Featured Story
04/24/15 8:00am
REPORTER FILE PHOTO Mimi Brennan with members of her family at the 2005 Lions Club Citizen of the Year celebration.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO
Mimi Brennan with members of her family at the 2005 Lions Club Citizen of the Year celebration.

50 YEARS AGO IN HISTORY

Legendary war correspondent and CBS News journalist Edward R. Murrow, who also served as director of the United States Information Service, died of lung cancer. (more…)

Featured Story
03/26/14 4:30pm
REPORTER FILE PHOTO A view of the St. Gabe’s land that was preserved by the town, Suffolk County and the Shelter Island Fire Department, in conjunction with some Burns Road neighbors for ongoing use by the department for its annual chicken barbecue.

REPORTER FILE PHOTO
A view of the St. Gabe’s that was preserved by the town, Suffolk County and the Shelter Island Fire Department, in conjunction with some Burns Road neighbors for ongoing use by the department for its annual chicken barbecue.

50 YEARS AGO
The ‘Observer’ observed
It was 50 years ago that the Reporter editorial column was devoted to taking to task an anonymous writer who dubbed himself the “Observer.” While the community apparently assumed these frequent columns were written by someone on the paper’s staff, editor and publisher Walter Schumann wrote at the time that was not the case and bluntly said the writer was “nuts.” In any case, the Observer apparently stirred up a hornets nest by suggesting Shelter Island should bring in industry to this peaceful and beautiful area. (more…)

08/03/12 8:00am

Today is the day for voters to weigh in on the Town Board’s proposed Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP) to encourage people to volunteer for the ambulance squad and keep those who already have done so active.

Voting will be from noon to 9 p.m.  at Town Hall.

The program would give ambulance corps members a retirement package similar to the one Fire Department members receive.

“Riding members” of the town ambulance squad — those who respond to calls in a timely manner — who are 65 or older would receive $30 a month for each year they have served after 2011 and $20 a month for each year they served during the five years before 2011.

To qualify, volunteers would have to earn a minimum number of points each year for training and the number of calls to which they respond. To be vested in the plan, a member would have to serve a minimum of five years. Someone joining the corps but leaving before five years wouldn’t receive any benefit; the money paid into the plan on his or her behalf would be distributed to qualified participants.

A lump sum would be paid to a member who becomes permanently disabled prior to age 65 or to the members’ beneficiary if he or she dies prior to reaching 65.

The estimated cost of the program for those volunteers who qualify may be as much as $100,000 in 2013 or about $5,000 per riding member, according to a legal notice in the July 26 issue of the Reporter. The cost includes an annual administrative fee of $3,500. The cost is estimated to decrease by about $30,000 after five years, when the amount owed for service before 2012 will have been fully paid.

The Town Board formally proposed the program in June by a unanimous vote. Town Supervisor Jim Dougherty recently called on voters to support the plan, saying that volunteers render a service that saves taxpayers the much higher cost of maintaining a professional ambulance squad.

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08/01/12 5:20pm

Absentee ballots are available to registered voters for Friday’s town-wide referendum on the Town Board’s proposal to set up an awards program for qualified ambulance volunteers age 65 and over.

Ballots can be obtained up until the day of the vote at the Town Clerk’s office in Town Hall, which is open weekdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 12 noon.

07/26/12 7:35am

There was no hint of opposition at Tuesday’s night informational meeting in Town Hall on the Town Board’s plan to offer a length of service award to qualifying ambulance squad volunteers age 65 and over.

And why would there be? Establishing the award program is the right thing to do. Voters will get the chance to accomplish it on Friday, August 3, when a referendum will be held from noon to 9 p.m. in Town Hall. Absentee ballots are available at the Town Clerk’s office for registered voters who will not be here then.

Other than supporters and architects of the proposal, no one spoke out on Tuesday night and only a few people asked questions. All were straightforward, with no hints of hostility.

How can anyone argue against paying a modest monthly award to the squad’s incredibly dedicated volunteers? It would total only $30 for each year of service after 2011 and $20 for the five years before; earlier service won’t count even though a number of the squad’s volunteers have been serving for decades.

A volunteer, age 65, who has served actively since 2007 will receive a monthly payment from the town for those five years of $100 ($20 times five). He or she will receive $30 a month for each year beginning with 2012 — the year the reward program will take effect if voters approve — but only if they remain active, as defined by the squad’s tough new rules defining credit requirements.

The estimated highest possible annual cost to the town of up to $100,000 will drop after five years, when the cost for earlier service is fully paid. The tax impact on a property owner with a median assessment of $617,000 is expected to be $22.21 a year.

That is far, far less than a professional ambulance squad, with all its salaries and benefits, would cost. But a professional squad is exactly what taxpayers face in the not-too-distant future unless volunteers are encouraged and stay on. It’s the least town taxpayers can do to say thank you for all the calls volunteers have made, and the meetings, training and other chores they’ve attended to, to make sure Islanders get help fast when they are stricken.

For decades, Shelter Islanders have had an ambulance service run by volunteers. When it was owned by the Red Cross, private donations paid the operating costs and volunteers had no monetary reward.

So why should they have one now? With the town takeover, the question of a Length of Service Award Program necessarily arises. The taxpayer-funded town fire district has one for its volunteers. How can the town do less for its ambulance volunteers — if not to protect its own interests in avoiding the need for a professional squad, then as a long overdue official thank you from everyone.