10/13/13 1:00pm
10/13/2013 1:00 PM
PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Volunteers with the community advocacy group Save Main Road work on restoring the Witch's Hat in Aquebogue Saturday afternoon.

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Volunteers with the community advocacy group Save Main Road work on restoring the Witch’s Hat in Aquebogue Saturday afternoon.

Just in time for Halloween, Aquebogue’s historic “Witch’s Hat” got a bit of a touchup Saturday afternoon.

Volunteers with the community group “Save Main Road” spent the afternoon pulling off old shingles, clearing out debris and throwing away garbage as part of the ongoing restoration to the former roadside stand.

The Witch’s Hat — so called because of its pointed roof and strange shape — was built in 1927, and once sold gas, candy and cigarettes to drivers. The building was named a town landmark in 1987, but had fallen into disrepair.

Earlier this month, Jamesport-based landscape company Kaiser Maintenance cleared away trees at the building’s site. On Saturday, volunteers began to clean away years worth of rotted shingles and dirt that accumulated on the structure.

As some used hammer to tear away at the pine wood on the roof, other volunteers dove inside the Hat, and turned up an old pice sign and a wooden piece of artwork buried in the dust. Next Saturday, volunteers will return to the Hat to finish the job, so that the scope of the renovations to restore the building can be completed.


10/12/13 10:00am
10/12/2013 10:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Early childhood education teacher Alison Aldredge leads her students as they act out growing from seeds to trees.

In a naturally lit area of the early childhood education classroom at Peconic Community School in Aquebogue last Friday, students learned about trees by becoming trees themselves.

“Follow me, seeds,” their teacher, Alison Aldredge, whispered as she tapped on a drum. “Come on seeds. Follow me around.”

Her students then tip-toed toward the class’s potted hibiscus tree.

“The seeds are beginning to find their spot in the ground,” Ms. Aldredge said as she motioned to the children to sit and crouch like little seeds. “Come, find a spot. Plant yourself low. It’s time to begin. Starting to grow. Get your roots so deep down.”

Ms. Aldredge then took out a rain stick instrument to dramatize another element of what makes plants rise from the ground.

“Send your roots really low,” she said with a smile as she shifted the rain stick back and forth. “Start to grow, grow and grow!”

The founders of the Peconic Community School are experiencing some growth of their own. The independent private school, in its second year, this fall enrolled 27 students, up from nine last year. The school, which started in a small space at the East End Arts property in downtown Riverhead, is now operating at the former elementary school at Our Redeemer Lutheran Church in Aquebogue.

The school was founded by three Southold parents who wanted their children and others to have the chance to learn in an environment that encourages cooperation and an understanding of the interconnectedness of art, science, nature and community. Tuition costs about $10,000 but the school offers a sliding-scale rate based on family income, she said. Fundraisers are held throughout the year to supplement tuition income.

The school’s co-executive directors, Liz Casey Searl and Kathryn Casey Quigley, sisters who founded the alternative school with fellow parent Patricia Eckardt, said they’re focused on creating themed curriculum that spans the school’s grades, from preschool to fifth.

And they get help from community partners such as Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County, Group for the East End and Hallockville Museum Farm.

One example of how Peconic Community School teachers are collaborating this year comes in the form of lesson plans on trees.

As Ms. Aldredge’s students gave their best tree impersonations, she asked what kind of trees they were.

“I’m a big tree, what about you?” she asked as she stretched out her own arms. “Who feels like a silly walnut tree, dropping nuts all over the ground?”

A few students shouted “I do! I do!” as they transformed into walnuts and demonstrated how nuts plop to the ground.

Ms. Searl said the school’s new space is conducive to the holistic approach to learning, because each classroom has large windows, and natural vegetation surrounds the school.

As for the lesson plans, Ms. Aldredge’s students, ranging in age from 3 to 5 years, are focusing on how seeds become trees. Sharon Cook’s lower primary class of first- and second-graders is learning about different types of trees. Over in Colleen Hanley’s upper primary class, a combined class of grades three through five, students are learning how they can become environmental stewards by studying trees.

