Letters to the Editor
Once again Tisbury debates beer and Wine decision
Not a big deal
By Howard M. Miller
Open your eyes, voters of Tisbury, and let them wander no farther than our downtown with far too many vacant storefronts. Voting to authorize the sale of beer and wine in restaurants will give Tisbury a chance to restore the vitality to the downtown area that it once had. We will stop losing tourists to Oak Bluffs and Edgartown, because they can't have a beer or glass of wine with their meal.
I say this as a resident of Tisbury and someone who was responsible for rewriting the liquor laws for the Commonwealth in the 1970s, who was chairman of the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission, and who has continued to deal with many cities and towns throughout the Commonwealth relative to liquor licensing.
It is not a big deal, people. No one is going to hell over a glass of wine or beer. Wine is a part of all our lives (whether we drink it or not) being a part of religious ceremonies and diplomatic functions from as early as the Last Supper (and before) to the present; and beer (or lack thereof) being the reason why our forefathers landed at Plymouth Rock - a historical fact. Check it out.
There are only 10 towns in Massachusetts out of 351 cities and towns that continue to be dry. Three years ago the count was 14. Three of the remaining 10 towns are on the Vineyard, including Tisbury, West Tisbury, and Chilmark. The others are Cuttyhunk (officially Gosnold) and bedroom communities without a downtown business community like ours.
Let's get in step with the rest of the world and bring back the vitality to the downtown area that it once had. Beer and wine is not the only answer, but it is one of the answers.
I will soon be residing at 109 William Street, a block away from Main Street where I hope by the year 2010 I'll be able to purchase a glass of wine (I don't like beer that much) from one or all of the very fine restaurants located there.
What kind of a town do we want?
By Nat Benjamin
On April 14, the residents of Tisbury will be asked to vote on the sale of beer and wine in our town. The real question that most of us are wrestling with is: how will the sale of beer and wine served with meals at Vineyard Haven restaurants change our town? To answer this honestly and fairly, we must look beyond our town boundaries and try to understand the big picture.
How and why do people come to Tisbury?
To answer the question, let's first look at the harbor of Tisbury. Our port is the gateway to Martha's Vineyard. It is a harbor unique in the world today. Car, freight, and passenger ferries arrive daily all year from Woods Hole and New Bedford, with greatly increased schedules in the summer. Commercial tankers, tugs, and barges are constantly arriving and offloading as well. Three shipyards hum with activity 12 months of the year, providing employment and skilled activities for many.
Vineyard Haven has also become a destination for hundreds of sail and power yachts which bring their families to experience this incredibly peaceful refuge, historically linked to our maritime past through its living traditions of boatbuilding, yacht services and marinas. Why do they come here? They come for some of the same reasons that many of us came to Vineyard Haven: because it is a different place, set apart from the mainstream. It is a community of independent characters and original thinkers with visionary goals.
So how will the sale of beer and wine impact our community and waterfront? When the summer floodgates open, Tisbury is the most vulnerable of all Island towns. The availability of beer and wine will attract new crowds to Tisbury by land and by sea. It will dilute our quality of life by bringing noise, harbor patrol problems, safety issues for kids in town, and enforcement and associated costs. Take a look at other Vineyard ports that serve alcohol, where the atmosphere is totally out of character with our family-welcoming style, quiet residential streets, historic district, and peaceful anchorage. The disruptions brought on by selling beer and wine in our town will not be offset by the questionable benefits for a few restaurants.
The year-round vitality and prosperity of Tisbury are not dependent on alcohol sales. Thankfully, we have a deeper well to draw from. During the recent past there have been a few bumps in the road called Main Street. Main Street suffered after the Tisbury Inn burned down and the year or more of construction dampened our commerce. The movie theater closed for renovation and another year passed without this key source of entertainment. After the new Mansion House and renovated theater opened, the Cafe Moxie burned to the ground, and the renowned Bunch of Grapes Bookstore next door was heavily damaged.
