04/19/12 4:00pm

This guest column is written by Julius Klein. He is a Long Island developer and Aquebogue resident.

In a letter in last week’s Riverhead News-Review, Nancy Gilbert and Richard Wines called for “civil discourse” with respect to Jamesport Village, the community I have proposed for our hamlet. Change can set off deep emotions. Strong supporters and dedicated opponents of any project are often well-intentioned but can be misinformed about a proposal’s particulars. As shovel gets close to hitting the ground in Jamesport, rumors fly and people worry. Richard and Nancy are right: We deserve an honest dialogue about Jamesport Village. So let me speak as the landholder.

A number of years ago, I purchased a large parcel of land in the heart of Jamesport. My intention was to create a centerpiece project that would provide a focal point for our community. Under the town’s master plan, any developer would be permitted to build up to 42,000 square feet of retail space on the land I own. That would include everything from a chain retailer to a bodega. I could pop up another nameless, faceless menagerie of shops, take a profit and go home. I’m not like that; that’s not my style. I live here and I want to see a project that stands out for its beauty and enhances our hamlet.

I have watched Long Island sprawl. I saw farm fields up-Island give way to nameless, faceless strip centers. I have seen developers with no reverence for the land slap up endless, prefabricated steel centers to house the next bagel store, next to the tanning salon, next to the nail salon, next to the pizza place. At my age, the last thing I want to be a part of is creating another concrete cavern just to make a buck. On Long Island, “development” has become a dirty word, maybe for good reason, but when I travel Suffolk County, I am struck by spots like Stony Brook Village, Port Jefferson, Patchogue and Huntington Village. In each of these places, new architecture blends with old, shopkeepers provide a center to Main Street and residents visit local merchants who actually know their names. Plantings bloom, walkways are cobblestoned, lighting is quaint and the buildings make you think they’ve been here since Long Island’s first days.

A lot has been made of the “bistros” I sought permits for at Jamesport Village. People say these restaurants will bring fast food to our hamlet. I get the worry. But don’t worry. If it serves food and it has a clown you talk into to place your order, or a cute dog as a mascot, or features a king or an arch and their workers wear paper hats, I’m not interested. I had my lawyer stipulate that in the resolution just passed by the Town Board. Strange as it seems, I am just trying to build a nice project.

I intend to be a good and cooperative neighbor. I am willing to donate parking right of ways so that pedestrians don’t have to stake life and limb crossing Main Road coming from other centers. If desired, I will make indoor and outdoor space available for community meetings and events. Before we even break ground, I have commissioned the most up-to-date traffic studies and environmental reports so that Jamesport Village will blend into the community.

I admit it. Sometimes I’m not crazy about change either. But time moves on. We need tax base and if you are like me, you look back years later at the shops and places in your community with fondness. When I was a kid I had my picture taken in front of the Plaza Hotel; it was built by a developer and development can be as ugly or as special as we allow it to be.

In Jamesport it would be nice to have a place where kids can ride their bikes to local shops, couples can sit and chat on benches, neighbors can meet neighbors, there is music and families linger over the day’s paper and a cup of coffee. That’s what I want Jamesport Village to be.

09/17/11 9:11am


When I think of September 11, 2001, the first thing I remember is how beautiful the sky was on that ill-fated day as I left for school. Little did I know the crystal-clear azure blue sky above me would become crimson with the blood of approximately three-thousand innocent souls just two hours later.

I couldn’t contain my tears as I began to watch on television the horrific turn of events of what would turn out to be the worst tragedy I have ever witnessed in my life. Fear and frustration quickly turned to anger. A feeling of extreme hopelessness overcame me. As the terrible events began to unfold before my eyes, I felt an urgent need to do something about the situation. When the second plane crashed into the south tower, I pleaded with my senses to tell me what I was seeing was nothing more than a bad dream. But there was no awakening in a pool of sweat, only the nauseous realization that this, in fact, was reality — in its worst form.

My disbelief and horror only intensified when the south tower collapsed. My heart felt heavy beyond comprehension, and my fear reached unprecedented levels when I tried to estimate how many people were dying. I now had the daunting task of trying to make sense of the situation to my students while dealing with my own insecurities. I failed miserably. Nothing in my life prepared me to deal with such a cataclysmic situation.

