05/31/11 11:48am
05/31/2011 11:48 AM

Dear Marci,
I applied for Extra Help, but my application was denied. I am struggling to afford my drugs. What should I do?

Dear Henry,
If your application is turned down and you receive a “Pre-Decisional Notice,” saying you “may not be eligible” for Extra Help, it should show  which information from your application caused you to be rejected. If the information is wrong, you can use this opportunity to correct your application. You have 10 days from the date on the notice to correct the information.
Once SSA has reviewed your application, you may receive a “Notice of Denial” that says you do not qualify or a “Notice of Award” that says you qualify only for partial Extra Help. If you disagree with the SSA’s decision, you can appeal.
It’s best not to reapply but important to appeal because if you win, your Extra Help will be effective from the first day of the month that you originally submitted an application. In order to appeal, you should  request a review of your case within 60 days of receiving notice of SSA’s decision on your application. Call your local SSA office or the national hotline (800-772-1213). You can also download an online form and mail it in to request a hearing.
Hearings are held by phone. You will get a notice in the mail that confirms your hearing date and tells you what number to call (the number will be toll-free). This notice will also explain how to send in evidence supporting your case, such as bank statements that show your assets. If you have a scheduling conflict, you can reschedule once or twice if you have good cause (for example, if you were in the hospital.
If you do not want a hearing, you can ask for a “case review,” where an SSA agent will review your application and any additional information you provide.

Dear Marci,
I am about to turn 65. I don’t take many medications and am considering waiting to enroll in a Part D plan. Will I be penalized for doing this?

Dear Ishmael,
If you do not enroll in the Medicare drug benefit Part D when you first become eligible and you choose to enroll at a later date, you may have to pay a premium penalty. The premium penalty will be 1 percent  of the national base beneficiary premium for every month you delay.  For example, the national base beneficiary premium in 2011 is $32.34 a month. If you delayed enrollment for seven months, your monthly premium penalty would be $2.26 ($32.34 x 1% = $0.3234 x 7 = $2.26), which would be added to your plan’s monthly premium.
If you have to pay the premium penalty, and you do not qualify for Extra Help, you will have to do so for as long as you are enrolled in the Medicare drug benefit. This penalty will increase every year, as the national base beneficiary premium increases.
In some specific circumstances you will not have to pay the premium penalty. You will not have to pay a premium penalty for late enrollment if you already have prescription drug coverage at least as good as Medicare’s. In order to avoid a premium penalty, you can’t have been without creditable drug coverage for more than 63 days. Speak with your insurer or your company’s human resources department to find out if your current drug coverage is as good as Medicare’s or better. You also won’t be penalized if you qualify for Extra Help and enroll in a Medicare private drug plan. The premium could be waived if you show that you received inadequate information about whether your drug coverage was creditable.

Dear Marci,
I have a chronic health condition, and an acquaintance suggested that I enroll in a special needs plan. Could you please tell me more about these plans?

Dear Beatrice,
A Special Needs Plan is a private Medicare Advantage plan that exclusively serves at least one of the following groups: people who live in a nursing home or intermediate care facility for the mentally challenged and people who live in the community but require an institutional level of care; people who have both Medicare and Medicaid; or people who have a specific chronic, severe or disabling condition defined by the plan such as HIV/AIDS, diabetes or heart disease.
SNPs should be designed to provide Medicare-covered health care and services that meet the special needs of people in the groups they serve. Special needs plans must include drug coverage, Medicare Part D, as part of their benefits package.

Marci’s Medicare Answers is a service of the Medicare Rights Center (medicarerights.org), the nation’s largest independent source of information and assistance for people with Medicare.

05/31/11 11:03am

A Riverhead man was the latest in a string of Long Island wrong-way drunk driving arrests Saturday after police said he collided with a car driven by an off-duty police officer in Ridge.

Suffolk Police said Francisco Tomas, 26, was traveling eastbound in the westbound lane on Middle Country Road in a 1997 Volkswagen Jetta about 4:15 a.m. when he hit the other car head-on. The other vehicle was driven by an off-duty East Hampton Town Police officer, who police declined to identify, driving home from his shift.

