10/04/12 4:00am

To the Editor:

This past week a very inconsiderate person dropped off bags of garbage at the trash cans located around the South Jamesport boat ramp.
Of course, the local seagull population immediately found the bag and ripped them apart, with trash spread over a very wide area.

Walking my dogs, I saw what a mess was made and upon returning home I called Riverhead Town Hall. Within less then an hour a crew was down at the boat ramp cleaning up every last piece of the trash and garbage.

Thank you guys! You did one heck of a great job!

Thomas W. Smith, Jamesport

Read more Letters to the Editor in this week’s Riverhead News-Review available on newsstands or by clicking for the E-Paper.

09/24/12 10:00am

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | Peconic Community School teacher Natalie Sisco reads to students at the end of the day on their first week of classes.


What do our children really need as they head back to school?

I’ve been pondering this question over the past few weeks, as a mother, educator and now as a founder and co-executive director of Peconic Community School.

Just how has this back-to-school time we find ourselves in become a consumer experience? This is the part that has troubled me lately.

My son, nearly six years old, heads into first grade this year. At his back-to-school haircut, the barber asked him, “Are you all ready to go back to school?” He nodded earnestly and replied, “Yes.” Then the follow-up question: “Have you done all your back-to-school shopping?”
I gulp, thinking quickly, should I intercede? Should I say that we don’t really plan on doing any back-to-school shopping. Before I have the chance, my son states, “I pretty much have everything I need from kindergarten.”

Whew. I dodged it this time, but how long will he feel this way? How long will it be until the back-to-school consumer bug gets into his brain? How long until he feels he needs all new backpacks, lunch boxes, sneakers, clothes, binders, folders, pens and pencils — the works — before school starts? But more important, what does my son, and all our children, really need as they head back to school?

Of course they need some supplies. And yes, a strong pair of shoes that fit is a good idea. But it seems to me that outgrowing shoes should be the reason for buying new ones, not simply that a new school year is around the corner.

But here’s what we really need to provide our children with as the school year begins, without that trip to the mall.

1) A good night’s sleep

Endless summer days bleed into late summer nights, and our kids tend to get to bed later in the summer. So when the alarm rings on that first day of school, the lack of sleep can hit pretty hard. Therefore it’s a good idea to make sure your child gets enough sleep in the days leading up to the start of school. You might even want to consider doing a few trial runs on the new schedule. Sleep is so important for all of us it might be a good idea for mom and dad to get to bed a little earlier, too. In our family, an overtired child or parent usually translates into grumpiness. So as these summer days come to an end, we’ll do our best to make sure we all get a few extra winks.

2) A pause

In recent conversations with parents for the newly created Peconic Community School, we’ve been discussing how we dread the back-to-school morning rush.

There is little way to avoid it completely no matter how much you do the night before. There is still the breakfast preparation and eating, the getting dressed and the gathering of lunches, backpacks and more. It seems it is always a mad dash out the door, and sometimes lunches, or even “goodbyes” are forgotten. I recently read a tip that we will try in our home this year.

Take a pause. Every morning just before you head out the door, gather with your family, perhaps in a huddle. Come together for a moment and breathe together. For just a few seconds stop, breathe and then break. Pause so that you might go out into the day mindful of the love you have for each other despite the craziness. Taking this moment after the morning rush seems like a great antidote to the morning madness that harries even the most organized among us.

3) A tradition

When I was a child there was the requisite picture by the mailbox, and yes, I had on my brand-new back-to-school outfit and strong new shoes, plus a new lunch box, my hair in braids, and a crooked smile — all ready to go off to school. My stomach was in knots over the unknowns to come: How would I like my teacher? Would I have any friends? Would there be too much work?

But after that first stressful day, upon my return home I would be greeted by my mom and her homemade chocolate chip cookies. It sounds idyllic, and it was. But it’s the ritual of it that matters most. It happened every year, and it was a reliable routine. Lunch boxes came and went, shoes wore out, but the tradition remained.

Those cookies helped mark the momentous occasion, the start of it all. It was a little gift for making it through that first tenuous day.

It can be a simple tradition — pancakes for breakfast or a note in the lunchbox. With all the newness that the beginning of the school year brings, a reliable, albeit low-key, tradition offers much comfort, which, I promise, will not be forgotten.

4) A shopping trip to your local small business

We live in a small town on the North Fork and are fortunate to still have a mom-and-pop pharmacy replete with back-to-school supplies.

When we get the list from my son’s teacher we’ll be heading there to see what we can get from a small local business. And what we can’t get there he may just have to do without.

5) Nothing

This might sound contradictory to number 3 — I stand by the simple tradition idea — but it may be best to consider doing little in the way of preparation for heading back to school. Maybe making a big deal about the transition just increases stress, nervousness and anxiety.

Perhaps if we take a low-key approach to going back to school we honor it as a normal passage of time that needs little pomp and circumstance. And maybe by doing nothing, we can bypass the co-opting of this time by big-box stores and rampant consumerism.

What else do our children really need as they head back to school? And more important, how can we take back this childhood rite of passage and realize that perhaps we already have everything we need from kindergarten?

Liz Casey-Searl is a Southold resident and co-founder of the independent Peconic Community School, which is operating for the first time this school year. The school is located on the grounds of East End Arts in downtown Riverhead.

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.”