All these businesses have reopened except Café Moxie, which will open next year. Why? Because Tisbury has an excellent business climate where committed long-term players will succeed. Conversely, those here for the quick buck will soon be gone. The diversity of Main Street is the source of its special appeal and it deserves even more encouragement. For us to truly support our business community, we must focus on solving the real issues: parking, high taxes, pedestrian accessibility, ferry traffic, creative family and youth activities, etc. Looking beyond Main Street, we have an engaged and prosperous commercial district on State Road and a thriving maritime and mixed-use district along Beach Road. Why not bring fresh, creative thinking to the challenges mentioned above and work together on innovative planning and mutually satisfying results?
We don't need to try to be like everyone else, nor do we need to be all things to all people. Let's not let the sale of beer and wine undermine our independent spirit and alter the unique character of our town forever.
Fellow citizens of Tisbury, please stand up for our town and preserve it as we know and love it.
Your good wishes will help
To the Editor:
Sunday morning March 29, my son, Marcus Garfinkle, was the victim of a tragic hit and run automobile accident. Marcus was walking a friend back to her dorm after a fraternity event. While crossing at a crosswalk, Marcus and Adrianna Bachan, 18 years of age, from Santa Barbara, Calif., were struck by a hit and run driver. Adrianna lost her life and Marcus was critically injured. After being struck by the car, Adrianna was knocked aside, and Marcus was carried on the hood for over 500 feet. The car then stopped, and Marcus was thrown to the side of the street and left for dead. Marcus sustained injuries to every limb including multiple bone breaks, serious lacerations, nerve, tendon and ligament damage and more, much more. Miraculously Marcus did not sustain any brain or spinal injuries. We are so thankful he is alive.
There is more, so much more to tell about Marcus's injuries, however after two extensive surgeries Marcus continues to recover. We are facing another significant operation this week, and we are hopeful that Marcus's healthy spirit will help him pull through yet another ordeal successfully.
Marcus continues to be presented with some of life's toughest challenges. He has been an inspiration to us all. Rather than wondering "why me?" every day, Marcus has been thankful he is alive, thankful he has not sustained brain or spinal injury and thankful he is being cared for at a good medical facility.
Each setback has presented Marcus with just another challenge, another chance to display his strong determination and his sterling character. His inner spirit has not only served him well but been a source of strength and inspiration for all of us around him. I am proud to say he has become my teacher.
Every visitor, every flower delivery, and every note and card helps buoy Marcus's spirits. I hope his friends on the Vineyard will take a few moments to write a note of love and encouragement to him. Every gesture has significant meaning to Marcus at this time. If you have the time, please consider a thought, a prayer, or a note to:
c/o Cedars-Sinai Medical Center
8700 Beverly Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90048
No to the slippery slope trope
To the Editor:
Two things come to mind every time I hear a debate about beer and wine in Tisbury. 1) It's the same one I heard 10 years ago; and 2) the paranoids are after me. Not surprising that the same voices that predicted the end of the world if we got town sewering are against beer and wine. According to the slippery slope edict, getting out of bed in the morning is suspect as it may lead to something more dire. This debate cannot be about our incredibly tame version of something that already exists throughout the country. How are we so special that we have no problem throwing our business community under the bus? How is it the loudest opposition voices (the least affected) have turned this proverbial molehill into another Don Quixote crusade du jour? If you and "chicken little" think the cigarette boats are coming to get you, then maybe you have too much time on your hands.
This partisan paranoia does not serve the community's interests. In practice, restaurants selling beer and wine will go unnoticed. Hardly the lynchpin to the community's demise as some would have us believe.
Affirm Tisbury's dry tradition
To the Editor:
The citizens of Tisbury will be asked once again at their annual town meeting April 14, to consider an amendment to a town bylaw first adopted in 1830. The bylaw prohibited the selectmen from issuing a license to anyone for the retail sale of "ardent spirits." This action was taken upon a petition brought by Elijah Hillman, a leading merchant at that time. It was clearly his conviction, and of those who joined with him, that the selling of beer and wine in the town was not good for business.
