06/30/10 12:00am
06/30/2010 12:00 AM

Les Howard at the Rafael Vineyard in Peconic.

Leslie Howard, long-time Long Island winemaker, has been appointed winemaker at Raphael vineyard and winery estate in Peconic.
Mr. Howard, 35, has also has worked for Pindar Vineyards, Osprey’s Dominion, W

06/29/10 12:00am
06/29/2010 12:00 AM

Capital One announced last week it will lay off 29 local employees.

In compliance with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, the New York State Labor Department has disclosed that 29 layoffs are planned by Capital One Bank on the North Fork in September and December.
The act that took effect in February 2009 requires that companies employing at least 50 workers and anticipating layoffs of at least 25 file at least a 90-day notice of that intent with the Labor Department. Those filings are publicized on the department’s website.
Seven people will lose their jobs on or about Sept. 3, with another 22 getting pink slips on Dec. 17, according to the list, which was based on a letter from Capital One officials to the Labor Department, according to its rapid response specialist Frederick Danks.
The reason given for the layoffs, according to the department’s listing, is the economy. It appears that the September layoffs all will be at the bank’s headquarters in Mattituck; only the headquarters at 9025 Main Road is listed as being affected. It was unclear whether the December layoffs would affect branch offices as well.
The contact person at Capital One, vice president for project management Darrell Dragon, hasn’t returned several calls for comment.
The notice indicates that none of the employees to be laid off are union members. They won’t have “bumping rights”

06/29/10 12:00am

Eagle Auto owner Mark Calisi has some pre-owned Chrysler’s at the dealership in Riverhead and will be getting new models in 40 to 60 days.

Of the 789 car dealers nationwide who lost their Chrysler franchises as part of that company’s bankruptcy process, only 15 so far have been awarded them back.
Eagle Auto Mall of Riverhead is one of them.
Owner Mark Calisi said he found out last Wednesday that an arbitrator had given him back his Chrysler Jeep franchise on Route 58.
“Probably about 25 people, including both employees and vendors, will be positively affected by this ruling,” Mr. Calisi said Tuesday.
The arbitration process was ordered by Congress after Chrysler, of which the government owns 10 percent, agreed to follow one bankruptcy plan but then executed another, according to Mr. Calisi.
“Chrysler had said it was eliminating dealers that were poor performers and that multi-lined,” Mr. Calisi said, referring to dealers who sell other brands, as does he. But it allowed some poorly performing dealers, and some multi-line dealers, to keep their franchises. “What was happening across the country was so egregious that Congress had to step in,” he said.
U.S. Senator Charles Schumer’s office was very helpful in getting Eagle through the arbitration process, Mr. Calisi said.
Chrysler’s ownership is now divided among the United Auto Workers (55 percent), Fiat (35 percent), and the United States (10 percent).
During arbitration, it was determined that some of the dealers who multi-lined were allowed to keep their franchises, and in other cases, Chrysler even added new multi-line dealers, Mr. Calisi said. Eagle Auto Mall also couldn’t be called a poor performer, Mr. Calisi asserted.
“At one point, we were more than 200 percent higher than the minimum performance standards set by Chrysler,” he said. “We also exceeded by millions what Chrysler required us to have available in working capital.”
Yet some of the dealers who kept their franchises were below the performance requirements, he said.
“None of it made sense,” Mr. Calisi said.
The arbitration process took two days, on June 6 and 7, and the decision was rendered on June 23. More than 200 dealerships reportedly have appealed the company’s decision to strip their Chrysler franchises. Eagle Auto Mall had between $18 million and $20 million in lost revenue as a result of losing the franchise, Mr. Calisi claimed.
The irony of the decision was that, with no other Chrysler Jeep dealer in the area, customers would buy another brand of car, Mr. Calisi said. In addition, when he bought inventory from Chrysler, it made money, which the company could use to pay down its debt.
A silver lining that resulted from the temporary loss of his right to sell new Chryslers was that Eagle Auto Mall became the largest dealer of pre-owned Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge cars in the northeast, Mr. Calisi said.
Eagle Auto Mall also got back its franchise to sell GEM cars, which is Chrysler’s electric car line.
In addition to Chrysler, Jeep and GEM cars, Eagle Auto Mall also sells new cars from Chevrolet, Mazda, Volvo and Kia.
Mr. Calisi said he expects to begin receiving new Chrysler cars within the next 40 to 60 days as a result of the ruling. And he says he’s looking forward to it.
“Chrysler is a great company with a great product and all I want to do is sell them.”
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06/28/10 12:00am
06/28/2010 12:00 AM

