08/31/12 8:00pm
08/31/2012 8:00 PM

ROBERT O’ROURK FILE PHOTO | Miguel Maysonet will lead Stony Brook University against Central Connecticut in the season opener Saturday night.

The preseason accolades came flooding in throughout the summer for Miguel Maysonet and the Stony Brook University football team.

Maysonet, the former Riverhead running back who won the Hansen Award in 2008, was named to the watch list for the Walter Payton Award as the top offensive player in the Football Championship Subdivision. Then came Big South Preseason Offensive Player of the Year honors. Then came preseason All-America honors.

Now, under heavy weight of expectations, it’s his time to deliver on all those accolades.

The Seawolves, fresh off their best season in school history last year, open their 2012 season Saturday night at home against Central Connecticut. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at LaValle Stadium. It’ll be the first time Stony Brook begins its season at home since 2008.

The preseason favorites to win the Big South, Stony Brook is ranked in every major FCS poll. The Seawolves are ranked as high as ninth by Phil Steele’s College Football Preview.

After rushing for 1,633 yards and 15 touchdowns last year, Maysonet will likely have an even greater role in the backfield this season after former William Floyd standout Brock Jackolski graduated. Jackolski rushed for 1,418 yards and 16 touchdowns last season as he and Maysonet formed an unstoppable one-two punch on the ground.

The Seawolves open the season with a pair of home games before traveling to Syracuse Sept. 15 for a game that will be broadcast on SNY. The Seawolves will also have its game at Army Sept. 29 aired on CBS Sports Network.

Click here for more Stony Brook coverage.

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08/31/12 4:51pm

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | Riders hit the streets during the 2001 Soldier Ride.

There will be two Soldier Ride events this weekend honoring Shelter Island’s Army First Lieutenant Joseph Theinert, who died in Afghanistan in 2010.

The first, the North Fork Soldier Ride, begins in Mitchell Park in Greenport Saturday morning. Registration begins at 7 a.m. followed by a ceremony at 8 with three different rides begin at 8:30 a.m.

There will be a 15-mile one-way ride from Greenport to Mattituck, a 30-mile round trip ride to Mattituck and a 60-mile loop from Greenport to Mattituck to Orient and back to Greenport. A community picnic will be held after the ride at the Moore’s Lane fairgrounds.

The fee, which supports the Wounded Warrior Project, is $50 for civilians, $25 for veterans and those under the age of 18 and free for active duty military personnel.

The Shelter Island Spur Ride begins at the American Legion Mitchell Post 281, 1 Bateman Road on Shelter Island. There are two loops, 12.5 miles and 25 miles. Registration is $50 but $25 for riders under 16.

There will be a post-ride cookout at the American Legion post.

Registration begins at 7 a.m., with a kickoff celebration at 8 and the ride’s start at 8:30.

Proceeds from the Spur Ride benefit the Joseph J. Theinert Memorial Fund’s support of veterans and their families.

Riders in the North Fork event can register at http://www.woundedwarriorproject.org/programs/soldier-ride/community-rides/north-fork.aspx.

To register for the Spur Ride, go to: http://shelterislandspurride-zvents.eventbrite.com/

08/31/12 2:04pm

Hometown Taxi owner Bryan DaPalma of Southampton and Supervisor Sean Walter talked about relocating part of his taxi business to the Riverhead train station.

Media members outnumbered prospective tenants at Friday’s tour of the 102-year-old Riverhead train station, which the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is trying to lease out.

The MTA has issued a request for proposals from companies who might want to lease space at the station, which hasn’t been used as a railroad station since 1972. The station has been vacant for most of the time since then.

The deadline for submitting proposals is Sept. 28.

The MTA gave a tour of the building at noon, and only two prospective renters showed, though representatives from three media outlets did, along with some Riverhead Town officials, including town historian Georgette Case.

One company that is definitely interested is Southampton-based Hometown Taxi, which runs cars throughout the East End.

