06/14/13 5:29pm
06/14/2013 5:29 PM

TIM GANNON PHOTO | DEC officer Don Damrath shows some DEC employees where he thinks the gator may be.

An elusive alligator remained on the loose Friday in Calverton as State Environmental Conservation Officers converged on the area to attempt to bait the gator.

Spotted in the Peconic River near the state boat ramp on Connecticut Avenue, the gator is estimated to be about 3 1/2 to 4 feet long, officer Donald Damrath said.

It’s the second time in less than two months a gator has been spotted in the area. Four baby gators were found in the same spot in mid-April.

Mr. Damrath spotted the gator Wednesday and another man photographed it earlier in the week. Officer Kaitlyn Grady and Lt. Frank Carbone assisted Friday in trying to lure in the gator near the ramp where a trail leading to it has been closed to the public since Wednesday. Officials believe the gator is likely still near the boat ramp.

Mr. Damrath said the gator may be dormant. Gators become dormant when temperatures reach 55 degrees and stop feeding when the temperature is about 70 degrees, he said.

The air temperature was near 70 degrees Friday but the water temperature was unknown. The gators will stay on land if it is warmer than the water, Mr. Damrath said.

The officers put some chicken down by the ramp  in an attempt to bait the gator. Mr. Damrath said the gator was likely domestic, so the trap might not work.

It’s possible that this gator was owned by the same person that owned the other four, he said.

The goal is to catch it alive if possible, he said, but cautioned, “It’s a dangerous animal.”


TIM GANNON PHOTO | The hunt for the gator continues Friday.

05/28/13 2:00pm
05/28/2013 2:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | The Peconic River boardwalk.

A 22-year-old man visiting from North Carolina was rescued from the Peconic River by Riverhead Police and Riverhead Fire Department volunteers Monday night, police said.

Police received a 911 call about 9:30 p.m. that a man had fallen into the Peconic River by Peconic Avenue, according to a report.

The man, identified as Josh Walker, was found to be highly intoxicated, and was transported to Peconic Bay Medical Center by ambulance for injuries he sustained from the fall, police said.

04/19/13 4:01pm
04/19/2013 4:01 PM
DEC COURTESY PHOTO | These four gators were captured in the Peconic River Friday morning. A Manorville residents spotted the reptiles and contacted the DEC.

DEC COURTESY PHOTO | These four gators were captured in the Peconic River Friday morning. A Manorville residents spotted the reptiles and contacted the DEC.

Four alligators were captured from the Peconic River in Calverton by state conservation officers Friday morning, officials said.

State Department of Environmental Conservation officials said in a press release the reptiles — ranging 2- to 4-feet-long — were spotted by Frank Naase about 8 a.m. near a dock at the Connecticut Avenue canoe launch.

The Manorville resident, who officials said frequents the dock after his morning cup of coffee, immediately contacted the DEC after noticing one of the alligators floating by.

The alligators were lethargic due to the cold water they had been exposed to, and were transferred to DEC’s regional headquarters in Stony Brook and will ultimately be sent to the Long Island Aquarium in Riverhead, officials said.

Lt. Dallas Bengel, left, and ECO Mark Simmons caught these gators Friday morning.

Lt. Dallas Bengel, left, and ECO Mark Simmons caught these gators Friday morning.

After catching a nearly 2-foot-long alligator with a catch pole, Lt. Dallas Bengel and Environmental Conservation Officer Mark Simmons observed three more alligators in the water and secured each of the animals with tape around their jaws, officials said.

Alligators are illegal to own as pets in New York. People planning to use them for exhibition, research or educational purposes are require to obtain a DEC permit, officials said.

Friday’s incident occurred a week prior to Long Island’s first illegal reptile and amphibian amnesty day.

The DEC has partnered with the Suffolk County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to allow for a “one-time only amnesty program,” where people can anonymously bring their illegal or unpermitted reptiles and amphibians without fear of prosecution.

Species that do not require permits, or are not threatened or endangered will not be accepted.

DEC Regional Director Peter Scully said in a press release he hopes residents will take advantage of the program.

“Alligators released into Long Island waters have become an all too common occurrence in recent years,” Mr. Scully said. “Unfortunately, individuals who attain these animals often find themselves incapable of caring for them as they grow, and they ultimately release them into the waters of Long Island where they are unable to survive and may pose a risk to recreationalists.”

The program will take place at Sweetbriar Nature Center, 62 Eckernkamp Drive in Smithtown, on April 27 from noon to 4 p.m.

To report any environmental crime, contact DEC’s hotline at 1-800-TIPP DEC (1-800-847-7332) or Dispatch number at (631) 444-0250.

Officials said calls will be kept confidential.


03/06/13 6:30pm
03/06/2013 6:30 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Water was already overflowing into the road in downtown Riverhead Wednesday night at around 5:30 p.m.

Water from the Peconic River began to overflow its bank at around 5 p.m. Wednesday as the edge of a Nor’easter began to hit the area.

