11/30/13 5:00pm
11/30/2013 5:00 PM
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Suffolk County Water Authority assistant superintendent Warren Jensen.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Suffolk County Water Authority assistant superintendent Warren Jensen.

In an effort to reduce the impact of chemicals on Long Island’s groundwater, the Suffolk County Water Authority wants to learn more about how North Fork farmers cultivate their land.

The public agency has contracted Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County to gather data from local farmers about their agricultural practices, hoping to better understand if and how the chemicals they use are reaching groundwater.

“We want to have a better handle on things like what crops are being grown and what products are being used to grow those crops,” said Carrie Meek Gallagher, chief sustainability officer for the SCWA.

A farmer’s irrigation and product storage practices can each play a role in whether or not chemicals are leeching into the groundwater, she said.

After gathering the information, Cornell scientists will make recommendations on how farming practices might be improved to protect water quality in the future, Ms. Gallagher said.

Dale Moyer, agriculture program director at the county extension said researchers are in the beginning stages of planning the study, which they hope to start sometime early next year.

“Based on what we learn and understand, we may come up with additional practices to avoid or minimize any impacts from the pesticide use,” Mr. Moyer said. “Now is the time when the farmers aren’t so busy, so there can be some conversation and discussion of practices of what’s being done and what can be done.”

He said there are many materials farmers use that do not make their way into groundwater, so researchers hope to also get a broad understanding of products working well in the area.

The program, which will cost about $5,700, will focus on farms surrounding the agency’s well field off Route 48 near Mill Lane in Peconic. The well field, one of 17 overseen by SCWA, has seven individual wells, Ms. Gallagher said.

It is one component of a long-term plan the authority is working on to continue supplying North Fork residents with safe drinking water — free of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers used in agricultural production, according to SCWA officials.

“Currently, 27 out of 56 authority supply wells on the North Fork are on treatment for pesticide-related contamination,” said SCWA chairman James Gaughran. “As the equipment needed to filter out these chemicals is extremely expensive, it’s in the best interest of our customers to take whatever steps are possible to reduce the amount of these chemicals entering the aquifer system.”

This year, SCWA installed a filter known as a granular activated carbon system, at one of the seven wells in the Peconic field. The system, which holds 10,000 pounds of carbon, costs about $750,000, not including maintenance, said Warren Jensen, an assistant superintendent with the agency.

Trace amounts of at least five different chemicals commonly used in agriculture had been detected in groundwater at the Peconic site, according to 2012 SCWA data. They include nitrates (nitrogen) and metalaxyl, two of the substances most widely contested by environmental advocates.

Many of the pesticides or fertilizers that have been detected in Long Island’s groundwater are what the agency calls legacy contaminants that are no longer available for use on Long Island, Ms. Gallagher said. Some of the detected compounds, however, are still being used in fertilizers and pesticides on Long Island.

If SCWA finds the information gathered by Cornell useful, it may extend the program to each of its additional well fields.

[email protected]

11/30/13 12:00pm

SoutholdPD - Spring - 600

A Cutchogue man who was pulled over Saturday morning for a license plate violation in Bridgehampton was arrested after police found drugs and a needle filled with heroin in his car, Southampton Town police said.

Brian Mosblech, 29, was stopped on Montauk Highway near the Sag Harbor Turnpike about 11:45 a.m., police said. While interviewing Mr. Mosblech an officer noticed empty glassine paper envelopes “in plain view” in the pickup truck’s cup holder, according to a police report. Police searched the truck and found eight envelopes containing heroin inside the front floor cup holder, as well as a needle loaded with heroin, according to the report.

Mr. Mosblech was arrested at the scene and charged with criminal drug possession, a misdemeanor and a traffic violation.

• Greenport man previously convicted of DWI was arrested again for drunken driving last week in Southampton Town, state police said.

Police stopped Ronald Smith, 47, as he was driving south at 87 miles per hour on County Road 51 last Thursday, according to a police statement. A state trooper found Mr. Smith was intoxicated and arrested him at the scene, police said.

He was charged with felony DWI and held overnight at the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Department, according to the statement.

• A Southold woman reported that someone took headsets, toolboxes and a life raft from a aircraft hangar her deceased husband had rented in Westhampton, according to a police report.

The victim told police she hadn’t been in the hangar for at least 18 months but went there last Wednesday to find two stainless steel toolboxes, a work table, four aircraft headsets, a life raft and sailboat instructions were missing.

