Letters, Dec. 3, 2011

Fri, 12/02/2011 - 4:23pm

To: the Editor—

The Mental Health Task Force is thankful to Dr. Mike Brownstein for his donation, which was the subject of your story last week ("Mental health group gets $22K gift"), but we are equally thankful to Dr. Steve Rasmussen for the gift of setting up a program on the island to provide services. In the long term, the Department of Psychiatry at Brown (which he chairs) and Butler Hospital are making an even larger donation for the welfare of islanders by providing psychiatric residents to provide treatment.

Dr. Rasmussen said this week that he hopes to have the program up and running by January 1 — an ambitious goal! We are trying to reach three groups of potential clients:

1. Those who are currently receiving no mental health care because of cost or the difficulty of travel to the mainland.

2. Those who have a severe mental illness (or live with a family member with severe mental illness) and would benefit from seeing a psychiatrist on-island, having occasional sessions with a psychiatrist off-island via computer, and being followed by an on-island case worker who will manage their care.

3. Those with anxiety, depression, and more common disorders (which affect one out of four Americans) who would benefit by receiving care on-island, getting prescriptions renewed or adjusted, and consulting with a psychiatrist in conjunction with a primary care physician.

Doctor visits will be free for the uninsured. Butler is in conversation with Blue Cross and other insurers, but Dr. Rasmussen told us that if it turns out not to be practical to accept insurance, they will simply treat all patients for free.

Visits with doctors will be conducted by telemedicine — meaning that you will sit in a private room in Harbor Church with a TV screen hooked up to Butler Hospital and talk to the doctor face-to-face but over an internet connection. If you prefer to see your doctor in person the first time, that can be arranged but will require a trip to the mainland (except perhaps in the summer when doctors will visit the island). A personal visit to the clinic in Providence will always be an option.

While we are not ready to take appointments, we do need anyone interested in receiving services through the telemedicine program to indicate their interest. We are just trying to gauge the number of hours needed, so replies can either be anonymous or you can give your name and number if you’d like to be called back when doctors begin seeing patients at Harbor Church. There are two ways to indicate interest confidentially:

1. Telephone: Call a dedicated line, 466-2070, and leave a message on an answering machine which will be checked only by me personally; OR

2. Email: Send a message to healthierminds@aol.com saying that you would be interested in using the service next year. (Please use only one method.)

Islanders who normally make appointments with psychiatrists for their children or other family members are asked to call or email on behalf of the patient.

We appreciate the encouragement we have received from the community and ask for help in getting information to those whose lives will be improved by getting treatment on-island.

Steve Hollaway, Chair

For the Mental Health Task Force


To: the Editor—

The holidays are upon us. Colleges will be getting out soon for holiday semester break and student grades will be on their way. As a public advocate of fiscal sensitivity I feel an obligation to grade our town, and specifically the town council, for their abilities or lack of such with our tax dollars. The basic classes to be graded would be the central issues of this beautiful island that have left the council and the public sometimes at great odds.

Class 500: Deer population and control (500 represents the so called count). We have too many deer, that we all agree on. Are they starving? No. Is the problem all related to Lyme Disease? No. There just are too many into too many gardens, on too many roads — basically a nuisance. The solution of the Deer Task Force is to kill as many as possible, where ever they are: nature preserves, conserved land, private homes, town land, town parks, federal land, including hiking trails; and (hopefully no self propelled grenade launchers). Therefore we are all in jeopardy if we want to walk this winter. I ask, is there no other way? The grade is F for failure to ensure safety while trying to lower the deer population.

Class 4: Cooneymus Road right of way (four councilman voted it in). This is a quicky. Kim Gaffett wanted it for a special interest group and wanted it her way and that's how it went regardless of the opposition. Grade F, another failure of town officials for not listening to the general population.

Class 54: Island Energy Forum (54 cents/kilowatt hour, our average electric costs, are more than double the next highest in the country). The meeting on October 20 was declared unsuitable after the 60 plus people attending were considered to be too old. They were mostly against everything Dr. Baute was trying to sell. "I look around the room and this group is too old" said Dr. Baute, a town councilman and member of the forum. Hey, Doc, have you looked in the mirror lately? Nevertheless these "old people" are taxpayer voters concerned about their Block Island dollar. The younger group and school teachers are voters but not always big tax payers and don't usually show up for this type of gathering. Business people are afraid of retaliation and should be when you speak out against big energy like Deepwater or Block Island Power Company, and especially when one of our town councilmen works for BIPCO. If Deepwater and BIPCo get together on this deal it will be a match made in hell for the ratepayers of Block Island, and that's all of us. The grade is F again for the Energy Forum.

Class 150: Transfer Station controversy ($150,000 lost to the town after the council accepts a contract for $60,000 instead of $210,000 for three years). To bid or not to bid, or rebid, or rebid the rebid, that is the question. Regardless, it was awarded or rewarded to Block Island Recycling Management again after 14 years. Obviously it is a lose-lose situation now with legal entanglements that will be the council's legacy for years to come. You flunked this one too, Town Council, grade F for your unanimous vote.

