09/30/10 12:00am
09/30/2010 12:00 AM

The Raynor Family Association will hold its annual reunion, “Round Up XlX,” Saturday, Oct. 2, at The Meadow Club in Port Jefferson Station. It will start at 9:30 a.m. with registration, coffee, exhibits and a social hour, followed by a brief annual meeting and program. Luncheon is included. Call Jeanne Raynor at 516-623-5967 or e-mail [email protected]

St. Isidore School has had a fabulous start to the 2010-11 school year. The new pre-K and science lab are almost finished. A big thanks to the new CYO sports coordinator, Bill Nabrizny, for all his hard work and communication with all the families. Also, a big thank-you to Janet Bahnke and Linda Rooney for coordinating the golf outing fundraiser, which raised more than $16,000. Sister Linda would like to thank all the EMTs and police officers who responded to her “low blood sugar” reaction, and her dogs, Rags and Scott Phillips, who are her heroes.

The Town of Riverhead hosted the 13th annual Snapper Tournament along the Peconic River on Sept. 11. Anglers ranged in age from 2 to 70-plus. This year’s tournament honored all those who died on Sept. 11, 2001, and their families. Junior division winners: third place, AJ Prince; second place, Jonathan Visek; and first place, Ryan Just. Just and Visek both caught a 16 1/2-inch snapper but Ryan caught his first. He received a trophy and a rod and reel combo donated by Warren’s Tackle in Aquebogue. Adult division winners: third place, Jeff Izzo; second place, David Sitipila; and first place, Don Visek with a 17 1/8-inch snapper. Don won a trophy and a rod and reel combo donated by West Marine in Riverhead. Thanks to Captain Ray Kelly, who works hard on this program every year so that children and adults get hooked on fishing, and to the Town of Riverhead Recreation Department. For more information, visit adventuresinfishing.com.

Happy birthday to Nicole Hynds, Jayme Seal (who turns 6), Isabel Luparella (who turns 5) and twins Bryce and Hailey Groth (who turn 2) on Sept. 30; Casey Jo Hubbard (who turns 1), Kevin O’Rourke, Grace Tocci (who turns 10), and Evelyn Skop (who turns 2), Oct. 1; Heather Grodski (who turns 21), Oct. 2; twins Diane Zak and Donna Grodski (who turn 50), Oct. 3; Buddy Turbush, Oct. 4; Mark Gajowski II and David Raynor, Oct. 5; and Peggy McKinney, Oct. 6.

Happy wedding anniversary to Kim and Kenny Nash on Oct. 1; Karen and Jay Quartararo, who celebrate their 12th, Oct. 2; Marie and John Dunleavy, Oct. 3; and Karen and Mark Heppner, Oct. 4. Hope your day is special.

09/30/10 12:00am

TIM GANNON PHOTO
Riverhead Town residents will be faced with a 4.3 percent hike
in taxes if the Town Board approves Supervisor Sean Walter’s
proposed 2011 budget, despite the fact that the tentative plan
features a 1.5 percent reduction in spending.

