02/03/13 9:07am
02/03/2013 9:07 AM

A Riverhead man, wanted on a warrant, was arrested in Greenport Friday morning after he was caught driving without a license, Southold Town Police said in a press release issued Sunday morning.

Sean Nethercott, 31, was stopped at the corner of First and South streets shortly after 11 a.m. Friday, when police learned he has a suspended license and the registration on his vehicle was also suspended for not having insurance, police said.

After running his name through a computer, officers learned Mr. Nethercott was wanted on a warrant from the Riverhead Police Department, police said.

He was charged with aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle and turned over to Riverhead Police to face warrant charges, according to police. No additional information about the warrant was available Sunday morning.

01/25/13 2:30pm
01/25/2013 2:30 PM


The retired New York City fireboat “Firefighter” will likely be making its way from the Brooklyn Navy Yard to Greenport in the upcoming weeks. The Greenport Village Board approved a contract Jan. 22 allowing the boat to stay in the Mitchell Park Marina through June 15.

The 120-foot ship is now a non-profit floating museum. It is expected to berth at Greenport’s commercial dock near the East End Seaport Museum in time for the summer season.

“Firefighter” was one of the first boats designed by famed naval architect William F. Gibbs. It served the NYFD from 1938 to 2010, said Jeffrey Jonap, the museum’s director of operations, in a recent email.

Mr. Jonap said she was retired due to the need to upgrade to newer, faster and more fuel efficient boats after Sept. 11, 2001.

The ship requires a professional crew to make the 10-hour trip from Brooklyn to Greenport. Volunteers for the museum were initially planning to make the trip Saturday, but have now postponed their trip until “next week or later,” according to their Facebook page.


01/09/13 3:00pm
01/09/2013 3:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | Peconic Bay Water Jitney that had a trial run between Greenport and Sag Harbor last summer is unlikely to return this summer.

Hampton Jitney president Geoff Lynch, a partner with Mattituck businessman Jim Ryan in last summer’s Peconic Bay Water Jitney pilot program, reportedly told the Sag Harbor Village Board Tuesday night he doesn’t expect the water taxi that ran between Greenport Village and Sag Harbor to float a second season.

It would take an infusion of money from the federal government for the partners to continue the service, Mr. Lynch reportedly told the Sag Harbor Village Board.

He said while the ferry service was a huge hit with riders last summer, financially it was “a bust.”

It wasn’t the first time that Mr. Lynch made the comments about the unlikelihood of resuming water taxi service next summer. In September, he told the East End Transportation Council he didn’t envision a second season. Despite running five trips a day and carrying more than 15,000 passengers since it launched the passenger service in June, he said then, “It’s not a moneymaker.”

Barring investors showing an interest in underwriting the service, he said it wouldn’t be running again. The East End Transportation Council has been charged with exploring mass transit alternatives for the region and has representatives from the five East End towns.

At the time, Mr. Ryan denied that the ferry service wouldn’t resume in 2013. He was unavailable for comment today.

Greenport Village Board member Mary Bess Phillips said Mr. Lynch has asked to make a presentation to that group at either at its January 21 work session or January 28 regular meeting. But she had no information on the content of that presentation.


12/04/12 7:55am
12/04/2012 7:55 AM

COURTESY PHOTO | “Fort Terry on Plum Island,” a circa 1914 postcard in the collection of the Southold Historical Society.

It’s easy to be intrigued by Plum Island’s current status as a secret federal animal disease research laboratory, but that’s just one chapter in the island’s rich history.

East Marion resident Ruth Ann Bramson, also board president of the Oysterponds Historical Society, has been researching the island’s pre-lab history for several years and is working on a book on the subject with Southold Historical Society director Geoffrey Fleming and collections manager Amy Folk, a Long Island historian who has worked on some of the society’s other books.

She’ll give a presentation on the island’s past at the Peconic Landing auditorium in Greenport at 8 p.m. tonight.

In an interview this week, Ms. Bramson said Plum Island’s history has “not really been collected anyplace. The island has a very rich history of exploration, changing ownership and government acquisition. It’s an interesting lens, I think, to look at American history.”

She said the island was known by Native Americans as Manittuwond, meaning “the island to which we go to plant corn,” and that the first map was prepared by Adriaen Block, a Dutch trader employed by the Dutch East India Company, who also is credited with discovering Block Island.

“He prepared a map in 1614 based on his last voyage, which includes Plum Island,” said Ms. Bramson. “We know that he saw Plum Island.”

