08/03/14 8:00am
08/03/2014 8:00 AM
A view of Bailie Beach in Mattituck (Credit: Carrie Miller, file)

A view of Bailie Beach in Mattituck (Credit: Carrie Miller, file)

Any conversation about sewage management in Suffolk County should begin with the current state of our waters. In conformance with the federal Clean Water Act, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation assesses water bodies throughout the state. Numerous water bodies throughout Long Island are classified as “Impaired Waters” (303d list).  (more…)

08/02/14 8:00am
08/02/2014 8:00 AM
Wedel Signs workers installing the Veterans Memorial Park last April in Calverton. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch photo)

Veterans Memorial Park in Calverton serves as host for Riverhead softball games.
(Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Bobby Jones, the famous amateur golfer and co-founder of Augusta National Golf Club, once said, “Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots. But you have to play the ball where it lies.”  (more…)

07/29/14 6:00am
07/29/2014 6:00 AM


A group of Congressional representatives led by Tim Bishop of Southampton is calling on the federal government not to sell Plum Island, as it plans, but to put it under the jurisdiction of a “federal agency such as the U.S. National Park Service or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.” In their June 30 letter to the House and Senate appropriation committees, the representatives says they “remain deeply concerned” about the “ecological value” of Plum Island.  (more…)

07/25/14 8:00am
07/25/2014 8:00 AM
FILE PHOTO | The state capitol in Albany.

FILE PHOTO | The state capitol in Albany.

“Anywhere he wants to.” That’s the punch line of the ancient joke about where an 800 -pound gorilla sits.

In our neighborhood, the big bully is Agriculture & Markets, the state agency tasked with “foster[ing] a competitive food and agriculture industry.”  (more…)

07/23/14 7:00am
07/23/2014 7:00 AM
Kimogener Point on the Bay off New Suffolk Avenue. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

Kimogener Point on the Bay off New Suffolk Avenue. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch, file)

The only Long Islander running statewide on a major party ticket this year, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, a Democrat, was on the East End last week.

It was an unusual political happening since he was introduced by the top Republican officeholder in Suffolk County government, Joseph Sawicki, and because of the different constituencies involved in the event.  (more…)

07/20/14 8:00am
07/20/2014 8:00 AM
Columnist James Varney said recently that he believes intellectual diversity might not be welcome thing on Long Island's East End.

Columnist James Varney said recently that he believes intellectual diversity might not be welcome thing on Long Island’s East End.

I read with amazement the News-Review article about New Orleans columnist James Varney, who penned a column in his home paper about his negative experience after visiting Riverhead for a wedding.

Mr. Varney’s column in the Times-Picayune of New Orleans titled “The Long Island Internet Blues” indicates that while staying at the Hyatt East End in Riverhead, he was not able to access some conservative websites. He theorized that the hotel, by design, prevented him from doing so and allowed Internet access only to liberal-leaning web sites.

Mr. Varney did not stop there. He continued in his rant and went on to write that “in the big money enclaves of Long Island the concept of diversity may be revered. Intellectual diversity, on the other hand, not so much.”

Give me a break. As a card-carrying liberal Democrat and resident of Riverhead, I feel compelled to respond and defend Riverhead from this big fool from the Big Easy.

As the News-Review article correctly pointed out, there are far more registered Republicans in the Town of Riverhead than Democrats. Supervisor Sean Walter and the entire Town Board are Republicans. As far as Mr. Varney’s characterization of Riverhead as a “big money” enclave, I think most town residents, including myself, would be shocked to learn that we live in a big money enclave. The truth is that Riverhead is a working class community with a very diverse population that encourages and allows a wide range of political beliefs. In my humble opinion, it is a good place to live.

I understand that during his visit to Riverhead, Mr. Varney had some additional observations that supported his belief that Riverhead was a bastion of liberalism. On a visit to the aquarium he noted that most of the fish swam to the left. While driving around town, he thought there were just too many no-right-on-red signs. He was also shocked that he could not find a single citizen openly carrying a gun. My comments are — I hope, clearly — tongue-in-cheek, but illustrate the absurdity of some of what Mr. Varney writes about Riverhead.

I truly wonder what motivated him to target our little hamlet? Did he not have a good time during his visit? Was he disappointed that, unlike in New Orleans, he could not walk around town with an open container of alcohol? Was the Po’ Boy he got at the neighboring Subway not to his liking? Was he disappointed that, unlike New Orleans, Riverhead does not have a big gambling casino in the middle of town? I also question why being unable to access a specific website on a hotel computer was so important for a professional journalist in this age of smartphones and iPads.

I would like to respectfully suggest to Mr. Varney that he consider concentrating his criticisms and writings on his hometown of New Orleans. There appears to be plenty of fodder in the Big Easy to fill many columns. Earlier this month, nine people were shot on Bourbon Street after a gunfight between two men in the heart of the tourist district. In April of this year, the New Orleans Police Department entered into a consent agreement with the federal government that permits the Justice Department to monitor police activities in the city after a multi-year investigation concluded that the New Orleans Police Department engaged in a pattern of conduct that violated the Constitution and federal laws.

In conclusion, I think Mr. Varney owes the Town of Riverhead and its citizens an apology for falsely representing the values for which our community stands. Perhaps he would consider shipping us a large amount of crawfish for a good old-fashioned crawfish boil in the middle of town as a token of his sincerity.

R0815_JERRY-BILINKSKI_C1-150x150Jerry Bilinski is a case manager with a nonprofit group that advocates for incarcerated and mentally ill people. He lives in Riverhead.