Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

As I sit at my kitchen table, working late, surrounded by quiet, darkened homes with sleeping residents, I am hearing popping sounds that are carrying on the wind from the not-so-distant distance for the second night in a row. If I didn’t know better, I would think that someone was shooting off fireworks. These are not the sounds of fireworks, but of firearms. It is hunting season on Martha’s Vineyard, and it is 12:39 a.m.

I’ve already called the sheriff’s office and reported it; an officer came to the door and stood in the freezing cold, clear night with me and listened for sounds, and then drove off in the direction of the old Edgartown dump to investigate. And since he drove away, I’ve heard at least 10 more shots.

Perhaps I would be less upset if I was already asleep, or if this were not the fourth night I’ve heard these sounds, or if I had not encountered three men in my back yard early last Monday morning in blaze orange hats and vests with shotguns over their shoulders, 10 feet from the edge of my property. My property is bordered by woods on one side, and a busy paved road on the other. When I reported the three hunters to the police on Monday and made a stop at the station, I reviewed the map of Edgartown on the station wall with the officer I spoke to and showed him that those woods are bordered on three sides by houses. I’m not a hunter, but I do believe that the law states that you must be 500 feet from a domicile and the hours of hunting are one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset. I was taught to tell time by the age of five . . . enough said.

This has been an unfortunate season for hunting here on the Vineyard with at least two shooting accidents, and a Chilmark house and an MVTA bus being hit since the start of shotgun season. Ironic that my comment to the officer last week during my visit to the police station was “Why don’t they just go hunt in the State Forest?” only to open the newspaper three days later and read about the unfortunate accident there.

I am not opposed to hunting. I am opposed to hunters who disregard the laws and go out wherever, whenever. They are probably the same hunters who dumped the deer carcass on the path in the woods that goes behind my house last year, yet another violation of hunting laws.

I hope the officer who went out into the cold night finds the offenders and that they are penalized appropriately and according to the laws that they have so blatantly ignored. I also hope that the residents of the Vineyard are aware of the liberties being taken by these same offenders, that the responsible hunting community will become concerned enough to govern their own loose cannons, and that stricter regulations are imposed for the community’s protection next season. And one more thing: in the time it’s taken to write this letter, another dozen shots have been fired.

Nicole Friedler



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The archery season for deer has ended on Martha’s Vineyard, and due to the changes in policy at Sheriff’s Meadow, bow hunters had access to two Sheriff’s Meadow properties this year. (Taking Aim at the Dangers of Deer, Friday, Oct. 23).

While Sheriff’s Meadow attempted to justify this change in policy due to a concern about Lyme disease and ticks, blaming deer is inaccurate. Increased hunting opportunities do not address Lyme disease threats in the most effective way. Reducing the number of deer in an area will not reduce the number of ticks or tick-borne diseases; it will only result in more ticks per deer. To reduce the number of tick-borne diseases, efforts should focus on reducing the number of nymph black-legged ticks, which usually feed on mice, small mammals and birds, not deer.

There are many ways to address tick-borne diseases. One is the use of a so-called four-poster device to treat deer with a chemical that kills ticks. Another option, at least in small areas such as back yards, is the use of tick tubes to treat mice with a chemical that kills ticks. Both of these devices kill a high proportion of ticks, addressing the problem at its source, since ticks transmit the disease to people — not deer or mice.

Deer populations are controlled by available food, rather than predation. It may seem counterintuitive, but killing some deer can increase the deer population because it decreases the competition for food. When female deer have more to eat, their reproductive capacity increases and they bear twins and triplets. The result, ironically, is a rebound in the deer population despite an attempt to reduce the population. This effect may be seen on the Sheriff’s Meadow properties if bow hunting is allowed to continue there.

Bow hunting has a very high wound rate. It is much harder for hunters to get a clean shot on a deer with a bow and arrow, increasing the possibility of injuring, but not killing, the animals. I hope that Sheriff’s Meadow will reconsider their decision to allow bow hunting on their properties in 2010 and will instead consider using four-poster devices to control black-legged ticks. No doubt Henry Beetle Hough would approve of such a policy.