Several inns, famous for their hospitality, stood then along the harbor shore. An account of the generous fare offered even in 1811 at "Dr. Spalding's Tavern," the Mansion House, served only tea with dinner. None of these inns suffered or went out of business as a result of this action by the town. The town and its commercial activity continued to grow and prosper during the 19th and 20th centuries without the retail sale of any "ardent spirits."
Once again, the citizens of Tisbury are given an opportunity to affirm the values and quality of life of our town and its harbor that makes our community, at a time of leveling down, so unique and special. It is time again to affirm that a future that is dependent upon the sale of beer and wine is not a future for the town of Tisbury.
A deal's a deal
To the Editor:
This letter is in response to Laura Barbera's continual pleas for beer and wine licensing of Tisbury restaurants.
Make no mistake about it when she and her husband opened their restaurant Nicky's, they knew full well that Tisbury was a dry town.
Over the past few years, she has led a spirited drive to change the laws of Tisbury to allow beer and wine to be sold at restaurants in town. She has also indicated that by operating a venture for profit, her restaurant, that she was providing the town with a public service.
Citing the failing economy, she argues that allowing restaurants in Tisbury to sell beer and wine is the only way to save that industry and the town itself. But, people from around the globe look forward to coming to Tisbury to enjoy a meal at one of the most popular restaurants on the Vineyard, the Black Dog Tavern. A tavern that has always been dry, no alcohol sold there. Good food, good service, reasonable pricing, and a great location has made this place a favorite destination for travelers and locals alike.
Recently, the local papers have reported on other entrepreneurs wanting to open restaurants in Tisbury, knowing up front that the town is dry. Are these people crazy or do they believe that there is a market for quality food and service with consistency and a positive, welcoming atmosphere that will bring the people in and keep them coming back, not dulling their senses with overpriced alcohol? One can always bring in their own libations if so desired.
I suggest that Ms. Barbera accept the deal that she and her husband signed on to when they opened a restaurant in Tisbury.
What your votes will mean
To the Editor:
I would like to describe the beer and wine article for Tisbury voters at town meeting.
A yes vote on Tuesday, April 14, will bring the discussion forward during the next year, until the ballot vote in the spring of 2010.
Voting yes at the ballot in 2010 will legalize the sale of beer and wine only with the consumption of food and only while that patron is seated at a table in a restaurant with a seating capacity of 30 or more.
Voting yes at the ballot in 2010 will mandate that beer and wine must be served by a wait person to the table where the food is being consumed at the restaurant.
Voting yes at the ballot in 2010 will meet the state and the town of Tisbury's board of health rules and regulations for restaurants that serve beer and wine.
Voting yes at the ballot in 2010 will meet the selectmen's rules and regulations.
If a restaurant chooses not to get a beer and wine license, that restaurant can continue the current BYOB service.
Please visit our web site for the most accurate and comprehensive information regarding the beer and wine warrant article and other related items,
With your help we are confident the beer and wine article will pass at this spring's town meeting on Tuesday, April 14, at 7 pm, at the Tisbury Elementary School. From that vote, we want to move onto a successful yes vote at the ballot in the spring of 2010.
Peter M. Cronig
Yes, for a thriving economy
To the Editor:
I am a year-round resident of Tisbury as well as a concerned business owner. I purchased the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore because I am committed to the well-being of our town. It is because of that commitment, and in support of my fellow business owners, that I must strongly voice my support for voting yes on Question 14 regarding the proposed sale of beer and wine in Tisbury.
I cannot imagine Tisbury without Le Grenier, or Zephrus, or Nicky's, or many other fine dining establishments, any more than I could imagine it without the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore, which is why I bought it and plan to reopen at the Main Street location in late spring.
