10/31/13 7:58pm
10/31/2013 7:58 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Kids lined up behind a Jamesport firetruck today

BamBam and an Evil Princess were just some of the costumes kids were wearing at the Jamesport Fire Department’s station today as they enjoyed the Halloween festivities.

About two dozen children, ranging from 10 months to about 10 years old, lined up behind a fire truck with the sirens blaring as they walked across Main Road ro the George G. Young Community Center. Treated with orange gatorade, chips, cheetos and hot dogs, the kids also got to see a 30-minute magic show.

The fire department has held the annual tradition since 1995, according to former Fire Chief Howie Waldman.

10/31/13 7:42pm
GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead's Danielle Thomas tries to put a hit past Ward Melvile's Alex Stein.

GARRET MEADE PHOTO | Riverhead’s Danielle Thomas tries to put a hit past Ward Melville’s Alex Stein.

SUFFOLK CLASS AA TOURNAMENT | PATRIOTS 21, 25, 25, 25, BLUE WAVES 25, 13, 14, 14

The Riverhead and Ward Melville girls volleyball teams might have wondered if Halloween 2013 would bring them a trick or a treat. The truth is, the spectators were the ones who were in for a treat.

Playoff volleyball on Halloween.

“It doesn’t get any better than that,” said Riverhead coach Amy Greene.

And not many teams are better than Ward Melville. It was favored Ward Melville that won the entertaining, well-played playoff match on its home court Thursday. After dropping the first game, No. 6 seed Ward Melville took the next three games for a 21-25, 25-13, 25-14, 25-14 victory in the Suffolk County Class AA Tournament first-round match.

No. 11 Riverhead (11-5), playing its first playoff match in three years, knew it was in for a tough match against Ward Melville (12-2), which reached the state tournament last year for the eighth time in team history. The Patriots are co-champions of League I along with Sachem East.

It looks as if Ward Melville has the ability to return to the state tournament this year.

“I feel good about them,” the team’s 15-year coach, Charlie Fernandes, said. “I do. I feel like we’re a very good team. I think we’ve been a little overlooked. I’m fine with that. We know what’s going on in our gym.”

Riverhead experienced it firsthand, and gave a good account of itself in the process. The Blue Waves went with a starting lineup of Megan Brewer, Dezarea Brown, Hali Martens, Joanna Messina, Danielle Thomas and Sara Tucci, with Joscelin Morrow playing libero. They won the first game, a tight, back-and-forth affair in which Ward Meville committed 15 unforced errors. The Patriots did not look happy as they headed to their bench before the start of the second game.

“I think we woke up some beast,” said Greene.

Maybe so.

Ward Melville then raised the level of its play noticeably. The Patriots never trailed in the second and fourth games and were behind only briefly in the third game.

“They got a little scare put into them, and that’s not always the worst thing,” Fernandes said. “I liked how we finished today. We have a tendency sometimes to run really hard and maybe taper off when we get a five- or six-point lead. We kept coming today.”

And how.

Carly Backiel, a junior setter, provided the Patriots with 38 assists.

The Patriots have hitters, too. With Backiel’s accurate setting, Ward Melville put away 36 kills, 14 of them coming from Amanda DiGirolamo and 9 from Alex Stein, to wrap up its fifth straight win. Leigh Gulbransen went 26 of 28 serving with 4 aces.

“Alex Stein can bury a ball,” Fernandes said. “Christine Donat can bury a ball. Amanda DiGirolamo almost is so good that you don’t notice how good she is. She’s so quietly effective. The kid hit like .500 tonight.”

Tucci had 22 assists for Riverhead.

Players on both sides were committed on defense, flinging themselves to the floor to pop up balls and digging drives that often don’t come back. It surely wasn’t the sort of volleyball that is played at the family picnic.

“It was good volleyball,” Fernandes said.  “… Big-kid volleyball is what I call it. We were blocking and swinging at each other, and that’s what you want to do. It’s intense. It’s in your face.”

