04/30/11 7:55am

Southold Elementary School’s sixth-graders held their annual Medieval Feast in the school cafeteria on Friday afternoon.

Students dressed in traditional costumes and enjoyed a lunch which included foods that were eaten in the Middle Ages. The elementary orchestra entertained students, parents and faculty with period music while jesters, knights and princesses roamed the aisles.

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KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Southold Elementary School's fifth grade class held its annual Medieval Feast on Friday. Students dressed in traditional costume and feasted on food from the Medieval period.

04/30/11 7:07am

The third annual Spring Tea at Hallockville Museum Farm was held in the historic Naugles Barn at the Riverhead museum Friday. The social event features a selection of sweets, savories, sandwiches and teas and patrons are encouraged to wear a favorite hat. The proceeds support Hallockville’s educational programs. Last year the event raised more than $3,000.

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BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Jennifer Munkelwitz of Hampton Bays (standing) pours water for tea for (from left) Mattie Genovese, Kathy Ramistella and Joan Guarino all of Aquebogue.

04/29/11 5:33pm
04/29/2011 5:33 PM

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Jeff Strider brought Mattituck a point at second singles, beating Riverhead's Efe Errol, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2.

The league championship is already in their hands, and pizza is on the way.

A lot was on the line when the Mattituck Tuckers played the defending league champion William Floyd Colonials on Wednesday. For one thing, the match had significant implications on the race for the Suffolk County League VIII boys tennis championship. And then there was the promise made to the Tuckers of a pizza party if they won.

Things didn’t start well for the Tuckers in the match, which saw them trailing by 3-1. On top of that, the first set of each of the remaining three individual matches went William Floyd’s way. No matter, first-place Mattituck came back and won, topping second-place William Floyd for the second time this season by a 4-3 score.

“That was amazing,” said Mattituck senior Connor Davis.

The result really shouldn’t come as a great surprise because that is what the Tuckers do. They win.

That triumph set up Mattituck’s 6-0 title-clinching victory over the Hampton Bays Baymen at Red Creek Park on Thursday (the match was stopped early because of a downpour). It is Mattituck’s seventh league title and first since 2000. Mattituck Coach Mike Huey said it was his team’s first title as a League VIII team.

“Our kids stepped up big time,” he said. “It’s been a while. We had a little drought there, so it’s special to come back and win one again.”

The newly crowned league champions continued their march toward an unbeaten regular season on Friday when they scored another road win, 6-1 over the Riverhead Blue Waves. It was Mattituck’s 11th win in as many matches, overall and in the league.

“It would be cool if we went undefeated,” said Mattituck senior Joe Pfaff.

BOB LIEPA PHOTO | Seth Conrad's clean play has helped him to a 7-2 record at first singles for Riverhead this season.

The Tuckers have two regular-season matches remaining: on Monday at home against the Rocky Point Eagles and on Wednesday in a non-league contest at Westhampton Beach.

Chemistry, depth and interchangeable parts have given Mattituck the stuff of champions.

“We’re just really deep,” Pfaff said. “We can move players around, and anyone can play anywhere. We match up well against all the other schools. We’ve hardly played with the same lineup.”

And it has worked. It surely did Friday.

Mattituck’s first doubles team of Davis and Pfaff prevailed in the only three-set match of the day. After dropping the first set in a 7-5 tiebreaker, they took the next two sets, 6-1, 6-1, from Patrick Carroll and Geoff Wells.

Meanwhile, Mattituck seventh-graders Garrett Malave and Parker Tuthill, each a Wunderkind in his own right, continued their fine form. Malave brought his season record to 11-0 by breezing past his third-singles opponent, John Rios, 6-0, 6-0. Tuthill (10-1), playing fourth singles, handled Christian Aguirre, 6-1, 6-1.

Jeff Strider of Mattituck was a 7-6 (9-7), 6-2 winner over Efe Erol at second singles.

Mattituck completed its sweep of the doubles matches through Kevin Reyer and Austin Tuthill (6-2, 6-1 over Parker Ellis and Andrew Plattner) and Jack Baglivi and Gram Homan (6-1, 6-1 over Bryan Chinchilla and Tim Salete).

