10/04/14 8:00am
10/04/2014 8:00 AM
Civic Person of the Year Vince Taldone (left), Public Servant of the Year Dennis Cavanaugh and Educator of the Year Keri Stromski were honored Thursday night at the News-Review's main office in Mattituck.

Civic Person of the Year Vince Taldone (left), Public Servant of the Year Dennis Cavanaugh and Educator of the Year Keri Stromski were honored Thursday night at the News-Review’s main office in Mattituck.

Every year at this time we use this space to ask Riverhead News-Review readers to nominate candidates for our People of the Year issue. As we have for decades, we will name an educator, businessperson and overall person of the year in January.

We will also introduce three new categories: community leader (combining the former civic and public servant winners), sports person and northforker.com person of the year, honoring someone in the food, wine or tourism industry.

With their heartfelt nominations, our readers have always played perhaps the most important role in the selection process. Last year, they helped us choose a wide array of worthy recipients, from a beloved police officer to a fitness instructor operating three Main Street businesses, a teacher who takes learning to new levels, the president of an active civic organization and a young man whose battled for survival taught his peers a lesson in courage.

Who last year’s people of the year?

We’ve always prided ourselves on honoring people from diverse fields and all walks of life. We want to hear about people like the teacher who went above and beyond to help you become a better student or the business owner who never stops giving back to the community.

This town is loaded with residents who work tirelessly to make our area a better place. We always have a growing list of people who are more than qualified to earn such an honor. That list can never be too long.

We realize there are a great many people doing big things in their community who don’t seek the spotlight. As a result, the work they do is hardly noticed. That’s who we’re talking about.

Do you know such a person? Let us know.

Nominations can be mailed to Times/Review Newsgroup, P.O. Box 1500, Mattituck, NY 11952. Or you can email the editor at mwhite@timesreview.com. Faxes are OK, too; our fax number is 631-298-3287. Or just give us a call at 631-298-3200 and ask for Michael White at extension 152.

Tell us why this person or group is deserving — and please be sure to give us your phone number so we can follow up. All correspondence will be kept confidential, so the people nominated don’t even have to know you are singling them out. Nominations should be submitted by Dec. 1.

We plan to announce our People of the Year in the Jan. 8, 2015, edition.

01/05/13 8:00am
01/05/2013 8:00 AM
Riverhead Town, Riverhead Animal Shelter, Move the Animal Shelter, Denise Lucas

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Move the Animal Shelter founder Denise Lucas and friend Laurie Milford of Wading River at a fundraiser in summer 2012.

In August 2011, Denise Lucas took her 13-year-old neighbor to the Riverhead Animal Shelter to look at the dogs. The girl wanted to be a veterinarian but was terrified by the barking dogs and the sight of the shelter.

Animal advocates had long protested conditions at the town’s shelter, saying that better facilities were needed to care for the dogs. After her August visit, Ms. Lucas saw the same need.

Instead of protesting, she took action.

The longtime Riverhead resident and dog lover, who had never organized a single fundraiser before, soon began going door to door, business to business across the East End to raise money to build Riverhead Town a new animal shelter.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Denise Lucas of Move the Animal Shelter.

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Denise Lucas of Move the Animal Shelter.

More than a year later, Move the Animal Shelter — the organization she founded — has raised thousands to put toward building a new town facility. She’s also spearheaded the town’s first public dog park, with a second park expected to open in the spring.

Ms. Lucas has kept up an impressive pace, holding dozens of fundraisers — from dinners to dog grooming events — and obtaining nonprofit status for her organization while still working her regular job.

It’s that dedication and drive that several town officials and residents have praised, and why Ms. Lucas is the News-Review’s 2012 Person of the Year.

“Denise Lucas came to me about a year ago, and she was on a mission,” said Councilman James Wooten, the Town Board’s liaison to Ms. Lucas’ group. “She was like a spitfire … for me personally, I think she’s just a breath of fresh air.”

Ms. Lucas began raising funds in September 2011; two months later, she had raised $12,000 for the new shelter. The money originally went into a special town fund, but it was later returned to the group once it received 501(c)(3) status as a nonprofit.

The new shelter as designed should cost roughly $300,000, Ms. Lucas has said in previous interviews.

While raising funds for the new shelter, Ms. Lucas learned of the town’s efforts to get a dog park built. She immediately opened up another fundraising effort and raised $14,000 to help the town build its first public dog park: Issac Park at the Enterprise Park at Calverton. Ms. Lucas also enticed businesses to donate supplies or pay for various items needed for the park, like fencing and picnic tables.

The dog park in Calverton opened in July; Ms. Lucas is currently raising funds to have another, smaller dog park built at Stotzky Park near the soccer fields.

“This one person has accomplished so much for the town in just one year,” wrote Riverhead resident Jim Seuling, in nominating Ms. Lucas for Person of the Year honors.

On Dec. 18, the Riverhead Town Board voted to privatize the town shelter, putting it under the control of the North Fork Animal Welfare League, a nonprofit group that currently runs the Southold Town shelter.

But Ms. Lucas is not going to give up on her mission; in fact, the move may help her raise even more money to help Riverhead’s pets, officials said.

“This [privatization of the shelter] is probably better for her organization, because she’s going to be working with the North Fork Animal Welfare League,” Mr. Wooten said. “She’s reenergized by it.”

psquire@timesreview.com

01/01/12 12:01pm
01/01/2012 12:01 PM

FILE IMAGE | Who will be our 2011 Person of the Year?

The Riverhead News-Review will announced its Person of the Year in its Jan. 5, 2012 issue.

Here is a list of people that have won the award in the past decade:

• 2010 — Linda Hobson

• 2009 — Chris Kempner

• 2008 — Riverhead Blue Waves

• 2007 — Maureen’s Haven

• 2006 — Sister Margaret Smyth

• 2005 — Alan Shields

• 2004 — Phil Cardinale

• 2003 — Vince Tria

• 2002 — Bryan Tressler

• 2001 — Annie Jackson

• 2000 — Judy Young