05/02/12 8:00am
05/02/2012 8:00 AM

JOHN SANDHAUS/GETTY IMAGES | Scott Merserau was a longshot to make it to the NFL in his days at Riverhead High School and Southern Connecticut State University. He would go on to start seven seasons with the Jets.

25 years ago

Rams pick Mersereau

Former Riverhead High School defensive tackle Scott Mersereau (Class of 1983) became a fifth round draft pick by the Los Angeles Rams Tuesday, sports editor Glenn Jochum wrote in the April 30, 1987 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

Scott’s mother Janet of Calverton recalled how her son learned he was drafted: “Rams head coach Don Robinson called and asked Scott if he still wanted to be a Ram. Scott screamed ‘Do I?’ and then Robinson said ‘Then you are one.’”

For Riverhead High School fans who remember the former All-League, All-County selectee who played under coach Dick Herzog, it may be hard to imagine Scott, who then weighed 205 pounds, going up against bonecrushing professional football linemen, as he soon may. But at his present size, 6-3, 283 pounds, he will be right at home in the NFL, we wrote.

Postscript: Mersereau ended up having a solid pro career with the hometown New York Jets. He was profiled this past summer as one of our 20 Greatest Athletes in Area History.

50 years ago

Space testing section installed by Long Island firm

Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation announced April 17 that it completed installation of four new space-age facilities costing $2.5 million and consolidating similar testing spaces into a space environmental test and development section, we wrote in the April 26, 1962 issue of the News-Review.

perhaps the most imposing of the new facilities is an environmental space chamber, among the most technically advanced large space simulators in the United States, which will be used to create spacial comparable to those encountered at an altitude of 300 miles, we wrote.

70 years ago

22,000 men register for 45-64 draft

More than 22,000 male residents of Suffolk County, aged 45 to 64 years old, signed up for whatever non-military duty their country may require of them in the fourth selective service registration we wrote in the April 30, 1942 issue of the County Review.

About 2,500 of those men were from the North Fork, we wrote.

75 years ago

Suspected ghost turns out to be a mouse

One of the pretty girl clerks in the mosquito department at the court house had her nerves set all in a quiver by ghostly noises at exactly the same time every night, we wrote in the April 30, 1937 issue of The Riverhead News.

At last, however, the puzzle was solved — it was a playful mouse engaged in rolling a tiny marble about the room — it was finally caught in the act, we wrote.

Having discovered the cause of the noises she is undetermined whether she is more afraid of a ghost or a mouse, the story reads.

Postscript: It’s amazing what passed for news on the North Fork in 1937.

95 years ago

Freight wreck here

In what is described as the most unusual wreck the LIRR ever had, nine heavily loaded freight cars were piled up in an unusual heap a mile and a half west of the Riverhead Depot about 10 a.m., April 24, 1917, we wrote in that week’s issue of The Riverhead News.

Traffic was stopped at that point on the Main Line for more than 24 hours following the incident in which no one was injured, we wrote.

100 years ago

Rick is driving mules

Instead of being at the muddy bottom of the Peconic River, where his wife and friends feared he was last week, Will Rick is at present driving a team of mules in East Moriches, we wrote in the April 19, 1912 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

From the stories gleaned from some of the locals, it appears Rick’s wife, who is a big woman, “walloped” him a week ago and sent him clamming, we wrote. He caught a few clams and then “planted” his boots in the river, set his boat adrift, and hiked it across the plains. He obtained a job a few days later, evidently believing a team of mules safer company than he enjoyed at home, we wrote.

When he failed to come back from clamming, his wife became alarmed. She asked Riverhead authorities for help to locate his body. The Oddfellows Lodge, of which Rick is vice grand, also sent a delegation down to drag his body. Members of the lodge are “mad” now about the hoax, we wrote.

Postscript: You can read more about the lodge here.

04/18/12 10:50am
04/18/2012 10:50 AM

The ill-fated Titanic ship.

The following stories were excerpted from Riverhead News-Review issues published between 20 and 100 years ago this week:

100 years ago

Farnham sister saved from Titanic

Dr. Alice F. Leader of New York, a sister of R.H. Farnham of Riverhead was aboard the ill-fated Titanic this week, but she is among the rescued, a fact that is very pleasing to Mr. Farnham’s many friends here, read the lead of a story in the April 19, 1912 issue of the Riverhead News.

