12/06/12 10:41pm
12/06/2012 10:41 PM

The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce honored its 2012 “People of the Year” during its annual holiday party Thursday night. The event was held at Vineyard Caterers in Aquebogue.

Here’s what the chamber has to say about this year’s honorees:

Person of the Year

Ray Maynard, Skydive Long Island

“It’s not unusual for Ray to take a leap of faith,” said presenter Tracy Stark James of the Riverhead IDA, the chamber’s treasurer. “So he jumped into Riverhead … and off he flew.”

Business of the Year

Riverhead Raceway, Barbara and Jim Cromarty

“Their business helps drive business to the Town of Riverhead,” said presenter Robert Bugdin of American Tent Company, a chamber board member.

The Cromartys could not attend the dinner since they were traveling to a Nascar event. They did appear via Skype and announced the iconic Indian statue, damaged during Superstorm Sandy, “will be up by Christmas.”

Gold Key Award

Star Confectionery, The Meras Family

“They are a true reflection of the town,” said presenter Tom Lennon of Pine Barrens Printing, chamber director at large.

Brian Stark, who delivered a bit of a roast to the Meras’ said: “The nice thing about Papa Nicks is that you always feel like you’re at home.”

“My parents taught me … you take an interest in your customer,” said Anthony Meras, who then rattled off the regular breakfast, lunch and ice cream orders of a few of the guests at the event.

Agricultural Achievement Award

Long Island Cauliflower Association

“The officers, directors and management of the Long Island Cauliflower Association, some of whom are descendants of its founders, are still committed to the success of the Long Island Cauliflower association and to serving the growers of Long Island,” the Chamber wrote in its program. Chamber executive director Mary Hughes presented the award.

Director of the Year

Carmela DiTalia 

“While always the consummate professional, she always has a fun personality,” said presenter Robert Kern of 2XS Consulting, a chamber board member. Ms. DiTalia is an attorney with Esseks, Hefter & Angel LLP of Riverhead and the secretary of the chamber.

Spirit of Riverhead Award

2012 RHS Girls Basketball Team

“In 2012, we were dazzled by a group of smart and unstoppable girls,” said presenter Janine Nebons of Tanger Outlet Center, the chamber’s president. Accepting for the Blue Waves was coach Dave Spinella, and players Marta Czaplak, Jocelyn Zaneski and Katie McKillop.

Lifetime Service Award

Jesse Goodale, Sr.

“He has lived a life of honesty, integrity and community and it shows,” said presenter Pat Snyder, executive director of East End Arts, a chamber board member. “Riverhead Building Supply is a reflection of its founder.”

11/12/12 3:28pm
11/12/2012 3:28 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Skydive Long Island owner Ray Maynard in a 2007 News-Review photo.

The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce has announced the winners of its annual awards for 2012, according to a statement from the chamber.

The chamber chose Skydive Long Island founder Ray Maynard as their Person of the Year. Mr. Maynard, a former U.S. National Parachute Team member and silver-medalist in the 2001 U.S. Nationals, established the Calverton business in 1986. He was named the Times Review’s Business Person of the Year in 2007.

The Spirit of Riverhead award will go to the 2012 Riverhead High School Girls Basketball Team, which won the county title last school year.

Riverhead Raceway will be awarded Business of the Year by the chamber, which will also give the Gold Key Award to the Meras Family who run the Star Confectionary on East Main Street.

The agriculture award will be given to the Long Island Cauliflower Association, according to the chamber. Carmen DiTalia will win the Director of the Year award, while the lifetime achievement award will go to Jesse Goodale Sr.

The awards will be presented at the chamber’s annual awards dinner at The Vineyards on Main Road in Aquebogue on Dec. 6. The event will last from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. and will cost $65 per person or $115 per couple.

12/10/11 11:36am
12/10/2011 11:36 AM
Hyatt Place East End

VERA CHINESE PHOTO | Robert Bugdin presents Vincent "Governor" Golembeski with the Lifetime Service Award.

“Community” was the word of the night at Friday’s Riverhead Chamber of Commerce 2011 Awards Dinner at the Hyatt Place East End.

Nearly each and every awards recipient Friday said they do what they do to make Riverhead a better place, and they couldn’t do any of it without the support of the surrounding business community.

“It’s the people that make Riverhead work,” said Chamber president Janine Nebons.

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The following is a list of those honored Friday:

Person of the Year — Dennis McDermott

Dennis McDermott opened The Riverhead Project, his third restaurant and first in Riverhead, this spring to rave reviews from a long list of media outlets, which included the New York Times.

But it’s the way he opened his business — quickly and creatively — that caught the eye of Riverhead’s Chamber of Commerce.

“The chamber couldn’t help but notice how one man in five months took the corner of Maple and Main and brought it back to life,” said Tracy Stark-James, executive director of the Riverhead IDA and treasurer of the Chamber of Commerce.

Mr. McDermott, who recently sat down for a Q&A with our Long Island Wine Press, said Friday night that he was flattered to be recognized.

“When I first heard I was the person of the year I thought, ‘Why me?’” he said. “It’s not what I’m doing, it’s what Riverhead’s doing. I’m just happy to be a pretty face.”