Both men were seriously injured in the crash and taken to Stony Brook University Medical Center for treatment. Police said the officer suffered a broken heel, a fractured sternum and head injury while Mr. Tomas suffered a broken leg.

Mr. Tomas, of Midland Avenue, was charged with DWI. He was scheduled to appear Tuesday in First District Court in Central Islip, where he might face additional charges, police said.

05/31/11 10:12am

Riverhead residents showed their patriotism Monday as the annual Memorial Day Parade marched along the streets of downtown.

The parade is an annual tradition that saw area residents lining local the roads from Pulaski Street to  the St. John’s Cemetery with red, white and blue. Even a little rain didn’t keep local community groups from marching.

U.S. Army Specialist Emily Connors led the way after her recent tour of Afghanistan.

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JOHN NEELY PHOTO | Four-year-old Lili Jacobs of Medford.

05/31/11 9:33am

Nancy "Bird" Alexander

Nancy Alexander, affectionately known as “Bird,” age 61, passed away May 24 at her home in Southold surrounded by family, caregivers and friends.

Nancy was born in Binghamton, N.Y., on October 26, 1949. She graduated from Binghamton Central High School in 1967 and Marywood College in 1971, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Home Economics. She received Permanent Certification in Home Economics in 1975 and Permanent Certification in Elementary Education in 1978.

Nancy taught in the Newfield, Southold and Riverhead school districts. She recently enjoyed spending winters in Florida and summers on the North Fork of Long Island and Shelter Island since retiring from teaching in June 2005.

Nancy is survived by her longtime, devoted love, Skip Tuttle from Shelter Island, and very dear friends Carol Taplin and Edna Terry of Southold. She also leaves a sister, Elaine Stone of West Palm Beach, Fla.; and a brother and sister-in-law, Fred and Connie Alexander of Vestal, N.Y. She has two nephews, Jason and Eric Alexander, and three nieces, Lori Stone Vickery, Marcy Stone and Corinne Alexander Cole. Nancy leaves many close friends in Southold and Shelter Island and numerous teacher friends who were all like family to her.

Nancy was quick to laugh and always ready with a joke or a humorous tale. She had a talent for turning junk into treasure. Her creativity was evident in the many gifts given to friends and family throughout her adult life. The word “eclectic” was often used to describe Nancy due to her varied interests. Hobbies included sewing, cooking, crafts, designing, reading, organizing clam bakes and events — a real “Jack of All Trades”!

Nancy had a sensitive, kind and generous manner that will live on in the hearts of those she held dear. Her students remember her as someone who could make learning fun and interesting, yet she expected them to work hard and maximize their potential.

Nancy’s family and friends are indebted to the loving, dedicated, attentive caregivers who were with Nancy and Skip on their six-month journey with ALS.

The family received friends on May 28 at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Southold, N.Y.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the Riverhead School District, Nancy Alexander Scholarship Fund, 700 Osborne Ave., Riverhead, NY 11901 or the Shelter Island School District, Nancy Alexander Scholarship Fund, P.O. Box 2015, Shelter Island, NY 11964 would be appreciated.

This is a paid notice.

05/30/11 2:54pm
05/30/2011 2:54 PM
ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO  |  Shoreham-Wading River senior Andrew Nicchi hit a two-run home run in the first inning Monday as Shoreham won 12-1 at Sayville.

ROBERT O'ROURK PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River senior Andrew Nicchi hit a two-run home run in the first inning Monday as Shoreham won 12-1 at Sayville.


So reads the greeting on the scoreboard that sits beyond center field at Sayville High School’s nice looking field.

The Shoreham-Wading River Wildcats made themselves right at home on Monday. Undaunted by the fact that they were playing the top-seeded team in the Suffolk County Class A Tournament, the No. 2 Wildcats rode Ryan McAlary’s two-hit pitching and a potent offense to a 12-1 rout of the Sayville Golden Flashes, pulling to within one win of a county championship. Seven Wildcats had at least one run batted in and eight had at least one hit.

[Click here for a slideshow].

Shoreham, seeking its first county title since 2002, could achieve that Thursday with a win against Sayville, the Elwood/John Glenn Knights or the Mount Sinai Mustangs. Since it is unbeaten in the double-elimination tournament, Shoreham (18-5) would get another shot at the county crown even if it loses Thursday’s game.

