02/04/14 10:05am
02/04/2014 10:05 AM

FILE PHOTO | Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Monday the success of the state’s I-STOP program.

A new online system called I-STOP that’s used to track prescription drugs is helping to curb drug abuse across New York, state officials said Monday.

More than 66,000 health care professionals have run more than 7 million individual prescription checks on nearly three million separate patients since August 2013, according to a press release issued by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.


01/28/14 7:00am
01/28/2014 7:00 AM
TROY GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Rabbit Lane in East Marion was among the streets hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy on the North Fork.

TROY GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | Rabbit Lane in East Marion was among the streets hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy on the North Fork. The state is offering a new program to teach residents how to prepare for emergencies.

In an effort to educate the public about how to best prepare for emergencies, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has launched a new program to inform and supply residents with tools they need to prepare for any type of disaster. (more…)

01/27/14 5:30pm
01/27/2014 5:30 PM
NYS EXECUTIVE CHAMBER COURTESY PHOTO | Governor Andrew Cuomo in Albany last year.

NYS EXECUTIVE CHAMBER COURTESY PHOTO | Governor Andrew Cuomo in Albany last year.

While local hunters have been calling for reduced hunting regulations during months of spirited debate over a planned deer cull expected to start early next month in Southold, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced in the details of his executive budget last week that he favors reducing bowhunting setbacks throughout the state. (more…)

01/24/14 3:00pm
01/24/2014 3:00 PM
COURTESY PHOTO | Gov. Andrew Cuomo presenting his 2014-15 executive budget to the Legislature on Tuesday in Albany.

COURTESY PHOTO | Gov. Andrew Cuomo presenting his 2014-15 executive budget to the Legislature on Tuesday in Albany.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposed $137.2 billion spending plan for the coming fiscal year includes about a 7 percent increase in aid for each of the two school districts in Riverhead Town, according to Mr. Cuomo’s 2014-15 executive budget released last Tuesday. (more…)

01/23/14 1:11pm
01/23/2014 1:11 PM
JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Senator Ken LaValle at a previous Calverton Business Incubator event.

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON FILE PHOTO | State Senator Ken LaValle wants New York to delay Common Core rollout.

State Senator Ken LaValle is calling on education department commissioner John King to “hit the delay button” with rolling out new, more rigorous curriculum in public schools through the Common Core. (more…)

01/13/14 11:30am
01/13/2014 11:30 AM
COURTESY PHOTO | Gov. Andrew Cuomo at last week's State of the State address.

COURTESY PHOTO | Gov. Andrew Cuomo at last week’s State of the State address.

Last week in his 2014 State of the State speech, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pitched a teacher incentive plan, which could total more than $6 million for “highly effective” teachers from Riverhead to Oysterponds.

Calling the incentive program the Teacher Excellence Fund, Mr. Cuomo stated that any teacher in New York rated “highly effective” under the state-mandated evaluation system would receive a $20,000 bonus, which he described as the first of its kind that offers, on average, 27 percent of a teacher’s salary.

Of 610 teachers in Riverhead, Mattituck-Cutchogue, Southold, Greenport and Oysterponds School Districts, 320 teachers received “highly effective” ratings last year.

Read a transcript of the governor’s address here

If 320 teachers received $20,000 bonuses, it could cost $6.4 million. The governor left out details in his speech noting how the bonuses would be funded.

“You want teachers who can perform and do perform?” he said during his speech. “Then incentivize performance with a performance bonus and pay them like the professionals they are.”

Local superintendents provided the Riverhead News-Review with their districts’ teacher evaluation results. Shoreham-Wading River’s ratings weren’t immediately available, and due to the small staff at New Suffolk School, results were not released..

School district Total teachers evaluated
Teachers rated ‘highly effective’
Percentage Cost, at $20,000 bonuses
Riverhead 321 148 46 $2.95 million
Mattituck-Cutchogue 137 90 66 $1.81 million
Southold 83 59 71 $1.17 million
Greenport 56 18 33 $369,600
Oysterponds 13 5 39 $101,400
Totals 610 320 52 $6.4 million
01/09/14 7:00am
01/09/2014 7:00 AM

New York State Capitol

In his State of the State address Wednesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced plans to make marijuana available in 20 New York hospitals for patients with cancer, glaucoma and other illnesses. An executive order creating an interim medical marijuana program could allow him to bypass the state Senate, which has been blocking medicinal marijuana legislation efforts.

This is welcome news for those seeking relief from pain and discomfort caused by illness. It’s also promising for those who consider this an important step toward modernizing state marijuana laws by taxing and regulating its sale and use, as with alcohol and tobacco. Our current system has done much more harm than good, most notably through the imprisonment and restrictive criminal records of countless non-violent offenders over the course of decades — not to mention the violent drug trades the laws have helped create.