As we all know, part of what gives a town its unique character are its independent businesses. If we lose those businesses, we lose our quality of life as well as the uniqueness we pride ourselves in.
Words cannot express how appreciative I am of the support this town has shown its independent bookstore. I am confident we, as concerned citizens who care about each other and our town, will join together at the Tisbury School on April 14 and vote yes on Question 14, showing support for all our independent businesses and their ongoing efforts to create a thriving economic climate for us to enjoy. I believe in the future of this town, and I hope all its citizens do as well.
Owner/President Vineyard Booksellers Group Inc.
dba Bunch of Grapes
To the Editor:
As the owner of Le Grenier, I have been in Vineyard Haven for 31 years, open year-round, and I have been happy to contribute to the community as an employer and citizen. Recently, comments have been made to scare voters about the impact on the harbor if the town allows beer and wine to be sold in restaurants.
From my perspective there will be no impact on the quality of harbor life. Currently boaters enter my restaurant with a cooler filled with what they want to drink. That includes hard liquor, beer and wine. By licensing beer and wine, I will have the ability to exercise control of the amount consumed. That, to me, should be the aim of Tisbury residents. To keep Tisbury a vital year-round town. If passed, the law as written will only allow beer and wine to be served with full meals. No bars and no liquor stores will ever be allowed.
Endorses beer and wine sales
To the Editor:
As a year-round resident of Vineyard Haven for more than 35 years, a business owner, homeowner, and the father of three daughters, I enthusiastically endorse the efforts of all those who support the licensing of beer and wine in the town of Tisbury. This initiative is long overdue and will have a positive influence on the town and help ensure its commercial viability in the years ahead. The vibrancy of Vineyard Haven would be greatly enhanced without the negative effects sometimes associated with towns that have bars and liquor stores. Restaurants are an essential element in the economy of the town (and Island), and serving beer and wine would provide much-needed revenue.
Many voters have expressed their concerns about the noise and disruption that serving alcohol would cause, but I disagree. We are talking about restaurants, not open bars. Also, restaurants typically close much earlier and attract a very different clientele in general. The Island has gradually become a more sophisticated community that attracts visitors from all over the world. I think recognition of this fact is important, and a more "worldly view" essential, as the Vineyard tries to compete for tourist revenue in an ever-changing environment.
Andrew A. Flake
To the Editor:
This is a plug for the charm of brown-bagging it in Tisbury. It's an odd argument for remaining dry, perhaps, and I wonder if our restaurateurs are maybe missing something.
All my visitors, whether domestic or foreign, find the ubiquitous brown bag one of the charms encountered on Martha's Vineyard, as charming as Capes and rambler roses.
The brown bag isn't an inconvenience if you know to bring it with you.
Why not make brown-bagging a plus? It wouldn't take much to give the brown-bag a cachet. "What's in your brown bag?" might be a start.
The town is discreetly wet, and I am all for retaining the discreet charm of the brown bag.
Carol Gannon Salguero
Vote, and make a difference
To the Editor:
Since this is the last opportunity to speak up, I've got one last thing to say:
Please come to the annual town meeting Tuesday, April 14, at 7 pm, to vote in favor of Article 14, to put beer and wine on the ballot in 2010. Your voice will make a difference.
Please visit www.preservingtisburysfuture.com for the facts. Thank you.
Nicky's in Vineyard Haven
A jewel will be tarnished
To the Editor:
My husband, two-year-old daughter, and I first sailed here in 1972 and anchored in Vineyard Haven Harbor not too far from where we now live. It was July, and when we came ashore the rambler and beach roses (rosa rugosa) were in bloom and the fragrances and sights were overwhelmingly beautiful. I immediately fell in love with Martha's Vineyard, specifically Tisbury, and I thought to myself, this is the place where I want to live and raise a family. This was after living or sailing into many ports around the world. Vineyard Haven's charm, beauty, and appeal are unparalleled.
