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This week in Shelter Island history


Life magazine carried pictures and a story about the second U.S. moon landing with astronauts Al Bean and Charles Conrad walking on the surface of the moon.

The British House of Commons voted 343 to 185 to abolish that country’s death penalty.

The Jackson Five made a first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show on CBS.

“Hello, Dolly” with Barbra Streisand premiered in movie theaters.

Peter, Paul and Mary saw their version of “Leaving on a Jet Plane,” written by John Denver rise to number one on the Billboard’s Hot Top 100.

And on Shelter Island . . .


Citizenship costs Island a doctor

Dr. Frank Gross, who had been serving as a Shelter Island doctor was about to become a U.S. citizen. While he cherished that possibility, with it was a mandated assignment with the U.S. Public Health Service.

The doctor, who had been born in South Africa, regretted he would have to leave his Island patients.

POSTSCRIPT: Fifty years later, the town has been struggling to get a solid agreement to provide medical care for patients on the Island. This month, Supervisor Gary Gerth signed a five-year agreement with Stony Brook University Hospital to operate the front part of the Medical Center. Dr. Peter Kelt, who has served Island patients for more than 37 years, is nearing an agreement with one of two practices that want to keep the popular physician on the Island.

The agreement with Stony Brook is for a five-year lease on the front office space, while Dr. Kelt would get a five-year lease, but pay only a token $1 a year and incur no costs for utilities, Mr. Gerth said.


School District clerk resigns

Geneva Ormandy submitted a letter of resignation to the Board of Education after serving as district clerk since August when she replaced Elizabeth Tybaert.

Her letter of resignation wasn’t read at the meeting and Board of Education members said it was a personnel issue that would be discussed in executive session.

Ms. Ormandy said despite her efforts, she couldn’t keep up with the pressure and demands of the job. She said she always finished her work on time, but there was constant pressure to do more. She said she had won awards for her work in the past.

POSTSCRIPT: Today’s district clerk is  Jacki Dunning, who has received excellent reports from school superintendents, Board of Education members and community residents.


Town preserves 9.5 acres at Smith’s Cove

 Jim Dougherty and his wife Nancy owned land adjacent to Mashomack Preserve. By selling it to the town, the Dougherty’s ensured development wouldn’t occur.  They sold the property for $500,000 and Mashomack gained the assurance that development of houses wouldn’t encroach on areas that included Smith Cove on the south, Miss Annie’s Creek on the east and South Ferry Hills on the west.

POSTSCRIPT: Mr. Dougherty became active with land preservation on the Island. He later served for 10 years as town supervisor, leaving in 2017.


Firefighters, EMTs train at Perlman

Shelter Island firefighters and EMTs used the idle campus of the Perlman Music Campus in the winter to conduct training drills.

The purpose was to gain familiarity with the Perlman campus and what would be needed to handle an emergency at the camp during the summer when Perlman is filled with students and staff.

POSTSCRIPT: Much of the training for local firefighters and EMTs takes place up-Island, requiring that members of both volunteer units must attend. The training is particularly important because the Island experiences few critical emergencies, but its first responders must keep their skills sharp and learn latest techniques to ensure they’re ready when emergencies arise.

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