05/12/14 10:00am
05/12/2014 10:00 AM
A proposal to allow bowhunting on county property by non-Suffolk residents was recently withdrawn. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

A proposal to allow bowhunting on county property by non-Suffolk residents was recently withdrawn. (Credit: Joseph Pinciaro)

A short-lived plan to allow Nassau County bowhunters onto Suffolk County lands was quickly shot down last week.

At Wednesday’s Suffolk County Parks & Recreation Committee, chairman Jay Schneiderman (I-Montauk) pulled a bill he had sponsored personally after it was clear to him that the proposal had nothing but opposition from area hunters — and little support from those who suggested it in the first place.

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03/04/14 1:20pm
03/04/2014 1:20 PM
Entrance to the Eastern Campus of the Suffolk County Community College. (Credit: Gayle Sheridan)

Entrance to the Eastern Campus of the Suffolk County Community College. (Credit: Gayle Sheridan)

While the Suffolk County Legislature has been considering increasing the age for everyone throughout the county to purchase tobacco — from age 19 to 21 — another measure could ban smoking completely in a few areas around Suffolk: the community college campuses.

The proposal comes nearly two years after the State University of New York’s trustees voted to ban smoking on all state college campuses, a measure that is still waiting for state legislative approval in order to be enforced.

Because the fact that Suffolk County Community College isn’t regulated by the SUNY trustee board, college officials said that county approval of the measure would bring a smoke-free campus — actually, all three campuses — to the 26,000 students at the schools.

Ben Zwirn, director of legislative affairs at SCCC, said last week that SCCC would be the biggest college campus in the state to ban smoking entirely on its grounds should the measure pass.

Mr. Zwirn cited secondhand smoke as a health issue to those not smoking on campus, in addition to litter. He added that in an online survey of the student body, over 70 percent of respondents — over 2,800 people — were in favor of the regulation.

The move to ban smoking on campus comes on the heels of Legislator William Spencer’s effort to raise the age to buy tobacco products entirely throughout Suffolk. That proposal was subject to a public hearing last month, and will be debated again on Tuesday afternoon at the legislature’s general meeting.

He is expected to sponsor the legislation on Tuesday banning smoking on campus. After that, the measure would need committee approval, be subject to a public hearing, require approval from the entire legislative body, and need a signature from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

Dr. Spencer (D-Centerport) said last week that “We’re looking to create a healthy, smoke-free environment within the the college’s jurisdiction. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to try that.”

jpinciaro@timesreview.com

03/03/14 10:00am
03/03/2014 10:00 AM

Cigarettes After a contentious public hearing in the middle of last month on raising the age to purchase tobacco from 19 to 21, the Suffolk County Legislature will hold a second hearing on Tuesday afternoon at its general meeting in Riverside.

Legislator William Spencer (D-Centerport), a doctor himself, sponsored the measure, which saw plenty of support and opposition at the two-and-a-half hour long Feb. 11 public hearing.

Some opponents had argued that their civil liberties were being encroached upon with the raise, while business owners cited a predicted loss in sales revenue and Legislator Tom Barraga said that if health advocates were that afraid of the consequences of smoking, an outright ban on sales should be what legislators are after.

On Friday, Dr. Spencer said he respects the public’s right to purchase tobacco too much to ban sales outright — though he said developmentally, people under age 21 are still too susceptible to addiction. “I don’t think we have the right to tell an adult what to do,” he said.

“But I choose to define an adult based on the development of the brain, as opposed to to whether they can serve, they can vote, drink or work … As a public official, I think we should be making decisions based on medical evidence.”

Dr. Spencer said that 18-year-olds are three times less likely to smoke if they don’t smoke by then. He said for that 21-year-olds, the likelihood would be 10 times less.

In 2004, Suffolk passed legislation to raise the legal age to 19. It was one of the first municipalities in the country to do so. Violators could face a fine between $300 and $1,000 for a first time offense, and between $500 to $1,500 for subsequent offenses, according to the resolution.

If approved, the countywide law would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2015.

The public hearing is scheduled to start at 2:30 p.m. at the County Center in Riverside

Scroll down to view the draft law.

Suffolk County proposed law to raise the legal age to 21 for tobacco purchases.

02/24/14 7:00am
02/24/2014 7:00 AM
Engorged ticks. (Courtesy photo from the University of Nebraska)

Engorged ticks. (Courtesy photo from the University of Nebraska)

Suffolk County Legislator Jay Schneiderman is sponsoring a bill to create a tick control advisory committee.

The legislation is expected to be discussed at the county Legislature’s Public Works & Public Transportation Committee meeting at 2 p.m. in Hauppauge.

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02/12/14 12:33pm
02/12/2014 12:33 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | County Legislator Kara Hahn introduced a bill aimed at examining the benefits of using beet-based brines, like the one above manufactured by East End Organics.

With snowfall totals soaring this winter season — and another storm on the way — area highway crews have been coating the roads with mixtures of salt and sand, but those mixtures are only so effective once temperatures dip below 20 degrees, according to town highway superintendents.  (more…)

01/12/14 10:00am
01/12/2014 10:00 AM
KATHARINE SCHROEDER PHOTO  |

KATHARINE SCHROEDER FILE PHOTO |  The rise in deer population has become one of the biggest concerns for North Fork residents.

