02/23/13 7:00am
Greenport Harbor

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Kaitlen Berry, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company’s tasting room manager, pulls a pint.

As the East End continues to polish its image as a leading wine region, a new effort’s a-brewing to turn the region into a destination for craft beer enthusiasts.

Last month, Wine Enthusiast Magazine named the North and South Forks one of the world’s top wine destinations for 2013. In concert with that, two new Riverhead breweries are in the works, Greenport Harbor Brewing Company is expanding, and local farmers have begun to grow hops, an important ingredient in beer.

“If you have three, four or five breweries out here, then people can make a day trip out of coming to the area for craft beer,” said brewer Greg Doroski of Greenport Harbor Brewing Company. “Its becoming a destination similar to the vineyards.”

Mr. Doroski noted that the expansion of the local beer industry is similar to what’s happened in Brooklyn, with its trendy craft beer scene. And, he added, Greenport and Riverhead seem to be developing similarly to the way Brooklyn has been gentrifying.

“Growing up out here in Greenport, I can notice the difference. Greenport and Riverhead used to be a little more rough around the edges, but things are changing,” he said. “In Riverhead you have the hotel, the aquarium, the apartments, Long Ireland Beer Company, The Riverhead Project and out here you’ve always had Bruce’s, but now you have places like The Blue Canoe and First and South — there’s more high-end farm-to-table stuff going on.”

When it comes to brewing, Riverhead has an advantage over the rest of the North Fork, Mr. Doroski said, because it offers sewer connections.

“Having sewers makes it an easier place to open breweries,” he said. “There’s also more commercial industrial space.”

Riverhead’s Crooked Ladder Brewing Company is well on its way to opening its doors. Digger O’Dell is about to install a new 16-beer tap system to serve Crooked Ladder and other local brews, and the people behind Moustache Brewing Company recently entered into a lease for a commercial building in Polish Town.

Does Riverhead believe it’s on its way to grabbing the craft beer crown?

“Absolutely,” Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said. “One hundred percent. There’s a method to our madness about how the downtown is coming up. Becoming a craft brewing mecca will have a positive effect on both Polish Town and downtown. I love the wineries and I do like my chianti or a glass of merlot, but I’m a beer drinker so I concentrate on what I know.”

Mr. Walter said he is happy to see the camaraderie between Long Ireland, an established local beer maker, and brewers just starting out. Long Ireland, which opened in 2011, seems to be thriving, he said.

The Central Islip couple behind Moustache brewery, Matt and Lauri Spitz, said they chose Riverhead over other Long Island locations because of the town’s encouragement.

“Riverhead was one of the only towns to welcome us with open arms,” said Mr. Spitz. “A lot of the towns we talked to weren’t sure what to do with a brewery.” But Riverhead, he said, “is trying to revitalize and pull small businesses in, which is great.”

Through Kickstarter, an online fundraising website, the couple pulled in more than $30,000 in start-up capital for their brewery, which Ms. Spitz said she hopes will contribute to the “blooming” of the East End as a craft beer destination.

“Now we have two breweries and a brew pub in Riverhead,” said Ms. Spitz. “Between that and the wineries, it’s going to be great.”

Growing along with the craft beer industry is its sister business, cultivating hops. Hops, the flower of the Humulus lupulus plant, are used in the brewing process to offset the sweetness of malt sugars and add aroma to beer. A century ago New York produced most of the hops grown in the U.S. Today, that distinction is shared by the Pacific Northwest and Midwest.

Wading River farmer John Condzella wants to change that and make the burgeoning local beer industry even more local.

However, the fourth generation farmer had a difficult time making the most of his farm’s first 800-pound hop harvest this past spring using nothing but human hands.

“We were even having hops-induced nightmares from the picking,” he said, laughing.

And because Mr. Condzella’s hops plants are still maturing, he estimates they will produce between 1,200 and 1,500 pounds next season.

