05/09/15 8:00am
05/09/2015 8:00 AM
NYIT Vocational Independence Program students watch as their dean, Ernst VanBergeijk, scales a rock wall at the Baiting Hollow Scout Camp Friday. (Credit: Michael White)

NYIT Vocational Independence Program students watch as their dean, Ernst VanBergeijk, scales a rock wall at the Baiting Hollow Scout Camp Friday. (Credit: Michael White)

The students enrolled in the Vocational Independence Program at Central Islip’s New York Institute of Technology seem to adore their dean, Ernst VanBergeijk.

All of the three dozen-plus college-age kids have learning disabilities and/or autism spectrum diagnoses, and this past school year, they showed their respect for “Dean Ernst,” as they call him, by rising once again to his annual fitness challenge.  (more…)

04/18/15 8:00am
04/18/2015 8:00 AM

baby column

Kids, by nature, are scorekeepers. Meaning they’re constantly comparing what they have — or more specifically, what they don’t have — with other kids, and keeping track.

I know this because I was a kid and I knew plenty of other kids, too. We all kept score, whether it was a blockbuster movie another classmate got to see first, a neighbor’s vacation to Disney World or trip to Action Park, or everyone having Reebok Pumps except for you. (more…)

03/07/15 8:00am
03/07/2015 8:00 AM
A sandbar juts into Peconic Bay at the end of Pine Neck Road in Southold. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

A sandbar juts into Peconic Bay at the end of Pine Neck Road in Southold. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Compared to people living in western Long Island, those on the East End are in a better position to recognize the connection between the environment and the economy. The region also has a proven track record when it comes to protecting a way of life. Case in point: the Community Preservation Fund, which uses a tax on local real estate transactions to preserve farmland and open space.  (more…)

01/24/15 8:00am
01/24/2015 8:00 AM
Ioanna and Manolis Kavvadias cooking up vegetables for soup Friday morning at Greek Bites Grill in Mattituck. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Ioanna and Manolis Kavvadias cooking up vegetables for soup Friday morning at Greek Bites Grill in Mattituck. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

I’m a sandwich man.

Whether it’s ham and cheese, a hamburger, pulled pork or a lamb gyro, I’m often happier at lunch than I am at dinner.

Even when I’m out to dinner, I find myself ordering from the restaurant’s sandwich menu. Sometimes my fellow diners take this as a signal that we’re all supposed to order burgers or chicken sandwiches instead of entrées to save money on the total dinner bill. Not true. (more…)

12/05/14 2:27pm
12/05/2014 2:27 PM

Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

You wouldn’t want to see your teenage nephew’s life derailed. You’ve watched him grow up. You know he’s a smart kid with a ton of potential; he’s just run into some trouble at home lately.

At this point, an arrest for, say, buying a case of beer with a fake ID — technically a felony — could ruin his chances of getting into college.

Now imagine you’re a cop and that kid behind the wheel of the car you just stopped reminds you of your nephew — or son, or younger cousin. Maybe you try to do right by him. (more…)

11/26/14 4:30pm
11/26/2014 4:30 PM
Thanksgiving night 2012 at Target in Riverhead. (Credit: Grant Parpan, file)

Thanksgiving night 2012 at Target in Riverhead. (Credit: Grant Parpan, file)

“We are offering our shoppers options so that family and friends can choose to come together Thanksgiving evening after they have enjoyed their celebrations,” announced Steve Tanger, president and CEO of Tanger Factory Outlet Centers Inc.

Tanger Outlets stores in Riverhead and elsewhere in the U.S. will open at 6 p.m. this Thursday, Thanksgiving, for what the Tanger company is calling “Moonlight Madness.” In his statement about the earlier-than-ever hours for the outlet centers, Mr. Tanger went on to call shopping on Thanksgiving “a new family tradition.”

I place shopping — and with that, working — on Thanksgiving right up there with some other new American family traditions, including:

• needing two incomes to pursue home ownership,

• contributing to a 401(k) instead of receiving a pension and

• blowing entire paychecks on gasoline and home heating oil.

Catch the theme here?

(more…)

09/13/14 7:00am
09/13/2014 7:00 AM

Women have made huge inroads over decades in many fields long — and unfairly — considered the exclusive territory of men. Print and broadcast journalism, of course, come immediately to mind. It’s also hard to imagine a time when all bartenders were men; it’s been well over a hundred years since the infamous 1892 crackdown in St. Louis that targeted “saloon keepers who employ women as attendants.”

(more…)

08/03/14 6:00am
08/03/2014 6:00 AM
Bagworm larva are typically small and black. (Credit: Creative Commons/Benimoto)

Bagworm larva are typically small and black. (Credit: Creative Commons/Benimoto)

I blamed Hurricane Sandy.

So I couldn’t allow myself to be too upset. Many people lost their homes — or their lives. All I lost was an arborvitae. My once lush green shrub was still standing erect, but it was fried and brown. It looked like a piece of corn that had been dried out for use in a huge Thanksgiving centerpiece.  (more…)