A nine-year dream is finally coming to fruition at Little Flower Children’s Services of New York. READ
A nine-year dream is finally coming to fruition at Little Flower Children’s Services of New York. READ
The Vineyards in Aquebogue is hosting the ‘Tastings of Long Island’ fundraiser to benefit Little Flower this Sunday, April 6, from 3-7 p.m.
The event includes tastings from local vineyards and breweries, a cold food station, auction, and entertainment by The Filthy Crickets.
Advance tickets: $35; $60 per couple. Mail check to: Little Flower Educational Foundation, 2460 North Wading River Road, Wading River, NY 11792.
Tickets at door: $40; $70 per couple. For more information, contact Christine Evola at 631-929-4300.
When Little Flower Union Free School District Superintendent George Grigg first thought about pursuing a career in education, he was a Mattituck High School student who couldn’t afford basketball sneakers.
His coach, Robert Muir, took him under his wing and taught him how a little encouragement can go a long way.
“We weren’t a wealthy family,” said Mr. Grigg, 62, who grew up in Mattituck as the eldest of eight. “When basketball season came and I couldn’t afford basketball sneakers, mysteriously, in my gym locker, there was a pair sneakers for me to play.”
It was that generosity, coupled with his coach arranging for him to visit colleges upstate, that showed Mr. Grigg how educators can make a difference in students’ lives.
He’s worked to help children achieve their goals ever since.
“Each one, reach one,” Mr. Grigg said. “I’ll never forget Coach for doing that for me.”
For the past 16 years, Mr. Grigg has worked at Little Flower Children and Family Services of New York, a not-for-profit special act school in Wading River that serves at-risk and disabled students. The Special Act public school system was created by the state Legislature to ensure that special education students receive access to free public education.
The superintendent said that, after discussing it with his family, he plans to retire at the end of this school year. Mr. Grigg’s wife, Regina, also a teacher, is retired from the Longwood School District. The couple has three adult children, Bryan and twins Jared and Justin.
We interviewed Mr. Grigg recently in the office he’ll soon leave.
Q: What has been the most challenging part of your job?
A: Funding. The whole funding methodology of going through three governors and asking that there be a change in funding for special acts schools — it just hasn’t happened. We haven’t had a cost of living increase in four years. We’re not allowed to carry a fund balance. With the cost of energy, retirement and insurances going up, less is available for the students. We’ve asked Senator Flanagan and Senator LaValle for help and they’ve been helpful.
The problem is with the [state Division of Budget]. They couldn’t think of better ways to close schools like this one than what they’re doing now. They’d rather see us close, I believe. They have not been there to help us at all. When I started here, there were 15 of us. At one point, it was has high as 23. Right now we’re down to 10. With all of the regulations and all of the mandates, we came very close to closing. Thankfully, Little Flower Agency and Suffolk County National Bank have been very helpful.
Q: Why did you decide to retire?
A: Education is going through so many changes. The testing. The unfunded mandates. Before it takes a toll on my health, I decided it’s time to get out. My wife retired four years ago. She told me she got tired of waking up in the morning, saying goodbye and not talking to anybody else until I got home. She got bored sitting at home and she’s working as a part-time substitute teacher at Eastern Suffolk BOCES in Westhampton. She’ll stop when I retire.
Q: Which achievements are you most proud of?
A: Watching kids who come here who haven’t had success in other schools districts and watching them bloom. Watching kids that never thought they’d graduate from their home school, who come here and complete the program successfully and graduate. I also have the opportunity to watch new teachers come in and see how energetic they are and the vast amount of knowledge these new young teachers have. They work hard starting day one when they come in. We also set up the Little Flower Educational Foundation, which allows us to take kids on field trips and help PBIS. [Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports, a system aimed at improving student behavior.]
Q: What will you miss most about your job?
A: Interaction with the kids. I still have a lot of school social worker in me. Kids still knock on the door to come in and see me. That’s what I’m going to miss. I like to stay connected to the kids. I enjoy going down to the gymnasium, shooting hoops with the kids. Or I’ll walk into the cafeteria sometimes and I’ll sit and chat with our day students and students that live here residentially and find out how their day is going. I’m going to miss interaction with staff. I’ve got a very good team of teachers, staff and administrators here.
Q: What are your retirement plans?
A: We also own a home in Yorktown, Va., so we’ll be going back and forth between there and Long Island. I want to do some traveling. I want to go to the Grand Canyon, take a look down there and yell. I want to hear my echo.
25 years ago
Riverhead detective indicted in illegal taping scandal
Town police detective Vincent Gianni was indicted on Feb. 9, 1988 on perjury charges for allegedly making a false statement to a grand jury investigating the illegal taping of outgoing calls made by people in custody at Riverhead police headquarters, according to a story in that week’s Riverhead News-Review.
Det. Gianni was indicted after a female juror asked if he had ever listened to the recordings. He responded “no ma’am.” However, other officers testified that he had listened to the tapes.
