08/20/12 1:52pm
08/20/2012 1:52 PM

KAYLA CHIARAMONTE COURTESY PHOTO | Burning wreckage from the Shirley plane crash that took the life of David McElroy Sunday.

The Suffolk Times has reported that an Orient man was killed in a small airplane crash in Shirley Sunday morning that also killed one of the passengers of the plane and left a third person in critical condition.

According to multiple sources, David McElroy was inside and possibly flying the single-engine plane out of Brookhaven Calabro Airport shortly after 11:30 a.m. before it crashed into a dumpster outside a Shirley home a mile from the airport.

Mr. McElroy, the owner of the plane, was killed in the crash along with passenger Jane Unhjem, 60, of Goshen, N.Y., who died eight hours later. Another man in the plane Erik Unhjem, 61, also a pilot, was listed in critical condition at Stony Brook University Medical Center.

A witness to the crash said the plane navigated around several homes on the residential street before crashing into a dumpster, adding that he believed the pilot’s actions saved many more lives.

“I believe [the pilot] did everything he could to avoid hitting any houses,” said Chris Melendez, a homeowner near the site of the plane crash.

Mr. Melendez said he tried to save Mr. McElroy from the flames of the crash by spraying the wreckage with a garden hose, but was unable to reach him just a few feet away to pull him out.

“I wish there was more I could do for [Mr. McElroy],” he said. “It was just horrible. I’ll never be able to forget him.”

Investigators have not yet determined the cause of the crash.

Read the full story on The Suffolk Times here.

08/04/12 12:00pm
08/04/2012 12:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Steve Mezynieski with his wife Gretchen and son Cole, 16, at their new venture- transforming the former 42.5 acre Zeh farm in Calverton on Route 25 for growing nursery material and possibly grazing cattle.

During the Great Depression, Steven Mezynieski’s family was forced to sell off its South Fork farm. Now, generations later, the Wainscott native and Orient resident is piecing together a new agricultural legacy for his own children. And a dilapidated farm in Calverton is the latest tract to join the Mezynieskis’ growing collection of acreage.

Mr. Mezynieski and his wife, Gretchen, purchased the former Zeh property on Middle Country Road about a month ago and have been working over the past few weeks to fix up the forgotten farm.

“I like to see diamonds in the rough and make them diamonds,” he said.

The roughly 43-acre property, across from the Windy Acres farm stand, was previously owned by the Zeh family, but laid unused for years. The Mezynieskis said the property was littered with garbage when they arrived.

“If you came here three years ago you would’ve turned your car right around,” said Frank, who used to work the farm and has become friendly with the land’s new owners. He declined to give his last name. “Words can’t tell you how bad it was,” he said.

The family has cleared away much of the mess and begun recultivating the soil on the hilly land. A pile of torn-up trees sits next to a tin barn and the lawn in front of the vacant farmhouse is dusty and dry. The house will remain, for now, and may be renovated later, Mr. Mezynieski said.

This isn’t the Mezynieski family’s first investment in farming. They also own Driftwood Farms, a 140-acre property in Orient where they raise cattle and grow privet hedge for landscapers and private buyers. The family also purchased a cattle farm in Florida in 2005.

Mr. Mezynieski said he’ll also grow privet and raise cows in Calverton, and may feature a nursery. The goal, the Meznieskis said, is to leave something for their three children: Cole, 16; Mack, 10; and Anastasia, 5.

“Each of the kids will have farms when they get older,” Mr. Mezynieski said.

The oldest sibling, Cole, was 10 when his family bought the Orient farm. Now he is helping to get the new property ready for farming.

“I think I like this one the best,” he said as he drove a pickup up and down the steep hills around the property. Cole said he’d like to try to grow some different crops at the farm to add “diversity.”

Cole said he is looking forward to working on the farm; for the teenager, farming is in his blood.

“I never figured I’d do anything else,” he said.

psquire@timesreview.com

08/02/12 12:00pm
08/02/2012 12:00 PM

COURTESY PHOTO | The Burmese python was taken to the town animal shelter.

