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The Martha's Vineyard Times

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To the Editor:

Yesterday, on a gorgeous early Wednesday afternoon as I walked through the center of the peaceful Tisbury cemetery, I encountered a young woman with a small dog named Rascal who was busily engaged in washing her car with town water at taxpayers’ expense.

Much more disturbing was her obvious disrespect and insensitivity to the final resting place of our military and family members of the community. To turn our town graveyard into her personal car wash is both inappropriate and disgraceful.

Doreen Kinsman

Vineyard Haven

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If all goes well with permitting and funding, this spring Martha’s Vineyard Community Services will begin operating a community crisis stabilization program (CCSP) in a building located on the grounds of the Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. The program as designed would address the immediate needs of individuals in crisis related to substance abuse and/or mental health issues.

Currently those individuals often spend long hours in the hospital emergency room, sometimes accompanied by a police officer, tieing up medical and public-safety resources. The crisis stabilization program is a much-needed and welcome alternative that will better address this growing problem.

In a story published June 4, “Battling addiction on Martha’s Vineyard,” Dr. Jeffrey Zack, director of emergency medicine at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital, spoke about the big rise in cases related to opiates and heroin.

Dr. Zack said that people often arrived at the emergency room for services the hospital doesn’t provide, which can take up valuable beds, sometimes for days.

“We’re the backstop on the Island, and we won’t turn anyone away,” he told reporter Barry Stringfellow. “That said, we’re not a detox facility or a psychiatric facility.”

As Barry Stringfellow reports this week (“Community Services will open the Island’s first crisis-intervention center”), the new treatment facility is the result of a collaborative effort by Martha’s Vineyard Hospital chief executive officer Tim Walsh and Martha’s Vineyard Community Services executive director Julie Fay to meet an identified community health need.

The hospital will give a house, now used by its billing department and known by its distinctive siding as the red house, to Community Services. Once renovations are complete, the house will include individual therapy rooms, a group therapy room, and crisis-stabilization beds. More important, it will provide an intermediate step that could be the difference between an individual remaining on-Island or being sent to an off-Island facility by ambulance, a costly proposition.

The announcement of a CCSP on the hospital campus dovetails nicely with the news last week that the hospital is constructing a walk-in clinic that will provide an alternative for people not in need of emergency care who now utilize the ER. The hospital and Community Services are on the right track.

The CCSP will not address the needs of every individual. Some will still need to be sent to mainland facilities better equipped to provide long-term care in a closely supervised environment. But it is an example of how the Island’s largest health-care provider and its largest social services agency can work together to benefit the community as a whole.

It will be up to generous Islanders to help Community Services meet its CCSP funding goal.

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To the Editor:

In 1972, I bought a small lot on Chappy and built a cottage. Several years ago I terminated my phone landlines, as a cell phone could handle all my needs. Even on Chappy I could call anywhere by getting in my car and driving to the ferry parking lot.

I am now 81, and have developed rheumatoid arthritis and Parkinson’s. Last year, because of my illnesses, I had a landline reinstalled so I could call 911 in an emergency. This year, due to changing conditions, I am afraid if I fell I could not reach my phone. My cell phone is now my lifeline.

The obvious solution is to add cell phone elements to Bob Fynbo’s antenna. They would be unobservable as almost no one can see his antenna. It would not cost the town anything. So what is the problem? Greed.

The Edgartown selectmen have taken the position that if they can’t collect all the money the phone company would pay to add service to Chappy, then they will not allow anyone else to profit. I guess the selectmen are waiting until someone dies on Chappy because of their inability to call for help.

John W. Fish

Chappaquiddick

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To the Editor:

The recent passing of Bernie Holzer was a very real loss to the many people who were touched by his presence.

Most people weren’t aware that Bernie was an inventor of importance. The original concept of “upsizing” was his long before the idea was stolen by companies hard-selling cereal, soda pop, insurance policies, candy bars, hotel rooms, burgers, and rental cars.

