This week in Shelter Island history

REPORTER FILE PHOTO Walter Brigham, then a ninth grader, took home top honors in the Shelter Island School Science Fair in 1985. Today, he’s the school’s information technology specialist.
Walter Brigham, then a ninth grader, took home top honors in the Shelter Island School Science Fair in 1985. Today, he’s the school’s information technology specialist.

President Lyndon Johnson activated the Alabama National Guard after Governor George Wallace refused to do so to protect the third civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery.

Cosmonaut Aleksei Leonov became the first person to walk in space.

The NCAA basketball championship was decided as UCLA beat Michigan 91 to 80.

Gary Lewis and the Playboys topped the charts in the United States with “This Diamond Ring.”

You could purchase a gallon of milk for 95 cents and a dozen eggs for 53 cents.

And on Shelter Island …

Burn if you must, but you take your own chances

The year was 1965 and residents could generally burn off fields on Shelter Island without fear of reprisals.

The practice, in use by the Indians who initially inhabited the Island, makes fields grow greener and eliminates the possibility of fires.

But there was “a musty old ordinance” back then prohibiting burning out of concern that a wind might redirect flames where they weren’t intended.

POSTSCRIPT: The existing town ordinance allows burning under certain circumstances, including burning agricultural wastes as part of a valid agricultural operation on contiguous agricultural lands larger than five acres.

There’s also a provision allowing burning to destroy invasive plant and insect species, but that must have state Department of Environmental Conservation approval.

Brigham takes top science fair honors

Walter Brigham took home honors in March 1985 from the Shelter Island Science Fair with a project on hydroponics. The ninth grader demonstrated how hydroponics — growing plants using mineral nutrient solutions in water and no soil — could be the wave of the future for farmers.

There were 63 students who participated in the science fair that year.

POSTSCRIPT: Mr. Brigham today is the information technology specialist and teaches math at Shelter Island School.

Study of alternatives to LILCO gains Albany support

Following a $30,000 study in 1995 to determine if there needs to be an alternative to the Long Island Lighting Company serving as the major electricity supplier on the East End, Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. applauded the determination to work to replace LILCO. He complained then that the rates were too high. LILCO, of course, gave way to the Long Island Power Authority, which pledged to improve costs and service.

As of January 2014, PSEG took over management of the LIPA system with promises that it would bring rates into line and improve service.

POSTSCRIPT: Assemblyman Thiele remains on the front lines today fighting PSEG-LI, complaining about its call for a hike in the amount consumers pay to transport energy here. He maintains that the public-private partnership has failed to achieve the necessary improvements while seeking an increase in rates.

PSEG-LI Director of Communications Jeffrey Weir said the company took over the contract to manage LIPA with a five-year plan and is still burdened with LIPA’s debt service and other problems.

Mr. Thiele is calling for oversight of PSEG-LI.

Police Department to take second NYPD officer

For the second time in two months, the Shelter Island Police Department was poised in March 2005 to hire a New York City Police officer to join its force. The Town Board had approved the hiring of both while Councilman Ed Brown said it was a sign that Shelter Island was becoming too expensive for a lot of employees to live here.

Chief Jim Read had told the Town Board the two appointments would set the department on a good course for dealing with the increased summer population.

POSTSCRIPT: Town code allows hiring part-time police who don’t live on the Island. If the Town Board determines there is a need that can’t be met with Islanders, full-timers who are appointed now must agree to move to one of the five East End towns within a year of appointment and are encouraged to move to Shelter Island.

Within four years, the chief said this week, there could be six retirements from the nine-member full-time force. He encouraged residents interested in appointments to take the necessary civil service exam that could put them in line for vetting in the future.

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