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This week in Shelter Island history

Old book with a damaged cover. Book is open, visible texture sheets.


Dr. Martin Luther King spoke to a crowd estimated at 5,000 at the University of California at Berkeley urging support of a non-violent peace bloc he believed would influence the outcome of the 1968 election.

Yankees pitcher Whitey Ford, approaching age 41, announced his retirement from baseball.

John Lennon took delivery of a psychedelically painted Rolls Royce.

While “Groovin’” by The Young Rascals was still at the top of the music charts, it would be overtaken by the number two song, Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” the following week.

“The War Wagon” starring John Wayne and Kirk Douglas was released by Universal Pictures and quickly climbed to the top of the weekend box office list pulling in $2.5 million and staying at the top for another two weeks, bringing in another $4.56 million.

And on Shelter Island . . .


 School in fire disaster drill

If you passed Shelter Island School 40 years ago at this time, you might have wondered what was going on with all those emergency vehicles surrounding the building and children and adults being rolled out on stretchers while others who were mobile were evacuated from the building.

No emergency — but a drill to prepare students and staff in the event of real fire. It took less than three minutes to usher all students and  staff members from the school building.

POSTSCRIPT: Sadly, the sign of the times now calls for not just fire drills, but lockdown drills. One was held a few weeks ago at the school to ensure that teachers know how to protect students and themselves in the event a shooter entered the building. That’s been the norm since the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado and Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.


High price of clean water

Michael LoGrande was county executive in the spring of 1987 and he was on Shelter Island to shop a plan to East End supervisors for the purchase  of about 22,500 acres of watershed lands in the Pine Barrens in the towns of Riverhead, Brookhaven and Southampton.

The anticipated cost was $570 million and the proposal called for redirecting revenues from the county’s one-quarter of one percent sales tax that had originally been levied to offset the cost of the Southwest Sewer District.

For 13 years, he said money would be earmarked for the purchase, but funding would be distributed among the county’s 10 towns for water protection projects. Keeping that part of the sales tax in place wasn’t a popular idea at the time since the sewer project for which it was supposed to pay turned out to be a boondoggle.

But ultimately, all but one of the East End supervisors endorsed the proposal. Only Judith Hope of East Hampton voted no, saying that East Hampton’s share of tax revenues was too low.

POSTSCRIPT: Water quality has remained an issue and is particularly critical on Shelter Island, which depends on well water rather than linking to the Suffolk County Water Authority. Nitrogen levels are high on some parts of the Island and the worst culprit appears to be aged septic systems in need of upgrading.


McGee poised for supervisor’s race

Councilman Hal McGee was tapped by Republicans in May 1997 to run for the supervisor’s seat being vacated by Hoot Sherman.

Since he was a sitting Town Board member, if elected, the new Town Board would face the option of either appointing someone to take over Mr. McGee’s seat as a councilman until a new member could be elected in November 1998 or holding a special election earlier in 1998 to fill the remainder of Mr. McGee’s term.

POSTSCRIPT: As it happened, Mr. McGee lost his bid to become supervisor to Democrat Gerry Siller, who won by a wide margin. Mr. McGee remained on the Town Board as a councilman.


Dougherty to lead full Democratic slate

In May 2007 the Democratic Committee announced that Jim Dougherty, who then headed the Community Preservation Committee, would be the candidate for town supervisor and would lead a slate of candidates that included Karen Moran and Glenn Waddington for Town Board; Gerry Siller for superintendent of highways; Al Hammond for assessor; and Nancy Kotula for receiver of taxes.

Democratic Party leader Heather Reylek announced it was a strong team. Two years earlier, the Democrats didn’t run a candidate for supervisor.

POSTSCRIPT: Mr. Dougherty has been supervisor since then and already announced he’s seeking another two-year term in November. Republicans have been mum so far on their candidate choices.

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