I have a nonprofit organization and have been working with young people for almost 40 years. Our youngest daughter was born at home in Vineyard Haven back in 1973. She has now built a house on North William Street and lives there with her husband and two small boys. Our other daughter lives in Chilmark and has two young sons as well. Our daughters grew up walking and riding their bikes to the library, into town and to Tashmoo Farm. We felt no reservations about allowing them to do that. We are very much looking forward to having our grandsons have the same freedom and inviting family-friendly atmosphere in our wonderful town.
I would like to speak for the young people who do not have a vote. With the possibility of selling beer and wine in restaurants and inns in Vineyard Haven, we are profoundly concerned about the changes that will occur for the worse. The reason that this jewel has maintained its charm for so long is the mere fact of being a dry town for 179 years. With reason, vision, and a clear conscience, you cannot possibly think that the sale of alcohol in Vineyard Haven will not have a negative impact.
Please attend the town meeting on April 14 and vote no on warrant Article 14, the beer and wine question.
To the Editor:
I want to thank the Martha's Vineyard Times for raising awareness regarding the need for full-day childcare for Island working families this summer. Your article April 2, "Working parents struggle with summer childcare" focused our attention on finding ways to support Island working families and their children this summer. The FARM Institute (TFI) is responding to this by undertaking an urgent survey over the next two weeks and we invite comments to help design an extended-day summer program. If anyone is interested in sending their children to The FARM this summer and needs extended-day program options, please contact Sidney Morris, education director, at 508-627-7007, ext. 104, or email@example.com by April 23.
Recently I overheard an economist explain that instead of calling our economic woe a recession, it should be called "a reset." He went on to explain we should see this period as a time to reinvent ourselves, businesses, and our communities in order to do things better and smarter.
Thanks again for spreading the news and giving the dedicated and passionate staff at TFI an opportunity to hit the reset button on how we can better serve our community.
Development Director, TFI
Got to pay it
To the Editor:
Several people have asked questions about my recent essay and presentations about Tisbury's unfunded liability for "Other Post-Employment Benefits" (OPEB).
My analysis focused on these benefits rather than on pensions because the town started to fund its pension benefits some years ago. That cost is a regular part of the town's budget, as it should be.
In my analysis and recommendation, I did not address potential changes in benefit offerings, health insurance costs, state or federal restructuring of the health insurance industry, or state or federal funding of part or all of these benefits.
Lowering the cost of our insurance is one important avenue to reducing the long-term liability. The town is working hard to lower its overall insurance costs. We should continue to work to reduce our costs - that's an essential effort.
Tisbury has no influence over the health insurance industry and the state and federal governments. Any changes there that might help would be a gift, but I don't see much reason to hope for any significant changes in this area in the next few years, given the huge challenges that presently occupy the stage.
I also did not address those possibilities because, no matter what happens, the town will be better off if it starts funding now. The unfunded liability grows every year, so we would be foolish to delay in the vague hope that someone might bail us out. If we start funding now and something reduces the liability, we will be that much further ahead. If there is no outside rescue, we will at least be on our way to paying off this debt.
Besides being fiscally prudent, this is an issue of fairness: the unfunded liability is a cost of past and present employment, so it is unfair to saddle future taxpayers with that cost, along with the cost of their own employees. It's a little like putting your car's gasoline costs on a credit card - you use the car now, but you put off paying for the gas until the future. That gas is still part of the cost of running the car today.
We should acknowledge the full cost of running the town, including the cost of future benefits already earned. That cost is real, whether we follow the Government Accounting Standards Board (GASB) guidelines or not. That future cost has grown to almost $20 million - it's a debt we owe, and it won't go away.
We should start paying down that debt. We shouldn't wait until GASB or the state or federal government tells us we have to. If we start funding now, it will take us 30 years to pay down the liability we've built up, and the town will then be in much better shape. From then on, we should pay for those future benefits as they are earned - like paying for the gasoline in your car as you use it. See you at town meeting.