Riverhead’s first singles player, Seth Conrad, brought the Blue Waves their only point of the day. The sophomore played a clean game in his 6-1, 6-2 defeat of Casey Ciamaricone. Conrad committed no double faults, going 12 for 12 on his second serves, and made only five unforced errors to 13 by Ciamaricone.

“That’s exactly him,” Riverhead Coach Bob Lum said of Conrad. “He’s not giving a lot of stuff away.”

Ciamaricone berated himself, once dropping his racket in disgust after a miscue. He got no help from Conrad, who raised his record to 7-2 by playing close to an error-free game with some nice shots sprinkled in.

“I think the most important thing is to be able to hit the ball inbounds where you want it,” said Conrad, who put 71 percent of his first serves in play. “If you can get to every ball and hit it where you want it, that’s all that really matters.”

Riverhead dropped to 2-8, 2-8, but Lum said he can’t complain. He said his players are “always showing improvement, so I can’t ask for more than that.”

Mattituck is closing in on an undefeated regular season, something Huey can remember his team doing only once before. In addition, the Tuckers have the playoffs to prepare for. They have finished as high as third in the county on two occasions. Their playoff seeding could say a lot about how far they go this year.

Pfaff said, “Going into the season, I didn’t think we would do this well, but we really came together as a team, and everyone’s playing good right now.”

They also have a party to look forward to. Pizza is coming.

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04/29/11 2:25pm

After three years of promises, neighbors will finally see work begin to restore two Greenport Village Section 8 houses that burned down in August 2008.

Construction is slated to begin June 30, according to North Fork Housing Alliance director Tanya Palmore.

The houses at 218  and 220 Second St. were damaged in a late afternoon blaze in mid- August 2008. The structure at 620 was demolished, while the other heavily damaged home needs to be renovated.  But because the properties belong to North Fork Housing Authority, the rebuild has been delayed by red tape in getting New York State to approve plans. New York State finances the project that provides Section 8 housing for low-income residents.

The blaze left 10 residents homeless, all of whom subsequently found other housing, Ms. Palmore said. But neighbors, concerned about both danger at the site and its potential effect on their property values, have long been asking that work get under way.

Ms. Palmore has several times come before the Village Board to explain that she couldn’t move forward with the work without state permission. She received a letter today approving June 30 as the start date for the work.

“I’m singing it from the rooftops,” Ms. Palmore said. She’s not sure how long the construction will take. “We just want it to start,” she said about the long-delayed project.

Five rental units will be created at 218 Second St., Ms. Palmore said.

Plans for the project passed muster with Historic Preservation Commission members, which is needed because the homes are situated in a historic district, last January. Architect Garrett Strang said he was working with the housing alliance to develop specifications so the project could be put out to bid.

“We’re not going out to bid tomorrow,” Mr. Strang said then. But he wanted approvals so he could move forward with getting the state to sign off on the project.

At the same time, Mr. Strang said he will resume talks with the HPC if a few aspects of the plan prove too costly for what he described as a tight budget and need to be revised.

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04/29/11 1:10pm

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Supervisor Scott Russell addresses the town GOP committee during its nominating convention last month.

Following a domestic disturbance with police intervention at his Cutchogue home last Thursday, Supervisor Scott Russell has temporarily turned over his town responsibilities to deputy supervisor Phillip Beltz.

“Town government will continue to function as usual,” Mr. Beltz said on Friday. Regarding Mr. Russell, he added, “We hope that everyone respects the family’s privacy.”

A separate statement attributed in a release to the other five Town Board members said, “Supervisor Russell will be taking some time off to address personal and private matters.”

Police were called to the Russell home Thursday morning, but no charges were filed, according to Captain Martin Flatley. Mr. Russell is married and has two children.

The department has released no additional details on what occurred, which is routine in the case of domestic calls, the captain added.

Town Board members are offering no comment beyond the prepared statement.