Class One More: Public intoxication (one more liquor license). We should be concerned about drinking on this island. Driving after the bars close is a risky proposition. Take a look at the Surf Hotel after someone took off part of the porch then bounced into the National Hotel last week. One block away last year, the entire corner of the Beachcomber building was knocked off with bricks all over the road. We are so concerned about the 4th of July but still don't listen to Chief of Police Vin Carlone, who has limited man power and limited resources while chasing drunks all over town. What is our answer from the Town Council but one more liquor license directly across from the Yellow Kittens and next door to Sharky's, and granted to our First Warden Kim Gaffett's father Lew Gaffett. Lew is a great guy and we all love him but one more bar? The council didn't go unanimously on this one. Dick Martin voted against it, citing too many bars already in the area.

Class 2 on Coast Guard Road: (two more affordable houses that is). To the Affordable Housing Board: are you really proud of your selection process? You led us all to believe that some truly essential personnel would be living there, like maybe a policeman or the town building official, who has devoted 25 years of his life to this island — yet it was never going to happen. I might give you a grade A for good intended effort but still Grade F for the selection process.

The Town Council has failed the people of Block Island. We have one more semester before election day 2012. What are the chances that this council could ever come up with a passing grade? If not then we'll have to use the old adage "throw the bums out," each and every one of them, on election day and it is unfortunate that we can't do it before that. It will be up to you, tax payers and voters of Block Island.

John Willis

Beacon Hollow Farm


To: the Editor—

It is very sad that Cliff Mitchell passed away on Saturday and the Block Island Maritime Institute will miss him deeply. Cliff was a dedicated volunteer and contributed selflessly. He had a good sense of our mission and was an inspiration to all who came in contact with him. Thank you Cliff.

Wendell Corey, President

For the Block Island Maritime Institute Board


To: the Editor—

Few, if any of us, didn't know or interact with Roger Aubut. If you did, you missed out on a wonderful person. He was smart, soft spoken for the most part and a lover of island life. He was also a reasonable and trusting businessman who never took advantage of the lack of competition from distance sources. We played quite a few games of pool and generally split the wins and losses. We both liked it that way.

Roger would do our furnace annually and, facing his death with dignity, made sure we'd all have a follow up upon his leaving us. We could talk about death as I too am facing that fate. It was another common bond between us that brought us closer. Occasionally we tipped a few, remembering the best of times, but we never got angry or upset at our apparent bad luck with cancer. We both realized that anger and resentment only made the situation worse.

I will miss you, my friend, but will be joined with you, as we all will at some time. So for now it's not goodbye... It's so long till we meet again.

Lee Miles

Delray Beach and Sunset Hill, Block Island


To: the Editor—

A record $1,100 was raised by this year’s oyster benefit. Good job to everyone who participated and thank you to the Poor People’s Pub for providing a place for the benefit. See you next year. (See, I can write a short letter.)

Chris Warfel

High Street


To: the Editor—

Many thanks to all who contributed to another successful season of the Block Island Farmers' Market. The Farmers' Market provides a venue for island residents to sell their fresh produce, baked goods and crafts, all grown or hand made here on Block Island. Over the past 25 years, the market has grown from a few members to now almost 60 vendors. It would not be possible without the gracious support of many. In the spirit of this holiday season, we would like to offer special thanks to the following whose contributions make the Farmers' Market possible:

Justin Abrams and Steve and Rita Draper, for providing us a home at the Manisses each Wednesday.

Nancy Dodge and the Town of New Shoreham, for the use of Negus Park each Saturday.

The Block Island Power Company, for providing our customers and vendors a place to park.

Chief Carlone and his team, for helping us keep the Farmers' Market safe for all.

And of course, a big thank you to all our loyal customers. See you next season!

Dorrie Napoleone, Farmers' Market Coordinator

Coast Guard Road


To: the Editor—

The Block Island staff of The Nature Conservancy would like to thank all who came to our holiday open house over Thanksgiving weekend. We were overwhelmed by the show of support for our program and the collective efforts of the island's conservation community. We have a great deal to be thankful for. This year, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Block Island Program.

The Nature Conservancy would like to give thanks to the following island businesses that contributed to the gathering: The Beachead, Club Soda, Finn’s Seafood Restaurant, McGovern’s Yellow Kittens & Winfield’s Restaurant, Red Bird Package Store, Poor People's Pub and the 1661 Inn. We especially would like to give thanks for the generosity of Rita and Steve Draper and Justin Abrams for not only hosting the open house, but also for their dedication and commitment in making this event so special.

We wish everyone a warm and joyous holiday season!

Scott Comings, Chris Littlefield, Adrian Mitchell, Charlotte Herring

The Nature Conservancy, Block Island Program


To: the Editor—

November 24 is a very special day, one that gives us the opportunity to say “thank you” for our many, many blessings. Your Block Island Times is one of the gifts I wish to thank you for; our local news coverage, the photography, the personal column by Fran M. (happy to see its return), and especially the Sea Squad and Sealy cartoons by Captain Kid (a.k.a. David Chatowsky).

The Sea Squad has taught me so very much about nature surrounding Block Island (and elsewhere), but I have to admit that Sealy has stolen my heart. This portion of David’s cartoons is the one that instills the all-important life-long teachings that all children need as they grow and mature. David is also an amazing artist.

I have been saving all my Captain Kid cartoons to share with my grandchildren in Texas. I was disappointed not to see them in the Thanksgiving issue, but am looking forward to their return in the next B.I.Times.

Ginny Collins

Pilot Hill Road