08/25/13 9:55am

SoutholdPD Sign - Summer - 500

A seafood delivery truck driver from Southold was arrested on drunken driving and leaving the scene of an accident charges after a two-car crash Saturday evening in Riverhead, authorities said.

CARRIE MILLER PHOTO | Brian Pressler, 26, of Southold is walked into Southold Town Justice Court Sunday. He was charged with DWI in Southold and cited with leaving the scene of a crash in Riverhead.

Brian Pressler, 26, was driving east on Route 25 in Laurel about 8 p.m. in a delivery truck from Braun’s Seafood in Cutchogue when he was pulled over by Southold Town police, who were alerted to the accident by Riverhead Town police.

Riverhead police said Mr. Pressler had his high beams on and was tailgating a brown Honda at the intersection of Main Road and Edgar Avenue in Aquebogue about 7:50 p.m., when he rear-ended the vehicle.

After he was eventually located in Laurel, officers at the scene determined Mr. Pressler was intoxicated, police said.

He was charged with DWI and issued a citation from Riverhead police for leaving the scene of an accident with property damage, police said.

Southold Town Justice Rudolph Bruer said at an arraignment Sunday that this was not the first time Mr. Pressler, who was released on his own recognizance, has been before him for an alcohol-related offense.

08/12/13 9:00am
08/12/2013 9:00 AM
CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | A classic car show fundraiser was held in Southold Sunday to benefit the Sweeney family of Laurel.

CYNDI MURRAY PHOTO | A classic car show fundraiser was held in Southold Sunday to benefit the Sweeney family of Laurel.

More than 400 local residents attended a classic car show in Southold Sunday to support Mattituck fireman Michael Sweeney and his family.

The Sweeney home in Laurel was badly damaged in a fire just two weeks ago.

The benefit classic car and motorcycle show at the American Legion Hall was organized by a group of Mr. Sweeney’s oldest friends. You can read more about how the fundraiser came to be by clicking here.

07/01/13 11:13am

RACHEL YOUNG PHOTO | A LIPA worker cuts the line at a house fire on Delmar Drive in laurel Monday morning.

One day after moving into a house they were renting on Delmar Drive in Laurel, a family was forced to evacuate when an electrical fire sparked.

The fire broke out at about 10:30 a.m. Monday, as a Cablevision worker was installing service to the house, officials said.

“Someone was working on the house, they hit a wire and that’s what started it,” said Cutchogue fire chief Tony Berkoski.

Conditions in the burning house were challenging, the chief said, with temperatures as high as 140 degrees.

LIPA arrived at the scene shortly before 11 a.m. to cut off power, as firefighters used an ax to break through the side of the house to extinguish the fire.

“We had a hard time because the house was built properly, it had double sheetrock on the walls and ceiling so it was hard to pull down,” Mr. Berkoski said. “That was the problem. Once the fire got into the ceiling it was hard to get down.”

Nobody inside the house was injured, but at least two different emergency workers were transported to Eastern Long Island Hospital for treatment of exertion.

The family renting the house declined comment.

The Cutchogue and Jamesport fire departments assisted the Mattituck Fire Department at the scene.

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05/19/13 5:00pm
05/19/2013 5:00 PM

RICHARD EHLERS COURTESY PHOTO | Alix Ehlers’ first novel, ‘A Power in the Blood,’ is now available on amazon.com, 13 years after the Laurel resident’s death. The book was e-published after her sister, a published author, discovered a draft of it.

Suspense, intrigue, a dreadful decision that turns a small town upside down; a first novel by local author Alix Ehlers, “A Power in the Blood,” has all the makings of a best seller, but it almost never saw the light of day.

Now, thanks to her family, the book is finally available on Amazon — 13 years after the Laurel resident’s death.

Ms. Ehlers’ sister, mystery author Betsy Thornton, began shopping the novel around after coming across a draft in 2002, two years after her sister passed away from ovarian cancer.

“My agent loved it but, as sad as it is, she told me when an author is dead it’s hard to sell a book,” Ms. Thornton said. “But I thought it was amazing and I wanted people to be able to enjoy it.”

Ms. Thornton is an accomplished author in her own right. She has published seven novels, including “A Song for You,” which was nominated for a Mary Higgins Clark Award in 2008.

Having recently added her own books to the Amazon Kindle library, Ms. Thornton turned to the Internet to make her sister’s work available to the public.

“We always like to think she is looking down on us knowing we got her book done,” Ms. Thornton said. “This is my memorial to my sister.”

