Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
In response to your story about the prescription drug problem on Island (March 25).
We are very concerned about the recent spate of break-ins for prescription drugs. Historically, our community has experienced high levels of drinking, drugging and driving under the influence. The Health Conditions and Health Status Report Martha’s Vineyard (2006) found a 21 per cent higher incidence of mental health and substance abuse issues on the Vineyard as compared with the rest of the state. Among its 16,000 year-round residents 31 per cent reported drinking five drinks or more on one occasion and 14 per cent report having ever had an episode of depression compared to 6 to 10 per cent nationally. (Becker and Silberstein, 2006, p. 43-47).
Until recently few services existed for those who wished to pursue recovery. Thanks to a grant from the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, Martha’s Vineyard Community Services, Island Counseling Center (ICC), now has a structured outpatient addictions program that offers intensive services five days per week for those in early recovery. New Paths Recovery Program has already treated more than 60 Island residents in its first six months of operation.
Island Counseling is committed to making a positive impact on the Island’s drug problem by not prescribing addictive medications to those who would be better serviced by counseling and recovery services. Medication treatment through ICC is only available when appropriate as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.
For disposal of the prescription medication that so many of us take, we would like you to know the Federal Prescription Drug Disposal Guidelines jointly released by the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Environmental Protection Agency. They are:
Take unused, unneeded or expired prescription drugs out of their original containers.
To prevent others from using these substances, mix them with coffee grounds or kitty litter and throw them away in a sealed container.
Flush prescription drugs down the toilet only if the label instructs you to do so.
We hope this information is helpful to those who were not sure how to dispose of old and no longer needed medications. For further information please go to: mass.gov.
The author is program director for the Island Counseling Center.
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
The day-to-day task of managing any successful business including the Edgartown Wastewater Treatment Facility requires great focus and lots of time overseeing the multifaceted tasks of septage inflow, outgoing sludge, employees, sewer bills, plant maintenance, DEP-required testing and laboratory work, to name a few.
It should come as no surprise that possible fraud has taken place at the Edgartown facility, knowing that Edgartown wastewater commissioners have granted permission to the Edgartown facilities manager to manage two multimillion dollar wastewater facilities, Edgartown’s and Oak Bluffs’.
Guess what? It’s not working and never has since its inception in 2002. Edgartown taxpayers are footing the bills and paying a price for this mistake.
The loosey-goosey billing and accounting of septage flow into the facilities is the same for sewer bills where the number of “outlets to drain” is still the method of billing.
Has the wastewater facilities manager checked all houses to verify the reported number of “outlets to drain” in each house that is billed or is this on the honor system again?
If two homes each have seven “outlets to drain” but one home with a family of six has three times the flow of the home with two people, they are currently billed the same amount. This system promotes fraud and waste instead of water conservation. We should have had metered bills ten years ago.
Does the wastewater treatment facilities manager and staff punch a time clock? If not, who is monitoring this?
In regards to plant maintenance, drive by and see for yourself, our odor control silos have been rusting away for years.
We need to ask wastewater commissioner James Carter, who owns and operates the Clarion Hotel, would he let his hotel manager manage the Harbor View Hotel as well as his?
The answer is obvious so why are Edgartown residents subjected to this nonsense?
Taxpayers and town government should not allow this facility to continue to be mismanaged, poorly managed, or in this case, not managed at all.
How can the Edgartown wastewater facilities manager, Joe Alosso, work 40 hours in Edgartown, 40 hours in Oak Bluffs, and still when you drive by his residence at any given time of the workweek, his Edgartown Wastewater truck is parked in his yard? Let’s put responsibility and oversight where it belongs.
Jay A. Guest
NOISE OF THE ATLANTIC
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
The following letter was sent to the Edgartown board of selectmen:
We plan to attend the March 28 meeting and would appreciate it if you could pass along to the selectmen our concerns with the terms and conditions of the Atlantic license, or perhaps more with the enforcement of those terms and conditions.
We were pleased when the board put the following conditions on the previous license:
1. All windows shall be closed during hours that entertainment is in progress.
2. Minimum amplification of entertainment indoors.
3. No outside entertainment.
On numerous occasions since the original license was granted, we have had to call the Edgartown Police to complain about the noise from bands and deejays. During the most recent 2010 season, we called 911 on at least seven occasions and the Edgartown Police at least eight times. Also, our security person spoke to the Edgartown officers on duty downtown on several other occasions regarding the entertainment noise and the fact that the windows were not closed during the hours of the entertainment. We have tried to be good neighbors during this period and have not succeeded in getting the owners and managers of the Atlantic to comply with the conditions of their license. Therefore, we are appealing to you as licensing authority to help us out.
