Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

Regarding the forum at the Chilmark Center this past Sunday on the 166 wind turbines proposed by Governor Patrick to be placed right off our shores near Noman’s and Cuttyhunk — we who live here year round were looking forward to the three candidates for governor expressing their views and answering our questions.

Charlie Baker showed his respect and concern for our community and attended the forum as he promised he would; unfortunately, Governor Patrick’s surrogate and Treasurer Cahill both cancelled at the last minute. Mr. Baker seemed to understand fully the environmental and economic risks created by placing an industrial-sized wind factory so close to our shores.

Although we may not represent a large percentage of the state’s voters, we do take seriously our obligation to preserve the East Coast’s finest national treasure that we call home. As Capt. Buddy Vanderhoop said at the forum, as a representative of the Wampanoag nation and the Duke’s County fishing association: “We did not receive the majestic beauty of the Vineyard, its Islands and its waters from our ancestors; we borrowed it from our children.”

I would hope that every elected official keeps that quote in mind when deciding the appropriate type and place for alternative forms of energy, and listens to the voices of those who live, work and visit here.

Joseph Miron Burkett



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

For years Islanders and local organizations have struggled to balance preservation and conservation of the Island, and the special way of life that we all love, with the development necessary to sustain economic opportunities for residents. In our mono-crop economy, this has always been difficult but in recent years the tipping point has gradually narrowed to an infinitesimal spike. This year — and by all anecdotal evidence, perhaps factual as well — we’ve tipped from the sustainable side to the dark side.

Many years ago a leading Island builder commented that “We don’t need one more house [if I remember correctly, it could have been car or person] on this Island in the summer,” and since then we’ve added hundreds if not thousands. Where I work many of the shoppers have commented that they simply do not shop down-Island because of the traffic and congestion, and others have compared our traffic unfavorably to that of New York city and Washington, D.C. Everywhere they go, whether to try to purchase some basic necessity such as sneakers or a pair of knickers (difficult) or for discretionary shopping, to the beach, to watch a sunset, to attend a concert or lecture, or just for a meal, the lines are long, the parking limited, the prices high and the experience unsatisfactory and unpleasant.

Noise levels, particularly in summer, are another complaint. Last night road noise — even in my somewhat rural location — lasted virtually all night. Add to that loud parties, private jets, and all the other noises that daily assault our ears and there is little wonder that folks comment that they can’t enjoy the peace and tranquility that they have paid dearly to expect.

With all the traffic created by thousands of visiting vehicles we also have a seasonal explosion of landscaping and small dump trucks. Many are towing trailers packed with equipment to manicure some piece of our lovely Island into a very un-Vineyard landscape, producing more noise plus pollution from all those little machines. All these vehicles have rendered our roads (some officially designated as failed) and byways unsafe, particularly when the drivers are driving distracted (cell phones, making up, eating), as so many do. Many bicyclists and pedestrians simply don’t use bike and shared use paths where they exist. And the untrimmed vegetation (thoughtful, careful pruning doesn’t have to create an ugly roadscape) crowding in on some of the state-owned roads exacerbates the dangers as it forces pedestrians and bicyclists out into the traveled way.

As many of us have written in the past (and will continue to advocate) we need to provide year-round employment along with truly affordable housing, education and medical care for our residents . . . our current course is unsustainable, and our lovely Island is becoming unsightly and unsafe. Please give some thought to solutions because if we haven’t killed the goose that lays the golden eggs, we have nailed its feet to the floor and are forcing unpalatable substances down its gullet.

Virginia Crowell Jones

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

One day several years ago I was standing in Donaroma’s with the flower refrigerator door propped open with my hip. I had two bunches of flowers in my hands trying to decide between a fall arrangement and pink peonies.

Someone tapped my shoulder and in a loud, booming voice said: “Darling, tell me what you think of these flowers — and don’t lie to me!”

I whirled around to find Patricia Neal holding a gorgeous bouquet!

I laughed, gave her my honest opinion of her flowers, and she went on her merry way. But not before telling me to buy the pink peonies I was holding. It was fall and I really wanted the autumn flowers so I waited until she’d made her purchase and left the store.

At the checkout counter, I bought my fall flowers. As I was about to depart, a salesperson rushed up and handed me the wrapped pink peonies. When I started to ask, “Whom do I need to thank,” she laughed and said, “Don’t ask!”

What an endearing human being Patricia Neal was — and I am sure I’m not the only one who enjoyed a similar, delightful encounter with her.

Debbie Phillips

West Tisbury


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I suffered a broken wrist in a bike accident last Saturday (August 7) on State Road near the Quitsa boat landing. I would first like to extend my utmost thanks to the EMTs who were most professional in taking care of me and getting me to the hospital. I would also like to thank the passersby who stopped and were of great help, in particular Teresa, who kept me comfortable until the EMTs got there.

I must comment, however, on the proximate cause of the accident — the failure of Chilmark to widen the road as its neighboring towns have. I fell when I moved to the side of the road to allow a car to go by. There was no shoulder and in fact there was a large dropoff from the road to the dirt. The bike caught the side of the road and, even though I was not going fast, I went down like a shot on my wrist. Even a narrow shoulder of 18 or 24 inches would have given me room to move over for the car to pass.

There are no good arguments against this very basic safety step. Small widening would have essentially no impact on the beauty of the area, and while I have not checked this, I cannot imagine that many, if any, trees, would be affected. There is a national trend toward making roads and city streets safer for bikes, and with good reason. I was exercising care and I still had a serious accident, an accident that easily could have been more serious.