Dr. Leader had been abroad with Mrs. Frederick Joel Swift of Brooklyn and the two were returning together. Mrs. Swift was also saved, we reported.

Dr. Leader is expected to visit her brother here during the coming summer, we wrote.

Postscript: Dr. Leader, who was 49 years old when she boarded the Titanic, would go on to live another 32 years, dying of natural causes three weeks shy of her 82nd birthday. Like all who took the Titanic’s only voyage, there is plenty of material available online to read about her life.

75 years ago

Riverhead boy uses fishing pole and reel to fly his kite

A new sport is likely to develop in Riverhead under the originality of Master Roland Peterson, son of Mr. and Mrs. H.O. Peterson — flying kites attached to the end of a fishing pole and controlled by a reel, we wrote in the April 16, 1937 issue of the Riverhead News.

Master Peterson gave the sport a try at the Junior Red Cross Kite Day Contest at the Fairgrounds that April 11, we wrote.

“Talk about your leaping bluefish or your back-jumping striped bass, why they ain’t ‘nothing,’ he says, compared with the bucking of a kite at the end of a thousand feet of line up there in the sky,” the story reads.

He didn’t win a prize, likely because he was “far too ahead of the times,” we reported.

Postscript: Who knew this brilliant sport was invented here?

50 years ago

Riverhead merchants fight zoning request

Riverhead store owners vigorously protested the rezoning of a property to construct a shopping center on a corner of Northville Turnpike and Route 58 at the April 17, 1962 Riverhead Town Board meeting, we wrote in that week’s issue of the News-Review.

“The builder, Constantine King, has asked that 28 acres be rezoned from residential to farming to facilitate the construction of a discount house and other stores,” we wrote.

More than 50 local businessmen protested the builder’s plans, which had already been shot down by the Planning Board, we reported.

Postscript: The article doesn’t say which corner the shopping center was proposed for. Perhaps the parcels where BJ’s and/or Bank of America are? Anyone out there know?

25 years ago

Three held for robbery after bank heist

Three  Riverhead men were arrested following an armed robbery at a Jamesport bank on April 9, 1987, we reported in the following week’s issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

Brothers Anthony and Markie Daniels and accomplice Jessie Brown were all charged with first degree robbery in the incident, police said at the time.

“There wasn’t time to think about it — it all happened so fast,” a bank employee told us. “After they left, everyone stood around in shock for about a minute. Then the bank manager locked the doors and called the police.”

More than $5,000 was stolen in the robbery, we reported.

“I had my back to them and I was just glad that I didn’t hear the gun go off,” said a bank customer. “It was the one smart thing they did — not firing the gun.”

Postscript: It was policy then to never reveal the names of businesses that are victims of crimes, though Jamesport bank isn’t the most clever disguise.

20 years ago

Rahman gets ‘life’ in Missouri

A Riverhead man previously convicted of killing a Jamesport man in a series of sniper shootings on the East End in 1988 was sentenced to life in prison for another killing in Kansas City, Mo., we reported in the April 16, 1992 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

Yusef Rahman, also known as “The Riverhead Sniper” was sentenced to life in prison in Missouri, a sentence to run concurrent to his 42 years to life sentence in New York, we wrote.

Mr. Rahman pleaded insanity in 1989 after shooting Bernard ‘Tim Heaney’ in Riverside in December 1988, we wrote.

Postscript: Mr. Rahman, now 43 years old, is currently housed at the Green Haven Correctional Facility, a maximum security prison in Stormville, NY. Other notable convicted Long Island killers imprisoned there include Ronald DeFeo Jr. of the famed Amityville Horror murders, and Robert Golub, who was convicted of murdering 13-year-old Kelly Anne Tinyes of Valley Stream.

Carl & Bob’s follows suit

After 45 years in business, Carl & Bob’s, the East Main Street men’s clothing store, shut its doors April 18, 1992, we reported in that week’s issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

The loss of Carl & Bob’s follows the recent closings of two other downtown Riverhead landmarks, Rose Jewelers and Edward Archer men’s clothiers, we wrote.

