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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


Kicking off a tour at The Astoria London, Jimi Hendrix for the first time set fire to his guitar on stage — a move that would become his signature — but this time he had to be treated at a hospital for burns.

Members of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists for all three major networks — NBC, CBS and ABC — went on strike and it took 13 days to settle,  in time for a CBS live broadcast in April of the Academy Awards.

Americans were listening to The Turtles “Happy Together” at the end of March 1967.

United Nations Secretary General U Thant made public his proposals for a peace settlement in Vietnam.

In what was hailed at the time as the “greatest single Commonwealth achievement in communications,” the South-East Commonwealth telephone cable was inaugurated in Sydney, Australia making it possible to make direct calls between Australia and its Pacific neighbors and allowing calls to the rest of the world.

And on Shelter Island . . .

Close to the century mark

It was at this time in 1967 that Mitchell Post 281 of the American Legion was marking its 48th birthday with a gala buffet dinner. Outgoing post Commander Barice Nevel and Auxiliary President Ethel Springer cut a cake to celebrate the event.

At the time, Mr. Nevel reminded his fellow legionnaires that just five years earlier, members had reached a decision to either work to get the post on a firm financial footing or sell the building. Finances were still precarious as installation of bowling alleys and a cocktail lounge hadn’t been enough of a spur to meet monthly expenses that were in excess of $2,000.

It was a misconception at the time that bowling leagues had brought in enough revenue to balance the books. Mr. Nevel called on the community to make fuller use of the hall to make it viable.

POSTSCRIPT: The post has become a significant center of Island activity. In two years, it will celebrate its centennial.

Board votes to raise Berman’s salary

School budget time is always difficult for school districts, but on Shelter Island in 1987, recognizing that Superintendent Dr. Marlene Berman was “the lowest paid of any superintendent on the East End,” agreed to a $6,500 raise for the 1987-88 school year that would bring her salary to $65,500.

“We all feel Dr. Berman is doing an excellent job,” said Board President Bob DeStefano.

Prior to coming to Shelter Island, Dr. Berman had been principal in the Center Moriches District and had taken a pay cut to come to Shelter Island.

POSTSCRIPT: This spring, the Board of Education announced it was making a change in superintendents and that Leonard Skuggevik’s three-year contract that ends August 4 is not being renewed. Board President Thomas Graffagnino said talks had been ongoing between Mr. Skuggevik and the board for awhile and both had agreed to the decision.

Consultant chosen for merger study

The on-again, off-again merger talks between the Heights and Center firehouses took a new turn at the end of March in 1997. Both endorsed a recommendation from the merger committee to hire consultant Edward Olmstead of Freeville, New York.

A major stumbling block had been costs with the Center maintaining it could cover the Heights in a merger at less than the $80,000 that was being spent by that department. Heights officials thought the Center budget of $360,000 was inflated.

The committee interviewed two consultants and settled on Mr. Olmstead who came in with a low bid of $11,700.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, of course, there is a single fire department and single Board of Fire Commissioners covering the entire town.

Supermarket chief turns open space champion

It was this time of year in 2007 that a profile of Jim Dougherty, who had been president of Supermarkets General Corporation, appeared in the Reporter, recalling his years leading the Island’s open space committee. It went on to be called the 2 percent committee once the state created the Peconic Bay Community Preservation Fund.

By 2007, Mr. Dougherty was entertaining a run for supervisor, but hadn’t announced it by March. He won the supervisor’s seat in November 2007, taking office the following January.

POSTSCRIPT: Mr. Dougherty has indicated he plans to run for sixth term as supervisor in November 2017.

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