Officer Christopher James was monitoring the situation at 5:30 p.m. from his patrol car parked in the empty parking lot behind the former Swezey’s Department store in downtown Riverhead. He said that he noticed cars were having some difficulty going through the water in the roadway.

He noted that high tide in the area is at 8 p.m. and the town will probably shut the road down at 6 p.m.

The storm, which could dump as much as seven inches of snow, is expected to linger into Friday before clear skies return Saturday. Original forecasts called for as much as 10 inches, but the National Weather Service downgraded that number late Wednesday.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Water from the Peconic River began rising above the docks Wednesday night.

11/28/12 12:26pm
11/28/2012 12:26 PM
GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Southampton police divers search the Peconic River.

GIANNA VOLPE PHOTO | Southampton police divers search the Peconic River.

Southampton police divers are searching the Peconic River for a handgun believed to used in a recent rash of armed robberies that have spanned the North Fork.

Police also have three men in custody whom they believe are responsible for at least four separate stickups in Riverside, Riverhead and Mattituck over the last month, said Southampton police Sgt. Lewis Scott, who was on the scene Wednesday morning.

Members of the Southampton Town Dive Recovery Unit started scouring the river behind McDonald’s in Riverside about 10:30 a.m. after receiving information that the handgun used in the robberies was dumped in the water, Sgt. Scott said.

Even if police recover a gun, they will keep searching the river bottom until they’re confident every inch had been covered, he added.

Police have not yet released the names of the men in custody.


09/30/12 12:00pm
09/30/2012 12:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Wayne and Diane Dedicke of Calverton arrived Saturday on their boat to secure a spot on the town dock for the Riverhead Country Fair.

Wayne and Diane Dedicke of Calverton docked their 37-foot-long cabin cruiser along the Peconic Riverfront Saturday morning, making sure they were first in line for next week’s Riverhead Country Fair.

Just as they have for the past 15 years, the Dedicke’s picked a spot in the center of the town dock for a prime viewing spot of all the fair exhibits and entertainment.

Mr. Dedicke will still work all week at Brookhaven National Laboratory, but he and his wife will spend their nights on the boat downtown, a mini-staycation for them and their dogs — samoyeds Breeze, 6, and Molly, 11. Mr. Dedicke said the town sends a recreation department employee to collect the dockage fee of $25 per day.

The 37th annual Riverhead Country Fair takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. next Sunday, Oct. 7. The fair will feature live entertainment, vendors, farm animals, homemaking and needlecraft competitions, food and local produce, carnival rides and more. Admission is free.

Visit riverheadcountryfair.com for more information.

09/09/12 12:00pm
09/09/2012 12:00 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Liam Hansen, 7, of Wading River fishes with his father Mark on the town’s floating dock during the 15th annual Riverhead Snapper Tournament.

More than 150 children and adults participated in the Riverhead Recreation Department’s 15th annual Snapper Tournament held on the Peconic Riverfront Saturday.

The event is designed to get children “hooked” on fishing and to raise money for the recreation department’s youth scholarship fund.

There were 18 fish caught, with sizes ranging from 7 to 9 and 1/8 inches.

All the winners received a trophy and the first place winners received a fishing rod and reel donated by Warren’s Tackle Center of Aquebogue and West Marine of Riverhead. After the winners were announced there was a Chinese Auction with items donated by local merchants. Free hot dogs and soda were donated by the Flanders Men’s Club.

The youth winners were: First place, Ryan Zaleski of Riverhead; second place, Christina Gigante of Lindenhurst; and third place saw two winners, Ava Gradischer of Wading River and Mikayla Nirrengarten.

The adult winners were: First place, Al Raynor of Eastport; second place, James Zaleski of Riverhead; and third place, Don Visek of Aquebogue.

Emily Smitheimer, 12, of Stony Brook, brought a stool from home.

Renee and Joe Dragotto of Middle Island came up empty-handed.

Dalton Lucas, 11, of Jamesport showed off his catch — just under 8 and 3/4 inches.

Recreation Department staff member and tournament director Colleen Eastwood (far right) with winners (back row) Al Raynor of Eastport, Don Visek of Aquebogue, (front row) Ava Gradischer of Wading River, Christina Gigante of Lindenhurst, James Zaleski of Riverhead (holding for his dad Jim) and Ryan Zaleski of Riverhead.

09/08/12 11:00am
09/08/2012 11:00 AM
Weeping Willow Motel, Riverhead Town

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Workers removed asbestos from the motel in March.

The Riverhead Town Board is seeking bids on the Weeping Willow park improvement project.

The construction project calls for the development of parking, boat access and walkways along the Peconic River, where the Weeping Willow Motel used to be.

The town acquired the 53-year-old West Main Street motel in 2009 for $1.25 million.

The motel was demolished last year, following an asbestos removal project, so that the .45-acre site could be used for a park.

The town purchased the land with Community Preservation Fund money, which comes from a voter-approved 2 percent real estate transfer tax and can only be used for open space and farmland preservation projects.

In addition, the town received a $500,000 state parks grant for the project.

The deadline for bids on the project is Oct. 4 at 4 p.m.