Riverhead Town residents will be faced with a 4.3 percent property tax hike if the Town Board approves Supervisor Sean Walter’s proposed 2011 budget, despite the fact that the tentative plan features a 1.5 percent reduction in spending.
The supervisor’s proposed $50 million budget, which would eliminate six full-time and seven part-time jobs, is also contingent upon the town’s police unions’ members approving a lag payroll. Without it, the tax rate increase would climb to over 5 percent, according to Mr. Walter, who said the lag payroll savings would amount to about $230,000.
Among other highlights in the budget are a “dramatic cutback” in police overtime, Mr. Walter said.
The actual amount budgeted for police overtime in Mr. Walter’s budget proposal is $600,000, which is lower than the $660,000 budgeted in the adopted 2010 budget, but higher than the $575,000 in the amended 2010 budget that reflects mid-year cutbacks made by the town. But all three of those numbers are lower than the actual annual amounts for police overtime since 2003, when the lowest annual amount spent was $720,000. The highest was $839,729 in 2005, according to town records.
Dixon Palmer, the president of the town’s Police Benevolent Association, said it’s hard to tell if that overtime number can be met, because officers responding to homicides and accidents can’t just leave when their shifts are over.
The proposed cuts in overtime for all other town departments totaled about $135,000 less than the current year’s budget.
As for the lag payroll, in the which the salary savings would be paid to employees when they retire, Mr. Palmer said the PBA’s leadership is recommending that the members accept it, and ballots have been mailed out. He expects a verdict toward the end of next week.
Town department heads and nonunion employees also agreed to a lag payroll, the supervisor said. Town finance administrator Bill Rothaar said these employees can either take a lag payroll or 10 unpaid days.
Mr. Walter, who unveiled the budget last Thursday, called the proposed cutbacks “a vital step in our attempt to get government to live within its means.”
The 4.3 percent tax hike would be equal to an increase of about $94 annually for a Riverhead resident whose house is valued at the townwide average of about $330,000.
The town portion of the property tax bill accounts for about 23 percent of the total, with school taxes being about 54 percent, town officials said.
The cuts were needed to offset a $6.9 million budget deficit that Mr. Walter blamed on the use of one-time revenues by previous administrations. Another big factor, he said, was the $50 million landfill reclamation project, which went way over budget several years ago, and accounts for $4.3 million in debt service in his proposed budget.
“If we didn’t have that issue, with the cuts we made, you would be getting a tax decrease,” he said in Town Hall.
The budget also proposes to use about $2.6 million of the town’s $7 million surplus to offset tax increases.
Mr. Walter said the cuts were needed.
“Let’s face it, our budget is so far out of control we cannot tax our way out of our problem,” he said. “We have to cut the cost of government and that has a cost in terms of people and families, but we must swallow that bitter medicine.”
The full Town Board must review the budget and adopt a final spending plan by Nov. 20.
Matt Hattorff, president of the town Civil Service Employees Association, which represents most non-police employees in town, expressed disappointment with the proposed layoffs: “Here’s a guy who campaigned that he would not balance the budget on the backs of the employees, and now, here he is, balancing the budget on the backs of the employees.”
Mr. Walter said he had no choice but to lay off employees because the CSEA would not agree to either a 5 percent salary cut or a lag payroll.
The police’s lag payroll, should the unions agree to it, amounts to about $230,000, Mr. Walter said. It was uncertain when the two unions representing police would vote on the lag payroll.
The town also has offered a voluntary retirement incentive program to induce older, higher-paid employees to retire. Mr. Walter said one employee has taken advantage of this program and another three have expressed interest. In two of the cases, the employees in question also plan to continue working part-time. Mr. Walter said this will be “a tremendous savings” to the town.
In the one case that is finalized, building department coordinator Sharon Klos will be working 17 and a half hours a week for $30,000 per year, instead of 35 hours per week for $81,415.
As for revenues, the supervisor said they were projected to be “flat” and based on actual 2009 figures and half-year 2010 figures.
Adding together the projected fees for the planning board, building department, site plan, justice court fines, and mortgage recording tax, which are among the largest income sources in the budget, the projected 2011 total of $2.781 million in Mr. Walter’s budget is slightly lower than the $2.784 million anticipated in the 2010 budget, but higher than the $2.11 million actually received in 2009.
“The revenues projected for 2009 were about $900,000 short,” Mr. Walter said. He had criticized the revenue projections his predecessor, Phil Cardinale, made in this year’s budget, including the sale of the dilapidated East Lawn building and a fine in a lawsuit for allegedly illegally excavating on Route 58. Those revenues totaled about $800,000, and aren’t expected to materialize, Mr. Walter said.
One revenue item that is proposed to increase greatly in Mr. Walter’s budget is rental income for wireless communications. That number is projected to increase from $100,000 in the 2010 budget to $305,500 in the 2011 budget, as the town has awarded contracts to wireless companies to build cell towers on three town-owned properties on which they will lease space.
Despite the cuts two Town Board members, George Gabrielsen and Jodi Giglio, say they don’t think the budget is low enough. They both want to bring the tax rate increase under four percent, which they say would require about $100,000 more in cuts.
Mr. Walter said he’s not sure the budget can be cut any further.
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09/30/10 12:00am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO
Treasure Cove Marina in Riverhead is building a 100-room Hyatt hotel on its East Main Street property, which is slated to open next summer. It’s one of many North Fork marinas that are changing or expanding services in the hopes of attracting more people to boating.

Pleasure boating has taken a dive on the Peconic Bays in the past few years, but North Fork marina operators are tweaking their business plans and offering innovative services and packages to make boating a viable option again.