Fernandes was complimentary of the way Riverhead played. “I think Riverhead is a program on the rise,” he said. “I have to give a lot of props to their coach. I think she’s doing a great job. … She has that program on the right path.”

What has helped Riverhead the most this season?

Brewer didn’t hesitate to provide an answer. “Hard practices,” she said. “We definitely go hard at practice. Our coach really works us.”

Greene said she is constantly pushing her players to improve. That may explain the team’s strong showing this year.

“This season has probably been the best I’ve seen Riverhead play,” said Greene, a former standout for the Blue Waves who went on to become an All-Conference outside hitter at Eastern Connecticut State University. “We finished the season as strong as they possibly can. They should have no regrets. I have no regrets. They put their hearts out there, and even in that last game, that fourth game when we were down by so much, they never gave up.”

The loss marked the end of the high school playing careers of five Riverheaders: Allison Fox, Brewer, Martens, Thomas and Tucci. They leave the team with some nice memories.

“I couldn’t ask for a better season,” Martens said. “It was just great. We’ve come so far. I’m just like happy that we even made it to playoffs.”

bliepa@timesreview.com

10/31/13 4:00pm

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Witches were the theme Thursday at the Riverhead Town Senior Center in Aquebogue on Halloween.

Riverhead Town Senior Center site manager Debbie Schwarz presided over the Halloween costume contest at the Riverhead Town Senior Center in Aquebogue Friday morning. Of the 14 women and one brave man, there were seven variations on the witch theme.

In the end Julie Nava, 63, of Riverhead beat the odds and won hands down with her belly dancer costume.

10/31/13 3:40pm
TIM GANNON PHOTO | A traffic study stated that Peconic Avenue in downtown Riverhead should be one way.

TIM GANNON PHOTO | A traffic study stated that Peconic Avenue in downtown Riverhead should be one way.

Peconic Avenue should be a one-way road heading north into downtown Riverhead.

That’s a recommendation of a traffic study for downtown Riverhead that was done as part of the $567,000 Brownfield Opportunities Area grant from the state Department of State.

The study was discussed at Thursday’s Riverhead Town Board work session.

The intersections of Route 25 (Main Street) with Roanoke Avenue and Peconic Avenue is the worst intersection in the study area, according to consultant Charles Voorhis of Nelson, Pope and Voorhis, the planning firm handling the study.

“The majority of the other spots are working pretty well,” he said at the work session.

The study area stretches from Tanger Outlets in the east to Hubbard Avenue in the west, and runs along Route 25. The traffic analysis shows that the traffic flow rating in the middle of downtown is an “F” for cars turning west onto Main Street from Peconic Avenue, as well as for cars turning south from Main Street onto Peconic Avenue, Mr. Voorhis told the Town Board.

Traffic heading west on Route 25 — either heading straight or turning north onto Roanoke Avenue — also received an “F” rating, as did traffic flowing east along Route 25 (eastbound traffic heading east and turning left, or north, onto Roanoke Avenue got a “B” grade.)

The proposed solution, which Town Board members seemed to agree with, would be to make Peconic Avenue a one-way, two-lane road with traffic only heading north onto Main Street.

The consultants also recommend two eastbound lanes on West Main Street heading into the Peconic Avenue and Roanoke Avenue intersection,  and two westbound lanes from Roanoke Avenue to Griffing Avenue.

Vehicles heading south on Roanoke Avenue would be allowed to make right turns-only onto Route 25, as is currently the case, and motorists intent on leaving town would be instead directed to Court Street, where cars could then take the small bridge over the Peconic River to Nugent Drive in Southampton Town.

The study recommends reducing the size of the concrete island at this intersection to better align court street with the bridge. It also recommends making Court Street two lanes heading south between Osborn Avenue and West Main Street. The bridge would continue to accommodate two-way traffic, with the third lane designated for northbound traffic.

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“This is a pretty common sense approach and seems to work,” Supervisor Sean Walter said.