For the next three days, I agonized over the loss of so many people, their family members, and our country. I was awakened in the night by the now indelible images of death and destruction that had become permanently seared into the deepest sinews of my mind. Something told me I had to do something. It was now Friday. I made up mind to help in any way I could. My respect for those lost, along with my sense of duty and patriotism, fueled my resolve.

I remember how eerily silent everyone was as I boarded the train from Ronkonkoma to Penn Station the following morning. As I walked across town to the Javits Center, my vision sharpened and my hearing became acute. I absorbed all of the emotions around me and became part of a massive sea of desperation and anxiety. I suddenly found myself inside a Salvation Army canteen truck serving disaster relief workers coffee and donuts. Hours passed by like minutes. After eight successive weekends, I decided to return to my family. My heart was no less heavy, and the images no less intense. The losses did not diminish, nor did the pain all Americans experienced.

My heart now goes out to the courageous and valiant rescue workers that have been denied medical treatment for a host of life-threatening diseases. I will never take for granted their selfless acts of bravery and dedication, along with our servicemen and women currently fighting the war against terrorism on two fronts. I will always honor the memory of the three-thousand lives lost on that terrible day, and remain steadfast in my belief that we all live in the greatest country on earth.

Mr. DeCaro is a retired English teacher who lives in Wading River.

04/06/11 3:11pm


In 1944 my brother Bruce W. Tuthill gave “the supreme sacrifice,” his life for his country in World War II, some 67 years ago. It was supposed to be the last war. We lived for about a month with the Missing in Action notice until the final dreaded telegram, Killed in Action, came. As hard a blow as it was for us to bear, Mr. Miller, the taxi man who delivered it, had a hard time, too. He tried for as long as he could to delay the news of the telegram, for, you see, he was the husband of Bruce’s first-grade teacher. It was a dark day in November when we received the news. Its devastation is no less potent today than it was then, but there are fewer and fewer folks still living to remember him. Gone are his mother, father, his oldest brother, both grandmothers, the only grandfather he knew, uncles and aunts. Gone are his two closest buddies, his first girlfriend and his admiring cousin in Florida who thought so much of him that she named one of her sons after him.

He was born April 18, 1924, and died 20 years, four months and eight days later. He was very proud of his birthday and never failed to let people know that it was the date of the ride of Paul Revere. My brother graduated from high school in 1942 and, after working at Grumman Aircraft for a short time, enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1943. His basic training was at Camp Upton, N.Y. and from there he went on to Miami Fla., Tulsa, Okla., Las Vegas and Sheffield, Tex. In Tulsa he met “Billy” Emmons, a nice girl whom I am sure he was planning to see when he came home.

Finally, he was ready to be shipped out and the Army gave him a “ten day delay en route” to visit family in the spring of ’44. The pictures of that time are curled and yellowed now, but oh, how the memory lingers. All four siblings lined up in profile for that picture – first the tallest and oldest brother, then the second oldest brother, then Bruce, then me, his only sister. That day he showed off his bulky, brown shiny flight suit and his khaki uniform with the Staff Sgt. insignia on the sleeve. At one point he noticed I was wearing the gold-plated locket he sent me. Someone snapped a picture of us just as he said, “Oh, you’re wearing my locket – and my picture is inside.” I still have that picture with the locket attached to the outside of the frame. I look at it and see two young people unaware of the photographer, absorbed in the joy of the moment.

He loved his family and his home town and wrote frequently from the day he enlisted to the days while stationed in Italy. We didn’t know then where he was, but afterward we learned that he was part of the bombing raids that targeted the Ploesti Oil Fields in Romania. I became the recipient of all his letters and tried to put them in a book. But reading them ­— with his hope of what he wanted to do when he came home, expressed in all the letters — caused my heart strings to stretch and the tears to flow. I put them aside thinking that time would ease the sorrow.

My life went on; I married; children were born; houses were built; moves were made – and still the letters came along with me. Two years ago, my oldest son. in his 50s, became interested in his Uncle Bruce when he learned that a restored B-24 plane was going to be on display in Austin, Texas. They were offering rides to anyone with the money to pay for it. Richard went, using his tax refund. I dug out the letters to read and to supply the information my son wanted. What was his position in the plane; did the plane have a name; what was the number of the bomb squadron; how many missions did he fly? I found that even though tears flowed again, the more I read of Bruce’s familiar handwriting, the closer I felt. My brother lived in a tent and frequently would write his letters as “the candle is getting low” or “I’m writing this by flashlight.” How he longed to “eat Grandpa’s roast corn down at the bay,” and “What was dad growing in the garden this year?” He had adopted a dog, a mutt really, and the guys called the dog Elmer. Elmer slept with Bruce on his cot. At one point he and his crew went to the Isle of Capri and he thought it was “the most beautiful place [he] had ever seen.”

