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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.

Robert F. Kennedy announced he would seek the Democratic nomination for president.

Otis Redding posthumously received a gold record for his “Dock of the Bay.”

The Beatles released “Lady Madonna” in the United Kingdom.

The My Lai  massacre, one of the most controversial actions of the Vietnam War, resulted in U.S. soldiers killing 400 unarmed Vietnamese civilians.

The U.S. Mint stopped buying and selling gold as Congress repealed the requirement for a gold reserve to back the country’s currency.

And on Shelter Island . . .


School survey results in heated board meeting

It was 50 years ago that the Board of Education sent surveys to residents seeking their input on whether they favored centralization or expansion of the school district here with possible new construction and a larger staff.

The results of the survey showed 352 residents favoring expansion while 153 favored centralization. The ensuing discussion at the Board of Education meeting became heated as strong opinions were heard on both sides of the issue.

POSTSCRIPT: Several years ago, most East End school districts were experiencing expansions of their student bodies and engaging in building projects and hiring to accommodate more students.

But in recent years, that expansion came to a screeching halt. On Shelter Island, there has been no active discussion among board members about sending students off-Island. But there has been talk of ways to lure those students studying at off-Island schools to return here and even courting Oysterponds students in a discussion that started last year but has moved slowly.

Most Islanders seem to prefer to maintain their own school here.


Lewis suggests groins to save causeway

In 1988, Councilman Ken Lewis suggested the Town Board consider installation of  three to five placed perpendicular to the shore on the north side of the causeway between Little and Big Ram Islands.

What has subsequently worked was the placing of large cobble stones bound by wires that have kept the causeway from being flooded and impassable.

POSTSCRIPT: That has been an effective means for many years, but the most recent series of nor’easters, especially the one on March 2, has caused water overruns on the roadway.

With concerns about that, the Town Board is also looking at solutions to shore up Reel Point that absorbs wind, rain and wave action and if lost,  could be dangerous to town assets such as Taylor’s Island and many residences and businesses that surround Coecles Harbor.


Katherine Pope selected as new town justice

Following the death of Shelter Island Justice Court Judge Howard Cronin, Katherine Pope was selected to succeed him. She was selected from among 12 candidates who interviewed for the job. Her appointment came in a split vote among Town Board members with two of the five voting against Ms. Pope. They said Ms. Pope and her family had only a short tenure on the Island and they would have preferred someone who lived here for a longer period of time.

Ms. Pope, who served from 1998 to 2002, pleaded guilty to fourth-degree identity theft, a misdemeanor, and her husband, Wayne Pope, pleaded guilty to fourth degree grand larceny, a felony, for stealing more than a million dollars from an 89-year-old Water Mill woman suffering from dementia.

POSTSCRIPT: Today’s Shelter Island Justice Court is well served by two long-term judges — Mary-Faith Westervelt and Helen Rosenblum.


4-poster money stalled

Ed Romaine, who was a county legislator at the time, failed to secure $155,000 for a study of 4-posters —feeding stands that brush deer with a tickicide, permethrin.

The County Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee then tabled the issue.

At the same time, a contract to release another $155,000 for the same purpose in August 2007 hadn’t been signed. C ounty Executive Steve Levy cited that as an indicator that there was no rush to secure more funding for the project.

POSTSCRIPT: Shelter Island’s funding ultimately started with the Cornell University-Cornell Cooperative project that got underway in 2008 and continued through 2010. After that, the town was able to secure some money from the state Legislature, although after a couple of years of receiving $100,000 to fund 4-posters, the figure dropped to $25,000.

Former Supervisor Jim Dougherty said he was told the drop was because state legislators believed there was less enthusiasm for using the units. They remain in use today with  increased pressure to spend more on reducing the size of the deer herd on which the ticks feed.