“It takes about an hour for someone to harvest one plant and we’re going to be doubling our hop yard this spring,” he said. He plans to plant an acre’s worth of Willamette, Perle, and Fuggle hops varieties to bring his hop yard to two acres.

He is currently raising money through Kickstarter to import a Wolf WHE 140 Hopfen Pflückmaschine harvester from Germany for cooperative use among North Fork growers.

One of these growers is Peconic hops farmer Andrew Tralka.

“We just got our license for Farm to Pint,” said Mr. Tralka. “We hope to educate people about hops, to show them what they look like, and the North Fork is the perfect spot for it.”

A harvester would mean more local hops, enabling the growing number of local breweries to make a wet-hopped ale, which requires fresh hops.

“The Wolf has the ability to harvest an acre of hops in an eight-hour day with two people operating the machine,” Mr. Condzella said. “If hand-picking, it would take about 500 hours for the same two people.”

Mr. Condzella said he is in a rush to raise $27,000 to bring the harvester to the North Fork and eliminate “a serious barrier to producing local hops. We want to create a sense of urgency because we feel that sense of urgency and want to show we’re very serious in what we’re doing,” he said. “We want to show the local beer movement is strong. It’s an exciting time for craft and local beer on Long Island. The people involved are very passionate.”

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02/22/13 8:00am

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Greenport Harbor Brewing Company co-owner Rich Vandenburgh in front of the company’s new Peconic location.

Though the Greenport Harbor Brewing Company is still taking baby steps to get the its Peconic location up and running, owner Rich Vandenburgh has not stopped dreaming big.

The Southold resident told The Suffolk Times he’d like to run a brew-pub-style restaurant at the property.

“The property is just under three acres so we’d have that ability there, and it’s kind of the ideal space for one,” Mr. Vandenburgh said. “We’re keeping [the Greenport location], that’s our heart and soul, but the new property would allow us to cultivate the brew pub restaurant side of the business.”

Building a brew pub in Southold would reflect local and national expansions of the craft beer industry.

Not only are two new breweries already in the works in Riverhead just two months into 2013, but Mr. Vandenburgh said the number of U.S. brewers registered with the Brewer’s Association has also been on the rise.

“When we first started three years ago there were just about 1,200 brewers nationwide,” he said. “Last time I checked, that number was over 2,000, with 700 to 1,000 breweries in planning. Long Island hasn’t historically been a leader in the craft beer world, but I think there’s a lot of talented, motivated people that recognize there’s a lot of room in the Long Island market for good craft beer.”

His advice for those thinking about getting into the brew game?

“Just do it,” he said. “Don’t worry about failure. If you’re passionate about what you’re doing then go for it. Start out small and build it up; that’s what’s happening with us.”

Though Mr. Vandenburgh said he is in favor of making his brew pub dreams a reality, he said some local restaurants and pubs aren’t so hot on the idea.

“We’ve gotten some pushback,” he said, “We explain to those people who bristle that it’s not an us-against-you thing. There needs to be a chorus where we’re all singing together to raise an appeal to the East End.”

He said developing the East End’s craft beer industry has the potential to bring in visitors to benefit all area restaurants.

“We feel like it’s a hot spot for craft beer and if the East End is becoming a place where wine and beer enthusiasts are coming to visit for the weekend, they may have a meal with us,” he said, “but they’ll also go to other locations and have meals. We want to make sure all the restaurants are going to succeed.

“Some places don’t [understand] that and it’s unfortunate. We’re not looking to take food out of restaurant owners’ mouths.”

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02/18/13 8:00am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Grana Wood Fired Pizza owner and chef David Plath was back at work last Thursday after closing since the end of December.

Last week’s blizzard was hefty enough to close down the Long Island Expressway throughout all of Suffolk, so it’s easy to imagine why some local restaurants find it prudent to shut their doors for a period of time during the colder season.