“It’s exciting because, developmentally, they’re each doing something on the appropriate level,” Ms. Searl said about the coordinated efforts. “As we do tree units in years to come, [the early childhood] group will move up and do the next part, and so on.”

Other collaborative lesson plans are in the works to enrich the basic curriculum.

The school is also enhancing its music program this year with the Dalcroze theory, which teaches students about music through body movements, and flute or and violin lessons are being offered as well. And all students are taking Spanish language classes.

Parents are encouraged to participate in the teaching process at the school.

Jamesport parent and jewelry maker Carolyn Mosciatti visited her 7-year-old son Matteo’s class Friday morning to lead students in a stamping project to make name necklaces.

Ms. Mosciatti said she had decided to enroll her son at Peconic Community School because she believes a smaller class size supports her son’s special education needs. She also likes how the school encourages parents and community members to participate with students in the classroom.

“When we toured the school, Matteo asked if he could start tomorrow,” Ms. Mosciatti said, threading a student’s necklace. “He feels at home here.”

Like Matteo, five of the eight students in Ms. Hanley’s class went to local public schools last year. Most of those students said they are enjoying school this year because they don’t feel the pressure of rushing through their class assignments and feel more comfortable to freely express opinions to their teachers.

“You had to learn a certain way,” 8-year-old Kate said about her old school. “Here it’s better because it’s more fun to learn here.”

Although Ms. Searl said she’s pleased with the school’s progress, she’s not looking to drastically expand the school anytime soon.

“We’re still young; we’re only two,” she said. “We need to catch our breath … We always had in mind to grow slowly.

“We just want to make sure we don’t bite off more than we can chew.”


10/06/13 3:53pm
10/06/2013 3:53 PM
GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Deacon Jeff Sykes and altar boy Chris Massey of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Mattituck bless a horse Sunday.

GRANT PARPAN PHOTO | Deacon Jeff Sykes and altar boy Chris Massey of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Mattituck bless a horse Sunday.

It’s not every day you go to church with three horses, two donkeys, a guinea pig, several cats and a few dozen dogs. And that’s what people love about the Blessing of the Animal ceremonies held at area churches each October.

“It’s the most fun we have all year,” said Deacon Jeff Sykes of Our Lady of Good Counsel Church in Mattituck. “It’s particularly great out here. Other places, you’ll see some house pets. Here we have horses and donkeys, too.”

The Mattituck ceremony was one of several blessings held on the North Fork this weekend, along with events at Old Steeple Community Church in Aquebogue and St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Greenport.

10/02/13 12:15pm
10/02/2013 12:15 PM
RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Volunteers from Jamesport landscape company Kaiser Maintenance will clear some trees surrounding The Witch's Hat on Main Road in Aquebogue Thursday.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Volunteers from Jamesport landscape company Kaiser Maintenance will clear some trees surrounding The Witch’s Hat on Main Road in Aquebogue Thursday.

The town’s landmarks preservation chair, Richard Wines, has recruited a group of volunteers from Jamesport landscape company Kaiser Maintenance, which will donate tree removal services Thursday to the Witch’s Hat, a curiously shaped local landmark built in 1927 on Main Road in Aquebogue so-named for its hexagonal cedar-shingled spire.

“This is the first step we need to undertake for the restoration of the Witch’s Hat,” said Mr. Wines, also a member of Save Main Road, a community group dedicated to maintaining the rural character of Main Road. ”There’s a huge tree hanging right over the building and kind of crowding it out in one corner, and there are other trees in front of the building on its west side that are blocking it from view.”

In addition to Kaiser, Mr. Wines said other members of Save Main Road – a community organization aiming to maintain the rural character of Route 25 – have also recruited other volunteers to contribute to the effort.