An Orient woman woke up Monday morning to find a Burmese python staring at her from the top of her television.

“I was sleeping on my couch, which I often do at night while watching old movies,” Leslie Provatas said. “I woke up about 5:30 Monday morning with the feeling that I was being watched. I looked across the room and there was this snake looking right at me. We had an eye-to-eye moment.”

Police said they do not know where the snake came from. It has since been taken to the Southold Town Animal shelter.

Read more on suffolktimes.com

07/30/12 10:00am
07/30/2012 10:00 AM

A Riverhead man was arrested for driving under the influence after he nearly collided with a police officer’s vehicle in Orient Sunday morning, Southold Town police said.

Nicholas Horton, 33, was driving westbound on Route 25 in Orient  at 9:00 a.m. when he entered the eastbound lane and nearly hit the arresting officer’s vehicle, police said.

Mr. Horton was found to be under the influence of narcotics, arrested and held for arraignment, according to the police report.

05/26/12 7:45am
05/26/2012 7:45 AM

BETH YOUNG PHOTO | The runners and supporters outside the Southold firehouse Friday.

Marines from the 3rd Battalion of the 25th Marines Regiment are planning to disrupt Memorial Day celebrations along a more than 100-mile stretch of road from Orient to the site of the World Trade Center beginning this morning in honor of their 48 fellow servicemen who died in Iraq in 2005.

This is the third time the Marines have held a 100 Mile Memorial Relay, but the prior two events went from Richmond, Va. to the Iwo Jima Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery. This year, Staff Sgt. Oscar Aguilera, who grew up in Greenport, suggested they hold the event on Long Island, and invite first responders and police officers, particularly those who were on the scene on 9/11, to join them in remembering the fallen.

This event has already raised more money to benefit Hope for the Warriors than any of the prior events, said Staff Sgt. Aguilera at a spaghetti dinner fundraiser for the event at the Southold firehouse Friday night. He said the 26 runners who will each take a roughly 15-mile leg of the race have already raised more than $26,000 to help soldiers returning from war and their families.

The runners, who will run two at a time while carrying the American flag and the Hope for the Warriors flag, will be accompanied by an entourage including escorts from police and fire services and two RVs, where the runners will rest between runs.

“If you see traffic screwed up out there, that’s because of us,” said Navy medic Bill Sukitch, who helped to organize the event. “It’s time for you to remember and honor this special group of people.”

At Friday’s fundraiser were three people who have special reason to remember this weekend. Hospital Corpsman Jeff Wiener, whose wife Maria and daughter Mikayla live in Ridge, was one of the 48 men who lost their lives in Iraq in 2005.

Ms. Wiener hadn’t been in regular contact with members of her husband’s battalion, but when she heard they were coming to Long Island, she wanted to honor her husband, whose birthday would have been today. Mr. Wiener’s mother Diana, who flies to Long Island from her home in Kentucky every Memorial Day Weekend to be with her son’s family, also came to the event. They plan to cheer on the runners on the roadside when they pass through Ridge.

Ms. Wiener said her husband was killed in a roadside ambush in a van in Haditha, just outside of a civilian hospital. He had been in the service for two years and had been in Iraq for two-and-a-half months.

“I want people to remember what was sacrificed for something better. His goal was to make sure his kid’s future was secure,” she said.

Chrystyna Kestler, mother of Army 1st Lt. Joseph Theinert, who died in Afghanistan in 2010, was the keynote speaker Friday night.

Ms. Kestler said she also wants people to remember that Memorial Day is about more than sales and barbecues. Her son Jimbo will run in the relay.

“Memorial Day was first called Decoration Day, when they’d decorate the graves of soldiers,” she said. “Try to take some time to remember how special this is. Take some time to remember what so many gave for us. He [Lt. Theinert] volunteered. He said yes. Less than 1 percent do.”

She said her family is still struggling to repair the hole left in their lives when Lt. Theinert died.

