08/31/12 4:45pm
08/31/2012 4:45 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Riders hit the streets during the 2001 Soldier Ride.

There will be two Soldier Ride events this weekend honoring Shelter Island’s Army First Lieutenant Joseph Theinert, who died in Afghanistan in 2010.

The first, the North Fork Soldier Ride, begins in Mitchell Park in Greenport Saturday morning. Registration begins at 7 a.m. followed by a ceremony at 8 with three different rides begin at 8:30 a.m.

There will be a 15-mile one-way ride from Greenport to Mattituck, a 30-mile round trip ride to Mattituck and a 60-mile loop from Greenport to Mattituck to Orient and back to Greenport. A community picnic will be held after the ride at the Moore’s Lane fairgrounds.

The fee, which supports the Wounded Warrior Project, is $50 for civilians, $25 for veterans and those under the age of 18 and free for active duty military personnel.

The Shelter Island Spur Ride begins at the American Legion Mitchell Post 281, 1 Bateman Road on Shelter Island. There are two loops, 12.5 miles and 25 miles. Registration is $50 but $25 for riders under 16.

There will be a post-ride cookout at the American Legion post.

Registration begins at 7 a.m., with a kickoff celebration at 8 and the ride’s start at 8:30.

Proceeds from the Spur Ride benefit the Joseph J. Theinert Memorial Fund’s support of veterans and their families.

Riders in the North Fork event can register at http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/programs/soldier-ride/community-rides/north-fork.aspx.

To register for the Spur Ride, go to: http://shelterislandspurride-zvents.eventbrite.com/

08/31/12 2:00pm

PATTY HOCKER PHOTO | Greenport Girl Scouts Beth Richter (left) and Callie Bubb.

Three Greenport Girl Scouts recently achieved what no other North Fork or Shelter Island young woman has achieved before, at least not in recent memory.

COURTESY PHOTO | Heather Gadomski

All are recipients of the “Gold Award,” the female equivalent of the Eagle Scout, the highest rank a Boy Scout can achieve.

Each of the three said they’re proud to have stuck with scouting to accomplish what less than three percent of Girl Scouts do.

Heather Gadomski, Callie Bubb and Beth Richter, all 19 years old, completed the more than 18 months of planning and least 65 hours required toward finishing their individual service projects.

Read the complete story in the Sept. 6 issue of The Suffolk Times.

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08/31/12 12:00pm
Brendan House, Michael Hubbard, Nancy Reyer, New Beginnings

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | When completed, Brendan House will help fill a medical care void on eastern Long Island by providing round-the-clock care for young adults.

Renovations and fundraising efforts are almost ready to begin for Brendan House, a planned 12-bed long-term care home on Sound Avenue for people with brain injuries and other cognitive issues, organizers said at an informational meeting last Thursday night in Medford.

Organizers said they’re in the process of getting permits from Riverhead Town to begin improvements on the structure, which once served as housing for single mothers before it was donated last year to New Beginnings Community Center, a nonprofit outpatient rehab center in Medford.

New Beginnings and nonprofit group Family Residences & Essential Enterprises of Old Bethpage will run the home, named in honor of Brendan Aykroyd, a 25-year-old Blue Point man who suffered a brain injury in a 2009 assault.

Mr. Aykroyd joined New Beginnings to continue his rehabilitation last year but died in his sleep that June.

The home will allow victims of traumatic brain injuries to live independently while still receiving the care they need. Few centers like Brendan House currently exist to aid people who are in need of long-term care but too young for seniors-only assisted living facilities, a February special report in the Riverhead News-Review found.

See riverheadnewsreview.com for the fully story.

08/31/12 10:00am
Darknight, batman, Alan Horn, Disney Studios

ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTO/CHRIS PIZZELLO | Alan Horn (from right), actor Michael Caine and director Christopher Nolan in a 2008 ceremony for Mr. Caine in Los Angeles.

1960 was the year childhood friends Alan Horn and Howard Gassert — who both lived in Aquebogue at the time — graduated from Riverhead High School.

Howard was your typical jock; Alan was into baseball, but his main focus was academics.

“I always admired Alan for his self-discipline, and he admired me for my athleticism, but you see how far athletics has gotten me,” Mr. Gassert said with a laugh.

