09/28/16 6:00am

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Susan Dingle remembers the exact moment she decided she needed to change the path she was on.

It was 1981 and she was pursuing a screenwriting career in Hollywood. One day, while driving down a Los Angeles street, she decided to make a sudden U-turn. READ

04/25/13 8:00am
04/25/2013 8:00 AM

North Fork high school students are not only consuming more alcohol than most teenagers across the country, they’re also doing more binge drinking, a new survey has found.

The North Fork Alliance, a nonprofit community advocacy group in Greenport, conducted the area’s first comprehensive survey of teenage drug and alcohol abuse this fall. More than 1,270 students in grades 7 through 12 from the Mattituck-Cutchogue, Southold and Greenport school districts volunteered to take the survey. That’s a participation rate of 82.5 percent.

The Prevention Needs Assessment Survey was developed, and the results tallied, by Bach Harrison, a Salt Lake City company that provides survey, research and evaluation services. It was published earlier this month.

[Scroll below to read the entire 2012 North Fork Prevention Needs Assessment Survey]

Laura Jens-Smith, the alliance’s program coordinator and a members of the Mattituck-Cutchogue school board, told The Suffolk Times last week that she believes the most startling discovery was the amount of underage binge drinking that’s occurring.

[Related: Administrators, parents react to survey]

According to the report, 53.5 percent of high school seniors surveyed in September said they’d consumed alcohol within the past 30 days. When asked if they’d consumed five or more alcoholic beverages in a row within the past two weeks, 35.5 percent answered “yes.” The 2011 national average for binge drinking among 12th-graders is 21.6 percent, the report states.

“The most disturbing statistic is we are higher than the national average for alcohol use,” Ms. Jens-Smith said of the study’s findings. “There’s a lot of binge drinking that’s going on.”

In addition to alcohol use, the survey asked students if they’d gotten behind the wheel after consuming alcohol within the 30-day time frame.

About 3 percent admitted to drinking and driving and nearly 18 percent said they’d been in a car with a drunk driver. Those stats are below the national average, which shows 9.4 percent of teens around the country admitting to drunk driving and 26.7 percent stating they’ve been in a car with a drunk driver.

As for drug and tobacco use within the 30-day time period, 14.9 percent of North Fork students surveyed admitted to using marijuana, 9.2 percent said they smoked cigarettes, 2.3 percent took sedatives, 0.6 percent used cocaine and 0.3 percent used heroin.

The survey’s findings highlighted the importance of early intervention and addressing risk factors. It also found a link indicating that parent or peer disapproval tends to reduce underage usage.

Ms. Jens-Smith said she believed the major causes of teen alcohol and drug use are a lack of activities for teenagers in the area and poor public transportation. Another factor is peer pressure.

“Kids need to be aware that there’s a lot of kids out there who aren’t drinking and that it’s socially acceptable to not drink,” she said. “That has to come from everybody in the community: the schools, parents, police and businesses.”

Over the past few months, the North Fork Alliance has created several initiatives to combat teen drug and alcohol abuse.

It recently launched an online network for parents called Safe Homes, which allows parents to unite by pledging “no use” of alcohol and drugs by minors in their home. Signing up with the network provides a platform for parents to communicate with each other about reported underage drug and alcohol abuse, Ms. Jens-Smith said.

“[Safe Homes] provides another set of eyes,” she said. “You’re basically saying to the other parents, ‘I know I can’t be everywhere and I’m letting you know it’s OK to give me a call if you saw my child drinking.’<\!q>”

Other projects include a media campaign through the alliance’s new Facebook page, NFA Teens, an “Above the Influence” student art contest, a prom and graduation safety talk and a medication take-back event this Saturday.

The North Fork Alliance also plans a second survey in two years to measure the impact of its efforts and aims to continue to raise awareness about the area’s current problem.

“It’s important for parents and everyone to be aware of these issues out here, from Mattituck all the way out to end of the island,” Ms. Jens-Smith said. “As a community, we need to pay attention to it … We want people to contact us and get involved.”

[email protected]

Mattituck-Cutchogue UFSD Profile Report

04/25/13 7:59am

FLICKR/ARVINDGROVER PHOTO

Some local educators and parents were shocked this week by new statistics showing rates of drug and alcohol abuse among local teens higher than the national average, and agreed that providing more activities for teens and encouraging dialogue among parents is crucial to reversing the trend.

The North Fork Alliance, a Greenport nonprofit, recently published the area’s first comprehensive survey on teenage drug and alcohol abuse, which yielded some startling results — especially about rates of alcohol consumption and binge drinking.

Southold Superintendent David Gamberg said Wednesday that he district’s social worker plans to give students an overview of the survey.

[Related: North Fork teens drinking more than others, study says]

“There’s definitely a concern that the numbers are elevated compared to the national average,” Mr. Gamberg said. “We have work to do to make sure our students make good choices.”

One way the district tries to discourage drinking is by breaking out a Breathalyzer, which Mr. Gamberg said the district has had for years, during school events if there’s a suspicion of intoxication.

“At school functions, we make students aware we might check,” he said.

Alliance officials believe a major cause of teen alcohol and drug use a lack of things for young people to do.

Southold PTA president Angela Tondo agreed that keeping students busy with positive projects is a good way to deter self-destructive behavior.

