05/11/13 12:00pm
TIM KELLY PHOTO | Sean Walter 'surrenders' to Al Krupski at the Dark Horse on election night Tuesday.

TIM KELLY FILE PHOTO | Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter conceding the special county legislative election to Al Krupski (left) in January.

If the Republican Party puts up a challenger to County Legislator Al Krupski in November, chances are that person won’t live on the North Fork.

With the county GOP’s nominating convention only days away, the party’s Riverhead and Southold town leaders say they know of no one willing to stand against the popular Democrat, who in January handily beat Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter to fill the seat left vacant when Ed Romaine was elected Brookhaven town supervisor.

Mr. Krupski’s victory, 6,561 votes to 3,182, a margin of 67 percent to Mr. Walter’s 33 percent, prompted the supervisor in conceding to say, “You stomped me bad.” Prior to the vote, GOP leaders said they needed a candidate with significant name recognition, such as an elected official, to run a competitive campaign against Mr. Krupski, who had served in town government for 28 years.

In advance of the party’s May 14 county nominating convention, Republican leaders were scheduled to meet Wednesday to consider potential candidates for the legislative contests and the State Assembly seat left vacant when Dan Losquadro won a special election in March for the Brookhaven highway superintendent’s post.

Regarding the upcoming Krupski race, Brookhaven GOP leader Jesse Garcia deferred to Suffolk GOP Chairman John Jay LaValle, who said his party does not want to forgo the challenge.

“We do have a couple of people looking at it and we’re in discussions with them right now,” Mr. LaValle said on Monday. “We have to run a candidate. I feel pretty strong about that.”

Southold GOP leader Peter McGreevy said no thought was given to cross-endorsing Mr. Krupski, who ran with Republican support in one of his Town Trustee elections.

Suffolk Democrats will hold their convention on Monday, May 20.

Both parties have interviewed numerous potential candidates for the 2nd Assembly District seat, left vacant by Mr. Losquadro. The district covers Riverhead, Southold and a large section of northeastern Brookhaven.

Democrats under consideration include Jim Waters of Waters Crest Winery in Cutchogue and Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point, who ran unsuccessfully against State Senator Ken LaValle in 2010.

The list of potential GOP candidates includes Southold Councilman Chris Talbot and former Romaine aide Bill Faulk of Manorville.

tkelly@timesreview.com

05/06/13 1:53pm

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Gerry Hayden and Chris Pendergast make their way down Old Sound Avenue in Mattituck on Monday, the first day of the annual Ride for Life event.

The annual ALS Ride for Life event, which raises funds and awareness of the illness once called Lou Gehrig’s Disease, began in Southold on Monday and crossed Riverhead on the first day of a trip that will end at at Yankee Stadium in two weeks.

As always, the ride included Chris Pendergast, a 1966 Mercy High School graduate who suffers from ALS and launched the first Ride for Life in 1998.

He was accompanied by Gerry Hayden, chef at North Table & Inn in Southold, who was diagnosed with the fatal disease two years ago.

Both men rode in electric-powered wheelchairs.

In an interview with The Suffolk Times last year, Mr. Hayden said, “The most heinous part of this is it’s already taken my ability to work in the kitchen, work with my hands, but it will eventually take my ability to eat and breathe. I just thought it was going to be some sort of rheumatoid arthritis from using my hands my whole life.

“I just figured I was getting to that stage a little bit earlier than I should be.”

ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, attacks the cells connecting the brain to various muscles by way of the spinal cord leading to paralysis. There is no cure.

ALS first became known when it ended the career, and eventually the life, of New York Yankees star Lou Gehrig.

tkelly@timesreview.com

05/05/13 8:00am

It’s a clear indication that you’ve reached a certain age when your social calendar, usually based on trips to the dump or the supermarket, now includes reunions.

By definition, a reunion is a gathering of people who haven’t seen each other for an extended period of time, hence if you attend one you’ve either moseyed on through or are banging on the door of geezerhood.

TIM KELLY

And so it was that I found meself at a very nice home in suburban D.C. last weekend, there to mix and mingle with others once in the employ of former congressman William Carney (R-C-Hauppauge), who represented this fair community from 1979 to 1986. In the summer of ’83 I became the last press secretary of his congressional career (press aide actually, but, hey, press secretary sounds way cooler) and moved up from D.C. to the North Fork just before he retired.

