Reporter editorial: Take a bow, Shelter Island

For those who carp about government being a bloated conspiracy dedicated to taking away our freedoms, and elected officials who do nothing but feed at the public trough, you should have been at the school gym Friday, Feb. 26.

In a remarkable example of extremely hard work, dedication, communication and perseverance — the word used by Assemblyman Fred Thiele Jr. (I-Sag Harbor) and Supervisor Gerry Siller — the Island managed a complicated logistical problem like clockwork to ensure public health.

One of the highest compliments you can give to athletes doing extraordinary things is to say they make it look easy. And those responsible for this day did just that.

It’s not hyperbole to say the day was beautiful, and not just for the bright weather of deep skies with promises of spring on the crisp breeze. A communal joy was felt by everyone. As Islander and Registered Nurse Kelly Surerus said, there should have been music playing.

That happy vibe started in the parking lot where police officers gave directions, and continued to the hallway leading into the school where paperwork was briskly processed, to the socially distanced waiting area and on into the gym itself, where vaccinations were done quickly and efficiently.

Government made this possible, from Mr. Thiele’s strong advocacy for an Island vaccination site, and Mr. Siller, Deputy Supervisor Amber Brach-Williams and the Town Board pushing hard to make it a reality. The town’s Senior Center staff, led by Director Laurie Fanelli and Sara Mundy, put in long hours and met every deadline to get those 65 and older to the site.

The Board of Education and school staffers, led by Superintendent Brian Doelger, Ed.D. worked steadily behind the scenes and assisted on the day of the vaccinations. And Police Chief Jim Read calmly and meticulously helped organize every detail, inspiring his department to go above and beyond.

More than 30 members of the community pitched in to deliver over 500 vaccines, the largest one-day event Stony Brook Southampton Hospital did before that date on the East End.

After a year of pain, illness, death, mourning, uncertainty and, in many cases, despair, Island residents and leaders worked diligently to achieve a time and place for a return to health and normalcy.

All came together and produced a day that should never be forgotten, one of genuine joy and accomplishment and purpose.

A new beginning for Shelter Island was born on a bright day in February 2021.