12/07/12 3:06pm
12/07/2012 3:06 PM

JOE WERKMEISTER PHOTO | Mattituck rescue personel work to free a woman from a Volkswagen Passat Friday afternoon on Route 25 in Laurel.

The driver of one of three-vehicles involved in a crash on Main Road in Laurel Friday afternoon was treated for what appeared to be non-life threatening injuries.

Main Road was closed in both directions for about an hour as police and the Mattituck Fire Department rescue squad responded to the crash, which occurred shortly before 2 p.m. The road has since reopened.

Witnesses said a Mercury Mountaineer heading west on Route 25 attempted to make a left turn into a driveway when it was rear-ended by a late-model Ford Taurus.

The impact apparently pushed the SUV into the eastbound lane, where it collided with a Volkswagen Passat.

The Passat’s driver, a young woman, appeared conscious and alert when she was being tended to by Mattituck firefighters, though it was not immediately known if she was hospitalized.

Jorge Perez, 20, who lives at the address where the SUV was headed, said his sister was driving the Mountaineer and was not hurt..

“This happened last year to my cousin. She was OK too. And my father was hit, same thing — rear ended, at the Laurel Post Office.

“People just don’t look where they’re going.”

The Ford’s driver, a man, also appeared to be uninjured after the crash.


10/28/12 4:59pm
10/28/2012 4:59 PM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Southold Town police responded to a report of shots fired near the Empire Gas station on Main Road in Laurel Sunday afternoon.

A Mattituck man was arrested after he allegedly shot at two people near the Empire gas station on Main Road in Laurel Sunday afternoon, Southold Town police said.

Brian Rive, 38, fired a 9mm handgun at two people during a dispute near the gas station about 3:30 p.m., police said. Police responded to the scene, and located Mr. Rive, who was identified as the man with the handgun, police said. A Southold police K-9 unit searched the area and found the handgun near the scene, according to a police report.

Police obtained a search warrant for Mr. Rive’s residence and searched the dwelling. During the investigation, one of Mr. Rive’s pit bulls charged at the police dog helping to search the scene and began “viciously fighting it,” police said. Police were unable to separate the dogs and shot the pitbull, killing it, according to a police report.

After searching the home, police found evidence of guns and illegal drugs, police said.

Mr. Rive was arrested and charged with first-degree reckless endangerment, second-degree criminal possession of a weapons, second-degree menacing and second-degree aggravated harassment. He was held for arraignment, police said.

The alleged shooting comes about a month after a 24-year-old Shirley man was arrested for allegedly attacking a female companion and then reaching for a responding police officer’s gun at the same Laurel gas station.


10/24/12 12:13pm
10/24/2012 12:13 PM

CHARLIE TUMINO PHOTO | The scene after Jordan Gormez allegedly resisted arrest in Laurel last month.

All but two charges have been dropped in the case of a 24-year-old Shirley man arrested last month for allegedly attacking a female companion and then reaching for a responding police officer’s gun at a Laurel gas station, authorities said.

Jordan Gormez was initially arrested for felony criminal mischief and attempted grand larceny, resisting arrest, criminal obstruction of breathing or blood circulation and four counts of second degree harassment. He now faces just two charges, resisting arrest and criminal mischief, and has pleaded guilty to both, said Bob Clifford, a spokesman for Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota.

“We were unable to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the felony criminal mischief in the third degree charge, since it is dependent on the cooperation of the defendant’s girlfriend, who did not cooperate,” he said of Mr. Gormez’s companion, who was allegedly choked during the Sept. 12 altercation.

“The defendant was a passenger in his girlfriend’s vehicle and during an argument, allegedly kicked and broke her windshield,” Mr. Clifford said. “She stopped at the Laurel gas station and the defendant allegedly choked her. A court officer and his wife driving behind them pulled into the gas station, saw the altercation … and called police.”

When police arrived, Mr. Gormez fled and, when caught by police, got into a physical altercation and attempted to take the officer’s gun, according to the original police report. The off-duty court officer assisted Southold police in subduing and arresting Mr. Gormez, police reported.

“The girlfriend told the DA she would not comply with a subpoena to appear before a grand jury and would not work with law enforcement in any matter,” Mr. Clifford said of the case. “She asked that the order of protection be dropped, the court complied and the order was vacated.”

When he returns to court on Nov. 30, Mr. Gormez is scheduled to be sentenced to seven months in the county jail, officials said.


08/16/12 9:35am
08/16/2012 9:35 AM

A Riverhead man was arrested for misdemeanor DWI Wednesday night, Southold Town police said.

Police received a report of an intoxicated person leaving a Laurel residence in a 1996 Toyota Landcruiser about 7:30 p.m., they said.

Manuel Arriaza, 36, was later found operating the vehicle while intoxicated.

Mr. Arriaza was arrested, transported to police headquarters, processed and held overnight for pending arraignment.

