08/31/13 7:17pm
08/31/2013 7:17 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Riverhead police Sgt. John Vail (center) scans the ocean as Police Officers Christopher Parkin (left) and Rich Freeborn watch on.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Riverhead police Sgt. John Vail (center) scans the Sound as Police Officers Christopher Parkin (left) and Rich Freeborn watch on.

Police and firefighters from across the area swarmed Long Island Sound just west of Iron Pier Beach in Riverhead Saturday afternoon after someone reported a possible small aircraft crash a few miles off the beach.

Authorities later said they were unable to find any sign of the supposed aircraft after a roughly hour-long search.

The report initially came in as a call to police from a group who were driving near the beach, police said. The group thought they saw an ultra-light aircraft flying near the Sound, but when they turned around, they could see no sign of the plane, police said.

Riverhead police, Riverhead and Jamesport Fire Departments, the Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps, a Suffolk County police helicopter and the U.S. Coast Guard all rushed to the scene, said Riverhead police Lt. David Lessard.

Riverhead police and Jamesport Fire Department vessels were in the water searching for any sign of the plane near the off-shore oil terminal, but could find no evidence of a crash.

At 6:07 p.m., authorities called off the search. Lt. Lessard said the weather may have played a role in the false alarm.

“With the haze, maybe they didn’t see what they thought they saw,” he said.

psquire@timesreview.com

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Repairs are scheduled to begin at the Shoreham-Wading River track this week.

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Repairs started on the Shoreham-Wading River High School track in July. The track has since been completed.

Shoreham-Wading River High School and other schools in the district received some uplifting news this summer. At the high school, the track was resurfaced, a project that came from a $1.6 million track and tech proposition.

Voters approved the proposition, which was to upgrade the district’s aging computer system, in October.

Watch below to see some of the improvements at SWR this year heading into the 2013-14 school year.

Video via swrschools.org

08/31/13 12:00pm
MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Shirley Covedale at the First Baptist Church of Riverhead property, where she’s long pushed to get an apartment complex and community center built to provide affordable housing and other services, such as 24-hour child care, to East End residents.

MICHAEL WHITE PHOTO | Shirley Covedale at the First Baptist Church of Riverhead property, where she’s long pushed to get an apartment complex and community center built to provide affordable housing and other services, such as 24-hour child care, to East End residents.

The Suffolk County Democratic Committee announced this month the creation of a Black and Hispanic Democratic Committee that will operate within the party.

The new group’s co-chairs will sit on the Democrats’ newly expanded executive committee, up to 43 members from 41. This way, party officials explained, Democrats from Suffolk County’s black and Hispanic communities are guaranteed a stronger voice in the party when it comes to choosing and supporting candidates moving forward.

Shirley Coverdale of Riverhead was named as one of those co-chairs. The other is Dafny Irizarry of East Islip, president of the Long Island Latino Teachers Association.

For 31 years, Ms. Coverdale has served in varying capacities with First Baptist Church of Riverhead, where her husband, the Rev. Charles Cover-dale, is the pastor. She’s the executive director of the Family Community Life Center, an affordable housing and recreation center long planned for the church’s property on Northville Turnpike. She also sits on the boards of the Long Island Organizing Network, a nonprofit community advocacy group, and Long Island Housing Partnership, an affordable housing agency.

Ms. Coverdale sat with the News-Review to discuss the role of the new committee.

Q: How did you come to get involved?

A: I was contacted, as were other community leaders. This came out of concerns within these two communities, which essentially have the same agenda. The idea was to come together and get more traction in terms of their political voices being heard. Assemblyman Phil Ramos, party leader Rich Schaefer and County Executive Steve Bellone also thought this would be a good idea. So a group of us got together and it was decided internally, before we had really done much of anything, to select a co-chair from each community. The really nice thing about it is Rich Schaefer has recognized it as an offi cial extension of the county party. So both co-chairs will sit on the executive committee.