Owner Bryan Deparma said he’d like to use the building to dispatch cabs. The company currently runs cars in Riverhead but has to monitor them from an office in either Southold or Southampton, he said. It also has contracts for medical transport to local hospitals, and a contract Maureen’s Haven to transport homeless to local shelters in the winter, he said.

“This is perfect for what we want to do,” he said of the train station, though he said the building might be a bit big for his needs.

“I don’t need a big space,” he said. “If I just could use the ticket counter” and someone else could occupy the rest of the station, “that would work”, he said.

The only other prospective tenant to take the tour was Ike Israel of Riverhead-based Richmond Realty Corp., who said the company just wanted to see what was available.

Anthony Coates of Riverhead, an adviser to the town supervisor, did not take Friday’s tour, but told the News-Review in an interview that he and his 20-year-old daughter, Courtney, who is a business student at Stony Brook University, plan to submit a proposal to rent the train station as a restaurant/cafe type establishment.

Mr. Coates, who has been involved in the restaurant business in the past, said that with the recent closure of Riverhead establishments like East Enders and Off Main,  “there’s no place to capture a quick doughnut or muffin in town.”

John Coyne of the MTA’s real estate department, who gave the tour, said the public authority has contacted some businesses, such as Dunkin’ Donuts, about the possibility of leasing space in the Riverhead station, as well as in other MTA train stations.

The MTA doesn’t usually receive proposals to rent its stations until its close to the deadline for submissions, he said, adding that depending on what the response is, the MTA may push the deadline back.

A decision on whether to rent the entire site to one company or subdivide it among more than one company also will depend on the response, he said.

Mr. Coyne said he’s grateful Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter was able to get publicity for the tour and the lease opportunity by reaching out to the local media.

The MTA undertook about $1 million in renovations to the Railroad Avenue station and then leased it to the town at no charge in 2002, with a condition that it be occupied by a nonprofit organization. But the town has had little success in finding a tenant since then, even when it offered the building rent-free.

Mr. Walter said the conditions the MTA had put on the lease in the past made it difficult to find a tenant.

The MTA taking the lead in looking for tenants is a new strategy, he said.

“I was getting ready to write a letter to the MTA telling them we were condemning the building because of the condition it was in,” Mr. Walter said in an interview. But before he got the chance to send the letter, Police Chief David Hegermiller suggested he talk to Long Island Rail Road president Helena Williams, whom the chief knows.

Mr. Walter said he called Ms. Williams earlier this year and she told him she would issue the RFP for the train station. Of the town’s inability to get anywhere with the MTA in the past, she told him he wasn’t talking to the right people, the supervisor said.

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08/31/12 12:00pm
Brendan House, Michael Hubbard, Nancy Reyer, New Beginnings

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | When completed, Brendan House will help fill a medical care void on eastern Long Island by providing round-the-clock care for young adults.

Nancy Reyer held back tears as she spoke about how Michael Hubbard, her 16-year-old son who was seriously burned in a gel candle accident in May 2011, would benefit from a proposed group home in Riverhead for traumatic brain injury victims.

“It’s nothing but the grace of God that Brendan House is going to be two miles away from where I live,” Ms. Reyer said. “If this is not God in the works, I don’t know what is.”

CARINGBRIDGE.COM COURTESY PHOTO | Nancy Reyer and her son, Michael Hubbard, celebrated Mother’s Day this year at Blythesdale Children’s Hospital.

Renovations and fundraising efforts are almost ready to begin for Brendan House, a planned 12-bed long-term care home on Sound Avenue for people with brain injuries and other cognitive issues, organizers said at an informational meeting last Thursday night in Medford, attended by about a dozen people, including Ms. Reyer.

Organizers said they’re in the process of getting permits from Riverhead Town to begin improvements on the structure, which once served as housing for single mothers before it was donated last year to New Beginnings Community Center, a nonprofit outpatient rehab center in Medford.