Mr. Gassert owns a nice home on Sandalwood Lane in Riverhead with his wife, Nancy, a former Riverhead school board member, but he’s comparing himself to Alan Horn. Yes, film buffs. The Alan Horn.

For the uninitiated, Mr. Horn went on to become a film industry great, a man named a “Studio Titan” in The Hollywood Reporter’s 2011 “Legends” issue.

So, how did he get there?

Read the story

08/31/12 8:00am

A Calverton woman was arrested for driving while intoxicated in Greenport early Friday morning after cops spotted her driving the wrong way on a one-way street, Southold Town police said.

Mary Lindsey, 23, also failed to signal a turn off Main Street before she illegally headed the wrong direction on a roadway just after midnight, police said.

She was stopped by police and found to be intoxicated, officials said.

Police arrested her for DWI and transported her to police headquarters, where she was being held for a morning arraignment.

Ms. Lindsey was also charged with traffic violations for going the wrong way on a one-way street and failing to signal, police said.

08/31/12 8:00am

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Jennifer Maertz (left) and Bridget Fleming are squaring off in a Democratic primary for the opportunity to oppose Senator Ken LaValle.

Over the years, the list of Democratic opponents against longtime incumbent state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) reads like a “Who’s Who” of candidates nobody remembers.

Some of them were on the ballot, but went the entire campaign without making much noise on the campaign front.

This year, there’s a Sept. 13 primary between two Democratic candidates who are seeking to take on the 36-year incumbent.

Jennifer Maertz, 36, an attorney from Rocky Point, lost against Mr. LaValle two years ago as a last-minute replacement for Regina Calcaterra, who was knocked off the ballot on a residency issue.

Now Ms. Maertz will square off against Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, 52, of Sag Harbor. Ms. Fleming was elected to fill the remaining year of a vacated council term in 2010 and then was elected to a full four-year term in 2011. Prior to that, she was an assistant district attorney in New York City, where she prosecuted sex crimes and headed a unit that prosecuted fraud in public programs.

The two squared off in a forum sponsored Wednesday night by the Southampton League of Women Voters in the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton.

Both candidates took their shots at the incumbent, who was not present.

“The incumbent senator has been in office for 36 years,” Ms. Fleming said of Mr. LaValle, 73. “He’s become over these many years a part of the culture in Albany, more responsive to special interests than to the immediate needs of the people in the first district. He has overseen steady tuition hikes and failed to protect our economy while moving to raise his own salary.”

“We send more tax dollars upstate than we get in return,” Ms. Maertz said. “And upstate, the opposite is true. And this has been going on a very long time and our state senator has done nothing about it and has not changed this. Do you want to know why? Because the Republican party has its power base in upstate New York and he has to go along with the party.”

The two candidates agreed on a number of the issues raised by audience questions in Wednesday’s forum, such as the need to fully repeal the MTA payroll tax, support for same-sex marriage, and support for a Shinnecock casino, but not on the East End.

One area they differed was on campaign funding. While both supported public financing of campaigns, Ms. Fleming said one of the reasons to vote for her and not Ms. Maertz was that she has raised far more money and would have a better chance in November against Mr. LaValle because of that.

According to the most recent campaign disclosure forms on file, Ms. Fleming’s campaign had raised $44,020 at the end of August and had $56,802 left, while Ms. Maertz hadn’t raised anything in the most recent filing period and had a total of $3,206 remaining.

“It’s one of the reasons I think you should chose me on Sept. 13,” Ms. Fleming said. “In order to be viable, you’ve got to be able to raise money. It’s such a shame, but our opponent, Ken LaValle, has gotten $76,000 from Albany PACs (Political Action Committees). These are the business council for the industry PAC that write checks to (Senate Majority Leader Dean) Skelos, a check to (State Senator John) Flanagan, a check to LaValle. They come out for the incumbents because that’s the way things operate.

“And that’s got to change. We don’t have a level playing field and we turn into to a government where we have incumbents who are in office for decades and who have lost touch with their constituents.”

Mr. LaValle’s latest campaign disclosure forms show he had raised $198,591 in the most recent filing period and had $252,590 remaining in his campaign war chest.

