01/31/13 7:00am
01/31/2013 7:00 AM
PAUL SQUIRE  PHOTO | Riverhead authorities investigate the latest dumpster fire in Riverhead Sunday evening.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Riverhead authorities investigate the latest dumpster fire in Riverhead Sunday evening.

“Lives are at risk.”

That’s what Riverhead Town fire marshal David Andruszkiewicz said this week when questioned about the string of dumpster fires — clear acts of arson — that occurred in Riverhead and Southampton towns. Riverhead alone had eight fires in four days.

It’s ridiculous that some need reminding of those grave childhood warnings about the danger of misdirecting emergency resources. Most remember the fire officials who would visit schools to warn that “it could be your house that burns down while firefighters are headed to a false alarm.”

Yet it seems neither the threat to life nor the risk of prison time for an arson conviction is a deterrent. So let’s try a different approach.

Give the guys a break.

The Riverhead Fire Department is coming off its busiest year on record, with volunteers responding to 1,159 alarms, for a total of 14,228 hours out in the field. And that’s OK; these selfless men and women know what they’ve signed up for, and it’s in their nature to want to help their friends and neighbors during a fire, accident or some other calamity.

But that’s also 14,228 hours they spent away from their homes, families and workplaces in 2012, affecting their personal lives and maybe their finances. They don’t deserve to have more hours piled on.

For every idiotic early morning dumpster fire set in recent days, some small child somewhere in town might have had to wait by himself for the school bus during an unusually cold morning, because dad wasn’t there to sit with him in the car. Another youngster might have missed practice or karate lessons because she couldn’t get a ride after mom was called out of the house at 6 p.m. to douse garbage. No one in our communities needs a little more quiet time with their families more than our busy volunteer firefighters right now, and whoever’s behind these little blazes — be it some sicko or immature kids — is taking that away from these dedicated volunteers. Not to mention putting lives at risk.

Anyone with information about the fires is encouraged to call the Riverhead Town fire marshal’s office at 727-3200, ext. 601.

01/31/13 6:00am


To the editor:

While trying to do a project for my high school Participation in Government class, I ran into problems concerning my proposal to ban the sale of single-use plastic water bottles in the community. My proposal was turned down when I presented it to my high school, the justification being that the cafeteria could potentially lose money. However, this isn’t the first time, or the last time, that money and the economy will be put over the needs of the environment and a sustainable future.

Our community has become so engrossed in our daily lives and destructive habits that we forget about the needs of things other than ourselves — one of those habits being the purchase of plastic water bottles that are typically only used once and rarely recycled. These bottles are not only a waste but an environmental disturbance, as well as a hindrance to our health. These water bottles end up in landfills where they take hundreds of years to decompose, or in the ocean and eventually the stomach of marine animals. These bottles also contain a chemical called Bisphenol A, which can leech out into the water and act as an endocrine disrupter and lead to effects in fetuses, infants and young children.

My hope is that as a community we can ban the selling of these wasteful water bottles like Concord, Mass., accomplished and instead focus on reusable bottles that can move us toward a more sustainable future. This goes for all plastic products. There are other alternatives that are better options, for example, glass and aluminum. If we can’t get this banned, we can all at least try our best to keep plastic out of our lives. The next time you go to buy a plastic water bottle, just think about how easy it would be to have filled up a BPA-free reusable bottle before you left the house. Twenty seconds, that’s all it takes to make a difference.

Meghan King, Wading River

To read more letters to the editor, pick up a copy of this week’s Riverhead News-Review or click on the E-Paper.

01/30/13 10:32pm
01/30/2013 10:32 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | About 50 people attended a community forum on the county’s homeless sex offender trailers in Riverside and Westhampton Wednesday night at the county center, where speakers criticized the county for not removing the trailers after seven years.

Suffolk County’s new plan for dealing with sex offenders will be presented to the county Legislature’s public safety committee at 9:30 a.m. Thursday and it could be approved as early as next week, according to South Fork Legislator Jay Schneiderman.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone directed the county police department to develop “a comprehensive approach to better protect our communities from sex offenders” on Jan. 2, after failing to meet his own goal of eliminating the two homeless sex offender trailers in Westhampton and Riverside by the end of 2012.

Those trailers continue to draw concern from East End residents and officials, who say the county’s entire homeless sex offender population is being dumped on one town.

That was evident at a community forum hosted by Mr. Schneiderman (I-Montauk) at the county center Thursday night, where about 50 people gathered and vented their frustration at the county’s failure to remove the two trailers after seven years.