The MSPCA recognizes the community’s concern about Lyme disease, but believes that the public deserves practical, effective solutions to tick-borne illnesses, not increased hunting opportunities that are touted as being in the public’s best interest. Reducing the deer herd is merely a Band-Aid solution that will do nothing to really address this issue. For more information contact the MSPCA at mspca.org/wildlife or e-mail advocacy@mspca.org.

Linda Huebner


The writer is deputy director of advocacy for the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School principal Steve Nixon and school committee chairman Susan Mercier.

I am writing to applaud Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School’s proposal to introduce driver’s education to their curriculum. This proposal would create a course, 60 class hours in length, aimed at promoting responsible driving habits and practices. Thirty of these hours would be in accordance with current Massachusetts Registry mandates, while the additional 30 will consist of simulation and computer training, as well as group projects integrating safety measures into the school system. The remaining 12 hours of physical driving time will be offered through the Vineyard Auto School after school hours.

As we have seen in recent months, teaching quality driving habits is necessary in ensuring safety on our roads, as drivers of all ages are vulnerable to accidents caused by carelessness and neglect. Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School has a tremendously positive proposal here, and I wholeheartedly support their initiative if it is feasible under the current fiscal restraints.

If I can be of any further assistance on this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me personally.

Rep. Timothy R. Madden



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

A recent story in the Boston Herald began: “Blazing a trail for renewable energy, Gov. Deval Patrick is alienating Martha’s Vineyard’s liberal rich and famous by pushing a plan to lease state waters for 166 450-foot-high wind turbines between the pristine vacation spots of Gay Head cliffs and Cuttyhunk Island.”

While the rest of the article reported facts, the harm had been done. We Vineyarders with our extensive diversity had been collectively categorized as “liberal, rich and famous” and our unified and collective opposition to an incomplete state plan dismissed by Secretary Bowles as “tilting at windmills” like Don Quixote.

Tuesday’s morning’s Herald reported that “Gov. Deval Patrick yesterday brushed off criticism of his proposal to plant 166 massive wind turbines off the coast of toney Martha’s Vineyard, even as he sought to reassure the wealthy enclave’s enraged residents he’s not spoiling for a fight.”

The Herald continued, “The Vineyard is a playground of celebrities, powerbrokers and presidents, hosting the Obamas last summer and the Clintons during the 90s.”

The article concluded: “Yesterday, Patrick charted a cautious course to avoid offending Martha’s Vineyard’s liberal rich and famous, who’ve backed Patrick politically in the past.”

“Nothing is going to be rammed down anyone’s throat,” Patrick said.

A Patrick spokesman, Robert Keough, said the Martha’s Vineyard Commission, a planning agency, still could reject the turbines.

Still, as Islanders complain their ocean vistas will be ruined, Patrick argued that the “area is already called a ‘no-man zone’ for a reason,” and that it used to be used by the military for target practice.

A quick reading of the online comments to both articles discloses that words such as toney, rich, liberal playground of the rich and famous etc. have unleashed a torrent of hostility toward some imagined effete, sherry-sipping whiners who are complaining in Nimby fashion about their views.

Nonetheless, stubborn and apparently inconvenient facts remain:

The state issued a draft plan that placed an enormous wind factory off Noman’s Land and Cuttyhunk as its only wind factory.

The Vineyard, speaking with one voice — its commissioners, its selectmen and over 600 Vineyarders acting through Let Vineyarders Decide, together with our state representatives — obtained from Secretary Ian Bowles agreement that relative to commercial wind factories to be proposed pursuant to the Oceans Act, the Martha’s Vineyard Commission would be the final decider of applications for proposals off Noman’s Land with appeals going to a court, not to a politically-appointed siting board.

It was further agreed by Secretary Bowles to consider the economic impact of the change to the vistas affected, as well as to consider bird data and the impact of the proposed plan on the Vineyard’s fish and fisheries.

So why aren’t we grateful? Because notwithstanding what has been agreed to (but not yet finalized), the Vineyard remains in the same peril by the state’s continued proposal to develop a 66-turbine wind factory at Cuttyhunk.

For all the reasons it was a bad idea at Noman’s Land it is a bad idea at Cuttyhunk, with several additional reasons relating to Cuttyhunk’s cultural and historic uses of the waters. We want the state’s plan to treat the waters off Gosnold in the same manner as it treats the waters of Noman’s Land, respectful of MVC’s historic jurisdiction, with appeals to the courts.

