12/31/13 6:00pm
12/31/2013 6:00 PM
FILE IMAGE | Who will be our 2013 Educator of the Year?

FILE IMAGE | Who will be our 2013 Person of the Year?

The Riverhead News-Review will announce it Person of the Year in its Jan. 2, 2014 issue.

Here is a list of people that have won the award since 2000:

2012: Denise Lucas

2011: Laurie Nigro, Amy Davidson

2010: Linda Hobson

2009: Chris Kempner

2008: Riverhead Blue Waves

2007: Maureen’s Haven

2006: Sister Margaret Smyth

2005: Alan Shields

2004: Phil Cardinale

2003: Bruce Tria

2002: Bryan Tressler

2001: Annie Jackson

2000: Judy Young

12/31/13 4:00pm

A 22-year-old Brooklyn man was arrested last Saturday after being caught purchasing goods at Tanger Outlet Center using counterfeit travelers checks, Riverhead Town police said. Police were called to the Puma outlet store about 6:30 p.m. when they found Idrissa Reaves in possession of at least five counterfeit $100 travelers checks, according to a report.

Upon further investigation, police found Mr. Reaves had successfully purchased goods at Converse and Clarks outlet stores using counterfeit checks, authorities said. He was arrested for second-degree possession of a forged instrument, a class D felony, police said.

Riverhead police cops

12/31/13 2:41pm
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Segulls fight for real estate space along the Peconic River Tuesday.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Segulls fight for real estate space along the Peconic River in November.

Locals could be heading back to work in 2014 with some snow, as the National Weather Service has forecasted a chance of snow starting mid-day Thursday, as well as a brief flurry to ring in the new year tonight.

Areas of low pressure moving in increase the chance of snowfall on Thursday, with moderate accumulations expected between five and eight inches, said Joey Picca of the NWS. While heavier snow is expected later this week, snow flurries are expected tonight starting about 5 p.m., Mr. Picca said, clearing up just in time for a sunny but cool New Year’s Day.

Eastern Long Island residents could see wind gusts upwards of 30 to 35 mph, with snowfall ending mid-day Friday, he said, adding that these predictions were still preliminary.

In the meantime, the NWS has issued a hazardous weather outlook throughout Long Island, New Jersey, and southern Connecticut, noting that “a prolonged period of snow is expected late Wednesday night into Friday morning. At least six inches of snow is possible … with blowing and drifting of snow due to strong winds.”

Check back with the Riverhead News-Review as more information becomes available.

12/31/13 2:00pm


The Riverhead Town Board voted to authorize legal action against the owners of the Glass Greenhouse Farm Market at Tuesday’s Town Board meeting, after holding off on such action at its prior meeting.

The town claims the new building, approximately 5,000-square feet large, is being operated in violation of the town code definition of a farm market, in that more than 40 percent of the items sold there are not grown locally.

Owner Walter Gabrielsen, reached afterward, declined to comment on the Town Board action.

The board vote was 3-1 with Councilman George Gabrielsen, Walter’s brother, absent. George Gabrielsen had previously said he planned to abstain on all votes involving his brother’s business anyway.

Councilman Jim Wooten cast the lone vote against authorizing state supreme court action. He has said he thinks the town can settle the matter out of court.

Supervisor Sean Walter and board members John Dunleavy and Jodi Giglio supported the action.

The supervisor has said the town took another business, A Taste of Country, to court on the same issue and prevailed, adding that it would be hypocritical for the town to enforce its code against one business and not another.

“If Mr. Gabrielsen wants to have 60 percent locally grown produce, I would support it 100 percent, but clearly when you walk into that building, that’s not what’s there,” Mr. Walter said two weeks ago.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting, the Town Board voted 4-0 in favor of awarding a contract to Borrego Solar to lease space on the town landfill for a solar project, and 4-0 in favor of a resolution requesting proposals to build solar energy projects on other town parking lots.

Click below to read a recap from the board meeting.

December 31, 2013 – Agenda by Timesreview

December 31, 2013 – Packet by Timesreview

12/31/13 12:00pm
Suffolk Theater in Riverhead

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO | The historic Suffolk Theater in downtown Riverhead reopened earlier this year.

On the fast track at EPCAL

A monumental hurdle was cleared in the effort to finally bring economic development to the Enterprise Park at Calverton. That hurdle came in the form of state legislation, passed in October, designed to fast-track development proposals for 600 subdivided acres of town land at the former Grumman site. Several EPCAL proposals have fallen apart in the past, usually because they found themselves in a jurisdictional purgatory among governments. This legislation should solve the problem. Though nothing was built this year, the work of state and local lawmakers, namely Sean Walter, Ken LaValle and Fred Thiele, should pay dividends later in the form of jobs and tax base.

Little more than a land grab

Riverhead Town had set out to subdivide 800 acres of town-owned property at EPCAL, yet the subdivision map that’s been sketched out shows 600 acres that will be sold. The loss of 200 acres comes because the state Department of Environmental Conservation outlined land that could not be developed at EPCAL due to protected species. While we’re not about ruining sensitive habitats, the last we checked, preserving huge swaths of land usually involves some sort of financial transaction. If the state doesn’t want this acreage developed, it must compensate the town accordingly. The proceeds could help fund necessary sewer plant upgrades and other infrastructure improvements at the site.

ThumbUpBye-bye sex offenders

Six years is an awfully long time for one community to house the county’s entire homeless sex offender population. In fact, it’s six years too long.

But we were happy to report this year that the homeless sex offender trailers in Riverside were finally moved and the sex offenders were placed in shelters across the county.

The trailer system was never a good idea and the county’s handling of the situation was appalling.

The only good that ever came of it was the day the trailers finally left.

