03/31/13 5:00pm
03/31/2013 5:00 PM

JUDY AHRENS FILE PHOTO | Toni Zanieski of Cutchogue was on the front page of the March 31, 1983 Easter-themed cover of The Suffolk Times.

30 years ago

School district aid restored

It’s a similar story every year: The governor proposes massive cuts in state aid to schools in January before the state Legislature restores funding in late March.

In the March 31, 1983 issue of The Suffolk Times we published an info box showing how much aid to each district would be increasing or decreasing in the 1983-84 school year.

So how much has state aid gone up in the past 30 years? Take a look:


1983-84 — $704,586

2013-14 — $1,303,828


1983-84 — $952,577

2013-14 — $2,667,380


1983-84 — $129,566

2013-14 — $344,362


1983-84 — $667,790

2013-14 — $1,689,213

50 years ago

Local boys walk to Riverhead

Several weeks after a story was published in The Suffolk Times detailing several youths who walked from Riverhead to Orient and back, a group of Southold Town residents set out on a similar journey, we reported on March 22, 1963.

Four young men — Antonio Jimenez, Eric Soqust, Mike Tuthill and Bill Reiter — set out from Greenport at 3 a.m., making it to Riverhead by 10:15 a.m. They began their return trip at 11;45 a.m., but fatigue soon set in, we wrote. Mike and Bill only made it as far as Mattituck and Antonio and Eric called things off after reaching Cutchogue.

“The four weary hikers reached home via the comfort of an automobile,” we wrote. Needless to say, they all slept soundly that night.”

75 years ago

Supervisors continue fight for bridges

The County Board of Supervisors showed its support of a plan to explore the feasibility of building loop bridges at Smith Point and Shelter Island in March 1938, according to a Suffolk Times story.

Riverhead Town Supervisor Dennis Homan had proposed a bill to rescind a $60,000 appropriation to create a “fact-finding committee” on the bridge issue, but eight of the board’s 10 members voted against his bill.

80 years ago

County cuts $50,000 in expenses

County workers making more than $1,000 a year agreed in March 1933 to a 15 percent reduction in salary. The agreement, along with several other expense adjustments, was expected to save Suffolk County $50,000 annually, according to an article in the March 31, 1933 issue of The Suffolk Times.

Among the other cuts: Heads of departments agreed to receive just 50 cents a day in food allowances, down from $1 the year before.

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03/31/13 2:30pm

Suffolk County residents should be on the lookout for telephone scams, the Suffolk County Police Department said after scammers targeted several Long Islanders this week.

The department has gotten more than a dozen reports of telephone scams where “potential victims are asked to wire money immediately for a family member in trouble,” police said.

Police say the caller will attempt to pressure the victim into sending money without verifying the family member’s whereabouts.

In one scenario, the caller tells the victim that they have just been in a car accident with a relative of the victim who refuses to pay for the damage and claims to have the family member at gunpoint until the victim pays thousands of dollars, according to a police press release.

Other scenarios may include tricking the victim into wiring money to bail out a family member from jail or pay off a faked debt, police said. In these scams, the victim is asked to withdraw money from an ATM and the caller will guide them to where they can wire the money.

The department has gotten reports of about 70 similar scams and believe that dozens more have gone unreported, police said. Police investigations have found that the victims are selected randomly.

The Suffolk County Police Department has advised residents to “independently verify the threatened relative’s whereabouts” and not share any personal information during a call. Those who believe they’re being targeted by a scammer should call the Suffolk County Police Department at (631) 852-2677.

03/31/13 12:00pm
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Long Island Power Authority trucks on Factory Avenue in Mattituck Wednesday afternoon.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Long Island Power Authority trucks on Factory Avenue in Mattituck.

LIPA savaged my trees.

They say they are protecting the power lines, but cutting the trees in half wasn’t necessary. There has to be a better way.

I know it’s not an easy job. Perhaps it always will be thankless, trying to provide utility services in an efficient, cost-effective manner. We might not even notice if it were done well, but we always notice when it is done badly. But LIPA seems to have a uniquely self-defeating approach in the way it carries out its duties.

