Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On the last day of President Obama’s first year in office, the voters of Massachusetts have the opportunity to elect our first female senator. Attorney General Martha Coakley is the Democratic candidate to complete the term of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy and continue his ideals.

We understand that special elections often seem dull and voters may be apathetic and uninterested in going to the polls. But this year, and this election, things are different. It is imperative that we get out the vote. Final passage of the health reform bill is at stake.

It is gratifying to note that while only 15 per cent of Massachusetts Democrats voted on primary day last Dec. 8, on the Island, 30 per cent of eligible Democrats went to the polls to vote. Ms. Coakley has strong ties to our Island, having spent nearly two years here during the seventies and having been an annual summer visitor over the past 30 years.

As chairman of the Martha’s Vineyard Democrats, I urge all voters — and particularly those between 18 and 35 years of age — to cast ballots in this election. The easiest way to feel the power of democracy and get involved in the political process is to exercise your right to vote freely at the ballot box. We urge you to make your vote count on Tuesday, Jan. 19.

Mas Kimball

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In response to the letter titled Morning Glory Store‚ printed in the Jan. 8 issue of the Gazette, I have yet to come across a farm stand that sells only their own products. As someone who purchases from Morning Glory Farm, I am fully aware of many items on the shelves that are trucked in. Do I, as a consumer prefer to purchase only fresh produce from the farm? Yes. However, there are only certain times of the year when their vegetables and fruits are ready to be harvested. When those items are on the shelves, they are delicious and I feel privileged to be able to purchase and eat them fresh. When their products are not ready, or, they don’t grow them, then thank goodness, as part of good customer relations, they truck in from the outside. We as consumers would choose not to have to stop at Morning Glory Farm, purchase just what we need and what they grow and then have to go to another retailer to purchase some other items and then possibly go to yet another retailer to purchase the balance of what is on our shopping list.

When I go to Morning Glory Farm, I can purchase from their bakery, can purchase fruit and vegetables — generally not their own but of better quality. The corn comes from elsewhere until their corn is ready and we all salivate for that wonderful fresh corn that is generally picked a short distance from the store. We appreciate that corn trucked in is available as a convenience to us. They sell wonderful cheddar cheese — we all know that they do not make cheese. However, many of us treat our families to a wedge of this cheese as it is far superior to many other similar cheeses that we can purchase on Island.

Ed Klien of Edgartown says that they “plowed under perfectly fine produce rather than donating it.” I don’t understand the farming business but I do know that Morning Glory donates vegetables to Camp Jabberwocky in July and August and I do believe to other nonprofit organizations on the Island.

I believe that Mr. Athearn performs a great service to the Island.

Joyce Brigish

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

It appears that the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar is leaning toward permitting the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound. This is a sign that he must not realize what a public safety nightmare it will turn out to be and why it has been delayed for nine years. This is not about views. It is about the threat of turbines as long as football fields spinning out of control in a highly populated area. It is not unknown for a turbine blade to fly off the base. The first major American wind power project should be located in an environment that has minimal human traffic. This is not; Nantucket Sound is a major water and airway for ships, ferries, planes and boats transporting millions of people each year. It should be cost effective; this is not, forcing home owners to pay untold increases in electric bills. It should respect the existence of established industries. This does not; Horseshoe Shoal is one of the finest commercial fishing sites on the East Coast. It should be built in waters that are rightfully leased or owned. This is not; Cape Wind has grabbed the land by pre-empting and circumventing the regulation of federal waters. It should be built in uncontested waters. This is not; the Wampanoag tribe has historic claims to the land under the waters of Horseshoe Shoal.

Cape Wind is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Dressed up as “green,” in truth, it is just one more example of dangerous industrialization in an overpopulated area. For the first major wind power project in the nation we deserve one that can be upheld as a fine example to the rest of the world. Cape Wind is not that one.

Barbara Israel



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

What kind of cars did they make 6,000 years ago?

I sent this simple question to my local newspaper, the Nashua Telegraph, in a letter to the editor after reading the article in the Gazette by Mike Seccombe (Nov. 13, 2009) relating the story of the Wampanoag Indians living on dry land under what is now Nantucket Sound until global warming caused the water to rise and flood the area about 6,000 years ago.

Legend and scientific facts including finding Indian artifacts have confirmed that Nantucket Sound warrants the designation of historic land and may be instrumental in keeping the windmills out of the Sound.

