Featured Story

This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


Actress Jayne Mansfield was killed in a car crash in New Orleans at age 34.

British actress Maggie Smith married Robert Stephens in a ceremony in Greenwich, England.

In the wake of the Six Day War, Israel removed barricades, reunifying Jerusalem.

200 people were arrested during riots on the east side of Buffalo, New York, in which many African Americans, 13 police officers and one firefighter were injured.

The first Consumer Electronic Show was held in New York City.

And on Shelter Island . . .


End to DDT use

For years, DDT was the chosen substance for dealing with the Island’smosquito population, but 50 years ago, recognizing the effect DDT was having in reducing ospreys, weakfish and crabs, the Suffolk Mosquito Commission abandoned its use in favor of a product called Abate.

The new product wouldn’t have the lasting effect of DDT that accumulated over years. Instead, it would have to be reapplied every few days, making for a lot more work.

Nonetheless, the Reporter at the time editorialized that despite the inconvenience, it supported sparing ospreys, weakfish and crabs to continued use of DDT and suggested, “As for the mosquitoes, swat ‘em.”

POSTSCRIPT: So many things have changed through the years and environmental awareness has informed how people  deal with pests and treat their lawns. But we are still paying the price today for unwitting mistakes made years ago that affect our drinking water and the water that surrounds us. The Water Advisory Commission has successfully won attention to the dangers that aged cesspools are causing the aquifer and they, along with the Water Quality Improvement Projects Advisory Board and Town Board are working to put money to work helping to bring about upgrades to the aged septic systems.


New seniors post on agenda

The Town Board, acting on the recommendation of the Senior Citizens Council, took preliminary steps to appoint a part-time SCC coordinator. Clara Barksdale, who had been doing the job as a volunteer for a year along with a group of other volunteers, sought the new position. She told then Supervisor Jeffrey Simes that she would work for whatever the town could pay.

“It’s a validation of my services; I can’t do it for free,” she said. The board agreed to discuss the remuneration, intending the new coordinator to work  12 hours per week. Among responsibilities would be coordinating wellness calls to seniors; providing services, including transportation to home assistance with cleaning and other chores; and providing health insurance information.

Ms. Barksdale was appointed to the job the following week at a salary of $8.25 per hour.

POSTSCRIPT: For years, it was Henrietta Roberts who carried on as coordinator of senior services and today Lori Fanelli handles the job.


Safety stand down ordered at BNL

The year was 1997 and a payloader accident that led to the death of construction worker Bryan Schneck at Brookhaven National Lab prompted the Federal Energy Department to order the shutdown while the situation was evaluated.

Energy Secretary Federico Peña said there would not be a trade-off between scientific research and environmental health and safety.

“We share a responsibility for health and safety; we must change the way we do our work,” he said.

POSTSCRIPT: Brookhaven National Lab today continues to produce cutting edge scientific research today, but Dr. Stephen Musolino, a BNL physicist specializing in radiological threats and co-writer  of the Shoreham Safety Report, said at the time he lived next to the plant and believed it was a mistake to decommission it.

He noted that BNL had three nuclear reactors that were eventually decommissioned. But still, he and others, saw ratepayers on Long Island as the losers who are still paying the bill for decommissioning the Shoreham plant.


Romaine seeks ferry rate repeal

Ed Romaine was a county legislator in 2007 who sought to repeal an already approved increase that would have walk-on passengers paying $2 instead of $1 on North Ferry. But by August, Mr. Romaine’s efforts didn’t get out of committee and he was told a rollback wasn’t going to happen.

However, he did seek a sales tax exemption for North Ferry which was going to net the company $172,500 that would be used to discount the fares. But North Ferry General Manager Bridg Hunt said that would mean the discount for walk-on passengers would likely be cut back to the $1 cost each way for about 15 months.

POSTSCRIPT: Ten  years later, walk-on passengers pay $2 each way.

[email protected]