With power overhead, every strong storm will bring down some lines. It’s inevitable. But how serious is the outage, how effective the response? Are there steps that can be taken to minimize damage and maximize restoration? And what about the needs of the individuals and the communities affected?

The last few storms have wreaked havoc on electric service for North Fork and much of Long Island. Numerous news articles suggest that LIPA has failed to adequately answer almost every one of these questions. Several of my neighbors had a chance to chat with some of the out-of-town emergency crews. These professional linemen were astounded at the sorry state of the utility equipment. Worn out, damaged components, often patched and jury-rigged during a prior storm response. Out-of-date equipment, structurally unsound poles and even a lack of poles on hand to replace those fallen or at risk.

LIPA’s response to Sandy was too slow, too disorganized and some repairs have yet to be completed. The storm snapped a tree in my front yard in half. It pulled down the power line to my house, leaving a hanging live wire in my yard. I phoned LIPA, twice. Two days later, someone came to look. They said the attachment point, a three-dollar hook, was pulled out and they wouldn’t fix their line until I had an electrician fix the hook. An electrician came in and did that immediately, then he called LIPA to attach their line to my service. They again refused and told him to patch it in as best he could. He did it, but told me it was a temporary fix and to get LIPA in to rewire the support as soon as possible.

I called again, but LIPA still hasn’t responded. There are numerous such stories, maybe thousands, many much, much worse.

I should be a proponent of trimming trees to protect power lines, right? I am. I know we have to try to keep trees off and away from the high-voltage lines. The power lines on my street keep the safety systems on Plum Island humming.

There are ways to trim trees to keep them clear of power lines, but still let us have the shade, the air-cleaning qualities, the beauty of a rural setting. In fact, LIPA claims on its website to use an arborist to guide them in tree trimming.

LIPA has trimmed my trees before and they’ve regularly cut off the thin upper branches on the 10 sycamores lining my property that were getting close to the power lines. I’m fine with that, but they recently cut six of my trees in half before I saw a stunted trunk and went out screaming. They’d taken about 20 feet off two of the trees and almost as much on the rest. Few branches are left and I’m far from confident that the trees have enough structure left to survive.

LIPA is supposed to file a plan for trimming with the town, and it appears that they may not have done so. Regardless, LIPA has an obligation to do its preventive maintenance in a responsible way. This was not responsible.

While we’re looking at how to fix the delivery and maintenance of our grid, perhaps we need to revisit the issue of overhead lines. The oft repeated claim is it costs a million dollars a mile to bury the lines. But what does it cost to repair the broken lines over a five-, 10- or 20-year span? Or to replace broken poles and trim trees? What is the harm to businesses, homes and families when the power goes out?

Maybe a look at long-term costs and benefits might prompt LIPA or its successor to reconsider and decide that it is worth the investment to put our power safely underground.

And think how beautiful our roads would be.

Mr. Hanlon lives in Orient.

03/31/13 8:49am

A North Fork man and woman are facing drunk driving charges after they were arrested in two separate incidents this weekend, Southold Town police said.

In the first incident, police stopped Gilda Martinez, 48, of Peconic on Route 25 in Cutchogue about 9:40 p.m. Friday after they saw her failing to stay in her lane while driving east, according to a police report. Police said Ms. Martinez failed a roadside sobriety test and was arrested at the scene.

She was charged with driving while intoxicated and held for a morning arraignment, police said.

The next night, an Orient man was caught driving drunk with a revoked license, police said.

An officer saw a vehicle driving “in and out of [its] lane” on Route 48 in Peconic about 10:45 p.m., police said. The vehicle was pulled over and the driver, 34-year-old Edgar Garrido, was arrested after police found he was driving drunk without a license.

He was charged with felony driving while intoxicated and held for arraignment, police said.

03/31/13 8:00am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Carl Gabrielsen (left) with GreenLogic energy consultant Dan Malone in Gabrielsen Farms’ West Lane, Aquebogue, greenhouse.

Carl Gabrielsen is hoping to make his greenhouse on West Lane in Aquebogue even greener.