Jeff Strong, owner of Strong’s Marine in Mattituck is altering his business model by offering boat rentals, refurbished repossessed boats and a full range of repair and refurbishing services.

“We like to kid that it’s a lot cheaper than a divorce attorney or a psychotherapist” to keep your boat, he said. “People are not taking long vacations, but you still need a break. It doesn’t take long to get out on the Peconic Bay.”

Mr. Strong said that his staff of 38 full-time employees is ready to help people who decide to invest in their current boat instead of trading up. His marina will re-power and rebuild boats and take on cosmetic projects from teak accents to fiberglass work and new canvas and vinyl.

He is also trying to make buying a boat more affordable. “Over the last two years, we’ve developed a very good relationship with the banks and have processed a lot of repossessions for them. We refurbish and re-market them at good values,” he said.

The marina has a fleet of six Pursuit and Cobalt power boats for rent or sale ranging from 20 to 24 feet, and it offers dockside mobile services for people who keep their boats at private docks.

Other marinas, like Port of Egypt Marine in Southold, have diversified their businesses in the past few years. Eagle’s Neck Paddling Company moved from its location west of downtown Southold at the beginning of the summer to offer kayak and canoe rentals at Port of Egypt, and Hertz Rent-a-Car set up shop there this past summer.

The marina is also offering new options for staying at Heron Suites, a resort hotel with efficiency apartments adjacent to the marina, this summer.

“People are taking their boats out less frequently,” said Port of Egypt CEO Bill Lieblein. “We’ve started to offer a ‘slip and a suite’ program, where people rent a suite for the season and by doing that we gave them a special rate on the slip and suite combination.”

The marina offered a frequent-visitor program this summer, through which boaters who booked rooms at the beginning of the season for five weekends received a lower rate. Port of Egypt plans to continue that service next year.

In Riverhead, Treasure Cove Marina, next door to Atlantis Marine World, is building a 100-room Hyatt hotel, which marina owners hope will be completed next summer.

“Last year, with the price of gas, it was a tough year for everyone, not just me. All the marine businesses felt it,” said Treasure Cove general manager Lorna Smith. “This year has improved but it’s not back to where it was.”

Ms. Smith said the addition of the hotel could boost tourism in downtown Riverhead, where both the Marine World aquarium and the restaurant Jerry and the Mermaid, which is on the marina property, are major destinations.

Other marinas are holding the line on fees. Larry’s Lighthouse Marina in Aquebogue has not raised its seasonal slip rental rate in three years and does not plan to increase its $110-per-foot seasonal rate in 2011.

“We’ll take it one year at a time and see how bad things get,” said owner Alex Galasso. “We’re trying to do a little more to ease the pain. We’ve gotta keep people in boating.”

Mr. Galasso said that he already has enough reservations to completely fill a newly-built indoor storage area that can accommodate 60 boats this winter. He hopes these reservations are a sign that the recession is fading.

“People were doing just the basics on their boats, but now they’re starting to do the preventative maintenance that they had put off for a little bit,” he said. “But the whole industry is changing again. We don’t see a real influx of younger people getting into boating as it was when times were good.”

He said that the marina is continuing to offer a spring launch cocktail party, fishing tournaments and poolside lunches to keep families interested in boating.

Bill Witzke, who owns Albertson Marine in Southold, is counting on his dedicated service staff to keep boaters on the water through the economic doldrums.

“We’ve certainly been affected by the recession, like any recreational business,” he said. “But we were not a big sales operation. We didn’t get affected as much as businesses that rely more on boat sales. We’re more service-oriented. We have a full parts department. Repairs have always been a hallmark of our business. Anybody that needs help, we’re always here.”

Brewers Stirling Harbor Marina in Greenport is counting on its relationship with 20 other Brewer-owned locations in the Northeast to get through the tough times.

“We offer incentives to travel from one area to the next. We have a lot of boaters coming through here,” said marina manager Jesse Gaffga. “We have marinas in Glen Cove, Port Washington, Mamaroneck, Massachusetts, Freeport, Maine. We have had transients coming from Maine. We have people traveling up and down the coast in the fall and springtime.”

Brewer Stirling Harbor offers people who have seasonal slips at other Brewer marinas a discount of 50 percent or more off transient dockage, which, at full cost, runs $3.50 a foot per night.