Q: What are some of the biggest issues facing the black and Hispanic communities today?

A: One fairly obvious one is the disparities in our schools. The resources that are distributed across schools systems are clearly uneven. I’ve been outspoken about the fact that we can go back to the ’50s and talk about Brown vs. Board of Education and we’re also supposed to be getting an equal education from the public schools but that’s just woefully untrue. It will take people lifting their voices to make a difference with that. Perhaps through more diversity that better refl ects [the black and Hispanic] populations in Albany, to have a more meaningful discussion on how to implement more meaningful, regional kinds of solutions. Right now, it’s not even a discussion.

Q: This is where the work of committee steps in?

A: It’s about being able to be fairly represented. We’ll be looking at minority candidates running for offi ces and non-minority candidates running where there are significant minority populations, to make sure that people’s needs are fairly represented, that the agendas espoused by the would-be elected official is what we need in our communities. Some of the poorest districts on Long Island, largely minority districts, pay some of the highest property taxes and get far fewer resources for what they’re putting in. Someone’s got to look at that and hold people accountable for that kind of discrepancy.

Q: How do the challenges differ between the two groups, and geographically, between the East End and western Suffolk?

A: This economy out here in eastern Suffolk is extremely dependent on the [Hispanic] immigrant population. Our farming and fi shing industries generate over $1 billion to the GDP of New York State. We don’t get a fair share of that money back. And if it were not for those workers, who’s doing the work? We can see a shift in the population and if we’re not dealing with the reality that the world is changing then we’re always going to be at odds with one another. And for what? But at the end of the day, everybody wants a safe, healthy environment in which to raise their families and decent jobs that allow them to do so. Whether it’s a rural community — though Riverhead is hardly the outpost it used to be — or a more urban one, the dynamics are pretty much the same.

Q: Where do you see the committee in five years?

A: If we’ve done our job, then we will have districts that have more diverse representation, not just among elected offi cials, but hopefully through employment opportunities. Not opportunities that are just window dressing. Whether it is in our schools, among administrators and teachers and so on. If this group is doing what it’s supposed to do, you’ll see change refl ected in that way. Across Suffolk County, the black and Latino populations constitute about 23 percent of the population and there are many areas where those percentages are much higher. In some cases, they’re the majority but that’s not refl ected through jobs that affect people’s lives.

mwhite@timesreview.com

08/31/13 10:00am

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | The bedroom at The Farmer’s House Bed and Breakfast where couples can purchase elopement packages for a more intimate, smaller wedding.

Shortly after Joyce and Robert Barry launched the The Farmer’s House Bed and Breakfast at their Cutchogue home three years ago, the couple began receiving inquiries from guests about a service they hadn’t explored before: elopement packages.

“I can’t tell you how many couples are frazzled because their parents insist on these huge weddings their kids never wanted,” Ms. Barry said. “People have said to me, ‘Oh, I wish I could have had my wedding here, at the bed and breakfast.’ ”

Stirred by her guests’ wistful laments, Ms. Barry obtained a certificate allowing her to perform wedding ceremonies. She also set to work creating an elopement package that begins at $1,800 and includes a ceremony, a bridal bouquet and a two-night stay in one of the house’s luxury suites. Additional items, like a gift certificate for dinner at a local restaurant, are available at an extra cost.

“They’re very intimate and quiet,” said Ms. Barry, who hosts three or four weddings a year and generally limits them to a maximum of 20 guests. “It’s really about the bride and the groom. There’s so much stress involved when there shouldn’t be. It should be about the commitment a bride and groom have to each other and to have your most intimate friends and family witness that, without all the hoopla.”

The Farmhouse isn’t the first North Fork bed and breakfast to offer elopement packages. Sylvia Daley, who has run Quintessentials Bed and Breakfast and Spa in East Marion for the past two decades, began offering small wedding services to guests eight years ago.

