01/18/13 10:00am
01/18/2013 10:00 AM
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Southampton Town purchased Riverleigh Avenue lot in Riverside but have not maintained it due to lack of funds.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Southampton Town purchased Riverleigh Avenue lot in Riverside but have not maintained it due to lack of funds.

The communities of Flanders, Riverside and Northampton have been complaining for years about illegal dumping.

Now, Southampton Town has come up with a plan to help clean up these areas and other parts of the town.

The Town Board last Tuesday approved the creation of a townwide blight mitigation fund and approved increased fines for illegal dumping.

“In general, the purpose here is to create a funding source in our effort to address some of the blighted properties, particularly in the Flanders-Riverside area,” said Southampton Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst.

The concept is simple. One penny of every dollar the town court receives in fines and fees from any offense — whether related to dumping or not — will be put into the new Townwide Blight Mitigation Fund, according to assistant town attorney Carl Benincasa.

The money will go into a reserve fund, which can be carried over from year to year, and can be used to clean up litter and refuse on town land only, Mr. Benincasa told the Town Board last Tuesday.

He estimates that, at the current pace, the fund will generate about $18,000 per year.

“The goal is to provide quick access to funds to facilitate cleanup of those properties, while not adding burden to the taxpayers,” Mr. Benincasa said.

The board also added a $100 surcharge to fines for littering, which carries a maximum penalty of $1,000 or 15 days in jail for a first offense. The surcharge money will go directly into the blight mitigation fund, officials said.

For second or subsequent offenses within 18 months of the first, fines will range from $1,000 to a high of $5,000. But under state law, the $100 surcharge can be applied only to first offenses, which are violations. Second offenses are considered misdemeanors, to which surcharges cannot be attached.

The new law also allows the town to collect civil fines of $150 for the first day litter isn’t cleaned up after an initial charge is issued, then $250 for the second day and $500 for each subsequent day, according to Mr. Benincasa.

Vince Taldone of the Flanders, Riverside and Northampton Community Association said he was “thrilled” by the new law.

“We normally beat up the Town Board for failing to address problems, so when they come up with an innovative approach to what’s been a long-standing problem in the town, I don’t even know how to express my happiness,” he said.

Mr. Taldone said that when there is litter on town land, the highway and recreation departments often claim they are not funded to do cleanups on town-owned property. The new measure finally provides a funding mechanism, he said.

While the board adopted the blight mitigation fund and the new fines unanimously, officials say they are still looking to make further changes,

Councilman Jim Malone said first offenses will each contribute $100 to the fund through the surcharge, but the second offenses will only provide the fund with only between $10 and $50, based on the penny policy.

“One would believe the second offense would be more egregious,” Mr. Malone said.

“That does sound a little absurd,” Mr. Benincasa said.

The board agreed to adopt the new fines as proposed, but continue working on changes in the future to correct the issue.

tgannon@timesreview.com

12/01/12 8:00am
12/01/2012 8:00 AM

SHAUN MCKAY

Established in 1959, Suffolk County Community College is the largest college in the State University of New York (SUNY) system.  The college’s Eastern Campus opened in 1977.

Like most community colleges, the campus realized substantial growth in recent years. Enrollment has grown from 2,789 in 2008 to 3,516 for the fall semester of 2012 — an increase of 26 percent. I believe this growth is reflective of an enhanced appreciation for the value found at community colleges, as well as Suffolk’s exceptional programs and its highly dedicated faculty and staff. With approximately 90 percent of all new high-wage jobs requiring a college degree or post-secondary training, our continued success in preparing the area workforce for jobs that actually exist is vital to our economy.

On our Eastern Campus, we have been able to meet the demands of the East End’s demographics, while building a student-centered teaching and learning environment. This is a direct result of our commitment to meeting heightened student expectations and employer demands through a plan that has been methodically implemented by the campus and its administration.

Two years ago, the campus began an aggressive campaign of outreach to the community. It initiated a listening tour that visited area high schools in order to assess external impressions of the college.

This process garnered good, useful information that led to a customization of our annual open house format. Staff then researched best practices to orchestrate further change, speaking to their contemporaries across the country to help determine ideas that could be implemented here.

Benchmarking and measurement have helped the campus find efficiencies within its operation and, as the economy declined, they were able to do more with less. Today, the campus is in the midst of implementing a new student success center that will provide one location for students that will streamline access to staff, providing them with service that is accessible, professional and efficient.

Research shows that student engagement strengthens student success and that a student’s first-year experience is a critical factor in whether they remain enrolled and persist in their studies through graduation. The Eastern Campus makes an immediate effort to connect and engage with its students. Programs are in place to promote cultural and intellectual diversity initiatives and to foster both student- to-student and faculty-to-student mentoring relationships. This proactive, consistent manner of guiding students through the college has been highly successful.

It’s important to note that many members of the campus faculty and administration have received the prestigious SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence. These awards are given annually to individuals who demonstrate extraordinary dedication to their students and an exceptional commitment to excellence. Those selected for this honor are role models within the college and the state university. Having these award recipients as part of our faculty helps us demonstrate that our students are being taught by the very best.

In 2008, the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Center opened on East Main Street in Riverhead. After only its first year of operation, the center met its fourth-year enrollment projections, underscoring the demand for related jobs in this region and the general popularity of the culinary field. The program continues to grow as a result of its high visibility and our aggressive recruitment plan.

