Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am the rector of the Grace Episcopal Church. Sometime during the evening of Tuesday, Feb. 9, an original one-of-a-kind watercolor painting of Grace Church that was done shortly after the new education wing was completed, was taken from the church. This is the second major theft in less than four months from Grace and has left me deeply saddened, as well as somewhat frustrated and angry. While the painting itself is probably not worth a great deal monetarily, it is of tremendous emotional and spiritual worth to the members of the parish, as it was created and crafted with love and gratitude by a now deceased former parishioner.

I cannot fathom why someone would steal a painting from the church. Nor can I understand the theft this past fall of tables and bookshelves from our preschool, or the recent thefts from Good Shepherd Roman Catholic parish in Oak Bluffs or the Federated Church in Edgartown. The people of the faith communities of this Island work very hard year-round to try to make life a little easier for all of the residents of this Island, regardless of their religious affiliation, or lack of one. Actions like this cut us to the very heart.

While it is tempting to just lock the doors at night and tell our friends with the various 12-step groups and other organizations that they will have to find other space to use, we will not do this. Apparently what we will have to do is to be more vigilant and a little more diligent about locking our doors when the buildings are unoccupied. This is sad as our energies are much better utilized elsewhere.

But as my music director Wes Nagy wrote to me when I informed the congregation of the theft via e-mail:

“This really makes me reflect on how this Island has been changing in the last decade. Lisa and I never took the keys out of our cars, or locked our homes. This has obviously had to change as we ourselves have been victims of theft in the past years, most notably in our rental home. I, however, refuse to believe it is the local residents and Islanders that are to blame, and to let a few bad apples spoil it for the rest of us, is not going to alter my opinion about this Island. With the desperation created by our failing economy, some individuals look for an easy way out to make ends meet (although what the heck are they going to do with a watercolor of the church?) Anyhow, please make sure my love of this Island and its residents will not diminish, and that I hope it doesn’t diminish yours!”

While my faith in some people might be a bit shaken, I can honestly say that “No, Wes, my love for the Island and its residents is not diminished.” I am also hopeful that as we enter the season of Lent next week, that whoever took the painting will repent and return it to the Church . . . or that perhaps someone in the community might see it and recognize it and let us know of its whereabouts so that we can reclaim it.

Rev. Robert Hensley

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar.

I can’t think of even one positive thing that could come out of building a wind power plant in Nantucket Sound.

The shoaling caused by building these structures would change the shores of the Cape and Islands, changing the natural habitat for a myriad of plants and animals.

The reason the Cape Cod and the Martha’s Vineyard Commissions were put into place was because these areas are fragile and unique to the world. I hope you and your office will not ignore the thoughts, concerns and knowledge that they offer. Cape Wind, if you approve it, will be a huge burden on our fragile environment. You will be sacrificing something very precious for a bit of electricity that could easily be saved by reducing our use a little bit. Please do not be responsible for this great destruction of our home.

Suzanna Nickerson




Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The following letter was sent to Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar.

My name is Captain Buddy Vanderhoop and I am a member of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah). I speak for my tribe when I state that we are unequivocally against the Cape Wind offshore wind farm as proposed at Horseshoe Shoal in Nantucket Sound. We are certainly not against wind power or other alternative energy projects; we are very much for new “green” technologies. We are just against putting 130 440-foot wind generators over a 25-square-mile industrial plant-size area of Horseshoe Shoal. If not just for environmental reasons, we are opposed to this location for deep cultural and spiritual reasons that span centuries of our culture and beliefs.

The Wampanoags are the People of the First Light and our culture dates back to prehistoric times here in New England. People of the First Light refers to our reverential connection with the sunlight over the water to the east (where Horseshoe Shoal is). We are a federally recognized tribe and maintaining and protecting tribal cultural resources is a top priority of our tribe. For centuries we have considered our surrounding waters sacred territory and we hold ceremonial sunrise events that face the eastern shore (overlooking Horseshoe Shoal). We would consider this industrial complex in this hallowed area of Nantucket Sound an abomination of our tribal rights. It would mar our sacred waters and disturb ancestral grounds that lie on Nantucket Sound’s seabed. It would constitute in effect a broken commitment on behalf of the federal government regarding our treaty rights.

