07/25/12 5:00pm

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | The Bridgehampton National Bank branch in Wading River.

Bridge Bancorp, the parent company of Bridgehampton National Bank, issued a second quarter report this week showing net income of $3.1 million, a 24 percent increase over net income for the same period in 2011.

The bank — with branches in Greenport, Southold, Mattituck and Wading River, as well as several on the South Fork — plans to open a new branch on Shelter Island later this year.

“This quarter, we again delivered strong results, achieving impressive gains in deposits and loans and record net income,” President and CEO Kevin O’Connor said in a statement.

The bank reported total assets at $1.4 billion as of June 2012, 18 percent higher than last year. Loan growth of $89 million is 15 percent higher this year, as are deposits that total $1.23 billion for the quarter.

While the bank’s numbers are improved this year, Mr. O’Connor said “signs still point toward economic weakness. The recovery has been tepid with a continuing overhand of foreclosed homes and a marked lack of job creation.”

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05/14/12 7:00am

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Union Latina coach Marco Grigorio and Zully Valle place a memorial poster of Mirian Yohana Garcia Mancilla on a fence before Sunday's soccer game.

A simple thought adorned a poster of Mirian Yohana Garcia Mansilla as it hung from a fence at Mattituck’s Strawberry Fields on Sunday.

Siempre te recordaremos Yohana, it read. We will always remember you, Yohana.

On the one hand, it was just another soccer game for Union Latina, the team for which Yohana played during the past year. On the other hand, everything had changed. Only six days had passed since Ms. Garcia’s body was found behind the Riverhead DMV, her killer still at large.

Not only did her teammates and their supporters don black ribbons in memory of their friend, but many opponents on Mattituck’s La Tienda team also wore the ribbons.

“It’s not like we’re enemies,” said Irene Pleitez, a friend of Yohana’s who plays for La Tiendra. “It’s a friendly game.”

Her words came only minutes after La Tiendra bowed to Union Latina by a score of 2-1 under sunny skies. The warm summer-like breeze defied the horror of what had happened just a week earlier.

And while the players on both teams tried to bring some levity to the game, they admitted they were playing with heavy hearts.

“She was good; she always gave everything,” coach Marco Grigorio said of Ms. Garcia. She played every game as though it were a final championship match, he said.

A moment of silence on the field was also observed in her memory.

As is their habit at the regular Sunday afternoon games, the winners took a victory lap around the field.

After, they arranged to have a team picture taken as they hoisted the poster of their fallen teammate.

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JULIE LANE PHOTO | Union Latina coaches, players and their relatives hold a photo of their slain friend after Sunday's soccer game in Mattituck.

05/12/12 7:40pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Zully Garcia Mancilla (center) is comforted by her husband Darwin Jordan (right) and daughter Melanie Jordan, 5, of Riverhead after Saturday's funeral.

Less than a week after Mirian Yohana Garcia Mancilla’s body was found in a wooded area behind the DMV in Riverhead, family and friends — many from her homeland of Guatemala — bid a sad goodbye to the 29-year-old everyone remembered as loving and caring.

In a eulogy in Spanish that brought many in the crowd of about 200 to tears, Ms. Garcia’s sister Zully remembered her sibling for her selfless, caring ways.

It was just two months ago that Zully Garcia Mancilla lost her infant son. She told the crowd of Yohana — that’s what family and friends called her — and how she went into a side room during the baby’s struggle for life. Alone in the room, Yohana Garcia prayed to God to take her and spare the child.

Just two months later, both are gone, leaving a family and friends wondering why.

“She was a wonderful person and a lot of people loved her,” Zully said.

Meanwhile, her killer remains still free, as Suffolk police have reported no arrests in the case.

“I don’t know how someone could do something like this and bring such pain on the family,” friend Carlos Enrique of Philadelphia said prior to the hour-long services at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Riverhead.

Many who attended were church members who knew Yohana from her participation in various church activities.

Before the services, relatives asked Fred McLaughlin of McLaughlin Heppner Funeral Home in Riverhead to allow them to lift the coffin off the wheeled platform and carry it into the church. They set it gently on a platform in a room near the chapel that was festooned with floral tributes.

