(The following letter was also submitted to the New Shoreham Town Council:)
To the Editor:
In our continued effort to ban the use of the herbicide Roundup (Glyphosate) on Block Island, the Conservation Commission met for a special meeting on Tuesday, September 18, 2018, to discuss scientific research on the dangers of chronic exposure to the herbicide.
According to BeyondPesticides.org, Glyphosate “is associated with a wide range of illnesses, including non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, genetic damage, liver and kidney damage, endocrine disruption, as well as environmental damage, including water contamination and harm to amphibians.” Armed with this highly credible knowledge and research, the Conservation Commission feels strongly that a case could be made to make Block Island a special exception to the DEM pesticide ruling, on the grounds that Glyphosate poses a direct threat to the island’s unique situation regarding its delicate, sole-source aquifer.
Therefore, the Conservation Commission is once again advising the Town Council to pursue the Glyphosate ban by petitioning the DEM to make Block Island a special exception to the statewide pesticide ruling. The Commission feels very strongly that due to its unique circumstance, the island could serve as a prime example for the need to make this special exception.
Ned Phillips, Jr.
Chair, Conservation Commission
Honoring our veterans
To the Editor:
As we approach Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11) and the Marine Corps Birthday (Nov. 10) our thoughts as veterans turn to relatives and islanders who have taken up arms to serve our country and to protect our way of life. In Legion Park we have monuments and plaques commemorating more than 30 islanders who served, and some who gave their lives in our Civil War, close to 100 islanders who served in WWII, almost 80 who served in the Korean conflict and Vietnam. In Bridgegate Square we have a monument recognizing WWI servicemen.
The Merrill Slate American Legion Post #36 here on the island has over 90 members. The legion would like to identify servicemen living on the island who have served since the end of the Vietnam conflict in our country’s peace-keeping actions involving our military in Grenada, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Bosnia and other actions.
To achieve this end, we are asking Block Island residents to forward to the Legion, the names of relatives and friends, who have a connection to the island, either through growing up here or currently in residence, so that their service to our country and their sacrifices might ultimately be commemorated for posterity on a plaque here in Legion Park.
Confidentially will be observed in the vetting of this list and permission to include the names of these servicemen in our recognition will be sought. We urge readers of the B.I. Times to provide to us the names, rank, and period of service for themselves and for relations whose names might be included in this effort. We know that many have served, but we want to recognize those who took up arms in answer to the call to duty.
The address of the Merrill Slate American Legion Post is Box 777, Block Island, RI, 02807.
Thank you for any support that you can provide to us in this effort and may God Bless America.
John R. Hopf
Medical Center’s numbers
To the Editor:
Summer and Labor Day have come and gone, leaving many the opportunity to breathe a sigh of relief as the island settles into a slower, more relaxed pace. Our Tourism Council has reflected on the summer season summarizing numbers of visitors and business activity. We all know it has been a busy one.
As a member of the Block Island Health Services board, I would like to share some numbers as well. The months of June, July, and August saw 619, 968, and 895 patient visits respectively, an increase of 376 patient visits for the same time period in 2017. During those three months this year, 49 patients required transport off the island for further care. Some of these patients were traumas related to accidents, many were critical cardiac and neurologic emergencies requiring immediate hospital-level care.
Among the heroes are the outstanding, competent and caring staff of the Block Island Medical Center. They work tirelessly to assure that all residents and visitors receive excellent, state-of-the-art medical care 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.
The staff is supported by the Brown University medical students, as well as emergency medicine resident physicians. Without their support, our physician and nurse practitioner would be unable to provide the level of care currently available at the center.
Recognition of our all-volunteer Fire and Rescue cannot be overlooked. These outstanding and dedicated folks are true partners in the delivery of health care here on the island. This year the community is extremely fortunate to have several new, fully trained and certified EMT's enhancing the squad.
I would also like to recognize Lois and Bill Bendokas of New England Airlines, Josh Linda of Interstate Navigation, the crew of Life Star and the United States Coast Guard...always at the ready, regardless of time, day or night, to assist with transporting patients to the mainland.
We all know how fortunate we are to have these dedicated, hard-working groups here and available on Block Island. As the island activity winds down, please take a moment to reach out and thank these wonderful people...all treasures...each and every one.