“It feels great,” Shoreham second baseman Andrew Nicchi said. “It’s a long road, and we’ve been playing great the whole season.”

Monday was no exception.

Sayville (20-3), sporting jerseys that looked like military camouflage wear (appropriate for Memorial Day), had its hands full. All three of its losses this season have come to Shoreham.

Once again, Shoreham showed how complete a team it is, formidable offense and all. With the left-field fence only 325 feet away from home plate, it makes an inviting target for batters. For a team like Shoreham that has a .370 batting average and 28 home runs, it can be a tempting place.

“We’re a good offensive team,” Shoreham Coach Sal Mignano said. “Our lineup in this day and age is very long, and we can hurt a lot of people offensively.”

Shoreham produced 15 hits, three of them home runs. Nicchi, Dan Sperruzzi and McAlary all knocked balls out of the park for Shoreham. It was Nicchi’s fifth home run of the year, Sperruzzi’s sixth and McAlary’s fourth. McAlary went 3 for 3 with a walk, was hit by a pitch and scored three runs. Nicchi had three RBIs.

“Coming out here, we knew we had to play our best,” Nicchi said. If we didn’t play our best, it would be a tough game. They’re a great team.”

Michael Hewson struck his 11th homer of the year for Sayville, which took its first loss in the tournament.

McAlary (4-2), the No. 3 starter in Shoreham’s pitching rotation, did the job on the mound. The senior right-hander struck out five, walked one and hit three batters. For the most part, his control was good. He threw 65 strikes against 40 balls. Aside from Hewson’s first-inning homer, the only other hit that McAlary allowed was a single that Mike Rahn placed past third baseman Mike O’Reilly in the third.

“I knew coming into this game that they have a great hitting team,” McAlary said, “so I just had to keep the ball low and have all the control with my pitches.”

Shoreham opened the game with three runs, all from home runs, in the first. McAlary, the game’s first batter, was hit by a pitch from Ryan Aloise (4-1). Nicchi then drilled a 3-2 pitch for a homer over left-center field. Two batters later, Sperruzzi lined a solo shot into the woods beyond the left-field fence.

“We came out in the beginning of the game, started hitting, and our hitting kept it going the whole game,” said Nicchi.

Shoreham rang up four more runs in the fourth for a 7-1 lead. With the bases loaded, Nicchi produced a sacrifice fly to start the rally. Matt Kneisel and Sperruzzi each singled in a run, and a sacrifice fly by Danny Luppens brought in another run.

Two more Shoreham runs followed in the sixth. Jono Criscito supplied a sacrifice fly and Luppens scored on a throwing error after stealing third base.

The sort of day Shoreham had was exemplified in the seventh when a Kevin Davis grounder that looked like a sure out richocheted off the second-base bag for a hit. The next batter, McAlary, then crushed a pitch deep beyond the center-field fence. Three batters later, O’Reilly tapped a run-scoring single off the left-field fence, making it 12-1.

Hewson agreed that Shoreham was on its game, but also lamented the mistakes his team made. He also sounded a defiant note, saying: “We are going to come [here] on Wednesday. We are going to beat the winner of John Glenn-Mount Sinai. We are going to beat Shoreham, and we will be Suffolk County champions.”

It is possible that a Shoreham-Sayville rematch will be played Thursday in Sayville. But the Wildcats are close to a title, and they know it.

Said McAlary, “We just win one more game and we got ourselves a county championship.”

05/30/11 12:49pm

It’s been a year since Frank had a routine stress test that landed him in the hospital. He underwent quadruple bypass surgery (on our sixth wedding anniversary, no less) and suffered a myriad of health challenges. Nowadays, Frank is ready for an Olympic tryout, and I’ve tendered my resignation as chief of the health police. Folks, it was a stressful and exhausting job.

Once, when Frank fell asleep on the couch, I panicked, shook him awake and screeched, “Don’t you ever do that again!”

Frank groggily asked, “Sleep?”

See what I mean? Last summer was the pits. Time seemed to stand still, yet the rest of the year flew by.

Isn’t time tricky? The American author Henry Van Dyke thinks so, too. He writes, “Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.”