When servicemen wrote home they only had to write “Free” where the stamp would be. V-mail was another method of receiving mail. One sheet of writing was photographed and sent in a small envelope. While it was good to receive those letters, it was less intimate than a regular handwritten one. Quite often the letters were censored if something was said that would imperil the safety of the soldiers or give information to the enemy. He said, “After fifty missions, we get to fly to Miami Beach for a 21 day rest.” I don’t know if that was a rumor or if it was really true. Fifty was the magic number. He was on his 35th mission when his plane was hit. All but two of the crew were able to parachute to safety, but Bruce was not one of them. He occupied the top turret gunner position on the B-24, having proven himself to be a good marksman. One of the crew, who lived in Brooklyn, came to visit us after he was sent home. He told us more than we wanted to know of that last flight. He said my brother’s chute failed to open.

I have come to the end of this writing. My eyes are swollen again but this time it has been comforting to share my brother’s thoughts and activities with my interested son as sort of a visit with my brother, “Bru,” my son’s uncle. Maybe some day wars will cease but I doubt it. There always seems to be another generation in the wings that has not learned that hatred, revenge, envy, greed, dictatorships and fighting only lead to bloodshed and heartache for those left behind. Of course, they say that WWII was “an honorable war” but really in the end “honorable” or not, if you have lost a loved one in any war, they are never forgotten.

And the void is never filled.

Ms. Bassemir is a Jamesport resident.

04/05/11 4:23pm


When a day doesn’t go by without a newspaper article on the effects of devastating cuts in education or mass teacher layoffs, it warmed our hearts last Friday to see an “Our Towns” article in Newsday about Roanoke Avenue students recently reaching a reading milestone.

The principal believed it would be “easy as pie” for the students to read 50,000 minutes outside of school in a week. Last Saturday’s Newsday and last week’s News-Review both ran photos confirming the students’ success — and the dastardly deed of a pie thrown in the principal’s face!

Newsday quoted the principal as saying, “Reading weeks are a great vehicle to promote the love of reading and the use of the library.”

But please tell us this: Why has the four-day librarian position at Roanoke been excessed and the library aide position abolished? One district administrator has told us that the “library is a luxury.”

Not the case.

Today, a “literacy” curriculum forms the core infrastructure of a K-4 student’s day. Teachers don’t have the room and districts can’t afford to provide every classroom with the materials needed to meet this goal, so the school librarian purchases, catalogs and maintains — and the school library houses and makes available — the materials that support the literacy curriculum through multiple curriculum areas.

Students need a school library for access to books and information that build on their newly developed skills or interests — especially if their homes are not literature-rich or they don’t often go to the public library.

Another district administrator told us the principal “has to be creative.” That’s a great idea when you have something to work with! The old adage, “I have done so much for so long with so little that I can do anything with nothing” is not going to work here.

Pulling staff from other buildings is not the answer. Here’s why: Say your building has 400 students. A school librarian sees all the students in the building for library and possibly computer lessons each week. She teaches a lesson that reinforces classroom learning, shows them how to use the library and helps them to find a book to check out. The library aide, meanwhile, has checked in their returns and shelved the books, and checks out their new books. Happens every 40 minutes. Let’s say in your K-4 building, there are 80 kids per level. K-2 takes a book a week, which means 240 that have to be put away. Grades 3 and 4 take two books a week, one for home and one for silent, sustained reading in the classroom. That’s 320 to put away. Twenty classrooms teachers have different curriculum needs, possibly requiring 10 to 20 books per theme. Well, you need time to pull them and time to put them away. That could generate another 400 books.

Who’s going to put these 1,000 books away each week? The district just abolished all the elementary library aides!

The librarian is also expected to order and catalog new materials, discard broken and outdated books and slate others for repair. These last three jobs need to be done on site. Once the decisions are made, the aide can follow through. By the way, the collection is about 10,000 items.

