04/29/10 12:00am
04/29/2010 12:00 AM

A public hearing on a draft master plan for Jamesport State Park, which under that proposal would be renamed Hallock State Park Preserve, has been set for May 18.

The hearing, held by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Naugles Barn at Hallockville Museum Farm on Sound Avenue in Riverhead.

Under the proposed plan, the entire 220-acre park would be classified as a nature preserve and would include trails for hiking, walking and horseback riding with the proper permit,

Scuba diving and fishing in Long Island Sound would be allowed with a permit, although fishing, scuba diving, boating and bathing would all be prohibited at Hallock’s Pond, according to the proposal. Biking and ATV vehicles will not be permitted at the park.

The state, which bought the property in 2002, has earmarked more than $4 million to build infrastructure, maintain the land and construct an environmental education center.

The property, which is actually in Northville, stretches from Sound Avenue to the Sound and includes open plains, a tidal pond, thick woods and a mile-long stretch of pristine beach. It has previously been used for farming, sand mining and as a summer camp, according to the master plan summary.

Copies of the draft plan are available at Wildwood State Park, Riverhead Free Library and online at http://nysparks.com/inside-our-agency/public-documents.aspx

Those who wish to comment but can’t attend the hearing can mail statements to Ronald Foley, Regional Director, NYS OPRHP Long Island Region, Regional Headquarters, 625 Belmont Ave., Babylon, NY 11704.


04/29/10 12:00am

The penalty assessed for losing a ball in the lights Friday night at Jean W. Cochran Park in Peconic? Getting hit by a pitch the next time at bat.

Nowhere in the baseball rule book does it mention this as being an infraction, nor is there an official punishment for such an error. It just happened to work out that way for both right fielders, Bishop McGann-Mercy’s Tom Tenaglia and Southold’s Luke Hokanson, in the First Settlers’ 7-5 win over the Monarchs.

Tenaglia was the first one to lose a fly ball in the lights. With the bases loaded in the bottom of the first inning, Southold’s John Dunne launched a 1-0 fastball from Al Yabakowski to deep right field. Tenaglia settled under it, but as he looked up, the ball was nowhere to be seen. That is, until it glanced off his glove, hit him in the face and rolled away. By the time center fielder Pat Stepnoski retrieved it, Dunne had a three-run triple to put the First Settlers up, 4-0.

“He was definitely right under it,” Monarchs Coach Ed Meier said of Tenaglia. “He has the bump to prove it. It was a lot of contact with him and the baseball today.”

Yabakowski had a hard time finding the plate in the first inning as he issued two walks and gave up three hits for the Monarchs (5-3 overall, 3-3 in Suffolk County League VIII). He gave up two more runs in the first inning as the First Settlers sent 10 batters to the plate and took a 6-1 lead.

Yabakowski’s counterpart on the mound, Shaun Hansen, had his own troubles through the first two innings for Southold (4-5, 4-3).

“It was definitely discouraging,” Hansen said. “Definitely some ugly baseball.”

Said Meier: “That was kind of like a circus there. Then we started to play some real baseball and it was fun.”

Hansen started the second inning by striking out two of the first three batters he faced. Just as quickly as it seemed he had regained his control after walking three batters in the first inning, Hansen lost it again. He walked a batter, gave up a single and then beaned Tenaglia. The first two pitches of the at-bat were high and inside.

With the bases loaded, Monarchs third baseman Chris Sachalk hit a fly ball to right field. Hokanson started to his left, then reversed field, but never found the ball. It rolled to the fence for a three-run double.

“I’m not going to give him the benefit of the doubt on that,” said Southold Coach Mike Carver, whose team suffered a 6-3 loss to the Pierson/Bridgehampton Whalers on Tuesday. “He should have caught that ball.”

Hansen ended the inning with another strikeout, but Southold’s lead had been cut to 6-5. That was one of 13 strikeouts Hansen notched on the evening. He also walked seven batters, five of them in the first two innings, during which he threw 71 of his 134 pitches. Nearly half of them were balls.

“You could say it’s a little bit sore,” Hansen said of his right arm. “I’m definitely going to feel it tomorrow morning.”