“Last week was an example of why so many businesses close during winter,” said Dianne Delaney, general manager at Comtesse Thérèse Bistro in Aquebogue. “We live in such an unpredictable climate. We closed for January. The first weekend we were open was a wild success. Then we didn’t even open this past weekend because of the snow.”

Snow or not, Comtesse Thérèse executive chef Arie Pavlou said there are other, non-fi nancial benefits to closing shop for a time.

“It gives you a chance to recharge your batteries,” Mr. Pavlou said. “It can get very monotonous out here without a break.”

Chef and co-owner Noah Schwartz of Noah’s in Greenport said it’s customary for him to close his business during the first two weeks of January.

“Typically we’ve found January to be the slowest time, especially in Greenport,” Mr. Schwartz said. “It helps labor costs because we don’t have staff to not earn any money, but we try to give our staff as many hours as possible. Closing can be hard on the staff who rely on us for year-round income, so we try not to stay closed for too long.”

Business owners often use the downtime to complete renovation projects or even travel to fi nd culinary inspiration.

“Last year we closed for two weeks and this year we took five weeks to put in some bench seating, paint the entire place and finish the bar,” said owner David Plath of Grana in Jamesport. “It was an ideal time to freshen up and to travel around Italy getting ideas for ingredients and dishes.”

Mr. Plath said he got the idea to serve truffled fondue during his most recent trip abroad in January, along with other appetizers that he’ll begin rolling out in the coming weeks.

“One is a lightly fried cod and the other is a chi-chi bean puree that is like an Italian version of hummus,” he said. “I got some great ideas and also got to check out a supplier I’m interested in while I was there.

He also said he’s now feeling refreshed as he gathers momentum to get Grana back up and running.

“Sometimes getting up and going again is like trying to move a thousand-pound elephant,” he said with a laugh.

Instead of just taking a few weeks off, it’s financially necessary for some restaurants to be strictly seasonal, said local restaurateur Adam Lovett of Greenport’s A Lure.

“We’ve tried to stay open during the winter but it just doesn’t make sense with the location and the size of the building and kitchen,” Mr. Lovett said. “It’s not in downtown Southold or Greenport so there’s no foot traffic. It’s out in the middle of a marina that’s closed and the fact of the matter is people don’t always think to have dinner at a waterfront seafood restaurant in February.”

Though he said closing for the season is important for A Lure’s financial survival, Mr. Lovett said the opposite is true for A Mano, his smaller, high-end Italian eatery in Mattituck.

Mr. Lovett said when other area businesses close for the winter, A Mano begins to pick up speed.

“A Mano has a comfortable, wintery feel and when other people close down, we remain pretty busy,” he said. “Ben Suglia at Mattituck Laundry tells me restaurants that stay open during the winter do better in the summer — and who am I to argue? He does a lot of restaurants’ linens in the area and the guy that does your linens knows exactly what business you’re doing.”

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02/17/13 12:00pm


Hospitals routinely ask patients for feedback on their inpatient experiences. Since 2006, that effort has included a standardized patient survey developed by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services that allows both statewide and nationwide hospital rankings and comparisons.

That survey, known as the Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems Survey (HCAHPS), recently took on a new importance. Eastern Long Island Hospital CEO Paul Connor said HCAHPS has now been linked to the amount of Medicare reimbursement a hospital ultimately receives from the federal government.

While a good score or high rank still offers bragging rights, less impressive performance could now cost a hospital up to 1 percent of its reimbursements. That variable doubles to 2 percent next year, Mr. Connor said.

“That’s 1 or 2 percent of the total revenue stream when we already basically break even, so positive responses are very important for us because there’s a lot of risk there,” he said.

Neither ELIH nor Peconic Bay was able to provide total dollar amounts for 2012 inpatient Medicare/Medicaid volume, which would indicate how much each hospital stands to lose as a result of the new process.

