On the Island

Work at Star Island to Enhance Life Safety Ongoing

Island Life Continues for Pelicans in the spirit of the original Gosport Shoalers.

(This is a Star Island Media Release)

Isles of Shoals, NH—Work at Star Island to enhance life safety is ongoing under the direction of safety engineers who are on island regularly to execute a plan being devised by fire officials and Star Island jointly. Meanwhile, its seasonal Pelican staff is taking the opportunity to develop a community of active learning in the spirit of the original Gosport, a fishing village founded in the 1600’s, as well as work on maintenance projects. The outpouring of support from community members continues. “The safety of our employees, conferees and visitors has been and remains our highest priority,” said Amy L. Lockwood, executive director of Star Island Corporation (SIC). “We are working closely with state and local fire officials to ensure safety remains paramount and history is preserved. We are grateful for our long–standing relationship with the Rye Fire Department and New Hampshire fire officials. We have worked together to build a thorough plan to enhance the level of safety. We now have life safety engineers engaged and on site to execute the plan.”

Star Island Corporation experienced a delayed conference opening due to crucial fire safety upgrades. This temporary closure has affected conference groups from throughout the Northeast region. “We take full responsibility and we apologize to our conferees and business partners for this disruption,” Lockwood said. “We are grateful for the continued support of our conferees, business partners and visitors. We look forward to serving everyone again very soon.”

Star Island is committed to making changes to its internal operations to ensure future safety improvements are built into its strategic plan, executed in a timely manner and facilities are well maintained to meet or exceed applicable codes. The SIC Board of Directors has established a committee to review the elements which lead to the delayed opening and recommend any changes to board policy and process or the staff and its process. It is expected the committee’s report and recommendations will take several months and that a progress report will be given to the board at its August meeting, Lockwood said.

“Our immediate focus is to ensure life safety remains paramount,” Lockwood said. “This means we will continue to work diligently to complete the crucial life safety upgrades that will make certain our people and our facilities are protected and allow the conference center to open as soon as possible.”

While Star Island Corporation works diligently with fire officials towards completing the vital life safety upgrades on the Island, people from all walks of life are rallying to support Star Island’s fundraising efforts and preserve its history. “We are grateful for the enormous outpouring of grassroots support from our conferees, business partners and the general public,” said Lockwood. At the same time, the seasonal Pelicans have taken the opportunity to enhance their Pelican community by creating an environment of active learning and teaching one another in the areas of philosophy, photography, knitting, bike and furniture repair and reverse osmosis education, a process used to turn salt water into drinking water on island. They also share nature walks, history lessons and the ghost stories and legends of Gosport from centuries past and present.

The full time and seasonal staff, also known as Pelicans, continue to perform maintenance tasks in anticipation of the guests’ return. For example, the Pelicans are undertaking fire prevention tasks such as expanding Star Island’s fire break. The fire break is a 50- foot buffer between the natural brush on the island and buildings that would delay the spread of any fire and provide more time for evacuation. Persistent teams of Pelicans are working in full Tyvek body suits to clear brush.

Other Pelicans are tasked with maintenance projects such as painting, siding, roofing and carpentry. For example, furniture repair and bed building is ongoing including the construction of 26 new beds to replace those in disrepair. The front porch, remembered by visitors most often for the tranquility found in its wooden rocking chairs, has undergone a full clean-up.

The full-time staff has integrated a new apprentice program into its maintenance planning in the temporary absence of visitors. This is the intentional recruiting of seasonal staff – Pelican apprentices – who came to Star Island in entry level positions and may be interested in working with other departments in future summers. Apprentices are working in maintenance, the Vaughn Museum, the Shoals Marine Lab, the kitchen, and in logistics.

“Work at the Island continues and we will keep the public informed of our progress moving forward,” Lockwood said. “We wish to extend a warm gratitude to the local and state fire safety officials who are guiding us through this process and to our generous community for its unyielding support.”

The nonprofit Star Island Corporation has owned and operated Star Island for “religious, educational, and kindred purposes” since 1916, providing affordable individual and family retreat. While Star Island is founded on the liberal spiritual ideals of Unitarian-Universalism and the United Church of Christ, people of many denominations and faiths (including none) attend conferences regularly. Each of the Star Island conferences is self-administered by a dedicated group of volunteers and the island is staffed in the summer season by over one hundred young people, affectionately known as Pelicans.

Anyone interested in supporting Star Island’s fundraising efforts may log onto its website at starisland.org. Contact the development team about fundraising efforts by calling Karen Muldoon directly via email at kmuldoon@starisland.org or by calling the Star Island office at 603-430-6272.