“With the business climate the way it is no one is really interested in going into my type of business, although there is a desparate need for it,” said Carl & Bob’s owner Carl Okun.

The business was formed in 1947 as a surplus store by Mr. Okun and two business partners, and was later converted in a medium-priced sportswear store.

04/11/12 7:00am
04/11/2012 7:00 AM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | After spending seven years in jail for a crime he didn't commit, Clarence Bruce Braunskill came home the week of April 10, 1997.

The following stories were excerpted from News-Review issues published between 15 and 100 years ago this week:

15 years ago

Riverhead man freed after spending seven years in prison

After spending seven years in jail for a crime he didn’t commit, Clarence Bruce Braunskill came home the week of April 10, 1997.

Mr. Braunskill was wrongfully convicted of selling cocaine to an undercover Riverhead police officer in 1990 and sentenced to 30 years in prison, reporter Phil Cardinale Jr. wrote in that week’s News-Review.

After police released a recording of the transaction, Mr. Braunskill said it wasn’t his voice on the tape.

His brother Leonard of Middle Island then spent years trying to get someone to listen to the tape. Leonard’s big breakthrough came when he met former Suffolk County District Attorney James Catterson at a press conference for Riverhead beating victim Shane Daniels and the DA agreed to reintroduce the evidence to investigators.

“It’s like a dream,” said Clarence after spending much of his first week out of prison with his children. “You still don’t believe it,  because it’s just … unbelievable.”

Postscript: Four years later, Mr. Braunskill was awarded $1 million in a settlement for his wrongful imprisonment. He still lives in Riverhead.

20 years ago

Residents to KKK: Get out of town

A visit in the first week of April 1992 by alleged members of the Ku Klux Klan has plunged Riverhead and the East End into a new round of negative publicity, we reported in that week’s News-Review.

The self-proclaimed white supremacists, who stayed at the former Best Western on Route 25, said they were called here from North Carolina by East End residents to recruit new members.

The incident followed closely on the heels of a nationally publicized controversy over the recruitment of several black Riverhead High School students to a police lineup, we reported.

25 years ago

Wading River demands a moratorium

Armed with signs bearing slogans like: “Thou Shalt Not Build” and no “T.D.R. in W.R.” some 35 Wading River residents made their demands known to the Town board Tuesday night during a public hearing on rezoning proposed for North Wading River Road, read the lead of a Page 3 story in the April 9, 1987 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

“We need to stop and take an overview of where Wading River is headed,” said Sid Bail, then the president of the Wading River Civic Association.

At the time, Riverhead Town was in the midst of a Wading River land use survey, which then-Supervisor Joe Janoski said was the first step in a hamlet study.

The Town Board agreed at the meeting that week to discuss a possible moratorium at a future work session.

Postscript: That was then, this is now.

Tower-top restaurant nixed?

A revolving restaurant on top of a water tower in Baiting Hollow? While such a proposal has been floating around Riverhead Town Hall for nearly two years, it seems the idea has recently been nixed once and for all, we wrote 25 years ago this week.

The restaurant idea was nixed because it was determined the soil under the water tower could not support the additional weight of the restaurant, we reported.

75 years ago

Mr. Hallock hurt

Henry Hallock is about on crutches this week, we wrote in the April 9, 1937 issue of the Riverhead News. He had the misfortune to fall from the seat of a heavy roller in front of the machine, while it was in motion.

Because the roller was drawn by horses, rather than a tractor, he was unable to stop and could not get out from under, we wrote.

One leg was badly bruised, but no bones were broken.

Riverhead Fire Department puts out Calverton fire

The home of Mr. and Mrs. S.H. Edwards caught fire in the basement April 1, 1937, but thanks to the efforts of Riverhead firemen the blaze was contained to the basement, we reported in that week’s issue of The News. However, some of the main house and some of the downstairs rugs were scorched.

100 years ago

Boy’s toes sawed off

While working at E.E. Smith’s in Calverton Wednesday, John Rilinski, 17 years, got one of his feet in a buzz saw, and the toes were nearly all severed. The wound was a diagonal one, we reported in the April 5, 1912 issue of the Riverhead News.