Participants in the first Cardboard Boat Race on the Peconic
River, an event which drew 1,000 people to downtown Riverhead

A yellow submarine, a Tahitian style raft and a Viking ship were some of the more eye-catching entries in Riverhead’s first Cardboard Boat Race on the Peconic River Sunday. Though after, they were only soggy piles of cardboard and tape waiting to be picked up by town.
The event drew an estimated 1,000 people to downtown Riverhead, many who came to see a little friendly competition and the creativity of the boaters.
The SS Flanders was the big winner as the single person craft — which like all 75 other entries was made using only cardboard, duct tape and paint — crossed the finish line first in two of the three races.
Contestants competed for bragging rights in the children’s single boater category, the adult single boater category and the “anything goes” multiple boater category. Cardboard boats started from a floating dock on the Peconic River, just south of East Main Street, and had to make it to a buoy and back without sinking.
The SS Flanders, piloted by 16-year-old Ben Harroun of Flanders, beat out the competition in the adult category. He said his strategy was simply to “paddle really hard” and that his legs hurt after the race.
Another boater, also driving the SS Flanders, which was still in decent shape after the earlier race, took home first prize in the anything goes category
Its competitors weren’t so lucky.
Andrew Smith of Port Jefferson, whose boat the Queen Mary took home ugliest boat, was drenched as he awaited the results, which included prizes for best captain and prettiest boat.
“We sunk right away,” Mr. Smith said. “But it was a lot of fun.”
The event kicked off with a battle between the supervisors of Riverhead and Southampton towns.
“He’ll be legislating from the bottom of the river,” Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst promised shortly before the race. “She’s going right down,” Riverhead Town Supervisor Sean Walter retorted. The Southampton supervisor turned out to be right as her bright red cardboard kayak quickly passed Mr. Walter, whose boat capsized before he made it to the buoy.
Organizers said the event was designed as a family friendly event that would draw people to downtown Riverhead. They hope to make it an annual competition.
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06/28/10 12:00am

The 26-year-old Northampton man who pleaded guilty last month in the 2009 stabbing death of childhood friend Calvin Butts was sentenced to 20 years in prison plus five years probation Tuesday.
Jermaine Holmes pleaded guilty last month to first-degree manslaughter. He had originally pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder
charges after
turning himself in to police last June. If convicted of that charge, he
would have faced 25 years to life in prison.
Mr. Butts, 26, a Riverhead High School graduate, former basketball
player and honor student, had just eaten at the Hampton Bays Diner
May 24, 2009, with his brother and friends, authorities said. The group
was leaving about 4 a.m. when a fight erupted outside. Mr. Butts was
knifed from behind during the melee, after which the suspects fled the
area. He was transported by ambulance to Peconic Bay Medical Center in
Riverhead where he died.
Evidence against Mr. Holmes included admissions he made to “a
civilian,” an autopsy report that revealed five stab wounds to the
victim’s back and one to his shoulder and the recovery of what
prosecutors believe to be a weapon, Suffolk County assistant district
attorney Jim Chalifoux told the News-Review last year.

