10/10/13 3:02pm
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Students participate in a Project Fit America exercise using weighted hula hoops.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Students participate in a Project Fit America exercise using weighted hula hoops.

Students from all five of Riverhead Central School District’s elementary schools jumped and twirled on Thursday as the district started its participation in Project Fit America, an athletic – and educational – opportunity aimed at battling childhood obesity made possible through a combination of private donations and public grant funding.

Riverhead will be the first school district in the state to run the program.

Aimed at fighting childhood obesity, the program is a new addition to Pulaski Street Elementary School, Roanoke Avenue Elementary School, Riley Avenue Elementary School, Philips Avenue Elementary School and Aquebogue Elementary School – thanks to donations by PBMC Health, the Suffolk County Lions Diabetes Education Foundation, and Brickman Group landscaping and turf maintenance.

The program is used by more than 870 schools nation wide, according to the program website.

The Project Fit physical education program curriculum utilizes state-of-the-art outdoor fitness equipment, which is set up as a playground and designed for exercises that address the areas children commonly fail when doing a physical fitness test, according to the program website.

It also includes equipment that can be used indoors, such as three-pound hula hoops and jump ropes.

The children will learn through games, activities and challenges, “fresh ideas that will get kids excited about staying healthy,” said Bill Hedges, physical education teacher at Riley Avenue Elementary School.

Superintendent Nancy Carney said “pre- and post-test outcomes from other participating schools show a 41 percent increase in upper body strength, 19 percent increase in abdominal strength and 14 percent increase in cardiovascular endurance.

“Riverhead is absolutely thrilled to be the first school in New York State to receive this grant and to work with Project Fit America,” she said.

PBMC Health raised $60,000 in grant funding, which was matched by the Lions. Brinkman covered the cost of installing equipment at each of the five schools.

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday morning, PBMC Health president and CEO Andy Mitchell said the event was “a day that defines a community.”

“The results from other areas of the country were what influenced PBMC’s interest in this project,” he said. “This program represents our commitment to schools, children and their families along with a focus on preventative measures that we can invest in to keep our community healthy.”

While helping students show off their new equipment, Philips Avenue Elementary School principle Debra Rodgers said the financial help was what made the project possible.

“There [was] no way our building or our district would have been able to afford it without their help,” she said. “It’s going to promote teamwork, physical fitness along with nutrition and we’re hoping overall well-being.”

Fourth grade Philips Avenue student Azharia Allen, 9, said she was most excited about a climbing exercise on the new outdoor playground.

“You’ve got to jump up onto this pole, and you pull yourself up — you climb it,” she said.

cmiller@timesreview.com

10/06/13 6:00pm
10/06/2013 6:00 PM

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | Riverhead Fire Department firefighters demonstrate a response to a car fire.

The Riverhead Fire Department hosted its 15th annual open house Sunday. The event featured a heavy rescue demonstration, fire trucks on display and tours of the Roanoke Avenue firehouse.

Check out scenes from the event below:

10/06/13 3:53pm
GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Deacon Jeff Sykes and altar boy Chris Massey of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Mattituck bless a horse Sunday.

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Deacon Jeff Sykes and altar boy Chris Massey of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Mattituck bless a horse Sunday.

It’s not every day you go to church with three horses, two donkeys, a guinea pig, several cats and a few dozen dogs. And that’s what people love about the Blessing of the Animal ceremonies held at area churches each October.

“It’s the most fun we have all year,” said Deacon Jeff Sykes of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Mattituck. “It’s particularly great out here. Other places, you’ll see some house pets. Here we have horses and donkeys, too.”

The Mattituck ceremony was one of several blessings held on the North Fork this weekend, along with events at Old Steeple Community Church in Aquebogue and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Greenport.

09/29/13 12:10pm
09/29/2013 12:10 PM
VERA CHINESE PHOTO | The Times/Review Newsgroup team celebrates its victory in the first ever East End Media Kickball Tournament.

VERA CHINESE PHOTO | The Times/Review Newsgroup team celebrates its victory in the first ever East End Media Kickball Tournament. From left: managing editor Joseph Pinciaro, northforker.com editor Matt Kapelas, reporter Cyndi Murray, executive editor Grant Parpan, reporter Rachel Young, reporter Paul Squire, reporter Carrie Miller, account executive Erica Brower, account executive Tina Volinski, reporter Tim Gannon, classified executive Kim Volinski and publisher Andrew Olsen.

It was a tournament with home plate collisions, a triple play,  trash talking, several controversial foul calls and requests to verify players’ documentation. No, not the Little League World Series or the Major League Baseball postseason. We’re talking about the first ever East End Media Kickball Tournament.