Mr. Gabrielsen owns Gabrielsen Farms, which grows flowers and plants in greenhouses on Herricks Lane in Jamesport and West Lane in Aquebogue, and is building a solar panel system at the Aquebogue site that he says will eventually end up eliminating his electric bill.

Working with Dan Malone, an energy consultant from GreenLogic Energy in Southampton, Mr. Gabrielsen is installing about 400 solar voltaic panels behind the West Lane greenhouse to generate about 60 kilowatts of power.

“It’s basically a $200,000 project, but there’s a 30 percent federal tax credit that’s available and LIPA has a solar energy rebate of $1.30 per watt used,” Mr. Gabrielsen said. He estimates he will lay out about $37,000 initially but believes the project will have paid for itself in five years through the energy savings.

“My feeling is that anything in the greenhouse that can pay itself off in five years, you have to do it,” said Mr. Gabrielsen, brother of Riverhead Councilman George Gabrielsen. “But there’s two sides to the equation. There’s the economical reason, which is why I’m doing it, and there’s also the environmental reason. The lifetime carbon dioxide reduction from this is 2.7 million pounds over 30 years.”

GREENLOGIC COURTESY PHOTO | A ground-mounted solar array similar to the one that will be installed on Gabrielsen Farms’ Aquebogue greenhouse.

“That’s the equivalent of planting 17 acres of trees,” Mr. Malone said.

The solar panels will generate more electricity than needed at some times of the year and less during others. Any surplus energy goes back into the grid, and Mr. Gabrielsen gets a rebate for that amount.

The LIPA program doesn’t allow people to generate power for the sole purpose of selling it to LIPA, Mr. Malone said.

“We can only design our systems up to 105 percent,” he said.

Mr. Gabrielsen expects that over the course of a year his electric costs should fall to zero.

“It averages out over 12 months,” he said. “It’s a great benefit for agriculture out here.”

The solar panels are currently being installed and Mr. Gabrielsen, a member of the Suffolk County Planning Commission, intends to give his fellow commissioners a tour of the West Lane operation in early April, by which time the solar panels will be further along. He expects the system to be operating by June.

“It’s not just the solar energy,” Mr. Gabrielsen said. He’s also recycling the water he uses at the greenhouse, and he has been using what’s called integrated pest management for the past five years.

That’s when you introduce “beneficial insects” that will kill off insects that are harmful to the plants.

“We’ve cut our pesticide use by 95 percent,” he said.

Mr. Gabrielsen, whose family has been involved in farming on Long Island for more than 200 years, said he had wanted to install solar panels at his Jamesport greenhouse as well but doesn’t have enough land left at that site.

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03/30/13 2:46pm
03/30/2013 2:46 PM
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Austin Pase brought in Mattituck's first two runs with a double down the right-field line in the third inning.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Austin Pase brought in Mattituck’s first two runs with a double down the right-field line in the third inning.


Steve DeCaro has fond memories of the events surrounding his 50th birthday last year. In between games of a doubleheader sweep of Hampton Bays, the Mattituck baseball coach listened as Tuckers fans sang “Happy Birthday” to him.

DeCaro’s 51st birthday on Saturday wasn’t nearly so kind to him. Shoddy fielding, base-running blunders and bad at-bats marked Mattituck’s 14-5 loss to visiting Babylon.

“This was a bad one,” said DeCaro.

The Tuckers opened the game with a throwing error, and things went downhill from there as Babylon scored four runs in each of the first two innings before producing a six-run rally in the fourth.

After the game’s first three batters reached base from an error, a single and a walk, Jack Facciebene connected for a grand slam, his first career home run.

The rout was on.

Mattituck was one out away from escaping the second inning unscathed. With the bases loaded, Zach Carmody bounced as bad-hop single out of the infield and then Pete Donaldson picked up a run batted in the hard way, getting hit in the back with a pitch. A throwing error then allowed two more runs to score, making it 8-0.