Who’s going to do these tasks? Only someone who has worked the program can understand the workload behind the scenes. The result of cuts is that internally, the records will go to pot and the collection will become dated and will not meet curriculum needs. It is a no-win situation for students, teachers and the program.

What happens when you pull staff from another building? Those school librarians — with larger student bodies, more classroom teacher, more books to shelve (that’s right, folks, a staffer with a master’s degree now is going to be shelving the books) and tasks related to meeting student and teacher curriculum demands — will now have to perform all those tasks in a four-day week at their own buildings, since they may have to give their fifth day to Roanoke. That will be a travesty to their buildings and it will be the end of “continuity” at Roanoke.

So what have we learned? “Equity” is going to hurt all the district’s students, teachers, and program and lack of “continuity” is going to hurt Roanoke’s students, teachers and program. We haven’t even talked about the school librarian’s book fair, coordination of author visits or the summer reading program!

Where are the front-line programs, especially those that have been proven through studies to be so critical to the growth of our children?

We are parents, grandparents and taxpayers in this district. We have been privileged to work with your children and see firsthand the spark of newly acquired skills grow into a lifetime of learning. We are passionate about the importance of reading and school libraries even though we are retired. We want the public to know about the decisions that are affecting our youngest children. We’ve taken our stand, now you take yours!

Ms. Lawrence and Ms. Olsen are former Riverhead School District librarians.

04/05/11 4:04pm

Below is a message from Vinny Villella, the chairman of the Riverhead Democratic Committee:

“The Riverhead Democratic Committee announces that screenings will be held for town elections. All interested prospective candidates please forward your resume for the office you are seeking to:

Riverhead Democratic Party
P.O. Box 363
Calverton, NY 11933
or email to: [email protected]

We will be interviewing candidates for: Supervisor, Council (2), Town Clerk, Town Assessor(2)  Tax Receiver and Judgeship

Contact: Marge Acevedo 631-764-1181.”

04/05/11 1:04pm

Below is a message from John Galla, the chairman of the Riverhead Republican Committee:

“The Riverhead Republican Committee will be conducting screenings for 2011 incumbent candidates/and candidates. Those interested in running for the offices of Town Supervisor and Town Council are requested to call the committee @ 727-1234 and mail a current resume’ to: The Riverhead Republican Committee, PO Box 1428, Riverhead, NY 11901, prior to April 12, 2011.

“Candidates must be legal residents within the Town of Riverhead, New York and must be legally enrolled voters of the Republican Party.”

11/29/10 4:11pm

Dear Marci,
I want to quit smoking. Can I get help through Medicare?

Dear Carl,
Yes you can. Medicare covers counseling to help you quit smoking. As of Aug. 25, 2010, Medicare covers smoking cessation for all people with Medicare, regardless of whether or not they have a disease or condition caused by smoking. Medicare will cover two counseling attempts at quitting smoking per year. Each attempt includes four sessions. Medicare will cover a total of eight sessions every 12 months.  
Medicare will pay 80 percent of the approved amount for smoking cessation efforts after the deductible is met. For hospital outpatient department programs, you will have a co-pay that is no larger than the Part D deductible. If you are in a Medicare private health plan, contact your plan to see what rules and costs apply.
Starting Jan. 1, 2011, if you have Original Medicare, and if you have not been diagnosed with an illness that is caused or complicated by smoking, you will pay no co-insurance or deductible for smoking cessation counseling. If you have a smoking-related illness, however, you will still need to pay the Medicare co-insurance or co-pay and deductible.
Prescription drugs for smoking cessation are covered under the Medicare prescription drug benefit, Part D.
You can receive counseling at the doctor’s office from a physician, psychologist or clinical social worker; at a clinic; or at an outpatient department of a hospital. Counseling must be done by a doctor or an approved Medicare provider. Medicare will not pay for hypnosis sessions to help you quit smoking.

Dear Marci,
I am a former military service member and have good drug coverage through TRICARE. Should I still enroll in Medicare Part D?