“The business has changed a lot just due to the economic crunch,” he said. “There’s been a change in boaters. Some are no longer in it due to the cost and some have gotten older. But more people are coming from other areas.”

New Suffolk Shipyard owner Michael Irving was unavailable for comment for this story.

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09/30/10 12:00am

* The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s Eastern Long Island Take Steps Walk will be held at the Riverhead campus of Suffolk County Community College Saturday, Oct. 2, at 3 p.m. Call 1-516-222-5530.

* Dr. Hannah Ortiz, a board-certified gynecologic oncologist, will speak today, Sept. 30, from 6 to 8 p.m. at a free women’s health seminar commemorating Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month at the East End Hotel Indigo in Riverhead. The program is presented by the East End Health Alliance, which includes Eastern Long Island Hospital, Peconic Bay Medical Center and Southampton Hospital. Call 477-5184.

* A geriatric interdisciplinary core conference on Seniors at Risk — What Professionals Need to Know, will be held at Martha Clara Vineyard on Thursday, Oct. 7, 8:30 a.m.-noon. The program is sponsored by Eastern Long Island Hospital Extension of the Long Island Geriatric Education Center. Call Leslie Sinnott at 477-5124.

* A social services information fair, sponsored by the Suffolk County Department of Social Services, will be held at Riverhead Free Library on Monday, Oct. 4, 6-8 p.m. Call 727-3228.

09/30/10 12:00am

garret meade PHOTO
Michael Curaba (No. 26), Savaun Eure (No. 3) and Reggie Moore (No. 2) led Riverhead onto the field for its home-opening game Saturday against Centereach.

Starting the high school football season with an 0-2 record is not something the Riverhead Blue Waves have been accustomed to in recent years. So, after a discouraging loss to the Newfield Wolverines in its second game, what was Riverhead’s week of practice like? Was there concern? Worry? Alarm?

Hardly. It was described more as determination and focus.

“A lot of teams at 0 and 2 would have packed it in,” said Leif Shay, who is in his 13th year coaching the team. “Our guys, it was probably the hardest I’ve seen a team work since I’ve been here at Riverhead. To their credit, they weren’t going to let their season slip away.”

Riverhead really needed a win, and it got one. Ryan Bitzer threw for four touchdowns as the Blue Waves broke into the win column Saturday with a 45-7 rout of the Centereach Cougars in Riverhead’s home opener at Coach Mike McKillop Memorial Field.

“We just wanted to show that those [first] two games, that wasn’t us,” said Riverhead senior Rodney Rollins, who caught one of those touchdown passes. “We needed a full, complete game, and that’s what we got today.”

Bitzer threw two of his scoring tosses to Michael Hinchy after connecting with Rollins and Kurt Carter for the first two. The sophomore quarterback, who had a rough game with four interceptions against Newfield, bounced back in a big way. He completed 11 of 19 passes for 192 yards and did not throw an interception.

“Four picks last week, four touchdowns this week,” Bitzer said. “It feels a lot better this week.”

Riverhead (1-2 in Suffolk County Division II) took a 21-0 lead late in the first quarter and the lead was never threatened.

Riverhead also received a 15-yard interception return by lineman Curtis Conklin and a 70-yard punt return by Reggie Moore in the fourth quarter. Three more Riverhead points were provided by Esteban Aarp, who booted a 27-yard field goal on the final play of the first half.

“Our offense was clicking today,” Bitzer said. “We started rolling and we didn’t stop the whole game.”

Riverhead totaled 370 yards worth of offense, more than twice as much as Centereach (1-2). Charles Bartlett ran for 133 of those yards on 11 carries. The Blue Waves also earned 15 first downs to six for their opponents. And they did all of this without one of their top players, tight end/linebacker Owen Keupp, who was out with an ankle injury.

“We didn’t lose our mind just because we were 0 and 2,” Moore said. “I was not worried at all. I have a lot of faith in this Riverhead football team. We had a good week of practice and we just came out and got it done.”

Centereach received its touchdown on a 36-yard run by Kyle Connor with 56.7 seconds left in the first quarter.

On the defensive side of the ball, Riverhead was led by Kevin Klerk’s nine tackles.

“Riverhead is always a dangerous team,” Centereach Coach Charlie McMillen said. “They’re traditionally a strong team in Division II, and you never take any team in Division II lightly.”

