06/30/12 7:00pm
06/30/2012 7:00 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Don Fisher, president of the Railroad Museum of Long Island, stands by what’s left of the historic Engine 39. The boiler is still in Pennsylvania where it being repaired until the nonprofit museum ran out of money.

Back in the late 1970s, a group of railroad enthusiasts began the dream of bringing an old steam locomotive from Stony Brook to Riverhead so they could restore it, and even use it to run tourist trips between Riverhead and Greenport.

Fast-forward to 2012: The restoration of Engine 39, which was build in 1929, still is not complete and a lot more money is needed before the long-held dream ever becomes a reality.

The Railroad Museum of Long Island, which took over the Engine 39 preservation efforts from the Engine 39 Restoration Committee in the early 1990s, received an $800,000 grant for the work in 1996.

But that money was all spent by December 2009 and the group stopped work on the engine, leaving parts of it — including the boiler and firebox — in a restoration shop in Strasburg, Pa., where they remain. Other portions of the locomotive, including the cab and the wheels, are in Riverhead.

“We’re not giving up,” said museum president Don Fisher.

The downturn in the economy has made it difficult to get grants or donations for the job, and he estimates that completing the restoration will require an additional $2 million.

So instead of seeking more government grants, the museum, which has locations in Riverhead and Greenport, plans to go national with its campaign to restore Engine 39, he said.

And it’s going to happen next year.

“Beginning in 2013, we’re starting a nationwide, grass-roots donations campaign to raise the $2 million,” he said. “This is a paradigm shift for the museum. This is a complete turn away from government grants or entitlements. We’re not going to go to the government anymore, because we can’t. The taxpayers, I don’t believe, support preservation and history like they used to. These are tough times. So we’re going to turn to a nationwide campaign.”

The first step for the group is to obtain lists of as many railroad enthusiasts and history buffs as possible, and then try to solicit donations from them, Mr. Fisher said.

“If we can get 2 million people across the United States to send in one dollar, we can get this job done,” he said. “We can get the restoration completed — and without government grants.

“This is not limited to Long Island,” he added. “This has interest to a much wider industrial history group.”

Engine 39 is one of only three locomotives of its type remaining in the U.S., according to Mr. Fisher. During its heyday, it could reach great speeds quickly, travel at more than 80 mph and also stop quickly.

Another steam engine, featured with Engine 39 in the Long Island Rail Road’s 1955 “End of Steam” ceremony in Hicksville, is now at the Oyster Bay Railroad Museum. The third, a diesel locomotive known as Engine 1556, is also at the Railroad Museum of Long Island’s museum and yard at Griffing and Railroad avenues in Riverhead.

There are a number of other old trains and train cars the group has restored, or is working on, as well as a gift shop, an historic Lionel train layout and a working miniature train from the 1964 World’s Fair.

The long range goal for Engine 39, “if we can get $2 million,” Mr. Fisher said, is still to run dinner trains between Riverhead and Greenport and vineyard excursions on the weekends.

He’s hopeful that going nationwide will be the answer.

“If we can’t get the money that way, honestly, I don’t know how we’re going to do it,” Mr. Fisher said. “But we’re not giving up. We’re chartered by the State Education Department as stewards of this equipment for everybody in New York.

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06/30/12 5:00pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Baby barn swallows take a look to see where their mother went.

This barn swallow nest sits above a garage door at Karen Glover and Bob Taylor’s house on Shade Tree Lane in Aquebogue.

Ms. Glover said the mother bird got so used to the couple coming and going from the garage that the bird doesn’t get startled or leave the nest.

But when staff photographer Barbaraellen Koch showed, the mother bird left the nest and screeched and circled above at about 25 feet until Ms. Koch left.

While mom was away, the babies looked over the top of the nest to see what was the matter.

06/30/12 2:00pm

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | A child’s toothbrush and other debris at Saturday morning’s crash scene.

Three people, including a 3-year-old girl, were injured in a head-on collision in Jamesport Saturday, but none of the injuries appeared to be life-threatening, Riverhead police said.

John Cain, 72, of Jamesport was driving a 2007 Dodge pickup truck northbound on Manor Lane when his vehicle crossed the roadway and struck a southbound Subaru Forester about 10 a.m. near a curve just north of Fox Lane on Manor Lane, police said.

“It was one of those skids, where you don’t want to hear the crash at the end,” said Ed Lucas.