We have also been engaged in a concerted effort to complete the facilities master plan for the campus. In 2011, the College opened the Montaukett Learning Resource Center, a 40,000-square-foot building that houses our library. American Libraries, in its 2012 Library Design Showcase, recognized our library in the category of Collaborative Learning, acknowledging our special effort to provide space for collaboration while still respecting other patrons’ desires for silence. We were the only community college among 11 institutions recognized nationally in this category.

Our next major addition will be the construction of the 48,000-square-foot Health and Wellness facility, expected to open in 2014.

Our institutional partnerships continue to expand and represent yet another of Suffolk’s strengths. We have a satellite building on our Eastern Campus that accommodates some of Long Island University’s bachelor’s and graduate degree programs. Many of our students find this proximity appealing, allowing them to stay on the East End while advancing their education. Our partnership with SUNY/Delhi enables our culinary students to stay on Long Island, in the college’s Culinary Center, while completing their four-year degree under the direction of Suffolk faculty members who have been cross-certified to represent SUNY/Delhi.

This program allows our students to “transfer” from Suffolk to Delhi and earn their baccalaureate degree without leaving home. Since 2011, the College has also been partnering with colleges and universities on Long Island to offer full- and partial-tuition scholarship awards to outstanding students who graduate from Suffolk. This initiative now includes 11 participating institutions, where 46 of our graduates are supported by Stay on Long Island Scholarships that total approximately $1 million.

Finally, we maintain Long Island’s lowest annual tuition of $3,990. The College is sensitive to limiting tuition increases in order to keep higher education affordable for Suffolk County residents and we are extremely happy that our students did not see an increase in tuition for the 2012-13 academic year. We are grateful to our elected officials for their leadership in support of the college.

My vision is for Suffolk, as a premier learning-centered institution committed to excellence, to be recognized for its dedication to academic success that fosters lifelong learning. To learn more about the college and its programs, visit our website at sunysuffolk.edu or attend our campus open house on Thursday, Dec. 6, from 4 to 7 p.m.

Dr. McKay is the president of Suffolk County Community College. He lives in Manorville.

11/27/12 1:13pm
11/27/2012 1:13 PM
Hurricane Sandy, FEMA, Flanders, Southampton Town

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Several houses on Bay Avenue and other areas in Flanders suffered major damage during superstorm Sandy.

Officials from Southampton Town and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have scheduled a meeting for Thursday to hear from residents in the Flanders area who suffered serious damage to their homes during superstorm Sandy.

The meeting will be held on Nov. 29 at 6 p.m. at the David Crohan Community Center on Flanders Road.

Town officials say the goal of the meeting is to better understand the needs of the community, what obstacles residents are encountering, and how FEMA and local officials can assist.

Southampton Town officials scheduled to attend including Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst, the planning and development administrator, Kyle Collins, the director of municipal works, Christine Fetten, and chief building inspector Michael Benincase.

Sandy damaged a number of houses in Flanders, some that have since been rendered not safe to live in, particularly in low lying areas such as Bay Avenue or the streets off the north part of Long Neck Boulevard, and adjacent streets.

Richard Naso, a member of the town’s citizen advisory committee for Flanders, Riverside and Northampton, has been trying to get word out about the meeting.

“You may have spoken to a FEMA representative already, but most people are unaware of other programs to help assist us,” he said. “It’s to your benefit to learn as much as possible and to receive the help, support and assistance from the Town of Southampton and FEMA.”

tgannon@timesreview.com

10/02/12 12:07pm
10/02/2012 12:07 PM

Just as driving while intoxicated is illegal, driving while trying to roll a joint is not a good idea either, as a Riverhead man learned recently, according to a police report.

Southampton Town police say Richard Hammonds, 31, of Osborn Avenue was observed swerving out of his lane on Lake Avenue in Northampton last Saturday, Sept. 22, as he approached the County Road 51 intersection about 9 p.m.

He was pulled over by an officer who found a quantity of marijuana in Mr. Hammonds’ lap and in the driver’s side door pocket, officials said.

The officer soon learned that Mr. Hammonds had been attempting to roll a marijuana cigarette while driving and that he swerved as a result, police said.

He was charged with unlawful possession of marijuana and moving from a lane unsafely, police said

08/05/12 8:24am
08/05/2012 8:24 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Northampton Flanders Volunteer Ambulance Corps first responder Ronnie Hintze (left), driver Matt Deerkoski (center) and paramedic Marco Guecha take the accident ‘victim’ to an ambulance after it was removed from the car with the ‘jaws of life’ during a demonstration at the corps headquarters on Bell Avenue in Flanders Saturday afternoon. They enlisted one new member Saturday and three during the week.

The Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance held its annual Open House and Recruitment Saturday at its headquarters on Bell Avenue in Flanders.

The corps offered a bouncy house and water slide for the children while performing demonstrations in CPR and jaws of life. They also offered blood pressure screenings.

The Flanders Northampton Volunteer Ambulance was organized in 1983, incorporated in 1984 and ran its first call in May 1985. The corps’ first chief was Ronnie Hintze, who continues in the corps as a board member.

The 50-member corps, which has about 30 active members, has had many firsts in its 27-year history: In 1987 it became the first ambulance district formed in the Town of Southampton; was the first Suffolk County volunteer corps to become NYS Certified in 1988; and ran the initial NYS pilot project in semi-automatic defibrillation in April 1989, 6 months before Suffolk County developed a systemwide EMT-D program.

The FNVA Ambulance district covers approximately 30 square miles and borders Riverhead, Eastport, Westhampton and Hampton Bays. In addition to its residential responsibilities, the FNVA covers Suffolk County Community College’s Riverhead Campus, The Evan K. Griffing County Center, The Suffolk County Correctional Facility and County and State Parklands.

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