Whether in a full-blown luxury yacht or a modest sailboat, visitors do not travel to Cape waters to look at hideous metal windmills. Natives, summer people and vacationers deserve a shot at seeing natural beauty after long, hard New England winters. Destroying the aesthetics of the beautiful Cape and Islands to preserve the environment hardly makes sense. If you want to see ugly, go to Newburyport where a metal monster presides over the railroad yard, casting shadows and sitting there doing nothing as the blades do not move when the wind exceeds 35 mph. It is said that constant maintenance is required and even then, the blades sometime take off, flying through the air.

Thanks to the Wampanoags and their legend about Moshup, Nantucket Sound may be spared being uglified.

To read the 104 replies in the comment section following my letter to the editor, Google “Lucille Lapinskas cars 6,000 years ago.”

Lucille Lapinskas

Nashua, N.H.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Last week’s article in the Vineyard Gazette regarding the Island Housing Trust’s request to amend the West Tisbury planning board’s special permit conditions for the 250 State Road project contains certain statements that are inaccurate. The trust’s requested language would provide consistency between the project’s special permit conditions and the trust’s Fannie Mae approved ground lease form (as well as the town of West Tisbury’s own affordable housing covenant), which provides banks the right to sell an affordable house without restrictions at foreclosure.

Our local banks have always been required to follow certain federal mortgage underwriting standards and practices that enable them to offer conventional mortgage financing to income qualified home buyers purchasing trust homes. These measures protect the bank’s investment and provide home buyers with competitive mortgage financing options.

The trust’s ground lease model, used over the past five years in four Island towns involving 30 properties, ensures that the affordable housing we create and invest in today is affordable for future generations. Many layers of protection are built into the ground lease to ensure the trust’s right to purchase any trust home that goes into foreclosure. These rights and protections held by the trust are agreed to in writing by the mortgage lender and the buyer in a recorded permitted mortgage agreement.

Most importantly, the trust maintains an ongoing relationship with homeowners through a nominal ground lease fee. In this way, the trust has an opportunity to work with homeowners and prevent a foreclosure from ever happening. Copies of the trust’s Fannie Mae approved ground lease form as well as other information about the trust can be found at the Island Housing Trust Web site,, or on its Facebook page.

Philippe Jordi

West Tisbury

The writer is executive director of the Island Housing Trust.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In 1963 John Tobey Daggett, my father, wrote a book entitled It Began With a Whale — Memories of Cedar Tree Neck, Martha’s Vineyard. This book describes the author’s childhood, and that of his sister and brother, Emma and Robert, at Cedar Tree Neck. He also describes the activities of his parents, Obed and Maria Daggett, from 1880 until 1919 as they made their living farming and trap fishing. (The first printing of this story was in the Vineyard Gazette issues of May 4 and June 29, 1962.)

The book also contains much information about the Lambert’s Cove Methodist Church where the Daggett family had been members for many years. The author describes on page 26, for example, the importance of this church in the life of his family when his grandfather, Rev. Theophilus B. Gurney, became pastor of the church. He also devotes a chapter, Our Church-Centered Life, pages 72-77, to a detailed description of the church’s various ministers, some of its members, and the church service itself. He further relates that his grandfather was the pastor from 1876 to 1877. It was during this pastorate that Reverend Gurney built a lectern (pulpit) from wood that he brought with him from Rome, Ga., upon his reassignment to the Lambert’s Cove Church. In 1878 Reverend Gurney was assigned to the Methodist Church at Marion, but before leaving the Vineyard, he presented his lectern to the Lambert’s Cove Church. This lectern remained in use at the church from 1878 until 1997 when the church was “. . . relieved of service” as a house of worship by the New England Conference because it “. . . no longer served the purpose for which it was organized and incorporated.” (In other words, there were too few members to support the church.)

A few years ago I was able to locate this lectern, made by my great-grandfather, and it is now on loan from the Daggett family to the Old Whaling Church, Edgartown, which is owned by the Martha’s Vineyard Preservation Trust.

John T. Daggett Jr.

Keswick, Va.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Much of the news is depressing or frightening these days, so I thought I would report an uplifting experience. My eldest daughter goes to a public high school in Connecticut where major areas of focus are on marine biology and aquaculture. The kids also learn how to maintain and operate boats, read charts and navigate. One of the extracurricular activities is fishing. The school is located in an urban area and most of the kids have never been on a boat or tried to land a bluefish or striper. Given these trying economic times, there is not a huge amount of funding and the club has a difficult time maintaining a supply of tackle. It is pretty easy for a novice fisherman to go through gear, especially when there are a lot of bluefish around.

