Letters to the Editor
Paying too much for insurance?
To the Editor:
A word to the wise, here's some very important information that you should be aware of about your homeowners insurance.
In 2006, we received a non-renewal notice like many of you did, for absolutely no reason except they did not want to insure the islands anymore. This left us no choice but to get the Massachusetts homeowners insurance. When I got the packet with the premium and replacement cost of our home, I was floored. The first thing I did was call my insurance provider here and dispute it. They said I should be insured for $624,000 dwelling and $312,000 personal property. I told them that I could re-build my house with all gold fixtures for this price. As much as I insisted that it was outrageously high, they insisted that it was correct. I also called the state insurance agency and got the same answer. Each year I would call and complain, only to get nowhere again and again.
This year I discovered an online database for Massachusetts and looked up my property. According to them my replacement cost is $357,437, as of 2009. My '09-'10 insurance had me at $675,000 dwelling and $337,000 personal property. A total of $317,563 over the actual replacement value. I don't know about you, but no way in hell do I have $317,000 in personal property.
I called state again this time armed with this information and, thank God, I got a person that was willing to listen to me. She looked at it and went back to the beginning of my being insured with them and told me that I have been insured for 172 percent over my replacement value, and even if I paid for the coverage I would never get that if my house burned down.
The revaluation is now $393,028 dwelling and $196,514 personal property. This year, I overpaid by $1,639, not to mention the previous years I was over insured. No, they do not refund a dime.
Please people, we cannot afford to be "legally" robbed anymore for any reason, especially when work is so scarce. Go to www.visionappraisal
.com and find your property, check out the "replacement cost" and compare it to your insurance. If it is not correct call them and argue, argue, argue. If you don't have a computer, I'm sure you can get this information from your town hall.
Another thing that might be costing you extra that you are not aware of are your real estate taxes. You can go to your assessors' office and get or see a copy of your "field card." Check it over good and make sure the info is right. If they say you have a back deck and you don't, prove it. If they say you have hard wood floors and you don't, prove it. Make sure your house dimensions are right. If your basement is unfinished, but they say it is finished, prove it.
Stop letting corporate America rob us while they live high on the hog. This includes our own hometowns. They are nice and warm in their perfect homes, have no worries about how they will pay their bills or clothe their kids. While most of us can't scrape up our real estate tax money each quarter and hope we can hold on to our homes. It's not fair that they think we have money socked away in foreign banks and withdraw every time they raise the taxes. There is so much wasted money, especially in this town, and it's just getting to be too much to bear.
Do whatever you can to stand up for yourselves, don't back down, and for God's sake stop yes-ing every damn extra new car or truck that this town thinks they need. Next time you see one of the town vehicles running, while the driver is in the mail or in a store or wherever, away from the vehicle at any amount of time, question why they are wasting the gas. After all you are paying for it. Are you able to leave your car running to keep it warm in the winter or cool in the summer at more than $3 per gallon? I doubt it.
A perfect valentine
To the Editor:
When a devastating illness strikes someone very dear to you, what do you do? Why, you research the illness, of course, searching for ways to help that wonderful person. Maybe you find the expert doctor for him to call or read the new research with the hope of helping her find the most up-to-date treatment. Whatever you do, you are there for that person, learning about the many facets of the illness, ready to listen to her weep with frustration or submit to the angry words he hurls in despair and pain. That person you love so much has found his/her life derailed. You soon find that yours, too, has been consumed with the confusion and turmoil wrought by the life-altering illness.
If that illness is a mental illness, a biologically based illness like any other major illness - but, then again, not like any other major illness - life for all becomes especially tumultuous. An integral part of mental illness may be the total lack of insight by the ill person himself. His brain/her brain has begun to play tricks on their perceptions, altering their sense of reality. The more you try to help, the more they may resist. What can you do to show them the depth of your love?