With gratitude and thanks,
BIHS Board of Directors
Thankful for the help
To the Editor:
Last Sunday, Sept. 30, I had a medical problem. What to do? This was Sunday, the Medical Center was closed, and after much thought and prodding, I called 911. I got the dispatcher, explained the problem and after giving my address and fire number, lo and behold, an ambulance arrived in my yard manned by three outstanding professionals: Tracy Fredericks, Dave Morrison and Bob Greenlee. What a reassuring team. On to the Medical Center where Liz Dyer and a fourth-year Brown medical student were waiting. Next was the usual; an EKG, blood pressure, etc., etc. The next words from Liz Dyer were “what hospital do you like?” South County. So, on to New England Airlines in a single-engine plane were me, my wife Sally and team member Dave Morrison. From there to Westerly, ambulance again to South County Hospital — and while there, testing, re-testing, and all came out well.
My heartfelt thanks to all, but especially the Block Island Fire and Rescue teams, the B.I. Medical Center, and of course, a safe flight over via New England Airlines. Thank you again for such a good experience, good care, and thank god for the good results.
West Beach Road
To the Editor:
(And to the New Shoreham Town Council:)
As a year-round resident, taxpayer since 1962 and sufferer of Lyme disease and, most recently, ehrlichiosis, I write to join the letter campaign deploring the size — indeed the very presence — of the island deer herd. The white tailed deer is the primary host to the ixodes tick that transmits the bacteria to those of us who live here. Without the deer, extensive research tells us the island’s tick population would be minimal and the threat of infection that so many of us have suffered all but eliminated. Instead of a prime harbor of the diseases, the island could become a sanctuary against it. Let the tourist industry, noticeably quiet on the subject, take note. And let me start by taking exception with almost every paragraph of the editorial that ran in The Block Island Times of September 15, entitled Reducing the Herd.
“There should be first” the editorialist wrote, “a deer count done sometime during the winter.” In other words, let’s not do anything more at least until next year. Why? When all one needs to do is look out the window of an early morning, review the savage marks on the bark of small trees or look at certain hoof prints to know that we share the island’s wild spaces with a species of large mammal essential to the life cycle of the deer tick, no matter its numbers — a species that was unknown on the island long before human count, perhaps forever. The figures we should be noting are the number and severity of the human pain inflicted. The argument put forward for the deer count is that “once we know the number, a plan of action can be formulated.” Been there, done that. Depending on the limits of the state-run hunting season hasn’t sufficed. The idea that we need to go there again stems from the single most fallacious statement of the editorial, what it calls “the myth” that the herd can be eliminated. It’s dismissed as a myth because “the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management owns the deer and have mandated that the deer cannot be reduced to zero. Hunting is a popular sport on Block Island, and that must be maintained.”
Unsaid is that many DEM jobs depend on the regulation of hunting. Popular it may be among some, but not so popular as good health. Health is the element that “must be maintained,”
As to whether the DEM “own the deer,” let’s give them that. In which case they also own a responsibility to deal effectively with the diseases the deer support. They have not done so. Isn’t it time to sue?
Let’s back up a number of decades, to 1968 and 1969, when DEM brought the first four breeding pair of white tailed deer to the island with the clear intention of creating a huntable population. They did this because a group of island hunters asked them to. What if they’d brought rabbits, or bears? People like to hunt those too. No rabbits because it is axiomatic in the field of wildlife management not to introduce a species that depends on predation to keep its numbers in check into an environment where there are no such predators. Indeed, I understand that the first request made by a handful of island hunters had been vetoed by DEM’s trained biologists. They were then over ruled by non professional higher-ups. So close.
This issue should not be whether or not the deer could be 100-percent eliminated. Very possibly not. But certainly the effort should not be dismissed out of hand as a “myth.” Reason tells us to go for it. To admit defeat after only a half-hearted attempt that depends on private donations and inappropriate DEM restraints sucks the air out of the process, as the most recent decades have shown. The Town Council must act vigorously. Challenge DEM’s management and engage the whole island rather than be seduced by certain Siren voices or those of hunters who shoot more for sport than for food. To maintain the status quo, which appears to be where we are headed once again, overlooks what nature intended: An island that is not a supercharged breeding ground for disease-bearing ticks.
P. S. Wood,
Old Mill Road, Block Island