02/29/12 6:03pm
02/29/2012 6:03 PM

A Riverhead man was charged with DWI Wednesday after his car was spotted in the Mattituck Plaza shopping center. Police had received a tip he was driving erratically.

A Riverhead man was charged with drunk driving at lunchtime Wednesday after Southold Town Police received a phone call that he was driving erratically, police said.

Grzegorz Luniewski, 36, was charged with felony DWI after police spotted his vehicle in the Mattituck Plaza parking lot on Main Road and they found him to be intoxicated, police said.

The incident occurred about 12:30 p.m.

Mr. Luniewski was transported to headquarters, processed and is expected to be held overnight for arraignment.

02/29/12 3:00pm

Here are our 10 favorite shots photographer Robert O’Rourk took for riverheadnewsreview.com during the Blue Waves girls basketball team’s Suffolk County Class AA Finals win over Hauppauge.

Check out Thursday’s paper for additional photos from photographer Garrett Meade and complete coverage of the game.

No. 10 — Blue Waves fans wear team colors on their chest

No. 9 — Kaila-Riane Nazario down in the post

No. 8 — Injury can’t keep Jalyn Brown down

No. 7 —Melodee Riley takes it to the hoop

No. 6 — Brown escapes pressure

No. 5 — Riley outjumps the defender

No. 4 — Shanice Allen scored her 1,000th career point Tuesday

No. 3 — Riley with the hook shot

No. 2 — Allen fouled hard as she drives the lane

No. 1 — The Waves celebrate their title

02/29/12 1:00pm

UPDATE: Fire officials are saying acidic air sent four office workers to a hospital Tuesday night, though they’re not sure exactly the cause.

“Overcharged batteries, toner from a copy machine, it could have been a number of things,” said Riverhead Fire Department chief Nick Luparella.

The victims, who were working in the former post office building on West Second Street at the time, were later released from Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead after being treated for symptoms ranging from burning eyes and rashes to tingling lips and breathing problems, said fire department press officer Bill Sanok.

Firefighters received the call about 5:45 p.m., Mr. Sanok said.

A Riverhead fire chief and town police officer were also affected, but their symptoms disappeared after they left the building, Mr. Luparella added.

Hazmat crews at the scene got a low-level positive reading for acidity in the air inside the building, but the source of the air irritant could not be determined, he said.

Riverhead police, fire crews, ambulance volunteers, Brookhaven fire marshals and hazmat units responded to the incident and remained at the scene until about 12:15 a.m. The office building was checked Wednesday morning and reopened after test results came back clean.

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02/29/12 11:05am

A golden nematode cyst

Although more than 300,000 acres of western New York farmland were recently declared free of the golden nematode, a move that lifts strict regulations designed to eliminate the tiny but still lethal potato pest, Long Island farmland remains under a decades-old state and federal quarantine.

The golden nematode (Globodera rostochiensis) is a microscopic cyst-producing worm that mainly infects potatoes and tomatoes. The USDA considers the nematode “potentially more dangerous than any of the insects and diseases affecting the potato industry.” It’s a major pest in Europe but found domestically only in New York State.

First discovered on Long Island in Nassau County in 1941, the golden nematode was initially controlled by chemicals and subsequently by the development of nematode-resistant potato varieties and the regulation of infested land. Growers with infested acreage must follow a strict eradication strategy, including steam-cleaning equipment used on infested fields and a four-year crop rotation schedule that dictates the kind of crops a farmer can grow, said Sandy Menasha, a Cornell Cooperative Extension vegetable and potato specialist.

“If you are on infested land, you need to plant resistant potato varieties for two years, followed by a susceptible crop variety for a year and then a non-host crop the year after that,” she said.

In the two resistant-variety years, only the strongest nematodes survive, she said. Planting potato varieties susceptible to nematode infestation the following year incites the surviving nematode larvae to “hatch out.” Then in the fourth year introducing crops that the nematode cannot feed upon, such as corn, wipes out the remaining population.

But that rotation protocol is not popular with all local growers.

“I’ve got fields that state Department of Ag and Markets haven’t found nematodes on for over 30 years and still have to be in their quarantine program,” Jamesport potato farmer John Kujawski said.

The rotation schedule is necessary, Ms. Menasha said, because planting only nematode-resistant varieties would invite the worm to evolve, creating a sort of “super nematode.”