Ruthanne Woodhull, Mr. Russell’s confidential secretary, said only that the supervisor “is home and taking care of himself.”
No word has been given as to when Mr. Russell might return. Also unknown is how, or if, his absence might affect his re-election campaign.

A former town assessor, Mr. Russell has served in Southold’s top elected post since 2005. In 2007 he became the town’s first supervisor to win the just-expanded four-year term, taking 83 percent of the vote.

Southold’s Republicans, who during last month’s party convention nominated the supervisor to run for a third term, still expect Mr. Russell to be on the ballot in the fall, said town GOP chairman Denis Noncarrow.

“We have no reason to believe that Scott won’t be at the top of the ticket,” Mr. Noncarrow said. He added that he has not spoken with the supervisor since last week.

“I feel for the guy,” Mr. Noncarrow said. “It’s a stressful job and it gets to you. We’ve all had problems in our lives and we’re all there to support him.”

As to what took place at the Russell home last week, the chairman added, “There are all sorts of rumors out there. But people should not jump to conclusions. We have to give him time to regroup.”

Southold Democratic leader Art Tillman said his party is still screening potential candidates. He also declined to comment on Mr. Russell’s situation.

When the Town Board next meets on Tuesday, Mr. Beltz will run the meeting. However, because the position is appointed, not elected, the deputy supervisor  cannot vote on board resolutions.

Councilman Al Krupski, the board’s lone Democrat, said there’s no reason to fear having a non-elected staffer running Town Hall.

Mr. Beltz, the councilman said, “has been part of town government for years. He’s very familiar with the workings of Town Hall and that makes him very valuable.”

Mr. Krupski met Wednesday with councilmen Vinny Orlando and Bill Ruland to set the board’s meeting agenda, a job usually completed by the supervisor. The councilmen also sat down with Town Hall department heads.

“We asked that everyone just keep doing their job,” said Mr. Krupski. “We have a competent and capable workforce here so nobody’s worried about the functioning of town government. We’re going to plod along.”

Mr. Beltz, who has served as deputy supervisor since 2009, became a town employee in June 2003. He was hired as a part-time senior citizen aide at the town Human Resources Center in Mattituck, assigned to visiting homebound elderly residents to evaluate their need for services.

The Town Board appointed him full-time special projects coordinator in January 2004. His duties in that job were varied, including coordinating he town’s affordable housing program, particularly the development of the The Cottages at Mattituck, a 22-unit project built by the Long Island Housing Partnership.

Mr. Beltz was also heavily involved in youth activities and was responsible for guiding the nine separate hamlet stakeholder groups established by the town to provide input on local long-range planning goals.

Prior to working for the town, Mr. Beltz was development director of a nonprofit agency assisting homeless, runaway and at-risk youths. He was also employed by Horizon House in Philadelphia as director of its homeless services division.
A Peconic resident, Mr. Beltz was named The Suffolk Times’s public servant of the year in 2007.

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04/29/11 11:05am

SUFFOLK TIMES COVER PHOTO | Suffolk Times photographer Katharine Schroeder snapped this photo of advection fog hanging over Hobart Avenue in Southold on Easter Sunday.

Check out all these stories and more in this week’s edition of The Suffolk Times, available on newsstands now.


Town wins recycling war

The Southold recycling war is over and the town has prevailed. After a months-long battle between the town and Go-Green Sanitation, the Riverhead-based trash hauling company has conceded that its customers need to separate recyclable materials from their trash prior to pickup, and that the company must make separate runs to collect garbage and recyclables such as cans, glass and paper.

Page 1, posted online April 27

Parker Wickam 1920-2011

Parker Wickham, who converted part of his family’s potato farm into an airfield after World War II and pursued a lifelong love of things mechanical, particularly rare antique cars, died at his Mattituck home Friday surrounded by family. He was 90.

Page 2, posted online April 28

What if Uncle Same leaves Plum Isle?

As the federal government’s plan to sell Plum Island continues along slowly, Southold Town is hoping to propose zoning for the island by this fall.