As a lifelong resident of the North Fork, I have witnessed the explosion of the deer population.

When I was growing up, it was rare to find deer tracks in fields or in the woods, but now it’s common to come across several deer in one’s backyard. Historically, populations of deer were dramatically lower than they are today, and we know that without natural predators and with plentiful food sources, deer populations can double in two to three years.

The agricultural industry, a critical part of the East End economy, has experienced millions of dollars of crop loss due to white-tailed deer. Farmers have spent thousands of dollars on deer fencing to protect crops; this is an expense most cannot afford. As a fourth generation farmer, I understand this all too well.

As a Suffolk County Legislator and a former Southold Town Councilman, I have spoken to hundreds of constituents whose lives have been seriously impacted by deer, whether it is by a tick-borne illness or a car accident or, as in some cases, both. I have walked through many acres of preserved open spaces and parks in my district and seen firsthand the destruction deer have done to the natural environment.

All efforts must be made to bring the population of white-tailed deer, which has reached crisis proportions in eastern Suffolk County, down to sustainable levels. The USDA sharpshooter program is one tool that can be employed to help achieve this goal and, at least in Southold Town, the community will utilize the program to decrease the herd size and protect human health, biodiversity and property.

This does not mean that there is unanimous support for culling the herd or that no controversy surrounds the program, but if the alternatives are considered objectively, the logical conclusion is that we need to act.

Tick-borne illnesses have cost millions of dollars in treatment and lost work and caused much pain and suffering. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control reported almost 3,000 cases of Lyme disease in New York State in 2012, but it is believed the actual number is much greater due to misdiagnosis, inconclusive testing and underreporting. New York State has one of the highest incidences of tick-borne illnesses in the country and Suffolk County has one of the highest infection rates in the state.

Lyme disease is not the only tick-borne illness associated with deer. Others, such as Babesiosis, can be particularly harmful to people with compromised immune systems. In addition, tick-borne disorders unfamiliar to scientists are emerging, such as a potentially life-threatening red meat allergy that develops in some people bitten by lone star ticks.

The Suffolk County Tick Management Task Force concluded that “the issue of tick-borne disease is inextricably linked to deer overpopulation … Any strategy for tick control must reduce the number of deer and/or the number of ticks on deer to have any chance of success.”

Unchecked growth of the white-tailed deer population has devastated the natural environment and this will continue until we act to reduce the population to a sustainable level.

Conservationists and those who advocate for the protection of wildlife alike should support policies that cull the herd to protect habitat and biodiversity. In many areas deer have destroyed the woodland understory. Invasive plant species, like mile-a-minute vine, have taken over because beneficial native plants have been gobbled up by deer.

The insects, birds and other animals these native plants and ecosystems support are now threatened and have decreased in numbers. Some forests are so stripped they may not be able to regenerate.

The problems caused by white-tailed deer overpopulation are multi-faceted and costly. As a community, we need to make the hard choices and manage the herd to lessen the occurrence of disease, habitat destruction and property loss.

If you are concerned about the well-being of individual deer, perhaps you should stop driving, because hundreds are killed or maimed in car accidents yearly. It is not a pretty sight to see an animal writhing in pain after being hit but not killed.

The USDA program is conducted safely, professionally and humanely. The meat harvested is a good source of protein and will not go to waste but will be donated to food pantries and homeless shelters feeding many people in need on Long Island.

Al Krupski is a Suffolk County legislator whose district encompasses the North Fork. He lives in Cutchogue.

01/07/14 12:15pm
01/07/2014 12:15 PM
COURTESY PHOTO | Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory and Deputy Presiding Officer Jay Schndierman.

COURTESY PHOTO | Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory and Deputy Presiding Officer Jay Schndierman.

Despite holding just two of 18 seats in Suffolk County Legislature, the East End will be represented among the legislature’s leadership, as South Fork Legislator Jay Schneiderman was selected as the county’s next Deputy Presiding Officer earlier this month.

Schneiderman (I-Montauk) will serve as deputy to new Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory (D-Amityville), who was voted to lead the body unanimously by all legislators who were present (four were absent). Mr. Gregory takes over for Wayne Horsley, who left the county legislature for a job in state government.

According to Mr. Schneiderman, the title of deputy presiding officer doesn’t technically bring with it any added responsibilities — though the title is “more of a reflection, I think, of the support of my colleagues. It doesn’t give any special powers unless the presiding officer is not present. Then I would chair the meetings.”

The longest-tenured legislator in the county, Mr. Schneiderman represents the South Fork, Shelter Island, and part of Brookhaven town. He will be termed out after this term, and was voted to the post by 12 legislators, with five legislators — all Republicans — voting against the Independence Party member.

“It’s unfortunate — I would think they would like to start the new year out with some effort of bipartisanship,” he said. “I hope it’s not indicative of that kind of year.”

According to the county, Mr. Schneiderman will be the first member of the Independence Party to hold a leadership position at the county level.