This week in Shelter Island history

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Cori Cass, a former Shelter Island School basketball star and one of the original group members in 2012 who helped establish the Shelter Island Bucks collegiate baseball team here.

Cori Cass, a former Shelter Island School basketball star and one of the original group members in 2012 who helped establish the Shelter Island Bucks collegiate baseball team here.

Town Board raises highway wages

At the urging of Highway Superintendent Harry Bowditch, department workers saw their wages rise by 25 cents an hour in the winter of 1964. That brought the basic wage to $2 an hour. Mr. Bowditch, who was first elected to his job in 1958, was successful in winning increases for his crew practically every year.

Crew members averaged 44.5 hours a week and there was no provision for overtime pay.

POSTSCRIPT: In working out a pay hike for Highway Superintendent Jay Card Jr. a few months ago, the Town Board needed to bring his pay to $76,500 so he wouldn’t have workers earning more than he does. But the $4,500 raise included in the budget was still much below what Mr Card has sought and if the Town Board fails to find more money for the job, it’s unlikely Mr. Card will seek a third term when his current term expired in two years.

Flu bug attacks Island students

About 25 percent of the 275 students at Shelter Island School were reported to have contracted the flu in January 1984 with 71 absences reported on a single day. The average number of absences during the winter at the time was about 7 percent, according to school officials. The flu appeared to hit high school students first that year, working its way down to the elementary school students. Despite the relatively high percentage, Superintendent Frederick Bement said there was no need to consider closing the school. That would only happen if there was a definite health hazard, he said.

POSTSCRIPT: This month, there has only been a single confirmed case of the flu on Shelter Island and no dramatic number of absences at the school, according to Nurse Mary Kanarvogel.

PSC probes NY Tel outage delay

New York Telephone crews 20 years ago were working to repair underground waterlogged trunk lines that knocked out communications on the Island for about 40 hours. But while the work was underway, the Public Service Commission was trying to get at the bottom of why it took 13 hours for the company to even respond to the outage. On January 24, 1994, at least 75 percent of the phones on the Island were dead, including those at Town Hall, the police, fire and ambulance services, the town Medical Center and South Ferry. While company officials claimed a number of reasons for the failure to respond rapidly, it was finally revealed that the people charged with monitoring outages weren’t working between the hours of 7 p.m. and 5:30 a.m. so no one got the report of the outages until the following morning.

POSTSCRIPT: New York Telephone evolved into Verizon and the PSC took steps in the wake of the problem to require more stringent monitoring and faster responses to outages. But the proliferation of cellphones in today’s world would also mean most people would still have the ability to communicate even if it took some time to repair land lines.

Basketball star returns to help teams

The year was 2004, just 10 years after Cori Cass had established himself as a star on the Shelter Island varsity basketball team in a season when the team went undefeated in league play. After high school, Mr. Cass attended Becker College in Worcester, Massachusetts, and worked in the financial services sector in New York City before returning to Shelter Island to work as a landscaper. When the varsity, junior varsity and junior high school basketball squads needed help to shore up their skills, Mr. Cass volunteered to serve as an assistant coach. It wasn’t an immediate turnaround, but there was definite improvement due to Mr. Cass.

POSTSCRIPT: In 2012, Mr. Cass was among a small group of men who united to bring collegiate baseball to Shelter Island, becoming general manager of the Shelter Island Bucks.