“It’s really too early to determine the loss or gain for any hospital because CMS is still crunching the numbers for 2012,” said Janine Logan, a representative of the Northern Metropolitan Hospital Association.

However, Under the Affordable Care Act, commonly referred to as Obamacare, 1 percent of Medicare’s 2013 hospital reimbursement is already being withheld to allow CMS time to fully assess survey results and rate hospital performance.

How much of that 1 percent a hospital will ultimately forfeit, Mr. Connor said, depends not only on HCAHPS, which counts for 30 percent of the decision, but also on its performance in a separate rating on a dozen core measures for patient care, which counts for 70 percent of the outcome. Those core measures include whether heart attack patients receive proper medication within 30 minutes of arrival and whether pneumonia patients get the most appropriate initial antibiotics.

Asked about his hospital’s performance on the more heavily weighted core measures, Mr. Connor said ELIH is “basically consistent with what the core standards are. I think we’re performing at the standards, if not better.”

The current HCAHPS results show that ELIH exceeded state and national averages on five of the 10 survey questions. Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead fell short of state and national averages on all but one question, where it surpassed ELIH by a percentage point.

Of ELIH patients surveyed 79 percent reported they would “definitely” recommend the hospital to others.

“We’ve always felt we’ve had a very positive, high-touch culture here and that’s a reflection of the community,” Mr. Connor said. “It’s nothing I’ve done. It was here before I got here, though we do take an opportunity to foster it.”

As far as improvements go, he said, “We can always use improvement in communicating to the patient,” he said.

Another area in which Mr. Connor said improvement could be made concerned noise levels, a problem he said is common at most hospitals.

ELIH got its lowest score in this area, with only half the respondents reporting that the area around their room was always quiet at night. Still, that 50 percent rating exceeded New York’s state average of 49 percent. The national average was 60 percent.

“Hospitals are notoriously noisy in the evenings, which is an industry-wide problem and though I think we’ve done marginally better [than other hospitals] I think it’s something we can always improve,” Mr. Connor said.

Peconic Bay Medical Center also received its lowest score on this question, coming in at 40 percent.

ELIH’s second-lowest score came on the question of whether staff always explained medications before administering them. Here, its results matched the state average, with 58 percent reporting that such explanation were made, but fell short of the national average of 63 percent.

Peconic Bay Medical Center also received a lower-than-average 52 percent score in this category.

On the question of whether patients received information about what to do during recovery at home, 84 percent of PBMC patients said they received that information, which matched the nationwide average and beat ELIH by one percentage point. New York State’s average was 81 percent.

Repeated efforts to reach Peconic Bay Medical Center president and CEO Andy Mitchell for comment were unsuccessful.


Eastern Long Island Hospital 

Best Scores

• 83 percent reported that YES, they were given information about what to do during their recovery at home. (New York State average, 81; U.S. average, 84)

• 79 percent reported that YES, they would definitely recommend the hospital. (N.Y., 64; U.S., 70)

Worst Scores

• 50 percent reported that the area around their room was “always” quiet at night. (N.Y., 49; U.S., 60)

• 58 percent reported that staff “always” explained a medicine before giving it to them. (N.Y., 58; U.S., 63)

Peconic Bay Medical Center

Best Scores

• 84 percent reported that YES, they were given information about what to do during their recovery at home. (N.Y., 81; U.S., 84)

• 73 percent reported that their doctors “always” communicated well. (N.Y., 77; U.S., 81)

Worst Scores

• 40 percent reported that the area around their room was “always” quiet at night. (N.Y., 49; U.S., 60)

• 46 percent reported that they “always” received help as soon as they wanted it. (N.Y., 59; U.S., 66)

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02/16/13 2:30pm

Robert Beaver, owner of the Frisky Oyster, created an absinthe mojito for his Greenport restaurant.

Robert Beaver, the 35-year-old executive chef and owner of The Frisky Oyster, unleashed the Green Fairy on the North Fork Valentine’s Day, when he began selling absinthe mojitos at his Greenport restaurant.

