Around the Island

This week in Shelter Island history


Island couple’s stake in Iraq: their son Jim
Barbara and James “Zippy” Reeves, whose son was in the Air Force in March 2003 were anxious about a decision President George W. Bush would make about going to war in Iraq. Mr. Reeves was glued to CNN for reports about the possibility, while his wife found it easier to avoid the news reports. For Mr. Reeves, it brought back memories of his service as an Air Force veteran who flew missions during the Vietnam War. When their son, Staff Sergeant James Reeves, decided to pursue a military career, it came as no surprise since it had been his lifelong passion.
POSTSCRIPT:  James Reeves continues to serve in the military and is based at Moody Air Force Base in Georgia. Zippy and Barbara Reeves have a grandson, Joseph Gambino, who just returned from service in Afghanistan as an Army specialist.


Major storm causes minor disruptions
Twenty years ago this week, the Island was whipped by the coattails of a storm that had wreacked havoc in Cuba before heading up the East Coast. Two Shelter Island Highway Department workers were injured, one seriously, while working to remove downed trees from the roadway. David Klenawicus suffered a broken collar bone and dislocated shoulder while Mark Ketcham sustained bruises and a twisted ankle during the process. Northeasterly winds gusted at 70 mph shutting down North Ferry for about five hours while South Ferry was able to avoid a shutdown, despite some extremely low tides. The Island got pelted with 2.6 inches or snow and slush, but it was the winds and freezing rains that caused the most problem.
POSTSCRIPT: After a very mild winter in 2012 that seemed likely to repeat this year, it has been a stormy February that has residents cheering on birds chirping with the first hints of spring. Between Sandy last October and Nemo in February, the Island has sustained more battering than had been expected this year, but still came out better than a lot of communities to the north, south and west of the East End.


Nevel seeks GOP support
When Supervisor Mal Nevel opted in March 1983 to run for a second two-year term, he reached out to the Republican Party asking for a cross-endorsement. He had run as a Democrat two years earlier, but appealed to the GOP, saying that the welfare of Shelter Island supersedes partisan  politics. The Republicans didn’t agree, endorsing George Kontje who went on to win the race for supervisor in November 1983.
POSTSCRIPT: It has been a difficult year for Supervisor Jim Dougherty personally, faced with his own health challenges and the recent death of his wife. But Mr. Dougherty has indicated he would like to continue his reign at Town Hall and is planning to run for a fourth two-year term in November.


 Bellport school fire
What does a Bellport school fire that injured 40 students and teachers have to do with Shelter Island? It brought attention to not only the need not to allow over-crowded conditions to exist as they did in Bellport, but also to focus on both state-supervised building inspections and regularly scheduled fire drills to ensure that should disaster ever strike the local school, staff and students would be well aware of procedures to rapidly exit the building.
POSTSCRIPT: The current focus on safety has had to shift to not just fire drills, but other evacuation and safety procedures in view of school shootings in other districts. The December 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary School brought it all home and what was previously a very open campus on Shelter Island has become a tightly secured building during the school day. Anyone entering during the day must use the single front entrance and be accompanied to his or her destination. Going forward, the school library will be moved so that the district office can occupy the staff near the building entrance, resulting in fewer visitors having to roam the corridors to keep appointments, most of which are with administrative staff members.