“It was horrible,” said Mattituck shortstop Austin Pase.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Babylon's Nick Giampietro advancing a base while Mattituck's Austin Pase looks for the ball.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Babylon’s Nick Giampietro advancing a base while Mattituck’s Austin Pase looks for the ball.

And yet, the worst was yet to come for Mattituck. Babylon struck for six runs in the fourth for a 14-2 lead. Matt Finelli highlighted that rally with a three-run double. The three other runs came on a bases-loaded walk by Nick Giampietro, an error that allowed Pat Delaney to score, and Ricky Negron’s odd infield single that spun away from the first baseman.

“We wanted to jump on them early, get a good lead in the beginning of the game and never stop,” said Carmody.

Mission accomplished.

Carmody, a sophomore left fielder in his third varsity season, turned in a big game for Babylon, going 4 for 4 with two runs scored, a double, an RBI and a walk. He also stole two bases.

Finelli got the win for defending Long Island Class B champion Babylon (2-3, 1-2 Suffolk County League VIII), which avoided being swept in the three-game series. He gave up four earned runs and seven hits over four innings.

“Today they put everything together,” Babylon coach Anthony Sparacio said. “Good things happen when you put the ball in play.”

Mattituck (2-2, 2-1) actually outhit the Panthers, 10-8, but the Tuckers hurt themselves with five errors.

“Today,” DeCaro said, “for some reason, we weren’t ready for the game, and we certainly showed it out there.”

Pase and Dylan Williams had two RBI each — both on two-out hits — and Joe Tardif supplied two hits for Mattituck from the leadoff spot.

Pase’s two-run double down the right-field line brought in Mattituck’s first two runs in the third. Williams delivered a soft liner to center field with the bases loaded in the fourth, scoring the next two runs.

The Tuckers added a run in the seventh from Tyler Montefusco’s RBI single.

Marcos Perivolaris, who had a 103-degree fever the day before, according to DeCaro, was Mattituck’s starting pitcher. He pitched the first two inning before Tardif relieved him.

“He wanted to play, and we couldn’t give him any help,” DeCaro said of Perivolaris. “He did his best.”

For Babylon, the win was just what it needed after dropping its first two league games to Mattituck, 4-3 and 8-4.

“It was a big win today because you don’t want to get swept,” Carmody said. “If you get swept, it brings the team down, and then you got to go into the next series 0-3. You need to get a win.”

Afterward, DeCaro said he was puzzled by some of his team’s actions, such as swinging at 3-0 pitches while trailing by 10 runs, and making the first out at third base in the seventh. It was hardly the way he hoped to celebrate his birthday.

“This ruins my birthday,” he said. “There is not even a question that now my birthday is ruined.”

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03/30/13 2:00pm

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | The late George Costello Sr. with fellow American Legion member Craig Richter outside the hall they worked to restore.

The restoration of the rundown Greenport American Legion Hall and its vintage roller rink suffered a major setback in December when George Costello Sr., one of the project’s leaders, died unexpectedly at age 63. But the work will continue with help from the Greenport Rotary Club.

In support of Mr. Costello’s vision of rebuilding the legion hall, the Rotary Club is dedicating the proceeds from this year’s Locals for Locals fundraiser to the project in his name.

“He was the driving force,” said Craig Richter, Burton Potter Post commander and a fellow rink project volunteer. “It was his dream to see the Legion Hall not just open, but to see it being enjoyed by the community.”

The revival of the ailing structure began two years ago. For their efforts, Mr. Costello, a Vietnam War veteran, and fellow volunteers were named The Suffolk Times’ “Civic People of the Year” for 2011.

Following Mr. Costello’s death, Mr. Richter took the reins. He believes a there’s a sense of urgency to completing the construction in Mr. Costello’s memory. “There is a lot of work,” he said. “We are doing this 100 percent.”

On Saturday mornings a group of volunteers gathers to work on the building. In upcoming weeks the north-facing exterior wall will be painted white to match the front. The floors, which were heavily damaged by flooding during Hurricane Sandy, are being ripped up.

Before it can open to public, the building will need new composite flooring, heating and air conditioning systems and a remodeled kitchen and bathrooms. Additionally, a structurally unsound wall on the south side must be replaced.