We have 90 hotel rooms that are mostly full of guests during the season and the town’s portion of our room taxes exceeds $60,000 per year. We feel our guests certainly should be able to enjoy their stay with us without the loud amplified music that greets them from the open windows of the Atlantic. We have refunded hundreds of dollars and lost many repeat guests because of this disturbance.
We are business people as are the owners/managers of the Atlantic and understand the need to run our businesses as profitably as possible, but we have reached a point where we cannot provide the product our guests expect because of the noise produced by the Atlantic.
We feel the conditions of the previous license are fair for everyone and could live with them if they were properly adhered to and enforced. Anything the board of selectmen can do, as licensing board, to enforce these conditions would be appreciated.
General Manager, Harborside Inn
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
We would like to thank the staff and nurses of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital for the great care and compassion you showed to our mom and to us over the last year. Thanks also to the VNA, Elder Services and Hospice for all the help you sent our way. Many blessings to the congregations of the United Methodist Church of Martha’s Vineyard and Pastor Rego and Rev. Bodge for the moving service you steered us through and to the Vineyard Sinfonietta, piper Tony Peak, organist Edward Rose and the choir for musically lifting our spirits. Special thanks to Karen Rego and all who helped feed us afterwards. Finally, we have an overwhelming feeling of gratitude to all of you in our community, near and far, for your cards, letters, e-mails, flowers, hugs, prayers, thoughts, tears, kisses, food, drink and overall embrace of our family. It all means so much.
The Family of Jo-Ann Ewing
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Last week’s letter from Thomas Bena and Brian Ditchfield headed “More Applause” rightly acknowledged the spirit of the Martha’s Vineyard Film Festival, but, whether from modesty or lack of space omitted to touch on the cause.
Paulette and I were lucky enough to be able to spend the whole weekend at the festival and see more excellent thoughtful and stimulating films in less than three days than I have seen in at least the past three years. To present such a quantity of fine work, in many cases supported by the presence of the creators, with an efficiency of organization that seems invisible, is a tribute to both the above two gentlemen and the volunteers who made this happen. Remarks from visiting directors made it clear that this film festival is recognized as having unique and special qualities, and this adds to our Island’s special cultural status.
It is impossible to do justice in one letter to 12 full length works of cinematic art — a number presented issues requiring more thought and discussion, which, editors permitting, I may return to later — but a couple of immediate responses come up:
The film Windfall demonstrated clearly that industrial-scale wind generation entered into primarily for exploitive profit has no place in a countryside of dispersed communities such as ours. The current Vineyard approach of local turbines sized in harmony with the neighborhood seems right and effective.
We Still Live Here — the remarkable story of the “reincarnation” of the Wampanoag language — showed a heartening move against the global extinction of separate cultural identities. The value of separate peoples and languages within our community has nothing to do with money but everything to do with richness of life.
Thomas and Brian and all the rest behind this Festival are to be congratulated on the work they have done, and deserve our support in the future. We on the Vineyard can rightly say, “They done us proud.”
NUCLEAR POWER DILEMMA
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
Sixty million U.S. homes are powered by 104 nuclear reactors. In 1982 Congress passed the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA), designating deep geologic disposal as the preferred technical solution for nuclear waste disposal.
In 1987 Congress amended NWPA to designate Yucca Mountain, Nevada as the only site the Department of Energy (DOE) should study for nuclear waste storage. NWPA also required DOE enter into agreements to take title of the spent fuel and required that DOE begin collecting the spent fuel from reactor sites in 1998. DOE missed their deadline. To date, DOE has not collected any used fuel from any of America’s 104 civilian nuclear reactor sites.
Since 1998, approximately 90 reactors have exhausted their existing spent fuel pool storage capacity. This is in addition to the 12 decommissioned reactors already storing used fuel in dry casks.
Used nuclear fuel is stored in two ways: either in an indoor spent fuel pool, or after the pool fills up, in caskets or tombs outside. After about four years of continuous irradiation inside a reactor, the composition of the fuel changes to a point where it does not efficiently support a fission reaction. At this point, the used (spent) fuel is removed from the reactor core and placed in the spent fuel pool. The water in the pool cools the fuel and blocks radiation.