08/11/12 2:37pm
08/11/2012 2:37 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Riverhead firefighters extinguish a BMW fire Saturday.

The Riverhead Fire Department quickly extinguished a car fire in the parking lot of BJ’s Wholesale Club Saturday afternoon.

The call came in about 1:30 p.m. and firefighters, who responded with three engines and a full crew, had the blaze under control within 10 minutes.

The fire sent white smoke billowing into the air toward the north end of the BJ’s parking lot. There were no injuries.

The car’s owner, Craig Hasday of Laurel, said he was shopping in BJ’s with his son when an announcement came over the public address system saying a car with his license plate number was on fire in the parking lot.

The car was new, a 2012 BMW, he said. He was able to get his belongings out of the car, but believes the car is totaled.

The fire capped a trying day for Mr. Hasday.

“I just put my father into a hospice today, so compared to that, this is nothing,” he said.


05/31/12 6:00am
05/31/2012 6:00 AM

BETH YOUNG FILE PHOTO | The water authority had been planning to install a turbine similar to this one recently installed at Pindar Vineyards in Peconic.

The Suffolk County Water Authority has backed away from its plan to build a 100-kilowatt wind turbine near Laurel Lake in Laurel.

In an email to County Legislator Ed Romaine that was circulated to the media Tuesday, authority CEO Jeff Szabo said that the agency’s chairman, Jim Gaughran, “has informed me that he plans to recommend not awarding this contract at tonight’s board meeting based upon the present proposed return on investment.”

The water authority had estimated it would take between 18 and 25 years to recoup its investment in the half-million-dollar turbine.

Water authority spokesman Tim Motz confirmed after the agency’s Tuesday night meeting that the project had been shelved.

The water authority announced plans early this year to build the turbine to help power its pumping station near the lake. The authority spends $25 million on electricity each year to run some 600 wells. But neighbors quickly rallied against the proposal, citing, in part, the possible risk of fire if the turbine were installed in the middle of the woods and the large number of birds in the nature preserve surrounding the lake.

Members of the Laurel Lake Homeowners Association argued that the dirt roads on which most of the residents live are inaccessible by fire trucks. In one case, they said, a fireman had to walk in to extinguish a blaze sparked by a tree falling on live power lines.

The water authority later said it didn’t believe a fire risk existed at the site.

While it had not taken a position, the town had questioned whether the authority needed local approvals to erect the turbine. The SCWA argued that it didn’t.

But at the town’s urging the authority did seek Town Trustee permits to run new water mains out to Orient two years ago. In the wake of intense opposition from the town and Orient residents, the authority eventually dropped that project, which was to be financed largely with federal stimulus funds.

The town code permits wind turbines only at bona fide farming operations.

Supervisor Scott Russell said Wednesday that he’s glad the water authority listened to residents living near the proposed project.

“I support reliance on alternative and renewable energies and have promoted their use with codes and action,” he said. “The site selection, however, is very important and the proposed location at Laurel Lake seemed to undermine all of the hard work and cooperative efforts of the state, the county and the town in protecting and preserving that scenic and natural treasure. I do believe that the SCWA has shown a real interest in the voices and concerns of the residents in this instance and am grateful to that agency for listening to those concerns.”


05/19/12 3:00pm
05/19/2012 3:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTOS | Laurel resident Peter Warns with a 1915 department store floor model with six drawers. Each drawer had a ring specific to each clerk, so an owner would know if the clerks were using the correct drawers.

A Laurel man will ring you up to add a little class to your entertainment room, or simply to make change for a dollar in style.

Peter Warns, 65, is a third-generation cash register dealer with about 200 machines, some dating back as far as the late 1800s. He is one of the country’s four premiere register restorers.

But since the Internet revolution Mr. Warns has stopped hoarding the machines.

“Back in those days, they were so hard to find that you had to buy all of them because you didn’t know if you’d ever see them again,” he said. “Now the machines find me, but I’ll still chase them.”

Who else is hunting antique cash registers?

Homeowners in search of something high-end to complement their game rooms.

Mr. Warns, who sells his registers for $2,500 to $10,000, also customizes old machines for his clients, even adding special keys for “cigars,” “billiards” or even “pint.”

“People that buy my stuff really appreciate what I do,” Mr. Warns said. “They want the best.”

Some 1.6 million of these brass and oak models were made in the early 1900s; today only 4 percent have survived.

Although he attributes his success to meticulous attention to detail and a passion for preserving history, Mr. Warns said he gives all the credit to the National Cash Register Company of Dayton, Ohio, known as NCR.

“I wouldn’t be doing this if NCR didn’t make such beautiful products,” Mr. Warns said. “They are beautiful, like artwork.”

The NCR machines are ornate, with brass, bronze, copper and nickel finishes and sturdy wooden cash drawers. Each drawer bears a brass image of NCR’s first president, John Patterson. Cranks, bells and lights are also included.

