02/20/13 7:00am
02/20/2013 7:00 AM

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Winifred Riches of Laurel was joined by her great niece Sarah Cassidy and niece Una Cassidy Tuesday afternoon to celebrate her 100th birthday.

To celebrate her centennial birthday, Winifred Riches of Laurel gathered with her “bridge crew” to recall some of her favorite memories over the past 100 years. Her niece, Una Cassidy, and great niece, Sarah Cassidy, traveled from Belfast, Ireland to celebrate.

“She always talks about how she lost her hat the day World War II ended,” Sarah Cassidy said. “She lost it when they all threw them up to celebrate.”

Mrs. Riches was in Manhattan on Aug. 14, 1945 when President Harry Truman announced the war had ended. Her soon to be husband, Thomas Riches, served in the war.

Mrs. Riches was born in Northern Ireland Feb. 19, 1913, and immigrated to Canada at age 17 to help her father with work. She eventually moved to New York City where she met her late husband. The couple, who never had any children, retired to Laurel over 42 years ago to enjoy time by the water and on the golf course — a few of Mrs. Riches’ favorite pastimes.

“She is a wonderful lady. She is charismatic and loves God,” said Comfort Amissah, Mrs. Riches’ live-in aid.  “She taught me how to play golf in the garden.”

Although she can’t make it to the course these days, she still plays bridge every Monday night, Mrs. Riches said.

“She’s capable and able,” Sarah Cassidy said. “She did everything, and she took care of her husband.”

Sarah Cassidy recalled how her great aunt and uncle ended up in their Laurel home more than four decades earlier.

Mrs. Riches was searching for a retirement destination. Her husband said, “Now don’t you go buying a house.” She came back and said, “I bought a plot,” Sarah Cassidy joked.

Mrs. Riches home today sits on that very same plot.


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.”