Later, between 1637 and 1639, the island played a major role in the Pequot War, the first armed conflict between Europeans and Native Americans.

The island is mentioned in a letter from Rhode Island founder Roger Williams. He wrote that the Pequots, who were “scarce of provision,” made their way to Manittuwond and Munnatawket, their name for Fishers Island, “to take sturgeon and other fish and to grow new fields of corn in case the English destroy their fields.”

The waters between Fishers Island, Block Island and Plum Island later became a “great center of trade between English and Indian tribes,” Ms. Bramson added. “It’s interesting to think of that area as being a center of trade.”

The island also provided the setting of the first engagement between the newly formed Continental Army and the British during the American Revolution.

“On Aug. 11, 1775, shots were heard on the island,” Ms. Bramson said. “We can’t say it changed the course of history. It was just a footnote in history. But it was the first exchange of cannon fire and the first amphibious assault by the U.S. Army.”

She said Plum Island also abounds with stories from the War of 1812, of shipwrecks and efforts by local residents and seamen to build lighthouses on both Plum Island and neighboring Little Gull Island.

During the late 1800s, the island became a well-known place for sportsmen.

“Very famous people came out to Plum Island to stay in the home of the lighthouse keeper, on farms and in barns,” she said. “Grover Cleveland visited frequently aboard the ship Oneida, owned by his very close friend Commodore Elias Benedict.”

Fort Terry was built on the island in 1897 as an artillery post to protect the U.S. coast from enemy ships during the Spanish-American War and later served as a lookout site for German U-boats and planes during World War II, though the fort never saw conflict and was declared surplus in 1948.

Ms. Bramson hopes to explore all these topics in more depth in both her lecture and the book, which the Southold Historical Society hopes to release in mid-2013.

The historical society received a $15,000 grant from the Gerry Charitable Trust, which must be matched by the end of this year, to complete the book, Mr. Fleming said this week.

“We hope that anyone interested in the fascinating history of Plum Island will consider making a donation,” he said.
“We are also currently looking for original documents and images relating to the historic structures and families that once occupied Plum Island. If you are a descendant of the Beebe, Tuthill or other notable families that once called the island home, please consider sharing the material you have with us. It will help make this project much richer and more interesting.”

To make a donation or to reserve a seat for Ms. Bramson’s lecture, call the Southold Historical Society at 765-5500.


12/02/12 8:30am
12/02/2012 8:30 AM

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Greenport native Harry Biechele, the subject of the “Harry Hellfire” documentary film premiering in Sag Harbor Sunday afternoon.

After six years of documenting Harry Biechele’s life through a series of complicated living situations, director Jim Morrison paints a portrait of his childhood friend, their continuing relationship and their shared passion for heavy metal music in a documentary film premiering this weekend.

“I changed the face of music in Greenport as we know it,” Mr. Biechele said of his influence on the growth of heavy metal music in Greenport during the 1980s. “And you can quote me on that.”

The 42-year-old native Greenporter is the subject of “Harry Hellfire,” which will be aired as part of the 5th annual Hamptons Take Two Film Festival in Sag Harbor Sunday afternoon. The festival includes other films with North Fork roots, including “Long May You Shine” about the restoration of Greenport’s Bug Lighthouse.

For six years, Mr. Morrison followed Mr. Biechele’s life of musical passion, frustration, pain, personal loss, drugs, alcohol and even a problem with chocolate.

“I’ve definitely cleaned up and being allergic to just about everything on the planet helped,” Mr. Biechele said. “I’m especially allergic to chocolate. After Halloween, I broke out all over the place.”

As “Harry Hellfire,” he wasn’t afraid to go trick-or-treating despite his age.

“I take my light saber, put on crazy-ass make-up, my cloak and robe and go out and scare the crap out of kids,” he said. “I love doing it. It’s not even a matter of the candy, it’s about going out and having fun.”

Local reactions to Mr. Biechele are also documented in “Harry Hellfire,” with one woman describing him as not just the “class clown” type, but another species altogether.

The film will be shown at the Bay Street Theatre at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. A question and answer session will follow.

11/22/12 12:00pm
11/22/2012 12:00 PM

Greenport resident Sam Sifton, national editor for The new York Times where he previously served as a food critic, recently published his first cookbook, ‘Thanksgiving: How to Cook it Well.’

Greenport Village resident Sam Sifton, national editor of The New York Times, has been talking lots of turkey this holiday season.