But if those varieties were not available for use in the rotation sequence, “people wouldn’t be able to grow potatoes out here,” Ms. Menasha said.

Even so, Mr. Kujawski, doesn’t feel he’s been done any favors by the development of the genetically modified crops.

“They aren’t anything to brag about and there’s always some kind of problem,” he said of resistant varieties he’s required to plant on 100 of his 500 acres. “The yield isn’t high and they get hollow heart, meaning there’s a hole in the middle. If a truck shipment shows over six percent have hollow heart in a sample, or two potatoes in a five pound bag, that shipment gets rejected. That costs a lot of money.”

In announcing the deregulation of the western New York acreage on Feb. 16, Ag and Markets Commissioner Darrel Aubertine called the move “a major first step” toward the goal of reducing nematode-regulated farmland by 90 percent by 2015. That would trim the 1.28 million quarantined acres down to 128,000.

But Mr. Kujawski isn’t holding his breath that his 100 acres will be deregulated that soon.

“If they find even one nematode, you’ll be in the program forever,” he said. The agency first found the nematodes in four or five of Mr. Kujawski’s 25 fields in 1964, and he’s been dealing with strict regulations ever since.

“Every year they change the rules about what we can do,” he said, “It’s all political b.s.”

Read more in Thursday’s issue of The Suffolk Times.

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02/29/12 9:00am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE | The school board meeting is scheduled for Wednesday at 7 p.m. at Riverhead High School.

The Riverhead school board will discuss administrative and classroom costs for next year’s budget at its meeting Wednesday night, according to the meeting agenda.

Board members will hear another in a series of presentations on the proposed 2012-13 budget, which is capped at a two percent overall tax levy increase due to state law. Superintendent Nancy Carney will share information about administrative costs, data and testing costs for state exams, and general classroom costs which include teachers, teaching assistants, curriculum, textbooks and supplies.

The regular meeting, which was rescheduled so parents could attend Tuesday night’s Riverhead girl’s basketball championship game, is open to the public.

Ms. Carney has said the school district will have to cut an estimated $3.2 million from its budget to come under this year’s cap. Earlier this month, 12 Riverhead teachers and nine teaching assistants were cut.

“What is perhaps most upsetting to me is that none of these people are being laid off for cause,” Ms. Carney said at the time. “They are each excellent employees who contribute to the education of our students.”

The superintendent said the faculty cuts would lead to bigger class sizes, adding that while the district did not want to increase class size, “with the provisions of the new tax cap levy law, larger class sizes are an unfortunate reality.”

The district has also proposed combining the Riverhead Middle School and Pulaski Street School school bus runs, a move later criticized by school bus drivers who cautioned the board about potential safety concerns for children on the buses.

The two percent tax cap, made law in New York State in 2011, could be pierced with approval from a 60 percent supermajority of district voters, though Ms. Carney has stated the district will not go that route. Capital improvements, such as the voter-approved $78.3 million school bond for infrastructure upgrades, are exempt from the tax-levy cap.

The school board will also vote Wednesday on approving about $70,000 in contract changes for kitchen replacements at district schools. Funds for the renovations are coming out of the capital reserve, a $10 million fund approved by residents in 2006.

“These change orders are being made to allow us to finish the work to the level we wish to achieve” Ms. Carney said this week.

The meeting will include time for the public to speak about next year’s budget, and will be held at 7 p.m. on Wednesday in the Riverhead High School auditorium.

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02/29/12 7:00am

A Riverhead man and his passenger were arrested in Flanders Monday night after Southampton police found the driver was high and carrying marijuana, police said.

Gregory Koplinka, 25, of Riverhead was stopped for speeding on Flanders Road at about 11 p.m., according to a police report.

Police said they discovered Mr. Koplinka was driving while high on marijuana after he was interviewed by cops when he was pulled over.

He was charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, unlawful possession of marijuana, and other vehicle and traffic charges. The passenger in the car, Philip Liquori, 24, of Baiting Hollow, was also found with marijuana and charged with fifth-degree criminal possession.

Mr. Koplinka was held overnight at Southampton Police Headquarters, while Mr. Liquori was released on an appearance ticket.