“It’s only in service to others that we can get beyond ourselves and heal,” she said. “Everybody in this room has helped repair that tear.”

The Marines began their run at the Orient ferry dock at 8 a.m. They will run through Greenport at the start of the Tall Ships festival at 10 a.m., then run up to Route 48 and along Sound Avenue.

Check out photos from Friday night’s fundraiser on suffolktimes.com.

byoung@timesreview.com

01/09/12 7:00am
01/09/2012 7:00 AM

CORNELL COOPERATIVE EXTENSION FILE PHOTO | With an eelgrass project now abandoned in a section of Hallock's Bay in Orient, the spot will open back up to fishermen.

A large section of Hallock’s Bay in Orient will soon be open to shellfishing, after an eelgrass restoration project there was abandoned by Cornell Cooperative Extension.

The Southold Town Trustees changed the town code to close about one-third of the bay to shellfishing five years ago when the study began, and last week the Town Board held a public hearing on changing the code again to re-open the section of the bay.

Chris Pickerell, who specializes in eelgrass habitat restoration for CCE, said his research group had tried several times to hand broadcast eelgrass seeds there. Each time, the grass grew strongly and steadily until the hot weather of mid-summer caused the young shoots to all die.

“It’s a function of lack of light, high summer water temperatures and issues relating to sediment texture,” he said. “All those things apply to Hallock’s Bay. We tried to plant it several times. It never worked in there.”

Mr. Pickerell said muddy bay bottoms like the one in Hallock’s Bay have proved to not be good places to grow eelgrass, and his research group is now planting only in sandy, cooler areas, including two successful beds in Greenport Harbor and off Paradise Point, as well as at several locations in Long Island Sound.

Mr. Pickerell said his group often hand broadcasts seeds before setting eelgrass transplants in an area, because the success of the hand broadcast seeds often gives them a better idea of whether the transplants will thrive there.

“We sometimes prospect with seeds,” he said. “We look for areas where they’ll take. We never found that spot in Hallock’s Bay.”

A public hearing to open the study area back up to shellfishing was held by the Southold Town Board on Jan. 3.

byoung@timesreview.com

Read more about the re-opening of Hallock’s Bay in Thursday’s issue of The Suffolk Times.

12/13/11 7:58am
12/13/2011 7:58 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | From left, Emerging Art of Long Island founders Matthew Salerno of Greenport and Colin Goldberg of Orient launched the group's first art exhibit this month at the Terrence Joyce Gallery on Main Street in Greenport.

An x-ray of piranhas might not be the typical nautical image found in a North Fork art gallery. But the piece — a carbon print of six piranhas on cotton-based archival paper created by Hamptons-based artist Steve Miller — is just one example of how a new group of local artists is showcasing some common art subjects with a twist.

In the new art exhibit called Emerge 1.0 at the Terrence Joyce Gallery on Main Street in Greenport, seven artists are featuring artwork created through the use of different mediums, including layering paint, photographs and digital images onto a single canvas.

The show, sponsored by a new Greenport-based art group called Emerging Art Long Island, will be open until Jan. 1.

Emerging Art of Long Island founders Colin Goldberg of Orient and Matthew Salerno of Greenport said they hope to join emerging artists with veterans of the art scene by hosting exhibits and organizing “Meet and Greet” events.

“Established artists can provide guidance to emerging artists and the younger artists feeds them energy,” Mr. Salerno said.

11/08/11 5:48am
11/08/2011 5:48 AM

JENNIFER GUSTAVSON PHOTO | Opening day of scallop season started Monday.

Ed Densieski of Riverhead and his faithful crewman, Dave Cullen of South Jamesport, caught about nine bushels of scallops on Monday, marking the start of the scallop harvesting season. Mr. Densieksi was among a fleet of about 60 boats in Orient Harbor, located just south of the causeway.

Check out this week’s issue of The Suffolk Times, available Nov. 10, for more scallop harvesting season coverage.