He and his wife, Joanne, who live near the crash scene, rushed to the street immediately and tended to the little girl, identified as Ella Giles, and her mom, Rebecca, who were both still inside the SUV.

They comforted the girl and her shaken mother until emergency responders arrived.

“The baby pointed across her chest where the five-point seat belt would be,” Ms. Lucas said. “She started developing bruises under her arms and she had blood coming from her mouth. By the time the paramedics arrived, her lips were all swollen.

“She was very coherent and the mother was very calm,” she continued. “I suspect [the mother] was in shock because she had a hard time getting in contact with her husband and was going in and out of even knowing her child was there.”

“Someone wanted to take the little girl out of the car, ” Mr. Lucas added, “but we knew we should wait for the paramedics to arrive.”

Ms. Lucas also rushed to get a towel to help tend to Mr. Cain, whose head struck the window and was bleeding profusely, Mr. Lucas said.

“He had a major horse-shoe shaped gash going across his forehead…” he said. “He hit the windshield hard. He was bleeding so profusely… It was like watching a pot of water boil waiting for the paramedics, but they were very fast”

Mr. Cain was airlifted from the scene to Stony Brook University Medical Center and two others, and the mom and her daughter were transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead for treatment, police and the witnesses said.

“From what I understand one of the vehicles crossed into the other lane,” said Jamesport Fire Department Chief Harold “Duffy” Griffiths. “We had to use the Jaws of Life [extraction tool] briefly to cut a gear shift out of the way” of the SUV.

“This is a very dangerous part of the road and people just fly down it,” Ms. Lucas said.

It was not immediately known what caused Mr. Cain to swerve into oncoming traffic.

Both cars were impounded for safety checks.

Anyone with information that could help in the investigation is asked to call Riverhead police detectives at 727-4500, ext. 328.

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Paul Squire contributed reporting to this article.

06/30/12 12:00pm

CORNELL RESEARCH LAB COURTESY PHOTO | Late blight in a potato field in Riverhead.

Late blight, the vegetable disease that caused the Irish potato famine, has now been found at three locations between Riverhead and Mattituck, Dr. Meg McGrath of Cornell University’s Long Island Horticultural Research and Extension Center said last week.

Dr. McGrath said that the blight has been found on tomatoes and potatoes at both farms and backyard gardens. The disease, which begins with brown lesions on the leaves and stems of plants, affects only tomatoes, potatoes and some ornamental plants.

Dr. McGrath said the disease, a fungus, often spreads after rainfall. The spores can travel up to 30 miles.

Blight was first spotted in the region, at a Riverhead farm, in May.

She is recommending that home gardeners check their plants daily to see if they have the disease and, if it is suspected, bring them to Cornell Cooperative Extension’s home gardening resource center on Griffing Avenue in Riverhead.

She said not treating late blight can lead to gardeners becoming “Typhoid Marys,” who can unknowingly devastate an entire region’s crops if the disease goes unchecked.

Infected plants must be dug up and disposed of in the trash. They should not be composted.

Gardeners who are concerned they have late blight can call CCE at 727-4126 for more information.

More photos of late blight are available at http://www.longislandhort.cornell.edu/vegpath/photos/lateblight_tomato.htm.

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06/30/12 10:00am

Southampton Town police arrested a 29-year-old ATV user during what police called a “Pine Barrens Patrol” south of Sunrise Highway.

And the department is promising more operations to come.

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office’s air support unit also assisted in the operation, which was confined to the protected area between County Road 31 and Speonk-Riverhead Road, just west of Gabreski Airport in Westhampton.

There, police spotted a James Brennan of Westhampton Beach riding on a trial, along with a passenger. He was stopped and charged with numerous state vehicle and traffic violations, as well as county and town code violations, including operating an ATV on public property. The vehicle was also unregistered and uninsured, police said.

He was released without bail. The ATV was impounded.

Southampton Town police officials said they’re launching the patrols in response to numerous citizen complaints.

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06/30/12 9:00am

AMY SPERO PHOTO | Chris Turbush alongside his No. 81 charger car.

Name: Christopher “Bub” Turbush

Age: 35

Division: Charger

Top Sponsors: East West Marine, Lighthouse Market, Flash Dink INC

Born into a racing family, Christopher “Bub” Turbush of Riverhead has become one of the most accomplished drivers at Riverhead Raceway. He’s currently a four-time defending champion in the charger division, having won from 2008-11. He’s right back in the thick of things this season with 222 points in the charger division, second behind Jeremy McDermott.