My answer would be to inform yourself as thoroughly as possible about the many complex ramifications of mental illnesses. A free course for family caregivers/close relatives of a person with mental illness called the Family-to-Family Education course will begin on Thursday, Feb. 18, in Oak Bluffs. It will be taught by my husband and me. We have taught this course on a volunteer basis for the past six years in Wareham, Boston, and on the Vineyard.
Last week, a letter from Julia Burgess, Martha's Vineyard Community Services executive director, discussing both the nature and benefits of this course was published in The Martha's Vineyard Times and The Vineyard Gazette. My belief is that by committing to the 12 weeks of Thursday evening classes, you will be giving the perfect valentine to your ill family member.
Editor's Note: The Times requires the signatures of letter writers, although we have made rare exceptions. This is one. Always in such unusual instances, we know who the letter writer is and judge that the sensitivity of the subject, the interests of privacy, and the value of the information warrant a departure from the prevailing policy.
A student view
To the Editor:
The riveting speech by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address had a key note for me as a student. I am social work major and am currently taking a social policy class at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island. We were urged to watch the State of the Union address for an assignment, which many college students would usually dismiss as not important.
Our country has a long, hard road ahead of us, but we need to look to our future. I believe education can build a strong society. Gaining a college education is a great deal of pressure for young people today. Not every high school graduate has the funds for continuing their education. President Obama said he was going to pass a bill that revitalized our community colleges, created tax cuts for parents up to $10,000 for four years and increased Pell Grant awards. He also addressed a plan for paying back student loans. If you choose a career in public service, your loan will be eliminated after 10 years, and for other careers, 20 years.
As I am majoring in social work, if what he said becomes a reality, my loans may be eliminated 10 years after I graduate. This would bring great relief to my family and me. President Obama is correct when he says, "...no one should go broke because they chose to go to college." Students are trying to find skills that will help them in the competitive job market, but also in becoming good citizens of America. If what was said during the State of the Union by President Obama comes to fruition for college students, I see this country moving in the right direction.
Looking to the future.
Salve Regina University, 2012
To the Editor:
I wanted to write a letter of sincere appreciation and gratitude for the wonderful care I recently received at Martha's Vineyard Hospital. I delivered my first baby at the hospital in late December and had nothing short of a spectacular experience.
I must first recognize the OB/GYN office staff for their topnotch care during my pregnancy. Dr. Linda Stewart, who has a great reputation among her patients within the community, provides great oversight of her staff, who I found to always be efficient and professional. Brenda Fauteux and Melinda Byers, the support staff, were kind, helpful and always accommodating. Evie O'Donnell and Gretchen Mayher, the RNs, always provided great care and never allowed me to leave the office with unanswered questions. They always provided the reassurance and encouragement that pregnant, hormonal women often need to hear, and they did their best to make each visit to this office an enjoyable experience.
I must next thank the maternity nurses for their attentive care and genuine concern. Nancy Hugger, who attended much of my labor, and Sandy Ciciora, who attended the latter part of my labor and the delivery, were simply phenomenal. They both exuded a calm, positive energy that provided me with much comfort during my labor and helped ease my delivery.
My postpartum nurses, including Carla Furtaw, Missy Harding, Rachel Neville, Joyce Capobianco and Sandy Ciciora, provided the finest quality of care to my newborn and me, and were very accommodating to my husband, who hardly left my side during my hospital stay. I felt very comforted knowing we were being cared for by such a wonderful, attentive and knowledgeable group of nurses. The morale in this department is outstanding, and it is clear that this staff truly love what they do.
Finally, I must thank the nurse-midwives, Cathy Chase and Nancy Leport, who both provided my prenatal care and attended my labor and delivery. They are hardworking and truly remarkable women, and my husband and I could not have felt more comfortable having them deliver our child.
These midwives are one of the hospital's best assets and the community of Martha's Vineyard is extremely lucky to have them providing their services here. The hard work, compassion, skill and kindness displayed by all of these women definitely did not go unnoticed.