Like a cornered animal, a team coming off a disappointing loss can be a dangerous one. But Centereach’s quarterback and outside linebacker, Dan Brown, said that is irrelevant. “You have to be on guard every week,” he said. “They’re a good team. They’ve been a good team forever.”

Riverhead’s sharp preparation helped it eliminate the sort of mistakes it had made in its two previous games. Even so, could Rollins have expected 45-7?

“I had no predictions on this game,” he said. “We wanted to come out there, play our best and see what happens. Forty-five to seven, I’ll take that.”

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09/30/10 12:00am

Christine Moretti and Andre Vega

George and Kathy Moretti of Manorville and Jose and Sue Vega of Riverhead have announced the engagement of their children, Christine Moretti and Andre Vega.

Christine, a 2002 graduate of Riverhead High School, works for a full-service financial firm. Andre, a 1997 RHS graduate, owns his own construction company.

A fall 2012 wedding is planned.

09/30/10 12:00am

correction

In the Sept. 23 News-Review, incorrect information was listed in the obituary for Earnest Athall Manual. Mr. Manual had no grandchildren. He is survived by his siblings Charlie Milton, Zelma Stevens, Annette Manuels and Geraldine Manuel, all of Riverhead, Marilyn Hagans of St. Augustine, Fla., and Arnie Milton of Sparta, Tenn.

09/30/10 12:00am

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO
A house in the Peconic Lake Estates neighborhood in Calverton, where residents have long complained of brown well water. Local officials believe they could be close to securing federal funding to bring public water to the area.

A Calverton man who has already invested thousands of dollars in pumping clean water into his house said he would be willing to sign on for a public project in his neighborhood — even if it meant he’d be forced to spend more money.

That’s how badly his brown-water plagued community needs such a project, he told the News-Review.

Chart Guthrie lives in Peconic Lake Estates, a neighborhood near Pinehurst Boulevard and South River Road that consists of about 215 houses, all served by polluted well water.

Residents there have complained for years about the quality of their water, which is brown in color and heavy in iron.

“The neighborhood should have public water,” Mr. Guthrie said, adding that he’s willing to foot the initial cost all residents would have to share to pay the Suffolk County Water Authority for establishment of a public water system.

Elected officials are making a push to redirect $2 million in stimulus money – funds that were slated to run a water main through a 24-home Orient neighborhood called Browns Hills – to help pay for the project.

Residents in the isolated Orient hamlet rejected the federal funds, fearing the infrastructure would lead to increased development.

But even if a project is undertaken in Peconic Lake Estates, residents there would still have to pay a private plumber to connect their homes to the public water system — a step Mr. Guthrie said he’ll forgo for now.

He’s willing to contribute his share of the initial cost, he said, though he wouldn’t be interested in paying a plumber about $12 per foot to run pipes from the public water system to his home — which has a 300-foot driveway.

“If and when my well goes bad, then I’ll hook up,” said Mr. Guthrie, who about 18 months ago spent about $3,000 for a revamped well and filtration system.

Another community benefit to the public water system would be the installation of fire hydrants, which the Peconic Lake Estates area lacks.

Officials at the Suffolk County Water Authority, which is not a county agency but a state public benefit corporation for water service, said they are interested in the Calverton project, but couldn’t comment further until a decision is made about stimulus funding.

Water authority attorney Timothy Hopkins said that, typically, if 40 percent of a residential area is in favor of public water, the SCWA would move forward on a project.

There have been several attempts to bring public water to Peconic Lake Estates, but past efforts have been defeated. While many homeowners want public water, they can’t afford the authority’s initial costs for a public system.

Mr. Guthrie said the community’s last attempt involved a $5,500 cost per resident. When the authority asked residents for $1,000 down, he said, it counted the number of checks received and determined that approval for the project at Peconic Lake Estates was less than 40 percent.

On Monday, Congressman Tim Bishop (D-Southampton) sent a request to the state Department of Health that was written jointly with state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson), county Legislator Ed Romaine (R-Center Moriches), state Assemblyman Marc Alessi (D-Shoreham) and Brookhaven Town Supervisor Mark Lesko (D-East Setauket).

The request asks the Department of Health to instruct the Environmental Facilities Corporation — a public benefit corporation that provides funding and technical support to municipalities — to shift the $2 million in stimulus money from the Browns Hills project to the Calverton neighborhood.

Jeffrey Hammond, a spokesman for the state health department, said once his office receives the letter it will respond to the request.

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