A 10-year veteran of Riverhead Raceway, Turbush also races the super pro trucks, where he’s currently second in the standings behind Michael Albasini.

He started racing in 2000 with his father’s car before taking two years off. His sixth race ended with a victory. His brother Roger races as well. One of his favorite racing memories was seeing his brother win the Championship Truck Series, he said.

The camaraderie of racing at Riverhead where he knows everyone is his favorite part, he said. When he’s not on the race track, Turbush enjoys a variety of other sports from softball to flag football to bowling.

He said his family has been the biggest supporter in his career.

Previous Meet the Drivers profiles:

#66 Shawn Solomito

#17/#71 Kyle Ellwood

#5 Jeremy McDermott

#19 Robert Bader

#34 Eric Zeh

#8x Eddie Brunnhoelzl III

#19x Rob ‘The Racer’ McCormick

06/30/12 7:00am

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Sag Harbor Village officials board the Peconic Bay Water Jitney Friday afternoon in Greenport.

East End visitors can now see the North and South forks in the same day by taking a 40-minute ride aboard the new Peconic Bay Water Jitney passenger ferry, which held a soft opening this week.

Mattituck business owner Jim Ryan of Response Marine, who proposed the 100-day water taxi pilot plan jointly with Hampton Jitney president Geoffrey Lynch, said ferry operations linking Greenport and Sag Harbor villages have gone “very well.”

“We’ve been on schedule,” Mr. Ryan said. “So far, so good.”

In Greenport, passengers get on and off the 53-passenger vessel near the camera obscura in Mitchell Park. From there, the ferry hugs the shoreline of Shelter Island and docks at the north end of Long Wharf in Sag Harbor.

Ferry operators said about 25 people rode the ferry as of 1 p.m. Friday afternoon.

Sag Harbor Village Mayor Brian Gilbride, along with Village Clerk Beth Kamper, Chief of Police Tom Fabiano and Superintendent of Public Works Dee Yardley took the 10 a.m. ferry to Greenport Friday morning in order to experience it first hand.

“The ride was very enjoyable,” Mr. Gilbride said. “I plan to take my kids and grandkids here.”

Sag Harbor Village officials said they ate brunch at the Coronet, visited Village Hall and window shopped.

“It was a great trip and beautiful ride,” Ms. Kamper said.

Peconic Bay Water Jitney also includes bus service to alleviate parking congestion in both villages.

Hampton Jitney shuttles passengers between Bridgehampton, East Hampton and the ferry dock in Sag Harbor. On the North Fork, shuttle service between Greenport School, where people would park, and Mitchell Park Marina is set to begin Saturday.

The ferry will make seven trips from each port Sundays through Wednesdays, starting at 7 a.m. from Greenport. There will be nine daily departures from each port Thursdays through Saturdays.

The estimated 40-minute ride will cost $11 for adults one way and $20 round trip.

For more information, visit peconicjitney.com.

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06/29/12 6:00pm
06/29/2012 6:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Construction will begin soon on a 1,200-square-foot addition at Temple Israel.

Temple Israel held a celebratory cocktail party on the grounds of the 1948 historic building on Northville Turnpike Thursday evening.

Congregants Barbara Smith, architect Robert Brown, Rabbi Bill Siemers and Diamond Builders president Richard Israel wielded shovels and tossed dirt on the side of the building where construction will begin on the 1,200-square-foot addition.

The addition will include a ‘Shabat’ elevator, which will make the building handicapped accessible and it’ll be an elevator thats operation conforms to Jewish law. In addition to the elevator, the restoration work will also include construction of a rabbi’s study and office as well as a handicapped accessible bathroom in the back of the building, Mr. Israel said.

[Click here for previous coverage and description of the ‘Shabat’ elevator].

The elevator will take people to a balcony that will be built on the upper floor, where they then walk or take a wheelchair to the front door, Mr. Israel said. The elevator also will go to the temple’s downstairs social hall, he said.

He had hoped that the addition would be completed by the high holy days in September, but there have been some delays, so now he said he hopes it will be completed before winter.

The temple’s congregation celebrated its 100th year last September, and the building itself was built in 1948. Prior to that, the congregation met in a building on the corner of East Avenue and Northville Turnpike, which is now used as a warehouse.