One of Mr. Warns’ machines, made in 1915 and designed for a department store, has six drawers. Each had a unique ring when it opened, and each clerk would be assigned a drawer. This helped the store owner catch his workers dipping into other drawers and stealing money.

Before cash registers were invented, business owners kept their money in cigar boxes or even just on top of a counter.
The concept of the cash register was originated in 1884 by John Ritty, who developed a counting mechanism called a “dial machine.” Only five such devices exist today.

“Ritty could never get it off the ground,” Mr. Warns said. “Then John Patterson came along.”

John Patterson, a tile business owner, founded NCR in 1886 when he attempted to address the difficulty business owners had in making a profit. Money was often either lost, misplaced or stolen — primarily by employees.

“He wanted to keep his customers from losing cash,” Mr. Warns said. “People thought he was a fool. Who ever heard of a cash register?”

One way to help business owners find out where their money was going was through a mechanism called a “thief catcher.”

Each time the register’s drawer opened, a wheel counter would increase by one number. When the business owner checked it, he was able to figure out when his register had been opened, how many times and, most likely, by whom.

“No one knew it was there except the business owner,” Mr. Warns said. “It was all about keeping people honest.”

The idea eventually caught on and cash registers started to pop up in stores across the country. Purchasing one gave you a sense of status and helped you keep your finances in order.

But not everyone was thrilled about the machines.

In 1903, NCR mailed advertisements showcasing its cash registers to business owners nationwide. But as that mail arrived, employees, usually the reason money went missing, would block them from crossing the boss’ desk.

John Patterson then decided to take “NCR” off the envelopes, but they were still intercepted because the return address was Dayton, Ohio, which gave NCR away.

The company’s third attempt to reach its customers, however, proved successful. NCR sent advertisements to personal and trustworthy contacts throughout the country and asked them to mail out the advertisements on its behalf.

“Patterson was on a mission to tell everybody they needed a cash register,” Mr. Warns said. “He wanted to help his customers with their problems of losing cash.”

A line-up of antique cash registers in Peter Warns' carriage house in Laurel.

It turns out NCR was ultimately its own toughest competition. In 1915, NCR salesmen attempting to sell new machines got the cold shoulder because business owners found nothing wrong with their original models.

John Patterson then developed a trade-in system and would have the old machines thrown out. But they were retrieved from junk yards, fixed up and put back in service. So instead, Mr. Warns said, NCR “had to watch the iron ball crush the machines.”

As a result, only 4 percent of the 1,656,000 cash registers manufactured survive.

“So few are left,” Mr. Warns said. “That adds to the mystique.”

Mr. Warns’ grandfather, Harry Hoyt Bender, known as “Chief Bender,” began working as a mechanic for NCR in 1910. Less than a decade later, he went into business for himself and opened The Harlem Cash Register Company on West 125th Street in New York City.

In addition to cash registers, Mr. Bender fixed scales, safes, coffee grinders and other machines.
Eventually, Mr. Warns’ father, Rudy, left his $150-a-week job selling office furniture and joined the family business.

As a young boy working in his father’s shop, Mr. Warns came across a cash register, and the discovery hit him “like a ton of bricks.

“I thought to myself, ‘Someday, I’m going to get my hands on a bunch of these,’ and I did,” he said. “I had this thing in my head that, someday, I’d be the guy you’d go to for brass cash registers.”

It was Bill Freeman, a mechanic at the Warns family shop and later Rudy Warns’ partner, who taught Mr. Warns how to fix registers. The first machine he restored was a rusty, two-drawer Model 34722 register.

“I learned so much with that machine,” Mr. Warns said. “I want to find the machines in the worst shape possible … I want to fix them up for future generations.”

At the waterfront home in Laurel where he lives with his wife, Jeanine, and 9-year-old son, Matthew, Mr. Warns built a Victorian carriage house to store his prize possessions. Upstairs is his home office where he works as an executive recruiter for high-tech companies.

Throughout the day, Mr. Warns toggles between his office and workspace, where he restores not only cash registers but also scales and safes.

“I really do love them all,” he said.

But if he had to choose a favorite, Mr. Warns said he’d have to pick his 1914 Class 500 register. Made for an automobile company, it is the largest of the NCR machines and can handle thousands of dollars.

The rarest machine he owns is a NCR wooden Model 2. He purchased it 15 years ago for $2,000. It cost him another $2,000 to restore it.

As Mr. Warns continues with his antique cash register business, he said, “It would be nice to see the fourth generation take over.”

When he met his son at the school bus one day this month, Mr. Warns asked if he would be interested in going into the antique cash register restoration business.

Matthew exclaimed, “Yes!”

“Wow,” Mr. Warns said. “That’s the fastest I’ve ever heard you respond.”

“I’ve said it a million times,” Matthew said. “But I don’t know where all of the parts go.”

“You’ll learn,” Mr. Warns said. “It just takes time.”