Since DOE has breached its contractual obligation to take possession of this spent fuel, reactor operators have had little choice but to invest in alternative outside dry cask storage. Weighing more than 100 tons, these casks predominantly consist of a large steel container in which the fuel rods are stored, surrounded by an inert gas, which is, in turn, encased in a larger concrete casing. These various layers ensure a safe level of radiation within legally proscribed limits. To date, some 9,000 tons of used fuel elements are being stored, outside, in 900 casks around America.
9/11 QUESTIONS REMAIN
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
The following letter was sent to Senator John Kerry:
You claim you read your constituent’s comments “diligently.” After numerous attempts, with e-mails and by telephone, I have yet to receive any kind of official response from your office regarding my complaints about the 9/11 Commission which admitted, admitted, it never looked for nor considered any evidence of controlled demolitions in the destruction and ultimate collapse of World Trade Center Building #7. As more people are becoming alarmingly aware, this was the 47-story, steel building never even hit by a plane yet fell in a mere 6.8 seconds, intact, in perfect, quintessential, controlled demolition fashion (see YouTube.com) into its own footprint following the demise of WTC #1 and #2.
The commission’s reasoning for this blatant, intentional failure (oversight?) is even more bizarre and egregious: It did not consider evidence of explosives because it was “highly improbable” that the Islamic fundamentalists had either access to or the technological wherewithal to transport, plant and detonate such devices.
Fine. Maybe someone else did it? Maybe there’s another terrorist cell, still out there that does have access and technological know how. But the evidence for such, controlled demolitions can’t make itself disappear, as much as the commission would like it to, not in 10 years or 20 years or 8,000 years. Because the evidence will always be there, in digital video, laughing at us and crying for us. With no “match” the commission speaks of, connecting evidence and perpetrator, what’s affected and should have been brought into question is the theoretical, foregone conclusion, not the intractable evidence.
Foregone conclusion? Within hours of the attack, 90 per cent of America, watching on TV, learned it was Osama bin Laden, working from the caves of Afghanistan, who was responsible. Incredibly, these same rumors turned out to be exactly true or as “true” as one could expect, being coerced confessions of illegally held and tortured (waterboarded) suspects which, by the way, were inaccessible to those conducting the 9/11 investigation. (A joint letter, signed by then acting Vice President Cheney, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and Attorney General Ashcroft, prohibited questioning by the 9/11 Commission of detainees as it would “compromise National Security and ongoing interrogations.”) Torture, we must remember, is criminally outlawed around the world (except here and now in the U.S.) because it is not only inhumane but unreliable in establishing the truth.
So, it appears, the Ccommission learns not from its own independent investigating but from CIA conducted torture sessions what the conclusion is and, starting with that conclusion (no matter how arrived at), determines what evidence should be allowed or dismissed to “complete” its 9/11 Commission report. This is proper, investigative methodology, the result of a $20 million investigation?
How backwards and morally incomprehensible is this? It is the difference, sadly, between a government “report” (such as the Warren Commission report and the 9/11 Commission report), demonstrating (once again) a government’s inability to investigate itself, and a pure, unbiased, independent investigation; the former unable to ask the tough questions that a real prosecutor would ask in chasing down contradictory testimony under oath to find out under threat of severe consequences who is lying and why.
One doesn’t have to be a demolition expert, trained as I was by the Navy, to know the difference between a building collapsing or a building exploding (or imploding). Ask your local fire chief how a building on fire collapses. They don’t go down intact, with smooth acceleration, uniformly. And last time I checked, steel doesn’t catch fire by office furniture. Go watch Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid or any number of old westerns where the bad guys blow up the bank (or train car) to get the money. You were in the Navy yourself. You know what an explosion looks like. Construction materials fly up and out, away from the explosion in all directions, rather than falling straight down with gravity. How else can one explain multiton steel girders impaled in adjacent buildings, across the street, 600 feet away from rather than at the base of the supposedly “collapsed” building? Do your own homework. Google “Barry Jennings WTC#7”.
Indulge us, please, Senator. Hypothetically, if a young, six-year-old girl is murdered with plenty of evidence at the crime scene (DNA, fingerprints, blood type), strongly implicating the mother’s guilt, can you imagine an investigation actually dismissing such evidence on the grounds that it would be “highly improbable” that any mother would want to murder her own daughter and therefore all evidence indicating such would not be considered? And yet this is precisely what the 9/11 Commission got away with, unchallenged by any of us at the time.