After his adventures in right field, Hokanson led off the second inning for Southold. On a 2-2 count, a curveball from Yabakowski hit Hokanson under the left eye. He crumpled to the ground. He managed to leave the field under his own power. After a brief pit stop in the dugout for some ice, Hokanson left the park with an ice pack over his mouth to go to the hospital as a precautionary measure.

“Hopefully there won’t be any fractures,” Carver said.

Once the game resumed, Yabakowski settled down, going six innings and allowing just one more run. Unfortunately for him, Hansen’s wildness had also disappeared. The Monarchs managed only one hit off him in the last five innings. Hansen struck out the side in the fourth and sixth innings.

“He pitched well,” Carver said. “He got stronger as he went on.”

The Monarchs threatened briefly in the fifth inning, getting men on first and second base with one out. But Hansen got Ian Traynor to ground into an inning-ending double play. Another double play in the seventh ended any hopes the Monarchs had of a comeback.

“That was a good win,” Carver said. “That’s going to be a momentum-builder right there.”

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04/29/10 12:00am

Concerned parents say extreme instances of bullying, even involving weapons, at Phillips Avenue Elementary School in Riverside have been overlooked for years.

“My child was a quarter of an inch away from being ripped open with a knife,” said Kenneth Alfano, whose child is a special needs student in kindergarten at Phillips Avenue Elementary School.

His child had come “home with a leather jacket sliced from neck to belly,” Mr. Alfano told the Riverhead Board of Education Tuesday night. The incident happened about a month ago, apparently at a bus stop in the afternoon, he said, adding that he’d spoken to school officials about it and even called the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office.

“I feel I’ve gotten nothing but a lot of lip service,” he told the school board Tuesday.

Mr. Alfano was one of three people who addressed the board about bullying at Phillips Avenue.

Parent Sue Tocci said her third-grade son has been bullied since he was in kindergarten at the school and little had been done about it.

“My son begged me in tears to remove him from the school,” she said. Ms. Tocci said her son is traumatized and fears bullies will follow him home.

“As the years have gone by, the bullying, hitting and stealing has been brushed under the rug with no consequences,” Ms. Tocci said.

Her son has been hit with a belt that another student brought as a weapon, he’s been kicked in the groin, put in headlocks until he fell to the ground, and punched over the past four years, she said.

“This has gone way beyond bullying,” Mr. Alfano said. “There are weapons in that school at the kindergarten level. Something needs to be done.”

Yvette Tirado, a district bus driver, told the board that she’d reported children for bullying many times and nothing had happened. She was even accused of writing too many reports.

“Children are in fear to speak about what’s going on,” she said.

Ms. Tocci said that four years ago, she was approached by a parent outside the school who told her another woman outside the school had a gun and “was there to get my diamonds.”

She reported that to the principal’s office, and instead of calling the police, someone from the office asked her a day later to describe the woman and then said, “I thought so.”

Ms. Tocci said the situation had improved in the past month, after she met with new Phillips Avenue principal Patricia Nugent, but that her son is still traumatized.

Board members would not allow Ms. Tocci to discuss school personnel by name. Ms. Nugent replaced Thomas Payton as principal in January. He had held the post since April 2005, and was reassigned for undisclosed reasons.

“Steps have been taken that appear to be somewhat successful, but perhaps not as successful as they need to be,” school board president Angela DeVito said. She recommended that Ms. Tocci continue the dialogue she’s had with school officials so that “perhaps this instance of what appears to be extreme bullying in that school can be ended.”

“I’m sorry I didn’t know sooner,” board member Chrissy Prete said. “But I can tell you right now, this board had better make sure that bullying ends.”

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04/29/10 12:00am

As the Riverhead and Longwood high school girls golf teams were on the second hole at Cherry Creek Golf Links last Thursday, lightning crackled across the sky, stopping play on the Riverhead course. The match will be replayed on May 3.

Longwood (3-3, 3-3 in Suffolk County League III), having opened the season with the toughest part of its schedule, still has a legitimate shot of making the playoffs. Coach Gary Zamek’s team has been led by juniors Emily Gurrahan and Athena Fuentes, along with freshman Cassidy Fitzgerald.