“Absinthe itself was intriguing to me because of the mystery of it,” Mr. Beaver said of the controversial liquor, which is rumored to cause hallucinations.

“It was first found in Switzerland and moved to France where it became popular among artists, which interested me because it was drank among the inner circles of writers and artists. It wasn’t widely known.”

The brand of absinthe carried at The Frisky Oyster, Absente, advertises itself on its website as the “first legal absinthe recipe in the U.S. since 1912.”

In addition to mojitos, Mr. Beaver said along with his wife Shannon, they developed an absinthe ice cream that is used to top one of their dessert items, a chocolate ginger cake.

Watch a video below of Mr. Beaver preparing one of their signature absinthe mojitos and pick up a copy of next week’s Suffolk Times for more on this story.

02/15/13 7:00am
wading river hops for microbreweries

John Condzella hand-harvesting hops at his family’s farm in Wading River last August.

After this year’s first hops harvest proved too much to harvest at Condzella Farms in Wading River, fourth-generation farmer John Condzella has posted an online fundraiser at kickstarter.com to help him purchase a German hops harvesting machine.

The machine shakes plants’ bines free of hops, and then processes the important beer-making ingredient.

Since launching the online fundraiser last week (see video), Mr. Condzella has raised more than $8,000 of the $27,000 needed for a Wolf WHE 140 Hopfen Pflückmaschine.

There’s now just 23 days left.

“It has the ability to harvest an acre of hops in an 8-hour day with two people operating the machine,” Mr. Condzella said.  “If hand-picking it would take about 500 hours for the same two people.”

It takes about an hour for a person to harvest one hops plant, he said.

The machine would not only benefit Condzella farms, but other hops producers in the area.

Mr. Condzella said he wants the machine to be used cooperatively for those area farmers already growing hops or hoping to grow them in the future.

“I get calls from farmers who are curious about hops and the potential to sell them to local breweries,” he said.

The project already has the support of breweries such as Long Ireland Beer Company and the upcoming Moustache Brewery, both in Riverhead’s Polish Town area.

“We’re so happy to support them and to be able to have them as a local hop farmer,” said Lauri Spitz of Moustache Brewing Company.

Brewers are looking at local hops as the next step for providing a truly local product.

“People love to drink local, but what they don’t realize is that most of the ingredients actually come from faraway places like the other side of the United States, the UK or the Midwest,” said Michael Philbrick, owner of Port Jefferson Brewing Company in Port Jefferson. “The ability to get hops that are grown in your own backyard, practically and use them as fast as possible and as fresh as possible is a giant asset to Long Island.

“It greens the community, it greens our process, above all else, it’s a fresher and more quality ingredient that I know exactly where it came from.”

Kickstarter.com provides a space for entrepreneurs to raise money for creative projects. If a given project does not reach its goal, no money is collected.

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02/08/13 12:02pm

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Orlowski Hardware on Love Lane in Mattituck Friday afternoon.

After Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on the North Fork just over three months ago, area residents are not taking chances with the approaching winter storm, dubbed “Nemo” by The Weather Channel.

Workers at area hardware stores said business has been up as the slush began filling streets Friday afternoon.

Both Jamesport and Griffing Hardware in Riverhead Town reported increases in business, as did Orlowski Hardware on Mattituck’s Love Lane.

“Things have been pretty busy and business has definitely picked up a lot,” said owner Rich Orlowski. “People are buying ice melt, snow shovels, batteries, flashlights, all the basics. They are definitely getting ready.”

Sean Harlow of Talmage Farm Agway & Garden Center said the bulk of their business rush occurred yesterday, though he expects another rush could occur after the storm, depending on the actual amount of snow that falls.

He said snowblower sales could increase as snowfall totals are expected to exceed a foot in some areas.

