Articles by

Joseph Pinciaro

10/11/14 8:00am
Dave Spinella watches as 10th graders Alek Lewis (left) and Xaviah Moore play a game of chess. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Dave Spinella watches as 10th graders Alek Lewis (left) and Xaviah Moore play a game of chess. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Tension filled the area as the kings and queens of the battlefield took their positions.

One competitor stared into his opponent’s eyes, trying to pull a single thread of a thought from the depths of his mind before striking his next blow.

Then, without a word, a knight had fallen. A scheme for victory was dashed.

OK. Maybe that description is a little dramatic for a chess match. But literally, it’s on point.

At least, in the depths of my weird mind it is.

So at last week’s story meeting, when one of my colleagues pitched a story about the start-up of Riverhead High School’s chess club, I think I got more excited than anyone else in the room — including the woman whose idea it was.

I really enjoy chess — and, for that matter, any other competitive endeavor. But chess involves a particular strategy and mental aspect that few other outlets offer. There are no bad calls from a ref, no wind in your face, no injuries. The resources at your disposal are limited, each tool with a certain use designed to somehow defeat the person sitting across the table from you — and your opponent has the exact same inventory!

There are no excuses other than simply making a bad move.

When my colleague said she had a scheduling conflict and couldn’t interview chess club advisor Dave Spinella, I made my move and hopped on the story myself.

Mr. Spinella is known to many of his students as “Spin.” The current girls’ varsity basketball coach, he’s a former basketball captain at West Babylon High School, where he also served as president of the school chess club.

“It would be nice to break the stereotype. It’s not the nerd club. And it’s not all guys,” he said, pointing out some female athletes in the room. “Chess teaches patience, problem solving skills, thinking on the fly and concentration.”

Last spring, Spin started the chess club after noticing a steady stream of kids coming in who had played in chess clubs in the middle school and at Pulaski Street but would have no similar outlet at the high school level.

The club started up in earnest this fall with support from the Parent-Teacher-Student Organization, which purchased 10 chess boards and two clocks for the students.

About 20 students showed up last week at the first club meeting of the school year. They included some of Spin’s athletes, some freshmen who had played in the middle school chess club and some upperclassmen who had started playing last spring.

At one table, a pair of female basketball and volleyball players huddled over one chess board. Miecko Vail was teaching Joanna Messina, who was playing her first game of chess ever.

Miecko made a move that exposed her queen to Joanna, who was unaware how important that mistake could be to winning. Ever the competitor, I couldn’t help but point the error out to Joanna. Miecko took her move back, but Joanna didn’t seem to mind and the game went on.

Spin said he’d like to have Ron Boyd speak to the chess club. He’s a former educator at Pulaski Street School who, along with Wanda Nardolillo, built up that school’s chess club in the mid-1990s. Boyd retired in 2004.

Boyd says there’s more to chess than just winning the match. He said he ran Pulaski’s in-school suspension program and would use the game as a tool to teach kids about more than the game itself.

He pointed out that just by playing with someone else in a club setting, socialization skills are being nurtured. And even when you lose, he said, “you learn another strategy to apply to your own game.”

I guess I never thought of chess as a learning tool. But then again, when I think about the game of chess as an actual battlefield, I suppose that doesn’t exactly lend itself to teaching moments.

Maybe my next move is to learn a thing or two from Ron, Joanna and Miecko: Be a little less competitive and a little more social.

Which chess piece do I use for that?

Joseph Pinciaro is the managing editor of the Riverhead News-Review. He can be reached at 631-298-3200, ext. 238

10/08/14 2:42pm
Michael Butler, managing partner with Woolworth Revitalization, LLC, said Riverhead has "all the components."

Michael Butler, managing partner with Woolworth Revitalization, LLC, said Riverhead has “all the components.” (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Michael Butler and his wife launched an environmentally sustainable eco-lodge in the Costa Rican rainforest 13 years ago, so opening 19 units of affordable housing on East Main Street in Riverhead doesn’t seem quite as daunting.