Ms. Thornton e-published the manuscript in April. E-publishing allows authors to bypass traditional publishers and instead deal directly with Amazon. Digital self-publishing has become increasingly popular, as the number of readers who prefer tapping their tablets to flipping pages grows. According to Amazon, 27 of the current top 100 Kindle books are self-published.

Publishing “A Power in the Blood” was a family effort. Ms. Ehlers’ daughter, Betsy Ehlers Comiskey, wrote the foreword and her nephew, Alex Chapin, designed the novel’s cover.

“It’s exciting, the change in the world’s technology,” said Ms. Ehlers’ husband, Richard, a Riverhead judge. “In 2000 you couldn’t e-publish a book. I think my wife would be very happy with all the love and care her sister and her daughter put into it to see it finally done.”

North Fork readers will feel a special connection with the book, Mr. Ehlers said. “I think the characters will remind people of people here,” he said.

Set on Peconic Bay, the book chronicles the lives of the well-to-do Ford family and Charlene Lutz, whose fight for her daughter’s love leads her to make a terrible decision, a choice that threatens to destroy the Ford family.

“I can see reality in [my mom’s] novel,“ Ms. Comiskey said. “I recognize places, scenes and bits of people from my childhood and her past. I read it a few years after my mom died. [Her] writing brought me back to Long Island; I saw the old A&P. I climbed the sandy steps of the yacht club. I met friends’ parents. I saw the farm fields, the library.”

While this is Ms. Ehlers’ only novel, she had been an accomplished magazine and newspaper journalist. She studied English at Ohio Wesleyan and literature at Eastern Michigan before earning a degree at Florida State University College of Law. Even after launching a successful career at a law firm in Riverhead, Ms. Ehlers never stopped writing. She wrote for True Confessions magazine and was a contributing editor and book reviewer for Turf and Sport Digest. She also wrote a gardening column for Times/Review Newsgroup.

“A Power in the Blood” is available for download on amazon.com.

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03/25/13 11:38am
03/25/2013 11:38 AM

Southold police arrested a Calverton man for drunk driving early Monday morning, according to a report.

Police said Ryan Osborne, 26, failed to keep in his lane while driving along Main Road near Aldrich Lane in Laurel.

Mr. Osborne, who was stopped shortly after 5 a.m., was held for arraignment, said police.

02/25/13 4:30pm
02/25/2013 4:30 PM


A Laurel man was arrested for drunk driving just after midnight Saturday during a traffic stop in Mattituck, Southold Town police said.

Police saw a 1997 Toyota failing to signal turns and “turning improperly” about 12:30 a.m. Saturday, according to a police report. An officer pulled the vehicle over and conducted sobriety tests on the driver, 57-year-old Cornelius Dembinski, police said.

Mr. Dembinski was unsteady on his feet, had glassy red eyes and his breath smelled of alcohol, police said. He failed several sobriety tests during the traffic stop and was arrested for driving drunk.

He was charged with driving while intoxicated, a misdemeanor, and other traffic violations. Mr. Deminski was taken to police headquarters and held for morning arraignment.

02/21/13 6:00am
02/21/2013 6:00 AM

To the Editor:

Over the past number of years Peconic Bay has been subject to a number of brown tide events. These brown tides are examples of HABs, or harmful algal blooms. 

The brown tide is an explosion of algae that reduces the light penetration through the water and causes sea grass and other bottom-growing organisms to slow down or die off. This was a part of the scallop loss, among other things. Importantly, though, human health was not threatened. This past summer there was a new harmful algal bloom in Peconic Bay, a “rust tide” or possibly the start of a red tide. I saw this “rust” tide myself for the first time in many years of bay watching. It was rusty streaks in the water and not yet widespread over the bay.

This is an algal bloom that is very different from the brown tide. Is it preliminary to the red tide? We don’t know, but I certainly worry. The red tide can kill fish and cause floating carcasses to create a horrible smell up and down the beach as well as litter the beach with dead fish. I witnessed this mess in Sarasota, Fla.

These HABs are directly tied to pollution of our surface and groundwater. Our out-of-control septic discharge and cesspool waste are a large part of the problem. This is not nature running amok, it’s us.

It would behoove us to pay attention to these HABs and to be aware that going from our brown tide and rust tide to the very damaging red tide may not be a large leap. The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure applies here. Let’s pay attention and act now and save the bay before it is too late.

Howard Meinke, Laurel

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.

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