When we were kids, September marked the beginning of a long, tedious school year. Summer felt like it was eons away and, on a kid’s timetable, it was.

Gals, remember prom mania? An eternity, and then some, passed while waiting for our heartthrob to call. Unbeknownst to us, our heartthrob picked up the phone 200 times and put it down 200 times — just waiting for the right time to invite us.

During our early teens, turning 18 was light years away. That magical number held the promise of a driver’s license and freedom. Or so we thought. Then, the hard edges of reality came into play and we joined in life’s waiting game.

Generally, pregnancies last nine months; however, most gals will attest to these truths: It felt like a lifetime before Baby was born. Moreover, the ninth month felt like two lifetimes. And after Baby is born, Mommy, Daddy and Baby are awake at all hours of the night. Those baby-crying sleep-deprived times appeared to last forever.

Then there are the things that brought us to our knees: the death of a loved one, the betrayal of a friend or a divorce. The pain was incessant and we wondered if there would be an end to our suffering.

Conversely, some of us are at a stage in life when time is speeding up. A dear friend recently marked a “big” birthday. She couldn’t believe how much life she’d already lived, and I fully get it.

My kids are grown men, yet Mom-brain still conjures up two little boys. Frank and I just celebrated our seventh wedding anniversary (thankfully, not in the hospital). How can that be?

I’ve always been the proverbial party gal. I’m surprised when the witching hour arrives and it’s time to call it a night; furthermore, I’m more surprised that I’m not tired!

The time spent with my kids, who live on the West Coast, has a dizzying effect — and it’s not just jet lag. One day I’m on a plane heading west, then in a flash, I’m on a plane heading east.

Here are some puzzling observations: When we can’t wait for something, it takes forever; and when we dread something, it knocked on our door yesterday. Doesn’t the gate in the airport seem further away when we’re running late and closer when we’re early? One summer seems to morph into another, though it takes the same 365 days.

And here’s a biggie: Bob Dylan turned 70 on May 24. Jeez! Where did the time go?

To answer my own question, the time didn’t go anywhere; nor does it pass quickly or slowly — it simply passes. I suppose we interpret time through our own lens, and still, everything that happens takes place in the eternal now. Bewildering, huh?

You’d think with all the technical advances, a savvy computer programmer like Mark Zuckerberg, who with some buddies created Facebook, hasn’t fashioned a program that could fast-forward through the hard times and pause the good times.
I’m just sayin’.

Ms. Iannelli is a resident of Jamesport.

05/30/11 12:25pm

The Riverhead Firefighters Association held its annual election of officers in May. They are: Robert Doyle, president; Baycan Fideli, first vice president; Milli Roth, second vice president; Henry Ashby, treasurer; Dennis Kenter, assistant treasurer; and Vincent Chiaramonte, sergeant at arms. Congratulations! Although Baycan Fideli is now first vice president, he stepped down as president, serving in this position for the last two years. He did a fine job leading the association. Also stepping down was Joseph Berezny, who served 20 years as assistant secretary and then secretary and also as recording secretary of the executive meetings. Congratulations to both of them on a job well done.

Riverhead High School’s Key Club was recognized by the Riverhead Town Board on May 18 for their wide variety of service projects and achievements, including their recent trip to Albany, where they received four awards. Four of its members were also recognized for distinguished service to their community.
Southampton Town has approved a $250 mini grant to provide for an educational lock-in for younger students who live in the Flanders area but will be attending the Riverhead middle and high schools in the fall. The Key Club members were honored at the Southampton Town Board meeting on May 24.

The focus of the grant is to build relationships with Key Club members and to learn about the impacts of bullying and how to make healthy decisions regarding alcohol and drugs. The Kiwanis Club of Greater Riverhead sponsors the Riverhead Key Club and all its fundraisers.

Key club members did a phenomenal job at the Riverhead Care Center, where they sang and danced for the residents at the “senior” senior prom on June 1.

The Riverhead School music department took 100 students to compete at Music in the Parks. In addition to each group winning first place and best overall group of the day, the middle school students were awarded the “Esprit de Corps” award, presented to students who demonstrate proper social behavior as well as musical behavior encouragement. They possess the qualities of highly successful people who are sensitive to the feelings of others and applaud accomplishments no matter if by one’s own school or another school. This group had the proud honor of taking home the trophy, which will be displayed at the school for all to see.