A former restaurant critic for the Times, Mr. Sifton chose preparing a great Thanksgiving dinner as the theme for his first cookbook, “Thanksgiving: How To Cook It Well.”

In the book, Mr. Sifton, 46, who served as the Times’ restaurant critic from 2009 to 2011, mostly uses the written word to describe the perfect holiday dinner, though he does include a few line drawings. He said he avoided lavish photographs in the book, released by Random House this October, because he wanted to stick with a theme as timeless and traditional as the holiday itself.

“The thing about those food porn books, as good as they are sometimes at getting you excited to cook, it goes out of fashion after a little while,” Mr. Sifton said this week. “What I’m arguing for is not the new trend of turkey… The only people who really need new ideas for the turkey and new ideas for the side dishes are the people that put out food pages in newspapers and magazines. Those of us at home just need to know how to make a really good plate of mashed potatoes or a sweet potato dish or a good roasted turkey. That’s what this book is about.”


In addition to providing traditional recipes, Mr. Sifton writes about certain things he believes should be eliminated from the holiday feast. He doesn’t support the idea of serving appetizers at Thanksgiving because he believes they get in the way of the meal by taking up valuable stomach space, wasting dishes and forcing you to spend extra time cleaning.

Mr. Sifton suggests serving oysters to kick off your Turkey Day meal.

“Laying in a few dozen bivalves to eat while the turkey rests on a sidebar is in my view a brilliant solution to the fidgety issue of serving food in advance of the Thanksgiving meal,” Mr. Sifton writes. “Consumed with a sparkling wine, outdoors if possible, oysters provide a direct and visceral connection to aquatic harvest, and to the true history of Thanksgiving in America.”

If you get your oysters from Pipe’s Cove, vegetables from Latham’s in Orient and a fresh turkey from Miloski’s Poultry Farm in Calverton, Mr. Sifton said, he believes your holiday dinner will be “pretty marvelous.”

Taking a walk after the meal, spending some time outside and sparking the fireplace also contribute to making a holiday dinner extra special, he said.

“[That’s] Thanksgiving on the North Fork,” Mr. Sifton said. “There’s no better time of the year out here.”

Mr. Sifton and his wife, Tina Fallon, a real estate agent and theater producer in Brooklyn, currently reside in the Red Hook neighborhood there and have also lived in Greenport Village part-time since 1999. They’ve bought and sold a few houses there over the years, and they’ve spent many Thanksgivings in the village with their two young daughters.

Mr. Sifton’s love affair with the maritime village began sometime in the mid-1990s when he was desperate to find a custom part for a boat he kept in Sag Harbor.

While he waited for the part, Mr. Sifton said, he bumped into an old friend, David Berson, captain of the Greenport-based electric tour boat Glory.

“I had known him when I was in high school because I worked on the schooner Pioneer at the South Street Seaport Museum from the time I was in middle school until the time I was in college,” Mr. Sifton said. “I knew him from the harbor. There were a lot of other New York Harbor rats that washed up in Greenport.”

Mr. Sifton said Greenport has had a special place in his heart since that day.

Over the years, the village has also become a part-time home to his in-laws, who stay with him and his wife when not in Florida.

“I’m out here to cook in my house with my family and take advantage of the great farms and fish and the bounty of the North Fork,” he said.

Although he enjoys dining out, Mr. Sifton said, he’s no longer in the business of naming his favorite restaurants. And since becoming the Times’ national editor a year ago, he now has to pay for his own meals.

“I can’t imagine a bigger change than from being the restaurant critic, where you’re out six nights a week eating in restaurants all over the city and all over the globe, to being national editor, when you’re in the newsroom many, many hours a day, every day, and not writing so much,” he said.

Mr. Sifton has been promoting his book the past few weeks, making talk show appearances in between covering Hurricane Sandy and the election.

When asked how his own Thanksgiving preparations have been going, he said “terrible.” As of last Friday afternoon, he hadn’t called Miloski’s to order his turkey.

“In every interview I give, in every appearance I’ve made, I talk about the importance of planning, the importance of gaming everything out, and this year I have done none of that,” he said. “I’ve got to play a little catch up if I’m going to have a good Thanksgiving.”


10/12/12 8:00am
10/12/2012 8:00 AM

AP/CAROLYN KASTER PHOTO | A preserved brown recluse spider on display at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in March 2011.

There’s been a spider scare out in Greenport, just in time for Halloween.