Page 3, posted online April 26

A hearing, but no law

Comments were scarce Tuesday night at a Town Board hearing on whether Southold should require garbage haulers to obtain a town permit.

Page 4, posted online April 28

Santa’s gets a nice gift

Most of Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm in Cutchogue was preserved by Southold Town this week, despite an ongoing controversy over owner Lewis Edson’s use of a large barn on the property as a retail store.

Page 4, posted online April 29

More news


Guest Column: How farmers saved the East End

If it weren’t for the tenacity and courage of a small band of North Fork farmers, some of whom have been working the land here for generations, all of us — on both forks — would be living in the shadow of nuclear plants with the same design as the destroyed plants that are devastating Japan.

more opinion …


Leos leap to put heart into help

Ten years after Mattituck’s Leo Club quietly began providing assistance to community members in need, the high school branch of the Lions Club has suddenly exploded in size.

Page 6, posted online April 22

more education …


19th Century barn transformed into country estate

When Richard Cifarelli acquired a handsome barn back in 1996, he knew it was going to be quite a project to turn it into a home.

Posted online April 26

More real estate …


Rejected in Riverhead, cruise ship eyes Greenport

What doesn’t fly — or sail — in Riverhead might in Greenport Village. At least that’s the thinking of Ed Graham, who asked the Village Board Monday night to rent him and his group dock space for what he described as a “cocktail boat” that would run excursions on which passengers could purchase drinks and hors d’oeuvres and light snacks.

Posted online April 27

more business …


Clausen’s two-hitter lifts Southold to victory

You could forgive the Southold outfielders if at times they were daydreaming Tuesday afternoon against The Stony Brook School. The way junior Kyle Clausen was pitching, the First Settlers had little use for outfielders.

Posted April 26

more sports …

04/29/11 10:05am

Most of Santa’s Christmas Tree Farm in Cutchogue was preserved by Southold Town this week, despite an ongoing controversy over owner Lewis Edson’s use of a large barn on the property as a retail store.

The Southold Town Board agreed Tuesday night to purchase the development rights to all but five of Mr. Edson’s 27.8 acres for $60,000 per acre.

The five acres excluded from the purchase are the property along Route 25 that includes a house, the barn and associated parking.

Mr. Edson has been embroiled in litigation with the town for several years after the town cited him for using the 8,000-square-foot barn as a store.

A state Supreme Court justice ruled in favor of the town in 2009, and Mr. Edson subsequently applied to the town’s Zoning Board of Appeals for a variance that would deem the barn a farm stand. That application was approved. In order to be labeled a farm stand within the code, he would need to scale back the store to 3,000 square feet and 60 percent of the gross dollar sales from the shop would have to be of agricultural products grown in Southold.

Mr. Edson has since sued the ZBA over those restrictions.

Cutchogue resident Benja Schwartz was the only person who spoke at the public hearing on the acquisition.

“I’m for land preservation, but I see that as a conflict of interest,” he said. “The use of the farm stand is the subject of the litigation.”

Town Board member Al Krupski, who serves as the board’s liaison to the land preservation committee, said that the lawsuit never came up in their discussion of the application.

“The committee made its decision based on the location. It’s contiguous to other farmland. It completes a large block of [preserved] land,” he said. “In 100 years, is it still going to be in the current use, with the same owner?”

Town Board member Louisa Evans was quick to point out that the portion of the property that is the subject of the lawsuit is not part of the purchase.

More money for CPF

Southold is planning to enrich its Community Preservation Fund account.

The town hopes to purchase a total of six properties this year and will likely need to borrow money by August to cover the program’s costs, according to Town comptroller John Cushman.

In 2007 the town authorized borrowing $22 million for CPF purchases, but has issued only $12 million in bonds since then, according to land preservation director Melissa Spiro. During Tuesday’s Town Board work session, Mr. Cushman recommended issuing bonds for the other $10 million this August to take advantage of a low interest rate.

“If we do nothing and try to close deals in September, we’ll be out of money,” Mr. Cushman said.

“Essentially, your program is shut down and you’re rolling the dice as far as debt service payments for the rest of the year,” he added.

