05/25/15 6:01am
Dan and Prudence Heston next to the flag pole at their Salt Air Farm in Cutchogue. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

Dan and Prudence Heston next to the flag pole at their Salt Air Farm in Cutchogue. (Credit: Grant Parpan)

Nearly two years after he donated a 46-foot flagpole to Salt Air Farm in Cutchogue, Mark Baxter began to lose faith the decades-old wooden beam would ever be erected again.

Each time he’d drive up New Suffolk Road, the Southold resident said, he’d check to see if the flag was flying but would ultimately pass by, disappointed.

Quietly, however, farm owners Dan and Prudence Heston were undertaking a lengthy project to restore the pole to its former glory. Now, on Memorial Day, the couple is proudly flying an American flag more than four stories high on the same pole Mr. Baxter’s father used to raise a flag more than 70 years ago.  (more…)

10/21/13 2:52pm
10/21/2013 2:52 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Dan Heston, the proud new owner of this 46-foot-tall flagpole, says he hopes to install the beam in the spring.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Dan Heston, the proud new owner of this 46-foot-tall flagpole, says he hopes to install the beam in the spring.

Cutchogue resident Dan Heston said he’d always wanted a wooden flagpole to stand over Salt Air Farm, the property he owns on New Suffolk Road in Cutchogue.

So when he picked up a copy of The Suffolk Times two months ago and read about a Southold man trying to find a new home for a historic 46-foot flagpole, he knew he had to get it.

“My gosh, there was a huge flagpole right there, just what I really wanted,” he said.

Mr. Heston picked up the phone immediately but learned he wasn’t the only one to call Mark Baxter, owner of the 70-year-old flagpole.

The man had received more than 25 calls from people looking to buy the pole after the Suffolk Times’ August story profiling its plight.

The pole’s prospective owners were an interesting bunch, Mr. Baxter said in an interview.

“One woman wanted to cut it in half,” he said. “Someone wanted to use it as a mast.”

Mr. Baxter said he didn’t want to give the pole to someone who would misuse it. The four-story-tall tapered pole, which dates back to 1943, had sentimental value, he said.

It had first flown over Peterkin Park in Amityville, where Mr. Baxter’s father had been responsible for raising and lowering flags as a police officer.

Mr. Baxter had saved the pole from destruction and wanted to make sure it found a new owner who would care for it.

He decided to give Mr. Heston a chance and now the soon-to-be freshly painted and repaired flagpole now has a new home. The historic pole was moved to Mr. Heston’s farm last month.

“They’ve got a nice place up there,” Mr. Baxter said.

The flagpole now rests on a series of wooden planks at Salt Air Farm, protected from the sun by tapered sheets of wood nailed together by Mr. Heston.

Mr. Heston said he was “discouraged” to find that parts of the flagpole had rotted away, and he caught carpenter ants crawling through it. But he said complications are to be expected with such an old flagpole.

“I’ll be able to glue patches in here and there,” he said. “We’ll have to treat it to kill those ants from the outside … but it’ll be fine.”

Once repaired and repainted, the flagpole will be set next to the farm’s driveway, across from the field where weddings and events are held.

Newlyweds will have the option to have a custom-made flag bearing their names fly on the pole during their ceremonies, Mr. Heston said.

“It’s going to be quite the grand flagpole right there in the yard,” he said. “Come hell or high water we’re going to get this done.”

But best of all, Mr. Heston said, he got to meet a new neighbor.

“Mark and I hit it off famously, so I got a new friend out of the whole deal,” he said.

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08/02/13 12:48pm
08/02/2013 12:48 PM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | The town is trying to broaden what it considers an acceptable business practice at vineyards.

Southold Town passed a law Tuesday that defines a special event at an agricultural operation. It requires all farms, bed and breakfasts or wineries to purchase a permit for any activity outside its defined usage, as outlined under town code.

On Thursday, the town took up separate legislation to broaden the definition of a winery’s permitted use — a move that upset an owner of a different type of agricultural-based business in town.

The town’s draft policy states that events such as weddings should be considered a normal business practice at wineries. If passed, vineyards would not be required to purchase a special events permit, so long as the event does not exceed its maximum occupancy.

Since the new definition does not include other agritourism businesses, those proprietors would be required to purchase a special events permit to hold similar events.

“I believe it is unconscionable to make a law like this just for wineries,” said Prudence Heston, owner of Salt Air Farm in Cutchogue. “You have put me in a completely different category than [wineries] and you have given them the advantage, just because they have chosen to grow grapes and instead of flowers. Why would you penalize me for doing a different form of agricultural?”

Before the new events law was enacted, wineries were the only agricultural operations that could apply for a special events permit; technically excluding farms or bed and breakfasts from hosting large-scale events such as weddings.

“The events legislation that we passed the other night, Prudence, was designed for [business owners like] you to legally have special events, because the [previous] law did not,” said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell.

A potential compromise could be a change of the town’s farm stand code that dictates the permitted uses of farms and bed and breakfasts, the supervisor said.

“We need clarity for Prudence’s sake,” Mr. Russell said. “We have to be able to address those concerns, but I don’t think you can address it all under one blanket law.”

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