12/30/11 7:00am
12/30/2011 7:00 AM

GRANT PARPAN FILE PHOTO An electric wire down on Mill Road in Riverhead during Hurricane Irene.

Some North Forkers thought they were going crazy when they felt, for many the first time in their lives, tremors from an earthquake centered in Virginia Aug. 23.

The quake, with a magnitude of 5.8, was the strongest to hit the East Coast in 67 years and lasted from 10 to 15 seconds.

Two days later, National Weather Service alerts read that Hurricane Irene, then a powerful Category 3 storm, had “Long Island in its crosshairs.” Residents along Long Island’s coastlines and in NYC were being told to evacuate or face the storm alone; rescue workers would not be putting themselves in grave danger, officials said.

Hundreds packed the Red Cross shelter in Riverhead and/or dropped their pets off at the Suffolk SPCA shelter in Northampton. Old-timers recalled tales from the devastating Hurricane of 1938, which made landfall in Westhampton Beach. But Irene was downgraded when it hit land near the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and was categorized as a tropical storm when it finally hit Suffolk County.

It took down trees and caused some minor flooding on the North Fork, but Irene spared us her worst, as our headline read. LIPA did struggle for more than a week restoring power to its customers.

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12/29/11 5:00pm
12/29/2011 5:00 PM

GARRET MEADE FILE PHOTO | Melodee Riley won state titles in the long jump and triple jump last spring.

While only a junior, Riverhead’s Melodee Riley was already making her third trip to a state championship in track and field when she arrived at Caledonia-Mumford High School last June.

She arrived at the championship filled with confidence after her stellar performance at the Section XI Championship a week earlier. There she set a school record in the triple jump with a mark of 41 feet 3 1/2 inches, which easily put her as the favorite going into the state championship. Her jump was also one of the best in the nation that year. The school record she broke was none other than her own.

The state championship began with the Division I competition. Riley won both the long jump (18-9 3/4) and triple jump (39-9).

From there, she was just beginning. Next up was the federation competition, which encompasses public and private schools. She shined again in the triple jump, winning another title against the top competition in New York with a mark of 39-3. In the long jump she settled for fifth place with a mark of 18.

“It’s pretty cool,” Riley said afterward. “It’s cool to know that you’re number one out of a lot of schools, a lot of kids.”

At the same meet McGann-Mercy had its own success when its 4 x 400 relay team won the Division II championship. The foursome of senior Kayleigh Macchirole, senior Olivia Schumann, junior Sasa Vann and senior Lauren Woodhull clocked a winning time of 3 minutes 57.43 seconds.

The group set a school record.

12/29/11 12:01pm

FILE IMAGE | Who will be our 2011 Educator of the Year?

The Riverhead News-Review will announced its Educator of the Year in its Jan. 5, 2012 issue.

Here is a list of people that have won the award in the past decade:

• 2010 — Stacy Tuohy

• 2009 — Laura Grable

• 2008 — Vincent Nasta

• 2007 — Marion Dorman

• 2006 — Theresa Drozd

• 2005 — Frank Rotenberg

• 2004 — Kevin McAllister

• 2003 — Leif Shay

• 2002 — Bob Jester

• 2001 — Jean Lapinski

• 2000 — Pat Rose

12/29/11 9:46am

The Riverhead Fire Department put out a basement fire at a home on the corner of Maple and Second streets early Thursday morning, officials said.

The blaze was the result of an oil burner malfunction, reported at 4:25 a.m. Thursday, according to a Riverhead FD press release.

Fire officials said a large amount of smoke and high levels of carbon monoxide were found inside the basement.

Each of the residents were evacuated from the home safely and checked for carbon monoxide poisoning, officials said.

The fire was extinguished, fans were used to remove the smoke and the scene was turned over to the fire marshal about 5:30 a.m.

12/29/11 7:00am
Long island Aquarium


Jim Bissett’s unexpected death in December was obviously a blow to his family and friends. But it was also a huge loss to downtown Riverhead. Mr. Bissett’s departure has left a void in the business community, here and elsewhere in Suffolk County, that may never be filled.