Doctor Terrell found the toes hanging by a mere thread and wanted to complete the operation, but the boy did not desire it, so he was taken to St. Peter’s Hospital in Brooklyn, we wrote.



02/21/12 7:00am
02/21/2012 7:00 AM

Thirty years ago this week the issue of Assembly redistricting was as big as it is today.

Excerpts from News-Review issues published between 30 and 100 years ago this week:

30 years ago …

Democratic plan would split Assembly district

“They’re trying to break up Peconic County.” That was the reaction in February 1982 from East End Assemblyman John Behan over a Democratic reapportionment plan to split the North and South Forks in the New York State Assembly.

East End Republicans were instead proposing that all five towns stay together in one Assembly district, but change the boundaries in Brookhaven Town to meet the criteria for number of residents.

“We might have found the real culprits who are behind the demise of Peconic County,” Mr. Behan (R-Montauk) said of the Democrats. “[They're] greatly diminishing the East End’s voice — and that’s what it’s all about.”

“The North Fork district would begin in Southold, take in Riverhead and go deep into Brookhaven and look like a hatchet,” he continued. The majority of residents in the North Fork district would be from Brookhaven, he said.

“We have a homogenous grouping with both forks,” he added. “Why split them up?”

Postscript: The district was split up that year and now a new proposal to join them again is on the table. We recently asked Mr. Behan about the current plan and 30 years later he’s done a complete 180. “To me, it’s like going backward to 1979,” he told us this month.

Bottle bill faces delay or defeat in final battle

Just weeks away from Suffolk’s bottle bill — which requires a five sent deposit on all cans of beer and soft drinks sold here — going into effect, lobbyists and lawmakers opposed to the bill were on the offensive, we reported in the Feb. 18, 1982 issue of the Suffolk Times.

County Executive Peter Cohalan was a fan of the bill, calling it a breakthrough for our “throw-away society.”

But Legislator Rose Caracappa said she took a trip to Connecticut to see how “the bill really works.”

She said most Connecticut residents said they didn’t bother to recycle their cans and bottles.

Postscript: The bottle bill later became state law. A push has been made in Albany for more than a decade to expand to a “bigger, better bottle bill.” A bill introduced last year includes fruit juices, ice tea beverages, milk, wine and liquor.

50 years ago …

LI Road and Rail Service to begin next Monday

The Long Island Railroad opened the 69-mile Huntington to Greenport line on Feb. 19, 1962, we reported in that week’s paper.

“At 6:15 a.m. on Monday, a shiny new air-conditioned, radio equipped bus, bearing the railroad’s name and carrying a pretty hostess, will leave Greenport and head west along Route 25, kicking off a coordinated rail-bus operation that will triple passenger service through the mid-island and North Fork areas,” we wrote.

“There will be six daily round trips through Huntington and Riverhead,” we continued. “Three of these will carry on to Greenport. Each will connect with a train in Huntington to or from New York.”

75 years ago …

Will talk ferries

A luncheon was held in the Gold Room of the Henry Perkins Hotel in Riverhead 75 years ago this week to discuss how Long Island Sound ferry operators can work with railroad and bus companies to encourage transporting people across Long Island for the 1939 World’s Fair, we wrote in the Feb. 12, 1937 paper.

“If people coming from the west and New England can be landed on the Island at Orient Point or Port Jefferson, more of them will see Suffolk County than if they came by car through the city,” we wrote.

100 years ago …

Calverton store destroyed in fire

“People here sympathize with H.W. Steighler in the loss of his store by fire early Saturday morning,” we wrote in the Feb. 16, 1912 paper. “The blaze was not discovered until too late to save anything, and the men summoned turned their attention to saving the surrounding property. It is said the damage is about $4,000 partially covered by insurance with John Bagshow, Riverhead.”


02/14/12 7:00am
02/14/2012 7:00 AM

The cover photo from the Feb. 13, 1997 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

Excerpts from Riverhead News-Review stories published between five and 30 years ago this week:

15 years ago …

 A seven-second heartbreaker: Cheerleaders lose L.I. Championship on a technicality

For three minutes on Feb. 9, 1997, Riverhead was the best small varsity cheerleading team on Long Island, sports editor Bob Liepa wrote in that week’s News-Review cover story. For three magical minutes, the Blue Waves appeared to have a lock on a second straight Long Island Coaches Association Championship title. And they would have been the first to win the championship twice — if not for seven agonizing seconds.