Support the Edgartown Library
To the Editor:
I am writing on behalf of the Edgartown Library Foundation. We want to urge all Edgartown voters to once again support the library by voting for warrant Article 18, during the up-coming annual meeting. This article confirms the Community Preservation Act committee's decision to award the library funds for historic preservation to its lovely Carnegie Library building. Using the CPA funds in this way is a perfect fit. The funds would be used to insulate, repair and improve a very special 1904 historic building. The improvements would actually bring the library building to "green" status, an excellent goal during these environmentally sensitive times.
The Edgartown Library is a tremendous resource, open to all and centrally located. It is our obligation to care for the building. Please come to town meeting and support it.
Anne M. Vose
Support CPC funds for Edgartown library
To the Editor:
We trustees of the Edgartown Free Public Library ask Edgartown voters to please support our library once again by voting for warrant Article 18 at the Edgartown annual meeting, on April 14, 2009.
Approval of the CPC funds will bring our historic 1904 Carnegie Library building to a combination of modem standards while retaining the original building design. Additionally, a refurbished Carnegie Library will be a green building, saving on heating and electricity costs. Furthermore, the integrity of the historic restoration should be secure when the building is moved forward.
Our historic Carnegie Library building is the only such building on the Vineyard and one of the few left in the Commonwealth.
Our renewed, historic Carnegie Library will add to the beautification and historic preservation of downtown Edgartown.
Our Edgartown library is open and free to everyone. Right now, throughout the United States, as our nation's economic downturn spreads, libraries are serving record numbers of clients.
Please take the time to attend the Edgartown annual town meeting, April 14, at 7 pm and vote yes on Article 18. Once again, we, the library trustees, thank our Edgartown residents for their support.
David Blackburn, Chairman
Diane Bongiorno, Vice Chairman
Pat Rose, Secretary
Ann Tyra, Treasurer
Edgartown Free Public Library Trustees
To the Editor:
As executive directors of the Island Housing Trust and the Island Affordable Housing Fund, we would like to thank the Martha's Vineyard Times and reporter Steve Myrick for their in-depth reporting of our new affordable housing community, Eliakim's Way at 250 State Road that just broke ground in West Tisbury last Saturday ["Affordable house + solar energy = solution," April 2, 2009]. This is a community-supported project, and the community continues to support building in an energy-efficient way that will keep their investment protected while allowing a family living in one of these homes not to have their heating dollars go down the drain, or more accurately, through the roof or the windows. Tens of thousands of dollars in electric and heating costs will be saved over a 10-year period that will be better spent in our Island community. That's smart growth.
We wanted just to clarify a few things mentioned in the article. The project will be finished in late spring 2010, and there are eight homes, including one built by our partner organization Habitat for Humanity of Martha's Vineyard. We are also looking to approach "zero net energy use" in our homes, which means that the solar panels allow for energy generation so at times we use energy from the grid like any other house, but other times we send it back through the lines to the electric company, hopefully resulting in near zero net energy use. It's historic, and as our kids say, "It's wicked awesome," as well. We hope you think so too.
Island Housing Trust
Island Affordable Housing Fund
Health Care Access program needs voters' support
To the Editor:
Island residents will once again be asked to decide on funding for the Vineyard Health Care Access Program during town meetings. There are two funding requests in most towns this year. The original request is based on an agreement made last year between the towns and the county, to share the cost of one third of the program's total budget of $275,000. Until now, the remaining funds were raised from grants. Since those grants have declined, resulting in reductions in staff and therefore services, the access program is making an additional request for the coming year. The total request of all six towns combined is $125,000.
Although we have had to cut our staff, we are seeing more people than ever who need our services. The program is busy enrolling and maintaining the coverage for the 2,500 Islanders that we assist with affordable insurance every year. As people's incomes are decreasing, they are struggling to keep up with steep increases in health insurance premiums, and to comply with Massachusetts's health insurance requirement. Some are losing insurance when they lose their job.