“If we get as much snow as they’re saying we’re going to get, I’m sure we’ll sell snowblowers,” Mr. Harlow said. “I’m hoping we get a lot because I personally like the snow.”

The store has been busy selling shovels and ice melt, he said. Yesterday a customer bought one of the store’s 5,500-watt generators.

“We didn’t really start carrying them until the hurricane and people have been purchasing them since then,” he said. “But we had a few people inquiring about them today,” he said.

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02/08/13 2:00am

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Duckwalk Vineyards has been in court over a lawsuit with a California winemaker.

Duck Walk is fighting a cross-country duck war.

Though the wineries are on opposite ends of the country, Duckhorn Wine Company of St. Helena, Calif., and Long Island’s Duck Walk Vineyards have their feathers ruffled over their common denominator: the image of a duck.

Duckhorn filed a complaint against Duck Walk last month in Napa County Superior Court for breaching a contract formed in 2003 between the companies, according to the Napa Valley Register website. That agreement followed lawsuits by the companies against one another for trademark infringement.

Duckhorn is now accusing Duck Walk of failing to indicate its Long Island location on the front label of its bottles, according to Duckhorn attorney Charles Bunsow of San Francisco. He said agreement violations can be seen on Duck Walk’s 2007 cabernet and 2005 merlot labels. Court documents include other examples from 2008 and 2009 as evidence of violations.

“They do not have the required geographical designation on them, which is a clear violation of the settlement agreement they entered into in 2003,” Mr. Bunsow said in an interview with The Suffolk Times. “It couldn’t be more obvious. I’m shocked they even say they’re going to contest this.”

Representatives for Duck Walk, which has locations in Southold and Water Mill, say they haven’t violated the agreement.

Attorney Steven Schlesinger of Garden City, who represents Duck Walk, insisted that “every bottle has the geographical location on it.

“They can’t read,” Mr. Schlesinger said. “The agreement requires us to put the geographical location on the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms’ front label, which is the back label to the consumer.”

The original agreement, forged with Dan Duckhorn, who founded the Duckhorn winery in 1976, outlined specific circumstances and ways in which Duck Walk, which opened in 1994, could reference the waterfowl.

In addition to requiring mention of Long Island, court documents show that the agreement limits Duck Walk’s production and distribution of wines with labels that include images of ducks or use the word “duck” — including in the winery’s name, according to Mr. Schlesinger.

He speculated that the timing of the lawsuit could be an attempt by Duckhorn’s new corporate owners to duck out of the agreement.

“I think they’re pissed that we have an agreement to use ‘duck’ and they’re trying to wiggle out of it,” he said. “They’re of the opinion that they have a trademark on all ducks. The problem is they’re not going to win that case if they want to litigate it. They will never establish that they own the word ‘duck’ or get us to change our name altogether.”

Under the terms of the existing agreement, Duck Walk’s production of wines with bottles bearing duck images or language is limited to 84,000 gallons per year. It also states that Duck Walk “shall not sell more than 50 percent of the annual gross production outside the states of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.”

Mr. Schlesinger said there hasn’t been a violation there either, and that Duck Walk’s total production has not exceeded 65,000 gallons.

“Virtually 100 percent of our distributors are in the metropolitan area and one third of our production is sold at the vineyards,” he said. “If a distributor re-distributes our products somewhere else, that’s not our problem.”

Mr. Bunsow said the restriction was created to limit Duck Walk’s use of a confusingly similar mark.

“We’ll see if they lived up to that,” he said of the distribution restrictions. “If they want to sell more wine, they’re free to use a different label.”

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02/06/13 4:00pm


The U.S. Postal Service will no longer deliver mail on Saturday’s, federal officials announced Wednesday. Package delivery will continue on a six-day cycle and post offices regularly open on Saturday’s will remain open.

The cutbacks are expected to save the financially strapped service about $2 billion annually, Postmaster General Patrick R. Donahoe said in a news conference. The change is expected to take place in August, officials said.