• A Greenport man who sped away from an officer during a traffic stop on Flanders Road in Flanders Feb. 5 is also wanted on a warrant from Suffolk County Police, Southampton Town Police said. A town police officer had responded to a home on Flanders Road after receiving a complaint about an intoxicated person, police said. A Chevy Tahoe with Indiana plates was located and the man behind the wheel first gave the officer a false name, then took off and could not be located, police said. Police later discovered that the man was Robert Lechner of Greenport and that there is a Suffolk County police warrant for his arrest on a scheme to defraud charge, according to police.

• John Gloor, 19, of Manorville was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief last Wednesday night on Oak Avenue in Flanders, police said. He was arrested at the Flanders location after an investigation revealed that earlier in the night he had been involved in a domestic dispute with a girlfriend and intentionally broke a door at her home on Kyle Road in Hampton Bays, according to police.

• A Flanders man was charged with stealing jewelry from another home in Flanders last Tuesday, according to police.
Richard Borsman, 35, was charged last Wednesday at police headquarters with fourth-degree grand larceny following an investigation into a theft of jewelry from a Flanders Road home. Police said Mr. Borsman was familiar with the home and had permission to be in it at the time the theft occurred, according to police, who did not indicate when the theft occurred.

• A handbag, wallet, iPhone charger and 30 compact discs were reported stolen Sunday from a car parked on East Street in Flanders. The owner was unsure if the car was locked; police said there was no forced entry or damage. The estimated value of the stolen items is $190, according to police.

• An unknown amount of copper piping was reported stolen from an unoccupied home for sale on Brookhaven Avenue in Flanders last Wednesday. The suspect appears to have gained entry by forcing open a rear door, police said, adding that the lock mechanism was found on the floor. The estimated value of the piping is unknown, according to police, who said the theft was reported by a realtor who is marketing the property.

• A 50-inch plasma television valued at $1,000 was reported stolen from a storage trailer on Oak Avenue in Flanders last Tuesday. Several other items, including credit cards and identification cards, were also taken, police said.

Those who are named in police reports have not been convicted of any crime or violation. The charges against them may later be reduced or withdrawn, or they may be found innocent.

02/29/12 12:28am

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shanice Allen struck a triumphant pose after Riverhead won its first Suffolk County championship since 1984.


When it was over, Riverhead players raced into each other’s arms as cameras flashed and the crowd cheered. Much more than a season’s worth of work had been on the line. This was more like a five-year plan coming to fruition. Everything had been geared toward Tuesday’s game. That heightened the pressure and the sense of urgency.

Special girls basketball teams like Riverhead don’t come along often, so when they do, they want to leave their mark. That is what the Blue Waves did on Tuesday. With a rare opportunity to snatch the second Suffolk County championship in team history, Riverhead did just that.

The Blue Waves captured the Suffolk Class AA Tournament title by doing something that no other team had been able to do this season: defeat Hauppauge.

Behind 24 points and an inspired effort by Shanice Allen, who dropped in her 1,000th career point along the way, third-seeded Riverhead shot down No. 4 Hauppauge, 60-52. The only other county title Riverhead won was a Class B crown in 1984.

After the final second ticked off the clock at Farmingdale State College, Riverhead senior guard Jalyn Brown ran over to her coach, Dave Spinella, and jumped into his arms. “I just started busting out crying because this is my dream, to win a county championship,” she said.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Shanice Allen, cutting through a hole in Hauppauge's defense, scored 24 points for Riverhead, including the 1,000th of her career.

Riverhead will play Class B champion Southampton on Friday for the overall county championship. Southampton upset Class A champion John Glenn Wednesday, 46-40, for the small school title. It was John Glenn that handed Riverhead its only loss in the season opener. The Blue Waves have won 21 straight since then.

More importantly, Riverhead has a date in the Southeast Region final on March 9 against the Nassau County champion, which has not been determined. A win in that game would send Riverhead to the New York State final four in Troy.

“It’s the happiest day,” Allen said. “This was what we had to win. We knew we had to come out, go hard or go home.”

Brown said, “We wanted to make history today, and we did.”

This has been a season of milestones for Riverhead: Spinella’s 100th career win; Brown’s 1,000th career point in Riverhead’s first playoff game; and now Allen’s 1,000th career point.

Allen needed 20 points to become the fourth Riverhead girl to reach the 1,000-point mark. The junior shooting guard reached that point with a free throw with 3 minutes 23 seconds left in the game. It wasn’t until a short while later, however, that the achievement was noted with an announcement by the public-address announcer, drawing a smile from Allen and hugs from her teammates.