Postscript: The charge against Det. Gianni was dropped about a month later. Later that same year he was probed in another scandal, in which it was alleged he used drugs on the job, supplied drugs to others and twice tipped a friend to a drug raid on her home. He resigned in June 1989 after 16 years on the force and the case against him was closed, according to a Newsday report.
5 years ago
Endangered owl found at EPCAL
An endangered species of owl is apparently wintering at the former Grumman site in Calverton, a discovery that could have significant implications for Riverhead’s development plans at EPCAL, former executive editor Denise Civiletti wrote in a Feb. 7, 2008 story in the News-Review.
Patricia Pelkowski, Pine Barrens site director for The Nature Conservancy, told us at least three short-eared owls were living at the site.
Postscript: A month after this story was published, former Riverhead Town Supervisor Phil Cardinale met at the site with News-Review photographer Barbaraellen Koch. He was sitting in his car explaining how there were no owls there when she spotted one. Check out the hilarious photo below of him seeing for himself.
15 years ago
Ex-supervisor’s son killed in Route 25A crash
Jared Janoski, the youngest son of former Riverhead Town Supervisor Joe Janoski, was killed in a Route 25A crash on Feb. 1, 1998, we reported in that week’s News-Review.
Mr. Janoski, who was 27 years old at the time, was driving alone when his Nissan veered off the roadway and struck a tree.
He was a left fielder on the 1987 Shoreham-Wading River baseball team that won a state championship.
20 years ago
New council targets Suffolk Theater renovation
The East End Arts Council’s Business Council decided at its inaugural meeting Jan. 20, 1993 that it would explore the possibility of restoring the Suffolk Theater on Main Street in Riverhead, reporter Bob Liepa wrote in the Feb. 4 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.
“I think the Suffolk Theater could be a tremendous magnet for downtown Riverhead,” said then-East End Arts Council president Troy Gustavson, who was also the News-Review publisher at the time.
Mr. Gustavson said the cost to renovate the theater, which was put up for sale in 1987, might be too much and the council had only begun to explore avenues of funding.
Postscript: Many dollars and years later, the Suffolk Theater will finally reopen next month.
Little Flower caregiver charged with abusing kids
A childcare worker at Little Flower Children’s Services in Wading River was arrested for sexually abusing seven children on Feb. 5, 1993, according to a News-Review report.
Barry J. Wiggins, who was 28 years old and living in Riverhead at the time, was accused of fondling the boys, who ranged in age from 13 to 15 years old, we wrote.
The incidents took place over the course of an entire year, police said at the time.
Postscript: Mr. Wiggins was convicted in December 1993 and served three years in jail. He now lives in South Carolina, where he is a registered sex offender.
30 years ago
Library opens at SWR High School, pool next?
The North Shore Public Library opened at Shoreham-Wading River High School the week of Feb. 10, 1983, according to that week’s edition of the News-Review. But the brief we published focused on another expansion that never came to fruition.
“[If voter’s approve], a $2 million swimming pool will be the next addition to the school,” we wrote.
The 100 x 200 pool would be financed by floating bonds, we reported. (I’m not sure if the pun was intended.)
Postscript: The district has previously proposed building two more “training pools” at the elementary schools, but that was scrapped by the time the high school pool resolution was adopted. Based on the fact that the school has no pool today, I’d guess voters “sank” the measure that March.
45 years ago
Two-million dollar river span is planned
A second highway bridge has been tentatively planned to span the Peconic River just east of Riverhead, we reported in the Feb. 8, 1968 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.
The new bridge, which would cost an estimated $2 million, will be part of a 6 1/2 mile roadway cutting south from Hubbard Road in Aquebogue to the Riverhead-Quogue Road south of Ludlam Avenue in Southampton, we wrote.
Postscript: These days it’s hard to imagine the area without the 105 bridge.
75 years ago
The fat lady at the circus is a winnah
On this platform lad-e-e-s and gentleman, you will see Little Luella, one of the fattest of fat ladies in the entire w-o-o-rld, read the lead of a Feb. 11, 1938 Riverhead News story about the circus coming to Roanoke Avenue High School.
The circus, which the story noted would feature “midgets” among its 100 performers, was being presented as a fundraiser for the American Legion. Organizers expected it to net $10,000.
Postscript: Yup, we had a different style back then.
Police are investigating a check fraud that cost the Little Flower school in Wading River $11,000.
Investigators released a photo of a suspect Friday who they say altered an $11,000 check that was mailed Aug. 19 to New York City from an employee at Little Flower Children and Family Services to cover union dues.
At some point the suspect acquired the check and altered the name of the payee. She cashed the check Sept. 1 at a Sovereign Bank in Wyokissing, Penn., from which investigators acquired a surveillance photos.
Detectives are hoping members of the public will recognize the woman will contact Crime Stoppers at 800-220-TIPS.
Crime Stoppers is offering a $5,000 cash reward for any information leading to an arrest. Calls will be kept confidential.