Bernie’s invention applied to life’s sharp experiences. Whether it was building a house, roofing a barn, cleaning up after a party, fixing a truck, or lying on your back under a building thawing out frozen pipes, the chore became upsized by Bernie in the most positive sort of way. Even the most mundane of chores became a gratifying and fun accomplishment, not soon forgotten.

I’m envious of Tommy, Bunky, and Utinum lobstering to the end with Bernie, for they got way more than lobsters every time they cast off.

Bernie had no time for a diminisher. If he pointed out a negative streak, it was only an observation; he would quickly move on with no trace of bitterness.

So please let me propose the shortest of toasts to Bernie: Thanks, from all of us.

Allan K. Miller

East Boothbay, Maine

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To the Editor:

Although the picture of the dock at Menemsha published in the Sept. 4 issue of The Times (page A15) is a good one, the photo is misnamed. The dock pictured is, and always has been, the bulkhead or commercial dock. Dutcher Dock is from the gas station west to the turn to the marina. Rodney Dutcher, a New York newspaper reporter, raised the money for that part of the dock, which was dedicated in 1941 with great ceremony for the dockage of visitors.

Over the years, historical names on the Vineyard have been changed. Please don’t change this one, too.

Harriette P. Otteson

Chilmark

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A swim around Manhattan started with a chance encounter at Harvard. In March, I was at Harvard to compete in the Masters Swimming New England Championships, and ran into Jon Lenchner, a high school teammate I hadn’t seen in 35 years.

The meet ended, we said our goodbyes, and I figured I would not see him again until the following March. But it did not work out that way. In May, Jon sent me an email with an invitation. He and his friends were putting together a six-person relay to swim around Manhattan.

Although I’ve always been a better pool than open-water swimmer, I was intrigued by the offer. I had lived or worked in Manhattan for almost 30 years, but I had never entered the waters that surrounded the island.

As is my nature, I considered all the things that could go wrong: Would I be the slowest in the group and cause my team to lose to their archrivals? Would I ingest a destructive parasite?

But I couldn’t turn down such a unique invitation. With trepidation and excitement, I told Jon that I would join the team.

I continued my training all summer, stretch, lift, and swim, and warmed up for the relay by completing the open-water portion of the Vineyard Triathlon on Sept. 7. I finished five minutes behind Leslie Craven, who was the open-water winner, and eight minutes behind Rainy Goodale of Vineyard Haven, who has multiple New England Masters records.

In the week before the relay, our team participated in a webinar that described the course and race procedures. The good news was that we would be swimming counterclockwise so that I would always breathe towards Manhattan. The bad news was the warnings, like making sure to stay left at Hell Gate or the current would take you to Long Island; being alert for cruise ships leaving docks; avoiding the sanitation plant at 145th Street.

On Friday I traveled to New York City, and on Saturday morning, I woke up, had a small cup of orange juice and took the subway down to Pier 25. There I met my teammates, our kayaker guide, and our boat captain. He would be our ride around the island while we weren’t swimming a leg of the race.

We left our lead swimmer, Shauna, at Pier 25 and headed south in the boat. We would meet Shauna after she rounded the Battery (the southern tip of Manhattan).

I was to relieve Shauna at the Williamsburg Bridge. We located Shauna after she passed the Staten Island Ferry Terminal. As she passed the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, I got ready for my first leg. At the Williamsburg Bridge, I jumped in the water, grabbed her ankle and began my swim.

It was an exhilarating experience. In the open water, I had a strange feeling of solitude. There is no visibility, and I had a sense that I was in a vast nothingness. Stroke, breathe, green water. Stroke, breathe, green water. I couldn’t hear anything because of the water in my ears. I had a fear of not being able to see two feet in front of me and not knowing whether I was going where I was supposed to. But I had to put that fear aside and continue to stroke. Here I was in my own little world, yet only a hundred yards away from me was the busiest and most populous city in the country.

