their director Roger Wey and their very busy staff for the wide range of senior events and the services they so graciously provide — for fresh caught fish, bread and winter foods. I literally dream of being able to return again. In bed, most of the time my mind travels to their rooms and friendly faces.

Thank you also to the community and to our Island markets for the foods you have provided — to the Island Food Pantry and to the Food Surplus Program — to the many volunteers who faithfully keep these programs going, to even providing holiday meals to those of us who would otherwise not afford the smells of roasted turkey.

I extend a thank you to Emily Wetherall, previously of Community Services, who became my advocate in the midst of my struggles; to Dr. Tsikitas who saved my life by introducing procedures while waiting results from the CDC; to my now so par excellence Dr. Lamb and his staff who are always there for me.

And finally, the members of the Unitarian Universalist Society who live and breathe the action of equally caring for everyone in our community, in our country and in the world. Thank you for your calls, your notes and your help.

Life has been difficult for me since a month of an undiagnosed daily peak fever of between 103 to 105 — to months in hospitals, Brigham and Woman’s with 18 hours of operating on my heart and so very much more!

I had lived a life of long work days which included 30 years of discreetly and continuously giving and helping others.

The cost of maintaining and keeping up has been more than I can manage.

As the economy changes it is more important than ever that people reach out and help people who need it. Can you help me? Can you help someone else? To the best of our ability, our country needs our individual action.

Thank you for listening with your eyes.

Susan Johnson

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to the Vineyard Haven Public Library:

This summer, a five-week English language learners’ summer school (for public school students for whom English is a second language) was held at the Tisbury School. Sixteen ELL students from grades one through seven in five Island schools attended. A highlight of their program was their weekly visits to the Vineyard Haven Public Library, where they participated in a summer reading program under the direction of children’s librarian Kathy Stinson. Students had the opportunity to learn about the library, take out library cards, pick out, read and share books as well as to enjoy group read-aloud sessions. By the second week of August, every one of them was enthusiastic about the experience and excited about what they had read. All had plans to continue reading.

Thank you to Ms. Stinson and the Vineyard Haven Public Library for providing this invaluable service. Reading is a necessity in our world and opens the door to learning in so many ways. Love of reading is an incredible gift to offer to any child, and to these students who are learning everything in a second language, the ability to read in English is the key.

Deborah Hart

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Growing older is never easy, and this Island poses an additional set of problems to those who choose to age in place here on the Vineyard. Resources are limited, transportation is difficult, and often family members live off-Island or have busy lives here and cannot be around to help as much as they would like.

Vineyard Village at Home is seeking to contact the adult children of older Island residents who need help maintaining their homes and getting around the Island. Summer is a great time for families to get together for fun in the sun, but it is also a good time for adult children to sit down with their parents to discuss future plans. Living on the Island is not always easy, especially as one gets older and daily household activities become more burdensome. Transportation is also a huge problem for many people who do not drive at night any more or no longer drive at all.

Many adult children are now facing the challenge of how to feel secure that their older parents are safe and happy at home on the Vineyard without having to move off-Island. Vineyard Village at Home offers these families some help.

Vineyard Village at Home is a referral service that helps people aged 55 and over continue to live independently in their own homes. Volunteers provide our members with free rides, daily check-ins, light home maintenance, help with electronic devices, home safety checks, and assistance with grocery shopping. We can also put you in touch with pre-screened service providers, local health and social service agencies, and Island resources.

If you and your family would like to learn more about Vineyard Village at Home, please contact us at 508-693-3038 or or visit us at

Jane Hawkes

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In February I was invited to speak at the Federated Church parish house.

After my speech, several people were speaking to me when one lady asked if she could borrow my book entitled Truly Emily, as she wanted to copy about Emily’s garden and would return it.

Foolishly, I did not get her name and she hasn’t returned my book, which is one of my treasures. I hope this letter will jog her memory so she can return it to me.

Yvonne E. Sylvia



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I wanted to let you know what a great success the Friends of the West Tisbury Library book sale was this year. It was our best sale ever, raising over $21,000. Thanks to the indefatigable team of Lee Revere and Diana Manter, all the great volunteers who gave so generously of their time and everyone who gave us books and bought books. Thank you so much!

Beth Kramer

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Dear Mr. President,

In welcoming you back to the Vineyard and Chilmark, I thought you might smile at a quick glimpse at the very first public moments of your campaign in Chilmark, just three of us at Beetlebung Corner in an early winter morning “rush” hour.

Your staff is probably well aware, but just in case, here’s a quick idea: Paddy Moore, who ran your campaign on the Vineyard so well, lives only a few hundred yards from Blue Heron Farm. Wouldn’t it be great to have her over for a quiet, neighborly glass of ice tea? She was a tough, hard, conscientious campaigner (I was her deputy, in charge of Chilmark). Her phone number is 693-6716. Just a thought. Have a wonderful and relaxing week!

Tony Balis

Vineyard Haven