Historic references to marijuana as treatment for various ailments go back thousands of years, and even today approximately 76 percent of doctors worldwide sign off on medical uses where it is legally available, according to survey findings recently published in the New England Journal of Medicine. Marijuana can be used to treat more ailments than prednisone, for example, yet isn’t nearly as harmful to the body. Something seems amiss when we live in a state where morphine is legal for medicinal use but marijuana isn’t. This contradiction can be explained by the fact that marijuana became a scapegoat drug beginning in the early 20th century — fueled by headline-grabbing politicians — without evidence to prove any real dangers or benefits. The argument that has evolved since holds that marijuana, though itself not especially dangerous, is a gateway drug that leads to other drug use. Prominent experts debunk this theory again and again, pointing out that marijuana is predictably the first illicit drug chosen by people who go on to use other drugs only because it’s the most readily available. In fact, most people consume alcohol before ever using marijuana.

Relaxing marijuana laws isn’t just something being promoted by those on the left. Fiscal conservatives point to the huge amount of money and resources being wasted on policing, prosecuting and imprisoning offenders. Many people readily recognize that marijuana use in and of itself does not infringe upon others’ health or safety, thus its use should be a personal choice and no business of the government’s. An exception would be the operation of a vehicle after having used marijuana, which is still illegal even in Colorado and Washington State, where recreational marijuana use has been decriminalized.

In the new year, New York State lawmakers, especially Senate Republicans, should rethink their knee-jerk stances against pot and pass a law that permit medical uses of marijuana. They should also reconsider the real benefits of proposed tax-and-regulate legislation versus the real costs — and imagined benefits — of the status quo.

11/26/13 7:16pm
11/26/2013 7:16 PM


A storm bringing fierce wind and rain is expected to touch down in the area on Tuesday into Wednesday, just in time for Thanksgiving weekend.


The rainfall and winds – which could top 50 miles per hour – will hit on the busiest travel day of the year, as a storm heads up the east coast bringing a mix of snow and sleet to the lower part of the country.

Due to warmer temperatures, Long Island is not expected to get snow Tuesday or Wednesday, with heavy rain predicted to develop after 3 p.m. Tuesday afternoon. The NWS has issued a wind advisory will be in effect starting at midnight and lasting for a full 24 hours.

According to the advisory, southern winds will typically carry between 25 and 35 miles per hour, with the strongest winds expected from late tonight into Wednesday evening. A 100 percent chance of rain is expected through Wednesday, with temperatures later cooling and a 40 percent chance of rain/snow on Thanksgiving.

On Tuesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo issued a winter weather warning for motorists in advance of first major winter storm of the season, urging drivers to use caution while traveling during ice or snow conditions, and to arrange travel plans to avoid being on roadways during the storm.

“As New Yorkers are beginning to travel for the Thanksgiving Holiday, we are also preparing for the first major winter storm of the year which is expected to bring snow and ice to communities across the State,” Governor Cuomo said in a statement. “Recognizing that the harsh weather as well as the increased use of roadways has the potential to cause serious inconvenience for motorists, I have directed the State’s transportation agencies to take all necessary preparations to be ready to clear roadways as quickly as possible.”

In addition to the slowdowns on the roadways, some of the country’s busiest airports  in New York, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and Boston are also bracing for delays, according to the Associated Press.

The storm is blamed for killing at least 14 people in five states in the midwest and south, mostly related to traffic accidents, according to NWS.

The New York State Department of Transportation is raising awareness for winter driving safety, promoting the initiative: “If you see Ice and Snow, Take It Slow.”

NYSDOT tips for safe winter driving include:

  •  Never follow a snowplow too closely or attempt to pass one. Remember that the highway ahead of the plow is usually snow-covered;
  •  Adjust speed for road conditions and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles;
  •  Schedule extra time for winter travel and be patient during ice and snow removal operations;
  •  Assume that bridge surfaces are slippery, as they freeze more quickly than road surfaces;
  •  Be wary of black ice, which can be difficult to see but makes conditions slippery when pavement temperatures are below freezing;

Motorists should also include the following emergency items in their vehicles:

  •  Flashlight with extra batteries
  •  Charged cell phone and automobile charger
  •  Basic first-aid kit
  •  Blankets or sleeping bags
  •  Extra clothes, including rain gear, boots, mittens, and socks

For real-time traffic and road condition updates, Thruway travelers are encouraged to visit www.Thruway.ny.gov, sign up for TRANSAlert emails at http://www.thruway.ny.gov/tas/index.shtml, or follow @ThruwayTraffic on Twitter. Also for more information and to sign up for free alerts about hazardous travel conditions in your area, go to www.nyalert.gov For weather forecasts, visit National Weather Service – Albany at http://weather.gov/aly .

NYSDOT provides a travel advisory system that features real-time travel reports and can be accessed by phone at 511 or online at www.511ny.org. The Web site features a color-coded map indicating which state roads are snow covered, ice covered, wet, dry, or closed to help travelers determine if travel is advisable. The system provides real-time snow and ice conditions for interstates and other heavily traveled roads, as reported by snowplow operators.