Dear Tony,
It depends. TRICARE coverage is more comprehensive than Medicare’s drug coverage. You may be better off keeping your TRICARE and not enrolling in the Medicare drug benefit. If you decide you want to enroll in the Medicare drug benefit later, you will not have to pay a penalty as long as you enroll within 63 days of dropping or losing this coverage. Contact TRICARE for more information.
Note that if you qualify for full Extra Help, your co-pays for covered drugs may be less than if you just kept TRICARE. However, TRICARE’s list of covered drugs could be broader than those of Medicare private drug plans in your area, and TRICARE will cover drugs not on its list for a higher co-pay.
If you have TRICARE and you decide to join a Medicare private drug plan, Medicare will pay first and TRICARE will pay second.

Dear Marci,
My father is considering entering a nursing home. He has Medicare and Medicaid. Which will pay for his care?

Dear Kim,
While Medicare covers some skilled nursing facility care, it will only cover this care for a limited amount of time, up to 100 days in a benefit period  if you meet certain criteria. If your father does not meet Medicare’s requirements for the skilled nursing facility benefit or has reached Medicare’s limit of covered skilled care, Medicaid may pay for this care.
All states have a Nursing Facility Medicaid program that provides general health coverage plus coverage for nursing home services. These services include room and board, nursing care, personal care and therapy services. Nursing Facility Medicaid may pay for a stay in a nursing home if you need a “nursing-home level of care” or meet “functional eligibility” criteria and if your income and assets are below certain guidelines. Different states have different standards for determining whether you need a nursing-home level of care.

Marci’s Medicare Answers is a service of the Medicare Rights Center, the nation’s largest independent source of information and assistance for people with Medicare.

11/03/10 3:14pm

When Barack Obama campaigned for president in 2008 he promised “change we can believe in.” Little did he — or we — know that the midterm elections would bring change he’s got to contend with.
Two years ago the pendulum swung to the left. On Tuesday, it doubled back to the right. The pundits were right this time in predicting a GOP takeover of the House of Representatives. We’re glad to see that East End Congressman Tim Bishop appears to have survived the onslaught, barely, and that Democrats still control the Senate, barely. The president no longer has the votes to pass major legislation without Republican support, but the Republicans don’t have to vote to overturn Mr. Obama’s health care or Wall Street reforms.
We’re in for two years of bipartisan cooperation or deadlock. With both parties already looking ahead to the 2012 presidential race, the smart money is on deadlock.
On the state level, Election Night results have Assemblyman Marc Alessi behind challenger Dan Losquadro by a mere 40 votes, with 2,500 absentee ballots yet to be counted. Regardless of the outcome, the Assembly remains solidly Democratic.
In the state Senate elections, veteran Republican Ken LaValle cruised to another easy victory, but Democrats lost the seat captured by Brian Foley of Brookhaven just two years ago. On Wednesday, control of the Senate was very much in doubt, with both parties claiming they’ll control the chamber come January. There’s even the potential for an even split, with 31 seats per party in the 62-member body. Those election results, more than any of the others, will most directly affect our wallets and quality of life here.
For decades, the GOP controlled the Senate, largely on the strength of the party’s downstate suburban delegation. Democrats secured the majority in 2008, ushering in an era of one-party rule in Albany. With that, the interests of Suffolk and Nassau County residents — who already send some $1 billion more to Albany than we get back in aid or services — were tossed aside for those of New York City, the Democratic power base.
The most glaring example of that came in February 2009, when the Senate approved the Metropolitan Transit Authority payroll tax. That’s a tax on businesses, governments and nonprofit groups — any entity that pays one or more employees — in 12 counties, with the proceeds going directly to the MTA. Never mind that this region is barely served by the transit system.
Why was this tax imposed? To stave off fare hikes in NYC subways and keep toll booths off otherwise free NYC bridges, while helping to fill a massive and still-growing MTA budget gap.
How did this happen? Then-freshman Senator Foley, the former Brookhaven Town supervisor, cast the deciding vote in favor of the move. He caved to party pressure and sold out his constituents. That’s not leadership — and it cost Mr. Foley his Senate career.
But it can also be argued that the free-spending Republicans are to blame for the bloated state of the MTA. Whoever’s in control next year, the wild spending has to stop. A complete overhaul of the agency is something the new Senate should tackle as soon as it convenes. Meanwhile, the senators must champion ways to create jobs here and throughout the state while also working to restore New York’s financial health and close an $8 billion budget gap.
Maybe a little gridlock’s not such a bad thing — that is, if it prevents lawmakers from pitting the interests of one region against another.