I mentioned this “fishing club” to a Vineyarder I had recently met through the miracles of the Internet. Several weeks later a heavy parcel arrived filled with dozens of lures and tackle of all shapes and sizes. The person would not accept payment for the gear or for shipping, which had to be considerable given the amount goodies sent. This wonderful donation will enable a large group of mostly inner city boys and girls to enjoy nature, learn about conservation and master a sport they can engage in for the rest of their lives. It will keep them out of trouble and away from their ubiquitous electronic gadgetry, at least for a little while.

There are good people quietly doing great things all around us, often without any recognition. Thanks Hilda!

Aram Berberian

New Haven, Conn.,

and Menemsha


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

For eighth graders and their families thinking about high school for next year, the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School will be hosting a series of Wednesday morning tours for visitors in January and February from 9 to 9:45 a.m., and will hold a high school enrollment open house on Wednesday, March 10, at 6:30 p.m.

Our public high school is small in numbers (40 to 45 students) and comprehensive in preparing students for college and the work place.

Recent graduates have gone on to attend schools such as Rice University, Sarah Lawrence College, Hampshire College and University of Massachusetts at Amherst; 80 per cent of our 2010 class will be attending four-year colleges in September of 2010. This class includes one Boston Globe Scholastic Art and Writing Award recipient and four Abigail Adams Scholarship award winners.

We offer a public high school option to Island families and students that is focused on honors level coursework requiring a high level of responsibility, sophisticated study skills and consistently high quality work.

What makes our high school unique?

Small, seminar-style classes insure that each student’s education is personally tailored. No student slips through the cracks.

Off-campus mentorships meet weekly within the school day for every student to learn apprentice-style from interesting professionals in our Island community.

Community activities expose students to the importance of service.

The four portfolios our students complete during their four years of high school are large bodies of work representing broad learning and independent research. Students are encouraged to follow their interests through deep and reflective learning.

If this sounds interesting to you, please register for our Wednesday morning tours in January and February by calling the school at 508-693-9900. The tour includes visits to our classrooms and a question and answer session with Claudia Ewing, assistant director, and myself. Feel free to call the school if you have any questions.

Robert Moore

West Tisbury

The writer is director of the Martha’s Vineyard Public Charter School.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I would like to respond to the recent notice in the Help Wanted section of the Martha’s Vineyard Times about the boys’ junior varsity lacrosse coach position. First and foremost, I did not quit. I told the administration that I wanted to be JV coach for 2010. As soon as the notice came out, I called the superintendent’s office to remind them again that I wanted the position.

There is no way that I would quit a job that I love doing. The players, coaches and parents made my job a pleasure. Throughout the season I felt welcomed and appreciated. The players gave 110 per cent, both in practice and in games. This was a coach’s dream. Therefore, of course I want to be coach again. Wish me luck!

Steve Yeomans



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

In my youth, when television came on the scene, my late mother (who was an English teacher and something of a linguistic purist) would not allow a TV set in the house, listening only to selected radio programs on the BBC Home Service. Among these was Letter from America‚ a half-hour broadcast by Alistair Cooke.

Mr. Cooke was born in the UK but had moved to the U.S., and spoke with a gentle accent situated about halfway between the two countries. His weekly broadcasts, beginning with a polite “Good evening‚“ would be intelligent, observant and witty stories about what was happening where he lived — local and national — and invariably, in the manner of a fine essay, would stroll through a number of subjects, winding back to where they had started, and concluding with a warm “Good Night.”

I cannot emulate Mr. Cooke’s skill and style, but as Paulette and I are in the UK for some four weeks this is in homage to the late Alistair Cooke, part one of a letter from the UK.

The west country in England, the counties of Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Devon, have fertile soil and a mild climate, and have been farmed since the shift from hunter-gatherer first emerged from the Fertile Crescent (the cradle of civilization between the Tigris and Euphrates, now thick with the blood and ruin of our war). The land is thickly layered with the shades of previous occupants and mythic figures and ancient rituals are part of everyday life. Here the chalk basin which cradles London and the Southeast and defiantly faces France as the White Cliffs of Dover, comes to the surface as rolling grass covered hills, and is exposed by Stone Age artists as a scattered herd of huge white horses and other figures. Here is Glastonbury of the Holy Chalice and the legendary King Arthur.

Here stand the astronomical calculator of Stonehenge and its predecessors and the huge circle at Avebury along with ancient forts and burial mounds. Stonehenge is still the site of winter and summer solstice celebrations within the circle of stones, but we lack Druidic qualifications and in any event by the time of the solstice were in Penzance, at the foot of Cornwall.