As President Obama has stated: “My Indian policy starts with honoring the unique government-to-government relationship between tribes and the federal government and ensuring that our treaty obligations are met and ensuring that Native Americans have a voice in the White House. Indian Nations have never asked much of the United States, only for what was promised by the treaty obligations made by their forebears. So let me be clear: I believe that treaty commitments are paramount law, and I’ll fulfill those commitments as president of the United States.”

So if he meant what was promised we want not only to be heard, but we want our treaty commitments held up as paramount law. In addition, we feel that Nantucket Sound should be listed on the National Register of Historic Places, giving it the protection that it so warrants.

There are just so many negative impacts this project, as proposed, would have, not only on our tribe, but for everyone. First off, the noise and disturbance from the wind farm during construction, operation and maintenance would result in damage to or loss of habitat, changes in species behavior, species mortality and overall changes in the Sound’s ecology and water quality. The lengthy and destructive construction process would include dredging, jet plowing and pile driving which would threaten all forms of benthic, marine and avian species in the area. I am a commercial fishermen and fishing charter captain on Martha’s Vineyard and am particularly concerned with the impact such a project would have on the local fisheries and local fishermen. The area is a designated essential fish habitat. It is also a traditional and lucrative fishing ground where many local fishermen earn the majority of their annual income. Navigation of mobile fishing gear between the 130 towers would be hazardous, if not impossible, and would displace commercial fishing from Nantucket Sound. In addition the plant’s 10-story electrical service platform would hold 40,000 gallons of hazardous oil in the middle of the 130-turbine complex. It could very well be a disastrous oil spill waiting to happen in the midst of some of the most prime fishing grounds on the East Coast. Not to mention the impact something like that would have on tourism, public safety, endangered species, etc.

Despite some of the propaganda out there, the majority of Cape and Islands residents oppose the Cape Wind project as proposed on Horseshoe Shoal. However, as I am sure you know, a compromise has been proposed that would move the wind farm to an alternate site in close proximity to the disputed location. This proposed site south of Tuckernuck Island provides the developer with a strong economically viable location, a much better site that we feel respects the concerns of local residents and our tribe. So to emphasize, we are not just being difficult, not certainly just putting up roadblocks at any cost to the idea of wind power technology here in our local waters — we are willing to compromise. Let our tribe state that emphatically. We just feel that Horseshoe Shoal is not the place for such a massive project on so many levels.

There also should be a serious discussion about a land-based wind farm complex location as well. One possible viable location as we see it would be Otis Air Force base on the Cape. Also I feel that we the public need to know more about the actual costs associated with a Cape Wind project, regardless of site location. We need some real transparency regarding the reality of the effect on the ratepayer and if there actually will be a viable benefit locally. One last point: we also need to seriously consider other alternative, green technologies and policies that would bring our energy costs down, reduce our carbon footprint and have the least effect on the local environment.

On behalf of myself and my tribe, I thank you for your time and consideration regarding our position on this critical issue. The Horseshoe Shoal area of Nantucket Sound is a local treasure and needs to be preserved for generations to come. To quote an ancient Native American saying: “Treat the earth well. It was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children. We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.”

Capt. Buddy Vanderhoop


CHANNEL FIVE CORRECTION Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Two weeks ago, the Boston — WCVB News 5 ran an article detailing how schools across the commonwealth have created few if any jobs with the federal stimulus money and calling into question how these funds were used by several school districts. Specifically, the Edgartown School was cited for spending $13,000 on window cleaning. It is truly a shame that these crack investigative reporters didn’t really investigate the story or at least verify the facts.

