Read the Reporter Letters to the Editor for the week


Gift from Sandy Hook
To the Editor:

Since I started teaching at Shelter Island School in 2002, I’ve known the Island is a special place. I’ve admired from a bit of an outsider’s perspective the incredible camaraderie Islanders share. I’ve seen community members come together for common causes time and again and hold each other up when the worst has happened. This special Island spirit is something I’ve long admired from afar, until this week.

It started with my daughter’s Christmas wish — a “Molly” American Girl doll. Easy enough, I thought, until I discovered “Molly’s retirement” had been recently announced and she was only to be found on eBay for $300. When I tried to explain this to my daughter, she said quite simply, “Don’t worry Mama, Santa will find her for me. I’ve been a good girl.”

I was in big trouble. I decided I’d ask a few of my co-workers with older girls if they had a “Molly” around, since she’s been in production for many years. No one did, but what happened next was an incredible example of that Island spirit I’ve seen over the years. My co-workers called their relatives in other states, searched yard sale postings, and posted my daughter’s wish on their Facebook pages.

Students searched the backs of their closets. I received update after update of their personal searches for days. Then, thanks to Jacki Dunning’s tireless efforts, a friend of a friend had one for us. This “Molly” is “well-loved” I was told, and she belonged to a little girl in Sandy Hook, Connecticut. The girl’s mother told me that “if there is one thing we have learned in the last year, it is making a child believe in goodness is paramount.”

“Molly” was mailed to us on the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook shooting; a little package full of the innocence and hope of a child. This “well-loved” “Molly” is far more valuable than any on eBay, and my daughter will be thrilled. However, she is not the only one to get a special gift this Christmas. I was on the receiving end of what makes Shelter Island special and it has filled me with joy and pride for the community in which I work. I was astonished that my co-workers went to the lengths they did, but as one of my students said quite nonchalantly, “This is Shelter Island. That’s what we do.”
Shelter Island School

4-poster co-opted
To the Editor:

An issue at the December 10  Town Board work session, not reported in this paper, was the disclosure of five hunting tree-stands being set up within 10 or 15 yards around one 4-poster. This occurred on Silver Beach Association property. Photographs were disclosed to the Town Board by yours truly. Based on the age of the steps and the fact that one tree-stand was built into a tree, this has been going on for two years or more.

Personally, I am in favor of using the 4-poster to hunt over. However, the present rules do not allow that. Hunters were told you cannot hunt within 300 feet of the 4-posters, otherwise the deer won’t feed at the station. What happened in this instance was not just a violation, it was the absence of enforcement. I have seen this happen with other 4-posters around the Island since this experiment started. What we have here is Texas-style “trophy hunting,” using the 4-poster as a feeding station, which does not contribute toward culling the herd.

This experiment has been co-opted and hijacked by a small cadre of hunters from its intended goal. I don’t think taxpayers should be paying for trophy hunting via 4-posters, any more than they should be paying for my bait and tackle when I go out fishing.

Because of the temptation for mischief and cronyism, I suggested changes to the Town Board. First: A location map of every 4-poster on Shelter Island should be on display at the Town Clerk’s office. Second: The 4-posters should be either pulled September 15th, or eliminate the 300-foot setback rule. Since they are calling for more 4-posters for next year, changes will have to happen.

Sharpshooters? First, I would like to thank Islander Vicky Weslek and hunters Bruce Raheb and Bill Smith for coming to Town Hall December 10 and advocating on behalf of local hunters’ rights to the Town Board on why we don’t need USDA sharpshooters on Shelter Island — that it is far more beneficial to the community at large to go with local hunters and that, if given the tools, which are baiting, shotgun, shorter setbacks and jack-lighting, from October 1st to January 31st, we would do a better job than having paid off-Island snipers. Some of these tools were removed as recently as this year by the DEC.
President, The Coalition For Sustainable Fish and Wildlife Habitat

An accident waiting
To the Editor:

If ever [there was] a moment to be grateful for, and exert our local control in our town government, now is the time. Sharpshooters, a/k/a yahoos with rifles, being brought to the Island is so repugnant it needs a thorough debunking.