You’ve already heard me wax nostalgic about a 20-something’s life on Capitol Hill so I won’t bore you will all that again. But since the face in the mirror now bears little resemblance to picture on the ol’ House ID, a certain amount of living in the past is to be expected.

I hadn’t seen most of these folks for over 25 years, including the former congressman, the guy who, with the exception of some gray hair and glasses, looks very much like the guy whose image graced the corner of the special paper used in printing — yes, you heard right, printing, as in batted out on a typewriter and run through a copy machine — the various press releases, columns and such mailed out through the U.S. Postal Service.

Tweet? Dude, that’s what a bird does.

I’d attended only one other reunion, that of me high school class. But we’re talkin’ two very different past experiences here. In D.C. I felt like a stranger in a strange land. OK, that was just like high school. In D.C., I was surrounded by great gals, all pretty much off limits. Ah, well, ditto. Was forced to wear a jacket, tie and even socks for pity’s sake. Damn. OK, on second thought, it was exactly like high school, minus the nuns but with Ronald Reagan and Tip O’Neill.

Ah, remember the fun we had? Like the time the staff counsel and I were having a water pistol duel when a lobbyist came through the office door and I swung around, planted my feet and took aim like a “Law & Order” detective bursting into a suspect’s apartment and the guy threw his hands up in surrender and muttered, “I don’t want to die”?

Or when the congressman would bring all the males into his office, make us each drop a dollar on the credenza for a putting competition that he always — and I mean, always — won?

Then there were the tapeball games; you’d crumple up a piece of copy paper, wrap it like a mummy in tape and swing away with a cardboard mailing tube filling in for a Louisville Slugger. A home run required walloping it past the appointment secretary and out the window onto South Capitol Street. Not as easy as it sounds.

On second thought, this was not at all like high school. Sister Mary Whoever would have cleaned our clocks, and these incidents would have made for unfortunate entries in our permanent records.

OK, it wasn’t always like that. Congressional staffers work long, hard hours, some assisting the member on legislative affairs and others providing constituent service, no small tasks when your district includes over a half-million people. Can’t help it if the wacky times are the most memorable. Unlike the representative, we don’t get smacked around by political foes or friends looking for favors.

As the reunion wore on, it was as if close to 30 years had melted away and we all had gathered at a Capitol Hill watering hole after work on a Friday night. Except, for some, Saturday morning might be a little more uncomfortable than it was 30 years ago.

Like my recent — gulp — 40th high school reunion, a great time was had by all. Except that a hellish ride back north on I-95 followed this gathering.

Recounting the tapeball story during Saturday’s party, I left out the part about one afternoon when the congressman was pitching and I was calling balls and strikes, and I made the strike zone about the size of a business envelope.

“You just won’t give me a break, will you?” he complained.

I thought to myself, keep me late last week before giving me the OK for the friggin’ column, will ya? I’ll show you.

“Nope,” said I, “not at all.”

tkelly@timesreview.com

04/22/13 8:00am

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Local political leaders say its unlikely Governor Andrew Cuomo will set the special election for the North Fork Assembly seat for a date sooner than Election Day in November.

There have already been two special elections this year involving the North Fork, but apparently a third isn’t on the horizon.

Political leaders on both sides of the aisle believe Gov. Andrew Cuomo will not call for a pre-November vote to fill the Assembly seat that opened up when Republican Assemblyman Dan Losquadro won the Brookhaven highway superintendent’s office in a March special election.

In January, former Southold councilman Al Krupski beat Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter to win the county Legislature post previously held by Ed Romaine, who was elected Brookhaven supervisor in November.

The most likely date for a special Assembly election seemed to be May 21, when local school board and budget elections take place statewide, but with those votes little more than a month away, that’s no longer possible.

“No one knows what the governor is thinking,” said state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson). “It’s really a shame. I can’t tell you how many people are calling here. As the clock ticks, what is he going to do? People are going without representation.”

Scott Martella, Mr. Cuomo’s representative in Suffolk, directed a reporter’s inquiry to the governor’s press office, which did not return a call for comment this week.

Although he favors a special election, Mr. LaValle did not support holding it at the same time as the school votes.

