08/13/14 9:36am
A car was pulled out of a flooded Sound Avenue this morning. (Credit: Paul Squire)

A car was pulled out of a flooded Sound Avenue this morning. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Several streets remain closed after an overnight rainstorm dumped as much as 6 inches of rain on areas in Wading River and Calverton, town workers said.

Riverhead Town police have closed Fresh Pond Avenue, Hulse Landing Road south of Sound Avenue, and Brookline Court due to flooding in the roadway, according to a press statement.

The National Weather Service has issued an urban flood advisory until 11 a.m. due to possible “residual flooding” from rainwater runoff. According to the NWS’s data, most of Riverhead Town received about an inch of rain overnight, but areas in northern Calverton and farther west in Wading River reported higher amounts of between 3 and 6 inches.

Police and emergency officials have reported no traffic accidents since the storm, though officers have responded to roughly 15 calls for flooded roadways, dangerous conditions and disabled vehicles, police said.

Riverhead Highway Superintendent George “Gio” Woodson said highway crews have been working in the Wading River and Calverton area west of Sound Avenue since 7 a.m. to unclog drains and ease flooding.

Mr. Woodson said much of the rainwater is coming off the nearby farms, flooding the local roads.

“The rain’s stopped now, so you have to give water time to drain,” he said. “Give it a couple of hours and it should be back to normal by noon.”

psquire@timesreview.com

Highway crews pumping out a storm drain on Fresh Pond Avenue south of Sound Avenue Wednesday morning. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Highway crews pumping out a storm drain on Fresh Pond Avenue south of Sound Avenue Wednesday morning. (Credit: Paul Squire)

08/12/14 3:36pm
Southold Town Supervisor  Scott Russell discusses the deer cull results at the East Marion Community Association meeting last Thursday. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell discusses the deer cull results at the East Marion Community Association meeting last Thursday. (Credit: Paul Squire)

The number of deer killed in Southold Town as part of the controversial federal cull that took place earlier this year was outpaced by the town’s own hunting program, said Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell.

He said the federal efforts involving U.S. Department of Agriculture-trained sharpshooters were hampered by lawsuits and opposition from animal-rights and hunting groups.

Official numbers on the results of the cull have not yet been released by the Long Island Farm Bureau, which coordinated the efforts. The organization’s executive director, Joe Gergela, did not return calls seeking comment and USDA spokespeople have been referring all calls to the farm bureau.

Mr. Russell said the town’s hunting program was a success in killing 265 deer on town lands this year, the USDA cull totals from about a dozen private properties in town were lower, although he could not give exact numbers.

“The cull had been severely hamstrung,” Mr. Russell said  at a community association meeting in East Marion last Thursday. “There were groups out there that wanted to stop the cull and they were largely successful.

“The numbers [of deer killed] are going to be very low, I would say insignificant,” he added.

Opponents of the cull have called the USDA’s sharpshooter program — which involves baiting deer before shooting them, mostly at night — inhumane and a challenge to local hunter’s rights.

Mike Tessitore, president of the hunters-rights and conservation group Hunters for Deer, said he expected numbers for the cull to be low.

“It just goes to show you that hunters are not only a cheaper option but more effective,” he said.

The Long Island Farm Bureau, which had secured a $250,000 grant for the program, had lobbied all East End towns and villages last fall to contribute, asking for $25,000 from each town, including Brookhaven, and $15,000 from each village.

But the towns of Southampton, Riverhead and Shelter Island all eventually decided not to participate financially, leaving Southold as the only East End town to support the cull.

Yet sharpshooters did acquire permits to operate on private properties in Riverhead, Southold and Southampton towns, according to state Department of Environmental Conservation documents. In addition, Southold Town held its own hunting program on town-owned lands that were excluded from the cull.

Mr. Russell said Tuesday that the town will be refunded a portion of the $25,000 it paid the Long Island Farm Bureau, since the cull was minimized.

The effort was hampered in large part by a state Supreme Court decision in March that prevented the DEC from issuing any further deer hunting permits, essentially stopping the cull from expanding, Mr. Russell said.

Many of the private properties that had previously agreed to participate in the cull pulled out under pressure from the cull’s opponents, he added. Mr. Russell said the properties that remained were rendered practically unusable after hunters groups that opposed the cull — including Hunters for Deer — publicized the locations on social media and walked through the areas to disperse the deer.