“Emily has an all-around good game,” Zamek said. “She is averaging 7-over par on the nine-hole courses. Athena averages 11-over par, but she and Cassidy thrive on the longer courses.”

Zamek believes that if his team, which plays its home matches at Rolling Oaks Golf Course, can split its final four matches, it can have a shot at making the county tournament.

Meanwhile, young Riverhead (0-5, 0-5), while still winless, is getting better each week. Riverhead Coach Rich Gebhardt praised the play of eighth-grader Kaylee Wells, junior Jessica Langdon and freshman Karla Reyes.

“Kaylee is playing very well,” Gebhardt said. “She has won her last two matches. She knows the game. She gets the ball where she wants to get it. Kaylee does what she has to do to win.”

Langdon, the No. 1 player, has the ability, Gebhardt said, to score in the low 50s.

“Jessica is also hitting the ball well,” he said. “She is showing great promise.”

Reyes’ swing keeps getting better and better. “Karla has gotten her swing down,” Gebhardt said. “She has come a long way. I am confident she is going to be one of the better players.”

Gebhardt said, “Golf is a hard game for anyone to play, for a lot of our beginners there are so many things they need to learn and get better at, things like consistency and course management and getting their swings down right. They basically play by themselves. They have to have the discipline to cut down on their mistakes in order to win.”

Gebhardt firmly believes his team is heading in the right direction.

“Absolutely, we are,” he said. “Once we get a win, it will come. If the girls all stick together, next year we’ll be right there.”

04/29/10 12:00am

Joey Fulcoly of Riverhead tried to penetrate the Commack defense.

One might think that lacrosse wouldn’t be a sport for someone with two bad knees, but Kyle Patterson knows better.

Patterson, a senior attackman for the Riverhead Blue Waves, knows a lot of things. The holder of a 101 grade-point average, Patterson is ranked 12th in his class academically. He had been injury free until two years ago when he was tripped up in practice and ended up tearing a ligament in his right knee, requiring surgery and costing him half of his sophomore season. Then, over the winter, Patterson hurt the other knee. He said he doesn’t know what the problem is with that knee.

But Patterson hasn’t allowed his knee troubles to keep him off the field. He plays with two knee braces (the one for his right knee is custom made). Without the braces, Patterson said, he can barely run. With the braces, he gives everything he has to help the Blue Waves.

“He’s playing great,” Riverhead Coach Tony Lawrence said. “He’s doing all he can. He sets an example of what it is to work hard. He’s had to overcome adversity with both knees.”

Patterson’s postgame routine involves icing the knees, taking a pain reliever, and hoping “it don’t hurt too bad the next morning … Whenever I get up in the morning, they’re sore, and I just think I need to get through the day and they’ll be good.”

Patterson, who plans to play club lacrosse for Union College in Schenectady next season, has produced three goals and three assists through the first eight games of what has been a season of adversity for Riverhead. One of those assists came on Friday, another rough day for Riverhead. The Blue Waves committed 26 turnovers, made mental and physical errors and took their sixth loss in eight games, 11-3, to the Commack Cougars in a Suffolk County Division I game at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field in Riverhead.

Commack (4-5, 4-4) burst out to a 6-0 lead by halftime and didn’t look in danger of losing it.

Timothy Smith scored three goals from 15 shots and assisted on another to lead Commack. Keith McNierney produced two goals, three assists and seven ground balls, and Chris Fast and Brett Shukri added two goals apiece for the Cougars. David Murphy assisted on four of the game’s first five goals and scored the sixth himself.

Mario Carrera won 12 of 14 face-offs, scooped up 10 ground balls and assisted on Riverhead’s first goal by Mike Maiorano. Travis Baskin and Nick Panagakos were Riverhead’s other goal scorers. Riverhead goalkeeper Kyle Hubbard, who played most of the game before being substituted for by Cody Haas in the fourth quarter, was kept busy with 19 saves.

Matt Brendel (three saves) and Michael Moll (five) split time in the Commack goal.

Commack outshot Riverhead, 44-16.

“This was definitely one of our strongest games so far,” said Smith, a senior midfielder. “We came out strong, moved the ball well. We drove to the net and got a lot of goals.”