“We need money,” Mr. Richter said matter-of-factly. He estimates the final cost will be upwards of $600,000. As for the construction time frame, Mr. Richter said, “It could be done in six months if someone wrote us a check for $400,000. It depends on when we can raise the money. I hope it’s a year, not five or six years.”

Attempts to secure grant money to repair the 60-year-old building have fallen short. “It is a tough economic time,” Richter said.

Thus far, nearly $160,000 has been invested, which went toward a new roof, windows and exterior paint.

Mr. Richter says weddings, reunions, conventions and concerts are the type of events he’d welcome at the hall. Once complete, the building will house its iconic roller-skating rink, as well as a possible indoor hockey and basketball courts.

The Rotary fundraiser takes place on Tuesday, April 16, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Hellenic Snack Bar & Restaurant in Greenport.

The prix fixe menu includes a cash bar, chicken Santorini over orzo with salad and dessert. The food can be wrapped to go.

The Rotary will absorb the overhead costs, allowing 100 percent of tickets sales to go directly to the restoration.

Tickets are $18 per person for adults and $12 for seniors and children under 12. They’re available at Bridgehampton National Bank in Cutchogue, McMann Price Insurance Agency and Hampton Jitney in Greenport and through Rotary Club members.

“I think there’s going to be a really great turnout,” said Rotarian Robin Walden. “George was a great guy. I think doing this fundraising for the legion will help the entire community — and that’s what George wanted.”

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03/30/13 12:00pm

TROY GUSTAVSON PHOTO | 8-month-old George Hazard Boardman.

This is one of those columns that’s pretty much going to write itself, I think. Sometimes I struggle to find a worthy subject (and sometimes I don’t find one), but this week there’s just one thing on my mind: the continuum of life.

That subject is unavoidable due to the confluence of two events: a long-awaited family vacation combined with the death of a family member who was our family’s last representative of the pre-Depression generation.

My wife, the former Joan Giger Walker, lost her 86-year-old stepmother on Sunday. Ann “Rusty” Walker lived a long and fruitful life. She was orphaned early in life, raised by a loving aunt and uncle and instantly became the mother of five when she married Joan’s father, a widowed doctor, at age 37.

As you might imagine, that was no easy assignment.

Rusty dropped in from outer space, so to speak, and it’s safe to say there was a period of adjustment for all concerned. But that adjustment period was a distant memory by the time of her passing, when her stepchildren opted to remove the word “step” from the obituary submitted to her former local newspaper.

Joan and I visited Rusty in her home recently, and her mind was as sharp as ever. It was her body that was failing her, and she had come to accept the reality of her condition. She knew her time was near.

And now that it’s come, we can celebrate her life with comparatively little regret. What’s more, her passing is softened by the close proximity this week, during the aforementioned family vacation, of the youngest member of our family, 8-month-old George Hazard Boardman.

Can the passing of Ann Walker really overwhelm our spirits when we look into the pure blue eyes of baby George? Speaking personally, the answer is no. George and his brother and sister and cousins, also on vacation with us this week, bring undiluted joy and hope into every day of our lives.

Yes, one generation passed from the scene this week. But it is generation next that makes us so hopeful about the future.

This week also marks the passing at age 77 of Orient resident and S.T. Preston & Son owner George Rowsom. We’ve known George since we first moved to Orient 35 years ago, and I’ll always remember him as one of the first Greenport business owners to truly accept us as the new owners of The Suffolk Times. In fact, he was a key member of an informal management group that helped advise us through those first shaky months (or was it years?) running the paper.

I’ll always remember him as a soft-spoken gentleman who was nevertheless firm in his convictions, and Joan and I extend our deepest sympathy to his wife, Andrea, and the entire Rowsom and Preston’s families.

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03/30/13 10:00am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Gene Casey and the Lone Sharks at last year’s Blues Festival.

This year’s Riverhead Blues Festival will likely be held in September to avoid conflicting with other events, according to Bob Barta, the president of Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, which has held the event as a fundraiser since 2006.

