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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.

50 YEARS AGO IN HISTORY

The first issue of Rolling Stone Magazine featuring stories about music, popular culture and politics was published.

The unmanned Surveyor 6 made a soft landing on the moon, an important feat in the country’s plans to send men to the moon.

President Lyndon Johnson signed the Public Broadcasting Act, creating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Carl Stokes was elected the first African-American mayor of a major United States city, Cleveland, Ohio.

At a ceremony in Phnom Peng, Cambodia, three U.S. prisoners of war released by the Viet Cong were turned over to antiwar activist Tom Hayden.

And on Shelter Island . . .

50 YEARS AGO

County Police out of East End

County Executive H. Lee Dennison  approved a local law eliminating all county police from East End towns and villages. At the time of the signing, the law also eliminated police services for nine villages in western Suffolk, requiring further legislation to restore those to the county system.

In signing the law, Mr. Dennison said  in the long run  the East End would recognize its need for county police and restore their status. Mr. Dennison wasn’t the only voice to be heard on the change, with Police Commissioner John Berry saying the move would open the door to organized crime establishing itself on the East End.

He specifically cited Shelter Island, claiming that the Cosa Nostra and Mafia-affiliated families or individuals were already operating here. But he withdrew that charge after Mr. Dennison challenged him to produce evidence or take back his statement.

POSTSCRIPT: County Police services are rendered in specific serious cases, but East End towns and villages continue to have their own police departments.

30 YEARS AGO

Oil and water

Thirty years ago, LILCO wanted to use 90,000 gallons of oil to cool down underground cables, insisting that the oil was harmless.

Instead, it was suggested that nitrogen be substituted for oil because the inert gas posed “no apparent threat to the water.”

The Reporter at the time called for a thorough study of various alternatives, saying that while money was the only issue for the utility company, for Islanders, the issue was the quality of drinking water.

POSTSCRIPT: There’s more than a bit of irony in today’s world where the concentration on improving drinking water and water runoff into bays is on the nitrogen content that needs to be reduced from current levels. It’s why Suffolk County and Shelter Island Town are focused on encouraging upgrades to septic systems in an effort to reduce what are now known to be dangerous levels of nitrogen.

20 YEARS AGO

Islanders among ‘Save the Bays’ honorees

Save the Peconic Bay was poised 20 years ago to honor several East Enders for their attention to water quality issues. Among them were Cindy Belt as Educator of the Year for her work with The Nature Conservancy’s Mashomack Preserve, and Rowland and Wendy Clark as Citizens of the Year for promoting and educating others about the connection between water quality and habitat to the health of the estuarine ecosystem and its marine life.

POSTSCRIPT: It’s interesting to note that even 20 years ago, while many were focused only on issues of water quantity on the Island, there were those who understood that quality was an issue that also needed to be addressed. The Town Board has invested money in a study of water quality issues being undertaken by the United States Geological Survey over a three-year period.

Add to that the attention the new nitrogen-reducing septic systems are getting both locally and countywide, the Island is poised to pay attention to changes meant to protect drinking water supply as well as runoff water that affects ponds and surrounding bays.

10 YEARS AGO

Three Island runners qualify for ‘States’

It was a season beset by injuries for the Island’s varsity men’s cross country runners 10 years ago. But by qualification time, all members were healthy, giving coach Keith Brace reason to be optimistic about their performance.

Three of his senior members did qualify and three, all seniors, were bound for state competition. Wade Kotula, Schuyler Needham and Louis Toth all ran their best races at the county championship.

POSTSCRIPT: Ten years later, Island cross country runners — girls and boys — are performing as top runners. They not only demonstrate their prowess on the circuit racing against runners from other schools, but they placed well in the Shelter Island 5K this fall, giving fans every reason to look forward to cheering our runners to victory for years to come.

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