Mr. Wines, who lives in Jamesport, said Kaiser Maintenance has already taken steps to kill the poison ivy surrounding the dilapidated wooden structure, which was once a roadside stand that sold gas, candy and cigarettes to motorists. It was named an official town landmark in 1987.

A Landmarks Preservation Commission document states that the Witch’s Hat was built in the late 1920s by Henry Flemming, an English immigrant and machinist who was around 70 years old at the time of construction.

“It was apparently kind of a retirement project for him,” said Mr. Wines. He speculates the stand was designed to resemble a witch’s hat so that it would attract passing motorists.

Mr. Flemming appears to have died soon after construction was completed because the 1930 federal census lists his widow, Lena Flemming’s, occupation as “Owner, candy and cigarette store.”

Years later, Mr. Wines said, the roadside stand was used to sell landscape shrubs. It has been unoccupied since the 1960s and was last restored sometime in the 1970s. The Riverhead Landmarks Preservation Commission hopes to nominate the Witch’s Hat, along with the rest of historic Main Road, to the National Register of Historic Places, he said.

“There will be no additional restrictions or regulations for property owners if [the Witch’s Hat] is designated a national landmark but federal rehabilitation tax credits may be available to owners of historic buildings along Main Road,” said Mr. Wines, who also led an effort to get downtown Riverhead on the National Register of Historic Places. It earned the recognition last September.

The Witch’s Hat has been owned for the past 23 years by by Dr. Richard Hanusch, whose veterinary practice, Aquebogue Veterinary Hospital, is located just east of the landmark.

“I really think the plans are great,” Dr. Hanusch said of restoration efforts. “I’d like to see it be totally restored.”


09/30/13 1:47pm
09/30/2013 1:47 PM
RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Four teens were hospitalized on Monday after a car crash in Aquebogue.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Four teens were hospitalized on Monday after a car crash in Aquebogue.

Four teens driving in a Nissan Altima early this afternoon were sent to Peconic Bay Medical Center with minor injuries after the driver veered off Peconic Bay Boulevard and into the woods, flipping the car on its side.

The driver of the car, a 16-year-old male, told police he swerved off the road to avoid a deer as he was driving eastbound just east of Sunup Trail in Aquebogue.

The passengers in the car included three other males, two more 16-year-olds and one 19-year-old.

Police said one arrest was made at the scene, but declined to provide details.

The Altima rolled onto its side during the accident, which occurred about 12:45 p.m. An open black trash bag was spotted next to the car, with a couple of Heineken bottles; however, police would not comment on circumstances leading to the crash.

Police said the accident is under investigation.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Tree branches around a Nissan Altima had to be cleared on Monday to get it out of the woods.

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | Tree branches around a Nissan Altima had to be cleared on Monday to get it out of the woods.

08/23/13 4:00pm
08/23/2013 4:00 PM

TIM KELLY PHOTO | West Nile Virus was found in a mosquito sample taken in Aquebogue.

Suffolk County health officials announced Friday that 17 more mosquito samples tested positive for West Nile virus, including one in Aquebogue.

Positive samples, collected between July 30, also came from mosquito traps in Nesconset, Port Jefferson Station and elsewhere in western Suffolk County.

Health officials do not disclose exactly where the traps are located.

To date, 107 mosquito samples and four birds have tested positive for the virus. No humans or horses have tested positive for the virus in Suffolk County this year, officials said.

“The confirmation of West Nile virus in a mosquito pool indicates that the virus is actively circulating within the mosquito population,” says James Tomarken, the Suffolk County Health and Human Services commissioner. “While there is no cause for alarm, we urge residents to cooperate with us in our efforts to contain the spread of the virus, which can be debilitating to humans.”

Residents can reduce the mosquito population around their homes by eliminating stagnant water where mosquitoes breed, officials say.

Dead birds found on area properties may indicate the presence of West Nile virus in the area. To report dead birds, call the West Nile virus hotline in Suffolk County at (631) 787-2200 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.

For medical questions related to West Nile virus, call (631) 854-0333.