Supervisor Scott Russell agrees.

“The idea is to have money in the account each year so we don’t have to look to the general fund to cover debt service,” he said. “The reality is, it’s getting tight now with projects pending and it’s penny wise and pound foolish to not borrow money.”

The town has budgeted for $2.8 million in CPF revenue this year, and plans to put $2.4 million into a reserve fund to cover the annual debt service on all of the money the town has borrowed for CPF purchases, in the event that the town does not take in enough money in any given year to cover its debts.

Although the real estate market continues to show few signs of improvement, Southold’s first-quarter CPF revenue was $848,865 this year, up from $697,728 in the same quarter last year.

The CPF program lasts until 2030, and before then towns will have to pay back any debt incurred for land preservation purchases.

Land preservation committee member Ray Huntington told the board that he thought the town had been very conservative in its use of CPF money in the past.

“Borrowing is a tool that we can use for the benefit of the public, but it can also screw it up,” he said. “But we’re safe. We have both feet on dry land … We only have a small window to borrow where it makes any sense at all. If we borrowed in 2029, we would have to pay it back the next day, almost.”

Storm grant estimates in

Southold has received concrete estimates of potential FEMA reimbursement for cleanup work in the Hashamomuck Cove area hit hard by flooding and erosion during the nor’easter of Dec. 26, 2010.

FEMA estimates that cleanup at Town Beach, Kenney’s Beach, McCabe’s Beach and the end of Soundview Avenue will cost $475,242. FEMA will pay $356,431 and Southold Town and New York State will each pay $59,405. The project at Town Beach is currently awaiting DEC permits.

Laurel Lake REBID

A project proposed last fall to tear down an old dock and several concrete foundations at the Laurel Lake Preserve on Route 25 will be rebid this spring. The project, to be paid for by a New York State grant, involves carrying sections of concrete foundation out of the woods by hand because they cannot be reached with excavation equipment.

Paper-shredding party

Southold is planning to set up a day or weekend later this spring when businesses and residents can bring paper documents to a town facility to be shredded for free.

If the town can collect 7,000 pounds of paper, it will not need to pay contractors who recycle high-quality office paper after they shred it, said solid waste coordinator Jim Bunchuck.

A date has not yet been set.

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04/28/11 2:52pm
04/28/2011 2:52 PM

Edward Thomas Ernst of Southold died April 22 at the age of 58.

He was born Feb. 26, 1953, in Flushing. He was a co-owner of Mill Creek Builders Ltd., and was a licensed yacht captain and a licensed private pilot. With his wife, Angela Norton, he owned a horse farm and was an activist in land preservation and conservation.

He is survived by his wife; his stepdaughter, Coriander Greer Smyth; his stepson, Damon Flynn Lish; and four grandchildren.

Arrangements were in the care of Horton-Mathie Funeral Home in Greenport. A memorial service will be held at a future date.

Memorial donations may be made to the Wounded Warrior Project or North Fork Animal Welfare League.

04/28/11 2:48pm

Cindy Ruggles of Southold died at the age of 52.

A service led by the Rev. Peter Kelley will be held Saturday, April 30, at 1 p.m. at First Presbyterian Church of Southold. Interment will be at the church cemetery. Arrangements are in the care of Coster-Heppner Funeral Home in Cutchogue.

A complete obituary will appear in a future edition of The Suffolk Times.

Donations may be made to the Jacqueline Ruggles College Fund, c/o Hudson City Savings Bank, 53345 Main Road, Southold, NY 11971-4643.

04/28/11 11:58am

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Parker Wickham at his home in June 2010.

Parker Wickham, who converted part of his family’s potato farm into an airfield after World War II and pursued a lifelong love of things mechanical, particularly rare antique cars, died at his Mattituck home Friday surrounded by family. He was 90.

“He was one of the finest human beings I ever met,” said former New Suffolk resident David Christianson, who at age 16 began an eight-year relationship with Mr. Wickham, assisting in the restoration of some of the antique cars in his collection. Now a systems analyst in California, Mr. Christianson flew home just for Mr. Wickham’s funeral at Mattituck Presbyterian Church Tuesday.

