02/27/15 12:00pm
Sgt. Jill Kubetz was promoted last week to be the department's first female sergeant. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Sgt. Jill Kubetz was promoted last week to be the department’s first female sergeant. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Jill Kubetz’s 4-year-old daughter, Rachel, has given her a new nickname: “Sgt. Mommy.”

It’s a moniker she’s proud of, because it proves to her two young daughters that they can be grow up to be whatever they want.

So at last Thursday’s Riverhead Town Board meeting, when it came time for her to become the town’s first female police sergeant, Sgt. Kubetz knew exactly who would be front and center at her promotion.  (more…)

02/26/15 8:00am
The Baiting Hollow shoreline was covered in ice this past week. The icing represents the worst freeze of Long Island Sound in decades, according to experts and historical accounts. (Credit: Jerry McGrath)

The Baiting Hollow shoreline was covered in ice this past week. The icing represents the worst freeze of Long Island Sound in decades, according to experts and historical accounts. (Credit: Jerry McGrath)

You could be forgiven for thinking this February has been colder than usual. It has. But just how much colder — a staggering 10.8 degrees below normal — has surprised even meteorologists, who say the month is on track to become Long Island’s coldest February on record.

The consistent cold snap has caused a rare phenomenon, one not seen for nearly 40 years: Long Island Sound is freezing over, so to speak.

“I’ve never seen it freeze over like this,” said Dominick Mavellia of Southold, whose home overlooks the frozen waters. “It looks like Antarctica … it’s quite beautiful.”  (more…)

02/25/15 4:00pm
Diane O'Neill of Farmingville is led into Riverhead Town Court last month following a fatal accident in Jamesport. (Credit: Paul Squire, file)

Diane O’Neill of Farmingville is led into Riverhead Town Court last month following a fatal accident in Jamesport. (Credit: Paul Squire, file)

The attorney for a former Southold High School math teacher who was arrested on a drunken driving charge in January after fatally striking a pedestrian in Jamesport has asked a Riverhead Town judge to return her client’s driver’s license. (more…)

02/19/15 8:00am
From left, Tracey Foutaine and TK. Mr. Fountaine credits his faith, extended family, friends and even the help of strangers for helping his family get back on its feet. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Tracey Foutaine and his wife, Lyn, in front of their home. Mr. Fountaine credits his faith, extended family, friends and even the help of strangers for helping his family get back on its feet. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Northampton resident Tracey Fountaine can remember seeing an owl perched on the roof of his house as he arrived home from work one day last June.

A few hours later, the owl was still there.

It was a strange sight, he recalls. Normally owls don’t get that close to homes, or stay around long.

That was all before the aging electrical outlet sparked in the basement near the clothes dryer, before the fire leapt up the wall, before Mr. Fountaine was covered in a flaming blanket while desperately battling the blaze. That was also before he spent days in a hospital recovering from burns while his family dealt with what remained of the family home.

But even when the house — the place his wife, Lyn, had called home since childhood — did catch fire and firefighters tried to contain the blaze, the owl didn’t fly away. It stayed there, hopping from one side of the roof to the other, consumed in smoke.

Only after the fire was out and everyone was OK did the owl leave its perch, Mr. Fountaine said.

He believes that owl was like a guardian, watching over his family and keeping them safe. Nine months after the devastating fire, small owl trinkets litter the trailer the Fountaine family is living in as their home is rebuilt bigger and stronger.

“The owl has become like a family symbol,” Mr. Fountaine said. “I know when we go back home, it will come back.”

In many ways, Mr. Fountaine’s story mirrors the lives of other residents in the North Fork area who have lost their homes and possessions — and more — to fire in the past few years. There’s the initial devastation, the grueling recovery and the importance of support from family and friends.

The News-Review sat down with four area residents who were the victims of house fires in recent years to learn more about that recovery process.

Click on the tabs below to read their stories.

02/12/15 7:25pm
Nicholas Sokol mug shot (Credit: Riverhead Police Department)

Nicholas Sokol mug shot (Credit: Riverhead Police Department)

A Riverhead man stabbed his ex-girlfriend Thursday and later fled from police officers when they located him at an apartment complex, Riverhead Town police said.

Nicholas Sokol, 21, was arrested and charged with felony assault, according to a police news release.

Police were notified at 12:51 p.m. that a “domestic dispute” between Mr. Sokol and an ex-girlfriend had occurred earlier in the day. The victim’s injuries were not life-threatening, police said.

The victim gave cops a description of Mr. Sokol; police found him exiting a taxi at the apartment complex on Doctors Path, according to the news release. Police said as they approached him, Mr. Sokol ran. He was caught after a “short foot pursuit,” according to the news release.

Mr. Sokol was later arraigned in Riverhead Town court and held at Suffolk County jail on $50,000 cash bail, police said.

02/11/15 12:00pm
Riverhead school board member Lori Hulse pitches the need to limit the kinds of contracts the district superintendent can sign without board approval at a board meeting Tuesday night. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Riverhead school board member Lori Hulse pitches the need to limit the kinds of contracts the district superintendent can sign without board approval at a board meeting Tuesday night. (Credit: Paul Squire)

The Riverhead school board voted to limit the kinds of contracts Superintendent Nancy Carney can sign without needing board authorization, arguing that it protects taxpayers and adds extra oversight to limit mistakes.

The superintendent had been able to sign off on contracts under $25,000 without board approval. That limit was decreased to $10,000 or less. (more…)

02/11/15 6:30am
(Credit: Paul Squire)

(Credit: Paul Squire)

There are 16 students in Riverhead sophomore Shannon Zeltmann’s AP Physics class. But all but two of the students go without a lunch period each day, she said.

The reason why the kids are skipping lunch? There’s just not enough time in the school day, the sophomore said. (more…)