Performing before a jubilant home crown in the Riverhead High School gym, Riverhead turned in a near-perfect performance only to see its championship foiled by a technicality.

Each team was allowed a maximum of three minutes to dance, but Riverhead’s routine lasted three minutes, seven seconds. As a result, the Blue Waves had to settle for third place.”We had it,” said coach Susan Ries. “They nailed it. They did everything they could to win the competition.”

Postscript: Riverhead would go on to win the title in each of the next five seasons, according to a Feb. 14, 2002 News-Review story.

30 years ago …

Survey: Court move from Riverhead would hurt

A town survey of Riverhead law firms, title and insurance companies, downtown businesses and government offices showed that up to 10 percent of Riverhead jobs would be lost if the county’s criminal and civil courts moved out of Riverhead, we reported in the Feb. 11, 1982 issue of the News-Review.

The study was organized by Riverhead Councilman Lou Boschetti after an announcement that County Executive Peter Cohalan wanted the county to look into the possibility of centralizing all county court locations to Hauppauge, though Mr. Cohalan said he was against moving the courts out of Riverhead.

Mr. Boschetti said the study found 490 jobs would be lost.

“That’s about 10 percent of the workforce her,” he said. “Unemployment is already a problem at 9 percent, that would raise it to 19 percent.”

25 years ago …

Caldor: We’re staying!

The rumor mill was grinding that the Riverhead Caldor store was going to close, we reported in the Feb. 12, 1987 issue of the News-Review.

“No, it’s not,” said Caldor senior vice president Al Buczka. “You have my word.”

The speculation grew out of Caldor promotions claiming “The Biggest Sale in our History!” and “Prices Slashed in All Departments,” we wrote.

The marketing directives came from parent company Mays, Mr. Buczka told us. the company’s $10 billion in assets made it the largest chain of retail stores in America, he said.

Postscript: Caldor’s lease in Riverhead was taken over by Walmart in 1999, according to The New York Times. Remember how everyone’s mom always called it Caldors, adding the ‘s’ for no apparent reason.

10 years ago …

Building still booming

Riverhead Town issued 217 building permits in 2002, after seeing 200 homes go up in the previous three years, Tim Gannon reported in the Feb. 14, 2002 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

It was close to a record of 258 residential building permits issued in 1998, we reported.

5 years ago …

Indoor ski slope proposed, but are these guys for real?

Indoor skiing at the tallest building in Suffolk County and the first “snow dome” in the United States was proposed for 755 acres at the Calverton Enterprise Park, we reported in the Feb. 15, 2007 issue of the News-Review.

The $750 million project would include a 425-foot indoor ski slope, an indoor water park, a 500-room hotel, a convention center and a sports academy centering on 28 different sports, we wrote.

Postscript: Five years later, the answer to our headline is “no.”


01/31/12 7:00am
01/31/2012 7:00 AM

The following stories were excerpted from Riverhead News-Review issues published 15, 20 and 30 and 100 years ago this week:

20 years ago …

Wading River man arrested after body found under garage

A woman’s guilty conscience reportedly led police to the grisly discovery of a dead body entombed under the cement garage floor of a Wading River home on Jan. 25, 1992, we reported in that week’s issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

And for five years, the man who was arrested, 42-year-old Roert Henry, continued to live in the very house that concealed the evidence of his alleged crime, we wrote.

Riverhead police said they received an anonymous call from a woman who said she watched Mr. Henry shoot Laurence Marrs during an argument on Christmas Eve 1986. After four hours of cutting through the floor and several iron posts that had apparently been used to reinforce the concrete, police found the body of Mr. Marrs, who died from a shotgun wound to the head.

A prosecutor said the fact that Mr. Henry had continued to live in the house for five years after the murder showed a “hardness of spirit and a singleness of purpose.”

The anonymous woman said she declined to come forward about the crime for so long because Mr. Henry had threatened to kill her.