But local experts say the chances of finding a venomous brown recluse spider on the North Fork are about as good as seeing a witch fly across the lighted moon.

This tale begins in Erin and Chris Doucett’s house on Sound Road.

The family had been struggling to rid a finished basement of persistent brown spiders, Ms. Doucett told The Suffolk Times, and tried fumigation, setting glue traps and the use of both eucalyptus and orange oils.

And despite what the experts say, she believes the invading arachnids — which are now gone — were indeed brown recluse spiders, or Loxosceles reclusa, which are infamous for highly toxic venom. Though the spider rarely bites, some extreme reactions to bites have resulted in necrotized flesh and limb amputations.

That was enough to put the Doucetts and some of their neighbors on Sound Road and parallel Sunset Lane on high alert over the last few weeks, with at least two homeowners having called in an exterminator to fumigate.

When told of the spider rumors, entomologist Scott Campbell of the Suffolk County Department of Health Services insisted there’s nothing to worry about; there hasn’t been one confirmed brown recluse sighting in Suffolk County to date.

Between 2000 and 2005, Dr. Campbell sent about 20 spider specimens to Long Island native Rick Vetter, a professor at the University of California, Riverside, who conducted a five-year national study to investigate, among other things, claims that the territory of the brown recluse spider had spread to Long Island.

Answering this question became all the more important after a Newsday article about three brown recluse bites that occurred on Long Island in 2003, Dr. Campbell said.

“That 2003 article drove people to send me dozens of spider specimens, which I passed along to Rick,” Dr. Campbell said, “Not one specimen of brown recluse spider was found outside of their habitat region or have become established there.”

Ms. Doucett believes her spider problem started with the family’s purchase of a new couch. It was shortly after the couch was delivered, she said, that the spiders appeared.

She added that when the family began sleeping upstairs, they began seeing spiders there as well.

“I don’t know if we brought them up with the blankets,” she said, “but it was just a terrible experience because we have three children and for a while there, we thought everything was a brown recluse spider bite.”

Dr. Campbell said the possibility of brown recluse spiders being shipped outside of their habitat region exists, but is “very unlikely.”

He encouraged those curious about the brown recluse spider to visit  http://spiders.ucr.edu/brs.html to see results of the five-year national study and learn more about the spider, including how to better identify it.

Dr. Campbell attributed the increase in calls about brown recluse spiders may be connected to a recent proliferation of spiders in general.

“This fall seems to be a banner year for some of these garden spiders,” Dr. Campbell said. “The webs are everywhere and people are seeing these big spiders and are saying they’re brown recluses for reasons not based in science. It seems when a person sees a spider that looks kind of frightening it’s a brown recluse.”

He added that though he can’t say “definitely” that there aren’t brown recluse spiders in Suffolk County or on the North Fork, the chances are “very very very very very slim.”

Indigenous to the South and Midwest, the brown recluse is also often called a “violin spider” as they have a black violin-like marking on their cephalothorax, where the legs attach, according to the University of California study.

The “neck” of the violin points toward the back of the spider. In addition to this violin marking, the spider has six eyes arranged in pairs, rather than eight. The brown recluse is usually found not outside, but in basements or quiet, undisturbed corners, prefers to feed on dead insects at night and does not make a classic wheel-shaped web, but a rather loose, messy web created out of sight.

Officials at Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport said they have no records of treating brown recluse spider bites.

Entomologist Dan Gilrein at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Riverhead said that though he wouldn’t be surprised if the spiders could survive here over a winter indoors, neither he nor the organization’s diagnostic lab had a confirmed brown recluse inquiry.

“I realize that it’s spoken a lot about and people insist they’re here, but we have never seen a sample,” Mr. Gilrein said.


10/10/12 2:00pm
10/10/2012 2:00 PM

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | TV producers and home remediators are wrapping up shooting for the television show “Hoarders.”

A television crew was wrapping up production of an episode on a hoarder in Greenport, according to The Suffolk Times.

“Hoarders,” a documentary series on A&E that highlights the struggles of people who cannot part with their belongings and helps to find them treatment, filmed an episode on Carpenter Street this week.

The show began shooting Monday and wrapped up Wednesday, said Ken Olsen, owner of the 1-800-GOT-JUNK? franchise in Bohemia, who is working with the producers to clean out the house and set up for the homeowner’s return.

“She’s going to walk back in and be wowed,” Mr. Olsen said.

Read the full story here on The Suffolk Times.