Featured Story
11/30/17 5:06pm
11/30/2017 5:06 PM

Riverhead Supervisor Sean Walter is looking to ensure the Town Board continues the tradition of having an invocation or prayer before each regular meeting after he leaves office in January, and plans to offer a resolution to that effect at Tuesday’s meeting. The supervisor-elect is not sure that’s necessary.

The resolution that will likely be considered Tuesday shifts responsibility for compiling and maintaining a database of local clergy from the supervisor’s office to the town council office. He said Councilman Jim Wooten has indicated a willingness to do so.

Mr. Wooten was absent from Thursday’s Town Board work session where the issue was discussed, but Councilwoman Jodi Giglio and John Dunleavy said they had no problems with the move.

“It’s a very civil way to start the meetings,” Ms. Giglio said.

“You never go wrong when you can invite God into the room,” Mr. Walter said.

Councilman Tim Hubbard said he would want to see how the newly elected board members, Supervisor-elect Laura Jens-Smith and Councilwoman-elect Catherine Kent, felt about it. They will replace Mr. Walter and Mr. Dunleavy, respectively, next year.

Ms. Jens-Smith said afterward by phone that she does not have a problem with having an invocation before a meeting, but she does not feel it should be something required by resolution.

Ms. Kent could not be immediately reached for comment.

The resolution up for vote on Tuesday says the database “shall be compiled using reasonable efforts” to identify all churches, synagogues, congregations, temples, mosques and other religious assemblies in the town, and that the Town Board, in December of each year, “shall mail an invitation to the leader” of each entry in the database and inviting them to participate.

The board first adopted the practice in August of 2010, after Mr. Walter brought it up in January of that year. Since then, the board generally has a local preacher read a short prayer before each meeting. While there was a mixed reaction when it was first suggested, there has not been much controversy since.

In March of 2015, the board adopted by resolution a formal policy for the invocations, which cited a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court ruling validating prayers at public meetings.

“Legislative prayer lends gravity to public business, reminds lawmakers to transcend petty differences in pursuit of a higher purpose and expresses a common aspiration to a just and peaceful society,” the court wrote in its decision.

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Featured Story
11/25/17 6:00am
11/25/2017 6:00 AM

Riverhead Town’s $23.5 million sewage treatment plant upgrade – which uses part of the treated sewer effluent to irrigate Suffolk County’s Indian Island golf course instead of discharging it into the bay – has been awarded the 2017 National Project Excellence Award from the Water Environment Federation (WEF), an award given to only three projects nationally.

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11/03/17 6:00am
11/03/2017 6:00 AM

Town Supervisor

Two-year term
Salary: $115,148

Laura Jens-Smith

Hamlet: Laurel

Occupation: Registered nurse

Party lines: Democrat, Independence, Working Families, and Women’s Equality Party

About her: Laura Jens-Smith, 54, lives in Riverhead with her husband, Robert, and their two children. She has served on numerous community boards including the Mattituck-Cutchogue Board of Education.

Ms. Jens-Smith was raised in Port Jefferson Station and received her associate degree at Phillips Beth Israel School of Nursing and her bachelor’s degree from Pace University.

Her pitch: Ms. Jens-Smith has argued that the promises of a revitalized downtown, fixed finances and development at EPCAL have not come to fruition. She said the CEO of Luminati Aerospace, the company seeking to purchase the EPCAL land, had previously been fired for fraud. She said the supervisor has added residential housing to the zoning at EPCAL. Having reviewed the supervisor’s financial policy, Moody’s has reaffirmed the town’s downgraded credit rating, she said. She’s also spoken against the IDA, which she said has given away millions in tax breaks.

In her words: “I believe it is time for new leadership that will be transparent and responsive. I will bring fresh, creative ideas, a full-time commitment and the motivation to get the job done.”

Sean Walter

Hamlet: Wading River

Occupation: Supervisor, attorney

Party lines: Conservative, Republican

About him: Mr. Walter, 51, has been Riverhead town supervisor since 2010, and was deputy town attorney from 2000 to 2006, assisting the town attorney in all phases of litigation, and managing the town’s farmland and open space program.

Mr. Walter began his career in Brookhaven Town’s waste management department, and in 1992, was hired as the environmental manager for the 106th Rescue Wing in Westhampton Beach. In 2006, he started a law practice in Wading River, dealing in land-use issues, as well as real estate, estates and litigation.

Mr. Walter has lived in Wading River since 1992 with his wife, Cathleen, and their three children.

His pitch: Mr. Walter said the development of downtown Riverhead, representing $80 million total investments, has made the town a destination. He said there are “exciting things’ happening at the Enterprise Park at Calverton as negotiations continue with two companies to purchase the remaining available land and bring back tech jobs. He cited stable tax rates and turning around a 12 percent budget deficit in six years as accomplishments.

In his words: “Don’t believe the rhetoric, believe what you see. If you are excited about what has been going on in this town and all that has been accomplished over the past eight years would you please consider voting for Sean Walter for supervisor.”

Featured Story
09/14/17 4:56pm
09/14/2017 4:56 PM

Luminati unveiled one of its aircraft at an open house several years ago.

Riverhead Town officials met Monday with John Catsimatidis, the billionaire CEO of New York City-based United Refining Energy Corp, to discuss the proposed deal between his company and Luminati Aerospace, which is seeking to purchase about 1,600 acres of land at Enterprise Park at Calverton. READ