Letters to the Editor: Jan. 12, 2012


He walked the walk

When my wife, Cynthia, and I moved to the North Fork I introduced myself to John Romanelli and asked if he’d stop by and evaluate our heating system.

As busy as he was, he not only did so, but after discovering I was his father’s contemporary, spoke of his childhood and how his dad impressed upon John the value of a positive work ethic. I mention this because as time went on I saw in John a man who walked the walk without the attendant talk-the-talk.

Much has been said of John’s signature smile and friendly disposition — and rightly so. He was the easiest person to talk to and had the innate ability to sincerely listen to others.

What really impressed me about John was the manner in which he conducted business. He not only ran Burt’s Reliable as a profitable enterprise but also emphasized his company’s social conscience and the responsibility to give back to the community. He also gave so much to his employees (one only knew by speaking to them).

In our present environment of greed (remuneration in the millions is never enough; employees have very little management support; success is measured by the “stuff” one accumulates, etc.), John’s entrepreneurial philosophy is a beacon of light we should all follow.

In the many conversations I had with John, I always felt that the angry and hostile part of our culture was anathema to him.

We were of different political parties. However, our political philosophies were synergistic. I supported John when he ran for office and hoped he’d not leave the arena.

Although we’ll miss you, John, thank God we were fortunate to know you and enjoy your sunny disposition and the ethical manner in which you touched us all.

Dan Fiore


Like your best friend

If the number of people turning out to pay their respects is any indication of one’s worth, then John Romanelli was a remarkably valued member of the community.

While standing in line for over an hour before being able to enter the funeral home, I imagined that passing-through tourists must have thought some head of state had died. A police officer directing cars backed up for blocks told me it was “unbelievable.”

Although I never had the good fortune to get to know Mr. Romanelli (my wife did, and was a great admirer), we partook of Burt’s Reliable and its sterling service for over 20 years. He seems to have led as commendable a life as any man ever did, and his untimely and tragic passing is a stark reminder of how fragile and transitory life can be.

While on line a tearful friend stated, “He made everyone feel like he was their best friend.” One could hardly ask for a better epitaph.

On such solemn occasions I take heart in Robert Browning’s couplet:

Oh, never star was lost here but that it rose afar!

Look east, where whole new thousands are!

Hugh Prestwood


His work continued

In your front-page article this week about John Romanelli’s death you state that “His political career came to an end with his 2003 loss to then-incumbent supervisor Josh Horton.” Your language is misleading and understates John’s contributions in the political arena.

John’s political career did not end with his loss in the 2003 election. He remained a hard-working member of the Town Board through the end of 2005, at which time he chose not to run for a third term.

As a member of the Town Board who worked with John for two years, I know that John’s participation was critical to the two signal pieces of legislation enacted during the years 2004-2005.

The major revision of the subdivision code is a critical element in protecting the Southold Town we love, dramatically raising the preservation requirement for future subdivisions.

The rewrite of the Hamlet Density code made possible the construction of the Cottages at Mattituck, an affordable, quality community for Southold residents who had been priced out of the market for home ownership. John felt passionately about preserving our rural heritage and about the need for affordable housing for local working families.

Your oversight may have been inadvertent, but language matters. If John had chosen to run again in 2005 he would still be on the Town Board. You owe it to the memory of this wonderful man to properly clarify your reference to the “end” of a political career, which in fact continued for two more years to the benefit of every Southold Town resident.

Bill Edwards

former Southold councilman

Editor’s note: Mr. Edwards is correct; Mr. Romanelli’s public service in his capacity as a Town Board member continued for another two years. In saying his political career came to an end we meant only that he never again ran for elected office.


Indeed he was

John Romanelli was always there, was always fair.

Verna Fitzpatrick


A great send-off

It was just great to read your special and very touching story about Paul and Barbara Stoutenburgh. The newspaper couldn’t find a more deserving couple for its “people of the year” honors.

We’ve always commented that when we “grow up” we want to be just like Paul and Barbara. Thanks to them, our love of nature and the North Fork has continued to grow.

We have a lot to thank them for, including the wonderful Christmas stories we sent to our little nieces and nephews upstate.

We will miss their column, but they sure have a tremendous legacy.

Joyce and John Holzapfel


A very good choice

Kudos to The Suffolk Times for the selection of Major Bill Grigonis as the 2012 Educator of the Year.

In his tenure as the NJROTC instructor of naval sciences, no one has played a more significant role in assisting North Fork graduates gain college scholarships.

In fact, I would venture to guess that more NJROTC students earn scholarships in one year than sports and the arts provide in five years. In addition, the community service that the unit displays throughout the North Fork is exemplary. Great job!

Eric Izzo


Out of the cocoon

I think Southold Town is a very unique and satisfying place to live.

In fact, in my personal experience Southold is a sort of a cocoon where the outside world is held at bay and we live our lives at our own pace in our own surroundings. Southold is Camelot, in my view.

However, every four years our federal government is up for examination and change and the citizens are expected to become involved. I see our residents reading, listening and watching as we fulfill our duty to our country. Any source of thought provocation should be welcome at this four-year interval, especially when the country’s problems are so big and when the proposed solutions so varied, and in many cases so crazy.

As we emerge from our cocoon we see growing income inequality and frightening statistics that highlight our decline in elementary, high school and college education results. As we are blasted by the loudest of the political megaphones we hear that the solution is to cut teaching staffs, reduce teachers’ pay and destroy the workers’ support network, unionization.

