03/30/12 12:42pm
03/30/2012 12:42 PM

Ellen M. Griffin died March 28 at her home in Riverhead. She was 90.

She was born Feb. 16, 1922, in Manhattan to Catherine (Rooney) and Michael Coen. She was a manager at New York Telephone in Riverhead and belonged to Telephone Pioneers of America and Ladies of the Moose.

Family members, who called her Nanny, described her as the strongest, toughest and most loving woman they knew. They said she enjoyed knitting and gardening.

Ms. Griffin is survived by her sons, John and Michael; her daughters, Catherine Griffin and Ellen Pantaleo; her grandchildren, Michael, Amy and Kathleen; and her great-grandchildren, Tyler and Cayden. She was predeceased by her siblings, Margaret, Catherine, Michael and Joseph.

Visiting hours will take place today, Friday, March 30, from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at McLaughlin Heppner Funeral Home in Riverhead. A service will be held Saturday, March 31, at 10:30 a.m. at St. John the Evangelist R.C. Church in Riverhead, Father Larry Duncklee officiating. Interment will follow at the church cemetery.

This is a paid notice.

03/30/12 12:00pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Proceeds from the event will benefit Christopher Timpone, a 9-year-old Aquebogue boy who recently beat a rare form of bone cancer, and Michael Hubbard, who was seriously injured in a gel candle explosion last May.

Teachers and school staff competed Thursday night in a sports-themed fundraiser to raise money for two Riverhead students in need.

“Crazy Sports Night,” sponsored by the PTO Executive Council, featured eight teams of school administrators and teachers facing off in scooter races, a 3-point basketball shot competition, a hula hoop chain, a tug-of-war and more.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Christopher Timpone, a 9-year-old Aquebogue boy who recently beat a rare form of bone cancer, and Michael Hubbard, who was seriously injured in a gel candle explosion last May.

High school principal David Wicks served as head referee, and Doc Greenberger and Lorene Custer were the Master and Madame of Ceremonies.

The event was inspired by a similar fundraiser at Eastport-South Manor High School.

Check out Barbaraellen Koch’s photos below:

[nggallery id=339 template=galleryview]

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03/30/12 9:00am

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Dee Muma says Spicy's isn't going anywhere.

Dark Horse Restaurant owner Dee Muma has purchased the Spicy’s Bar-B-Que property on West Main Street and she says the restaurant will remain open.

The deal for the property, a 1-acre space which stretches from Main Street to edge of the Peconic River, was finalized March 16 for an undisclosed amount, Ms. Muma said in an interview Thursday afternoon.

Ms. Muma dispelled rumors that she would look to close the beloved barbecue joint, saying the iconic Riverhead restaurant isn’t going anywhere.

“No, no, no, no, no,” she said. “Spicy’s is to remain, and all I plan to be is a customer.”

She added that the president of Spicy’s, Rick Stoner, will continue to operate the restaurant privately.

“It’s Spicy’s,” she said, “There will be no ‘Dark Spicy’s.'”

The deal had been in the works since last fall,  but was only completed after an environmental study of the property was finished.

Ms. Muma, who was named the News-Review’s Business Person of the Year in 2010, said she insisted on waiting for the environmental study to make sure the land wasn’t contaminated with pollutants before she made her purchase.

“The last thing I wanted to do is to have something that would pollute the river,” she said.

The Spicy’s property marks the latest purchase by Ms. Muma and her husband, Ed Tuccio, who also own the adjacent Tweed’s Restaurant. The Riverhead residents purchased the three-story Dark Horse building in 2009 and renovated it, creating five live-work duplexes on the upper floors and opening the downstairs restaurant in 2010.

She also purchased the adjacent building on Peconic Avenue that same year and plans to create an art studio and gallery on the first two floors, with about five efficiency apartments on the third floor.

Ms. Muma said she was motivated to buy the Spicy’s property because she sees opportunity in owning an iconic section of riverfront property as the town grows.

“For a long time, Riverhead was a punchline,” she said. “People are starting to realize now the value and beauty [of the town].”

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03/30/12 7:00am

You may have seen Main Road Red appear on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest and wondered “Who is Main Road Red?”

Main Road Red is Times/Review Newsgroup’s newest member. She is our online guru for all that’s going on around the North Fork.

