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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


The 1 millionth telephone was installed in the United States.

The Jimi Hendrix Experience released its debut album, “Are You Experienced?”

The Greek military government accused Andreas Papandreou of treason and imprisoned him. He would later be released  become Greek prime minister between 1981 and 1989.

Rap Brown replaced Stokely Carmichael as the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.

The Supreme Court ruled that juveniles accused of crimes were entitled to the same legal rights as adults.

And on Shelter Island . . .


School Board mulls tax exemption

It was 40 years ago that the Board of Education was debating a possible tax exemption for residents 65 or older whose incomes did not exceed $4,000. The proposed exemption was to apply to 50 percent of the assessed valuation of the property. The Town Board had just granted a similar exemption, but set the income limit at $6,000.

Two years earlier, the Board of Education had rejected, by a split vote, an exemption similar to the one being debated in 1977. It was estimated that 12 residents would benefit if the exemption were to be granted.

POSTSCRIPT: Today the basic STAR program, developed by New York State, grants tax exemptions based on income, while enhanced STAR considers both income and age, providing exemptions to those 65 or older.


Something’s got to give

That was the headline on a Reporter editorial 30 years ago dealing with difficulties local businesses have attracting summer help.

While some blamed college schedules that required students to return to campus in August, leaving many area businesses with insufficient staff to handle Island visitors through Labor Day, the paper instead blamed the lack of affordable housing for the problem of staffing local businesses.

Noting that it’s a problem throughout the East End, the editorial said that zoning meant to retain the East End’s rural and residential environment contributed to leaving few options for a young workforce to live here.

POSTSCRIPT: The problem persists today for both summer and year-round employes. The Community Housing Board is working to address the issue and provide housing, especially for those who leave the Island for college, but would like to return to work, and seniors who may not need the larger houses they occupied while raising families here, but still need affordable space to live.

From a workforce perspective, there’s concern about attracting workers and volunteers for emergency services. This summer’s need for workers could be further exacerbated if the federal government scales back the number of temporary work visas that allow immigrants to work at East End businesses.


BNL managers ousted, DOE eyes reopening reactor

The U.S. Department of Energy released a report highly critical of management practices at Brookhaven National Lab and announced termination of a contract with the Associated Universities Inc., a consortium of top-ranked American universities that operated the facility.

At the same time, the DOE announced it was looking at reopening the Shoreham Nuclear operation that had been closed after a massive undetected leak of radioactive tritium had contaminated groundwater.

POSTSCRIPT: Today’s debate over nuclear energy is currently focused on three  aged and inefficient upstate plants that all electric ratepayers are being charged to support. Long Islanders are quick to point out that no one from upstate helped bail them out when Shoreham was finally closed. Ratepayers are still being assessed for that closing.


Aerial survey reveals reduction in deer numbers

That was the promising news in May of 2007 based on aerial photos taken by Vision Air Research of Boise, Idaho. The company used infrared detectors in a plane that flew about 1,000 feet over the Island at night.

Company officials said then the technology wasn’t perfect because vegetation, puddles and rocks could hinder detection of deer, producing an 82 to 87 percent detection rate in some areas.

Police Chief Jim Read told town officials during the winter season, 478 deer were culled from the herd with another 34 killed in vehicle collisions. Deer taken during the regular hunting season taken on private lands and not reported to the town were estimated at 250 according to Supervisor Al Kilb Jr. and Mashomack Preserve director Mike Laspia.

If the numbers were correct,the overall take would be about 750 deer.

But with time, it was learned the aerial technology was less than had been hoped and the numbers couldn’t be counted on to be accurate.

POSTSCRIPT: To date, the Deer & Tick Committee has acknowledged no one has a full proof method of counting deer to determine whether the ward against tick-borne diseases is succeeding.

The town does its best to track deer that are reported by hunters, but not all that are culled are reported. Other estimates come from tick drags with the assumption that if fewer ticks are being found, it’s likely there are fewer deer on which the ticks feed.

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