The visionary behind Atlantis Marine World — now called the Long Island Aquarium and Exhibition Center — and later the Hyatt East End hotel, Mr. Bissett was a giant among men when it came to Riverhead’s Main Street. He and his business partner,

Joe Petrocelli, have for over a decade attracted hundreds of thousands of people every year to an otherwise beleagured downtown.

Now, Main Street appears to be getting back on track — something that likely couldn’t happen with Mr. Bissett’s hard work. His Hyatt Hotel led to a slew of new restaurants opened by entrepreneurs hoping to capitalize on the hotel, conference center and aquarium traffic.

But just four months after a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the Hyatt, Mr. Bissett’s body was found Dec. 14 in Veterans Park in Mattituck, not far from his sprawling estate, after an apparent suicide.

As for his life in Riverhead, one could argue Mr. Bissett was the heart and soul of downtown, even if he didn’t always seek out the spotlight.

Moving forward, it appears his businesses are in good hands. The morning after his death, employees at the hotel and aquarium on East Main Street released a statement to the media expressing their sadness while also saying they were all so grateful just for the opportunity to have worked for him.

“We will honor his memory by dedicating ourselves to continuing the work he loved so much,” the staff said.

To give an example of what he meant to his friends and others, in a RiverheadNewsReview.com story published Dec. 15, there was an online comment made by someone who identified himself as friend and business owner and called Mr. Bissett “the most generous, wonderful, honest [person] I have every dealt with. He only cared about his friends and the people he loved.

“He was loved by everyone,” the commenter added. “And he was my hero and always will be.”

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12/28/11 5:00pm
12/28/2011 5:00 PM

ROBERT O'ROURK FILE PHOTO | Shoreham-Wading River's Marissa Kluber led the Wildcats to the Class B county title game in 2011.

Over four straight years from 2007-10, the Shoreham-Wading River girls lacrosse team was as dominant as any team in New York. The Wildcats won four straight Class C state championships, never losing more than three games in any season.

Coming into the 2011 season, the Wildcats were riding a 20-game playoff win streak.

But from the beginning, they knew the road to another state title wouldn’t be as easy. For starters, the Wildcats were bumping up a classification to Class B, pitting them against bigger and stronger teams. The Wildcats were also going through a coaching change after Bob Vlahakis left the program to take over a new St. Joseph’s College team. And the Wildcats were fielding a young team short on experience, which became even more apparent when two of the team’s top returners suffered season-ending injuries before the season even began.

Through it all, the Wildcats surpassed many people’s expectations with a thrilling run to the Class B county title game where they eventually lost a tough game to Hauppauge. En route to the finals the Wildcats knocked off a pair of higher seeded teams, Rocky Point and Sayville. Their win against the Eagles was an epic overtime game that saw the Wildcats give up a seven-goal lead late in the second half. They finally won 16-15 in the third overtime.

By the time the Wildcats met Hauppauge in the county finals, their playoff win streak was up to 22. But Hauppauge proved to be too strong defensively and stifled the Wildcats for an 8-5 victory.

And with it, a dynasty came to an end.

12/28/11 4:57pm

GEORGE FAELLA PHOTO | Alyssa Fleming of Shoreham-Wading River making a move to the basket while Mattituck's Allie Wilcenski tries to stop her.


Sophomore guard Shannon Rosati scored seven of her game-high 17 points in the second quarter to help turn a deficit into a lead that Shoreham-Wading River never relinquished en route to a 66-51 non-league girls victory over visiting Mattituck on Wednesday afternoon.

Facing a 33-28 deficit with 2 minutes 33 seconds remaining in the opening half, the Wildcats (5-3) went on an 11-2 tear to grab a 39-35 halftime advantage. Rosati had four points during that surge.

Junior guard Alexa Orlando paced the Tuckers (3-3) with 13 points and junior forward Allie Wilcenski added 10.

For Shoreham, senior guard/forward Alyssa Fleming scored 13 points and junior guard Sabrina Santiago came off the bench to add 11 points. Another reserve, Jessica Angermann, contributed 9 points.