“That’s not really viable and I can’t remember it ever happening,” said Mr. LaValle, a senator since 1977. “You’d be mixing educational and non-educational issues.”

County Democratic leader Rich Schaffer said there’s no compelling reason to hold an election before November.

“Even if there were a special election, the person elected would not participate in this year’s legislative session, which ends June 19,” he said.

Southold GOP leader Peter McGreevy disagreed.

“Obviously, securing representation for the citizens of the 2nd Assembly District is simply not a priority for the governor,” he said. “As a result, our district and our voters go unrepresented in Albany.

The 2nd Assembly District covers all of Southold, Riverhead and a broad swath of northeastern Brookhaven.

With a special election apparently off the table, both parties continue the search for candidates to run in the fall.

The Democrats have interviewed a number of potential candidates. They include Jim Waters of Waters Crest Winery in Cutchogue; Riverhead attorney John McManmon; Jennifer Maertz of Rocky Point, a former state Senate candidate; Aquebogue businessman Ron Hariri; and Thomas Schiliro of Manorville, a county parks police sergeant.

Southold Democratic leader Art Tillman favors Mr. Waters, and while Brookhaven party chairman Anthony Parlatore described him as “a very strong candidate,” he said no one has a lock on the nomination and the party is still screening potential candidates.

The Democratic county convention will take place May 18.

The GOP is also still talking to Assembly hopefuls, said Riverhead leader John Galla. The party previously screened Raymond Negron, a Mount Sinai attorney and Purple Heart recipient; John Kreutz, deputy receiver of taxes in Brookhaven Town; Mattituck attorney Stephen Kiely; Southold Town Trustee Bob Ghosio; attorney Anthony Palumbo of New Suffolk; Bill Faulk of Manorville, a former Ed Romaine aide; and Southold Town Board member Chris Talbot.

tkelly@timesreview.com

04/21/13 8:30am
Orion in Cutchogue

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Orion constellation as seen from along the Sound shore in Cutchogue.

So there I was, standing on the Sound shore in Cutchogue Saturday night, looking out over the inky sky and black water, minding me own business and freezing me shamrocks off.

Why, in the name of all that’s good and holy, am I out here by myself with a sharp wind cutting right through me? I might have said that out loud, but so what?

There was no one else anywhere near to hear some fool muttering to himself as he stood next to a tripod-mounted Nikon with a camera case on his shoulder to keep it off the coarse sand still damp from the receding tide.

Why? Because I actually bought into the hype that the northern lights, the elusive and eerily beautiful aurora borealis (dawn of the north), would be visible on Long Island thanks to a large solar flare that erupted Thursday.

The northern lights are usually seen, well, in the north — in places such as Alaska, Canada and Scandinavia. The North Fork usually ain’t north enough. But what the heck, the forecast for an awesome aurora was all over the Internet so it had to be true, right?

Yeah, well, no. OK, some basic science. A solar flare is a large release of energy from the sun in the form of electrons, ions and other stuff I never studied in 19th Century Romantic Poets. They go hurtling through space — particles, not poets — sometimes in our direction.

After a journey of 93 million miles, which is hard to imagine unless you’ve ever been stuck in traffic on the Belt Parkway in Brooklyn, the particles are drawn toward the magnetic north and south poles.

Some pass through the earth’s magnetic field, which shields us from dangerous radiation, and when they interact with oxygen and nitrogen molecules, they produce that weird glow, often in the shape of a billowing green curtain. The sun is always shedding highly energized particles, so aurora displays are common in some parts of the world.

I once witnessed an absolutely mind-blowing display of the northern lights, with a tripod-mounted Nikon by my side, but I have no photographic record of it. When I lumbered down to the Sound in my F-150 pickup Saturday night I did so in search of a possible cover photo, but also, and more important, of photographic redemption.

In 1982, me oldest brother Mike rented a house in Southwest Harbor on Maine’s Mount Desert Island, the home of Bar Harbor and Acadia National Park. He was kind enough to invite me and the Mrs. and our then 4-month-old son to join his family for a week.

One evening at dinner we talked about things we’d like to do, basically a bucket list long before someone coined that term. My list was pretty mild and did not contain anything like stealing a Rolls Royce convertible, driving out to Las Vegas and running off to Tijuana with a couple of show girls. OK, I may have thought it, but I never said it.