ThumbdownA clear-cut disaster at Costco site

The town gave away the store by granting developers of the Route 58 Costco project the OK to clear-cut an entire 41-acre property in 2013, including 11 acres in which there are no immediate plans to build. The measure saved the developers money but short-changed taxpayers $374,100 in fees on imported fill. The reason given by the developers was that they didn’t want to disturb neighbors twice (should they build more later). Somehow this argument held water with the Planning Board, which approved the site plan in 2012, and the Town Board, which granted an excavation permit this year. Neighbors in the Foxwood and Millbrook communities now enjoy views of sand pits and strings of small arborvitae.

ThumbUpThe Suffolk Theater reopens

The history of the Suffolk Theater is too long and fraught with ups and downs to fit into this space but in 2013, the art deco-style theater saw a big “up” as it reopened after years of effort from Bob and Dianne Castaldi.

In the wake of the opening of the theater, which has hosted events from concerts to comics to debates to psychics, a variety of other businesses have opened their doors in the area on Main Street — exactly the hope of many who awaited the theater’s return.

The Castaldis were named People of the Year by the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce for their efforts, with East End Arts executive director Pat Snyder calling the anchor site a “point of pride” for the town.

ThumbdownRotten to the Common Core

New York State has agreed to adopt high-stakes testing and controversial teacher evaluation systems tied to Common Core State Standards in exchange for a one-time installment of $700 million in federal Race to the Top grant money. That’s less than 3 percent of what the state spends in a single year on education, experts say. Hardly seems worth the money to tie ourselves to a system that, at best, may help already college-bound kids attend marginally better colleges but will likely cause at-risk youths, English language learners and students with disabilities to fail in school in even greater numbers. Since the overhaul wasn’t created by legislation, lawmakers can, and do, deflect blame.

12/31/13 11:00am
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO  |  Demitri Hampton's memory was honored Saturday at a fundraiser for a scholarship in his name.

PAUL SQUIRE FILE PHOTO | Demitri Hampton’s memory was honored Saturday at a fundraiser for a scholarship in his name.

A beloved local college student and Riverhead High School graduate was gunned down in a botched home invasion at his cousin’s Riverside home in January, stunning the close-knit school communities that later rallied around his grieving family.

Demitri Hampton, 21, was staying with his girlfriend at a cousin’s house when two masked men stormed into the home about 3 a.m. on Jan. 27.

Mr. Hampton, who was awake playing video games in the basement at the time of the break-in, rushed upstairs and confronted the armed men. He tried to fight them off in the kitchen but was shot in the chest.

The two men quickly fled the scene and Mr. Hampton was rushed to a hospital, where he died.

Nearly a year after his death, no arrests have been made. Suffolk County police say homicide detectives are still investigating the case.

“I’m praying for justice,” his mother, Juanita Trent, said in July. “I just want this closure for so many people, not just myself. For my children, for his friends.”

He had been a member of the Blue Waves basketball team, and was part of the high school’s anti-gang program. He was studying at Suffolk Community where he volunteered in a mentoring program for young men.

Editor’s note: We’re counting down the top 10 news stories of 2013. Check back every day until Jan. 1 to follow along.

12/31/13 10:30am
JOSEPH PINCIARO PHOTO | In September, The Grind Cafe had a sign on its front door saying it would reopen soon. Four months later, it's reopening as Maryann's, a sit-down restaurant.

JOSEPH PINCIARO PHOTO | In September, The Grind Cafe had a sign on its front door saying it would reopen soon. Four months later, it’s reopening as Maryann’s, a sit-down restaurant.

Wading River’s popular Grind Café has been reinvented as a sit-down American restaurant called Maryann’s, owner Maryann Iacono said Monday. A soft opening is planned for Jan. 2.

“My two daughters and I opened the Grind together,” said Ms. Iacono, a real estate agent who lives in Wading River. “My oldest daughter now has an 8-month-old baby and my youngest daughter just went back to school, so I’m doing what I always wanted to do, which is open up a real, grown-up restaurant.”

When it opens Thursday, Maryann’s will only serve lunch, Ms. Iacono said. Dinner service will be added at some point in the future and she’d like to eventually offer weekend brunch. Menu offerings will include a “little bit of everything,” Ms. Iacono said, including burgers, chops, fish and sandwiches.

The Grind Café, which opened on North Country Road in August 2011, sold specialty breakfast sandwiches, gourmet coffee and catering. Located in the site of the former Wading River Post Office, The Grind Café sits a few doors down from Amarelle, an upscale restaurant that closed in January 2012.

Over Labor Day weekend, The Grind Café suddenly closed its doors, leading some to speculate it was going out of business. At the time, multiple attempts to reach Ms. Iacono by phone and e-mail were unsuccessful.

But while The Grind Café did halt activity at the front of its storefront this fall, business at the eatery didn’t cease completely.

“The Grind never closed,” Ms. Iacono said. “We were always doing catering out of the back [of the building]. I just didn’t like the way the front of the building looked, so we painted and refinished the floors completely.”

The refurbishment took around four months to complete, Ms. Iacono said.

“We’re ready to roll now,” she said.

The re-opening isn’t the only new commercial activity going on in the area, as North Fork Bacon & Smokehouse is in the process of renovating the space formerly occupied by The Pizza Pie. Co-owner Patrick Gaeta said he is shooting for a March 1 opening.

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12/31/13 7:43am

A traffic stop in Riverside led to the arrest of a Greeenport man on drug charges early Tuesday, police said.

Howard Brooks, 49, was stopped by police on Flanders Road about 1:50 a.m. when he was found to be in possession of crack cocaine and marijuana,  Southampton Town police said.

He was charged with driving while ability impaired by drugs, seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, unlawful possession of marijuana and third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, police said.

He was being held for arraignment in Southampton Town Justice Court.