06/28/10 12:00am

A Riverhead woman, who last month pleaded guilty to fatally stabbing her boyfriend in December 2009, was sentenced to six years in prison earlier this month, according to her attorney.
Kianna Coach, 22, of Riverhead pleaded guilty May 14 at the Suffolk County courthouse in Riverside to first-degree manslaughter for stabbing 25-year-old James Wheeler of Flanders after a quarrel at her East Main Street apartment.
Susan Menu, Ms. Coach’s Riverhead-based lawyer, said she had requested a sentence of five years, but the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office had recommended a sentence of five to 15 years.
“She’s a young woman with no criminal record,” Ms. Menu explained.
Police said Ms. Coach fled to a neighbor’s apartment at the River Pointe apartment complex during a fight with Mr. Wheeler. She returned with a kitchen knife, which she plunged into her boyfriend’s chest.
Mr. Wheeler managed to stumble outside after the stabbing before collapsing on a patch of lawn, police had said. Ms. Coach’s baby son was in the apartment at the time of the incident, but was unharmed, investigators said.
Mr. Wheeler later died at Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead.
Ms. Coach had initially pleaded not guilty at her arraignment in December. At that time, Ms. Menu told Riverhead Town Justice Allen Smith that Mr. Wheeler had abused her client. She showed the judge bruises on Ms. Coach’s legs and said there were other bruises on her neck.
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06/27/10 12:00am
06/27/2010 12:00 AM


A Suffolk Transit bus driver pleaded not guilty this week to attempted rape charges after he allegedly pulled a bus over near the County Center in Riverside and attacked a female passenger Saturday, authorities said.
The alleged victim told State Police that she was the lone passenger on the 8A bus when the driver, Richard Downes, 43, of Middle Island, pulled the bus over on County Road 51 near the county court complex about 3 p.m., took her to the back of the bus and tried to rape her. She fought him off and eventually Mr. Downes stopped the attack, the woman told police. He then dropped her off in Riverhead and continued on his route. 
The woman flagged down a Riverhead Police officer who brought her to the State Police barracks in Riverside, which has jurisdiction in Southampton Town where the attack occurred. Shortly after, State Police stopped Mr. Downes as he was driving the bus on Route 24 just off the Long Island Expressway in Calverton.
Robert Schinnick, the director of the county’s transportation department explained that though the county owns the bus system and sets the schedules, it contracts hiring and maintenance work to six area companies.
The 8A route is contracted to the Greenport-based Sunrise Coach Lines, which he said had screened Mr. Downes when he was hired.
He said this is the first time he is aware of that a bus driver attacked a passenger on a Suffolk County bus.
Christa Brown, the president of Sunrise Coach Lines, said Mr. Downes was employed with her company for just under a year and that he had undergone a thorough background investigation. She said his driving record was clean and that he had no prior disciplinary issues before the incident.
“There was no disqualifying matter in his background,” she said adding he will be suspended pending the outcome of the case.
Mr. Downes, who entered his plea in Southampton Town Justice court Sunday, was being held at the Suffolk County jail in Riverside on $1,000 bail as of Monday. His attorney, Evette Ennis of Valley Stream, did not return calls seeking comment.
He was charged with first-degree attempted rape and second-degree unlawful imprisonment.
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06/25/10 12:00am
06/25/2010 12:00 AM

Little Flower Children and Family Services is locked into a legal
battle with the City of New York over the loss of its foster care
contract earlier this year.
the heart of the lawsuit is a recent request for proposals system that
saw the city offer new contracts to different agencies and not Little
Flower. The cases of about 1,400 foster children — including 85 on
Long Island — will be transferred to other agencies to administer
under the new contracts. The lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan
against the city and the Administration of Children’s Services June 14,
alleges the contract selection process by which Little Flower was
dumped was unfair. The complaint alleges proposal writing was valued
more than the quality of Little Flower’s services and the evaluation
and scoring of the proposals were not transparent.
City law department spokeswoman Elizabeth Thomas declined comment on the pending litigation.
Flower Children and Family Services was founded in 1927 by a Roman
Catholic priest who wished to set up an orphanage for homeless children
on a 122-acre piece of property in Wading River. The organization
branched out over the years to provide services for children, families
and developmentally disabled adults. There are presently three office
locations including Wading River, Queens and Brooklyn.
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