Ms. Garcia’s mother stood by her daughter’s open coffin, wailing at her loss as family tried to comfort her.

Somber organ music played as mourners filed into the chapel, but it was the sounds of children’s voices that brought a poignant note to the service. Just as they were too young to understand the solemnity of the funeral, so their parents were unable to bring any depth of understanding to Ms. Garcia’s death.

Friends remembered her love of music and said she worked as a DJ both here and in Guatemala. They recalled her passion for sports, especially soccer. She was a goalie for a women’s soccer team in Cutchogue.

Church sister Suzanne Jolliver of Peconic described Ms. Garcia as “very bubbly and always smiling.”

“She was a sweetheart,” she said, adding that Ms. Garcia was very devoted to her nieces and nephews back in Guatemala.

Sergio Sunun described his friend as “a really sweet person, the nicest girl.”

Church elder Caveza de Vaca told mourners they would gain strength in drawing together as a family, and said solace would come to them in knowing that Ms. Garcia is “at peace in heaven in the mansion God has prepared for her.”

Branch director Lee Kruger called the day a “sad and somber occasion,” but said that God had promised they would all someday live together forever.

“We are all his brothers and sisters and we will be together again, Mr. Kruger said.

“Death comes to everybody … We don’t know why it happens the way it happens,” he continued. “But we return to God, to the spirit world and there we will await the resurrection.”

Ms. Garcia’s body will flown home to Guatemala on Wednesday for burial.

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04/27/12 7:00pm

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has temporarily closed Sag Harbor Cove due to biotoxins.

The presence of marine biotoxins may result in making shellfish hazardous to eat. Within the past few weeks the DEC also closed Mattituck Inlet and Creek and 2,900 acres in the Peconic Estuary’s westernmost reaches straddling Riverhead and Southampton Towns to shellfishing due to the presence of a biotoxin, a naturally occurring substance.

The Sag Harbor alert wasn’t widely released, but was sent to some private individuals with ties to the fishing industry.

The affected area includes the cove and its tributaries lying west of the northbound lanes of the Lance Corporal Jordan Haerter Veterans Memorial Bridge, which connects Sag Harbor to North Haven.

The ban on shellfishing will continue until the DEC can determine that marine biotoxin levels are no longer hazardous, according to a DEC statement.

Greenport Village Trustee Mary Bess Phillips raised the question of the possible impact the closing might have on proposed water taxi service between Sag Harbor and Greenport.

“The proposed water taxi between Sag Harbor and Greenport is a problem with this biotoxin,” she said. “With the amount of aquaculture that is in our Peconic Estuary system, we have issues.”

She called for discussion about whether the proposed water taxi service might “damage a segment of the commercial fishing industry,” although current sites being discussed docking the water taxi are outside the cove area.

Ms. Phillips and her husband, Capt. Mark Phillips, operate a fishing fleet out of Greenport and the retail Alice’s Fish Market in the village.

Bill Faulk, an aide to county Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), said his office has asked the DEC to provide a plan of action.

“We’re concerned about this affecting the Peconic Bay region,” Mr. Faulk said.

Mr. Romaine and Legislator Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) weren’t immediately available for comment.

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04/08/12 8:08am

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Measuring the height of young reader Cole Brigham, 10, store owner Charlene Spector makes him the first in the chain's "We Grow Readers" group. Young readers will be measured on future trips to the store.

BookHampton owner Charlene Spector has been eyeing the former Rudy’s coffeehouse at the corner of Route 25 and Love Lane in Mattituck for five years, believing it was the perfect spot for her BookHampton chain, which has had three South Fork stores for many years, to open a North Fork branch.

“We wanted to be in this store and every time, we missed it by five minutes,” Ms. Spector said about her efforts to lease the premises. “I thought it was the most insanely beautiful area,” she said about the North Fork and her desire to open a store here.

After Rudy’s proprietor Jim Ryan moved on several years ago, the property remained a coffeehouse for a while then became a Verizon cellular service outlet. Ms. Spector kept watching. A few months ago, she made her move to seek a lease at just the right time and secured the space for her bookstore.

