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This week in Shelter Island history


The U.S. Supreme Court in its decision in Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education ordered an end to all public school desegregation 15 years after it had ordered an end to segregation with “all deliberate speed” in its Brown v. the Board of Education decision.

Sam Walton’s chain of Wal-Mart discount stores was incorporated.

New York Mets pitcher Tom Seaver won the first of three Cy Young Awards

The first ever computer-to-computer links were established on ARPANET, a precursor to the internet.

 Beatle George Harrison released “Something” in the United Kingdom

And on Shelter Island . . .


Fire at Gardiner’s Bay Country Club

But this was a planned fire with a special purpose as members of the Shelter Island Historical Society gathered to burn the mortgage when the society acquired Haven’s House as its headquarters.

It came as a surprise to many that the property, which had been acquired the previous year, was paid off so quickly. Many contributors to the Historical Society could take a bow for their generosity.

POSTSCRIPT: The Historical Society has outgrown Havens House, but still values its heritage and, with a generous contribution from Bill and Elizabeth Pederson and other contributions, was able to this year open its new addition that provides more space for exhibits as well as research space.


Hospital trustees reject merger plan

The Board of Directors of Eastern Long Island Hospital voted to reject a merger plan with what was then Central Suffolk Hospital (now Peconic Bay Medical Center)) in Riverhead.

Increased government legislation and decreased government funding had all small hospitals hustling for ways to improve their finances while maintaining independence. A possible merger was looked at as a means of counteracting deficits. With the merger rejected, the aim was to find another means of controlling costs in-house to manage its deficit, which was calculated at $1.7 million the year before .

POSTSCRIPT: There would  be a few incantations, including an agreement among the three East End Hospitals — ELIH, Peconic Bay and Southampton Hospital — to each remain independent, but cut back on competing with one another by offering specific specialties at each. State Sen. Kenneth LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) is credited with much of the heavy lifting on that plan, which eased the burden for awhile.

But the nature of medicine today eventually forced all three hospitals to seek larger partnerships, with ELIH and Southampton both opting to go with Stony Brook University Hospital, while Peconic Bay has aligned with Northwell Health.


Gearing up for change

Suffolk County was geared up for a change in its telephone area code. Long a part of the 516 code (still used in Nassau County), callers in Suffolk County were about to adjust to being in the 631 area code.

The change was set for Nov. 1, 1999, with a five-month grace period so dialers could reach their desired numbers as they always had. But on April 1 of 2000, 631 would become mandatory for Suffolk County residents.

POSTSCRIPT: Now dialing a full area code and number is necessary when calling within Suffolk County.


Budget bottom line: a 4.4% tax hike

The Town Board was largely credited with having a tight rein on spending, but there was still expected to be a 4.4% increase in taxes to support the plan for 2010.

“I don’t think there’s a discretionary line item that has gone up,” Supervisor Jim Dougherty said about the more than $10 million budget, of which $6.5 million would be coming from taxes.

POSTSCRIPT: The budget for 2020 being worked on now by the Town Board is currently at a spending increase of 5.3%.  Spending could go up or down depending on input from the public as well as discussions following the hearing among Town Board members who will make the final decision. As for the tax hike, that won’t be determined until the budget is adopted and assessors weigh in with their expectations.

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