“I wasn’t really expecting that,” she said. “I knew I was close.”

Allen was a big factor in the game. She scored her first 13 points during a pivotal 18-4 run that lifted Riverhead to a 29-18 lead early in the third quarter.

Allen showed coolness under fire, sinking 13 of 16 free throws.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Melodee Riley of Riverhead rose above Hauppauge's Lindsay Alfano (21) and Stephanie Peragallo (22) while shooting.

“She doesn’t feel too much pressure at all,” Spinella said. “That’s the mentality she has. … There are games that she takes over and says, ‘We’re not going to lose today.’ ”

Suffocating defense held Hauppauge (21-1) to a season-low 18 points in the first half. Hauppauge never led after the first quarter, falling behind by as many as 13 points on two occasions in the fourth quarter.

Hauppauge, a dangerous team that knocked off No. 1 Sachem East in the semifinals, has a penchant for the 3-point shot, with sharpshooters like Julie Williams and Lauren Descalzo. But Riverhead alertly kept close to the Eagles on the perimeter and held them to 0-for-2 shooting from beyond the arc in the first half. Hauppauge, which went 4 of 13 on 3-point attempts, didn’t hit its first 3-pointer until early in the third quarter when Lindsay Alfano knocked one down. Not long after that, Descalzo hit a trey, making it a 4-point game at 33-29.

“We had to get out to the arc and make them drivers instead of shooters,” said Allen.

Meanwhile, Riverhead hit 51.4 percent of its field-goal attempts, going 18 of 35. The Blue Waves made 21 of 27 free throws.

Riverhead suffered a scare with 3:55 to go in the third quarter. While charging toward the basket, Brown lost control, fell on her back and smacked her head against the floor. She laid motionless on the court, face down for a couple of minutes.

“I sort of blacked out a little bit,” she said.

Brown rose up and walked slowly to the bench, where a concussion test was administered. Then, 2:09 later, Brown re-entered the game to applause from the Riverhead fans.

Later, with 4:57 left in the game, Allen was the victim of a hard foul by Kasey Kephart that sent her to the floor where she writhed in pain before rising and walking off. Riverhead called a timeout and Allen remained in the game, going to the free-throw line to take her foul shots.

Hauppauge kept tight reins on Melodee Riley, who had scored a career-high 28 points against Lindenhurst in Riverhead’s semifinal. But Riley still ended up with 18 points (15 in the second half) and 8 rebounds.

Brown had 11 points and 5 assists. Kaila-Riane Nazario pulled down 10 rebounds for Riverhead.

Descalzo scored 17 points, Alfano added 13 points and 5 assists, and Stephanie Peragallo had 12 points and 8 rebounds for Hauppauge, which was seeking its second county title.

It had been 61 days since Riverhead last played a game decided by single digits. In Riverhead’s previous 20 wins, its average margin of victory was 24.3 points.

Regardless of the margin of victory, Riverhead is a county champion. That is something the Blue Waves have been waiting a long time to say.

“It’s amazing, awesome,” Riley said. “It had to be us, right?”

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02/28/12 5:04pm
02/28/2012 5:04 PM

Martha W. Tyte

Martha W. Tyte, formerly of Aquebogue and Riverhead, died Feb. 17 in Mesa, Ariz. She was 94.

Born March 9, 1917, in Remsenburg to Helen (Goldsmith) and Charles E. Wright, she was educated through her freshman year of college. She married A. Milton Tyte in Riverhead in 1978 and was a secretary in the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office in Riverhead.

She belonged to the Daughters of the American Revolution, Riverhead United Methodist Church and Rebekahs – Independent Order of Odd Fellows.

Family members said she enjoyed reading, genealogy and needlework.

Predeceased by her husband in 2000, Ms. Tyte is survived by her daughter, Jill Wells of Chandler, Ariz.; and siblings Virginia Backlund of East Hampton and Joseph Wright of Huntsville, Ala. Her brothers Edward and William Wright also predeceased her.

A memorial service and interment at Riverhead Cemetery will take place at a future date. Arrangements are being handled by Reginald H. Tuthill Funeral Home in Riverhead.

Donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or Riverhead United Methodist Church.