All the Lyme disease is not worth a single fatal accident that could easily happen with the presence of armed men with immunity from prosecution running around shooting deer wherever they want. And that is the program that comes with bringing these paramilitary officers here to Shelter Island. Local year-round residents should be very concerned about the implications for the Island. Questions about the program and the personnel are only vaguely discussed. How would we know that the sharpshooters are mentally competent, not under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or emotionally stable? What kind of warning system would be in place, and what controls would the local police have over the program?

If the town does go ahead with such a plan, I would demand vouchers for off-Island housing during the program. I would not keep my children on this Island during such a dangerous event.
Shelter Island

A candidate’s thanks
To the Editor:

I would like to thank everyone who came out and voted in the fire commissioner election. The 214 votes cast was nice to see. Up from 120 last year, I believe. Those who voted for me, I say thanks very much and the fight continues. I’m going to keep on doing what I do. It’s very hard to go against the machine that’s been running for many years. I realize that but I’m sure some would say it was nice to have a choice, even if I was the (gasp!) outsider.
Shelter Island

A noble effort
To the Editor:

Tuesday, December 10 was a big win for “Team Beresky.” While John did not win the election for fire commissioner, he did accomplish something very important. He made people more aware of this election. We have both spoken with many who have lived on this Island for years, who had never known about this election or the fact that any Shelter Island registered voter can cast a ballot. John also shook up the status quo, which is necessary every now and then.

My thoughts in this letter are in no way directed at Mr. Steinmuller, or any one individual, but rather at certain collective perceptions. I grew up here and attended Shelter Island School from kindergarten through high school graduation. Basically, aside from college and six years in Alaska, this has been my home. I am also currently employed by the town. My parents bought property here back in the 60s and my father, Lou Toth, built three homes here on that same acreage.

I have to say I am deeply disappointed by the short-sighted and close-minded attitude of many on this Island. The negativity experienced by one who is not “from here” is uncalled for. The “that’s the way it’s always been” mentality is stagnant and unproductive. If someone is qualified to do a job, why should he/she be discouraged from doing so? Why should someone be told, “how dare you?” or “who do you think you are to run in this election?” The democratic process is an important component of any election. A little healthy competition never hurt anyone. What is the “old order” (or “team” as they like to be called) so afraid of? Why is a fresh, new perspective something to fear? Is there something to hide? How about some transparency and accountability?

Despite this prevailing attitude, John received a lot of love and support from many on this Island, and we thank you all for coming out to vote. John is a kind soul who drops everything to help a stranger in need. He saves the lives and property of complete strangers regularly as a New York City firefighter. He was working as a police officer with the New York Police Department on 9/11 and was there when the Twin Towers fell. He also worked rescue and recovery at Ground Zero for many months afterwards, exposing himself to a very toxic environment on a daily basis. He has anonymously paid the meal tab at restaurants for many of our military servicemen and women. He is a hero in my eyes, and like any true hero, would never refer to himself in that way.

I sincerely want to thank those of you who took the time to get to know more about John. If you see him around town, say hello. At the very least he will probably make you laugh, and you might just make a new friend. I would also truly like to thank each and every one of you who supported John in his run for fire commissioner. You do have a voice, and one of these days it will be heard.
Shelter Island

Holiday fire safety
To the Editor:
The following are a few suggestions that I hope will be helpful.

1. If a live Christmas tree is used, do not bring the tree into the house until the day you plan to use it.
2. Place the tree in a stand that will hold water, and keep it filled every day.
3. Never place the tree near the source of heat (fireplace, radiator, heating vent) or blocking exits.
4. Check all wires, plugs and sockets before they are placed on the tree.
5. Never use candles on or near the tree.
6. Use non-combustible decorations.
7. Remove the tree from the house as soon as possible and before the needles get too dry.
8. When using artificial trees, also check the wiring before placing on the tree.
9. Place all wrapping paper in a closed trash container as soon as possible.
10. Electrical toys for children should be supervised by an adult when being used.
11. If lighting decorations are used outdoors, make sure they are for outside lighting.
12. Regardless of the season, every family should work out a good fire escape plan. Get smoke detectors.
Shelter Island Fire District