As a summer resident of Chilmark for over 40 years, I am quite distressed that Chilmark has decided to buck the wave of progress and common sense and has opted instead to have unsafe roads. At least its EMTs are first rate, and I am grateful to them.

Bob Plotz



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I appreciate the Gazette’s coverage of the life of actress Patricia Neal. She was an elegant and classy woman. Her death is a great loss to her family, friends and this Island. To add to what the Gazette already reported about this remarkable lady, the obituary in The New York Times summarized the gripping aftermath of her relationship with screen star Gary Cooper. During her affair with Cooper, she became pregnant. She had an abortion and according to her 1988 autobiography, As I Am, she cried herself to sleep for 40 years afterward. She wrote, “If there is one thing I wish I had the courage to do over in my life, I wish I had the courage to have that baby.”

There were many causes that defined Patricia Neal’s life. She loved Camp Jabberwocky. She was in attendance a few weeks ago when the Jabberwocky staff and campers performed their annual summer play. She was also a pro-life Catholic. Her personal faith in God helped her gracefully transcend the many hardships and tragedies she experienced in this life. She had a daughter who died of the measles at the age of seven. She had a son who was hit by a car when he was an infant and he remains alive but is brain-damaged. She had a husband who was great to her once she had the strokes, but he ultimately left her for a younger woman.

The New York Times article quoted her saying: “I’ve been paralyzed. I’ve fallen down and broken a hip. Stubbornness gets you through the bad times. You don’t give in.” It seems to me there was more to her strength than mere stubbornness. It was her personal faith in the God of scripture that helped her to deal with the highs and lows of an amazing life.

Jeff Winter


The writer is pastor of FaithMV Church.


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

I am appalled by the vandalism at the Sail MV summer camp. I do not understand why a not-for-profit program that is designed to serve Island children would be repeatedly targeted in this way.

My grandson and his cousins have participated in Sail MV programs, and have learned to love sailing, especially in the 420s. It is incredible that there are people who can find nothing better to do than destroy property, and in particular property that is there for all to enjoy.

Sandra Scheuer



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The other day, stuck in traffic at Five Corners, I noticed the car in front of me sported a Registry-issued license plate advocating “Choose Life.” Later that afternoon I ran through the list of available Registry special plates and couldn’t, for the life of me, find one that advocated pro-choice. Is the Registry now a political arm of the right-to-life faction?

Mason Buddy

Vineyard Haven

and Marblehead


Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

The Ken Williams memorial scholarship fund would like to thank its golfers and the Martha’s Vineyard community for their continued support and generosity for our annual golf tournament and fundraising activities. Mr. Williams, who lost his battle to cancer in 1998, was an anti-Apartheid activist, humanitarian, jazz promoter, and noted self-taught photographer. He was passionate about jazz and golf, and it was his passion for helping people that inspired us to preserve his legacy and honor his commitment to helping others by creating the scholarship fund. In August 2007, the fund began honoring the memory of the late Mandred Henry, the former Martha’s Vineyard NAACP president, with the establishment of the Mandred Henry scholarship for social justice. Mr. Henry was a tireless activist for civil rights and justice who “worked hard to make sure that equality of opportunity and fairness were available to all.”

The Ken Williams fund has provided more than $20,000 in scholarship money to a total of 30 college-bound high school seniors; we have been awarding scholarships to college-bound seniors from Cambridge Rindge and Latin School (22 awards) since 2000 and Martha’s Vineyard (10 awards) since 2003.

The Golf tournament registration reception will be held on Thursday, August 19, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Oak Bluffs VFW Post #9261, 14 Towanticut avenue in Oak Bluffs. The free event will include an opportunity to meet the celebrity golfers, a book signing, silent auction and authentic New Orleans gumbo. The 12th annual Ken Williams memorial scholarship golf tournament will be held on Sunday, August 22, with 7 a.m. registration and 8 a.m. shotgun start, at the Mink Meadows Golf Club in Vineyard Haven. The tournament includes a $10,000 hole-in-one cash prize. Visit or see Chet Nowak, Mink Meadows golf pro, to register.

We would also like to acknowledge and thank the many Island business donors who have generously helped make our past silent auction events a success.

The fund invites the Vineyard community and golfers to join our 2010 charitable events to support scholarships for Island high school seniors.

Caroline Hunter



Editors, Vineyard Gazette:

This weekend, 16 Island high school students and two adults depart for a dream come true: two weeks in Edinburgh, Scotland, performing by invitation at the Fringe Festival. They have collectively conceived and produced an original musical titled The Secret of the Seven Sisters, a fantasy set among the constellations and the earthly legends of ancient Greece.

For the past 18 months, these students have worked tirelessly to carry forward the high dramatic standards that earned them their invitation to the world’s largest art festival.

This is no class trip. A rigorous process of recommendation, review and selection has tapped our group to be among only 40 other U.S. high schools chosen from an original pool of over 2,000 deserving dramatic corps. It is an honor that reflects the inherent appreciation for the arts that defines, in part, the culture of the Vineyard.

Such a trip is also expensive. The students, faculty, parents, and friends that make up BravEncore have been blessed by the generosity of individual and business supporters, and we have reached the sizable financial goal required. In the context of the current economy, such generosity is even more significant.

As recently as yesterday, August 10, this generosity continued to help us fund our props and costumes with a preview gala at Flatbread Pizza and Nectar’s. A more fitting expression of our thanks across our community and beyond will appear when our cast returns, but as we pack out bags, we extend a heartfelt thank you to each and every friend of BravEncore who gave time, money, ideas, and hope to this unique opportunity a reality.

Kate Murray


The writer is performing arts director at the Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School.