Media Contacts:
Amy L. Lockwood
Executive Director of Star Island Corporation
603-430-6272 (O)
603-817-8694 (C)

Michelle Firmbach
Aqua Communications, LLC
603-334-3434 (O)
603-834-2424 (C)

On the Island

July 10th Update from Star Island

An update from Amy Lockwood, Executive Director

Work at Star Island continues as we direct our energies toward conducting and completing electrical work which will make our island safer for conferees and visitors alike. During this period, the island remains closed to overnight guests. Our goal is to reopen in early August. We will reassess and update that benchmark as we proceed with our work.

We are grateful for the support of the Rye Fire Chief and state and local fire and electrical inspectors in helping us identify critical work. This work is being performed by electricians. In the meantime our summer staff—the Pelicans—are dedicating themselves to completing required work and projects that will help make our island both safer and more accessible and will help to preserve our historic structures (including removal of brush that constitutes a fire hazard, exterior painting, and so on).

While, with the support of the Fire Marshal, we are pleased to welcome day visitors to the island on a limited basis, we can not accommodate larger boats on our dock due to our need to allow our work boats to have free access to that space. Access to Star Island can be gained via the Uncle Oscar or by sailing or motoring a private boat which can be moored in Gosport Harbor—contact Kittery and Portsmouth Yacht Clubs for permission and information—and then rowing a dinghy to our dock. Please note that all day visitors are to stay off of porches and out of all buildings, with the exception of use of the restrooms in the Brookfield building.

We will update this website regularly with new information as it becomes available and appreciate the support of the public, our conference family, and the greater Portsmouth and Rye business community as we work through these short term challenges to make everyone’s Star Island experience safer and more enjoyable.

On the Island

June 27th Update on the Conference Season Delay

An update from Amy Lockwood, Executive Director, and Brad Greeley, President

The Star Island Corporation profoundly regrets to announce that it expects Star Island to be closed through early August until further assessment of its electrical systems and mandated work are completed for fire safety purposes. Star Island expects to open fully in early August for the remainder of its normal conference schedule.

If you have concerns regarding a conference scheduled during this time period, please contact your conference chair. Conference leadership contact information is listed on the Conference Calendar page on our website, or in your Blue Book. Alternatively you may call the Star Island Corporation office at (603) 430-6272 so our staff can assist you.

The Star Island board and staff sincerely regret the difficulties being caused by this temporary situation. Those familiar with Star Island’s history are aware of the legacy of communities which have successfully weathered the challenges of survival in our remote New England island setting. We are confident that this community will do the same, and we look forward to opening in August in a better and safer position than the island has seen before.

On the Island

June 22nd Update on Conference Rescheduling

An update from Amy Lockwood, Executive Director, and Brad Greeley, President

As anticipated, Star Island Corporation has been preparing for a facility inspection on Thursday, June 21. In the course of these preparations there was some fairly in-depth research and assessment needed of progress on our hotel electrical systems. We were pleased to learn that a contracted electrical engineer who has inspected the facility today was pleased with the progress that has been made on bringing the 130 year old building up to code. As always there is a great deal to do to assure the safety of our conferees and each phase of our work is an element in arriving at the goal.

Unfortunately the time needed to conduct this assessment delayed our fire inspection. We now hope that inspection will come early next week, and we will be open for conferences no later than the middle of the week.

We will look forward to welcoming the Natural History Conference, which focuses it study and discussion on aspects of the natural buy cheap furosemide environment of the Islands and issues of stewardship and living a religious life. YRUU has been welcomed by Ferry Beach in Maine, which will allow them to preserve the full week experience together. A third conference, the Isles of Shoals Historic Research Association (ISHRA) has canceled its summer conference (although will keep its annual fall conference), and all ISHRA conferees are invited to attend as NHC conferees and enjoy that conference’s programs.

We continue to be deeply grateful to the Shoals Marine Lab on Appledore Island. They have been in close touch and strongly supportive of our staff as we have worked to complete the necessary improvements.