“We have two movie theaters and only one is open in winter,” she said. “That’s about it.”

Ms. Tondo said more intervention at the middle school level would also be beneficial, such as expanding the DARE program. She added that she understands budget constraints may affect the feasibility of such a move and believes the most crucial factor in discouraging drug and alcohol abuse is parents talking to children about the consequences.

“I think a lot of children say, ‘My mother never said not to’ and then they think it’s OK,” she said. “That’s step one. I think you have start in your home.”

Over the past few months, the alliance has created several initiatives to combat teen drug and alcohol abuse.

Greenport PTA president Laura Hoch said she supports the Alliance’s new online parents’ network, Safe Homes, and believes it will help generate North Fork-specific solutions.

“I grew up in a rural area and understand how it’s hard for teenagers to stay busy doing healthy things,” Ms. Hoch said. “The PTA is on board to distribute [the alliance’s] information and we will do whatever we can to increase awareness in the community.”

Mattituck Superintendent James McKenna and Greenport Superintendent Michael Comanda both said they hadn’t received the alliance’s report as of Wednesday morning.

When asked about the online parent network, Mr. Comanda said liked the idea because it will give parents a great opportunity to discuss their concerns.

As for other ways to combat teenage drug and alcohol abuse, Mr. Comanda said Greenport provides students with a number of activities, including sports, an expanded drama and musical program and community service projects.

Mr. Gamberg said that while portions of the survey paint a gloomy picture, it did include some positive numbers, such as the percentage of students not involved with drugs or alcohol.

“On the flip side, there are a large number of kids who aren’t experimenting or using substances,” he said. “Those kids are to be congratulated.”

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With Tim Kelly

04/10/13 12:37pm
04/10/2013 12:37 PM

2013-04-08 13.09.16

Two Southold residents were arrested under Suffolk County’s social-host law after police busted a house party in Southold Tuesday night, Town police said.

Police got a report of a large party at 340 Pine Avenue in Southold about 9:30 p.m., according to a report. Police arrived at the scene and found “numerous” underage people drinking alcohol throughout the home, police said.

Cops broke the party up and arrested Marcus Smith, 21, and Christine Papot, 18, who live at the house, according to the report.

Both Mr. Smith and Ms. Papot were charged with violating the social-host law by providing alcohol to minors, according to the report.

Reached at her Pine Avenue home Wednesday morning, Ms. Papot said the party was supposed to be small, but people who weren’t invited to the party ended up coming to the house.

“It just turned into something bigger than it should have been,” she said. She said people who “shouldn’t have been there” were at the party, but said it didn’t get out of control and that nothing inside or outside the house was damaged.

Ms. Papot and Mr. Smith were taken to police headquarters and released with a future court date to answer to the charge,  police said.

[email protected]

03/26/13 7:00pm
03/26/2013 7:00 PM

FILE PHOTO | The Greenport Village Board voted in favor of suspending the policy of no open containers of alcohol in public for the Maritime Festival.

Alcohol will be available during this year’s Maritime Festival.

The Village Board voted 4-1 on Monday in favor of suspending the policy of no open containers of alcohol in public between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 21 and 22, the dates of this year’s festival.

Trustee Mary Bess Phillips cast the lone no vote. She said she was not necessarily against the policy suspension, but was looking for additional information from the East End Seaport Museum, which puts on the festival to raise funds. Her motion to table the resolution failed for lack of a second.

“At this point I feel like it would be best to talk about it to have a better handle about what’s going on,” Ms. Phillips said. “We need to be smart about it.”

Mayor David Nyce said the decision to temporarily waive the village’s public open container laws would not give vendors of alcoholic beverages free reign. The East End Seaport Museum is required to operate the festival within parameters the board will set in upcoming months, Mr. Nyce said.

“If we want to stipulate to them that they not have people vending beer in the park we can do that separately,” he said. “This resolution has nothing to do with that.”

The village has always suspended the open container ban during the festival, allowing visitors to stroll the streets with plastic glasses and bottles of beer and other alcoholic beverages in hand.

During the recent village election, all three candidates, including Ms. Phillips and Trustee-elect Julia Robins, opposed lifting the ban.

In a separate resolution, board members voted unanimously to approve the public assembly permit application needed to hold the event.

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03/21/13 6:00pm
03/21/2013 6:00 PM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTOS | A performance by a troupe of pirates was one of the highlights of the first day of Greenport's Maritime Festival.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO  |  A performance by a troupe of pirates was one of the highlights of the first day of last fall’s Greenport Maritime Festival, where visitors were allowed to consume alcohol in the streets.

It’s the first week of spring, applications for permits to use Greenport’s outdoor space are pouring in and, on Monday, the Village Board addressed the issue of waiving the ban on open containers of alcohol for September’s Maritime Festival.

The village has always suspended the ban during the festival, allowing visitors to stroll the streets with plastic glasses and bottles of beer and other alcoholic beverages in hand.

A vote on this year’s event and a decision on the alcohol consumption question is expected at an upcoming meeting.

During Monday’s work session, board members also briefly discussed restrictions associated with mass assembly permits.

“We have to be very careful with the number of events,” Trustee Mary Bess Phillips said.

The sale of alcohol on village property has come under criticism in the past, but has been allowed in some cases. Last year, alcohol consumption at events in Mitchell Park was confined to enclosed areas known as “beer gardens.”

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