When the final run crossed home plate the Times/Review Newsgroup team, featuring staff members from the Riverhead News-Review and The Suffolk Times, was presented a trophy as the undefeated champion of the three-team double elimination tournament.

“We were a great team both on and off the field,” declared Times/Review reporter Rachel Young, the team’s self-appointed spokesperson.

The idea for the tournament, which was played at the North Sea Community House in Southampton, was first conceived by editors of The Press News Group of Southampton and Times/Review Newsgroup at a hotel bar in Saratoga, N.Y. last spring. Representatives of fellow East End newspaper The Sag Harbor Express agreed to field a team and the event was organized by Press executive editor Joe Shaw.

Mr. Shaw said despite his team’s loss in the championship round, he was excited to see the tournament run smoothly.

“I’m glad nobody twisted an ankle,” he said afterward. “I definitely thought we were going to have to call an ambulance.”

While no 911 call was ever placed, several calls were made at the last moment to secure an actual kickball after Mr. Shaw showed up at the field with several rubber supermarket bouncie balls.

“You can’t play kickball with those,” protested Sag Harbor Express publisher Bryan Boyhan.

By the start of the second inning of Game One, the useless rubber ball was replaced with an actual kickball and the action continued.

The Times/Review squad won the championship with victories of 7-1 over Southampton, 4-1 over Sag Harbor and 12-9 over Southampton in the final game. Southampton defeated Sag Harbor 6-4 in the semifinals.

Times/Review left fielder Kim Volinski was awarded tournament MVP by an unofficial vote of the awards committee. The classified executive and former college soccer player kicked a home run and wowed the crowd with several dazzling outfield catches.

Northforker.com editor Matt Kapelas won the Golden Hands award for his stellar play at third base for Times/Review.

The Play of the Tournament award was given to the Sag Harbor Express infield for turning a triple play against Times/Review.

Press News Group account executive Keith Schultz was awarded the Silver Slugger award for his dramatic home run in the semifinal game.

Sag Harbor Express account executive Terry McShane of Mattituck was awarded Potluck MVP honors for arriving with one of his Lickitty-Splitz Ice Cream Cartz.

Also of note from the tournament was the absence of Southampton Press Western Edition editor Frank Costanza, who was said to sit out the tournament as he begins his annual Festivus preparations. Times/Review web editor Joe Werkmeister, an absolute sports fanatic, was also curiously absent from the tournament, but a World Adult Kickball Association source said he was “werking.”

“We came in saying we just gotta take it one game at a time,” said Times/Review captain and executive editor Grant Parpan. “It’s a shame there had to be a winner, really, but I’m glad it was us.”

09/29/13 9:58am
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The Massoud family at the 30th anniversary celebration of Paumanok Vineyards Saturday night.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | The Massoud family at the 30th anniversary celebration of Paumanok Vineyards Saturday night.

Paumanok Vineyards celebrated its 30th anniversary Saturday night with a gala party to thank local chefs for their years of support. The Massoud family, owners of the Aquebogue vineyard, will donate all proceeds from the event to Peconic Bay Medical Center.

SEE PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT AT NORTHFORKER.COM

Several hundred guests gathered under a festive white tent at the edge of the vineyard and were treated to tastings from some of Long Island’s most celebrated chefs, including many from the North Fork.

READ HOW PAUMANOK GOT ITS START

Master of Ceremonies Doug Geed, anchorman for News 12 and host of The East End, spoke of his affection for the North Fork and for the Massoud family, whom he has known for over 25 years.

Peconic Bay Medical Center president and CEO Andrew Mitchell gave a short and sometimes funny history of the Massoud family’s journey and of winemaking on Long Island.

Suffolk County legislator Al Krupski presented the Massouds with a proclamation and brought the entire family up to the stage to receive it.

FOLLOW NORTHFORKER ON TWITTER

09/28/13 6:27pm
09/28/2013 6:27 PM

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Grand Marshal Michael DeNicolo, left, during Saturday’s parade.

Flanders Fire Department commemorated its 65th anniversary with a parade and party Saturday afternoon.

Dozens of fire departments from as far away as New Jersey joined in the celebratory parade, which made its way up Flanders Road from Longneck Boulevard to the Big Duck Ranch.

Two longtime members of the Flanders Fire Department were honored at the parade. Michael DeNicolo, who has 65 years with the department, and David Fox, who has been with the department for 48 years, both acted as Grand Marshals.