New Beginnings and nonprofit group Family Residences & Essential Enterprises of Old Bethpage will run the home, named in honor of Brendan Aykroyd, a 25-year-old Blue Point man who suffered a brain injury in a 2009 assault. Mr. Aykroyd joined New Beginnings to continue his rehabilitation last year but died in his sleep that June.

The home will allow victims of traumatic brain injuries to live independently while still receiving the care they need. Few centers like Brendan House currently exist to aid people who are in need of long-term care but too young for seniors-only assisted living facilities, a February special report in the News-Review found.Family Residences & Essential Enterprises has already begun interviews with potential housemates; Michael has been guaranteed a spot in the home already, New Beginning’s founder Alysson Scerri said.

Since there are no local options for Michael to receive the support he needs, he must stay at Blythedale Children’s Hospital in Valhalla, N.Y., more than 80 miles away from his Riverhead home.

Plans for Brendan House, designed pro bono by architect Roger Smith of BBS Architecture, who designed the Long Island Aquarium and the Hyatt Place East End hotel, are nearly complete, said project manager and New Beginnings executive vice president Steve Scerri.

Once the permits and plans are finalized in the next month or two, fundraising and renovations for the home will begin in earnest.

“We’re still going to need volunteers. We’re going to need materials,” Mr. Scerri said.

Renovations are expected to cost between $200,000 and $250,000, volunteers said. The group has already received donations from The Home Depot and has several shipping containers of supplies already on hand, but it will need funds to complete the construction work.

Supporters discussed ways to raise money for the project. Carolyn Carrera, a classmate of Michael’s, said she would try to organize students at Riverhead High School to help with construction efforts and would also sell T-shirts. Ms. Reyer suggested the group set up a booth at the upcoming Riverhead Country Fair to raise awareness and funds.

A first fundraising event has already been organized, a golf outing in Mount Sinai on Sept. 25, Ms. Scerri said.

In the meantime, Ms. Reyer will continue to do what she’s done for more than a year: fight to help her son. Michael is making progress in his recovery and now smiles and laughs, gifts Ms. Reyer said are the “greatest things” God gave her back, she said at last week’s meeting.

“We’ve come a long way,” she told those in attendance. “I just continue to say the Devil is a liar; my son will walk and talk someday.”

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08/31/12 10:00am
Darknight, batman, Alan Horn, Disney Studios

ASSOCIATED PRESS PHOTO/CHRIS PIZZELLO | Alan Horn (from right), actor Michael Caine and director Christopher Nolan in a 2008 ceremony for Mr. Caine in Los Angeles.

1960 was the year childhood friends Alan Horn and Howard Gassert — who both lived in Aquebogue at the time — graduated from Riverhead High School.

Howard was your typical jock; Alan was into baseball, but his main focus was academics.

“I always admired Alan for his self-discipline, and he admired me for my athleticism, but you see how far athletics has gotten me,” Mr. Gassert said with a laugh.

Mr. Gassert owns a nice home on Sandalwood Lane in Riverhead with his wife, Nancy, a former Riverhead school board member, but he’s comparing himself to Alan Horn. Yes, film buffs. The Alan Horn.

For the uninitiated, Mr. Horn went on to become a film industry great, a man named a “Studio Titan” in The Hollywood Reporter’s 2011 “Legends” issue.

So, how did he get there?

Mr. Horn doesn’t delve much into his past during interviews, so his buddy did that for him.

“If someone said, ‘Hey, there’s a party somewhere,’ I’d be halfway out the door and he’d say, ‘Oh, I can’t go, I have to study,’ ” said Mr. Gassert, recalling Mr. Horn as a teenager. “That’s why he is where he is today.”

The co-founder of Castle Rock Entertainment — the successful TV and film production company behind such beloved modern classics as “The Shawshank Redemption” and “Seinfeld” — and a former 12-year president and chief operating officer of Warner Brothers Entertainment, Mr. Horn became the newest chairman of Walt Disney Studios only two months ago.