We help Islanders who have serious conditions such as cancer and heart disease, have had injuries or acute illnesses that require immediate treatment, are pregnant, are entering a nursing home, or need medication to maintain their health. We remain committed to ensuring that they receive the care and the coverage they need.
We also help people to apply for Food Stamps; we operate the David Kurth Memorial Fund for financial assistance with prescription medication, made possible by local donors; we manage the Vineyard Smiles portable dental program for children and more recently, lower-income seniors and the disabled; and provide health benefit counseling to seniors and disabled people.
The Vineyard Health Care Access Program was founded in 1999 and is now in its tenth year of service to the Vineyard community. We have provided services to more than 5,000 Islanders in the past 10 years. Please help us to continue providing this vital assistance to our community by voting in support of the warrant articles for Access Program funding at your town meeting.
Sarah Kuh, Director
Vineyard Health Care Access Program
Next step on Chappy
To the Editor:
Edgartown Warrant Article 24: Chappy Path Survey.
The Chappy path committee is hoping to complete the road survey on Chappaquiddick for a proposed shared-use path along the road from the Chappy ferry to the Dike Bridge. This funding request now appears as Article 24 on the Edgartown town warrant. The earlier road survey completed in 1995 does not include the Dike bridge road portion.
The warrant article, requesting CPA funding, will be amended to request the sum of $6,270 and is only for a survey plan of the Dike Road. The completed survey will provide a definitive basis for the Edgartown and Chappy communities to intelligently discuss the pros and cons of a shared-use plan this summer. The proposed survey is an important step to enable that discussion, and we hope that you agree and will vote in favor of our warrant article.
Bob Colvin, Chairman
Chappy Path Steering Committee
Tax smokeless tobacco
To the Editor:
Massachusetts is a pioneer in health care. As the first state to have a public health department and a system to insure nearly every resident, the Commonwealth is a leader in preventing disease and improving the health of communities. A long-time contributor to public health, the tobacco control community, successfully kept the Bay State workforce healthy by banning cigarette smoking in bars and restaurants statewide. Today, the tobacco control community proposes legislation to generate new funding by closing the tax loopholes on smokeless tobacco products. Lawmakers have an opportunity to enact this legislation to decrease the use of tobacco products and protect the public health programs and services our residents need.
The Commonwealth is currently experiencing an increase in the use of smokeless tobacco products as an alternative to cigarettes, especially among the youth. This is not a coincidence. In the last decade, tobacco companies have singled out young consumers through kid-friendly marketing campaigns with the goal of breeding the next generation of tobacco users. The inexpensive cost, colorful packaging and strategic product placements of these products in local neighborhoods have proven to be effective. Today, the number of tobacco users among the youth population is higher than ever. Tobacco use of any kind poses serious health risks such as cancers of the mouth and throat, and gum disease. The connections between oral diseases and tobacco use are well documented. When oral health is compromised, one's overall health and well-being also suffers.
Our children's health is at stake if we don't act. That's why I am speaking up against the tobacco industry by supporting the Tobacco Free Massachusetts bill, An act to reduce youth consumption of tobacco products by equalizing the cigarette excise (House Bill 2773). By enacting this bill that taxes smokeless tobacco products at the same levels as cigarettes, Massachusetts can continue to have a positive impact on our community's health by decreasing tobacco use overall and creating an additional revenue stream for our public health programs.
If enacted, Massachusetts will have between $10 million and $15 million in additional revenues to support public health. At the local level, this bill will increase funding for public health programs on Martha's Vineyard, including initiatives that provide tobacco control.
April 6 to 12 is National Public Health week. The residents of Martha's Vineyard can celebrate this week by taking the steps toward keeping our communities tobacco-free. Contact your lawmakers today and ask for their support of this important bill. For additional questions, please contact Tobacco Free Massachusetts at 508-270-4652. Together, we can ensure that the next generation has a healthy future.