Police did not say how much the missing items were worth.

Those who are named in police reports have not been convicted of any crime or violation. The charges against them may later be reduced or withdrawn, or they may be found innocent.

SoutholdPD - Spring - 600

11/30/13 8:00am
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | The Mattituck branch will close before next spring, bank officials said.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | The Mattituck branch will close before next spring, bank officials said.

To the Editor: 

The Mattituck Chamber of Commerce is very saddened to hear about the closing of the Mattituck branch of Suffolk County National Bank.

SCNB has been in Mattituck for 26 years and plays a vital role in the community.

Janet Stewart, the branch manager, has been an incredible asset to the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce and, therefore, the entire Mattituck community. As both a general chamber and board member, Janet has strongly represented SCNB with enthusiasm, encouraging and educating on the importance of local banking and business within our small business community.

For 15 years, Janet has served as chairperson for the Mattituck Street Fair. She has worked tirelessly for years with dedication and an eye for improving the event and its profits, growing it into the Chamber’s largest fundraiser of the year and one of the most popular events on the North Fork. The event is also incredibly well-known and attended by vendors and visitors from all across Long Island, allowing tourism and small business to prosper with this promotion outside of our small North Fork region.

Janet’s enthusiasm spreads to her amazing staff, who, in turn, have also spent many hours of their own personal time volunteering to make sure local North Fork businesses (also their bank customers) are involved and well-represented each year at the event.

Janet and the staff at SCNB Mattituck have repeatedly represented their business with information and vigor at every event. Their easy and pleasant personalities, wit and knowledge of the industry have given Suffolk County National Bank a reputation of being Mattituck’s genuinely local bank.

With SCNB’s plans to push west in the near future, it seems the bank is leaving the people of the North Fork behind with only one branch, hence forgetting the people who helped build SCNB and sustain it through hard financial times.

The Chamber will not support a bank that does not feel Mattituck is important enough to maintain an office and current staff.

When the bank closes, so will the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce’s account.

We implore SCNB to reconsider this decision and offer the opportunity to present to the Mattituck Chamber of Commerce at a member meeting, should the company so wish.

Mattituck Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors

Brooke Dailey, President

11/29/13 9:23pm

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The holiday season began Friday night in Greenport with the annual Christmas tree lighting.

Greenport Village held its annual tree lighting in Mitchell Park Friday evening. Students from Greenport School sang Christmas carols and Father Tom Murray of Saint Agnes R.C. Church gave his blessing to the crowd.

Four-year-old Fiona Wood of Greenport had the honor of flipping the switch to light the tree as Santa Claus arrived by fire truck to greet the excited children.

JENNIFER GUSTAVON PHOTO | James McKenna in his office Monday.

JENNIFER GUSTAVON PHOTO | James McKenna in his office Monday.

If you ask Mattituck-Cutchogue School District superintendent James McKenna to describe running a school district, he compares it to being an orchestra conductor.

Without the musicians, there would be no performance, Mr. McKenna says. He’ll also tell you he doesn’t do anything special and just takes people’s ideas to figure out a way to make things happen. It’s a district’s staff, teachers, students and residents that are the true force behind a school’s success, he says.

Following a 41-year career in education, including 25 in Mattituck, Mr. McKenna has decided to pass the baton.

At the conclusion of his monthly report during last Thursday’s regular school board meeting, Mr. McKenna, 62, said he’s decided to retire to spend more time with his wife and family.

“I’d like to think I did the very best I could during the time that I was here at Mattituck,” said the superintendent, whose voice was hoarse and who fought back tears as he struggled to talk. “This is a great, great district. You should be proud of what you have here and I’m glad to have been a part of it.”

Although Mr. McKenna has already submitted his letter of intent to retire in July, the school board isn’t set to vote on it until its Dec. 12 meeting.

After school board president Jerry Diffley praised Mr. McKenna for his dedication and hard work, the audience of about 70 people gave him a standing ovation.

“We will sorely miss Mr. McKenna,” Mr. Diffley said. “He is Mattituck-Cutchogue. He’ll always be Mattituck-Cutchogue. He lives and breathes blue and gold.”

A Flushing native, Mr. McKenna began his teaching career at Massapequa High School in 1973, at age 21.