The move induced a flurry of reports heralding Mr. Horn as the man who would “reinvent” Walt Disney Studios after the epic flop “John Carter” lost the studio $200 million dollars.

But in an interview with the News-Review, Mr. Horn said “shaking things up” isn’t part of his MO as the studio’s newest chairman.

“What I’m trying to do is continue a tradition of quality family entertainment at Disney,” Mr. Horn told the paper last week, adding that he hopes to work both productively and comfortably with people at Disney subsidiaries, including Marvel, Pixar and Dreamworks.

“It’s only been two months, so everything’s still very embryonic,” Mr. Horn said, noting that three big films were already under way when he took over. “[Johnny Depp’s ‘The Lone Ranger’] is almost finished shooting, [James Franco’s ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’] has finished shooting and [Angelina Jolie’s ‘Malificent’] is well along its shooting, but all three represent exciting projects and the kind of thing I have no problem embracing.

“I like to think I’m already making a contribution to what those projects will become.”

Mr. Gassert said he had a hunch some big movie studio was courting his best friend — who was also his best man and is his daughter Karen’s godfather — when Mr. Horn called to tell him he wouldn’t be in touch for two months because something “top secret” was in the works that had the potential to “change his life dramatically.”

No matter how dramatically Mr. Horn’s life changes, Mr. Gassert said, two things will never change: their friendship and Mr. Horn himself.

“He’s just my best friend,” Mr. Gassert said. “He’d be my best friend if he were digging ditches in Louisiana. He’s the epitome of integrity — what you see is what you get. He’ll never try to B.S. you, he’ll never try to go around your back. He’ll tell you to your face whether he thinks you’re doing a good job or a bad one. He’s just that kind of guy.”

Mr. Gassert said it was Mr. Horn’s no-nonsense qualities that led to famed director Peter Jackson’s demand recently that Mr. Horn oversee the first Hobbit film — a Warner Bros. film still in production — despite the fact that Mr. Horn, who is serving as the film’s producer, was no longer with the studio at the time.

Mr. Horn left Warner Bros. in April 2011, with a consulting agreement through 2013. He was hired by Disney in June.

“At our 50th class reunion in 2010, this girl asked him what he does for a living and he just told her he worked for Warner Bros.,” Mr. Gassert said. “When he left I told her he was the president and COO and her mouth just fell open. That’s just the type of guy he is. He’s really humble. He’s the same guy I knew in high school.”

Alan Horn’s family moved numerous times between Queens and spots on the East End before they finally settled on Main Road in Aquebogue, only houses away from Mr. Gassert.

“My mom told me we moved something like eight times by the time I got to ninth grade,” Mr. Horn said. “While I was at Riverhead High School, I worked at the Henry Perkins Hotel, parking cars and stuff.

Mr. Horn, who drove a black 1952 Chevrolet during his teenage years in Riverhead, said he and his two siblings were just regular kids.

“I had no sense or thought that I would go into the entertainment industry. I went to Union College in Schenectady and thought I’d be an engineer, but I was terrible at that and then I thought I’d be a pilot in the Air Force, but I had an eye issue and couldn’t fly.”

Mr. Horn’s eye issues didn’t prevent him from serving with the Air Force for five years, attaining the rank of captain.

The Air Force, he said, prepared him, in part, for his high-powered career.

“The military gives a lot of responsibility to young officers, which was a great learning and leadership training experience,” he said.

Mr. Horn’s next step was business school. He received an MBA from Harvard.

“He always said he was an admissions mistake,” Mr. Gassert said, laughing.

After graduation, Mr. Horn worked at Proctor and Gamble before landing an interview with Jerry Perenchio, former president and CEO of Univision Spanish-language media and business partner of American TV writer and producer Norman Lear, who brought us “The Jeffersons” and “All in the Family.”

“They hired me,” Mr. Horn said. “I worked with them and off I went.”

He now lives in Bel Air, Calif., as do his parents, who relocated from Riverhead in the early 1980s.