The only mainstream full-service retail bookstore from Orient to Riverhead except for Burton’s Books on Front Street in Greenport, BookHampton opened its doors in Mattituck on Saturday at 9 a.m.

It was an opening with no great hoopla but plenty of customers from the moment the doors opened. “We’re supposed to have ‘grand opening’ signs,” Ms. Spector said, but whoever was supposed to hang them never got the job done, apparently. Ms. Spector shrugged off the oversight and talked instead about what’s important to her — books.

“We find people want real books and we’ve seen continually how much the community embraces what we do,” Ms. Spector said, unconcerned about competition that comes from digital books and on-line sellers such as Amazon.

She and her husband Jeremy Nussbaum now have four BookHampton stores — the other three are in Sag Harbor, East Hampton and Southampton. “It’s really about personal service; we have a real connection with our communities,” Ms. Spector said. She said she was convinced that local touch will bring customers in and keep them coming back.

“Let me know if I can make a good recommendation,” she said several times to customers, agreeing with one that a recent bestseller was disappointing.

The first customers in the door Saturday morning were Sonya and Walter Brigham from Southold and their children, Hayley, Cole, Quincy and Grady. They had already gone for a run, biked and then had breakfast at Love Lane Kitchen awaiting the store opening, Ms. Brigham said.

Before the children left the store clutching some new books, they stood against a post to be measured by Ms. Spector, becoming the first children to become members of the store’s “We Grow Readers” group. The store will track the heights of their young readers as they make future visits.

“Welcome to the North Fork,” Cutchogue resident and Brentwood librarian Edana Cichanowicz told the store’s staff. “It’s just such a wonderful place,” she said about the bright and airy space.

“We’ve been very excited” about BookHampton opening on the North Fork, said Janet Latham of Mattituck. “I used to work in publishing and it’s very sad for me to watch” bookstores closing.

“We all are readers,” Leslie Tuthill said about herself, family and friends, explaining why they are glad to see the new store on Love Lane.

The store will have five employees, all of whom have worked at one or more of the other BookHampton stores, said Chris Avena, general manager for the BookHampton group. Customers will find a wide spectrum of books, CDs, DVDs and board games, Mr. Avena said. The store will also order any books customers request that aren’t in stock.

The store is open seven days a week, Sundays through Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

JULIE LANE PHOTO | Cutchogue resident and Brentwood librarian Edana Cichanowicz welcomed BookHampton employees to the North Fork.

JULIE LANE PHOTO | First customers at Bookhampton on Love Lane were Walter Brigham and children Quincy, left, 6, and Cole, 10.

03/28/12 2:00pm

JULIE LANE FILE PHOTO | Suffolk County Legislator Ed Romaine intorduced the bill for a LIPA Oversight Committee.

Think you’re paying a lot more than you should for electricity? So does the Suffolk County Legislature’s volunteer oversight committee. Earlier this month, the six-member committee called for an elected board of trustees to oversee LIPA.

After a year-long investigation, the committee, created by a bipartisan resolution introduced by Legislators Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches) and Wayne Horsley (D-Babylon), concluded that LIPA needs greater transparency and the type of oversight an elected board of trustees would provide.

LIPA customers are among the highest ratepayers in the nation, but they’re being poorly served by a utility that bows to “political influence,” according to findings released by the committee at last week’s meeting.

Customers are often being overcharged and their complaints are left unresolved, oversight committee co-chairman Matthew Cordoro said.

The utility has failed to take steps to reduce its $10 billion debt, has high tax obligations, poor budgeting and lacks liquidity, Dr. Cordoro said. Because of its failure, until recently, to put its power needs out to bid, it has been paying a premium price to National Grid for its electricity. And because LIPA hires outside crews to assist in emergencies, such as last summer’s Tropical Storm Irene, there are “questionable charges” for such services.

In the 192-page report, committee members outlined the problems they identified and put forth recommendations Dr. Cordoro said would result in lowering rates. The question now, members said, is how to implement those recommendations.