Anyway, I allowed as how I always wanted to see a whale in the wild and witness the northern lights. (Told ya they were mild.) Later as I was reading in bed Mike knocked on the door. You’re never gonna believe it, he said. The guy on the 11 o’clock news said there could be a great display of northern lights — tonight!

I leaped out of bed, threw on some jeans and off we raced toward Cadillac Mountain, some 1,528 feet up.

There, hanging in the sky just above Bar Harbor, I saw the green shimmering curtain. Oh. My. God. Not just there, everywhere. The entire sky pulsed with auroral displays. Overhead, to the east, to the west. I stood, mouth agape like a dead snapper, looking — south — at the northern lights.

I aimed my telephoto lens toward Bar Harbor, and in the viewfinder I saw an image from National Geographic. But it wasn’t to be. There wasn’t a cloud in the moonless sky, but the wind was blowing something fierce, or as they say in Maine, wicked haaaad.

The tripod shook like I did on my first date. When back home I rushed to get the film developed, but alas, there was nothing even remotely resembling northern lights. It was all a blur of street lights. Fudge! When would I ever get another opportunity like that?

On the 13th of Never, that’s when. That’s why this solar flair thing got me going, but with the same disappointing results. Out of sheer boredom I took a few shots of the Orion Constellation with the crescent moon, which in a time-lapse exposure looked like a fuzzy piece of white lint. Yeah, Sky & Telescope magazine won’t be texting me anytime soon.

Hey, when’s Comet Halley due back? 2062? I’ll be 108, but it could happen.

tkelly@timesreview.com

04/09/13 12:00pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Baykeeper Kevin McAllister.

The North Fork Environmental Council will honor baykeeper Kevin McAllister as its environmentalist of the year during an awards ceremony in Riverhead next month.

The organization will give Mr. McAllister, who for 15 years has advocated for the health of the Peconic estuary system and its wildlife, with its Richard Noncarrow Environmentalist of the Year award on Thursday, May 16 at the Suffolk County Community College’s Culinary Arts Center in downtown Riverhead.

The NFEC says Mr. McAllister has worked over the past four years to show the connection between the health of the North Fork’s groundwater supplies and the health of its coastal waters.

“Kevin wears his passion on his sleeve, but it’s his work ethic, his dedication to doing what is right and his ability to challenge us to be better stewards of our lands and waters, of our future, which makes him stand head and shoulders above the rest,” Bill Toedter, NFEC president, said in a press release.

The organization will also name the late Bob Conklin, a former Riverhead science teacher, and Jim Miller, the founder of Miller Environmental, its Environmental Champions. Both were instrumental in the installation of a fish ladder allowing alewives, a herring-like fish, to return each year to their spawning grounds long blocked by the dam in Grangebel Park in Riverhead.

Information is available by calling 298-8880 or at nfec1.org.

tkelly@timesreview.com

04/07/13 8:00am
Cutchogue Mushrooms

TIM KELLY PHOTO | John Quigley and Jane Maguire among the rows at their Long Island Mushroom farm in Cutchogue.

How did two people from a small town in Rhode Island, high school sweethearts who went their separate ways after graduation, wind up as sweethearts again — and as partners in a mushroom farm?

Mushrooms in Cutchogue

TIM KELLY PHOTO | Jane Maguire holds one of the paper and sawdust logs brimming with shiitake mushrooms.

Jane Maguire and John Quigley, who launched their Long Island Mushroom company in a former food storage building not far from the old dump, grinned at the question.

“We still don’t know,” she said.

What they do know is that growing mushrooms as a couple is the second chapter of their lives.

They grow shiitakes, a lot of them, and soon will add the oyster variety.

Beneath their modest second-fl oor office is a 6,500-square-foot space where rows of wooden racks reach toward the high ceiling, holding more than 2,000 oval pressed paper and sawdust “logs.” Each log is about eight inches high and 12 inches long and is “inoculated” with mushroom spores and later soaked in water. The logs come from Pennsylvania, which Ms. Maguire described as “the mushroom-growing capital of the United States.”