Cornwall is the southwest extremity of England, with a long coastline of rocky cliffs etched by steep valleys. A few thousand years ago Anglo-Saxon invasions from mainland Europe drove the Celtic population north, west and south, to Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Cornwall. While Gaelic, Irish and Welsh languages live on, the old Cornish Celtic language died maybe 200 years ago, but the names on the map could be of Welsh towns, and the spirit has the otherworldly touch of Celtic strangeness.

So Penzance, Cornwall, was an appropriate place to be on solstice night, when the sun is at its lowest point and the shortest day of the year rapidly draws to a close. Upstairs at the Dock Inn, with the harbor just across from a small paved square, and an ancient castle lurking on the skyline, was the ideal place to be in Penzance. Well fed, with a pint of Betty Brock (the finest ale in the land) working its subtle magic, we were drawn to the window by a cacophony of sound outside, which came from a masked and costumed gathering with drums, rattles and other instruments, celebrating the solstice. Leading this congregation was the Green Man — a figure with equivalents around the world wherever crops die and are harvested in the fall and rise again from seed in the spring — a symbol of the cycle of death and rebirth. Here was a ritual as old as agriculture celebrating the cycle of death (harvest) and renewal (planting and new growth) still with force and relevance in the age of the virtual community of Facebook and instant global contact.

We as people of the Island, of Massachusetts, of the USA and of the world have within our collective memory and our genes all the history and ritual of the past behind our modern knowledge and skills. It will benefit us well to remember this and temper our responses to the difficulties of today with the wisdom of yesterday.

From Penzance, Cornwall, good night.

Nick Mosey

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

We are very grateful to all who helped make a success of Martha’s Vineyard’s first year of gleaning (the harvest of food that would otherwise go to waste.)

We gleaned piles of produce that we were able to donate to the Island school lunch programs, and what the schools did not need went to elderly housing, Island senior centers, and to the jail. All the recipients were very glad to get such good fresh local food.

Most important to our program this year was the incomparably generous Morning Glory Farm, with special thanks to Cheryl and Simon. Morning Glory donated thousands of pounds of lettuce, eggplant, corn, potatoes, tomatillos and peppers to our program this fall.

We are also grateful to the teachers who wangled permission to get their students into the fields to help glean, and to the students who impressed everybody.

Private landowners and their caretakers contributed 250 pounds of apples from their trees for the delightful cider pressings held in several schools.

Volunteers picked, sorted, washed, bagged, transported and tabulated each harvest.

Organizations contributing money or expertise to the program were Island Grown Initiative, the Sowing Circle and the Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation.

It takes a community to make programs like this work. Be sure it is much appreciated. (And it was fun.)

Rebecca Gilbert



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The new year brought great sadness and grief to our family. My mother, Claire T. Coggins, died in the early hours of 2010 at Windemere Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

This news, while bringing our family much sadness, also brought great reflection on the beautiful life my mother had as the centerpiece of our family for many, many years. We were very blessed to have her in our lives for a very long time, but also doubly blessed that she was able to be with us on the Island for almost the last two years at Windemere.

Being able to see her on a regular basis was a source of great comfort to us, but also more importantly to my mother. The fact that we have such a facility as Windemere on the Island is an incredible blessing for those of us with aging loved ones. As a firsthand observer of life in Windemere, we should be very proud of the facility and even more of all the many wonderful people who work there. Their devoted care and their attention to each person’s dignity even in failing health has to be experienced to be explained. Just to see the daily lives of these wonderful people as they are fed, cared for and entertained by the devoted staff is inspirational.

There are just too many people to name without leaving someone out, so to Debbie Ben David and the rest of the staff, our family will be forever grateful for your tender loving care of our mother and all the other guests you have.

To fellow Islanders, I suggest visits to Windemere, whether to volunteer, for visiting, entertaining or just going to support the people there. In this era of budget cuts and the impersonal trends of Internet, texting and other non-person-to-person interaction, this vital facility’s survival is dependant on support from Island people.

As a lifelong Islander, I feel confident that the many caring and thoughtful people on the Vineyard will rise to the occasion.

William and Emily Coggins

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

With heartfelt gratitude, I want to say thank you to the person who returned my wallet which I left in the shopping cart at Edgartown Stop and Shop on Monday, Jan. 11 in the early evening. I contacted the store early the next morning and sure enough, thanks to you, they had my wallet with everything in its place. Your honesty is commendable.

June Thompson