Commack Coach Nick Alvarado said the second win in a row for his team, which had lost in its three previous meetings with Riverhead, was important.

“It’s one of our better performances this year,” he said. “I think a big thing with our team is, obviously if you look back at the record, it’s just that learning to win.”

Riverhead (2-7, 1-6) could relate. The Blue Waves suffered another loss on Tuesday, 9-8 to the North Babylon Bulldogs (1-8, 1-7).

Lawrence said this has been the most challenging season yet in Riverhead’s seven-year varsity history.

“I think the hustle is there, the dedication is there,” he said. “It’s just the wins are not coming.”

The coach added: “It’s hard. When you’re winning, nobody can complain. What are they going to say to you? When you lose, then everybody points a finger. The main thing is I don’t want these kids to get down, and I don’t want people to start pointing fingers. It’s just a tough situation for us right now, really tough.”

Patterson has helped make things a little easier, though, thanks to his efforts.

“We’ve been playing some tough teams, but at the same time we haven’t been doing as well as we think we should,” said Patterson, who as a third grader played for Riverhead’s first Police Athletic League team. “We have all the potential; we just haven’t been able to put it together.”

Patterson said he wished he was faster. Lawrence, however, values him for so much else.

“Even though he’s not the most fleet-footed of guys out there, you take what he gives you because you know … he’s giving 110 percent,” Lawrence said. “That’s all I could ask for.”

04/29/10 12:00am

Diane Scricca (left) and Nancy Carney at the Riverhead school board meeting Tuesday night, after Ms. Carney was voted in as the next superintendent of schools, taking Dr. Scricca’s place.

Nancy Carney will be the Riverhead School District’s new superintendent on July 1, when current superintendent Diane Scricca retires.

The school board on Tuesday unanimously appointed Ms. Carney to the superintendent post, despite some rumblings during the past few weeks over the way the selection was made. The board also was unanimous in accepting Dr. Scricca’s retirement.

Ms. Carney came to the district about six years ago, serving as assistant superintendent for curriculum and instruction until last year, when she was promoted to deputy superintendent.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am to be accepting this position,” Ms. Carney told the board Tuesday. “I absolutely love this district. I’m going to give my heart and soul to what I do as the superintendent of schools. We have a lot of challenges ahead of us.”

“She’s an excellent instructional leader and I have every confidence that she could continue what we’ve started,” Dr. Scricca said of Ms. Carney in an interview with the News-Review last Thursday. “This isn’t a change; this is a succession. When you assign someone to a deputy post, you’re designating the person as the heir apparent.”

Board member Ann Cotten-DeGrasse had been critical of the process of appointing someone to the superintendent seat without advertising the opening. But, she said, she had no problem with appointing Ms. Carney.

“I thought the job should be posted. However, I don’t have any reservations at all about Nancy Carney becoming out next superintendent,” she said Tuesday. “I’m voting to support Ms. Carney’s appointment.”

Dr. Scricca’s retirement comes at the end of her third year as Riverhead superintendent. She had frequently said she planned to stay here a long time.

But that feeling obviously changed.

“We’ve accomplished a lot in the last three years, really maybe more than I would have thought,” she said Thursday. “But it’s really difficult to battle every single day, and we’ve won most of the battles, but it takes a lot of joy out of the daily job.”

Dr. Scricca, who clashed frequently with the teachers’ union on layoffs, restructuring and disciplinary actions, isn’t planning to work in another district, but rather will pursue teaching at colleges while “working with national organizations in trying to close the achievement gap,” she said.

In her retirement letter to the board, Dr. Scricca noted that during her tenure, the district made gains both in academic achievement and in curbing spending.

“While we have strengthened our schools, we have been most responsive to our taxpayers by providing three budgets that have been fiscally responsible to them,” she wrote. “This year, we will have one of the lowest increases on Long Island.”

“We could not have asked for a better successor to Dr. Scricca than you,” board member Chrissy Prete told Ms. Carney.

“I’m extraordinarily proud of the work that we do here in the Riverhead district, of our students, of our faculty, and I’m just so excited about the future,” Ms. Carney said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”

Ms. Prete also said she felt that “Dr. Scricca has done more in three years than any other superintendent in the past 15 years.”