That WTC Bldg#7 collapsed the way it did because of fire or as a result of debris falling on it from another building is a joke. A very sad joke on us, all of us. If you want to believe it, if it makes you feel more patriotic, be my guest. The rest of the world, looking into it, is beginning to think otherwise.
At issue is not a lack of patriotism or lunatic conspiracy theory or the need to “move on.” At issue are good, valid, intuitive, scientific questions, put forth by a growing number of concerned, recognized, scholars and professionals, fellow Americans, that are being stonewalled by our representatives; questions afraid of being asked by a less than curious, monopolistic and complicit mainstream media. At issue are the carefully evolved principles of what makes for standard and proper investigative protocol upon which our laws and system of justice are based. What’s needed are answers to questions raised by and asked of the 9/11 Commission report, not ad hominem attacks on those who would have the courage to ask them. If you were in our shoes, is this the way you would like and expect your representatives to act? Our politicians are fooling no one but themselves. The people know that those who are most afraid to investigate and who hamper proper investigation have the most to fear by the truth. No politician wants to be the last one to see the light. Ultimately, any and all discourse on any number of extremely important issues facing us and the world, be it our oxymoronic War on Terrorism (against an invisible enemy), the environment, energy, the economy, healthcare, education is meaningless without proper representation and a responsive government in which we can trust.
Nick van Nes
Editors, Vineyard Gazette:
On Wednesday, March 16, Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School held its second annual Wellness Day. In supporting a healthy balance of the mind, body and spirit, the goal of the day was to offer students the opportunity to attend informational seminars that promote the idea of wellness. The assemblies and workshops focused on making good choices, leading healthy and productive lives, and understanding and appreciating the diversity among students and staff.
This year students had the opportunity to attend a few of the 37 workshops being offered by faculty members and community volunteers.
I would like to publicly thank all of the facilitators who took time out of their already busy schedules to volunteer their time and educate our students (very early in the morning) on how to manage and reduce the stress that exists in our everyday lives:
Bob Tankard; Carolyn Evans; Amanda Cohen and Nancy Langman (Island Counseling Center); Craig Yuhas and Heather Neal (B-Strong); Max Sherman, Tina Fitch and Aita Roman (Connect, MVCS); Eric Adams, Seniel Seward and Curtis Chandler; Beth Toomey and Maura Weir (Youth Suicide Prevention Project); Jamie Vanderhoop and Theresa Manning (Youth Task Force); Ruthie Parmett; Patti Leighton and Tim Lowe (MV Savings Bank); David Pothier and Chris Scott (Coast Guard Auxiliary); Kaila Binney (Island Grown Schools); David Tuminaro; Catie Fuller and Tim Merriman (Blitz Fitness); Arlene Stark Prisco (Guiding Light Yoga); Erika Weron and Phil Fuentes (Duke’s County Sheriff’s Department); Karen Krowski; Fae Kontje-Gibbs; Stefan Knight (Vineyard Pilates); Jan Buhrman (Kitchen Porch); Lisa Cottrell; and Julian Villegas (YMCA of MV).
Sixteen faculty/staff members stepped out of their daily classroom roles and offered workshops on a variety of topics, including The Sweet Truth: Chocolate is Good for You, Speed Training for Athletes, Songwriting as Stress Reduction, Traditional Dance, Sword Dance, and Senior to Senior — an informal conversation that combines the wisdom of age with the dreams of youth. Thank you to Tony Lombardi, Cyndy Cowan, Jack O’Malley, Steve Nixon, Carol Ramsay, Carolyn Evans, Jacquie Callahan, Bill McGrath, Linda Leonard, Tania Laslovich, Kathy Perrotta, Gary Simmons, Matt Malowski, Kansas Brew, Mike Tinus, Dianne Norton, Michael McCarthy, Donald Herman and Cathy Nee.
As I was planning this second (now annual) event, I was again impressed by the expansive knowledge and experience there is on our Island. And for the second year in a row, I was amazed that with a few simple phone calls, a day can be created that offers 37 different workshops all focusing on the mind, body and spirit and promoting wellness among our Island youth. It is incredible.
Again, thank you to all that made it happen.