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This week in history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.

50 YEARS AGO IN HISTORY

United States and North Vietnamese officials agreed to begin peace talks in Paris.

A general strike escalated in France, shutting down newspaper distributions, air transport and two major railroads and moving the country nearer to the brink of a radical leftist revolution.

Forward Pass, ridden by jockey Ismael Valenzuela, was declared the winner of the Kentucky Derby after Dancer Image was disqualified due to doping.

The Boston Celtics won the NBA Championship 4 games to 2 over the Los Angeles Lakers.

William Styron won a Pulitzer Prize for literature for his 1967 novel, “The Confessions of Nat Turner.”

And on Shelter Island . . .

40 YEARS AGO
SIA eyes water woes

The Shelter Island Association (SIA) launched a water conservation effort 40 years ago.

The group took a three-pronged approach ­— retention and recycling; elimination of leachates that are substances, often pollutants, that leach into groundwater; and education.

The effort resulted after the Town Board received a report from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) that the water supply was for the population and even a slight increase at the time. But a large population increase coupled with concerns about septic systems polluting the water supply were concerns.

POSTSCRIPT: Forty years later, new Supervisor Gary Gerth has made water quality and quantity a top priority issuing a 17-point plan, some of which has already been implemented by the Water Advisory Committee and helped along by grants from the Water Quality Improvement Projects Advisory Board.

The USGS is still on the job, conducting water quantity and quality testing.

30 YEARS AGO
Island brush fires have some burning

The year was 1988 and burning of yard brush was still allowed by individuals, but the Suffolk County Department of Health Services issued a statement that it had concerns about the local burning affecting people with respiratory or circulatory problems.

Before permits could be issued by the town’s two fire chiefs for burning of brush, there was a need to protect peoples’ health.

Neighbors at a Town Board meeting complained that some brush burning taking place on private properties threatened to get out of control and they further questioned whether allowing permits to be issued by the two fire chiefs was sufficient protection.

Both chiefs — Larry Lechmanski and Bridg Hunt said they provided a list of conditions with permits they issued, including burning limited to brush with no use of accelerants and a requirement that such burning be attended to until the fires are out.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, the state limits burning for specific purposes and town code highly regulates what can be burned and how such fires must be supervised.

20 YEARS AGO
Lyme vaccine on the way?

Of great interest to Islanders who were besieged with ticks and suffering from tick-borne diseases, the Federal Food and Drug Administration was considering the release of SmithKline Beecham’s (now GlaxoSmithKline) Lymerix vaccine.

It was finally sanctioned and released and widely hailed, but as the months passed and patients began reporting side effects, it was finally withdrawn from the marker after only a couple of years.

POSTSCRIPT: By the end of 2016, there were clinical trials being launched for a vaccine by a French company, Valneva. It is similar to Lymerix, but targets six types of ticks instead of the one targeted by Lymerix. It went into Phase II trials but has yet to be released.

Baxter, an Austrian company, had previously tested another vaccine candidate in a combined Phase I/II trial, but the company seems to have abandoned development.

Meanwhile, as a precaution, Island doctors have begun treating patients who have been bitten by a tick with antibiotics even before receiving confirmation that they have developed Lyme disease.

10 YEARS AGO
Residents concerned with Cablevision transition

Can it be just 10 years ago that a Cablevision representative showed up at a Town Board meeting to announce a transition from analog to digital programming? In fact it is and Islanders were told by Joan Kilroy, the spokeswoman for the company, they would be given free cable boxes for one year if they were current Cablevision analog customers

Anyone who chose not to take the offer would be losing access to several channels that would no longer broadcast in the analog mode, including Arts and Entertainment, C-Span, C-Span 2, The Learning Channel, the Animal Channel and Sci-Fi.

Residents weren’t happy with the news.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, there are residents on the Island who still want the Town Board to negotiate a better contract with Cablevision. They complain about service here, including one of this year’s nor’easters that knocked out their service. At issue was that many customers weren’t on the Island when they were notified of a loss of electricity that proved not to be true. Instead, PSEG workers were hustling house to house, only to discover it was Cablevision, not the electrical lines that were out.

Further concerns arose when old poles that should have been removed by both Cablevision and Verizon were still lying on the ground or, in some cases, leaning toward trees, houses and other wires when they should have been removed. Some of that work is finally underway.

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