Congratulations to the Riverhead Care Center 2011 Golden Games team for winning a bronze medal in the volleyball tournament. Great job!

June 3 is the “Just Say No to Drugs” march, which begins at 9:30 a.m. in front of Pulaski Street Elementary School. The march will head south on Roanoke Avenue, then west on Second Street, returning to Pulaski Street School via Griffing and Hallet. Coach Bernice Brown will be the honored guest and keynote speaker. After the march and a ceremony on the steps of Pulaski, the Loyal Order of the Moose Lodge 1742 will once again serve a picnic lunch to all the students.

Happy birthday to Allysa Francis on June 2; Angela Francis, June 3; Morgan Topping and Keith Schroeder, June 5; Karen Skop and Kristina Bugdin, June 6; Bill Sanok and Edith Linnen, June 7; and Dante Henderson, June 8.

Happy wedding anniversary to Cheryl and Rich Miller (who will celebrate their 36th) and Mark and Wendy Gajowski, on June 1; Carol and Jim Lee (26), June 2; Robin and Greg Hulse (29), June 4; Pat and Harold Hansen (60), with lots of love from your son, Ron, June 5; Megan and Jimmy Nikolis (3), June 7; Izzy and Jeanne Danowski (31); Hattie and Sonny Turner (59); and Kathy and Joe Berezny (36), June 8.

05/30/11 12:15pm

Memorial Day is a day that was first enacted following the Civil War to commemorate soldiers on both sides who had lost their lives during the conflict. It is now 2011 and it has turned into little more than the official start of summer. I hope everyone had a great weekend and enjoyed themselves but I hope everyone said a little prayer of thanks to the men and women who have given their lives defending our country.

A message from Mrs. Rogers and Dr. Hudson at Phillips Avenue Elementary School: “It is often said that ‘schools are the heart of a community.’ Well, each of those schools within a school district also has a ‘heart,’ and that heart must be nurtured and cared for if it is to be wide enough and strong enough to embrace its mission. That mission involves a strong educational offering that nurtures every child’s potential. This mission needs the support of a ‘community’ that cares about every one of the students whom the school teaches and nurtures. The Riverhead School District celebrates this sense of community, and Phillips Avenue School is leading the celebration with its upcoming Community Festival on Saturday, June 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the back field of the Phillips Avenue Elementary School, 141 Phillips Ave. Rain date is Sunday, June 12. Children 2 and under are free and the cost for everyone else is just $5.”

There will be performances that include Chip Bryant, a popular vaudevillian silent clown; the drum band Hip Pickles, the ReDancers, the Riverhead High School cheerleaders, the always-inspiring Riverhead Martial Arts Center and the Riverhead Building Supply Singers. In addition there will be a Carnival of Fun: rock wall climb, football throw, bounce house, face painting, hula hoop contest and much more. The fire department, library, Parks and Recreation Department and businesses such as Home Depot, Planet Fitness and more, will have booths and share information with the community. There will also be food, ice cream and a chinese auction. Everyone is invited!

The Friends of the Big Duck and the Flanders Village Historical Society thank everyone for helping to make their craft fair/flea market a success. Don’t forget the 80th birthday celebration on June 18 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Big Duck Ranch. Free admission, prizes, refreshments and fun for the whole family.
Reminder: Please park in the designated parking areas. Flanders Road is posted as a bicycle path, even though the signs are very small and far apart. Plus it’s dangerous to try to park on the main road and cross the street. The The Friends will have parking areas clearly marked.

Don’t forget, the Friends of the Big Duck will have their general meeting on Tuesday, June 7, at 7 p.m. at the David Crohan Community Center, with a guest speaker from the Southampton Landmarks and Historic Districts board. Everyone is invited.

Get well wishes to Adele Ambrose from all your family and friends who love you so much! Feel better.

For a column that was due immediately following last week’s, it’s longer than I thought it would be. Thank you to those who sent me news right away. I could not do this without you. Have a great weekend and please remember to drive safely.