“That’s when I started wearing a tie,” he recalled. “I had to wear one every day because I was teaching intermediate algebra to juniors and the hall monitor once said to me, ‘Can I have your hall pass, son?’ ”

Mr. McKenna later taught math in Southampton, where he currently lives, from 1977 to 1987 and then worked as an assistant principal in the Riverhead Middle School for two years before coming to Mattituck in 1989 as the high school assistant principal and later principal. He became the district’s ninth superintendent in 2006.

When asked why he decided to become an administrator, Mr. McKenna said he wanted an opportunity to help school operations run more efficiently.

“As a teacher, you kind of have a vision of how you think things could be better,” he said. “Then you’ll say, ‘Why not? Walk your talk.’ ”

Mr. McKenna said he’s proud of the supportive atmosphere he says he’s helped create for teachers as superintendent, as well as enhancing the dialogue between the school and community through an increasing number of public forums at the school. He also highlights passage of the capital improvement bond about eight years ago as an achievement. While Mr. McKenna and the district have had to make tough decisions by cutting costs in to maintain student programs, the superintendent said he’s pleased budgets have passed throughout the economic downturn.

“I’ve said to people, and I know some don’t want to believe it, but we have literally run Mattituck-Cutchogue on a dollar and a dream,” he said. “We really have done fabulous things without spending a lot of money.”

Mr. McKenna said he believes the time is right to retire when education is at a crossroads and the new standards aren’t something he’ll be able to see through to the end.

“I think it’s time for someone to come in and see it through,” he said. “We’ve begun some progress on it.”

Last year, Mr. McKenna and the school board agreed to halve the superintendent’s scheduled raises for the next two years. Although he was to receive yearly pay hikes of 3.5 percent for each of the next two years, they reached a new four-year deal in April 2012 with raises of 1.75 percent in each of the next four years. Mr. McKenna will also pay 20 percent of his medical insurance premiums, up from 15 percent. His salary for the 2013-14 school year is $190,988, according to his contract.

[email protected] 

11/29/13 12:00pm
COURTESY PHOTO/WILKES UNIVERSITY SPORTS INFORMATION | Alexis Reed making a sprawling save for Wilkes University (Penn.). Reed, a sophomore, started all 37 games she has played for WIlkes.

COURTESY PHOTO/WILKES UNIVERSITY SPORTS INFORMATION | Alexis Reed making a sprawling save for Wilkes University (Penn.). Reed, a sophomore, started all 37 games she has played for Wilkes.

At the end of June 2012, before her freshman year at Wilkes University (Penn.), Alexis Reed got the word that the only other goalie on the team’s field hockey team would not be playing. That meant that Reed was the one. She would be the one getting all the reps in three-hour practices. She would be the one facing the pressure of starting as a freshman in NCAA Division III competition. She would be the one with the spotlight on her.

Talk about being thrown into the fire from the start.

“It was either like you were going to sink or you’re going to sail,” said Reed, a Greenport High School graduate.

In essence, Reed’s education as a college goalie was compressed and intensive. It wasn’t always easy.

“I’m not going to lie, I called my mom crying a lot the first two weeks,” Reed said. “Everything was so new.”

Reed started all 17 games Wilkes played her freshman season, making 137 saves for a .753 save percentage. Wilkes brought in goaltending help for this past season, but Reed still started all 20 games as a sophomore. She helped the Lady Colonels win their first Freedom Conference championship since 1999 and gain their first NCAA Tournament appearance since 1995.

In retrospect, Reed said being thrust into a starting role was probably the best thing that could have happened to her.

“It turned out to be a blessing in disguise because it elevated my game so much,” she said. “It was like probably the equivalent of playing two travel seasons, the progress I made in one season.”

Reed was a standout in high school for the former Greenport/Southold/Shelter Island team. A converted soccer goalie who took up field hockey for the first time as a sophomore, she led the Clippers to the playoffs in 2011 for the first time since at least 1987. Over the course of her three-year high school career, she posted a school record 19 shutouts, was a two-time team most valuable player and an All-County honorable mention selection as a senior.

As highly regarded as Reed was in high school, she soon learned that she had a lot of work ahead of her to adjust to the quicker, more demanding college game.

“In college, the balls are coming so much faster, and I wasn’t as fast as I thought I was,” she said. “I feel like I was such a novice. I was like a baby goalkeeper. I knew I had a lot to work on, but I didn’t know how much I had to work on.”

Reed, who had relied on her natural ability in high school, discovered that wasn’t enough any more. She focused on her technique, working on her footwork and practicing cutting down angles. Conditioning and strength training also helped her deal with the rigors of college field hockey.