Agritourism Award — Long Island Wine Council

Jamesport Vineyards owner and Wine Council president Ron Goerler remembers a time when there was just five grape growers producing wine on the North Fork.

Today we have a wine region here, with 49 wine producers belonging to the Long Island Wine Council. Over the past seven years, Long Island wine region tourism has grown from 500,000 visitors a year to 1.3 million.

No organization has helped grow Long Island Wine Country more than the Long Island Wine Council, which was founded in 1989.

But both Mr. Goerler and Wine Council executive director Steve Bate pointed out Friday that it’s the help wineries receive from other businesses in the area that means the most to them.

“What’s great about Riverhead is people coming together,” Mr. Goerler said. “It’s the vision of this community.”

Businesspersons of the Year — Matt and Gail Kar

If you live on the North Fork and you like food, it’s hard not to know who Matt and Gail Kar are. And it’s impossible to have never heard of their three businesses.

Want a great lunch on Route 25 in Jamesport? You likely go to the Jamesport Country Kitchen, which the Kars purchased nearly 25 years ago. Looking to class it up a bit at dinner time? Odds are you’ve seen the beautiful Jamesport Manor Inn. And most everyone recognizes the Kars’ Christopher Michael Catering as among the best the East End has to offer.

But it’s not just the quality of the Kars’ businesses that the chamber recognized Friday, but also the way the couple does its business.

“Matt and Gail clearly understand a business can do more for its community,” said East End Arts executive director Pat Snyder.

Like many of Friday night’s recipients, Mr. Kar acknowledged his surrounding businesses in his speech.

“It’s like Ron [Goerler] said, together as a team we can do better,” the longtime North Fork resident said.

Director of the Year — Robert Kern

When you belong to a Chamber of Commerce or any other community service group, it’s easy to butt heads from time to time with the other directors. You aren’t always going to see eye to eye, so sometimes it’s best to just speak your mind.

The CEO of the marketing company 2XS and the longtime general manager of Martha Clara Vineyards, Bob Kern has never had a problem speaking his mind at a Riverhead Chamber of Commerce meeting.

And that’s a big reason he was named Director of the Year Friday, members said.

“He hardly ever misses a meeting and he never holds back,” Ms. Nebons said.

Mr. Kern called the award and his service a “humbling experience.”

“I love the sense of community here,” he said in accepting his award. “Riverhead should be the model for other parts of Long Island. We are doing well in Riverhead.”

Gold Key Award — Riverhead Business Improvement District

The focus of many in Riverhead for years has been about the revitalization of downtown Riverhead.

One group charged with making this happen is the Riverhead BID’s 12-member board of directors, which oversees 322 parcels in the downtown district.

It’s not every year that the BID can look back in December and say the previous year has been a success. But in 2011, few would argue downtown Riverhead isn’t feeling a little more revitalized.

The chamber pointed to the BID’s efforts to host a Mardi Gras festival and its annual Cardboard Boat Race as creative ways the BID has brought consumers to downtown Riverhead.

For their efforts, the Riverhead BID was honored with the Gold Key Award Friday night.

Accepting the award was BID president Ray Pickersgill and directors Bill Allen and Tony Coates.

Mr. Coates told a story of being a bit scared of downtown Riverhead while visiting it as a kid, but how he’s grown to love his adopted hometown, which he’s seen make great strides in recent years.

“We ain’t where we want to be,” he said in his acceptance speech. “But we ain’t where we used to be either.”

Spirit of Riverhead Award — Riverhead NJROTC

For more than 35 years, the Riverhead High students who serve as NJROTC members have been doing good in the community.

The organization promotes leadership development, self discipline, physical fitness, teamwork and community service. It’s the latter that got it recognized by the Chamber of Commerce.

“These students manage to stop what they’re doing at any time, including the holidays, to attend events where they lead prayers and the pledge of allegiance,” said Ms. Nebons, who presented the NJROTC with its award.

Many of the members will go on to serve in the military, others said they have plans to attend four-year universities.

“The unit is really honored,” said commander Matthew Mulvaney, who will attend the University of Maine next year on what he hopes will be a Marine Corps. scholarship. “We take a lot of pride in our community service.”

Lifetime Service Award — Vincent ‘Governor’ Golembeski

Some people would be happy to live 67 years. For Vincent Golembeski, that’s just how long he’s served as a volunteer fireman.

The 86-year-old Polish Town resident has been awarded the department’s Top Responder award so many times, Friday night’s presenter and fellow firefighter Bobby Bugdin joked that other members of the department once took a hit out on his life.

Mr. Bugdin told a story of one time when Mr. Golembeski was responding to a call and his leg was run over by a fire truck.

“He didn’t say a word because he didn’t want to get in the way, knowing someone’s life could be on the line,” Mr. Bugdin said. So Mr. Golembeski hopped in the truck and went to the scene of the emergency.

But his injury would prevent him from winning the Top Responder award that year.

“It took him getting run over by a truck,” Mr. Bugdin joked.