The current southbound lane on Peconic Avenue would become an emergency vehicle lane, so those vehicles could continue to use the road to head south, consultant Kathryn Eiseman said at the work session.

The BOA study is guided by a steering committee made up of Business Improvement District president Ray Pickersgill, Tanger Outlets general manager Janine Nebons, Long Island Aquarium general manager Bryan DeLuca, Dark Horse restaurant owner Dee Muma and Dennis McDermott, the owner of The Riverhead Project restaurant.

The County Department of Public Works is also planning changes to the Riverside traffic circle in neighboring Southampton Town, and has discussed making that a two-lane roundabout.

In order to make Peconic Lane a one-way road, the plan would require approval from state and county agencies, as Peconic Lane is a county road and Route 25 is owned by New York State.

“We will need to follow up and coordinate with the board, because you’re going to want to approach [the state] as soon as possible if that’s the scenario that you want to pursue,” Mr. Voorhis said.

Meanwnile, Southampton Town has also received a BOA grant as well, just last week, good for $236,000 in state funding to study Riverside.

A survey about downtown Riverhead was recently conducted by the Riverhead BOA study, and more than 700 responses were received, Ms. Voorhis said. He added that the recommendation for a one-way Peconic Lane is one area they would like to get public feedback on.

Additional information on the Riverhead BOA study can be found on Sustainable Long Island’s website, at http://sustainableli.org/.

That group is also working on the study.

Think a two-lane, one-way Peconic Lane would help traffic flow downtown? Let us know in the comments.

10/31/13 2:00pm
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Wildwood State Park in Wading River.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Wildwood State Park in Wading River.

New York State Parks Department officials say septic systems at five state parks – including Wildwood State Park in Wading River – are not in compliance with current septic treatment standards and will be upgraded.

The announcement follow the Peconic Baykeeper’s notice that it intends to sue the parks department in federal court for using outdated systems at those same parks because the systems violate the U.S. Clean Water Act

“State parks began its review of the septic systems immediately after becoming aware of the allegations made by Peconic Baykeeper,” said Dan Keefe, a department spokesman.

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Parks officials announced last Monday that the department has entered into a consent order, or agreement, with the state Department of Environmental Conservation to update 30 septic systems at the parks, which were found to be outdated and no longer compliant with current septic treatment standards.

The cost of the updates, which will include four of 20 septic systems at the Wading River park, is at more than $5 million, Mr. Keefe said.

The agreement also includes a $250,000 project to install nitrogen reduction technology at one of the park locations, according to a parks department press release.

On July 16, Peconic Baykeeper president Kevin McAllister announced his intent to sue the state for violating the Clean Water Act by failing to have National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, which are aimed at controlling the amount of pollutants entering the nation’s surface waters.

According to the July 16 legal notice, Wildwood park has been utilizing Class V large-capacity cesspools, which were banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in April 2005 to protect drinking water.

Federal law requires at least 90 days’ advance notice of a lawsuit, so the action against the parks department could not be filed until now, Mr. McAllister said.

“We’re not going away. Our plan is to go forward with this,” he told this newspaper.

“The consent order does not go far enough – it doesn’t address the nitrogen loading coming from these systems,” Mr. McAllister said. “Some 1,000 toilet flushes are entering the groundwater from those facilities each day … it doesn’t sound as though they are going to make the commitment to real upgrades which would denitrify the wastewater.”

Mr. McAllister said he and attorney Reed Super plan to file the lawsuit sometime next week.

“We want to see denitrification systems. If they are going to be ripping these things out of the ground, it’s an opportunity to do the right thing. New York State should be leading the way with respect to more advanced wastewater treatment,” he said. “Their version of upgraded is not our version.”

The actions Peconic Baykeeper has filed against the state DEC and parks department are being undertaken in partnership with Long Island Soundkeeper, based in Connecticut.

cmiller@timesreview.com

10/31/13 12:00pm

schoolsOnly two teachers in the Riverhead and Shoreham-Wading River school districts combined received “ineffective” ratings under the controversial new education evaluation systems now being implemented in public schools across New York State.

