Trees & Cups: News from ‘The Block Island Times’

The Block Island Times
The Block Island Times

Every Tuesday I get a copy of The Block Island Times in the mail. It gives me great pleasure to get it. It comes every week all year around, for it is the official newspaper of record for that town.

Block Island is visible on the horizon from the Montauk Lighthouse. Montauk, 20 miles away, is the nearest landfall for the island, but few people from these parts go there. It’s expensive to fly. And going by boat is a rough two hours through the heavy chop of the sea between here and there (it is known affectionately as “the rip”). Furthermore, Block Island belongs to Rhode Island, not New York.

Personally, I go there about once every 10 years. Whenever the newspaper gets a new publisher, I go have lunch with them on the island. I am the founder of The Block Island Times. That’s why I enjoy getting the paper so much. Not only have they kept my name on the masthead since I founded it in 1970, but they are still using the fancy logo that I drew with a magic marker at the Dan’s Papers office in Bridgehampton when I founded it. Block Island would be the first of a long list of resorts that would be the recipient of a “Dan’s Papers” in coming years. Well, that never happened. After 12 years running it from afar, I sold it. So there were new publishers.

I scan the newspaper every week looking for stories that might make sense in Dan’s Papers. This week, I found two.

One involves the airport. Block Island Airport is near the center of the island, high up on a hill. Its primary mainland destination is Westerly, Rhode Island, just a puddle jump away. It’s what the airports in New York City are to East Hampton Airport.

“Saying it has run out of options, Rhode Island Airport Corporation is beginning to make preparations to shorten landing lengths at two runways at the Westerly Airport” is the story’s first sentence.

Hmmm. Turns out that the FAA, the hated supervisor of East Hampton Airport where they do nothing to lessen the noise disturbing the neighbors, is running into problems in Westerly.

The problem is trees.

Bill Bendokas (the local airline co-owner) “said the shorter landing length will not directly impact his planes, but he said a longer landing length is always safer,” the story says.

Turns out that the neighbors living alongside the airport with all the noise have allowed trees to grow so tall on their property that they obstruct the runways. And they won’t take them down. The current runway length is 4,000 feet. There is now a white line 550 feet from the end of the runway indicating you can’t touch down behind that line. And the line will move to further shorten the runway as the trees continue growing. An FAA law states that planes need to be a certain number of feet above the trees as they come down to land.

Score one for the locals.

Another front-page story I thought interesting this week was headlined MYSTERY OF THE CUP…SOLVED. Not long ago, a white plastic drinking cup with writing on it washed up on the beach at Cornwall, England. A volunteer at the Perranzabuloe Museum just outside that town took it upon himself to find out where this cup came from. He posted a photo of it on Facebook. He didn’t have to wait long.

The writing on it reads “R.I. Gasman Society. Est. 1987. Block Island Blenderfest.” In the center of the writing is a drawing of two swordfish, their swords crossed above a sport-fishing boat.

Reporter Lars Trodson looked into the story. The Blenderfest is a dockside party held by a group of revelers on the third weekend after July 4 every year for the past 30 years at Ballard’s Dock (think Gosman’s in Montauk). It features mudslides and vodka provided by the Blenderfesters.

On Facebook, Kristie Callahan posted, “This is amazing! My dad and all of his friends were the ones that started Blenderfest weekend in ’87.”

Reporter Lars wrote, “This cup somehow managed to survive a 3,100 mile voyage from Block Island to the west coast of England.”

Wow. Plastic floats! Well, there you are. At least it didn’t come from Montauk, say I. So that’s this week’s report from Block Island.

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