The room is kept at a constant 63 to 65 degrees with 95 to 97 percent humidity and anyone entering must wear a dust mask to keep from breathing in unseen spores. In time, each log will produce a bloom of shiitake mushrooms that are harvested by simply snapping them off. The logs go through three 16-day growing cycles before they’re replaced.

In a nearby refrigerated storage room, mushrooms awaiting dehydration sit in some of the 106 run-of-the-mill plastic laundry baskets purchased from Target and BJ’s Wholesale Club.

“We took every one they had,” Mr. Quigley said of the laundry baskets. “We had them stacked so high in the cart we couldn’t see in front of us.”

On the other side is a pile of cylindrical black plastic bags filled with straw and mushroom spores. They’ll hang in a separate part of the building and, by later this month, will begin to sprout blue oyster mushrooms. That variety requires a somewhat lower temperature and just about 100 percent humidity.

Long Island Mushroom claims the title of the North Fork’s only such fungus farm and is one of only two on the East End. (The other’s in Bridgehampton.) They chose the much-prized umbrella-shaped shiitakes, Ms. Maguire said, because they’re clean and relatively easy to grow.

The variety Lentinus edodes comes from Asia and its name is a combination of the Japanese words “shi,” the Japanese evergreen where they’re often found, and “take,” which means mushroom.

“I wonder why no one else does this,” said Mr. Quigley, who left behind careers in finance and construction in Pennsylvania.

To answer his own question, he said the learning curve on mushroom growing is steep and few can offer advice or insight on how to proceed and what to expect — especially on the fi – nancial end.

Perhaps most important, he said, “You have to have a passion for this.”

Not to mention an initial investment he described as “very substantial.”

It’s certainly not the future they envisioned after graduating from high school in Middletown, R.I., not far from Newport’s imposing mansions and ritzy yachts.

“If anyone had told me a few years back that I’d be doing this today I’d have told them they were crazy,” said Mr. Quigley. “But you get to a point in your life where money is no longer the object and you look for something intriguing.”

As for him and Ms. Maguire, “We lost track of each other for 32 years,” he said. “Then we found each other.”

Last July they also found a man with the idea of opening a mushroom farm from scratch, which they found intriguing. After committing to the venture, they moved into the Cutchogue facility in September and produced their first mushroom crop over the winter.

The couple considered contracting with food wholesalers but discovered that wasn’t cost effective. Ms. Maguire is looking for buyers chef by chef and restaurant by restaurant. As the weather warms she’ll be going farm stand by farm stand as well.

They’ve got a lot to sell, growing about 700 pounds a day, or about 21,000 pounds per month. Their goal is to distribute 40 percent fresh; 40 percent dehydrated, as a cooking ingredient; and 20 percent as specialty food products. They’ve no plans for a stand or a retail shop, but they have created a subsidiary, Out East Specialties, producing jars of mushroom tapanade, a spread made of chopped mushrooms and other ingredients, such as eggplant.

The recipes were developed through trial and error at the Stony Brook University business incubator in Calverton. Through its Open House Kitchen, the incubator provides access to commercial-grade food preparation facilities and the mushroom company brings in a chef and the raw materials.

While living and working on the North Fork is old hat for Ms. Maguire, a resident for 17 years, her partner, who had never set foot on Long Island before 2009, was amazed to fi nd that it’s not all shopping malls and housing developments.

“I felt like Columbus stepping on a foreign land,” he said. “I didn’t know how spectacularly beautiful it is.”

They’re now happily enjoying small town life in Mattituck.

Although their hometown doesn’t have an easygoing sheriff or a high-strung deputy, “Mayberry,” Mr. Quigley said, “is a wonderful place.”

tkelly@timesreview.com

04/06/13 4:45pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Peconic Bay Medical Center on Route 58.

The three East End Hospitals and the Empire Blue Cross insurance company have announced an agreement that puts the health care facilities back into the Blue Cross network.

The hospitals — Eastern Long Island Hospital, Peconic Bay Medical Center and Southampton Hospital — announced the deal on their websites Saturday. They fell out of the network on March 31 when negotiations with Empire Blue Cross failed to replace the reimbursement agreement that expired that day.

The immediate impact for many Blue Cross customers was that the cost of elective surgery, such as for a joint replacement, would in most cases come in at the higher out-of-network rate.

The hospitals and the insurance company said additional details would be released at a later time.