Dr. Peter Strock
BL Hathaway is the coordinator of the Tri-County Collaborative for Oral Health Excellence serving Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket Counties. Dr. Peter Strock is a dentist who has practiced on Martha's Vineyard for many years.
What about a driving service for town meetings
To the Editor:
As in many cities and towns in the Commonwealth, the League of Women Voters offers voters a ride to the polls on Election Day. I suspect that many of those accepting the league's offer are senior citizens who have ceased driving their automobiles. Clearly, the league performs a valuable service to all of us by ensuring that the elderly can continue to exercise their rights as citizens to select those whom they wish to run town government.
However, as far as I know, there is no comparable service enabling senior citizens to exercise their rights at town meeting. The elderly are, by and large, left to fend for themselves in getting to town meeting and, as we who are aging know, driving at night is far from a pleasure. As a result, the elderly are not adequately represented at town meeting. Yet, town meeting is probably more important than town elections in directing those who run town government. Look around you at town meeting. Where are Mr. and Ms Smith who spoke up at every town meeting you attended? What good advice are we missing because they no longer can come to town meeting?
Clearly, transporting people to and from the polls is a lot easier and much less time-consuming than transporting them to and from town meeting. However, if we could solve this problem, our towns would benefit from the experience of our senior citizens; issues could be examined from the perspective of the young, the old and the middle aged - that is, from the perspective of all of our citizens.
I don't have an answer to this problem beyond suggesting that we who still drive volunteer to take our older neighbors and friends to town meeting with us. Perhaps, next year, the political parties, the VTA or one of the many social service agencies on Martha's Vineyard might have a better solution.
It's the people who make it so
To the Editor:
Recently someone suggested I take my Life is Good tire cover off. He felt, based on the current state of affairs, it was inappropriate. I explained that it said Life is Good, not Life is Easy. Friday night, I ran into several Islanders that are perfect examples of why Life is Good on Martha's Vineyard.
Getting off the 5 pm ferry Friday night, we were greeted by torrential downpours. A nice man in a red sweater (I wish I knew his name) helped me with my bag as we raced for the Park and Ride shuttle. That same man (he was driving a tree service truck, Clements I believe) helped my sister and I with a jump start (still raining) once we got to the Park and Ride. We drove home, let our car run for a good 45 minutes before heading out to grab a bite. About 1.5 miles along the Edgartown-Vineyard Haven Road, our car died again. Yet another Islander (in a white truck) stopped to try and assist. Unfortunately, this time there was no getting it started, so we had to be towed home.
The next morning I crossed my fingers and called Luis at Martha's Vineyard Autoworks, just hoping someone might answer. Luis did, and he said "come on in." If you don't know Luis, he is incredible, and I couldn't recommend him enough. Unfortunately, it was the alternator not the battery, so we went to rent a car from Jay at A-A Island rental. Jay was courteous and even recommended a brunch at the Grill on Main for Sunday that we were unaware off. If you haven't tried it yet, for $20 you don't know what you are missing. It was delicious, and everyone there is super friendly. We could have looked at the first half of the weekend as a total disaster, but not us. Our whole experience this weekend demonstrates why Life is Good on an Island with so many wonderful people.
Sunday at the library
To the Editor:
On behalf of the Vineyard Haven Public Library, I would like to extend our thanks to the community for its support of Sunday hours at the library this year. This was the second year the library had winter Sunday hours, and our attendance was up nearly 40 percent over the first year.
We'd like to thank the Friends of the Library who put on a terrific series of programs and our first "mini" book sale. We appreciate the volunteers and speakers who made these afternoon programs so successful. We're especially grateful to Mocha Mott's of Vineyard Haven for providing their delicious free coffee for our patrons.
This past Sunday, April 5, was our final Sunday for the season, but we plan to resume Sunday hours in the fall.