In the pool, I have a keen sense of progress and time. But in the open water, there is only a vague sense of distance and time. Progress was slow — Isn’t that the same building I saw 20 strokes ago? — but steady. I had to swim to the 59th Street Bridge.

There aren’t too many landmarks on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, so I was thrilled to finally see the NYU Medical Center (31st Street). But I realized I still had 18 blocks to go, almost a mile. I kept swimming.

I sighted the United Nations, then the Citicorp building, and finally the 59th Street Bridge. Jon was my relief, and I came aboard the boat, tired but relieved that I had completed my first leg. I had gone for 45 minutes, seven minutes more than the previous week’s triathlon swim, but still had more to do.

I had two more swims; the first started three and a half hours after I had exited at the 59th Street Bridge. Right after the intersection of the Harlem and Hudson rivers it was my turn again. It was starting to rain, but I jumped in, relieving Shauna, and headed south for the George Washington Bridge.

At this point in the relay, we were doing 30-minute segments. I was hoping to make it to the bridge, but the next swimmer went in before I reached it. The oddest part of the race happened after we passed the George Washington Bridge. As we traveled south, we saw something in the middle of the river. From a distance, it looked like a pile of clothing. With our curiosity raging, we asked one of the many police boats patrolling the river if they had seen what we did. They had. It was a sheep.

My last swim was a short one, from Pier 40 to Pier 25, the mandatory last transfer point. Our last swimmer touched the finish buoy in Battery Park eight hours and 11 minutes after we started the race.

A team from the New York Athletic Club finished first in the seven-team race. But much to my relief, our team finished second. In total, I swam about one hour and 30 minutes, probably about five miles. I was invigorated by the race and realized that in the end, what mattered most was not our time or what place we finished, but the thrill of a new adventure.

Jonathan Chatinover and his wife Beth own AAC, Inc., a consulting company, and moved to Martha’s Vineyard three years ago. Mr. Chatinover swam in high school and college, and has been swimming with the Martha’s Vineyard Masters group. He also coached the Martha’s Vineyard High School swim team last year, and hopes to continue this year.

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I want to thank everyone who came to my aid when I fell while in the after-fireworks crowd in August. I was immediately surrounded by caring people who lifted me off the street and remained with me until the Edgartown ambulance arrived. One lady even stopped to say she would pray for me. The EMTs  and the people on duty that night in the emergency room were all part of a ” well oiled” system.  I knew immediately that I was in very good hands. Thank you all so much.

Carol Wilson

Vineyard Haven and Reading

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Beth Toomey will join the Martha's Vineyard Airport commission.

Dukes County commissioners voted Wednesday to appoint Beth Toomey, retired West Tisbury police chief, and briefly an interim county commissioner, to the Martha’s Vineyard Airport Commission to fill the unexpired three-year term of Peter Bettencourt, who resigned from the board in August.

The appointment comes against the backdrop of a legal battle between the county commissioners and the members of the airport commission about authority over the county-owned airport.

“I’ve tried to stay out of a lot of this angst and issues,” Ms. Toomey told commissioners during a brief interview. “I want to come at this as a job. I’ve been known to be a very good mediator. Going in and telling them what to do isn’t going to work. It’s just plain mediation.”

Commissioners Lenny Jason, Jr., of Chilmark, Tristan Israel of Tisbury, Leon Brathwaite of West Tisbury, and David Holway of Edgartown, who participated by conference call, voted for Ms. Toomey.

Commissioners Christine Todd of Oak Bluffs, who also serves as an airport commissioner, and John Alley of West Tisbury voted for Myron Garfinkle, a retired businessman and pilot.

Commissioner Tom Hallahan was absent.