09/23/13 9:13am
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Downtown Greenport was the site of the 24th Maritime Festival this past weekend.

KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO | Downtown Greenport was the site of the 24th Maritime Festival this past weekend.

East End Seaport Museum and the Village of Greenport hosted the 24th annual Maritime Festival this weekend.

The festival featured ship tours, artisan craft vendors, live music, pirate shows, boat races, children’s storytelling, contests, demonstrations and exhibits. Lighthouse tours to ‘Bug’ Light will take place at 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

New events this year, both in Mitchell Park, included the children’s Little Merfolk contest and an oyster shucking demonstration and exhibit.

09/22/13 2:30pm
09/22/2013 2:30 PM
TIM GANNON PHOTO | Bikers arrive at The Maples in Manorville, the second stop of a charity poker run to defray medical costs of Tom Jasinski, a longtime Riverhead Firefighter who recently died.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Bikers arrive at The Maples in Manorville, the second stop of a charity poker run to defray medical costs of Tom Jasinski, a longtime Riverhead Firefighter who recently died.

Saturday’s “Fighting 4 TJ” Poker Biker Run at the Elks Club in Riverhead was originally supposed to be a fundraiser to help Flanders resident and former Riverhead Fire Department volunteer Tom Jasinski offset the costs associated with his battle against stage 4 metastatic lung cancer.

Instead it became a memorial for Mr. Jasinski who died Sept. 3, a day before the event received approvals from Riverhead Town.

Marianne Katusha, Mr. Jasinski’s fiance, organized the event and she says the money will still be used to pay Mr. Jasinski’s $25,000 in medical bills.

Mr. Jasinski was only diagnosed with cancer in May, and his condition worsened quickly, she said.

“This was supposed to be a surprise,” she said of the fundraiser. “But at the end, I told him, because I wanted to see if I could give him some more incentive to live, but the cancer just ate him up.”

Mr. Jasinski was a 22-year member of the Riverhead Fire Department and a retired Riverhead Central School District security guard. Members of the security department were on hand Saturday to help set up at the fundraiser.

“He was the most courageous man I’ve ever met,” Ms. Katusha said of Mr. Jasinski. “He was my hero. He was the love of my life and the only man I’ve ever loved. This man, knowing he had terminal stage 4 metastatic lung cancer, drove 1,000 miles twice to take all of our belongings to Tennessee, which was the new home I had bought for us.”

“He was a former  Riverhead fireman for 22 years and he was at the 1995 wildfires,” Ms. Katusha said. “He was there every single day until those fires were put out. He was ready to roll out for 9/11  (2001) but his company got called back at the last minute.”

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Marianne Katusha, left, signs up bikers at a charity Poker Run to offset medical costs of her late fiance, Tom Jasinski, Saturday, at the Riverhead Elks Lodge. With her are Mr. Jasinski's daughter, Jackie Guastella, and granddaughter, Kailie Guastella.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Marianne Katusha, left, signs up bikers at a charity Poker Run to offset medical costs of her late fiance, Tom Jasinski, Saturday, at the Riverhead Elks Lodge. With her are Mr. Jasinski’s daughter, Jackie Guastella, and granddaughter, Kailie Guastella.

Mr. Jasinski was a father of four and grandfather of six. His daughter Jackie Guastella and granddaughter, Kailie Guastella, were on hand Saturday to help with the fundraiser.

The Poker Run started at the Elks Club on East Main Street in Riverhead where motorcycle riders (or car drivers, which was allowed) picked up the first of six cards they would collect. The other cards were at check-in posts at the Boardy Barn in Hampton Bays, The Maples in Manorville, Cliff’s Elbow Room in Jamesport, Meetinghouse Creek Inn in Aquebogue and Diggers in Riverhead. Whoever had the best hand at the end won.

About 40 riders participated, Mr. Katusha said.

In addition to the poker run, where participants paid a $20 entry fee, there also was a 50-50 raffle and a Chinese Auction. More than 50 raffle items and 50 gift cards were donated to the event, Ms. Katusha said.

She said she was disappointed with the turnout for the fundraiser, but acknowledged that it took place at the same time as a number of other big events, including the Maritime Festival in Greenport and a 100th Anniversary Parade for the Eastport Fire Department. She said Saturday was the only day available for the event.

People interested in helping defray Mr. Jasinski’s medical costs can still do so by going to www.giveforward.com/fighting4tjmemorial or by sending donations by mail to Fighting for TJ, at PO Box 562, Riverhead, NY 11901, according to Ms. Katusha.

tgannon@timesreview.com