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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


The Soviet Union launched Luna 10 on a three-day journey to become the first to place a man-made object into orbit around the moon.25,000 anti-war demonstrators participated in a march in New York City to protest ongoing involvement in Vietnam.

This was the deadline for enrollment in the Medicare program for the first group of Americans 65 and older.

The British Labour Party under Harold Wilson won the Parliamentary election gaining 48 seats in the House of Commons while the Conservative Party lost 52 seats.

United Artists released the musical comedy film, “Frankie and Johnny,” starring Elvis Presley.

And on Shelter Island …

Tick-borne disease, not malaria

Forty years ago, the town’s dog control officer was diagnosed as having malaria. The diagnosis came not only from a doctor on the Island, but also from the Suffolk County Department of Health Services reporting it was a recurrence of the disease the man had several years earlier.

But the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta, working with a blood sample, was able to conclude that the man was suffering from babesiosis, a tick-borne disease, from which he recovered.

Ironically, the treatment for both malaria and babesiosis are the same, a drug called chloroquine. At that time, there were only 13 known cases of babesiosis in the world, although eight of them had occurred in Massachusetts.

POSTSCRIPT: While Lyme is the most frequently diagnosed of tick-borne diseases, many more cases of babesiosis and other such diseases have been identified here through the years. The battle against these diseases has grown considerably as has the response to trying to curb the diseases by ridding the area of ticks and  sharply reducing the number of deer on which ticks feed.

Two harbors set for testing

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation was preparing to test water quality in Coecles Harbor and West Neck at this time 30 years ago. The concern was with the possibility of bacterial contaminants in the water in both areas.

Plans called for the DEC to provide testing equipment while the town would be responsible for gathering water samples. The DEC would also bear the cost of testing the water samples.

POSTSCRIPT: It was a more simple world in 1986. This year, the United States Geological Survey will begin the first of a three-year study of water quality using test wells around the Island. The cost to the town this year is about $40,000.

A gift from Albany

Senator Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) secured $326,000 to be split between North and South ferry companies  to improve terminals for both. The senator had to work around rules that usually allow such funds to go only to public entities since both companies are private.

His argument was that funding would be allowed for private bridges and since there are no bridges to Shelter Island, it should be allowed to subsidize these ferry projects. Otherwise, costs would have to be borne by riders, he said.

POSTSCRIPT: A current battle is raging between North Ferry and Greenport where Greenporters argue they should be allowed to charge vehicles a fee for using roads that lead to North Ferry. There’s no way the village can legally do that unless the legislature approved, but one Village Trustee is seeking a second legal opinion, refusing to bow to the opinion of its own village attorney.

Read wants more hunts to thin herd

Reporting to the Town Board on the 2006 nuisance hunt, Police Chief Jim Read said 14 deer had been killed and called it a “pretty healthy start.”

Six hunters took nine deer from section 9 — the area between Menhaden and the first causeway; four at Goat Hill and one in Sachems Woods. But the chief lamented that plans to open up the Tedford property on Cobbetts Lane didn’t happen that year. That land was owned by the town, the county and the Tedford family. He was hoping it would eventually be open to hunting.

POSTSCRIPT: To this day, the chief is still looking for additional privately owned properties that could be opened to hunting.

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