The festival had traditionally been held in July until last year, when it was moved to June and lost $8,720, according to Vail-Leavitt officials.

“We had originally planned to have it at the end of June, but then there were all sorts of conflicting events being planned then, so we decided we were going to reschedule it, and right now, we’re looking at dates in September,” Mr. Barta said. “It will be after Labor Day, and the idea will be to try and do it at a time when there aren’t such a hugh number of events going on at the same time.”

A September festival also figures to have cooler weather, Mr. Barta said.

Last year marked the return of the Blues Festival after a one year hiatus in 2011. The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce and Business Improvement District were involved in dispute over who would run the festival in 2010.

“Last year, the big thing was that we unwittingly set ourselves up against the Strawberry Festival,” Mr. Barta said, alluding to the fact that the 2012 Blues Festival took place at the same time as the popular Mattituck festival. “That was really one of the biggest problems on our point.”

He said they are being careful to pick a date that doesn’t conflict with other popular events.

“There have always been issues with trying to not conflict with other big festivals like the Great South Bay Festival in Patchogue, which would limit certain acts from being available,” he said.

While town officials have said the Riverfront parking lot in downtown Riverhead might not be available for big events much longer once the Summerwind apartments open, Mr. Barta says Vail-Leavitt is hoping to have the Blues Festival there this year.

“We’ve been having discussions with representatives from the town about trying to have one last shot back in some version of the back parking lot,” Mr. Barta said. “We’re trying to see if that is workable. We started looking at other locations, but we have a preference for the back parking lot because it allows us to showcase the Vail-Leavitt Music Hall, and it allows us to showcase the riverfront. We’d like to have it back there.”

Business Improvement District president Ray Pickersgill said the BID is hoping to hold its concerts in the Riverfront lot as well this summer, with the stage placed along the riverfront, so the audience faces the river. When Summerwind opens, the residents in the 52 apartment units will be permitted to use the riverfront lot as their parking lot.

The Town Board has a public hearing scheduled on a proposal to establish a three-hour parking limit in a section of the lot between Tweed’s and Cody’s BBQ.

Mr. Barta says Vail-Leavitt hasn’t determined exactly where in the back parking lot the festival would be located.

Mr. Barta said holding the event in September will help give them time to dig out of the financial hole.

“We’ve partly dug out already,” he said. “This coming month, we thought we were on a track to be completely dug out by the summer, but as it worked out, our bookings for April were a bit light.”

He said they’ve gotten a little more than halfway out of the hole, and they plan to hold some fundraising events to act as kickoff events for the season and to give them “a boost” as they head toward the Blues Festival.

In past years, the Blues Festival would already have been scheduled by this time, but no application has been submitted to the town for the event yet this year.

Mr. Barta says Vail-Leavitt still plans to make the festival a two-day weekend event and still plans to charge admission, although a price hasn’t been determined.

The BID originally ran the festival as a free event before facing a huge debt in 2005. Vail-Leavitt took over the event in 2006 as a fundraiser for its non-profit organization and began charging an admission fee.

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03/30/13 8:00am

The Peconic Bay Power Squadron will present “America’s Boating Course” on Wednesday, May 8, at 6 p.m. at the Riverhead Moose Lodge.

The course is among those available to comply with the new Suffolk County boater education law requiring that by October, all county residents who operate a boat in waters here carry evidence they have completed an approved boating safety course. Similar legislation is expected to be adopted by the New York State Legislature, according to a press release from the Power Squadron.

The course is also approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, the United States Coast Guard and New York State.

There are three sessions as the program continues on May 15 and 22 and  will cover boating law, safety equipment, safe boating practices, navigation, boating emergencies, personal watercraft, charts, use of GPS devices, trailering and other significant issues for boaters.

Attendees will receive a 244 page America’s Boating Course manual, a companion CD and after passing an exam, a certificate of completion. Many insurance companies offer discounts to boaters who earn these certificates.

There’s a $60 fee that covers the cost of the manual and CD. To register, call Fred Smith at 631-298-1930 or visit www.PBPS.us.

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