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02/07/12 8:00am

COURTESY PHOTO | The Riverhead Project is holding a charity event to benefit gay and lesbian organizations this Friday called The Homo Project.

Patrons of The Riverhead Project are guaranteed to have themselves a gay ole time this Friday night, and restaurateur Dennis McDermott is even reaching into his own cash register to make sure of it.

His popular downtown Riverhead restaurant will be hosting an event he’s affectionately dubbed “The Homo Project,” an evening of charity that will see 25 percent of dinner bills and all proceeds from certain drinks donated to a pair of gay and lesbian groups.

“It is a little bit radical,” Mr. McDermott said of the name, but it’s an attention-grabbing event he hopes will shed light on a very serious subject.

A flier for the event, which is being cosponsored by Bedell Cellars, features a letter from Mr. McDermott and Bedell CEO Trent Preszler, who say they hope their efforts will “help in some way stop the tragic rise in anti-gay bullying and gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender youth suicides in this country by raising awareness and providing refuge and support to GLBT youth in crisis.”

“The gay teen suicide rate is ridiculously high,” Mr. McDermott said. “We want to raise money to help that.”

Proceeds from all glasses of Bedell Cellars wine sold that night will be donated to the Long Island LGBT Community Center and the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Youth organization in Bay Shore. All money made off a specialty cocktail called “fabulous” will also be donated to those organizations.

Mr. McDermott says he’ll place donation boxes on the bar that evening to help raise even more money.

This is not the The Riverhead Project’s first foray into charity work. In fact, the restaurant has made a habit of it since opening last year.

A running event called The Peace Project sees guests donate money and waiters contribute half their tips to The Gere Foundation, which raises money to preserve the culture of Tibet and its people. Mr. McDermott is also hosting a $200 per plate dinner Feb. 20 to benefit the North Fork Animal Welfare League.

“I always like to do things that raise money for causes,” Mr. McDermott said.

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02/06/12 3:30pm

SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO | Gilles Martin in the production facility of Sparkling Pointe holding a bottle of 2002 Brut Seduction.

Gilles Martin doesn’t remember a time when he wasn’t making fruit juice.

The winemaker at Sparkling Pointe Vineyard in Southold remembers picking, coring and slices apples for cider as a child with his grandfather about 10 miles outside the Champagne region of France, where he was born.

When he grew older, he knew he wanted to work in technology and near the environment to be close to nature.

He joined his uncle, a winemaker, in the Langedoc province in the south of France when he was 22 years old. He earned undergraduate degrees in biology and food science and a masters degree in oenology from the University of Montpelier. There he completed a masters thesis on the technology of wine ultra-filtration, which received international acclaim and was awarded by former French president Jacques Chirac.

He then set out on a career in wine industries around the world, gaining much success and notoriety.

Read the complete story on our Wine Press blog.

02/04/12 9:00am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | For homeowners, CFL is the way to go,” said Matt Ghosio, branch manager at Schwing Electrical in Riverhead.

The switch to energy-efficient light bulbs is increasingly common on the North Fork as people recognize the move’s money-saving benefits and bask in the bucks saved on their electric bills.

Light-emitting diode, or LED, light bulbs are up to 90 percent more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, according to the Energy Star program, and compact fluorescent light bulbs, or CFLs, are 75 percent more efficient.

In 2009, the typical annual energy bill for a home with incandescent lighting was $2,200, according to Energy Star. About 12 percent of that, or $264, goes to home lighting.

With CFL bulbs, your lighting bill could be cut 75 percent to $66. By using all LED light bulbs, your bill could diminish 90 percent to $26.

“For homeowners, CFL is the way to go,” said Matt Ghosio, branch manager at Schwing Electrical in Riverhead.

That’s because LED bulbs are more expensive up front — a 12-watt LED lights costs about $40, while a 13-watt CFL bulb, its equivalent, costs about $30 and an equivalent 60-watt incandescent bulb costs just $2.

“LED is a bit on the pricey side, so people are slow to adopt it right away because of the initial investment,” Mr. Ghosio said. “But we are starting to see more and more people use them.”

CFLs have become more prevalent in North Fork homes, he said, but some people complain that it takes up to three minutes for the bulbs to reach their maximum brightness.

Some also don’t like the colder look of the light CFLs cast. While incandescent bulbs have a warm orange or yellow tint, which is most desirable in homes, LED and CFL lights emit colder hues of blue, green or gray. Incandescents make homes, and even people, appear more attractive, Mr. Ghosio said. Those bulbs can be found in many supermarkets, too, as they make food look more appealing.