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Ryan Horn, Disney Studios, Darknight, Warner Brothers Entertainment

A page out of the 1960 Riverhead High School yearbook.

08/31/12 8:00am

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Jennifer Maertz (left) and Bridget Fleming are squaring off in a Democratic primary for the opportunity to oppose Senator Ken LaValle.

Over the years, the list of Democratic opponents against longtime incumbent state Senator Ken LaValle (R-Port Jefferson) reads like a “Who’s Who” of candidates nobody remembers.

Some of them were on the ballot, but went the entire campaign without making much noise on the campaign front.

This year, there’s a Sept. 13 primary between two Democratic candidates who are seeking to take on the 36-year incumbent.

Jennifer Maertz, 36, an attorney from Rocky Point, lost against Mr. LaValle two years ago as a last-minute replacement for Regina Calcaterra, who was knocked off the ballot on a residency issue.

Now Ms. Maertz will square off against Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, 52, of Sag Harbor. Ms. Fleming was elected to fill the remaining year of a vacated council term in 2010 and then was elected to a full four-year term in 2011. Prior to that, she was an assistant district attorney in New York City, where she prosecuted sex crimes and headed a unit that prosecuted fraud in public programs.

The two squared off in a forum sponsored Wednesday night by the Southampton League of Women Voters in the Rogers Memorial Library in Southampton.

Both candidates took their shots at the incumbent, who was not present.

“The incumbent senator has been in office for 36 years,” Ms. Fleming said of Mr. LaValle, 73. “He’s become over these many years a part of the culture in Albany, more responsive to special interests than to the immediate needs of the people in the first district.  He has overseen steady tuition hikes and failed to protect our economy while moving to raise his own salary.”

“We send more tax dollars upstate than we get in return,” Ms. Maertz said. “And upstate, the opposite is true. And this has been going on a very long time and our state senator has done nothing about it and has not changed this. Do you want to know why? Because the Republican party has its power base in upstate New York and he has to go along with the party.”

The two candidates agreed on a number of the issues raised by audience questions in Wednesday’s forum, such as the need to fully repeal the MTA payroll tax, support for same-sex marriage, and support for a Shinnecock casino, but not on the East End.

One area they differed was on campaign funding. While both supported public financing of campaigns, Ms. Fleming said one of the reasons to vote for her and not Ms. Maertz was that she has raised far more money and would have a better chance in November against Mr. LaValle because of that.

According to the most recent campaign disclosure forms on file, Ms. Fleming’s campaign had raised $44,020 at the end of August and had $56,802 left, while Ms. Maertz hadn’t raised anything in the most recent filing period and had a total of $3,206 remaining.

“It’s one of the reasons I think you should chose me on Sept. 13,” Ms. Fleming said. “In order to be viable, you’ve got to be able to raise money. It’s such a shame, but our opponent, Ken LaValle, has gotten $76,000 from Albany PACs (Political Action Committees). These are the business council for the industry PAC that write checks to (Senate Majority Leader Dean) Skelos, a check to (State Senator John) Flanagan, a check to LaValle. They come out for the incumbents because that’s the way things operate.

“And that’s got to change. We don’t have a level playing field and we turn into to a government where we have incumbents who are in office for decades and who have lost touch with their constituents.”

Mr. LaValle’s latest campaign disclosure forms show he had raised $198,591 in the most recent filing period and had $252,590 remaining in his campaign war chest.

“I agree with you on public financing of campaigns but I disagree that funding should be the number one reason you should be choosing a candidate,” Ms. Maertz responded. “If that were true, then neither one of us should be here because neither one of us is going to outspend Ken LaValle this year. I believe the voters of this district are more sophisticated than that. I believe that with today’s technology you can get the word out about these elections online and by old fashioned door-to-door campaigning and talking to voters. Voters are not going to be looking at how much money you have in the bank, they’re going to be looking at your viewpoints on the issues, your dedication to serving,  and your follow through with your commitments, and your interest in serving the people.”