“He was my third grandfather,” said Mr. Christianson. “He made everybody feel as if they were important.”

J. Parker Wickham was born June 29, 1920, to Cedric Hull Wickham, who earned an engineering degree at Pratt Institute and worked on New York bridges, and Claretta Schneck Wickham. After graduating from Mattituck High School, he decided against college and instead moved to California, where he found employment in 1939 at the Polaris Flight Academy in the Mojave Desert. Through an agreement between the U.S. and Great Britain, the academy trained British pilots. To maintain a staff of aviation workers who would not be lost to active duty, the Army Air Corps, which later became the Air Force, inducted the men working for the academy.

Mr. Wickham, who served from 1939 to 1945, was responsible for the facility’s training aircraft. He managed a staff of 200 women who maintained the planes.

In an August 15, 1942, letter to his parents, Mr. Wickham wrote, “We now have 115 planes and will later have a total of 200 basic trainers. I will then have a personnel of 375 men if I can find that many. The housing conditions … are terrible, making it extremely hard to obtain help.”

While in California, he married Edith Ann Dahl at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Los Angeles. The cemetery is best known today as the final resting place of Hollywood celebrities such as Errol Flynn, Clark Gable and recently Elizabeth Taylor. In a biography prepared for the local history collection at Cutchogue New Suffolk Library, Mr. Wickham said his boarding house landlady had recommended Forest Lawn because its two chapels were open to all faiths and quite affordable.

He dreamed of opening an airport in Mattituck and, when he asked for part of the farm, his father said, “Come on home. There’s no money in potatoes anyhow.”

The Wickhams ran newspaper ads to alert the community to their aviation plans and, after hearing no objections, laid out a grass strip. Parker Wickham maintained the strip, paved over long ago, with a lawn mower made from three automobile rear ends. The 2,200-foot runway, just off New Suffolk Avenue, follows a north-south track down to the bay.

Mr. Wickham drew on his knowledge of aviation mechanics to open an aircraft engine overhaul shop in 1946. The company, which later became Teledyne Mattituck Services, developed a national reputation for the quality of its work on piston-driven engines.

He continued to live near the Mattituck Airbase. “I’m not one to waste time commuting,” he told The Suffolk-Times in a 2005 story. He retired after 25 years and passed the business to his son, Jay.

While they still own the airport, the Wickham family sold the engine business in 1984, bought it back again four years later, then sold it to the Teledyne Corporation, an aerospace and defense firm, in 1999. Last December, Technify Motors, a Chinese supplier of fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters, announced a deal to purchase Teledyne Mattituck Services as part of a $186 million cash deal that includes Teledyne Continental Motors, an engine manufacturing company. The sale closed just last week.

A man ahead of his time, Mr. Wickham constructed a solar-powered house on airbase grounds in the 1960s. It featured floor-to-ceiling windows, special insulation and rooftop solar panels. Jay Wickham lives there now.

Parker Wickham was known for his collection of unusual antique autos. He began collecting in the 1980s and at one time had between 50 and 60 vehicles in various states of repair, according to Mr. Christianson.

“He had entertained the idea of restoring old planes, but they take up too much space,” he said.

With no interest in Packards or DeSotos, Mr. Wickham owned a 1901 Rochester Steamer, a 1910 Elmore and an electric-powered Renault, among others.

When Mr. Christianson married on May 1, 2005, on a field close to the airport, he drove his wife-to-be to the ceremony in the back of a 1928 Ruxton he and Mr. Wickham had restored.

At the time, Mr. Christianson was the only person who knew how to drive the car, so a fabric drape was installed between the driver and passenger compartments in keeping with the tradition that the groom should not see the bride before the ceremony.
Mr. Wickham recently sold part of his collection to an auto museum in Fairbanks, Alaska. The new two-bay garage recently constructed on the Cutchogue Village Green will house a 1926 Model A truck he donated.

“He never fought change,” said Mr. Christianson. “He embraced progress and change, however it came. He was awesome.”

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