“People started phoning me about it,” Ms. Daley said of her decision to begin hosting elopements. “Or, when guests came here and got engaged, they would say, ‘Do you do weddings?’ That’s when I started learning more about it.”

Budget-friendly elopement packages are not just a local trend but a service offered at small inns across the country. At Historic Heights B&B in Minneapolis, couples can get married for $1,000 or less with a package that includes 20 guests, an officiant, champagne, appetizers, cake and a room and gourmet breakfast for bride and groom. Travel to the Bluff Mountain Inn in Sevierville, Tenn., for the Elope to the Mountains package and the owners there will provide all the requisite wedding accoutrements, plus a wedding planner, for just under a grand.

At East Marion’s Quintessentials, elopement packages range from $1,200 to $1,800 and include a ceremony that takes place in a fully dressed gazebo at the property’s “secret garden,” a wedding cake, champagne and a bridal bouquet. Spa services, videography and photography can be added on for an additional fee.

Ms. Daley, who is an ordained minister, thinks it’s “wonderful” that couples are opting for small, intimate weddings. She said she performs six to 10 ceremonies a year.

“With the economy, a lot of people realize that it might not be a bad idea to have a simple wedding ceremony with two or four of their best friends and then go out to dinner afterward,” she said. “They can save the money they would have spent on a big wedding for a house or go on a honeymoon at a later date.”

ryoung@timesreview.com

08/31/13 8:00am
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck High School graduate Kate Freudenberg won the women's singles final in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament at Tasker Park in Peconic Saturday morning.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Mattituck High School graduate Kate Freudenberg won the women’s singles final in the Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament at Tasker Park in Peconic earlier this month.

With the U.S. Open getting underway this week at Flushing Meadows on the opposite end of Long Island, perhaps this is an inopportune time to ask if tennis is, indeed, a dying sport. After all, the full attention of the wide world of sports will be on our national championships over the next fortnight, but still there are indicators that the sport is in eclipse, in these United States in general and on this North Fork in particular.

The indicators are numerous. Although American Serena Williams currently reigns supreme among women professionals, only one American man is in the world’s top 20 — John Isner, at No. 17. Long gone are the halcyon days of McEnroe, Agassi, Connors and Sampras. Europeans and South Americans have dominated the men’s game most recently and there appears to be no end in sight to this trend.

Locally, the tennis scene is in even more trouble. Earlier this month, three of the seven divisions of the 35-year-old Bob Wall Memorial Tennis Tournament — women’s doubles, mixed doubles, men’s open doubles — were not contested due to a lack of entries. Again this year, tournament director Jim Christy pretty much had to beg players to enter the mid-summer event. And that was not the case a decade or more ago, when upwards of 75 local players would enter the Wall Tournament.

So, what happened? First and foremost, the population of the North Fork is aging, which means there are fewer young people around to pick up the game. Then there is the reality of there being no tennis-only club, indoor or outdoor, between Quogue and Connecticut. Both private country clubs here, North Fork and Laurel Links, have two Har-Tru courts, but the tennis scenes at both clubs are modest by all accounts.

Old-timers may recall a local effort some 25 years ago to establish an indoor-outdoor tennis club on the Horton’s Lane, Southold, property now occupied by Lucas Ford, but that bid fell through when the Southold Town Planning Board required extensive and expensive landscape screening around the perimeter of the entire four-acre property. So, in the intervening 2 1/2 decades, if you live on the North Fork and want to play tennis in the winter, get ready for the one-hour round-trip drive to Quogue or Westhampton. (Note: When I used to play at the indoor courts in Westhampton during the wintertime, it seemed like every third player on the adjoining courts had driven over from the North Fork.)

There are some exceptions to this trend, of course, most notably the “drop-in” tennis scene at the Tasker Park courts in Peconic, where players of intermediate ability and up, sometimes up to 20 of them, show up daily for some round-robin play.