“That’s why this doesn’t seem as crazy, right?” he said (more…)

10/05/14 2:00pm

HelpWanted (1)

Looking for work, or know someone who is?

Times/Review classifieds offers local companies a place to advertise their job openings each week, and this week close to 50 positions are available from a farhmand, to a registered nurse, to a cook.

And for anyone interested in submitting a classified ad, email: classifieds@timesreview.com.

Check out the listings below: (more…)

10/04/14 3:00pm
Betty Harris, Howard Waldman, Hattie Turner, and Ron Schmitt at Thursday's annual Heidi's Helping Angels fundraiser. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

Betty Harris, Howard Waldman, Hattie Turner, and Ron Schmitt at Thursday’s annual Heidi’s Helping Angels fundraiser. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

The story of Heidi Behr is well-known in the Riverhead community at this point.

And though the ending was a tragic one — the 23-year-old Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps volunteer was killed in a crash with one of her fellow volunteers, leaving behind her young son — the positive values she embodied were celebrated Thursday night, as three other members of the community were recognized for doing the same thing Ms. Behr did: put their own time, safety and even sometimes their lives on the line in the name of helping others. (more…)

10/03/14 10:30am
Riverhead Town Board members at an April meeting. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Riverhead Town Board members at an April meeting. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

With Supervisor Sean Walter’s preliminary budget officially released earlier this week, the numbers are officially in: a 2.08 townwide tax levy increase is suggested by the supervisor in 2015. Due to projected increases in the assessed value on taxable land throughout the town, this is expected to raise the tax rate by 0.58 percent, or about $14 for a household at about $300,000 market value.

After all the discussion over the past few weeks, members of the town board spoke with the News-Review after the budget was released and offered their thoughts on the proposed spending plan.

(more…)

10/01/14 4:30pm
Gillian Wood Pultz (right) and another African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) volunteer prep a satellite clinic to administer rabies vaccines to dogs in the city of Voi, located in southern Kenya. (Courtesy photo)

Gillian Wood Pultz (right) and another African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW) volunteer prep a satellite clinic to administer rabies vaccines to dogs in the city of Voi, located in southern Kenya. (Courtesy photo)

Most people look forward to spending their precious vacation days enjoying rest, relaxation and the occasional cocktail, but that’s not the case with North Fork Animal Welfare League director Gillian Wood Pultz.

Twice a year since 2010, Ms. Wood Pultz has boarded a plane to Mexico to help spay and neuter 1,600 animals in just six days.

But this year, she decided to take her efforts even further away — about 8,000 miles, in fact — to Africa.

Armed with a sleeping bag and mosquito net, Ms. Wood Pultz flew from Mexico to Kenya on Aug. 19 to volunteer with the African Network for Animal Welfare (ANAW), which had been working to stop the Kenyan government from using what Ms. Wood Pultz called an inhumane euthanasia practice in an effort to control the spread of rabies.

“The Kenyan government decided that in order to keep rabies at bay in humans, it had to reduce the population of stray dogs,” Ms. Wood Pultz said. “ANAW got involved and started a vaccination campaign.”

Gillian Wood Pultz said the highlight of her trip was helping children and families learn how to better care for their dogs, which included a tutorial on belly rubs. (Courtesy photo)

Ms. Wood Pultz joined a group of helpers from around the globe to vaccinate nearly 2,000 animals against rabies in just five days, sleeping on the roof of a building with other volunteers in order to save money.

The vaccinations replaced the Kenyan government’s use of strychnine, a form of poison that had been used to kill hundreds of stray dogs until March, when ANAW stepped in, according to the Kenya Society for the Protection and Care of Animals.

“It’s an oral poison, and it is a really harsh form [of euthanasia] — a horrible way to kill dogs,” Ms. Wood Pultz said.

NFAWL, which operates shelters in Riverhead and Southold towns, donated medical supplies and about 400 soon-to-expire vaccines that otherwise would have been thrown out, she said.