Eight people, including several with extensive aviation experience, had expressed interest in filling the seat. The applicants included Jeffrey “Skipper” Manter, a West Tisbury police sergeant, selectman, and member of the county advisory board that oversees the Dukes County budget; Kristen Zern of West Tisbury, a realtor and president of a marketing firm specializing in the travel industry; Robert H. Rosenbaum, a seasonal resident of Chilmark who is a retired computer executive and pilot; Geoffrey Wheeler of Vineyard Haven, an aviation consultant and commercial pilot; James Graham of West Tisbury, a former private school executive; and Benjamin Hall. Jr., of Edgartown, an attorney who served one term on the airport commission, until county commissioners declined to reappoint him earlier this year.

Following the vote, commissioners discussed expanding the seven-member airport commission. “We have a lot of good candidates, and I’m wondering if at some point we should consider expanding the size of the board,” Mr. Israel, a Tisbury selectman, said. “I think the board could use an injection of more people. I know there are people that feel we’re trying to change things. Damn right. From my point of view, damn right.”

The commissioners agreed to discuss the issue at their next meeting, on Sept. 24.

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The Oak Bluffs board of health (BOH) will hold a public hearing at 7 pm, Thursday, Sept. 25, in the library meeting room to consider and to possibly vote on the removal of fluoride from the town water supply. This will be the second public meeting the BOH has held on fluoride removal. The first meeting, held on June 10, drew only three people, two staunch fluoride opponents and one undecided resident. Because of the low turnout, the board agreed to hold another public hearing in the evening so more people could attend.
“We need more input from the people of Oak Bluffs,” board member and chiropractor Bruce Campbell, an unequivocal opponent of fluoride, said at the conclusion of the June 10 hearing. “We’re not going to ramrod this through like it was in 1991.”
In a phone interview with The Times on Wednesday, BOH chairman William White said he remained undecided on the topic.
“I haven’t made up my mind one way or the other,” he said. “We’re listening to people, and we want to be as fair as possible. I hope we hear from more people than last time, but whoever shows, shows.”
No fluoride advocates attended the June 10 meeting. However, in a phone call with The Times, Dr. Myron Allukian, Jr., past president of the American Public Health Association (APHA), former dental director of the city of Boston and faculty member of Harvard, Boston University, and Tufts schools of dental medicine, an advocate of fluoride, offered to attend future meetings by speakerphone.
Mr. White said the board voted to have Dr. Allukian attend by speakerphone. “He has contacted us,” he said.
Oak Bluffs is the only town on the Island that adds fluoride to its water supply, a practice that began in April 1991. It’s estimated that fluoridation costs the town $15,300 per year.

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Dr. Gary Fudem, longtime plastic surgery specialist at Martha’s Vineyard Hospital (MVH), will leave the hospital and Island to become the associate director of the burn unit at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, Wash.

“The burn unit at University of Washington is one of the top burn units in the country. They see over 900 major burn cases a year,” Dr. Fudem told The Times Wednesday. Dr. Fudem will also work with burn patients at the Veteran’s Administration hospital in Seattle.
“This is a career move,” he said. “I love living here and I love my patients, especially the 60-to-100 age group.”

Dr. Fudem’s last day at MVH is Tuesday, but he won’t be rushing off. A condition of his new contract is that he doesn’t have to leave the Island until Oct. 20, so he can fish the Derby, which ends Oct. 19. “The last three years I’ve really gotten into fishing. I learned so much and had so much fun fishing with Ed Amaral. I’ll miss him a lot,” he said. Dr. Fudem will take a 12-day break from the Derby to make a volunteer trip to Nicaragua.
Dr. Fudem handpicked his successor, Dr. Richard Montilla. “I was one of his attending physicians while he finished his residency six years ago,” Dr. Fudem said. “He’s a caring, skilled doctor, and a good family man. I was very happy that the hospital approved him.” Like Dr. Fudem, Dr. Montilla will work at MVH on a part-time basis. In addition to plastic surgery, Dr. Montilla also specializes in hand surgery.