Mr. Schneiderman said he had spoken to Mr. Bellone the day before the meeting and had gotten some snippets of the new sex offender plan, which will be presented at Thursday’s committee meeting by Suffolk Police Chief James Burke and Laura Ahearn, Executive Director of Parents for Megan’s Law.

Mr. Schneiderman said he had hoped the new plan would have been ready before Wednesday’s forum, but it wasn’t. Mr. Bellone was not present, sending a member of his staff instead.

“The county executive said this new proposal would have the most intense monitoring of sex offenders anywhere in the country,” Mr. Schneiderman said. Mr. Bellone had originally planned to enact a plan the county legislature created in 2011, calling for the creation of six mini-shelters throughout the county, to replace the two trailers on the East End, which house about 40 homeless sex offenders, most of whom are not from the East End, Mr. Schneiderman said.

But Mr. Bellone felt it would take time to build these mini-shelters and each one would be met with intense opposition from neighbors, Mr. Schneiderman said.

So instead, he asked the police department to come up with a new plan that addresses not only the 40 or so homeless sex offenders but also the approximately 1,000 sex offenders who aren’t homeless in Suffolk County.

Mr. Schneiderman said the new plan could be voted on by the full Legislature Tuesday.

“The county executive said that if it doesn’t pass, he is willing to do the mini-shelters, but it is going to take time to build them,” he said.

Bill O’Leary, a forensic psychologist who worked with sex offenders and other criminals in conjunction with the police, said at Wednesday’s meeting that the average cost of putting a homeless sex offender in one of the trailers is $3,000 per person per month, whereas the average cost to house an ordinary homeless person is $309 per person per month.

“This is because of all the residency restrictions [placed on sex offenders],” he said. Living in the trailer hinders attempts to reduce recidivism in the sex offenders, he said.

“The better I do my job, the better chance someone won’t get hurt later,” Mr. O’Leary said. “I fought against the trailers because it compromises my ability to do my job. Instead of being able to get what they’re supposed to get from treatment, most of the ones sent back to jail are from the trailers, and are homeless. They are not getting anything from therapy, because they are worried about where they are going to sleep that night or where they are going to get food.”

Amy Davidson, who lives in downtown Riverhead, said she has two kids and worries about the proximity of the trailer at the jail parking lot to downtown Riverhead.

“I would like my kids to be able to ride their bikes to Ralph’s Italian Ices and know they are safe,” she said.

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter said it will be difficult to get the 18-member county Legislature to give up the trailers, because only two of the 18 represent the East End.

“The Town of Riverhead did a $104,000 budget transfer to increase patrols on Main Street,” Mr. Walter said. “Main Street is by far the heaviest patrolled area in the town, and that is in no small part because of this sex offender trailer.”

Mason Haas of Jamesport said the county is paying about $1.4 million a year to house the sex offenders in the trailers.

“This program is not working,” he said. “It needs to be fixed.”

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01/30/13 7:00pm
AMY SPERO FILE PHOTO  |  Shawn Solomito of Islip was officially crowned the modified champion

AMY SPERO FILE PHOTO | Shawn Solomito of Islip was officially crowned the modified champion Sunday afternoon at the raceway’s annual luncheon.

Shawn Solomito of Islip received a standing ovation and was officially crowned Riverhead Raceway’s 2012 NASCAR Modified champion on Sunday afternoon during the raceway’s annual champions’ luncheon in Center Moriches. After being presented with the championship hardware from Riverhead Raceway, Solomito was then awarded the perpetual Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Long Island Driver’s Cup, becoming the 12th driver to be given the cup.

Going into the season, Solomito and his SS Motorsports team dedicated their season to two fallen friends, Keri and Jason Trinca, who died in October of 2011. Solomito’s racecar carried a tribute collage to the Trinca family all season long. “I know I had two angels riding with me all season long en route to this championship,” Solomito said, “and I know somewhere in heaven Keri and little Jay are smiling down on us.”

It is the first NASCAR Modified championship of Solomito’s career.

Race teams and fans turned out to salute all eight track champions. Joining Solomito in the 2012 “parade of champions” were: Mike Bologna of Melville (Late Model), Mike Mujsce of Westhampton Beach (Figure Eight), Jeremy McDermott of Riverhead (Charger), Tom Pickerell of Huntington (Blunderbust), Roger Turbush of Riverhead (Super Pro Truck), Kyle Ellwood of Riverhead (Legend Race Car) and Andrew Fowler of Wantagh (Demolition Derby).

