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This week in Shelter Island history


Roy Campanella, who played for the Brooklyn Dodgers and was considered one of the greatest catchers of all times, and Stan Musial, an outfielder and one of the greatest hitters of all times, were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Students in England protested the erection of steel gates around the London School of Economics.

An assassination attempt on Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev by a deserter from the Soviet Army resulted in the death of one person and injuries to several others, although Mr. Brezhnev emerged unharmed.

In the United States, people were listening to Marvin Gaye’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine.”

And on Shelter Island . . .


Griffing retiring; won’t seek re-election

Evans Griffing announced in January he would not be seeking re-election. He had also served on the Suffolk County Board of Supervisors that was the forerunner to the Suffolk County Legislature.

POSTSCRIPT: This is an election year for supervisor of Shelter Island and Gary Gerth, now in his second year on the job, has announced he intends to seek re-election on the Republican ticket. Democrats have not indicated who they intend to carry their banner to try to win back the supervisor’s seat held for 10 years by Jim Dougherty before Mr. Gerth beat him in 2017.


Heights Fire Department rescinds action on commissioner

Back in 1989, there were still two separate fire districts and the Heights had an election in which an outsider, Charles Williams, had bested  incumbent Mal Nevel. But initially, the Board of Commissioners in the Heights refused to seat Mr. Williams, maintaining that he had launched a write-in campaign only three days before the election when candidates were supposed to give at least 10 days’ notice.

But on the advice of their attorney, the commissioners agreed to seat Mr. Williams, who had beaten incumbent commissioner Mr. Nevel.

POSTSCRIPT: Frequently, residents have shown little interest in a fire commissioner’s election, although the December 2018 election was different. A popular incumbent and former chief, Greg Sulahian was running against a lesser known person, Scott Sivco. Mr. Sulahian won handily.


Don’t fence me in

That was the resounding word from many residents at a Town Board public hearing on a proposal to allow 8-foot high deer-proof fencing on property lines.

Resident Bruce Saul spoke for the opponents, saying the fencing was not in keeping with the town’s ambiance.

POSTSCRIPT: Today’s Town Code places restrictions on fence or wall heights to 4 feet measured from the ground on front setback areas and 6 feet on side or setbacks. In business districts, the code provides for 6-foot heights in front and side yards and no more than 10 feet on the rear setback.

Swimming pool fences may be 8 feet high, but enclose no more than 10 percent of the entire lot area and no fencing within the front setback is to exceed the front fencing height limits.


Board votes no on contract extension

School Superintendent Sharon Clifford had a provision in her contract that she would automatically have her contract extended by one year each January unless the Board of Education took action not to do so.

But she made the decision, telling the Board in January 2009 she would be retiring when her contract expired in 2012 or possibly earlier.

Accordingly, the board voted not to extend the contract beyond its 2012 date. Thomas Graffagnino, who was then board vice president, noted that the action was not a vote of no confidence.

POSTSCRIPT: There have been several people in the superintendent’s chair in recent years, with Michael Hynes taking the post in 2011, but leaving before his contract expired to take a job as superintendent in Patchogue-Medford.

He was succeeded by Leonard Skuggevik, who was replaced by current Superintendent Christine Finn, now in her second year. The community has embraced her enthusiasm and knowledge and she appears to be a person who will give stability to the district for the long haul.