“I agree with you on public financing of campaigns but I disagree that funding should be the number one reason you should be choosing a candidate,” Ms. Maertz responded. “If that were true, then neither one of us should be here because neither one of us is going to outspend Ken LaValle this year. I believe the voters of this district are more sophisticated than that. I believe that with today’s technology you can get the word out about these elections online and by old fashioned door-to-door campaigning and talking to voters. Voters are not going to be looking at how much money you have in the bank, they’re going to be looking at your viewpoints on the issues, your dedication to serving, and your follow through with your commitments, and your interest in serving the people.”

Another slight disagreement came during a discussion on same-sex marriage. Both candidates said they supported same sex marriage, and both were critical of Mr. LaValle’s vote against the issue, in which he said the people of the district were “not ready” for it.

Ms. Maertz said polls showed the people of the district overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage. But she added, “while legislatures must answer to their constituents, when it comes to civil rights issues, I don’t care what the constituents say. It’s a matter of civil rights. You cannot impose segregation, for instance, because you feel the polls are in favor of it.”

Ms. Fleming responded, “Having served as an elected official now and having been reelected for a second term, I do care what the constituents say. I support marriage equality unquestionably, but I do care what constituents say. Sometimes you have to adjust and be sure that you’re serving the community you’re serving.”

Ms. Maertz said that on civil rights issues, “I don’t care if 70 percent of the people were against it,” she’d still vote in favor.

On the issue of the state’s 2 percent tax cap, both candidates felt changes were needed.

Ms. Maertz feels there should be more exemptions to give schools and governments more leeway, and Ms. Fleming said Southampton Town had to eliminate some needed services to comply with the cap. Both candidates felt there should be more relief from state and federal mandates, if there’s going to be a tax cap.

The date of the primary, Sept. 13, falls on a Thursday.

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08/30/12 9:00pm
08/30/2012 9:00 PM

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Campers at Camp Good Grief in Southold.

Camp Good Grief, the free five-day youth bereavement program now in its 16th season, came to the North Fork for the first time this summer and hopes it’s found a permanent home at Peconic Dunes Camp in Southold.

“I think we’re very much looking forward to making this our base of operations if possible,” said Michael Pitcher, chairman of the board for the camp’s sponsor, East End Hospice.

“It’s a fantastic facility and I think our staff would love not having to reinvent the wheel every year because they’re at a different spot,” Mr. Pitcher added.

Camp Good Grief is designed to ease the pain suffered by young people who have lost family members. Previously located on Shelter Island the camp, and the bereavement care it offers, are free.

“That’s why we have to raise so much money for the camp,” Mr. Pitcher said. “In this crazy medical world, no insurance provides money for bereavement care, but it’s an essential part of what we do and I think offering it for free is a key part of doing it right.”

Campers Thomas Shannon and Brenna O’Reilly, both 11, said the camp has helped them work and play through their grief.

“Basically you come here to try to get over the grief,” Thomas said. “You go to small group and you talk about what happened and how it happened and when it happened and that’s basically it. It’s helped me a lot. My dad had a heart attack while he was sleeping and died in April. I miss him a lot and talk to him all the time. Whenever nobody’s looking or I think he’s sending me a sign, I’m always like, ‘Come on, Dad, really? Really?’ ”

In addition to attending small group and art therapy sessions, this year’s campers also swam, kayaked, played sports and did arts and crafts.

Brenna said her favorite part of the experience was the new friends she made after her grandfather died in March. “It’s awesome,” she said. “It’s helped a lot.”
Mr. Pitcher said the camp deliberately places the youths in small groups.

“Small groups give kids an opportunity to open up because they’re surrounded by kids that have gone through the exact same thing instead of feeling like an outsider,” he said.

Camp director Sarah Zimmerman said small group and art therapy sessions are broken up by recreational activities to tailor a bit-by-bit grieving process and that being a day camp instead of overnight is an important part of that.

“We believe an overnight camp wouldn’t work because the kids do a lot of work during the day and even though we make sure that it’s balanced with fun and entertainment, they really need to go home to their safe places and their pillows at the end of the day,” Ms. Zimmerman said. “We had a kid staying with friends on Shelter Island and he had to drop out because he just didn’t feel comfortable enough. There are some overnight bereavement camps out there, but I can’t imagine it works.”

She added that although changes have been made at Camp Good Grief over the years, such as the color-coding of 13 different groups of kids between the ages of 4 and 17, the program has remained the same.

Ms. Zimmerman said day four, when campers are asked to bring in a memento or photograph of their lost loved ones for the “memory” theme, is the most emotional.

