06/12/15 5:59am
From left, Walter Dawydiak, director of the Suffolk County Health Department Division Of Environmental Quality; Dr. Alison Branco, director of the Peconic Estuary Program; Dr. Christopher Gobler, biologist at Stony Brook University; and Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment at Thursday's meeting in Hauppauge. The panel discussed water quality issues. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

From right, Walter Dawydiak, Dr. Alison Branco, Dr. Christopher Gobler and Adrienne Esposito. The panel discussed water quality issues Thursday in Hauppauge. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

County lawmakers, scientists and environmentalists acknowledge nitrogen overloading in local waterways is the biggest contributor to the recent die-off of fish and turtles.

They also agree aging septic tanks and failing cesspool systems are mostly to blame for brown and red tides in the Peconic Estuary, as well as toxic blue-green algae at Lake Marratooka in Mattituck.

The public’s reliance of fertilizers is a problem, too, experts say.

In an effort to address the recent fish kill in Riverhead that some experts have described as unprecedented, Legislator Dr. William Spencer (D-Centerport), chairman of the Suffolk County Health Committee, assembled a panel discussion at Thursday’s health committee meeting in Hauppauge.


06/11/15 6:00am

Lack of home tutoring services

Two parents addressed the school board Tuesday claiming their children aren’t receiving home tutoring services.

Robin Southard said her 16-year-old daughter suffers from cystic fibrosis and has been out of school since December due to her illness.

“I’m still not getting the home instruction,” she said. “The school year’s almost over. Something needs to be done.”

Raquel Ortiz-Dantzler said her daughter, who’s in seventh grade, has Autism and has been without home tutoring for the past month.

Ms. Carney asked for Ms. Southard’s contact information and said she’ll get back to her. As for Ms. Ortiz-Dantzler, Ms. Carney said she’s already discussed “an alternative” for her daughter’s situation.

Ms. Ortiz-Dantzler claimed no such information has been provided.

“I’m not happy with this answer,” she said.

Ms. Carney then said she would meet with Ms. Ortiz-Dantzler to discuss her concerns.

Allergies and safety on buses

Riverhead school district officials gave a presentation Tuesday to discuss policies for administering medication to students on school buses.

District nurse Dan Hull said that if a student has a life threatening allergy, the district will develop an individual health care plan as a guide for how school officials should respond if a student has an emergency.

Bus drivers must volunteer to receive the training to administer EpiPens.

Transportation director Amala Cain said students who have more serious medical conditions or are unable to self-administer medicine are transported to school on minibuses who have bus monitors trained to administer EpiPens onboard.

Parent Yolanda Thomas said she believes the district should provide aides on school buses instead of assigning students to minibuses, which she described as a punishment.

No district bus driver addressed the school board during the meeting.


06/10/15 10:43am
An artist rendering of the main atrium at the Family Community Life Center's recreational and other facilities.

An artist rendering of the main atrium at the Family Community Life Center. (Credit: File image)

YMCA Long Island and Family Community Life Center — two white whales that have been on again, off again for the past couple of decades in town — are apparently in discussions to develop a partnership.

During the Riverhead school board meeting Tuesday, president and CEO of the Family Community Life Center Shirley Coverdale said the YMCA is “interested in partnering” with her group “in some form.”

She didn’t disclose any other details about the discussions, and declined further comment on Wednesday morning.


06/10/15 6:00am
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO Laurie Downs is running for school board.

Laurie Downs says she’ll no longer be behind a camera at Riverhead school board meetings. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Laurie Downs has videotaped her last Riverhead school board meeting.

The Polish Town resident and school board watchdog announced her decision to step down from the responsibility during the public comment portion of Tuesday’s meeting.

“I’ve been doing this for the community for 15 years,” she said about her volunteerism. “I’m 59 years old. I was 44 when I started this. Tonight’s my swan song. Tonight is the last night of videotaping. I will still be here, but I will not be shuffling back and forth [between the school and Riverhead Town Hall] with any disks.”

The decision comes after vice president Sue Koukounas suggested at the May 26 school board meeting that the district upload the videos to its website along with continuing to air the recordings on public access, an idea Ms. Downs said she was “thrilled” about.

“For years, we were told it couldn’t happen,” Ms. Downs said. “Now we have the mechanism to do it. I’m very happy about that.”

The plan to post school board meetings online came after Ms. Koukounas said she had heard several complaints about how some meetings weren’t aired on public access. Posting the videos in BoardDocs, the same software that organizes the school board’s meeting agendas and minutes, would be beneficial to the community because residents could watch the videos at their convenience, she said.