But Mr. Tessitore said Tuesday that his group only posted photos of the locations, and took no steps to hamper cull activities there.

Those running the cull did attempt to “make the most” of the effort by donating thousands of pounds of venison to local food pantries, Mr. Russell said. But ultimately, he said, the cull was a disappointment.

“We have to do something here,” he said. “Deer are an economic crisis, deer are a public health crisis and believe it or not, deer are a huge environmental crisis. They’re devastating the ecosystem.”

Mr. Tessitore said in an interview that his group agreed that the deer population needed to be managed, but said federally managed culling is doing a job hunters could do for free with the right regulations.

“We want to make sure we have a good, healthy herd,” he said. “We want to protect our hunting opportunities but we also want to preserve the species … The DEC really needs to realize that hunting on Long Island needs to be regulated like a management tool, not a sport.”

Hunters for Deer was willing to work on a solution with those supporting the cull, he said. But he claims the organization was left out of the process; if the cull goes forward last this year, the group is resolved to continue to fight.

“We’re going to be more aggressive in our tactics next year,” Mr. Tessitore said. “We’re not going to be as passive.

“They’re not going to shove it down our throats like last time.”

psquire@timesreview.com

08/05/14 8:00am
Volunteers Irene Pendzick (left) and Maria Tobiasz look over a list of Polish Town immigrants at the recreated exhibit Monday afternoon. (Credit: Paul Squire)

Volunteers Irene Pendzick (left) and Maria Tobiasz look over a list of Polish Town immigrants at the recreated exhibit Monday afternoon. (Credit: Paul Squire)

The last time the Polish Town Civic Association set up an exhibit to recognize the histories of local Polish immigrants, the organization used a state grant to hire a museum planner to help, said civic organizer Irene Pendzick.  (more…)

08/01/14 12:00pm
Nancy Reyer and her son Michael Hubbard with 2013 'Person of the Year' award. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file)

Nancy Reyer and her son Michael Hubbard with 2013 ‘Person of the Year’ award. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch file)

More than three years after her son was badly burned in a gel candle accident in 2011 — an accident that has left him in need of constant care for traumatic brain injuries — Nancy Reyer will be honored at a fundraising gala next month at Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center in Riverhead.

And a little more than a month after she watched him earn an honorary diploma at Riverhead High School, Ms. Reyer will be named Caretaker of the Year for her dedication and hard work caring for Michael, as well as her constant work to raise awareness for traumatic brain injury survivors and for Brendan House, a group home under development on Sound Avenue that will one day serve as Michael’s new residence.

The award will be presented to Ms. Reyer at the 6th Annual Summer Gala, a fundraiser for the traumatic brain injury nonprofit New Beginnings Community Center — the organization building Brendan House — Aug. 15.

“She’s always out there talking to businesses, promoting our fundraising,” said Allyson Scerri, founder of New Beginnings Community Center. “She’s amazing.”

But Ms. Reyer said she’s just “doing what any mother would do.” She said it’s the people and businesses across Riverhead who have supported her, Michael, and Brendan House that deserve the praise.

“It’s such an honor to come from such a loving town,” she said. “It makes me feel proud.”

Several businesses — like Riverhead Building Supply, Lowes, and Home Depot — have donated supplies and construction materials for Brendan House, which will provide 24-hour care for up to eight residents suffering from traumatic brain injuries. Costs for care would be covered by the patients’ insurance, Ms. Scerri said.

The 1,900-square-foot historic property being renovated for the project was built in the early 1900s and once served as a group home for unwed mothers. The building was given to New Beginnings in 2011, and plans for Brendan House began soon after.

As part of its renovation, a 2,500-square-foot extension was built on the rear of the structure.

The property is named after Brendan Aykroyd, a 25-year-old Blue Point resident who died in 2011 after suffering a brain injury in an assault two years earlier.

Ms. Scerri said the group hopes to open Brendan House this fall. She said that while the siding of the house is finished, the home still needs to have fire alarm systems installed and must undergo inspections.

“It was a tough winter to get through, but we’re on a bit of a roll now,” Ms. Scerri said. She said that while Brendan House has received numerous donations, the group still needs more funding to pay laborers and contractors to finish the job.