And then, of course, there is the so-far-under-the-radar bid, about which I am bound to a certain level of secrecy, to establish a South Fork-style indoor-outdoor tennis facility here on the North Fork. All I can say about it is that some legitimate players — in terms of both their tennis and business credentials — are involved in this effort.

And all I can do is cross my fingers.

The return of the U.S. Open also marks the anniversary of one of my most mortifying moments as a columnist, wherein I opined, in this space in 2002, that Pete Sampras was over the hill and should consider retirement. Two weeks later, he won his fifth U.S. Open championship.

I was reminded of the ignominy this week via a New York Times Sunday Magazine piece on Roger Federer, in which East Hampton’s own Paul Annacone, who coached both Sampras and Federer, was quoted as saying: “Betting against aberrations like Sampras, Federer — why do that? You are just setting yourself up to have your own foot rammed in your mouth.”

Yes, indeed: columnist opened mouth, inserted foot.

08/30/13 6:59pm
08/30/2013 6:59 PM

Miguel Maysonet was waived by the Cleveland Browns Friday. The former Riverhead and Stony Brook running back saw time in each preseason game for the Browns. Photos by: Barbarellen Koch (left), Robert O’Rourk, AP/David Richard)

Miguel Maysonet was waived by the Cleveland Browns Friday on the eve of the final deadline for NFL teams to trim their rosters from 75 players to 53.

The former star running back from Riverhead was fighting for the final running back position on the Browns, who lost two established players at the position to serious injuries.

Maysonet suited up in all four preseason games for the Browns and saw limited action, mostly toward the end of each game. In Thursday’s final preseason game against the Detroit Lions, he caught 1 pass for 1 yard and did not have a carry.

Jamaine Cook, who like Maysonet was an undrafted rookie, signed with the Browns after they lost running backs Montario Hardesty and Dion Lewis to injuries. Cook carried the ball 12 times in Thursday’s game and rushed for 28 yards while veteran Brandon Jackson got the start.

Jackson will begin the year backing up former Heisman finalist Trent Richardson. The Browns also have Chris Ogbonnaya, who plays fullback and running back.

Maysonet will be placed on the waivers until noon Sunday. If he’s not claimed, he can sign as a free agent with another team. At that time, teams can also begin signing players to their practice squad, which Maysonet would be eligible as a rookie.

Maysonet originally signed with the Philadelphia Eagles shortly after the NFL Draft ended in April. He was cut in May and claimed off waivers by Cleveland.

joew@timesreview.com

Correction: An earlier version stated Trent Richardson won the Heisman Trophy. Richardson was a finalist and finished third in the voting in 2011.

08/30/13 5:00pm
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | This new research area at Phillips Avenue Elementary School was unveiled in March. The Riverhead school board is expected to receive an update about the district's capital improvement projects Tuesday night.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Students at Phillips Avenue Elementary School and all other local schools will start later than usual this year because of the timing of the Jewish New Year.

The first day of school is rapidly approaching, but the timing of the Jewish New Year means area districts will have a later start date this year.

For most students in the area, the first day of the school year traditionally falls on the Wednesday following Labor Day — this year, that’s Sept. 4. But because Rosh Hashanah begins that evening, most schools have pushed their start dates to Monday, Sept. 9.

Students in the Shoreham-Wading River and Riverhead school districts will all begin classes Sept. 9, which is in keeping with the majority of public schools on Long Island.

“We went by the recommendation made by Eastern Suffolk BOCES,” Shoreham-Wading River superintendent Steven Cohen said.

Students at Bishop McGann-Mercy High School in Riverhead have the latest start date, with Tuesday, Sept. 10 as their first full day of classes. That’s because seniors have orientation Thursday, Sept. 5 and junior high students have orientation Friday, Sept. 6. Grades 7, 8, 9 and 11 have a half-day of school Sept. 9.

“The rationale for that is that the Riverhead Public School District, Middle Country Public School District and Hampton Bays Public School District were not providing busing until the ninth,” said Mercy principal Carl Semmler.

ryoung@timesreview.com