Instead of responding to these concerns, Secretary Bowles is quoted as saying we are tilting at windmills and the governor wonders how we could be so exercised about an area that was once used for target practice, notwithstanding that it is now a federally designated wildlife sanctuary and was never called a no-man zone.

What do we have to do to get their attention on the merits?

By continued vigorous attention. By not being cowed or deterred by ignorant primitive vitriolic personal attacks.

By repeating the facts over and over again — the litany of oft-expressed concerns: the Vineyard and Gosnold (including Cuttyhunk) have been planned by the state to be the sole hosts of a world-sized industrial wind turbine facility that disregards the ecologic and economic costs and other detriments to the cultures of the various peoples who live here, birds, fish and fisheries, navigation and Island life generally.

Let Vineyarders Decide renews its call to allow Vineyarders (with others, of course) to make development decisions that have dramatic impact on the Vineyard.

Further, any plan must be responsive and responsible regarding the waters that surround us and all that depend on them for sustenance.

If you agree with the foregoing, please exert your best personal effort to get at least one other Vineyard lover to join Let Vineyarders Decide.

LVD continues to fight the good fight — adding new members greatly helps the cause.

Andy Goldman



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I simply can’t understand why this issue keeps going around and around without ever being resolved. It’s amazing how many people live here and just don’t read the paper, or get involved with what’s happening here. Then when it does catch their attention they are upset about it and form opinions without prior research!

I have been following this issue since 2005, when my fiancee and I first came to the Aquinnah selectmen and planning board with a new (at the time) concept called Distributed Antenna Service (DAS). It was in response to the legal battles over the proposed building of a cell tower in the Aquinnah church — which happens to be a historical site — the oldest Baptist church in North America. They, being ill-informed, had no idea of the ramifications of such a project at the time and were in favor of it, because of the projected income. Then, at about the same time, a proposal was entered for a cell tower to be built at the Aquinnah landfill. Since we live next door to that property, we naturally were opposed to that. Cell towers are not only ugly, but they are also dangerously outmoded. They emit more health-hazardous RFs than the DAS. We don’t want to be unhealthy, but the FCC says we can’t even use health as a valid concern. (Do the research.) We personally don’t use cell phones, but we wouldn’t not want others to use them if they have to or want to. For fire, police and medical personnel, it is a good idea. It might save a life, maybe your life some day.

So after some rather fast but extensive research, we discovered that Nantucket had had a similar problem that was solved by planning board amendments, and a swiftly built DAS project by American Tower Corporation (ATC). Alex Gamoda was the top man on the gig. He later claimed that ATC made their name and fame by being one of the first to build such a system. After all, Nantucket is a famous place.

We had it in mind to simply do what Nantucket did. But simply and Vineyard are oxymorons. Especially when the straight facts are just not understood. There have been numerous meetings to explain it all, questions and answers, and charts and facts. All the planning has been done already, the negotiations mostly in place. We have an interested cellular service provider, which was the last piece of the puzzle we needed.

At this point, every article about DAS has begun to sound redundant. There’s simply nothing new to say except who’s being stupid now? All towns were originally in agreement, so why now the confusion and division? Are we just stalling? Why?

This article lays out the straight facts — to sum them up in one easy to understand statement: There will be cell service up-Island; you can choose either cell towers that are 150 feet in height and emitting 250 watts of unregulated RFs, or the DAS nodes that are each 12 inches taller than a telephone pole and emitting only 20 watts of regulated RFs (a much safer alternative). Okay, do the math — all the proposed cell towers in each town do indeed emit more RFs than the proposed DAS nodes in each town. And if you fail to choose, a decision will be made for you by ATC — it will choose cell towers due to the fact that they are simply easier and cheaper to build (one can be easily installed in one day).

It’s up to us, Aquinnah, Chilmark and West Tisbury. Stop acting stupid and do the right thing. And do it now.