Postscript: Mr. Henry served three years in prison on manslaughter charges, state records show. He was paroled in 1996.

Redistricting plan would merge forks

The North and South Forks would be merged into one State Assembly district instead of two under the new redistricting plan proposed by the Legislative Task Force on Demographic research and Reapportionment, we reported in the Jan. 30, 1992 issue of The Riverhead News-Review.

Assemblyman Joe Sawicki said that week he was against the plan.

“There’s no reason to combine the two of us other than politics,” he said. “The East End deserves nothing less than two representatives.”

Postscript: A similar proposal was announced last week. In 1992, Assembly districts were supposed to have about 120,000 residents. Today that number is over 129,000.

15 years ago …

Fast food cooking on 25A in Wading River?

Is McDonald’s coming to Wading River? That was the lead of one page 3 story in the Jan. 30, 1997 issue of the News-Review.

Postscript: Yes.

Multiplex on Main Street

A multiplex in the Rimland building? That was the lead of another page 3 story in the Jan. 30, 1997 issue of the News-Review.

Postscript: No.

30 years ago …

Flanders residents hit school board for tax relief

A boisterous overflow crowd of about 100 Riverhead School District residents this week presented the Board of Education with a stinging message to control tax increases, we reported in the Jan. 28, 1982 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

The residents were there to express concern over a 17.5 percent tax rate increase for district residents living in Southampton Town. Riverhead Town residents faced just a 2 percent increase in their tax rate.

“We are asking the board to consider our plight,” said Flanders resident Angela Serini. “We are asking that you make a conscientious effort in these critical times of economic depression to bring us a budget that we can approve.”

Postscript: Similar concerns exist today, with no clear path of resolution ahead.

100 years ago …

Papers were served Jan. 26, 1912 on 21 South Jamesport scallopers arrested for catching bug scallops, we reported in that week’s County Review.

They were to be sued in civil proceedings in the Supreme Court to recover a $60 penalty each, we reported.


01/23/12 3:49pm
01/23/2012 3:49 PM

BARBARAELLEN KOCH FILE PHOTO | Shane Daniels on the cover of the Jan. 23, 1997 Riverhead News-Review.

The following were excerpted from Riverhead News-Review issues published between five and 30 years ago this week:

15 years ago …

Shane Daniels has head surgery

Most of what Shane Daniels thinks about these days is “getting better,” and a large portion of the the 21-year-old Riverhead man’s time is spent pursuing that goal, we wrote in the Jan. 23, 1997 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

Mr. Daniels had been severely beaten with a metal club by two men, including an off-duty New York City Police Officer, outside a Westhampton Beach night club just eight months earlier. The week our followup story about his health was published his family was honored at First Baptist Church’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast.

The week prior to the breakfast, Mr. Daniels had a metal plate installed in the back of his head to cover a hole left there by the assault, we wrote. He told us at the time he still had no recollection of the attack.

“I feel like a whole segment of my life is missing,” he said.

Postscript: Mr. Daniels, now 36, works as a security guard at the county center. His attackers both served time in prison, but have since been released.

Megan’s Law list makes debut

Seven men convicted of sex crimes are living on the North Fork, according to the recently released New York State Registry of sex offenders, we wrote in the Jan. 23, 1997 issue of the News-Review.

There were five level 2 and 3 sex offenders in Riverhead and two in Southold, police officials confirmed to us then.

“Megan’s Law is a good thing in my book and a long time coming,” said Riverhead Det. Sgt. David Cheshire.

Postscript: A search of the Parents for Megan’s Law website now shows more than 100 level 2 and 3 sex offenders living in Riverhead Town zip codes, though the vast majority reside at the county jail in Riverside.

25 years ago …

Kidnap victim is found safe in trunk

Suffolk Police found a Riverhead man in the trunk of his own car after he was kidnapped January 18, 1987, according to a story in that week’s Riverhead News-Review.

Melvin Anderson, 51 at the time, gave his abductors, two men who were waiting near the Riverhead LIRR station, $21 in cash before they drove him to an area elementary school.

The men then decided they couldn’t let him free since he might tell the police, we reported. So they forced him to get into his trunk.