Affected ISHRA Conferees: Amy Cook, registrar, ptilota@yahoo.com or (603) 440-8010
Affected YRUU Conferees: Rebecca D. Hutton, registrar, rebeccadhutton@gmail.com or (617) 605-4380
Affected NHC Conferees: Kim Reef, registrar, kimreef@hotmail.com or (978) 362-1149

Offers of volunteer assistance: Irene Bush, volunteer coordinator, ibush@patmedia.net or (603) 433-9146

All other questions, including press inquiries: Amy Lockwood, alockwood@starisland.org or (603) 817-8694; Brad Greeley, board@starisland.org or (603) 430-0969

On the Island

June 14th Update on Our Partnership with Ferry Beach to Host Conferences

Star Island Conference Center, located off Portsmouth and Rye at the historic Isles of Shoals, is working in partnership with the Ferry Beach Park Association, a Unitarian Universalist camp/conference center in Saco, Maine, to host Star Island’s Young Adult and Arts Conferences beginning on June 16, 2007. The one week conferences, which run concurrently and begin the Star Island summer season, had to be moved from Star Island to accommodate electrical and fire safety improvements being made to Star Island’s centuries-old buildings including the Oceanic Hotel. Read more…

On the Island

Information on the Conference Season Delay

NOTE: Information is coming soon about alternate conference center plans for Arts and YAC conferees. If you are a conferee for either of these conferences, you will be kept up to date by your registrar. If you have questions, please call the Star Island Corporation office at (603) 430-6272.

A Message from Amy Lockwood, Executive Director, Star Island Corporation

Dear Friends of Star Island:

I am truly saddened to have to tell you that due to unforeseen circumstances, Star Island needs to delay the opening of its summer season by one week, until June 23, 2007. This change is being made so that we can comply with fire safety mandates suggested by our State Fire Marshall which are in the best interest of all Shoalers.

While we have been engaged in fire safety upgrades to our buildings for more than five years, we have not, despite our best efforts, been able to complete a large-scale fire prevention readiness plan which was agreed to with the Rye Fire Department and State Fire Marshall’s office in 2002.

We have fully mobilized personnel to complete this critical work. Teams of electricians and carpenters are on the island already; all staff not essential to other areas of island opening (such as wastewater treatment plant operators) are engaged in this effort as well. Despite this, we anticipate that the island will not be certified for occupancy until June 23.

We understand how concerned you may be in learning this news. Please know how disappointed we are to convey it to you. We do want you to know that we are in contact with the leadership of these conferences to assist in finding other times conferees can be on the island.

We know how much Star Island means to so many of our conferees and our Corporation family. Our Conference Center Director Joe Watts, our Senior Staff, our Pelicans, and our Board of Directors share my concern and disappointment over this unavoidable change in plans for our summer season. We value your love and support of Star Island and hope that you join us in the sure knowledge that, through the difficult but important work we now undertake, we will ensure that the Oceanic Hotel and Star Island will continue to endure–safely and securely–for years to come.

In faith,
Amy Lockwood
Executive Director

Neighbors in the Shoals

An Island Kingdom: A New Documentary on the Isles of Shoals

The New Hampshire Humanities Council has awarded a grant to Barking Spider Productions for An Island Kingdom, a one-hour television documentary that will trace the history of the Isles of Shoals from 1614 to the present day.

Producer Andrea Melville has produced two Emmy-award winning documentaries for public television. She will use historic photographs, film, paintings and drawings to support interviews with scholars familiar with the history, culture and characters for he Isles of Shoals to show how the islands have changed over the last two centuries.

From an early Colonial fishing outpost to a vacation spot for the wealthy to the summer home of celebrated 19th century poet and painter Celia Thaxter and her close friend, American Impressionist Childe Hassam, the Isles of Shoals have played a critical role in New England’s economic and cultural evolution. This program will also highlight present-day restoration and conservation efforts through footage of these beautiful inlands as they are today.

Barking Spider Productions hope to air the program on public television and will schedule free screenings at seacoast area libraries and museums prior to the planned October 2008 airdate.

An Island Kingdom is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a nonprofit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of An Island Kingdom may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible. To donate directly go to Fractured Atlas’s website. If you would like more information about the program An Island Kingdom, please call 802.485.3901 or email bspider@trans-video.net.

On the Island

May 31st Conference Waitlist Update

The All Star I and Life on a Star I Conferences recently notified us that they have worked their way through their waitlists and have found themselves with a few extra slots. Please check out the Conference Calendar page for more information. We recommend getting in touch with the conference registrars immediately as these slots will go fast!

On the Island

“What’s In a Name?” from the Concord Monitor

UCC I Conferee Phil Daley sent us a link to the new “What’s In a Name?” column from the Concord Monitor.

“Back in 1985, Daley and his family were vacationing on Star Island, part of the Isles of Shoals off the New Hampshire coast, when his wife, Barbara Lois, went into labor…”

It’s a charming, short anecdote that we’re sure will amuse you.