Lauri Bradway,



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

A recent newsletter from the Martha’s Vineyard Donors Collaborative appropriately honored our long-term friend and supporter Tony Meyer, who died in July. Tony was as generous in his death as he was during his lifetime, leaving the Martha’s Vineyard Boys’ and Girls’ club over $600,000. He restricted the use of the funds to the creation of an endowment fund to be used in case of emergency and for the creation of a junior golf program. The committee for the golf fund includes representatives of all our Island golf clubs, who will soon be making recommendations for scholarships for present and past boys’ and girls’ club members who may be pursuing a profession in golf or golf-related activities such as golf course design, teaching, or management. The fund will also be used to finance golf programs for current club members. It was Tony’s hope that others would follow his example and contribute to the endowment fund which is being created after the club has gone without for its 70-year history.

The club, like all nonprofits, expects its contributions will be less this year than in prior years. Already we have been advised by the commonwealth that it will cut in half its annual contribution to the club by at least $30,000. Although our annual expenses continuously increase, we continue to charge our members only $20 a year for the after school program we provide (with no extra charge for hired bus transportation that gets them to the club). With this in mind, if anyone thinks the club does not need the annual contributions that we are in the midst of soliciting, they would be mistaken.

We wish you and your families a joyous holiday season and ask you to open up your hearts and pocketbooks to the club so that we can continue to serve our Island children for the next 70 years. Tony is counting on you.

Joseph D. Forte, President



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

There was an article in last Sunday’s New York Times about people who were foregoing holiday excess and giving the money to charity instead. It featured a Web site, WhatIDidNotBuy.org, where you can enter the item you’re not going to buy, and its price, and the site tells you what that money will do if you donate it to them (e.g. $40 could train a birth attendant in Africa and help increase survival rates).

Our Web site can’t do that, but at mvdonors.org we do have a wish list of items that Vineyard charitable organizations really need to continue providing the services they offer our community. It’s an eclectic list — everything from a brain fitness program for Windemere to a chain saw for the Polly Hill Arboretum to a new sound system for the PA Club. So instead of spending money on something you or someone else might not really want or need, why not check out the list and give a gift that will do something important for the Island. Then send your friend or relative a gift card telling them what you did and maybe they will be inspired to do something for the Vineyard too.

Happy Holidays!

Peter Temple


The writer is the executive director of the Martha’s Vineyard Donors Collaborative.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am once again disappointed in the Gazette. I wrote a letter to you last year about this time noting your blatant pro-Obama slant. Your liberal bias was very evident this summer, increasing to a fever pitch when your hero arrived on Island. Some dreams do come true.

I read with interest in the Nov. 20 edition of the Gazette an interesting article about four candidates running for “The Lion’s Throne.” That headline says a lot about Massachusetts politics and many congressmen (and their supporters) who are hooked on power and feel entitled to their seats.

The story rumbles along for 27 paragraphs, describing the four Democratic candidates and comments from local residents. Not once did the story mention the Republican candidates or thoughts from their supporters. Why not? Does one have to be a Democrat to merit a story? Could it be there are no conservatives on the Island? Is the editorial board choosing to ignore non-liberal points of view?

While we live in the age of Obomunism, there are thoughtful people who care about the environment, pay taxes, love their country and who do not support the policies of the current administration. Many who voted for President Obama are disappointed with his leadership and polls indicate that his support is dropping weekly, now south of 50 per cent.

I encourage your paper to practice journalism and get both sides of stories you chose to cover. Indeed, isn’t that your job? Big media is clearly in the tank for the Democrats so we count on local media outlets more and more to give us the facts and let us decide. If you lose that trust, you can bet your readership will rapidly decline.

Peter B. Robb



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On Saturday evening the fire truck pulled up in front of our house. A little worried, I went to the door to find two firemen with smiles on their faces, wishing us a merry Christmas.

What a lovely surprise when they handed us a decorated Christmas bag filled with goodies (a rechargeable flashlight, file of life information, clementines and candy).

A big thank you to the Edgartown Firemen’s Association.

Only on Martha’s Vineyard would this happen; what a wonderful place to live. We appreciate our fire department.

Connie and George Cowan


The Vineyard Gazette welcomes letters to the editor on any subject concerning Martha’s Vineyard. The newspaper strives to publish all letters as space allows, although the editor reserves the right to reject letters that in her judgment are inappropriate. Letters must be signed, and should include a place of residence and contact telephone number. The Gazette does not publish anonymous letters.