Committee member Irving Like said the state requiring an elected board of directors would be a good start. Mr. Romaine pledged to write Governor Andrew Cuomo to request that a Board of Trustees be filled by members of the oversight committee.

“LIPA needs a good pot-stirrer,” Mr. Horsley said. “This is our bully pulpit.”

The full committee report is available online at lipaoversight.org.

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03/06/12 9:43pm

DON BINDLER PHOTO | Dolphin close to shoreline in the shallows of West Neck Bay Sunday afternoon.

A common dolphin that had been spotted swimming in West Neck Bay on Shelter Island was found dead on Cedar Point in East Hampton, according to Julika Wocial, Riverhead Foundation for Marine Research and Preservation supervisor.

Further details will be reported as they become available.

The dolphin had been spotted on Shelter Island two days ago swimming in a tiny cove area in the northwest corner of the waterway.

The foundation’s rescue unit arrived on the scene about 11 a.m., initially determining that the animal didn’t appear to be in distress. But there were concerns about it beaching itself in the shallows, especially during low tide, Ms. Wocial said. The team remained on the scene for more than 6 1/2 hours.

About 3:15 p.m., after the tide rose, the dolphin approached the deepest part of the cove and “that was good,” Ms. Wocial said. But she still had concerns that it was staying close to the shore and “I started to get a little nervous.”

She and team members donned dry suits and prepared to enter the water when the dolphin swam out and headed for deeper water in West Neck Bay.

Police and Shelter Island residents helped the team to ride around to various areas around the bay so the team could monitor the animal’s progress, Ms. Wocial said. Islanders not only provided rides around the bay but also gave the rescue team food and drinks, she said.

“I could wish all my dolphin rescues were around Shelter Island,” she said, crediting the cooperation of police and residents with making the job easier.

When last sighted before darkness Sunday night, the animal was in deeper water and appeared to be jumping and diving and making sharp turns consistent with feeding behavior, Ms. Wocial said.

State forest ranger Brian McAllister and Shelter Island Police continued to monitor West Neck Bay Monday morning and by midday had made no new sightings of the dolphin, leading Ms. Wocial to speculate that the animal had moved out to sea.

02/26/12 7:00am

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Do you have a tattoo and a story to tell about it? Here's your chance.

Wanted: People with tattoos and stories to tell about them.

The East End Seaport Museum and Marine Foundation in Greenport will launch an exhibit of tattoo art Memorial Day weekend, in conjunction with the village’s sponsorship of the Tall Ships of America tour.

Sculptor and artist Arden Scott, whose husband Keith McCamy, is a member of the museum and foundation board, is spearheading the project designed to focus attention on the history of tattooing, much of which, in the United States relates to sailors. But Ms. Scott isn’t limiting her search to just sailors, she said. Anyone with a tattoo and a story to tell about it is welcome to participate.

Tattooing dates back well before there was a United States, Ms. Scott said. There was tattoo art during prehistoric times and in ancient historical periods. But in the United States, the practice took hold among sailors, she said.

“If you have a tattoo, thank a sailor,” Ms. Scott said, noting that phrase is likely to be printed on tee-shirts the museum will sell this spring and summer.

She’s hoping the exhibit will tap into the sensitivities of young people, so many of whom, in the rock music era, have embraced tattoos.

She and a small cadre of local artists will be painting recreations of tattoos on mannequins to be displayed at the museum this year, She’ll also be using photographs of tattoos with brief stories about how each came to be, she said.

“Tattoos are basically a story,” Ms. Scott said, explaining that those who have them chose the art to express specific memories and feelings.

The week before the Greenport exhibit opens, there’s a tattoo festival in New York City that will feature tattoos from all over the world, Ms. Scott said. She’s hoping she can entice some participants from that event to come out to Greenport the following weekend. And she’s hoping that what she is able to gather for the Greenport exhibit might eventually find its way into the National Archives in Washington, D.C., where it can be included with holdings on tattoo art that are maintained there.

So if you have a tattoo and would like to share your story about it for the Greenport exhibit, Ms. Scott would like to hear from you at 477-0272.