Also echoing out there is the necessity to gut the Environmental Protection Agency, to save jobs they say, while this deregulation opens up the country to noxious materials that damage health, contaminate our air and drinking water and do other harm.

In addition to this is the pressure to reduce industrial safety regulations. This is pushed as one more way to cut costs and create jobs. Looking at the Gulf oil spill disaster and the Virginia mine explosions, while they say “save jobs,” I see lives traded for profit.

Is this journey from Camelot every four years to the ugly real world necessary? You bet it is.

Howard Meinke


In praise of CAST

We are blessed and fortunate having Community Action Southold Town in our community. This marvelous nonprofit organization is extending an exemplary service to those who are in need of helping hands.

On my personal experience I have a feeling of appreciation for CAST. After getting their telephone number, I called CAST director Linda Ortiz for her help regarding my daughter’s medical assistance. She immediately responded by referring to Dr. Margot Rosenthal, who with the friendly staff of her clinic is taking a good care of my daughter.

My family joins me in conveying gratitude to CAST for picking up our S.O.S.

We have nothing but praise and admiration for the charismatic Ms. Ortiz, CAST’s seasoned board of directors, friendly crew, dedicated volunteers and all those who make this organization a lighthouse pointing the way for those in troubled waters to safe channels.

We hope they continue to carry on the noble mission for humanity.

Muneer Haleem


Find a compromise

Folks of Southold Town, please come to Mattituck and see our beautiful beaches on the North Shore.

First, visit the Mattituck town park at the breakwaters of Mattituck Inlet. This is the most eastern portion of what many folks consider to be the nicest stretch of idyllic beach views on Long Island Sound. Next, drive west to Sound Beach Drive and the western portion of this same beach. Now, return eastward along Sound Beach Drive to the Inlet Drive access to the beach.

If you took a walk from the parking area to the beach and water’s edge, you would have noticed how different the Inlet Drive location is compared to the two other locations. At the two other locations you proceed from a level parking area to an equally level beach access without any obstacles. At the Inlet Drive location you would encounter a steep incline of sand, obstructions and a poorly maintained approach to the beach.

In the past, residents could access the beach from a level parking area to a level beach approach without any obstructions. Along the western side of the access there existed a slatted, level walkway halfway to the water. This ease of egress allowed parents to push their baby carriages to the beach and the elderly could carry their beach chairs and umbrellas without struggling, as they do today.

All could enjoy this similar beach access, as others still do today at the other two locations. What has happened to this location?

Response to this question has been sought from our town officials for years. Should not all residents expect equal services and benefits for all taxpayers?

We of the Captain Kidd Estates Community Association commend the actions of Supervisor Russell and our town officials for preserving the ease of access to the beach at Inlet Drive for every resident. All of the residents of Captain Kidd Estates seek to live in harmony with every one of our neighbors, as we once did in the past. We believe that friendly discussion, open exchange of ideas and opinions and fair compromise should be considered in resolution to concerns of all affected, and not through antagonistic, foolish or hostile legal actions.

The start of this new year is an optimum time to bring peace to the world and the Captain Kidd Estates Community beach area.

George Lomaga

president, Captain Kidd Estates

Community Association


St. Isidore School still going strong
Contrary to the unfortunate and inaccurate statements made by an official from Our Lady of Mercy in a recent Suffolk Times article, there are no plans now, or in the future, to downsize St. Isidore’s Roman Catholic school from a full-service, K-8 school.

In fact, St. Isidore is in the middle of a two-year plan to strengthen the curriculum by adding Regent’s algebra, biology and a foreign language course.

By making these changes, St. Isidore will continue to provide a seamless transition to the 9th grade. Currently, as in the past, St. Isidore graduates enroll in the best preparatory schools, including St. Anthony’s, Chaminade and Sacred Heart, to name a few.

As St. Isidore approaches its 50th anniversary in 2012, the faculty, students, staff and school board are looking forward to the next 50 years, educating students in the Catholic tradition at an affordable cost.

John Bockino

president, St. Isidore school board


One-sided account

Shame on Sir Roy for bringing the fire department into your squabble with the mayor over San Simeon’s not being able to use Mitchell Park for their fundraiser.

And I’m sorry to say shame on The Suffolk Times for printing Sir Roy’s one-sided article bashing the fire department after it turned down his request to have 11 bands at their little Santa parade.

Just because you donate money to an organization does not give you the right to dictate how it operates. The parade is run by a committee, not the mayor, and they have every right to make decisions about what bands to invite. They had the good sense to keep it scaled down for the sake of the children. The parade is for the children of the community, not for anyone’s personal gain.

As volunteers, fire department members take numerous hours of training on their own time each year with no compensation, often spending their own money to purchase equipment or pay for training. They run out of their house 24/7/365 to help save people’s lives and property. They do not get holidays off or overtime when they respond to alarms on Christmas, Thanksgiving or New Year’s Day.

They set up standbys during storms so the community can be protected, often leaving their families and homes to respond during hurricanes and snowstorms, sleeping on the floor or cab of the trucks instead of at home in their nice, soft, warm beds.

They do a tremendous amount of good for the community donating their time and money to worthy causes and expect nothing in return other than respect, which is well deserved.

Colleen Hughes


He said what?

“Kansas House Speaker Mike O’Neal (R-Hutchinson) apologized Thursday for forwarding an email referring to first lady Michelle Obama as ‘Mrs. YoMama’ and comparing her to the Grinch.”

I’m so happy that racism no longer exists in the political arena.

Bob Feger