Main Road Red

Have an event you think should make her top ten list of the week? Submit it.

Have a place you think you should check out? Contact her.

Have a real estate listing you think should be listing of the week? Email her.

Main Road Red is a way for TR Newsgroup to reach out to the community on a different level. Main Road Red wants to know what’s going on out there.

So go ahead and engage … and help keep her in the know.

03/29/12 7:32pm
03/29/2012 7:32 PM

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck pitcher Ryan Finger threw a one-hit shutout against Bishop McGann-Mercy.


The Mattituck Tuckers needed a helping hand. Fortunately for them, they had a Finger.

When his baseball team needed innings from his right pitching arm, Ryan Finger came through with not only a complete game, but a one-hit shutout on Thursday. His 6-0 win at Bishop McGann-Mercy Diocesan High School wasn’t flashy, with double-digit strikeouts or anything like that, but it was just what Mattituck needed. In their season opener three days earlier against Center Moriches, three Tuckers pitchers totaled over 170 pitches.

“We really didn’t want to go into our bullpen today,” Mattituck coach Steve De Caro said. “I never dreamed in a million years that he would pitch a complete game today. I can’t tell you how important it was for our team that he did what he did today.”

Mattituck arms needed rest on Thursday, and they got them thanks to Finger. The junior had only one strikeout through six innings, finishing with three after fanning the game’s last two batters. His performance was smooth and steady.

De Caro “expected me to pitch well today, so I was a little nervous the other day, but in the back of my head I knew I was going to pitch alright,” Finger said. “My arm has been feeling good.”

The only hit Finger gave up was to the second batter he faced in the game. Owen Gilpin bounced a single past third baseman Brian Pelan in the first inning. Finger walked the next batter, Keith Schroeher, putting two runners on base with one out. But Finger escaped the danger, getting Pat Stepnoski to bounce into a fielder’s choice and Christian Lynch to ground out.

“The first inning was a little scare,” Finger said, “but once I got out of that with a runner on third, I felt like my confidence picked up and it was going to be fine.”

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Travis Zurawski of Mattituck trying to steal second base while Bishop McGann-Mercy shortstop Pat Stepnoski covers the bag. Zurawski was called out on the seventh-inning play because of a batter's interference call against George Lessard.

McGann-Mercy batters reached base only three times after the first inning, from two walks and a fielder’s choice.

Finger said he kept his pitches low and didn’t try to overthrow in the cold weather. It must have helped. He retired the side in order three times and faced four batters in each of two other innings. It also helped his cause that Mattituck (1-1 overall and in Suffolk County League VIII) played errorless defense.

“He spotted his fastball,” De Caro said. “He had a lot of movement on his fastball. His curveball looked good, too. He was throwing that for strikes, so he was keeping them on their toes.”

Before Finger stepped onto the pitcher’s mound, he enjoyed the luxury of a 6-0 lead. Mattituck batted through its order in the top of the first inning thanks to four hits (one by Finger) and two errors. The rally featured a run-scoring single by Cameron Burt and a three-run double that John Schultz roped down the left-field line. Burt and Schultz both finished with two hits apiece.

McGann-Mercy’s starting pitcher, Joe Crosser, was a bit unfortunate. Four of those runs were unearned.

Crosser did not give up a hit after the first inning. He was relieved by Lynch before the sixth.

The fact that Finger tossed a one-hitter with only three strikeouts just goes to show that strikeouts aren’t everything.

“We talk to our starting pitchers all the time: They don’t have to strike out everybody,” De Caro said. “Just keep the ball low and let the defense work.”

With the season still in its infancy, McGann-Mercy (0-2, 0-2) has already absorbed a terrible blow, having lost, at least temporarily, three of its pitchers. The team’s No. 2 pitcher, J. T. De Scalo, has had a gallbladder operation. Coach Ed Meier hopes to have him back in a week. De Scalo’s replacement, Kevin Thomas, is academically ineligible. And, to top it off, Pat Marelli was struck in the face by a line drive during batting practice a couple of weeks ago. Meier said he expects Marelli, who was having work done on his nose, to be out for two to four weeks.

“It definitely affects us,” Gilpin said. “They’re all our pitchers, good pitchers, too. We need them.”