Rookie of the Year awards were handed out to Chris McGuire of Shirley (NASCAR Modified), Jeremy McDermott (Late Model), George Seus of Ronkonkoma (Figure Eight) and Cory Midgett (Charger).

01/30/13 5:00pm
PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | The Bridgehampton National Bank branch in Wading River.

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | The Bridgehampton National Bank branch in Wading River.

Bridge Bancorp, parent company of Bridgehampton National Bank, released fourth quarter and year-end results demonstrating what officials called continued positive growth.

Net income for the quarter, ended Dec. 31, 2012, was at $3.4 million, a 16 percent increase over the same quarter in 2011 and at $12.8 million for the year, 23 percent higher than 2011 yearly figures.

At the same time, the bank was reporting its net income for the quarter, it announced that earnings per share were down to 39 cents from 42 cents for the same quarter in 2011.

The lower earnings per share resulted from a higher share count associated with $24 million in capital raised in the fourth quarter of 2011.

Net interest income increased $4.1 million and total assets were at $1.62 billion at the end of 2012, 21 percent higher than they were at the end of 2011.

Loan growth was up 30 percent.

“Our record achievements in 2012 of substantial organic loan, deposit and revenue growth, coupled with strong asset quality and capitalization levels combined to deliver industry leading returns,” said Kevin O’Connor, president and CEO of Bridge Bancorp, Inc. “The key to delivering on our mission is combining our expanding branch network improving technology and experienced professionals with the critical element of local decision making,” he said.

The expansion of the franchise’s geographic reach resulted in increasing core deposits and loans and generating record levels of revenue and income, according to the Mr. O’Connor. The revenue offset what has been higher credit and compliance costs, he said.
Five years after the financial crisis hit in 2008, the banking environment continues to be uncertain, Mr. O’Connor said. There are higher costs associated with compliance and greater capitalization required that affect shareholder expectations, he said. While lower market interest rates have created opportunities for borrowers, there are challenges for banks, he said.

“The eventuality of rising rates is arguably our industry’s greatest challenge and threat,” Mr. O’Connor said. It creates margin pressures and affects credit as businesses adjust to potentially higher borrowing costs, he said.

01/30/13 2:23pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Fog, shown here surrounding the former Galley Ho restaurant in New Suffolk, has caused some low visibility for drivers on the North Fork today.

A High Wind Warning is in effect for Wednesday night as a cold front brings heavy rains and high winds through Riverhead, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm is expected to hit the area during the late evening and continue through the night, said Ashley Sears, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service station in Upton. Patches of dense fog will remain on the North Fork until the storm moves through, she said, bringing visibility down to below a quarter mile in some places.

The front will bring sustained winds of between 25 and 35 miles per hour with gusts up to 60 miles per hour, Ms. Sears said.

“The strongest winds are going to be after midnight,” she said, “You’re going to see them pick up in the evening.” The High Wind warning will be in effect from 6 p.m. Wednesday through 6 a.m. Thursday.

Forecasts show heavy rain will begin in the evening, with accumulation up to 1 1/2 inches, Ms. Sears said. The storm may produce a few isolated thunderstorms, she said.

Wednesday’s warmer that usual temperatures will continue after the storm, Ms. Sears said. Temperatures on Thursday will reach into the low 50s, forecasts show. But by Friday, temperatures will plummet back into the 30s, Ms. Sears said.

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01/30/13 12:30pm

Two Riverhead men were arrested in Southampton Village Tuesday afternoon after police found marijuana during a traffic stop, Village police said.

Marvin A. Moran, 23, and William O. Perez, 24, were pulled over during a traffic stop on Powell Avenue about 3:20 p.m., said Southampton Village police Sgt. Herman Lamison. The two men were arrested after police found marijuana during the stop.

Mr. Moran and Mr. Perez were charged with unlawful possession of marijuana, a violation, and released with tickets to appear in Southampton Village court, police said.

01/30/13 10:40am

A West Islip man was arrested on Shelter Island Tuesday morning on an active bench warrant from Riverhead Town court, police said.

Sean Cronin, 26, was arrested on North Cartwright Road, according to a Shelter Island police report.

Mr. Cronin was wanted on a bench warrant for a petit larceny charge. Mr. Cronin is suspected of stealing from Target on Route 58 last November, court officials said.

He was turned over to Riverhead police and arraigned in Riverhead Justice court. Mr. Cronin posted bail and is due in court in two weeks, according to the courts.