When it came time to accept his award, Mr. Golembeski said just six words. “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

Said Mr. McDermott: “That was the best speech of the night.”


11/15/11 11:00am
11/15/2011 11:00 AM

CHAMBER COURTESY PHOTO | Front row, from left: Bob Kern, Janine Nebons, Matthew Mulvaney, Ashlyn Whyard, Michael Kujawski, Kim Moreno and Amanda Gallo, Gail Kar and Matt Kar. Back row, from left: Dennis McDermott, Lt. Col. Peter McCarthy, Jacob Phillips, Francis Basile, Patrick Kruszon-Oeffner, James McEntee, Brian Weinhardt, Ron Goerler, Steve Bate.

The Riverhead Chamber of Commerce announced its annual People of the Year winners Monday, with The Riverhead Project owner Dennis McDermott topping the list as “Person of the Year.”

The organization will host a celebration for this year’s winners on Friday, Dec. 9 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. at The SeaStar Ballroom at The Hyatt Hotel on East Main Street.

The following is the complete list of winners for this year:

Dennis McDermott of The Riverhead Project as 2011 Person of The Year

Matt and Gail Kar of Jamesport Country Kitchen, Jamesport Manor Inn, and Christopher Michael Catering as 2011 Businesspersons of The Year

Long Island Wine Council will receive 2011 Agritourism Award

Riverhead Business Improvement District will receive 2011 Gold Key Award

Riverhead High School NJROTC will receive 2011 Spirit of Riverhead Award

Vincent Golembeski, 50+ year volunteer member of Riverhead Fire Department will be honored with 2011 Lifetime Service Award

Robert Kern, member of the Riverhead Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors will be recognized as its 2011 Director of the Year

Tickets for the awards celebration are $60 per person or $100 per couple.  Tickets and further information can be obtained by calling Mary Hughes at 631-727-7600 or emailing info@riverheadchamber.com.

04/07/11 3:58pm
04/07/2011 3:58 PM

‘Brookhaven National Laboratory: Long Island’s Innovation Engine’ is the topic of Riverhead Chamber of Commerce’s next ‘Eggs & Issues’ breakfast meeting. Dr. Walter Copan, BNL’s managing director of technology commercialization and partnerships, will speak at 8 a.m. Thursday, April 14, at The Hilton Garden Inn in Riverhead.

For reservations (members, $12; nonmembers, $15), call 727-7600 or visit riverheadchamber.com.

01/19/11 1:11pm
01/19/2011 1:11 PM

Jim Lull in a 1999 photo

Former Riverhead Town Board member and this year’s Riverhead Chamber of Commerce honoree Jim Lull underwent open heart surgery in Rochester last Friday.

Mr. Lull, 70, and his wife Connie, who ran the Riverhead Country Fair for close to three decades before stepping aside in the fall, will be honored as the chamber’s Persons of the Year during the chamber’s annual awards party on Friday at Hotel Indigo on Route 25 in Riverhead. Due to the surgery, the pair will not be there to accept the award in person.

“He is progressing rapidly, perhaps a little better than average,” Ms. Lull said in an e-mail. “But it is a long recuperation.”

Mr. Lull underwent surgery at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester to implant a left ventricular assist device which improves blood flow. He will be intensive care for the next few days, according to his wife.

“We greatly appreciate the prayers and hugs of support you’ve been sending our way,”  Ms. Lull said “We have all been maintaining positive attitudes. Strong is filled with people who know and are patient and caring.”


10/14/10 6:40pm
10/14/2010 6:40 PM

The virtues of Suffolk Community College were on full display in a series of presentations by three administrators at the college at the Eggs & Issues Chamber of Commerce meeting in Riverhead Thursday morning. When Drew Fawcett, associate dean for institutional advancement, asked the crowd at Polish Hall if any of them had taken classes at Suffolk, at least half of the people in the room raised their hands. When he asked who in the room had friends or family members who had attended Suffolk, nearly everyone in the room raised their hands.

Associate Dean Jim Frost told the crowd that he believed the college is the most important agency in Suffolk County.

“Our mission statement is ‘we transform lives so that we build communities so that we improve societies,’ he said.

Mr. Frost added that the school has seen a major increase in veterans taking classes after they return from serving overseas.

“Almost all of them come to us wounded,” he said. “They come begging for the transformation of their lives, and we provide that.”

John Lombardo, director of the corporate training center at the college, touted the school’s recent investment in training for people who work in manufacturing.

He said that he began his career as a schoolteacher, but became tired of not being able to answer the question “what do I have to learn this for?” He decided after leaving teaching for a career in industry that he wanted to make classroom learning relevant to work people do after leaving school.

That is the major focus behind the school’s culinary arts program, which educated 400 students this past year.

“Culinary arts is our fastest growing program,” said Mr. Fawcett. “We expect a 40 percent increase next year alone.”

Mr. Fawcett added that, at $3,700 per year, tuition at Suffolk Community Collegeis about 10 percent of the cost at a private college. He added that students who want to transfer to prestigious four-year colleges are at a much greater advantage if they transfer as juniors.

“The applicant pool is much smaller,” he said. “And they have a track record they can run on.”