For Reed, it was the perfect example of the old saying: The more you learn, the more you learn how much you don’t know.

“I can be totally honest and say I don’t know everything and I do have a lot to work on,” she said. “I feel like I’m in the beginning stage, but I can only get better.”

Wilkes recently completed a memorable season. Reed said the team’s coach, Mollie Reichard, took a leave of absence and a graduate assistant, Kealy Chipman, served as the interim coach.

The Lady Colonels defeated nearby Misericordia University (Penn.), 2-1, in overtime in the conference final. Reed made several key stops in the game.

“Everyone worked so hard,” Reed said. “… Literally, the entire team stepped up their entire game. It was such a great experience. We said: ‘We don’t want this to end. We want to come back year after year.’ ”

The postseason ride ended for Wilkes, however, in their first-round NCAA Tournament game, a 5-0 loss to Ursinus (Penn.). That left the Lady Colonels with an 8-12 record.

Reed, who made 14 saves against Ursinus, finished the season with a 3.04 goals against average. She made 174 saves and had a .740 save percentage.

Those early difficult days at Wilkes must now seem like a long time ago for Reed, an elementary education major with a certification in special education. She said the school in the mountains of northeast Pennsylvania is now her home away from home.

“Everything does happen for a reason,” she said. She added: “It’s the best thing I probably could have done, to get myself recruited and play college field hockey. You have a team full of sisters who genuinely care.”

[email protected]

11/29/13 8:00am
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Southold superintendent David Gamberg.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Southold superintendent David Gamberg.

First, Greenport Superintendent Michael Comanda said he’ll retire at the end of the school year. Then it was announced that Southold Superintendent David Gamberg will lead both districts.

Now, less than a week later, Mattituck-Cutchogue Superintendent James McKenna has announced he’ll also retire in July.

So is it possible that Mr. Gamberg could serve as the chief of all three local high school districts?

He says there’s not a chance, even if that taxpayers’ dream scenario has been buzzing on the North Fork rumor mill this week.

Mr. Gamberg said he’s focused solely on becoming Greenport and Southold’s superintendent for the next two years.

“I wish him all the best,” he said of Mr. McKenna. “I’ve enjoyed working with him and congratulate him on his retirement.”

Anne Smith, Mattituck-Cutchogue’s assistant superintendent and elementary school principal, who started in the district in 1996, could be a leading candidate to replace Mr. McKenna but declined to discuss the possibility in any detail.

“The Board of Education has the full responsibility and oversight to determine leadership decisions,” Ms. Smith said. “I don’t know what the board’s direction will be. Right now, we’re focused on Jim’s retirement and celebrating his achievements.”

School board president Jerry Diffley said after Thursday’s meeting that he doesn’t believe sharing a superintendent with a neighboring district is feasible since Mr. Gamberg has already signed on to be Greenport’s next superintendent and Riverhead School District Superintendent Nancy Carney is responsible for more than 5,000 students. Mattituck has about 1,400 students.

The school board is looking to work with BOCES to initiate a superintendent search within the next few weeks, Mr. Diffley said.

[email protected] 

11/28/13 5:00pm
11/28/2013 5:00 PM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Suffolk County officials have asked the fireboat Fire Fighter museum to leave the railroad dock in Greenport.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Suffolk County officials have asked the fireboat Fire Fighter museum to leave the railroad dock in Greenport.

When the fireboat Fire Fighter docked in Greenport this past February it was hoped that it could become a permanent fixture in the maritime community — a floating museum where youngsters could learn about the vessel’s rich history battling fires in New York City.

But less than 10 months later, the former FDNY ship appears headed back toward New York City.

The Village of Greenport received a letter from the county attorney’s office late last month stating that the decommissioned fireboat turned nonprofit museum would need to vacate the railroad dock within three weeks, or the county would take further action.

Suffolk County officials say they are now pursuing “all means available” to remove the ship from its mooring at the county-owned railroad dock. The ultimatum comes several months after a group of local fishermen and other village residents complained to village officials that the railroad dock is intended exclusively for commercial fishing purposes and therefore should not host Fire Fighter.

With time running out to remove the boat from the railroad dock, Fire Fighter museum president Charlie Ritchie is scrambling to find another deepwater dock to moor the 134-foot vessel.

“We were looking to private mooring in Sterling Harbor, but it doesn’t look like that is going to work,” he said. “Now we’re looking closer to New York City. We just know we have to get out as soon as possible.”