Another slight disagreement came during a discussion on same-sex marriage. Both candidates said they supported same sex marriage, and both were critical of Mr. LaValle’s vote against the issue, in which he said the people of the district were “not ready” for it.

Ms. Maertz said polls showed the people of the district overwhelmingly supported same-sex marriage. But she added, “while legislatures must answer to their constituents, when it comes to civil rights issues, I don’t care what the constituents say. It’s a matter of civil rights. You cannot impose segregation, for instance, because you feel the polls are in favor of it.”

Ms. Fleming responded, “Having served as an elected official now and having been reelected for a second term, I do care what the constituents say. I support marriage equality unquestionably, but I do care what constituents say. Sometimes you have to adjust and be sure that you’re serving the community you’re serving.”

Ms. Maertz said that on civil rights issues, “I don’t care if 70 percent of the people were against it,” she’d still vote in favor.

On the issue of the state’s 2 percent tax cap, both candidates felt changes were needed.

Ms. Maertz feels there should be more exemptions to give schools and governments more leeway, and Ms. Fleming said Southampton Town had to eliminate some needed services to comply with the cap. Both candidates felt there should be more relief from state and federal mandates, if there’s going to be a tax cap.

The date of the primary, Sept. 13, falls on a Thursday.

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08/30/12 11:34pm
08/30/2012 11:34 PM
Jitney, Hamptons, Southampton Police, Water Mill, Montauk Highway crash

SOUTHAMPTON TOWN POLICE PHOTO | The Jitney crash scene Thursday on Montauk HIghway in Water Mill.

A woman was seriously injured Tuesday after a Riverhead man driving a Jitney bus dropped his drink and got distracted, causing a chain-reaction crash in Water Mill, Southampton Town police.

The three-car accident happened on Montauk Highway about 2 p.m., when the bus driver, 51-year-old James Miles got distracted and smacked into the back of a Mercedes Benz carrying five people, police said.

The Mercedes then got pushed into the back of a masonry dump truck, Southampton Town police said.

Local firefighters responded and extracted all five people from the car, including Lisa Lakeman, 20, of East Hampton, who suffered serious head injuries, police said. She was airlifted to Stony Brook University Medical Center.

The dump truck’s driver, Brian Doroska, 42, of Hampton Bays, was treated for minor injuries at Southampton Hospital.

The bus and truck were inspected and issued summonses, which were unspecified by police. No criminal charges were expected.

08/30/12 7:00pm

NEWS-REVIEW FILE PHOTO | The Riverhead station hasn’t been used as a train station since 1972.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority has issued a request for proposals in hopes that a private company would lease the long-vacant Riverhead train station on Railroad Street.

l Irr River Head Station Building r Fp

The RFP was issued in early April and calls for proposals to be returned by Friday, Sept. 28 at 5 p.m. A site visit for prospective renters is scheduled for Friday, Aug. 31, at noon.

The MTA is looking for to lease out the 102-year-old, 1,500-square-foot building for 10 years.

Prohibited uses for the site include vending machines, the sale of firearms, tattoo parlors, massage parlors or any other use that might be known as an “adult use,” the RFP reads.

The tenant would be required to make the bathroom in the facility available to LIRR customers during morning and afternoon peak hours, and the tenant would be prohibited from storing flammable materials on the site.

The tenant would also be required to pay for utilities at the site. The station hasn’t been used as a train station since 1972.

The MTA, which owns the Long Island Railroad, put about $1 million in renovations into the Railroad Avenue station and then leased it to the town at no charge in 2002, with a condition that it be occupied by a nonprofit organization.

But the station has been vacant for almost all of that time period, as the town has been unable to even give it away rent free.

The current RFP makes no mention of a prohibition on alcohol, although that could be defined as a “adult use,” and it makes no requirement that the tenant be a non-profit.

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Read more in the Sept. 6 edition of the News-Review newspaper.