Mr. Pitcher agreed and said while volunteering on Shelter Island more than 10 years ago, he noticed a boy about 9 or 10 years old who wasn’t paying much attention to the group session.

“Someone said to take him over to the ball field, so I threw him over my shoulder and took him out there and when we got there he asked if I wanted to see his dad,” Mr. Pitcher recalled. “I said, ‘Sure,’ and he pulled out a picture of a young man in a Greenport High School football jersey. It was just heart-breaking.”

The staff consists of one person for every two campers, including 90 volunteers and art therapy interns from NYU.

“We also have youth volunteers. A lot of our campers go on to become youth volunteers,” Ms. Zimmerman said. “We couldn’t do this without them.”

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08/30/12 6:25pm

Southold Town is casting a wide net in its search for potential builders of affordable housing.

The Town Board agreed Tuesday to issue a request for proposals from developers to pursue projects in the HALO (hamlet locus) zones near village centers.

Those areas are identified in the town’s zoning code.

Developers who adhere to the town’s affordable housing income guidelines would be eligible for federal grant funding.

Planning director Heather Lanza, special projects coordinator Philip Beltz and Dan Sarnowski of the town’s Housing Advisory Commission told board members at Tuesday’s work session they believe the town is in dire need of affordable rentals.

They’d also like new development to be undertaken through the adaptive reuse of existing buildings, with a small number of units in each building.

Board members said they would favor spreading the housing evenly throughout town, to avoid the development of large tracts of low-income housing.

Town attorney Martin Finnegan said it should be made clear to bidders that the Town Board will have to create affordable housing districts for their projects to be approved.

The housing would be made available to people who make less than 80 percent of the area median annual income. Families of two earning less than $68,800 would qualify, as would families of four who earn less than $86,000.

Rental rates, excluding utilities, were set Tuesday at $941 for efficiency apartments, $1,008 for one-bedroom apartments and $1,210 for two-bedroom units.
Supervisor Scott Russell said he’s not sure if there will be any interested bidders, but he wants the town to be more proactive in letting developers know they’re looking to establish lower-cost housing.

“What kind of creative energy can you bring to it to help us achieve these goals?” he asked.

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08/30/12 3:56pm

The Oysterponds Historical Society announced Thursday it has appointed former director William McNaught on an interim basis to replace Ellen Cone Busch, who was the society’s director the past four years.

Ms. Cone Busch is stepping down because she has accepted a position with the Texas Historical Commission located in Austin, Texas, according to a press release issued by the society.

Before coming to Orient, Mr. McNaught was director of the American Museum in England. He served as the Oysterponds Historical Society’s director from 2003 to 2007 and was responsible for several exhibitions, including “A Sense of Place,” “Vintage Photographs of Orient and East Marion on Long Island’s North Fork,” “Crazy for Quilts, Fun & Games,” “Textiles Great and Small,” and “It is Writ: Documents for the Collection of the Oysterponds Historical Society.”

Mr. McNaught also authored “Oysterponds Historical Society: Highlights from the Collection,” which was published in 2008. He will serve as director until a permanent director is selected.

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08/30/12 1:58pm

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Oysterponds principal Francoise Wittenburg and student Nate Busch, 6, of Orient in the school’s new STEM lab, which is replacing the old computer center.

North Fork students can expect a more high-tech learning experience when they return to school next week, now that most districts have invested in laptops and iPads.

School officials believe the use of new technologies in the classroom is crucial to preparing students to learn current research techniques.

Here’s a roundup of what else is in store for the coming school year, which begins on Wednesday, September 5, for the Mattituck-Cutchogue, New Suffolk, Southold and Greenport districts. Oysterponds reopens on Thursday, September 6.

OYSTERPONDS

Superintendent Dick Malone, who was hired this summer after Joan Frisicano resigned, said the district is focused on teaching students to learn through new technologies.

The library has been replaced with a “literacy center,” which Mr. Malone said will give students an opportunity to enjoy reading outside a formal classroom setting.

“We want to create an environment where students will develop a love of reading and learning,” he said, adding that the literacy center will include quiet reading corners.

The district has also created a lab to enrich the school’s science, technology, engineering and mathematics program, known as STEM.
A lab teacher will coordinate with students and teachers on research projects, Mr. Malone said.

Fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders will also learn research and reading techniques on iPads this year.