The funds in question are part of a $47,916 grant to the Edgartown school district from the commonwealth, called state stabilization funds, made in the last quarter of the 2008-2009 school year to offset funds cut from the commonwealth’s own Chapter 70 aid to local schools. These monies were used to cover regular expenses in the last quarter of the year as instructed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Basically, the commonwealth used the stimulus money to cover a shortfall in its budget. In Edgartown, funds were used to pay for supplies, repairs to the building, student transportation and utilities bills. The $13,000 in question was a quarterly payment to a contractor — Sparkle Window Cleaning — which provides some custodial services at the school like sweeping floors, cleaning bathrooms and yes, cleaning windows. Basically, the school used these funds as suggested by the DESE to balance its fiscal year 2009 budget after the commonwealth cut its support to schools at the very last minute.

The Martha’s Vineyard Public Schools, including the Edgartown School, have received many thousands of dollars as part of the federal stimulus money, and have used those funds in part to pay teachers and other school employees’ salaries where jobs would have been reduced or eliminated. Too bad no one asked us about how we used those dollars. Amy Tierney, our business administrator, called and e-mailed Channel 5 after we saw the article. Let’s see if anyone at the station corrects the record.

James H. Weiss

Vineyard Haven

The writer is superintendent of Vineyard schools.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On a Monday night two weeks ago as I was driving toward Oak Bluffs, I saw a car on fire on the left embankment across from the hospital. I later learned that there was a person in this car. I just want to say thank you for these amazing firemen and EMTs; they worked relentlessly to put that fire out and got that person out of the car. That car could have exploded at any time — these men and women put their lives in danger so they could save that person. It’s truly amazing; these people are heroes.

Lisa Brouillette

Oak Bluffs


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

On Jan. 23 and 24 we held our Jour du Soleil: Vineyard Haven Gives to Haiti fundraiser to benefit the relief efforts of Doctors Without Borders. Despite such short notice, the support from the Vineyard community was both abundant and humbling. Thank you cannot fully express our gratitude for this sharing, but it is the least we can do to start.

Our sincerest thanks to Margaret Penicaud and the Fish Farm for Haiti family for their presence and partnership. Also, our thanks to all who made it to Mansion House to sign our Love to Haiti card. Margaret will be sure this makes it down to one of their sponsored schools.

My deep gratitude goes to the many volunteers who helped, businesses who donated items and auction bidders who bought them. Your collective involvement and enthusiasm made the day a success. A special thanks to Susan and Sherman Goldstein at Mansion House for opening their doors and partnering in the effort.

We were able to raise close to $7,000. All funds have been collected and forwarded as part of a larger Peace Development Fund grant to Doctors Without Borders. Mission accomplished — for now.

As the founder of the new charity project TenThousandMeans, I am pleased to have played a part in these efforts. As a newcomer to the Island, I’m both moved by the will of you, my neighbors, and proud to be in your midst. Thank you, Martha’s Vineyard.

Chris Bahara

Vineyard Haven


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School girls’ ice hockey booster club held its annual fundraiser Saturday, Feb. 6 at the Portuguese American Club in Oak Bluffs. On behalf of the parents and players, I would like to thank all of the local Island businesses that made this event such a huge success.

Our booster club funds many facets of the girls’ experience. From paying for preseason ice time to equipment to funding a scholarship given to an outgoing senior each year, 100 per cent of the funds raised are put back into the program. Without the generosity and support of the Island business community our program would have a long uphill battle. It is not lost on any of us that local support is so very important for many programs like ours.

Special thanks to Trader Fred Mascolo for his stellar performance as auctioneer! From the impressive food and desserts to the wonderful silent and live auction items it was a fantastic evening.

We would also like to thank all of those who came out to this wonderful event on a cold February evening. We know this is a tough time here on the Vineyard and beyond and we are so very appreciative to live in a place where we receive such support. Thank you, thank you.

Susan Mercier