Under the current videotaping arrangement, Ms. Downs records the meetings with the district’s equipment and school officials burn the videos onto DVDs. After a meeting is over, Ms. Downs returns the equipment to the school, picks up a DVD recording of the previous meeting, and delivers it to Town Hall to air on Channel 22, which is the town’s public access channel. The district sends the recordings directly to Southampton Town.

As a volunteer, Ms. Downs receives no compensation for her efforts.

After school board member Lori Hulse thanked Ms. Downs for her service, she said Riverhead and Southampton towns are currently negotiating their 10-year renewal franchise agreements with Cablevision and believes grant money is available for providing a camera person to video record meetings.

“It’s a public obligation,” Ms. Hulse said. “I think this is something we should pursue with the towns.”

Superintendent Nancy Carney and school board president Greg Meyer said while the district has attempted to pursue such a plan in the past, agreed to revisit those efforts.

“We’ll give it a try, again,” Mr. Meyer said.


06/08/15 8:48pm
Witnesses say this pickup truck was involved in Monday's accident. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

Witnesses say this pickup truck was involved in Monday’s accident. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

One person was airlifted to Stony Brook University Hospital following a two-vehicle crash in Flanders, Southampton Town police said.

A pickup truck and a minivan collided near the intersection of Route 24 and Pleasure Drive at around 6:45 p.m., police said.

The driver of the pickup truck was airlifted to the hospital, police said.

A portion of Route 24 was closed during the rescue efforts.

No other details were immediately available.

06/04/15 5:55am
A volunteer committee is seeking solutions to tk. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

Representatives from the East End’s five towns met Wednesday in Riverhead. (Credit: Jen Nuzzo)

All five East End towns already have policies on the books when it comes to managing their own deer herds.

But a new approach spearheaded by Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski hopes to create a unified plan among all the towns about to best control wildlife — which know no municipal borders.


06/02/15 6:00pm
New Suffolk Times editor Joe Pinciaro (left) with outgoing editor Michael White.

New Suffolk Times editor Joe Pinciaro (left) with outgoing editor Michael White.

This week, Times Review Media Group named Joseph Pinciaro as the next editor of Riverhead News-Review and The Suffolk Times.

Mr. Pinciaro previously served as the company’s managing editor.

He will replace outgoing Times Review editor Michael White, who is leaving the company June 10 to launch his own news website, GreaterPatchogue.com. The site is expected to launch in July and will cover Patchogue and its surrounding communities, including Mr. White’s hometown of Bellport.

“Mike has been a great source of leadership in our newsroom since he joined our staff from the New York Daily News in April 2008,” said Times Review executive editor Grant Parpan. “He’s a great editor, a talented writer and a terrific mentor to many on our staff. I’ll really miss working with him, but know he is going to find great success with his new company.”

Mr. Pinciaro, who joined the Times Review staff in September 2013, lives with his family in Wading River after previously residing in Riverhead and Greenport. He served as an East End editor with Patch.com from 2010 to 2013.

In his new role, Mr. Pinciaro will take on more responsibility for managing the editorial content of both newspapers and websites, while helping to supervise the company’s team of reporters.

Joe Werkmeister, also of Wading River, has been promoted to the role of managing editor and Paul Squire of Calverton will replace him as web editor.

Mr. Werkmeister, who joined the company in May 2006, has also served as one of the company’s sports editors. Mr. Squire has been a reporter with Times Review since January 2012 after briefly serving as editor of riverheadpatch.com.

“We’re very excited to be in a position to promote from within our own company,” said Times Review publisher and co-owner Andrew Olsen. “We’ve had a great string of recent success, including having The Suffolk Times named Newspaper of the Year by the New York Press Association in March. All the staff members we’re promoting played a major role in these achievements and we’re happy they are going to take their careers to the next level with us.”

Times Review also recently added two new reporters to its staff and expects to soon hire a third.

Nicole Smith of Wading River, a former Times Review intern and recent graduate of SUNY/Geneseo, where she majored in journalism, was hired in May. A graduate of Shoreham-Wading River High School, she will serve as a general assignment reporter for The Suffolk Times and News-Review.

This week, the company also expanded its northforker.com staff with the hiring of Monique Singh-Roy of East Quogue. An Emmy Award-winning television news writer and producer, she most recently contributed at News 12 Long Island.

Reporters Carrie Miller and Cyndi Murray left Times Review earlier this spring to pursue new opportunities.

Ms. Miller, of Hampton Bays, is now public relations coordinator at Peconic Landing in Greenport. Ms. Murray, who lives in Manorville, is the new communications coordinator at Perfect Earth Project, a nonprofit environmental group in East Hampton.