As an employee at the hospital myself, even I was impressed and amazed at their performance and truly understand the importance of acknowledging people for their hard work and dedication. I want to offer these women a special recognition and a well deserved pat on the back, as I'm sure this is often probably overlooked or not done enough. I think that too often people focus on the negative and on what could or should be better. I wanted to take a moment to focus on the positive and offer a thank you where it was due.
Dina and Shane BenDavid
Don't miss "Rent"
To the Editor:
Kate Murray, the director of "Rent the Musical", the high school play, is a star. Due to previous travel plans, my husband and I will be unable to see our nephew perform in the play this week. Kate kindly let us have a sneak preview at a dress rehearsal.
Even with mostly understudies, this play is superb. The high school should be extremely proud of its students. The subject matter of "Rent" is provocative, and these young actors handled it with true maturity and great dignity.
Kate Murray has directed a brilliant musical. You don't want to miss this one.
Lisa B. Langley
To the Editor:
First, a couple of corrections about Ken Lay's Letter to the Editor a couple of weeks ago. ("Urges President to go to Haiti," January 28) His letter referred to Africa as a country. In fact, it is a continent. The letter also asked the question "Why are we sending past, white, ex-presidents to Haiti." This is redundant because past and ex- mean the same thing. Also there is no need to say "white, ex-presidents" because all ex-presidents are white.
Next, congratulations to West Tisbury for defending the public's right to an ancient way. Maybe that guy who won't shut up about beach access to public areas should hire your attorneys. This way he can stop writing his stupid letters that always close with "end beach apartheid."
To the Editor:
The MVRHS Girls Ice Hockey Booster Club held their annual fundraiser Saturday, February 6, at the Portuguese American Club in Oak Bluffs. On behalf of the parents and players, I thank all of the island businesses that made this event such a huge success.
Our booster club funds many facets of the girls' experience. From paying for pre-season ice time to equipment to funding a scholarship given to an outgoing senior each year. One hundred percent of the funds raised are put back into the program. Without the generosity and support of the Island business community, our program would have a long, uphill battle. It is not lost on any of us that local support is so very important for many programs like ours.
Special thanks to "Trader" Fred Mascolo for his stellar performance as auctioneer. From the impressive food and desserts to the wonderful silent and live auction items, it was a fantastic evening.
We also thank all of those who came out to this wonderful event on a cold February evening. We know this is a tough time here on the Vineyard and beyond, and we are so very appreciative to live in place where we receive such support. Thank you, thank you.
MVRHS Girls Ice Hockey Booster Club
To the Editor:
Last week, the BostonChannel.com - WCVB News 5 - ran an article detailing how schools across the Commonwealth have created few if any jobs with the federal stimulus money and calling into question how these funds were used by several school districts. Specifically, Edgartown School was cited for spending $13,000 on window cleaning. It is truly a shame that these crack investigative reporters didn't really investigate the story or at least verify the facts.
The funds in question are part of a $47,916 grant to the Edgartown School district from the Commonwealth, called State Stabilization Funds (SFSF), made in the last quarter of the 2008-09 school year to offset funds cut from the Commonwealth's own Chapter 70 aid to local schools.
These moneys were used to cover regular expenses in the last quarter of the year, as instructed by the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Basically, the Commonwealth used the stimulus money to cover a shortfall in its budget. In Edgartown, funds were used to pay for supplies, repairs to the building, student transportation, and utility bills. The $13,000 in question was a quarterly payment to a contractor - Sparkle Window Cleaning - which provides some custodial services at the school like sweeping floors, cleaning bathrooms, and, yes, cleaning windows. Basically, the school used these funds as suggested by the DESE to balance its FY09 budget, after the Commonwealth cut its support to schools at the very last minute.
The Martha's Vineyard Public Schools, including Edgartown School, have received many thousands of dollars as part of the federal stimulus (ARRA) money and have used those funds in part to pay teachers' and other school employees' salaries where jobs would have been reduced or eliminated.
Too bad no one asked us about how we used those dollars. Amy Tierney, our business administrator, called and e-mailed Channel 5 after we saw the article. Let's see if anyone at the station corrects the record.
James H. Weiss
Superintendent of Schools