North Fork locals interviewed Wednesday afternoon were split on the implications.

Two women at the Mattituck Post Office said the change didn’t faze them.

“Mondays through Friday’s are enough,” said Orient resident Chrisie Droroski. “If it will keep costs down then why not? It may cut down on peoples’ hours, but you have to close gaps someplace.”

Mattituck resident Bonnie Adams was surprised by the news, but said she doesn’t expect to feel much of an effect from the decision.

“I hadn’t heard that, but it doesn’t make a difference to me,” Ms. Adams said. “Maybe one less bill will come during the weekend.”

Congressman Tim Bishop is one of the dissenting voices against the plan, according to spokesman Oliver Longwell. Mr. Longwell said in a press release that Mr. Bishop has asked the Postal Service to reconsider its decision, citing the impact on senior citizens and workers who rely on Saturday delivery for timely receipt of medicines, paychecks and other important items.

“My constituents have spoken clearly that ending Saturday delivery would be more than an inconvenience, it could potentially be dangerous,” Congressman Bishop said in the release. “I urge the Postal Service in the strongest terms to think of their customers, including small businesses, the elderly and disabled, rural communities and others who depend on Saturday delivery.”

Congressman Bishop’s office has cosponsored a bipartisan resolution asking the Postal Service to take all appropriate measures to save six-day service.

At the Riverhead Post Office, local resident Bogumila Stechlik said she was fine with the decision. She has a post office box, which will still receive mail on Saturday.

Two other residents raised questions about the decision.

“We need mail on Saturday,” said Amrik Singh of Riverhead. “Usually we do everything by email, but with mail you never know what you need.”

Dilcia Gonzalaz of Riverhead said she also believes the decision could carry negative implications for some.

“Sometimes it’s not that important, but sometimes people are waiting for really important papers then it’s kind of wow,” she said. “I’m surprised that’s going to happen.”

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02/06/13 10:00am

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Applicants fill out paperwork at the job fair held at the County Center in Riverhead Tuesday.

The Suffolk County Department of Labor held a job fair at the County Center in Riverhead Tuesday, an event county officials were calling the first of its kind on the East End outside of fairs held at public libraries.

The fair was to fill eight positions at Adchem, an adhesive company located on Route 58 in Riverhead.

The Department of Labor’s director of business services Kirk Cronk said he believes job fairs in Eastern Suffolk will become more common as manufacturers move into areas east of Hauppauge.

The county department of labor holds about 20 job fairs a year, though Mr. Cronk said companies that participate aren’t always hiring. Though only about 10 interviewees showed up in the first couple hours of the Adchem job fair, he said the event was more likely to lead to a hiring than most fairs the Department of Labor hosts.

“The advantage to the people is that, beside putting in an application, which many places do online anyway, is that when they come down here, they’re getting an interview,” he said. “The advantage to the company is that I’m reaching out to a database of more than 6,000 people via email, plus I get the word out through community organizations and public officials that a company is hiring and looking for certain positions.”

Riverhead resident Brandon Spellman, who attended the event, said future job fairs with multiple hiring companies would be ideal for his job search, as would more events on the East End.

Mr. Spellman has been in the job market for two months and he interviewed for an open web developer position with Adchem, where he previously worked five years ago.

“All the job fairs are on Veterans Highway and a lot of people can’t get up there,” Mr. Spellman said. “When they see that, they’re discouraged to go for the interview, because if you can’t get to the job fair, then how will you be able to get to work?”

Mr. Spellman wasn’t the only Riverhead resident and former Adchem employee to attend the event.

Alvin Cross, who worked for Adchem in 1995, said finding employment remains difficult in the current economic climate.

“I’ve been looking for a job for approximately seven months and it’s tough,” Mr. Cross said. “I’ll keep looking, but I’m a tattoo artist on the side, so I try to catch a call here and there.”

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