But the downsides of incandescents can’t be ignored. Up to 98 percent of energy consumed by incandescent light bulbs is wasted as heat, not light, according to the Energy Star program. A 60-watt incandescent bulb will last about 1,000 hours, while an equivalent CFL will last 10,000 hours and an LED will last 25,000.

“You could save a ton by switching over to LED versus regular incandescent,” said Lorraine O’Fee, lighting sales associate at Revco Electrical Supply Inc. in Southold.

The Long Island Power Authority offers discounts and rebates to commercial establishments that use Energy Star-qualified LED replacement bulbs and fixtures.

Nearly 50 businesses across Long Island take advantage of the program, including the Home Depot in Riverhead and Revco in both Riverhead and Southold, according to LIPA.

Ms. O’Fee said Riverhead Building Supply recently replaced all its incandescent bulbs with LED lights.

The company “was burning 34,400 watts, and now they’re using 10,358 watts,” she said. “They’re saving a ton and they’re getting more light.

“Commercially, it makes a huge, huge difference,” she added, since many lights are on throughout the day.

Energy-efficient bulbs make a difference in all types of indoor spaces, since the average American spends 90 percent of his or her time indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. There’s no doubt lights are on for much of that time.

Ms. O’Fee said homeowners and commercial operations alike are increasingly opting for CFL and LED lights — and even halogen lights, which use 10 to 40 percent less energy than incandescent.

“It doesn’t make sense not to,” she said

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02/03/12 2:00pm

SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO | Al Sutton, an architect based in Miller Place who has volunteered to work on the athletic field, said the first phase of the athletic field project, installing a 31-by-14-foot press box, would take three to four months.

While Shoreham-Wading River parents and community members are scrambling to raise money for a new turf field, the man leading the effort admitted this week the full vision may never become a reality.

The Wildcat Athletic Club, a private charity that supports the district’s athletic activities, has set out to raise money for a three-phase project: an indoor press box with bathrooms, permanent lighting, new bleachers and — the biggest chunk and most expensive part of the project — a brand new turf field.

The total price tag? $775,000.

“Living in a small community like Shoreham-Wading River, we just don’t know if we’ll be able to generate that much money,” said club member Chris Rosati, who is spearheading the fundraising effort. “We’re starting with the phase we have the materials and donations for. When we do that, hopefully we’ll get more community involvement and interest and they’ll want to contribute toward the other phases.”

The club has raised $30,000 in donations so far and received promises of labor and materials for most of the first phase — the press box.

Mr. Rosati said the turf field, the most expensive piece of the project, will be saved for last and won’t be completed if the money isn’t raised.

Installing the press box, with ADA-compliant bathrooms, will cost about $100,000 and is being donated almost entirely by Tommy Pirraglia, owner of Pirraglia Contracting in Rocky Point. Mr. Pirraglia has put up a performance bond so the district has the money to complete the project if he cannot.

Mr. Rosati plans to break ground by June at the latest, and expects the press box to be finished by the start of the football season this fall.

Mr. Rosati, a nine-year resident of the community with three children in the district, noted that many of the district’s competitors, like Mount Sinai and Eastport-South Manor, have more advanced facilities, with new turf fields, lights and press boxes.

“If you look at the facility they have and then you look at Shoreham-Wading River, it’s a little depressing,” he said.

The current field is made up of natural grass, which is reserved for games only. Student athletes practice on other fields on the school’s grounds to maintain the quality of the field. Two sets of bleachers, smaller than those at surrounding districts, sit on the field.

Mr. Rosati said the district’s football, lacrosse and girls’ and boys’ soccer teams will be able to use the upgraded turf field, should it be built. The field would also be used for nighttime school and community events.

Parents of students who play basketball and other indoor sports who don’t wish to donate to the project can instead give money to the Wildcat Athletic Club’s general fund. A separate account is reserved for the athletic field project, Mr. Rosati said.

Mr. Rosati didn’t know the most amount of money the Wildcat Athletic Club has ever raised, but he noted they managed to raise $60,000 a few years ago when sports programs were in danger of being cut from the district budget.

If completing the entire project remains feasible, he hopes all work will be completed by 2015.

“We don’t want this to linger on for 10 years,” he said. “We want to be aggressive in trying to raise the money. At some point, we’ll have to make a decision if we can’t generate enough money to do all three phases.”

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02/01/12 5:00pm

SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO | Sparkling Pointe winemaker Gilles Martin prepares to box bottles after they're labeled by the winery's labeling machine.

We visited Sparkling Pointe in Southold last week to capture winemaker Gilles Martin labeling and boxing bottles of 2002 Brut Seduction, the winery’s signature sparkling wine.