The other issue for McGann-Mercy is hitting. The Monarchs managed only one run and five hits in its season-opening loss to Babylon.

“We should be hitting better,” Gilpin said. “I don’t know why we’re not. We’re all good hitters.”

Is the low run production a cause for concern?

“You play two baseball games and you score one run, yeah, that’s something to be concerned about, absolutely,” Meier said. He added, “You hope you go out there and score more runs than zero.”

Meanwhile, De Caro had another type of concern that he voiced before heading to the team bus. Although he was happy with how Finger pitched, De Caro said, “The only problem now is I’m going to have to shut him up now because he’s not going to stop talking for the next week.”

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03/29/12 6:00pm

A fundraiser for the Riverhead-based Suffolk County United Veterans raised about $1,200 last Thursday at the Southampton Publick House.

The nonprofit organization was founded in 1989 to help homeless veterans regain their dignity and independence. It provides housing, education and job training and has a food pantry in Riverhead and a 24-bed shelter in Yaphank called The Vet’s Place, according to executive director John Lynch.

“We’re not just a shelter, we’re a home,” said Wilkens Young, program director at the shelter.

“It’s about education, and life experience,” he said. “That’s what we try to teach the guys at The Vet’s Place. Guys caught in hard times have a tendency to fall by the wayside. What we provide them is support in order to be productive members of society.”

Mr. Young isn’t just the program director, he’s a former homeless vet himself, who lived at The Vet’s Place.

Mr. Young said he served in the U.S. Army from 1976 to 1978 and when he got out, he found himself dealing drugs and eventually spending six years in an upstate jail. After his release in 2000, he was homeless. He eventually ended up meeting Mr. Lynch and getting his life back in order.

“Through this organization I was able to achieve the goals I set for myself,” Mr. Young said.

Thursday’s fundraiser was organized by Chris Cuddihy of Riverside, who has organized several fundraisers for the nonprofit group in recent years, most of which have involved him in an endurance event, such as rowing around Long Island or running around downtown Riverhead for 24 hours. He said he plans to organize both events again this year.

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03/29/12 2:00pm

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Asbestos remediation workers began work at Town Hall receptionist Verna Campbell's house Thursday.

Nearly three months after her Maple Avenue house was devastated by fire, work has now begun on getting Riverhead resident and longtime Town Hall receptionist Verna Campbell’s life back to normal.

Contractors with New York Insulation, based out of Masbeth, started work on Ms. Campbell’s damaged home this week, said a field supervisor with the company, Carl Parisi. The private contractors are currently testing the air quality and cleaning out the home, which Mr. Parisi said has become contaminated by soot, asbestos, and mold in the months since the fire.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Verna Campbell and her daughter Bonnie-Sue Luce outside their fire-damaged home on Maple Avenue in January.

“It became a big petri dish,” he said of the house, adding that the contents inside were too contaminated to save.

Ms. Cambell’s house, where she lived with her daughter, caught fire Jan. 7 after boxes fell onto a heated stove where she was preparing tea. Ms. Campbell and her daughter, Bonnie-Sue Luce, escaped through the house’s second floor exterior stairway with their dog, but three cats died in the blaze.

Following the fire, donations from across the community and from her colleagues at Town Hall poured in to help Ms. Campbell, who turned 79-years-old this past week. She has since lived in a mobile home set up on her property until repairs to her house are finished.

Contractors will spend the next four weeks disposing of the burned house’s interior and removing asbestos-contaminated plaster from the walls of the more than 100-year-old home. Reconstruction will then start on the house and last for approximately five months, Ms. Campbell said.

“It’s a long process, but I’m thankful to God that I’m here and that things are moving forward,” she said Thursday while working the switchboard at Town Hall.

She said it has been difficult to realize that many of her precious family heirlooms, like a bureau her father made and an antique china cabinet, were likely lost in the fire.

“I’ve been a collector of some sort,” she said. “There will be a lot of things that will be thrown out. That’s what I have to face.”

Yet despite losing her possessions, Ms. Campbell said she is glad to be safe and is looking forward to buying new appliances and furniture through her insurance money.

“Out of tragedy can come triumph,” she said cheerfully. “I’m ready to move on.”

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