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This week in Shelter Island history


Apollo 11 left earth orbit and two days later would land on the moon where  Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would walk on the surface.

Following a barbecue on Chappaquiddick Island in Massachusetts, Senator Edward Kennedy took a wrong turn as he headed for a ferry to Edgartown on Martha’s Vineyard and drove off a wooden bridge. He escaped. But the accident  resulted in the drowning death of  Mary Jo Kopechne, a former aide to his late brother, Senator Robert Kennedy.

Russia launched Sputnik 50 and Molniya 1-12,  communications satellites.

John Fairfax became the first person to row solo across the ocean, landing at Hollywood, Florida.

American actor Josh Holloway, known for major roles in “Lost,” “Mission Impossible — Ghost Protocol” and “Colony,” was born in San Jose, California

And on Shelter Island . . .


Association’s message: Keep taxes down

The Taxpayer Association of Shelter Island, at its annual meeting, declared it would be dedicated to keeping  town and school taxes as low as possible.

In the previous year, members said they were proud to have stopped plans to enlarge Town Hall,  join Shell and Tuthill’s beaches and defeat a recent school building project.

The group insisted that the Town Board and Board of Education were both evasive and secretive in their activities.

POSTSCRIPT: Fifty years later, Shelter Island’s taxes are extremely low compared with the rest of Long Island.


Island doctor calls for action against ticks

Dr. Peter Kelt called on town officials for action to control the burgeoning tick population. He said he was spread too thin to  keep up with treatment of tick bites, calling the season of 1989 five times worse than in previous years. Dr. Kelt warned that the Island’s economy would be hard hit unless there was some effort to destroy the ticks. He said he was treating five cases of Lyme disease a day.

POSTSCRIPT: The battle against tick-borne diseases continues as the Island takes a three-fold approach — use of 4-poster units to kill the ticks that feed on deer; culling the deer herd; and education. There’s an ongoing effort to reassess the effectiveness of the town’s approach and adjustments to each part of the program.


Library budget enters new era

Shelter Island Library officials announced they were looking at a budget that would go up by 71 percent. Taxpayers had watched increases since 1992 when Town Board grants of $30,000 disappeared, forcing the library to begin operating with a tax line of its own. Nearing the end of its fiscal year, officials were looking at a deficit of about $35,000.

In August, when the library budget was submitted to a vote, it passed by 134 to 61.

POSTSCRIPT: These days, residents are used to seeing library budgets increase only slightly.


Fireworks donations short in 2009

The Chamber of Commerce spent much of its money supporting the annual Shelter Island Fireworks program each year reported a deficit in 2009. Sean McLean, who was Chamber of Commerce president at the time, reported that he had negotiated prices down for the annual pyrotechnics and barge, but the cost was still about $28,000.

Coming on the heels of the 2008 stockmarket crash, the group had raised only about $20,000.

POSTSCRIPT: It would be a few years before the Chamber of Commerce opted out of the annual event. It appeared there would be no Shelter Island fireworks until a group of residents volunteered their time to raise funds and organize the event.

The group has held fundraising events and also sought contributions from those who gathered for the pyrotechnics. One of those organizers, Brett Surerus, recently reported that people continue to be generous in supporting the fireworks show.

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