The bottles are washed, dried, labeled and capped before being shipped out in boxes. Last week, the bubbly was heading to the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in Manhattan.

Sparkling Pointe has a complete winemaking, bottling and labeling facility on site. View the labeling — the last part of the process before wine is out the door — in the video below.

01/25/12 9:00am

SAMANTHA BRIX PHOTO | Al Sutton, an architect based in Miller Place who has volunteered to work on the athletic field, said the first phase of the athletic field project, installing a 31-by-14-foot press box, would take three to four months.

The Shoreham-Wading River school district is one step closer to receiving a new athletic field free of charge to the taxpayer.

The school board came to a consensus at its Tuesday night meeting to allow superintendent Steven Cohen to draft a resolution approving a plan for the Wildcat Athletic Club, a private charity that supports the district’ athletic activities, to install an indoor press box with bathrooms, permanent lighting, new bleachers and a turf field at the high school’s existing athletic field.

The project would come at no cost to taxpayers, as the club has agreed to raise all funds necessary to complete the field facelift.

About 40 people applauded after the school board voted for the resolution, and most of them left the meeting after discussions of the new field.

“This is an incredible amount of generosity to this district and we cannot offer enough thanks,” board president Bill McGrath said.

Christopher Rosati, a club member who is spearheading fundraising efforts, said the project’s total cost estimate is about $775,000. He has said a handful of community members have already agreed to donate labor and materials for some of the project.

Al Sutton, an architect based in Miller Place who has volunteered to work on the athletic field, said at the meeting that the first phase of the project, installing a 31-by-14-foot press box, would take three to four months, weather permitting. He said plans include moving the current bleachers to the opposite side of the field, an $18,000 undertaking, as opposed to constructing brand new bleachers at an approximate cost of $100,000.

In other news, the school board unanimously voted to allow a high school student to serve as an ex-officio member on the board next school year.

The student must have attended Shoreham-Wading River High School for at least two years and will be selected on the May 15 ballot during the budget vote. Ex-officio members are allowed to participate in school board meetings, but they may not vote or attend executive sessions.

Shoreham resident Michelle Belsky expressed concern over a student representative adding to the length of “already long” school board meetings.

She also said all students are currently welcome to attend but usually do not do so, indicating a lack of student interest.

“I don’t know what the significance of having a student on the board would be,” she said.

Board members said they wish students and more parents would attend school board meetings and make their voices heard, and that a student representative on the board would be a positive addition.

“Anything we can do to get [students’] thoughts and opinions, I welcome,” trustee John Zukowski said.

The selection process for determining the student representative has yet to be determined.

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01/24/12 5:00pm

Real estate photography has changed drastically over the past decade — and not necessarily for the benefit of longtime professional photographers.

Compounding the effects of the housing crisis, the transition from film to digital and the emergence of a new generation of photographers have led to much smaller incomes for established photographers and forced an exodus of veterans from what used to be a lucrative trade.

Local realtors agree that photographs have taken a hugely prominent role in recent years, as buyers view a multitude of photographs on real estate websites like Trulia.com and Zillow.com before agreeing to see a home in person. It’s just easier for anyone with a digital camera to snap some good ones.

Here are a handful of images from real estate photographers still in the business. And to read more, be sure to pick up a copy of this week’s Riverhead News-Review.


This photo from Peter Berlin shows an aerial shot of a roughly 2,000-square-foot, 4-bedroom home on Shelter Island. The house is no longer on the market.



Another bird’s-eye view of a home in Orient that is currently on the market for $1.4 million. With a water-front view, the home features 4 bedrooms.



This photo of a Cutchogue home provides a glimpse to the water-front view the homeowner can enjoy while showing the spacious property in the front of the home.



A tucked away home on the water, this two-story Cutchogue house is 2,000 square feet.



A view from the front of a South Jamesport house.



This South Jamesport home features plenty of natural light in the master bedroom as captured by this photograph.



A view from the back of a South Jamesport house.


01/24/12 7:00am

SAMANTHA BRIX FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River school board president Bill McGrath, vice president Mike Fucito and trustee Jack Costas. The school board will vote Tuesday night to add a student ex-officio member to the board.

The Shoreham-Wading River school board may have a fresh, young face at the dais come next school year.

The board will vote tonight on a measure that would enable a high school student to serve as an ex-officio member.

The student, who must have attended the high school for at least two years, will be selected on the May 15 ballot during the budget vote. Ex-officio members are allowed to participate, but not vote, at school board meetings.

They also aren’t permitted to attend executive sessions.

Shoreham-Wading River Jan. 24 School Board Agenda