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04/29/10 12:00am

A bye week can be a blessing or a curse.

The Riverhead Blue Waves baseball team went into last week’s bye week having won just two out of three games against the West Babylon Eagles the week before. So the Blue Waves were raring to go on Tuesday with the start of a three-game Suffolk County League IV series with the Copiague Eagles.

But Mother Nature had other ideas. The opening game of the series, scheduled for Copiague, was postponed a day because of a wet field. The second game will be in Riverhead today, with the finale in Copiague (3-6, 3-6) tomorrow.

The Blue Waves (5-3, 3-3) have been led by their three starting pitchers, Greg Zilnicki (2-1, 1.30 earned run average), Steve Kimmelman (2-0, 3.10) and Mike Napoli (1-2, 3.65).

“Our pitching has been great,” Riverhead Coach Rob Maccone said. “Greg is our ace. He’s got great control. He has a good off-speed pitch and a good fastball. Steve throws hard and has a good change-up. Mike is the hardest thrower on our staff, and he has a good curve.”

Defensively, after a rough first week, Riverhead has settled down nicely.

“The first series, our defense cost us some runs that hurt us,” Maccone said. “But against West Babylon, we made a couple of errors, but it didn’t kill us. Without some of those errors, we could be 5 and 1 this season.”

While Maccone said his team’s bats have been hot and cold, Kimmelman (.500 batting average) and Jon Tucci (.425) have been hitting the ball well. Zilnicki and Nick Renck have each belted home runs.

One of the things Maccone stressed to his players in practice before the season started was the importance of doing “the little things right.” While the Blue Waves haven’t bunted much so far, Maccone likes the way they have hit and run, and stolen bases.

Maccone said his team is “a little behind where I thought we’d be at this point in the season.” Nonetheless, he believes the Blue Waves will make a run at the playoffs.

“We’ve got two tough series ahead with Half Hollow Hills West [5-4, 5-4] and Smithtown West [7-2, 7-2],” Maccone said. “But we also have Copiague and Deer Park [1-7, 0-6]. We need to go 7-5 [in league play]. We should be all right. This is certainly doable.”

04/29/10 12:00am

Greg Meyer found his future. It lies beyond the Adirondack Mountains, near the St. Lawrence River.

St. Lawrence University will be the next football stop for the Riverhead High School senior. Meyer has committed to play for the Division III team. A visit to the campus in Canton, N.Y., in February convinced him.

“When I went to St. Lawrence, I knew that it was a fit for me,” he said. “That’s definitely where I want to end up. After I visited, it just felt like home to me.”

Meyer was an all-county running back/defensive back for the Blue Waves last season. He was named the team’s offensive most valuable player, and received a scholar-athlete award from the National Football Foundation. “I thought he had a great year his senior year,” Riverhead Coach Leif Shay said. “We’re excited for him.”

Shay said Meyer is physically prepared for the next level of football. When it comes to the greatest attribute that Meyer brings to St. Lawrence, Shay left no doubt about what that might be.

“It’s his toughness, no doubt about it,” Shay said. “I don’t even think the kid feels pain, to be honest with you.”

Meyer, who wants to major in engineering, is excited about this next chapter in his life.

“You know me, my heart’s definitely with football,” he said. “I love playing football. I just can’t wait to get back in the fold.”

“I’ve been playing football all my life, and I just don’t really want it to end yet, so I guess it’s a dream,” he continued. “I want my dream to keep going.”

Meyer will join a team that went 3-7 last season. The Saints envision using him as a defensive back, he said.

“It’s about 35, 40 minutes from Canada, so it’s a hike,” he said. “The only thing is it’s really cold up there. When I went up there it was like four degrees.”


Riverhead senior linebacker Malcolm Cater, who will play for Syracuse University next season, will get a preview of his new home. Cater has been selected to play in the Upstate/Downstate Football Classic, which will be played June 6 in the Carrier Dome, showcasing New York State’s top seniors. Cater, who was a co-winner of the Hansen Award, which goes to the top player in Suffolk County, will also play for the Long Island team that will take on New York City in the Outback Steakhouse Empire Challenge at Hofstra University on June 22.

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