To report mosquito problems or stagnant pools of water, call vector control at (631) 852-4270.

For further information on mosquitos and mosquito-borne diseases, visit the Department of Health Services website and look under “Seasonal Trends.”

Related: Tips to help prevent the spread of West Nile virus

08/13/13 2:47pm
08/13/2013 2:47 PM
JERRY DONAHUE COURTESY PHOTO | Monday's nights crash scene on Main Road in Aquebogue.

JERRY DONAHUE COURTESY PHOTO | Monday’s nights crash scene on Main Road in Aquebogue.

A 34-year-old Southold man was arrested for driving while intoxicated after crashing a work truck into a telephone pole in Aquebogue Monday night, police said.

Mario Chacon was traveling eastbound on Main Road, just west of Edgar Avenue, when he crashed into the telephone pole, breaking it in two, police said.

Mr. Chacon was charged with DWI and arraigned Tuesday morning in Justice Court.

08/11/13 10:00am
08/11/2013 10:00 AM

COURTESY PHOTO | Actor and Aquebogue native Matthew William Chizever. (seated) in a still from a season seven episode of USA Network’s “Burn Notice” with actor
Charles Mesure.

You may only know him from the time you saw him get into a fistfight with himself in Mitsubishi Electric’s popular “Shadow Boxer” commercial, but Matthew William Chizever isn’t a violent guy. The Aquebogue native is just doing his job.

The 30-year-old got his first taste of acting when he starred in productions at Riverhead High School and North Fork Community Theatre in Mattituck. After graduating from Riverhead in 2001, Mr. Chizever studied at Manhattan’s American Musical Dramatic Academy, graduating in 2006. Since then, he has appeared in numerous shows in south Florida, including “The Turn of the Screw” and “Evil Dead: The Musical.” Recently, he’s added a healthy dose of television work to his expanding résumé.

Mr. Chizever lives with his fiancée, Erica Bunn, and their 19-month-old son, Lawson, in Margate, Fla.

COURTESY PHOTO | Matthew William Chizever.

Q: How did you get into acting?

A: One of the main reasons I got into acting was I was very competitive with one of the guys I went to Hebrew school with who was always the lead in local shows. I was very jealous of the attention he would get. I think that competitiveness kind of came out from my grandpa and my father, who are both awesome tennis players.

Q: What was your first big acting job?

A: Right after school I got a gig at the American Girl Theater at Rockefeller Center performing in a show called “Circle of Friends: An American Girl Musical.” I did that show for a few months before I started going out on the road. That was really cool because they only had two adults in the show, and the adults played all the kids’ parents.

Q: You live and work in Florida now. What prompted the move?

A: I started auditioning for a lot of different regional theaters outside New York, mostly Florida theaters. I started going out on the road. Once I stayed down in Florida I started getting noticed pretty quickly by some larger theaters. I’ve made a name for myself.

Q: You recently appeared on a season seven episode of USA Network’s ‘Burn Notice.’ What was that experience like?

A: I got to meet Jeffrey Donovan, the lead, who’s a really awesome guy. When you get to that point, with guys like that, it’s awesome to be around them just to watch them work. The caliber of work going on around you is amazing to be around.

Q: You fight your own shadow, and lose, in the ‘Shadow Boxer’ commercial. How did you prepare for that shoot?

A: At the American Musical Dramatic Academy a lot of our training was in stage combat and weapons. It was nice to be able to pull from something I had such a good time doing in school; my teachers really got me into it. I performed my own stunts for the commercial and went through a balsa-wood table a few times — it was a blast. So much of what I do in theater gets really physical that doing that commercial was almost like a culmination of everything I’d done and loved about my career beforehand.

Q: What projects are you working on now?

A: I’m working on a local law group commercial. Nothing theaterwise. I’ve been trying to keep my schedule open for a lot more camera work.

Q: What would you like your career to become in the future?

A: I’d like to step away from the theater a little bit and see what happens with some television and commercial work.