“After they put me in the trunk I figured they weren’t done with me,” he told us. “I was just praying to God I’d get out.”

He remained in the trunk for more than two hours before the abductors abandoned the car after realizing police were on to them. Two cops on a drug stake out — all the way in North Amityville — spotted the two men turn the headlights off on the car while driving.

After he heard police, Mr. Robinson began banging on the trunk to alert them.

Police told the News-Review days later: “We haven’t the slightest idea who was involved.”

30 years ago …

Bike ordinance adopted

An ordinance governing the use of bicycles in Riverhead Town was adopted by the Town Board on Jan. 19, 1982. A major feature of the law banned the riding of bicycles on downtown sidewalks.

Another feature of the law requires all bike riders to keep both hands on the handlebars at all times, except for when making a hand signal.

Passengers are forbidden from riding on bikes not equipped with passenger seats, we wrote.

Bicyclists caught violating the law are subject to impoundment and must provide an affidavit of ownership to recover their bikes.

Postscript: The law remains in effect today. Whether or not it’s ever been enforced, we can’t say.

It’s a busy time for area oil dealers

Want to take a guess how much home heating oil cost on this date in 1982? According to a report in the Jan. 21, 1982 issue of the Riverhead News-Review local companies were charging about $1.24 per gallon, up from $1.15 the year before.

20 years ago …

Cuomo budget means good news and bad news

The good news: Governor Mario Cuomo’s proposed 1992-93 state budget released Jan. 20, 1992 provided $1 million in landfill-closure assistance to municipalities in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, we reported.

The bad news: The proposal called for aid cuts of $73 million for Long Island schools. Most North Fork districts lost 20 percent in state aid, we reported. Riverhead was actually the only area district to receive an increase, receiving $19,000 more in aid over the previous year.

Postscript: Twenty years later, his governor son took a different approach, securing an increase in aid to most local districts.

5 years ago …

After 17 years, Madelyn to retire

Madelyn Sendlewski, a much-loved, gregarious figure, who has served Riverhead town for nearly 17 years as an assessor will leave her elected position at the end of the month, we reported in the Jan. 25, 2007 issue of The Suffolk Times.

A kidney transplant recipient, she said she stepped down due to the impact her health had on how she did her job.

“It’s been an honor winning four elections, and I can leave knowing that I served with honesty, dignity and a true concern for taxpayers,” she said.

Postscript: Ms. Sendlewski passed away in October 2008.



01/09/12 8:30am
01/09/2012 8:30 AM

COURTESY PHOTO | Few sights on the East End are as identifiable as the statue outside Riverhead Raceway.

The following stories were excerpted from News-Review issues published 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 and 30 years ago this week:

30 years ago …

Raceway sold, new owners plan improvements

Riverhead Raceway will become a cornucopia of family-oriented events under plans now being considered by its new owners Barbara and Jim Cromarty, we wrote in the Jan. 7, 1982 issue of the News-Review.

The new owners said they were looking to host Oktoberfests, ethnic festivals and family concerts on the 30-acre site.

“When we get through with it it will look like a totally new facility,” Ms. Cromarty said.

Said Mr. Cromarty: “We hope to make the raceway one of the biggest outdoor entertainment facilities on the East End.”

Postscript: Thirty years later, the Cromartys still own Long Island’s only raceway. While all the goals mentioned in the 1982 story might not have come to fruition, no one can argue that the Raceway, an iconic North Fork location, hasn’t long been a major outdoor recreational destination.

Janoski takes control with GOP majority

Republicans were in full control at a Riverhead Town Board meeting Jan. 5, 1982 for only the second time in a decade, we reported in that week’s issue of The Riverhead News-Review.

Lone Democrat John Lombardi and citizens in the audience offered verbal opposition to several moves the GOP made at its reorganizational meeting.

The resolution that received the most scrutiny was a move to appoint Richard Larsen of Wading River, a co-leader of the town’s Republican Party, to replace Democrat Robert Donnelly on the Planning Board.

25 years ago …

Blass shatters Glass in race for presiding officer

William Lindsay has been the presiding officer of the Suffolk County Legislature and East End Legislator Ed Romaine has been in the minority for so long now it’s hard to remember a time when the North Fork representative was also the PO.