To help instill animal welfare, Ms. Wood Pultz said, “it is hugely important that everyone works together. We need cooperation and collaboration locally, nationally, and globally.”

She said her mission in Kenya went well beyond simply vaccinating animals.

“We want to change the way owners think of their animals,” she said.

Ms. Wood Pultz explained that dogs are treated as agricultural animals in that part of the world and frequently used to protect homes and herd cattle.

“Dogs are not considered pets. They are not allowed in the house,” she said. “It was so clear to me that they just didn’t know they were supposed to pet their dogs; they really weren’t sure.”

Ms. Wood Pultz said she set out to change that mindset.

“We started teaching the kids to rub their dog’s tummy,” she said. “One here, another there — and then, all of a sudden — all these kids had their dogs rolling in the field on their backs, wagging their tails.

“All you need is one of them to really get it and it can change an entire community,” she said.

cmiller@timesreview.com

Second photo credit: Gillian Wood Pultz said the highlight of her trip was helping children and families learn how to better care for their dogs, which included a tutorial on belly rubs. (Courtesy photo)

09/30/14 8:12am
Tick committee members meeting in Riverside at its first meeting in July. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

Tick committee members meeting in Riverside at its first meeting in July. (Credit: Cyndi Murray)

It seems as though the county’s tick committee will get more time to sink their teeth into the tick problem.

After learning at its first meeting in July that it might only have one or two meetings to help develop a plan for Suffolk County to stem the tide of a growing presence of tick-borne illnesses, the county legislature’s Tick Control Advisory Committee may be around for another year, at least.

A resolution was approved on Monday by the county’s Public Works, Transportation and Energy Committee extending its life until Suffolk’s 2016 Annual Vector Control Plan is adopted next fall. It now requires support from the full body after passing the committee unanimously.

“It was only meant to make suggestions early on,” said Deputy Presiding Officer Jay Schneiderman (I-Montuak), the South Fork legislator who co-sponsored the legislation creating the committee. “But now the committee is expanding somewhat to have a little bit more of an ongoing role while a plan is being implemented.”

The tick problem on the East End came to a head over the past year most publicly in the form of a debate over whether or not a $225,000 deer cull was the right move to help trip the deer herd. Leaders said before, during and after the cull — which reported killing just 192 of the county’s 25,000 – 36,000 deer — that a comprehensive approach toward trimming the herd would be key in combating Lyme Disease and the presence of ticks in the county.

Dr. John Rasweiler, a Southold Town resident who is on the committee, said at the committee’s first meeting at the end of July that after hearing what was expected of it, its original set of expectations simply wouldn’t fit with the timeline given.

“I understand the head of vector control is under some pressure to come up with a plan … by mid-September. He has to prepare some sort of report but I think that is asking a lot from the committee,” he said at the time. “I think even for the committee to narrow down to a series of serious recommendations, that is a pretty tight schedule.”

Mr. Rasweiler — a member of Southold’s deer management committee who has submitted opinion pieces to The Suffolk Times on the topic himself — said on Monday afternoon that giving the committee an extension was undoubtedly the right call.

“It’s probably necessary becasue were dealing with some very complex issues, and anybody who thought we were going to have this all wrapped up by this time was dreaming,” he said. “It’s better to do the job properly than in haste.”

By this time next year, the committee could have another set of tasks on its hands, so it could be given another goal or extension. Time will tell, Mr. Schneiderman said.

“The narrow respect which it was formed for — to guide the division to develop a plan — I don’t think they are going to need to do that forever. Maybe another year is enough, and then it can do other things — research better diagnostic tools, research into a cure — whatever that might be — or look at ways to improve public education.”

09/28/14 12:00pm

HelpWanted (1)

Looking for work, or know someone who is?

Times/Review classifieds offers local companies a place to advertise their job openings each week, and this week close to 60 positions are available from a carpenter, to a horse handler, to a farm stand worker.

And for anyone interested in submitting a classified ad, email: classifieds@timesreview.com.

Check out the listings below: (more…)