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This week in Shelter Island history

Old, open book with a damaged cover.


Alabama Governor George Wallace Jr. was shot in Laurel, Maryland, while campaigning as the candidate for the presidency on the American Independent Party line and was paralyzed from the waist down, living out his life in a wheelchair.

“Get Smart” took home an Emmy for Outstanding Comedy Series and “Mission: Impossible” won for Outstanding Dramatic Series.

The psychedelic film “Wonderwall,” for which Beatle George Harrison wrote the score, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival.

The European Space Research Organization founded by 10 European nations launches its first satellite.

“The Odd Couple,” starring Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau, was among the most popular films of the day.

And on Shelter Island . . .

Blood testing set for Island

With increased reports of babesiosis, a tick-borne disease, being found here, New York State and Suffolk County health officials were planning a two-phase blood testing program to determine the extent of the disease.

The first phase was to be conducted by the county to determine if there was any sign of people building resistance to the disease. Phase two by the state was planned to determine if signs of the disease were still lingering in the blood.

POSTSCRIPT: Fast forward 40 years: While Lyme disease is the most frequently diagnosed tick-borne disease, babesiosis and a host of other such diseases have been found here.

Among tests the town is seeking now is to determine whether the ongoing use of the tickicide permethrin is safe and effective, given its long-term use here.

Resisting change

Thirty years ago, Islanders were resisting changes that would result in a comprehensive plan for how the town would develop and what needed to be committed to writing and what could continue to be addressed more informally.

An editorial in the Reporter at the time clearly understood concerns of those used to being able to function with few restrictions set in writing. At the same time, with changing times and more newcomers to the town, the editorial stated, “Let’s face it, decisions can no longer be sealed with just a handshake; decisions set precedents, result in unforeseen changes and, most important, can have long lasting legal ramifications.

POSTSCRIPT: A comprehensive plan was finally developed and is expected to undergo scrutiny this year to see if it needs to be changed to respond to issues of the day. Still, there is resistance to adding new laws to the books and more calls to enforce those laws already established.

250 petition against noise ordinance

The Town Board certified that 250 valid signatures had been received on petitions to fight implementing a noise ordinance on Shelter Island. Those who opposed the ordinance 10 years ago maintained that the town had lived without such regulation for hundreds of years and there was no need for a public law prohibiting excessive noise.

Calls from others for an ordinance were coming from a very few who didn’t recognize that the town had lived in peace and harmony for years and could continue to do so for years to come without government interference. Actually, there had been an ordinance dealing with amplified noise since 1977, but it would take until 1998 to pass a new ordinance.

POSTSCRIPT: The law on the books today refers to “unreasonable noise” but does deal with amplified music and sets penalties for violations.

Legal costs, staff expansions at issue

Ten years ago, it was a somewhat contentious budget period for the Shelter Island School District as then superintendent Sharon Clifford struggled with questions pertaining to costs of pending legal issues, increases in staff and even the availability of the budget.

Back then, even a Budget Advisory Committee that was given a copy of the original draft, wasn’t allowed to reveal it to the public. And at a public hearing prior to the vote, no copies had been distributed and weren’t scheduled to be available until the following day.

With respect to legal costs, Ms. Clifford said she couldn’t comment on costs of litigation or how the district might pay should it lose a pending case. But she did provide an enhanced explanation of some staff changes, including appointing part-time Student Assistant Counselor into a full-time position to meet needs that emerged through the years.

POSTSCRIPT: Today, Superintendent Christine Finn and district business official Idowu Ogundipe have made sections of the budget available as each was the subject of discussion at budget meetings and during the last couple of meetings, including the hearing on May 7, the entire budget was available.

It has been a particularly quiet budget season this year with few people attending budget meetings and no real issues about the $11.7 million budget that does not pierce the state-imposed tax cap.

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