But 25 years ago that was the case … and it was unexpected.

Considered a maverick Republican, East End Legislator Gregory Blass of Jamesport was not expected to retain his role as Presiding Officer of the Legislature when the 1987 reorganizational meeting was held. GOP leaders made a play at instead having Gerard Glass of Lindenhurst take over the post.

When role was called, however, Blass managed to get 10 votes to Glass’ eight.

“Everyone here, I’m sure, will understand if I suddenly find myself identifying with the biblical miracle of Lazarus,” Mr. Blass said at the meeting. “Indeed, a resurrection has taken place.”

Postscript: Mr. Blass is now the commissioner of Social Services for Suffolk County.

20 years ago …

Hunting: Too close for comfort

One week after a Wading River woman was injured by a stray shotgun shell that entered her home, the Wading River Civic Association was calling on tighter regulation hunters in the second week of January 1992.

The group was asking Riverhead Town and the state DEC to post no hunting signs on certain parcels as a precautionary measure against illegal hunting.

“I’m sure most hunters are responsible,” said then-Wading River Civic Association president Sid Bail. “But, boy, there are some people I don’t like to see with a gun in their hands.”

15 years ago …

Development rights bank gets its first deposit

The first-ever sale of Pine Barrens development rights credits took place Jan. 8, 1997, according to the News-Review issue published the following day.

Olin Warner of Warner Duck Farms in Calverton was the seller.

The Pine Barrens Commission approved Mr. Warner’s application to redeem 48 development rights credits from his 30-acre property on River Road for $480,000.

At the time, the state’s land bank had $5 million earmarked for development rights purchased but not a single taker.

Postscript: The county purchased Mr. Warner’s property for preservation in 2009.

AMP Circuits to close

Some 450 jobs will be lost to the Riverhead area as one of the town’s biggest employers and taxpayers announced it is closing its Aquebogue facility, we wrote in the Jan. 9, 1997 issue of the Riverhead News-Review.

AMP Circuits ran a 24-hour operation on West lane, where employees manufactured electronic circuit boards.

The news came as a particularly jarring surprise since the company had only recently added 100 jobs at the facility.

10 years ago …

100 wins and still counting

The Riverhead boys basketball team posted a 47-42 win over East Islip on Jan. 3, 2002 to notch head coach Jerry Wiesmann his 100th career victory.

“You don’t think about these things when you’re coaching,” he said after the game. “You’re concerned about your kids and clean uniforms and who’s going to class and who’s healthy.”

WRIV play-by-play announcer Pat Kelly, who broadcast all of Wiesmann’s first 100 wins presented him with a ball that was signed 100-51, the coach’s career record at the time.

Postscript: Wiesmann was replaced as Riverhead coach against his will in 2006. He finished his career with a 147-73 record.

Restaurateur Cliff Saunders Jr. dies at 74

Longtime North Fork restaurateur Cliff Saunders Jr. of Laurel died Jan. 3, 2002, we reported the following week. He was 74.

Mr. Saunders was the owner of several popular eateries, including the Rendezvous and the Elbow Room.

He purchased the Elbow Room property in Jamesport in 1958 after trying a variety of careers as a gas station owner, an ad salesman and a butcher. He also owned Jamesport Travel Agency for more than 25 years.

Postscript: His restaurants remain, in my opinion, the best place to get a steak on the North Fork.

 5 years ago …

Town dumps ZBA’s Keller; Rose Sanders named to seat

Former Councilwoman Rose Sanders was back in the public eye last week as a split Town Board appointed her to a seat on the Zoning Board of Appeals, replacing 20-year member Martin Kellr, read the lead of the Page 3 story in the Jan. 11, 2007 issue of the News-Review.

She was appointed with the support of Councilwoman Barbara Blass, who cast the swing vote after earlier that night voting against a measure to appoint civic activist Larry Williams to the post.

Mr. Keller said he first heard he might be replaced two days before the vote.

“It’s unfortunate what happened,” Mr. Keller said. “It just goes to show what type of government we have. It’s a shame.”

Postscript: The shoe was on the other foot when Ms. Sanders was voted off the ZBA last week.