Mr. Ritchie said the move alone could cost the nonprofit more than $800 in fuel costs and would set back the restoration of the ship.

The Greenport Village Board had voted to move the historic boat to the railroad dock when the contract to dock the vessel at Mitchell Park Marina expired in June. But in its letter last month, the county said it never signed off on the move.

County Legislator Al Krupski (D-Cutchogue) said the presence of the boat at the railroad dock has created a potential liability for the county.

“If it damages the dock it’s hard to say what would happen,” Mr. Krupski said. “If it sinks, it could damage the oyster beds there. The dock was intended to be used by commercial fishermen and they could be displaced with the fireboat there.”

While the Village of Greenport leases the railroad dock from the county for a token fee of $1 per year, the county has the right to refuse any sublease agreement the village enters into regarding the dock.

Greenport Mayor David Nyce told the public in June that he wanted the village to end the lease agreement for the dock — saying it has caused nothing but “headaches.”

The village began renting the dock in 1982 in hopes of enticing additional fishing boats to tie up there. Instead, Mr. Nyce said, the dock has become a “liability” for the village and hasn’t produced a significant revenue stream.

Village administrator David Abatelli said that although three weeks have passed since the county informed the village of the need to move the boat, there’s not much that can be done to take immediate action.

“All the county said was they were going to take further action,” he said. “I don’t think they’re going to come with a tug boat to move it.”

Suffolk County attorney Dennis Brown said Monday that he can’t comment on the matter, nor could he say what action the county might take to move the fireboat.

Mr. Ritchie said his priority now is to continue to work with the village and the county to come to an amicable solution.

“It’s a shame; we thought we’d have a long relationship with the village,” Mr. Ritchie said. “The board, the village administrator and the mayor have all been good to us. And I can honestly say not one of our visitors has ever said a negative thing about the boat.”

Fire Fighter was christened in 1938 and was used to fight fires along the New York City waterfront for more than 70 years before being retired in 2010.

The vessel spent two years at the Brooklyn Navy Yard before being transferred to the museum in October 2012. It’s the third-oldest fireboat in the country and the fifth oldest in the world, according to the museum.

[email protected]

11/28/13 1:40pm
CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Joseph Finora with his first novel, which takes place in Wine Country.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Joseph Finora with his first novel, which takes place in Wine Country.

Taking his first stab at fiction writing, Laurel resident Joseph Finora has recently released his first mystery novel, “Red Like Wine: The North Fork Harbor Vineyard Murders.”

The novel tells the story of down-and-out New York City crime reporter Vin Gusto and his former girlfriend, photographer Shanin Blanc, who discover that more than wine is being made at the vineyard in a farming-and-fishing community that’s slowly becoming a wine destination.

When a renowned but reclusive winemaker turns up dead in a vat of his own juice, the couple tries to solve the crime while repairing their relationship and careers amid the murder and mayhem.

Mr. Finora, whom you might know from his involvement with the Hamptons Collegiate Baseball League or his recent campaign for Town Trustee, is the first to admit the tale is inspired by his experience working as a New York City reporter, his relationship with his wife and the changing dynamic of the North Fork from a quiet town to an increasingly popular tourist destination.

“I have always wanted to write a murder mystery,” he said. “And I have always been in love with the local wine community. It’s a ripe setting for it.”

The novel, three years in the making, was the result of a lot of research about crime investigations and a lot of early morning writing, Mr. Finora said. His wife, Mary Grace, to whom the book is dedicated, also played a big part in the editing process.

“She is one of those straight-shooting critics,” he said. “She was not shy about telling me what she thought and pointing out how to make the storyline better.”

The 360-page novel is Mr. Finora’s first full-length work of fiction. However, he is no novice. A full-time writer, he’s penned thousands of articles as a freelance journalist, in addition to two business books — “Media Relations and Creative Marketing Tips for Financial Professionals” in 2007 and “Recession Marketing” in 2009.

The reviews of “Red Like Wine” have already been positive. Smoke Magazine has called it “a vintage read” and author Georgeann Packard said the writing is “crisp and natural,” adding that “you won’t be able to put Finora’s book down.”

Mr. Finora said he’s already working on his next novel.

“I am letting a few ideas settle, but I am definitely working on another fiction book,” he said. “I love writing in the early mornings. I can’t wait to get back to it.”

“Red Like Wine: The North Fork Harbor Vineyard Murders” is available locally at BookHampton in Matituck and Preston’s in Greenport and online at amazon.com.

[email protected]