Overall results from the state-mandated annual professional performance review plans, known as APPR, were released by the education department last week. Evaluations for some teachers depended in part on how students performed on new, tougher English Language Arts and math assessments under the Common Core State Standards Initiative.

In Riverhead, the lone teacher received a low score because there “wasn’t enough data” about that teacher provided to the state, Superintendent Nancy Carney said. Of the district’s 321 teachers, Ms. Carney said 46 percent received a “highly effective” rating and 53 percent received an “effective” rating.

Shoreham-Wading River Superintendent Steven Cohen said the state’s report reflects that the teachers evaluated have shown the utmost professionalism, because they were able to take “a badly broken system and used it to generate some healthy discussion about how to improve instruction.”

“We are improving despite a system that thwarts good teaching and student engagement in learning,” Mr. Cohen said. “That seems like a good thing, but the bottom line is that APPR has all the virtues of using an atomic bomb to open a walnut.”

Last school year, students in grades 3 through 8 took ELA and math assessments that included elements of the Common Core for the first time, and the results showed a significant drop in test scores compared to the 2011-12 school year.

The state did not release district-by-district results of the teacher evaluations. The local numbers were supplied to the News-Review by the superintendents.

The Common Core initiative primarily requires instructors to teach more non-fiction and more rigorous math to students at a younger age and is a set of national standards designed to raise the bar for classroom instruction. It’s also designed to help prepare students for college and careers upon graduating from high school.

Earlier this year, New York school districts were mandated to develop their own APPR plans or risk losing additional state aid for noncompliance.

For the most part, APPR evaluation systems rely on a combination of classroom observations, “locally bargained, locally determined objective measures” and state test scores.

Statewide, 91.5 percent of teachers were rated “highly effective” (49.7 percent) or “effective” (41.8 percent). About 4.4 percent were rated “developing,” and 1 percent was rated “ineffective.”

State education officials have come under fire from districts across New York for rolling out the more rigorous state assessments last year under the Commmon Core without allowing the time or providing the resources needed to implement a matching curriculum.

As for the evaluation systems, Mr. Cohen said he believes there are more effective ways to assess teachers’ work.

He suggests replacing the APPR programs with committees that would conduct audits to identify problems within a district and determine how the schools and its teachers are functioning.

Another solution, he said, would be to extend the current probationary period for teachers seeking tenure from three years to six years. During the first three years, teachers would have an “apprenticeship period” under the guidance of a master teacher.

Also, Mr. Cohen said, administrators should be required to teach for at least 10 years before taking on administrative duties.

Ms. Carney has said she believes the state should set aside the new student assessments and the APPR program until Common Core has been properly implemented.

State officials say the APPR will provide the additional data needed to more effectively analyze teachers’ performance relative to Common Core requirements.

New York education department commissioner John King said in a statement released last week that he believes the latest APPR results prove the new Common Core assessments “did not negatively affect teacher ratings.”

“It’s clear that teachers are rising to the challenge of teaching the Common Core,” he said. “It’s also clear that it’s time to put aside talk about a moratorium on the use of state assessments in educator evaluations and focus on ensuring all students receive the rigorous and engaging instruction that will help them to prepare for college and careers.”

10/31/13 12:00pm
Jeff and Melissa Micari won the best costume contest at Suffolk Theater this weekend.

Jeff and Melissa Micari won the best costume contest at Suffolk Theater this weekend.

If you’re really proud of your Halloween costume this year or you think your kid will be the cutest in the neighborhood, then share your photos for all to see on in our gallery.

Several of our staff’s favorite photos will appear on the cover of the community section in the Nov. 7 issue of The Riverhead News-Review.

There are three different ways you can submit photos:

• Click the blue “upload tab” at the top of the gallery below.

• Or hashtag your photos #northforker when you post them on Twitter and Instagram.

• Or email your photos to jennifer@timesreview.com or gparpan@timesreview.com.