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This week in Shelter Island history

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Icicles hanging from melting snow on Shelter Island buildings offered a clear indication in 1985 of bone-chilling temperatures that accompanied a brutal snow storm.
Icicles hanging from melting snow on Shelter Island buildings offered a clear indication in 1985 of bone-chilling temperatures that accompanied a brutal snow storm.


President Lyndon Johnson was in the first week of his own full four-year term, having been inaugurated in his own right, after succeeding President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, when Mr. Kennedy was assassinated.Hints of an escalation of the war in Vietnam were being written about in Time Magazine.

“How to Murder Your Wife,” starring Jack Lemmon and Virna Lisi was drawing in movie audiences.

Former United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill died at age 90.

Actor Peter O’Toole graced the cover of Life Magazine.

And on Shelter Island …

School new

It was at this time 50 years ago that students were mourning the loss of an alligator, Sydney, that apparently got wedged under a rock in his tank and couldn’t free himself to get air. But a report talks about how gradually the school science classes were amassing an increasing number of live specimens for their study. They included tropical fish, chameleons, turtles and a horned toad.

POSTSCRIPT: How far science and the school has come as teacher Dan Williams this week told the Board of Education about how the new nanodrop spectrometer is allowing students to study DNA and reach conclusions they could never have reached with less sophisticated equipment. Shelter Island is one of the few high schools to own such a unit that costs between $8,000 and $10,000.

Island bears up to winter’s chill

When temperatures dropped far below freezing and a storm dumped more than half a foot of snow on the Island back in January 1985, Highway Department workers were kept busy plowing and then re-plowing because of heavy snow drifts that brought much of the white stuff right back onto roadways.

Because of the persistent cold, days after the storm ferries were contending with a thin layer of ice to the north and ice floes to the south. A deer was spotted off South Ferry on the ice, but a rescue attempt had to be aborted because of the heavy drifting ice.

POSTSCRIPT: This winter, Islanders have had their share of frigid temperatures, but so far, have been spared from major snow — so far.

Revaluation hits one-year delay

The first property revaluation in 25 years was set to happen in January 1995. But town officials announced a delay before the new tax assessment procedure goes went on line. Then tax assessor Bob Lanahan said a shortage of state personnel needed to program computers that would convert the raw data into an undated value-based tax assessment would have resulted in a backlog in getting out tax bills. Accordingly, the new system’s implementation was delayed until December 1996.

POSTSCRIPT: It may have been slow in getting started but the system has since worked smoothly and many town real estate professionals have noted that Assessor Al Hammond’s property valuations very much tend to monitor prices of properties that are sold.

Teen charged with deer shooting near passersby

Ten years ago, Shelter Island Police charged a teen with shooting a deer near passersby in the Silver Beach area. Police said five family members, including two small children, were walking on a public roadway in the early evening when a vehicle stopped and shortly afterwards, they heard a gunshot and a deer dropped to the ground. No one was injured.

POSTSCRIPT: This year, the state Department of Environmental Conservation extended hunting to weekends, but on Shelter Island, officials said thanks, but no thanks. They were concerned that there are too many weekenders who might be in danger. But hunters have reported that even during proper hunting hours with well posted notice, they too often find residents walking in areas where the hunt is occurring.

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