In addition, former board member Kathy Syron will teach the district’s new preschool, which was spearheaded by Ms. Frisicano to attract new families into the K-6 district, as well as to nurture students’ interests and natural curiosity.

Within the past school year, Oysterponds enrollment decreased from 81 to 72. The district’s total K-12 enrollment has declined from 174 last year to 165, a number that includes the pre-K program.

GREENPORT

Greenport high school principal Len Skuggevik said teachers were trained on iPads this week, and each of the district’s ninth- and tenth-graders will receive one.

Textbooks and free scientific calculator applications will be downloaded to the iPads, which Mr. Skuggevik described as an opportunity for students to learn how to use new technology and research techniques. It’s also a cost savings move, he said.

“When you put it all together, it works out cheaper and better for our students,” the principal said.

Fifth- and sixth-graders will receive donated laptops the school received through a private grant.

In addition, the district’s sixth grade will now be a part of the secondary school. Those students will now have an opportunity to take secondary school courses, such as technology and home economics. Seventh- and eighth-graders will receive about 2,500 extra minutes of math and English through a new lab course.

Mr. Skuggevik said student enrollment for the 2012-13 school year is about the same as last year, with 636 students.

NEW SUFFOLK

New Suffolk Board of Education president Tony Dill said newly appointed superintendent Michael Comanda, who is also Greenport’s superintendent, is helping the district obtain the tools it needs to prepare students for the future.

Mr. Dill said the district received 25 donated laptops, which students will be allowed to take home, through a private grant secured by Mr. Comanda. In addition, a third smartboard was purchased this year, so that each classroom will now have one.

Mr. Dill said he’s pleased with Mr. Comanda’s vision of enriching the students’ learning experiences through new technologies.

“[Mr. Comanda has] been working since the close of school and has made a big impression already,” Mr. Dill said.

Within the past school year, New Suffolk elementary student enrollment decreased by two students, from 18 to 16. The district’s total K-12 enrollment decreased by one student, from 29 to 28 students. The older students continue their education in the Southold system.

SOUTHOLD

Southold expects to have roughly the same number of students as last year, nearly 890, though that number was still in flux as of late August.

“In general terms, enrollment is pretty stable, with 55 to 60 students per grade level,” Superintendent David Gamberg said at an Aug. 22 board meeting.

Teachers in the Southold and Greenport districts spent Aug. 28 at a meeting sponsored by Eastern Suffolk BOCES and the New York Institute of Technology to discuss new digital learning opportunities that they hope to unveil in the classroom this fall.

“The goal is to leverage technology in the service of quality learning engagement and not view technology as a substitute for effective teaching and learning practices,” said Mr. Gamberg.

Southold is working to increase the use of the Parent Portal, an Internet-based program that allows parents to view their children’s report cards and other education-related documents. Mr. Gamberg said that high school schedules were not sent out on time and the district made them available online instead.

“We’re rolling it out in various stages. We want at the very least to provide opportunities to send home quarterly reports [online],” he said.

MATTITUCK-CUTCHOGUE

The Mattituck-Cutchogue School District is concentrating on new state-mandated Common Core Learning Standards, which go into effect this year. The district will hold a meeting for parents to discuss the changes on Tuesday, Sept. 18, at 7 p.m. in the high school library.

“The purpose of it is to try to involve more context-based reading and writing across the curriculum, whether in wood shop or social studies or English,” said Superintendent Jim McKenna.

Mr. McKenna said he expects enrollment to be up slightly over last year, with larger kindergarten and seventh-grade classes, though he said the district won’t have final enrollment numbers until after the first day of school.

Seventh-grade orientation will be held Tuesday, Sept. 4, at 7 p.m. in the high school auditorium. Back-to-school nights will be Thursday, Sept. 13, for seventh- and eighth-graders and Wednesday, Sept. 19, for grades 9 through 12, both at 7 p.m.

In the elementary school, parent night will be Sept. 19 at 6 p.m. for grades K through 2; Tuesday, Sept. 11, at 7 p.m. for grades 3 and 4; and Wednesday, Sept. 12 at 7 p.m. for grades 5 and 6.

The district is also holding a mandatory information night for the parents of student athletes at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 6, in the high school auditorium. At the meeting, coaches will discuss the sports that will be offered, the athletic handbook, concussion management and medical clearance policies.